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Practical Nursing Class of 2014

Thirty five graduates of MWCC’s Practical Nursing program, pictured with faculty members Kimberly Shea, Kathleen Panagiotes and Collene Thaxton, were welcomed into the nursing profession during a traditional pinning ceremony on Dec. 17.

Friends, relatives and members of the college community gathered December 17 to welcome 35 Practical Nursing graduates into the nursing profession during a traditional pinning ceremony.Each graduate, dressed in a traditional nurse uniform, was welcomed into the profession by having a nursing pin fastened to her or his lapel by a fellow nurse – a family member, friend or faculty member. MWCC’s eight-star pin is imprinted with the words “Service to Humanity and the World” with the nursing symbol in the middle.

Robert LaBonte, Vice President of Finance and Administration, congratulated the students on behalf of the college and President Daniel M. Asquino, and Eileen Costello, Dean of the School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs & Social Sciences, delivered greetings from the Nursing Department.

Faculty member Lisa Gendron delivered the keynote address, congratulating the graduates on their achievement and offering words of encouragement as they begin their nursing careers. “Your pinning ceremony is a celebration of all the sacrifices you have endured to be here this evening. So congratulate yourselves as we congratulate you all.”

Like many of the graduates, Gendron began her healthcare career as a nurse assistant, before becoming a licensed practical nurse and an registered nurse. An alumna of MWCC’s associate degree nursing program, she went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. Gendron encouraged the students to continue their education as lifelong learners.

“There are few investements that will yield as high an investment as education.”

Graduates Vanesa Sanchez and Monica Mbugua, delivered student addresses, and classmates Amy Lovern, Elizabeth Carville, Noella Vautour, Rebekah Thompson and Megan Rivard presented on the significance of the pinning ceremony and its traditions, including the lighting of the lamp and the Florence Nightingale Pledge.

Reflecting on the rigorous academic program, Mbugua said, “We are students of different ages, from different nationalities, with different life experiences, and we are here tongiht sharing the same stage because we’ve worked hard to be here.”

“We have experienced so much in one year,” said Sanchez, a class representative. “Some sad times, some happy times, adn some amazing times taht will help define us as nurses for the rest of our lives. We have witnessed new life enter the world, aided in the end of life care, and all the stages in between. In these moments I have watched my classmates grow. Our compassion is unmatchable, our perseverence is inspiring and our love for nursing is evident in everything we do.”

As part of the one-year academic program, the students trained with professionals at 23 clinical sites that partner with the college, including Athol Hospital; Clinton Hospital; Community Health Connections; DaVita Dialysis Center; Fitchburg Adult Day Health; Gardner Adult Day Health Centers; Gardner Rehabilitation & Nursing Center; Golden Living Center; Habit OPCO; Heywood Hospital MHU/GPU; Heywood Hospital Maternity Center; HealthAlliance, Leominster Birthing Center; Leominster Public School District; Life Care, the Highlands; Life Care, The Highlands Adult Day Health; Nashoba Nursing Service and Hospice; North Central Charter Essential School; North Quabbin Adult Day Health Center; St. Peter-Marian Jr.-Sr. High School; St. Vincent Hospital, Seven Hills Pediatric Center; Stetson School; and Worcester Recovery Center & Hospital.

 

Diversity Competition 2014

President Daniel M. Asquino, right, and Diversity Committee Co-Chair Carla Morrissey, left, congratulate the winners of this year’s President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition, Gemini Walter, Shannen Pimental and Tonia Ciesluka. Not pictured, committee co-chair Maria Gariepy.

MWCC students Gemini Walter, Shannen Pimental and Tonia Ciesluka are the winners of the third annual President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition. Each will receive a free, three-credit academic course for use during the spring or summer 2015 semesters.

Walter, a Human Services major, was selected for an essay focusing on interracial relationships and reflecting on how curent issues between Caucasions and African Americans stem from unresolved power struggles dating back to the Colonial era.

