Recent Stories

concert studentsWhen the Boston-based band The Wicked Hangin Chads recently took to the MWCC theatre for a free show, they did more than entertain the audience with two hours of reggae fusion and flow art dancing. They provided an opportunity for Media Arts and Technology students to hone their video and audio production skills.

While the band performed its original music in several languages on Saturday, May 14, a crew of students, guided by Professors John Little and Joel Anderson, discretely recorded the event using eight video cameras set at various angles, synchronized to two 48 track audio recorders capturing 35 audio sources. The recording will be edited and released as a half-hour show for cable television and the band’s promotional efforts.

Academics-New-Building-Exterior

Site work has begun for MWCC’s new science building.

Last week’s snow plowing of the Gardner campus front lawn may have seemed like a strange sight, but the work was an essential first step in preparing for our new science and technology building.

Following an extensive planning and design phase that began in 2013, the front lawn of the campus was identified as the most feasible site to accommodate the new building, which will provide much-needed upgrades to our 40-year-old campus, particularly in the growing STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Now, site preparation work is underway, with construction slated to begin in April.

To make way for the new addition, the three maple trees were removed as planned, though they will maintain a permanent place on our campus. The wood is being sent to a mill, where it will be cut into boards and kiln dried. Once the amount and quality of the boards are known, the lumber will be repurposed for commemorative items, such as a conference table, podium, benches and plaques.

Late last week and early this week, division offices on the second and third floor are being relocated to adjacent classrooms to make way for demolition that will provide connection from the Haley building to the new wing. This week’s construction activities also will include more site preparation and erosion control measures, additional trailers for the contractor, construction fencing, excavation for relocating our 12-inch water line, and removal of the satellite dishes.

During the week of March 23, the west ramp will be removed, offices on the second and third floor will be demolished, and construction partitions will be installed within the Haley building. Blue tape on the floor indicates the location of these temporary partitions (first floor between Murphy Conference Room and Marketing, women’s restroom near library, basement women’s room and police locker rooms, second and third floor division offices, second floor women’s room and faculty women’s room near room 247, third floor women’s room and faculty women’s room near room 347). A men’s restroom on each floor in the same hallway will be designated for use by women.  The stairwell on the east end of the Art Wing will also be blocked.

“It’s exciting to see actual progress,” said President Asquino. “Our intent is to get this project completed as quickly as possible with minimum disruption. We realize there will be inconvenience for all, but the end will be worth the efforts.”

Construction is expected to take 18 months, and updates will be posted regularly. The college is coordinating with the State’s Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) for a date for a ground breaking ceremony.

Questions or concerns may be directed to Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob LaBonte, or Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Jon Wyman.

 

MWCC student Louis Ayisi at $30K Commitment Statehouse

MWCC student Louis Ayisi, speaking at the State House $30K Commitment announcement, shared how transfer pathways make higher education goals attainable.

A new collaboration between Central Massachusetts’ four institutions of public higher education – Fitchburg State University, Mount Wachusett Community College, Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University – will guarantee qualifying students their associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in high demand programs for $30,000 in four years.

Presidents and representatives from the colleges and universities joined Secretary of Education James Peyser, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland, Senator Michael Moore, chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, and other key officials in announcing the new agreement March 9 at the State House.

The “$30K Commitment,” starting this fall, is a promise from the institutions to support the career goals of Massachusetts residents; prepare students for high-demand degrees; and outline clear paths for students to complete affordable associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in four years. Tuition and fees will be frozen for qualifying students.

According to College Board, the average cost of one year of tuition and fees for a private, four-year college education is $31,000—more than the cost of four years outlined in the $30K Commitment. The average cost of in-state tuition and fees for public institutions is $9,139 a year. The $30K Commitment reduces the cost of a four-year degree program to $7,500 a year.

The commitment aligns degree programs and allows for seamless transfer between the two-year and four-year institutions for programs including business administration, computer science, early childhood education, biotechnology, criminal justice, biology and chemistry. Students who wish to continue their studies beyond the baccalaureate level will benefit from institutions’ articulation agreements with other schools. Those heading straight to their careers will be able to capitalize on internship opportunities and professional networks related to the fields of study included in the $30K program.

Participating students will be expected to maintain good academic standing with full-time course loads each semester. In addition to easy transfer opportunities from the community colleges, students will be guaranteed admission to the state university programs outlined in the agreement.