Ciesluka and Pimental were selected for sculptures depicting diversity. Ciesluka, a General Studies Allied Health major who plans to pursue a nursing degree, sculpted diverse figures that collectively spell out the word “Humanity.” Pimental, also a General Studies Allied Health major who plans to continue for a Physical Therapist Assistant degree, created a diversity globe sculpture with clay figures representing global diversity.

The annual scholastic competition, sponsored by the MWCC Diversity Committee, invites students to prepare papers, posters, essays, research work, or other original, creative work related to issues of diversity or identity, such as those involving disability, race, socioeconomic status, veteran status, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and national origin, as well as the value such diversity brings to the learning and working environment.

Ben Mikles mural

An exterior mural by MWCC art student Ben Mikles, one of the featured presenters during the Fall Art Student Lecture Series.

The Art Student Lecture Series, sponsored by MWCC’s Art Department, continued this fall with presentations on creating large-scale murals and marketing oneself as an artist.

“Like it or not, you’re in the sales business,” explained art major and self-starter Isabella Bourque, who presented “How to Market Yourself as An Artist” in December. “This is the presentation I wish I would have seen before I started selling artwork,” said Bourque, who noted that local, domestic and international pottery sales comprise one-third of her total income.

After purchasing an inexpensive kiln on Craig’s List, Bourque created a home studio, where she produces artwork for sale at commercial and rental galleries, commission shops and street fairs, as well as on Etsy. She similarly encouraged MWCC students to diversify their selling platforms, citing the Leominster Art Center & Gallery and the Gardner Area League of Artists as ideal venues for beginning freelancers.

By leveraging social media platforms and creating an online portfolio through Carbonmade, Bourque said she was better able to promote her work and make connections. She discussed the importance of establishing an online presence, obtaining a unique domain name and creating business cards.

Bourque, who also works as a graphic and web designer for WS Beauty Supply, also offered financial guidance, highlighting the need to maintain consistent prices, account for hours of labor, anticipate overhead costs and challenges, set aside profits and cater artwork to individual target markets. She will graduate this semester with an Associate Degree in Art.

Fall presenters also included Ben Mikles, who has extensive experience painting large-scale murals in many venues, both temporary and permanent using spray paint and brushes. Mikles spoke about his technique, materials, and process.

The Art Student Lecture Series was launched during the spring 2014 semester, with presenters Jennifer Mondestin, who discussed her recently published graphic novel and other commissions; Dylan Safford, who presented on digital painting using Photoshop; Robert G. Osborne who discussed his three decades experience as an artist and gallery owner in New York City; and Corinne Goodrich, who demonstrated plein air painting techniques.

- Cameron Woodcock

 

 

MWCC student Susan Shute displays a brochure of pictures she took at North Pack Monadnock, her personal "Walden." Shute was one of several students who showcased Thoreau-inspired projects as part of "East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord."

MWCC student Susan Shute displays a brochure of pictures she took at North Pack Monadnock, her personal “Walden.” Shute was one of several students who showcased Thoreau-inspired projects completed during the first semester of “East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord.”

Wrapping up a successful first semester of “East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord,” students showcased Thoreau-themed projects during a Dec. 4 exhibit. Funded through a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MWCC Humanities Project’s first-year theme is encouraging students to consider the lasting relevance and modern application of Thoreau’s philosophies.

“This is the best event of all and the real reason why we’re doing what we’re doing,” said English Professor and Humanities Project Coordinator Michelle Valois, referring to the presentations and exhibit as singular focus on student outcomes.

MWCC students John Alden and Susan Shute each selected the location that represents to them what Walden Pond meant to Thoreau. Alden read an essay titled “My Walden,” an account of his varied experiences at Fitchburg’s Coggshall Park. Shute displayed a brochure of pictures she took at North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield, NH.

Michael Niall read a comparative essay, “The Hermitage and the Cathedral, or Just the Everlasting Water,” on Thoreau and E.B. White’s individual relationships with nature, as described in “Walden” and “Once More to the Lake” respectively. Valois described Niall’s essay as “a healthy mixture of analytical and creative learning outcomes,” which exemplifies a community-college education.

Bethany Proctor and Samantha Rutkowski narrated a slideshow of Thoreau-inspired student sculptures, which were created using natural materials and displayed in the exterior and interior of MWCC.

Media Arts & Technology student Jack Dawson discussed “Opportunity,” an aptly titled picture taken on the road leading to MWCC. The picture reflects the inspirational nature of several Thoreau passages, as well as Dawson’s enthusiasm for his post-MWCC career.

East Meets West will continue during the spring semester with a Feb. 11 book discussion of “Being Henry David” at the MWCC Commons; a March 5 book discussion of “The Transcendental Murder” at Leominster Public Library; a March 26 book discussion of “American Primitive” at Fitchburg Public Library; and an April 15 poetry reading by Gail Thomas, author of “No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley,” at Athol Public Library. All spring events will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

This fall, the campus community also chose its second-year theme, “Myth, Monsters and Modern Science: Frankenstein’s Legacy,” based on Mary Shelley’s classic. The 1818 novel will promote discussion on the societal and personal effects of technological advancements, the potential pitfalls of these innovations, and our collective attitude toward difference.

MWCC biotech photo

MWCC’s Biotechnology/Biomanufacturing degree and certificate programs have received a gold industry endorsement.

Mount Wachusett Community College’s Biotechnology/ Biomanufacturing degree and certificate programs have received a gold endorsement from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Education Consortium (MLSEC). The MLSEC is an initiative convened by MassBio and the MassBioEd Foundation to facilitate partnerships between the life sciences industry and higher education in order to more effectively match graduating students with the jobs companies are seeking to fill.

The MLSEC celebrated the successes of 17 degree and certificate programs at 10 community colleges and other educational institutions during a Dec. 2 ceremony in Lexington. Guest speakers included David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner for Economic and Workforce Development and STEM and Executive Director of the STEM Advisory Council at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education; and Matt Sigelman, Chief Executive Officer of Burning Glass Technologies.

Dr. Melissa Fama, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dean Janice Barney and Professor Lara Dowland, chair of MWCC’s biotechnology department, joined educators and stakeholders in the life sciences industry at the event, which recognized the programs’ accomplishments and explored how the institutions and industry can continue to work together to cultivate and support the next generation of the life sciences workforce.

“One of our main objectives at MWCC is to ensure that all of our STEM students receive relevant, practical training and are immediately suited to fill in-demand careers,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “Receiving a gold endorsement from the MLSEC reinforces our belief in this educational approach and our desire to provide continued pathways for careers in biotechnology, biomanufacturing and other STEM fields.”

“These endorsements ensure that community college biotechnology students and biotechnology certificate earners are provided with the information and experience they need to be successful candidates for careers in the life sciences industry,” said Lance Hartford, Executive Director of the MassBioEd Foundation. “Designing educational programs off of the competencies that life sciences companies require from employees ensures that students receive skills relevant and applicable to the research and manufacturing jobs available.”

“The Massachusetts life sciences industry depends on highly trained workers at every stage of the drug development and manufacturing process,” said Robert K. Coughlin, President & CEO of MassBio. “By producing graduates ready to join industry, these endorsed programs are helping fill the pipeline of industry workers to ensure that our life sciences supercluster can continue to grow and get therapies to patients around the world.”

Each educational program was evaluated based on program overview and scope of services, demonstration of laboratory practices, lab techniques and competencies. Also evaluated were workforce pathway development including its utilization of an advisory board, career services offered, and opportunities for work simulations and internships.

 

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MWCC Honors Program students Phil Stan and Stevie LaBelle led a panel discussion on suicide awareness, which was attended by approximately 100 students. Pictured, from left, Honors Program Coordinator Sheila Murphy; Michael Ellis, project coordinator of the Men’s Suicide Prevention Program at Heywood Hospital; MWCC student Carrie DeCosta, Stan, former State Senator Robert Antonioni, and LaBelle.