Secretary Peyser called the initaitive a “very important step in the right direction.”

“The biggest thing we can do do is make college more affordable,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, noting that the $30K commitment addresses many crucial areas, such as college completion, economic development, innovation and college readiness. “The community colleges and state universities of Central Massachusetts enjoy strong collaborative partnerships, and this agreement – creating opportunities and controlling costs – is evidence of those relationships.”

“Equally important…are our partnerships with our K-12 partners, including our dual enrollment work allowing high school students to earn college credit,” he said.

MWCC pre-engineering major Louis Ayisi was invited to address the gathering as one of the student speakers. “When I arrived in this country from Ghana 11 months ago, I made the best decision of my life (to enroll at MWCC). For first generation students like me, the sky is not the limit, but the stepping stone,” he said.

Fitchburg Schools Superintendent Andre Ravenelle noted that the school district is privileged to have partnerships with MWCC and Fitchburg State. “You cannot do this work alone.”

“I enthusiastically support this program because it locks in the price of $30K, and can spur our students to stay on course and complete their degrees. That commitment from our students will improve retention and four-year graduation rates,” said Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland. “It is my hope that the program will dramatically increase awareness of the affordability and high quality of our programs, and serve as a model for what we hope to do on a statewide basis.”

 

Johnson Dang

Johnson Dang of Ayer creates a strand of his own DNA during MWCC’s STEM Awareness Day.

Aspiring scientists, engineers and mathematicians interested in high tech careers discovered a host of options during Mount Wachusett Community College’s second annual STEM Awareness Day on March 6.

The event featured a variety of hands-on demonstrations ranging from trying out equipment used in 3D printing to creating a necklace containing one’s own DNA, as well information on various academic careers, financial aid and transfer options. It also showcased MWCC’s upcoming STEM Starter Academy and STEM SET scholarship program.

The college is currently recruiting students for its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Starter Summer Academy. Participating students will receive two free college courses, textbooks, up to $1,750 in stipends, academic support and tutoring, and will attend industry field trips and MWCC’s Summer Leadership Academy.

“We are excited to once again offer the STEM Starter Academy to local learners pursuing a degree in STEM fields,” said Veronica Guay, Assistant Dean of the School of Business, Science, Technology and Mathematics. “Summer participants will enter the fall semester with seven college credits, money in their pockets and be well on their way to obtaining their degree.”

Funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and the Department of Economic and Workforce Development, the program aims to inform, engage, recruit, retain and graduate significantly more students and enhance their success in STEM pathway programs that lead to job placements or transfer to higher level STEM academic programs.

The summer program will run July 7 through Aug. 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as August 25 and 26, at the Gardner campus.

Funded through a $150,000 grant, the summer academy is open to recent high school graduates and adult learners who place into English Composition and Intermediate Algebra or higher, and enroll in one of MWCC’s STEM programs in the fall 2015 semester.

Qualifying STEM majors include biology, biotechnology, chemistry, clinical laboratory science, computer information systems fitness leadership and exercise science, natural resources, general studies allied health, physics or pre-engineering.

In addition, STEM majors at MWCC may qualify for an annual $3,300 STEM SET scholarship, available through a grant the college received from the National Science Foundation.

For more information about the STEM Starter Academy at MWCC, visit http://mwcc.edu/takeiton or contact the admissions office at 978-630-9110 or admissions@mwcc.mass.edu.

 

Senator Stephen Brewer1Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation, Inc. will honor long-serving former state Senator Stephen M. Brewer as the 2015 Harold E. Drake, Jr. Citizen of the Year at its annual Foundation Dinner on April 9 at Mount Wachusett Ski Area in Princeton. Outstanding MWCC students who receive foundation scholarship funds also will be honored.

“Senator Brewer worked tirelessly to serve the needs of his constituents in Central and Western Massachusetts, and has long supported efforts that benefit students of all ages in our region,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “His commitment to serving others epitomizes the virtues of civic engagement that are incorporated into the educational experience at Mount Wachusett Community College and also reflects our values as an academic institution. His leadership and dedication over the years have been monumental, and we are delighted to recognize him as the 2015 Citizen of the Year.”