Mount Wachusett Community College Honors Program students Phil Stan and Stevie LaBelle led a poignant panel discussion to promote suicide awareness and discussion and encourage their peers to think past the stigma attached to mental illness.

The three-person panel included former State Senator Robert Antonioni; Michael Ellis, project coordinator of the Men’s Suicide Prevention Program at Heywood Hospital; and MWCC student Carrie DeCosta. Representing three different perspectives on suicide and mental illness, the panelists shared their individual accounts with approximately 100 MWCC students in the college’s North Café.

“Suicide and depression do not discriminate,” said Stan, while introducing the Dec. 2 event. He lamented that suicide represents the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24, yet is still regarded as a “social taboo.”

“Elected officials look for issues to champion. That issue found me in 1999,” said Antonioni, referring to the year he lost his brother to suicide.

“Suicide is seen as a stigma to avoid, but it shouldn’t be. It should be on the forefront of everyone’s minds, and we should look to intervene and help,” he said.

“The way to get around this stigma and provide opportunity for discussion is to have forums” throughout the community, said Ellis. He encouraged students to seek education on suicide and mental illnesses, respond proactively to clear risk factors, participate in prevention training and learn to be accepting and tolerant of mental health issues. “Every single one of us has a role to play.”

“It’s important to share my story because you wouldn’t think by looking at me that I struggled with mental illnesses,” said DeCosta. “I was determined not to be a statistic and beat my illness.”

LaBelle and Stan, MWCC’s Student Trustee, organized the event as an extension of their abnormal psychology course and as a service learning project in the Honors Program.

“The fact that this many people showed up means the conversation has started,” LaBelle said.

MWCC Research Analyst Shawn LaRoche, who recently earned a certificate of completion from the Association of Institutional Research's Data and Decisions Academy, is congratulated by President Daniel M. Asquino.

MWCC Research Analyst Shawn LaRoche, who recently earned a certificate of completion from the Association of Institutional Research’s Data and Decisions Academy, is congratulated by President Daniel M. Asquino.

Mount Wachusett Community College Research Analyst Shawn LaRoche recently earned a certificate of completion from the Association of Institutional Research’s Data and Decisions Academy. MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino nominated LaRoche for the academy’s Presidential Scholarship.

The online, self-paced program for institutional-research professionals at two-year schools builds practical skills to enhance data-informed decision making in higher education, which in turn supports MWCC’s vision of a diverse, adaptive community of lifelong learners.

LaRoche was identified by President Asquino as an exemplary employee whose ascension could be further accelerated through specialized training. In this program, LaRoche completed courses in Longitudinal Tracking for Institutional Research and Survey Design.

“The need for skilled institutional research professionals has greatly intensified as data increasingly drives our strategic-planning efforts, which aim to help students succeed,” said President Asquino. “Shawn has emerged as a vital part of this process at MWCC, and we are glad we could nominate him for this professional development  opportunity.”

Leveraging his 12 years of prior experience in data collection and analysis, LaRoche completes the majority of MWCC’s external reports and provides administration and faculty with actionable and timely information.

“The skills I gained in the courses have already paid dividends in a number of projects, including research related to student progression through developmental education,” he said. “I am also more prepared for conducting larger-scale surveys thanks to the practical experience I gained in the courses. Advancing my skills in these areas is not only a benefit for me but for everyone at MWCC. I am grateful to President Asquino for his support of my participation in the program.”

In his spare time, LaRoche coaches Barre youth soccer and baseball, and serves as treasurer for Barre youth baseball.

Initial funding for the Data and Decisions Academy is made possible by a $1.92 million grant from Lumina Foundation for Education. The Association of Institutional Research, which hosts the academy, is based in Tallahassee, Florida.

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Fitchburg High School seniors complete college applications as part of the school’s first year of participation in Massachusetts College Application Celebration. More than 86 percent of the class completed college applications, exceeding the 80-percent goal set by MWCC Division of Access & Transition. Assisting FHS students, and wearing red t-shirts, are GEAR UP and TRIO staff members.