Senator Brewer retired last fall following 26 years in the state Legislature. After serving as a selectman in Barre and as a legislative aide to Senator Robert D. Wetmore, he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1988 and to the state Senate in 1996. Most recently, Senator Brewer chaired the powerful Senate Committee on Ways and Means and served on the Senate Committee on Ethics and Rules and the Joint Committee on Rules. Previously, he served as Senate vice-chair of the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture, as vice-chair of the Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee, and as a member of the Joint Committee on Public Safety.

Senator Brewer earned his baccalaureate degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he recently joined the faculty of the Center for Public Policy and Administration. He earned a master’s degree in history and government from Assumption College and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy from MWCC during the college’s 2008 commencement. He is a resident of Barre, where he lives with his wife, Valerie, and is the proud father of their two daughters, April and Audrey.

The Harold E. Drake, Jr. Citizen of the Year Award is presented in memory of Harold E. Drake, treasurer and former president of Royal Steam Heater Co. and Lynde Hardware & Supply, Inc. The award recognizes community members who exemplify Mr. Drake’s extraordinary commitment to the North Central Massachusetts region.

Tickets to the annual foundation dinner are $75 per person, and proceeds go directly to student scholarships. A social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required and may be made by contacting Jo-Ann Meagher at 978-630-9387 or jmeagher@mwcc.mass.edu.

 

Photo 7GARDNER About two dozen volunteers climbed aboard their spin-bikes at 9 a.m. on Sunday and began pedaling, and — with the exception of a short break now and then — they didn’t stop for the next three hours.

The event, held at the MWCC Fitness and Wellness Center, was the 7th Annual Pedal to End Cancer, a New England-wide indoor cycling fundraising event to benefit the American Cancer Society. Event Coordinator Lori Pucko said the school’s involvement in the event began seven years ago when a member of the fitness club was diagnosed with cancer.

“We thought it would be a nice way to raise some money, and we’ve just been doing it every year,” Ms. Pucko explained, adding that the event raises several thousand dollars in donations annually. “We’re up to over $30,000 over the past six years.”

Ms. Pucko, who is also the group fitness manager at the center, said the event is one that club members look forward to each year, an indication of just how many lives are touched by such a terrible disease. “This event is super-important to them. They have loved ones that have passed, and some of our own members are still struggling,” Ms. Pucko explained.

Participants this year were pedaling in recognition of Diane Guertin of Hubbardston, a fellow fitness center member who is battling cancer for the second time and currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment. “(Diane) actually called me Friday night from UMass to wish us good luck,” Ms. Pucko said.

“She has participated in this event every year, so we’ve been taking pictures and videos and we’re going to send them to her.” Participants were allowed to form teams of three to reduce their pedaling time to a more manageable hour, according to Ms. Pucko. Short hydration and bathroom breaks were also permitted. Ms. Pucko said the event, which this year featured food donated from Hannaford’s Supermarket and Papa Gino’s, had grown over the past seven years. This year’s event also featured music and videos provided by Platinum Productions of Lunenburg, and massage therapist Sharon Godin of Orange donated her services to participants.

After a moment of silence to remember those lost to the disease and to recognize survivors who are still battling, fitness club member sang an emotional version of Amazing Grace.

Sunday’s event raised nearly $5,000 and concluded on a touching note, as participants attached personal messages of remembrance or encouragement to about 20 helium balloons, went outside and released them to the sky.

The Gardner News 3/2/2015

Stephen Landry, News Staff Writer

 

 

business plan competition group photo cropped

Teen entrepreneurs Matthew Aronson and Rachelle Wailes, pictured center among fellow competitors and several judges, took first place in MWCC’s business Plan Competition with their FLEXFIT stretching device.

A team of Leominster teenagers came a step closer to manufacturing an exercise device designed to improve flexibility and prevent injury, after taking first place in MWCC’s Business Plan Competition. During a close, but friendly competition, three finalists presented their proposals to a panel of judges during the evening event on Feb. 24 in the North Café.

The panel of judges comprised of local business and community leaders concurred that each finalist presented strong, well-researched plans, though the KRAM Wellness Group, which is gearing up to manufacture its first product – a mobile compact stretching device called the FLEXFIT – edged out the competition.