A majority of Fitchburg High School seniors celebrated Thanksgiving with more than a meal under their belt. By the holiday, more than 86 percent of the class had completed college applications, exceeding a goal set by the high school’s administration and guidance staff and MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition.

MWCC and Fitchburg High partnered to bring the Massachusetts College Application Celebration event to the school for the first time during the week of Nov. 17, with the goal of encouraging 80 percent of the senior class apply to at least one college of their choice by Thanksgiving. This is the third year Massachusetts has participated in the national initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Education’s GEAR UP program. The high school is encouraging 100-percent participation by spring.

“It was a great success,” said Andrew Goodwin, MWCC GEAR UP Director. By encouraging seniors to apply early, they are more likely to apply to several schools and find the best match for their academic goals, he said.

Bringing the application celebration directly to Massachusetts high schools coincides with key state education goals of providing college access to all students and closing achievement gaps, said state GEAR UP Director Robert Dias, who paid a visit during the Fitchburg event.

Damaris Cabrera, who has participated in MWCC’s Educational Talent Search program since middle school, said the application drive is making a big difference for students. The college access programs she has participated in have helped her realize the importance of higher education and the various financial aid programs available to help make that goal affordable, she said.

“I’ve received the information I need to help me prepare for my future.”

Medical assisting is one of several new transfer agreements between Massachusetts vocational-technical schools and community colleges.

Medical assisting is one of several new transfer agreements between Massachusetts vocational-technical schools and community colleges.

Massachusetts Community Colleges and the Commonwealth’s Career and Technical High Schools have developed new articulation/transfer agreements aimed at creating seamless pipelines to higher education and reducing the time to completion for vocational high school students entering community colleges.

The seven new transfer agreements were recently signed at the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) annual meeting and will assist with transitioning vocational high school students to community college degree and certificate programs in STEM fields, the trades, health care, business and other high-demand middle skills careers. The seven new statewide agreements were developed this past summer under the leadership of the Massachusetts Community College Executive Office (MCCEO) and built upon a four-year partnership between MCCEO, MAVA, and the Commonwealth’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) that was created in 2010, when the first pipeline agreement was developed in the field/trade of Drafting.

According to Bill Hart, Executive Officer of MCCEO, “The 15 Community Colleges across the state continually partner locally and regionally with high schools on pathways to college programs. However, in this particular partnership with MAVA and DESE, we created a statewide collaborative model that provides clear pathways for motivated students to have access to higher education in disciplines and career fields in which they already know they have an interest and some experience.”

The agreements that are developed through this inclusive process with both community college faculty and vocational high school teachers ensure that articulation and transfer for these programs is done in a uniform and consistent way, Hart said.

“Each year Mount Wachusett Community College awards college credit to incoming students who have completed occupational career pathways at their high schools,” said Dr. Melissa Fama, MWCC Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Students from Monty Tech, Leominster Center for Technical Education Innovation, Murdock High, Fitchburg High and other area high schools benefit each year by transferring credits from high school career programs. The addition of seven new transfer agreements will increase the number of articulated credits available to students and assist them along the way to certificate and degree completion.”

There are now a total of 14 collaborative agreements that allow for vocational high school students in specific programs to be awarded credits at community colleges for work already completed at the vocational high school level.

“This is a win-win situation with vocational technical school graduates being well prepared to continue their education at our quality community colleges in the Commonwealth. We are encouraged that this collaborative articulation model will continue to be expanded to many additional occupational career paths,” said David Ferreira, Executive Director of MAVA.

The seven new agreements are in the high-demand fields of Hospitality Management; Business Technology; Health Assisting; Medical Assisting, Carpentry, Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration; and Machine Tool Technology (Machine Manufacturing).  Previous agreements in addition to the original in Drafting include: Transportation; Arts and Communications; Information Technology; Manufacturing Engineering; Culinary Arts; and Early Childhood Education. For more information on the Massachusetts Community Colleges & Vocational High School articulation agreements visit www.masscc.org.