St. Bernard High School freshmen Rachelle Wailes, Matthew Aronson and their number one supporters (their parents) impressed judges with the mobile stretching device. The team developed the device while competing in the eCYBERMISSION STEM national competition as middle school students. They began the process after consulting with Dr. Lyle Micheli, noted director of sports medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. The team, which also includes classmate Kathryn Schatia who was unable to attend the event,  won $2,000, plus an assortment of consulting and professional services.

Karen Kiver Patalan of Boylston received $1,000 and professional services as the second-place winner for her proposal to expand her electronic medical record software service. Patalan, a registered dietician, created the KaiZen RD EMR expressly for registered dietitians in private practice. The product eliminates the need for paper charts while producing professional client and physician notes as it electronically bills for free, all during the patient visit.

Third prize went to Jonathan Tyler of Shirley, a business major at Fitchburg State University, and Daniel Lafond of Fitchburg, who graduated from Fitchburg State with an economics degree, who impressed the judges with their proposal to open the region’s first e-hookah lounge for patrons ages 18 and above. The duo proposed the Absolem Lounge (named after the hookah-puffing caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland) to provide an alternative nightlife and entertainment venue in Fitchburg. They received $500, plus additional prizes.

MWCC launched the competition in November during National Entrepreneurship Month to help stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit in North Central Massachusetts.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and that’s particularly true in North Central Massachusetts,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “We’re very grateful to our sponsors and judges who also support local businesses and start-ups.”

The competition’s premier sponsor was the office of Ronald M. Ansin. The Sentinel & Enterprise was the media sponsor. Competition judges and sponsored also included Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke; Tina Sbrega, president and CEO of GFA Federal Credit Union; Linda Racine, executive vice president of Rollstone Bank & Trust; Jim Bellina of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce, and Tom Mutti of the office of Ronald Ansin. The North Central Massachusetts and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce also served as sponsors.

“It was a very close competition,” said MWCC Associate Vice President of Workforce Development Jeremiah Riordon, who served as emcee and coordinator of the contest.

In addition to the cash awards, prizes included advertising and consulting opportunities, free credit and noncredit courses at MWCC, graphic design services, consultations with marketing and legal experts, and business supplies.

 

WHC-30The Wicked Hangin Chads, a Boston-based reggae fusion band influenced by Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff among others, will perform a free concert Saturday, March 14 at Mount Wachusett Community College.

The concert will serve as a live training event for students enrolled in MWCC’s Media Arts and Technology program, as well as provide hands-on experience for college students in other disciplines. High school students visiting the campus prior to the concert have been invited discover how the world of music and broadcasting intersect by participating in event set up.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. in the theatre of the Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center. Doors open at 7:30 and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Husband and wife Rick and Celia Chadwick have been performing together for more than three decades, joining talented musicians from as far away as Dubai and as diverse as a West African drummer and a traditional Indian instrumentalist. They formed the Wicked Hangin Chads six years ago, offering a mix of original reggae, reggae hybrid and ska with a Latin blues flavor. The band has summer residency at the Barking Crab restaurant in Boston and has played numerous venues over the years including the Hard Rock Cafe.

“We do one concert a year as a training event for students enrolled in five different courses,” said John Little, chair of the Media Arts and Technology department. “In their chosen disciplines, they take part in promotion, set design, lighting, recording, photography, video camera operation video directing, video editing, audio mixing and mastering, poster design, and product design.”

“I’m thrilled to have a seven piece reggae band as our act this year. They will provide our video and audio students a wonderful challenge. In the weeks that follow these annual concerts, we regularly hear from our students that the concert was the most beneficial day of their entire time at college. And THAT is music to my ears,” Little said.

Media Arts and Technology student Trevor Buckingham, a musician who has performed with the Chads, recommended the band for this year’s performance.

During this public event, concert attendees agree to be recorded in the audience in photos, video and/or audio for DVD, Internet, television and other promotional materials. The resulting Blu-Ray/DVD will be offered by the band to their fan base, run on cable access channels, and will be used by MWCC in promotional pieces.

“The Wicked Hangin Chads are absolutely thrilled to be working with the faculty and students of Mount Wachusett Community College and we are humbled by the attention and the focus that we are getting,” said Rick Chadwick. “We’re very thankful and happy to be part of it. The DVD we’re going to have as part of this performance is going to be paramount to our promos.”

 

 

 

 

Gail Thomas

Gail Thomas

MWCC is celebrating Women’s History Month with several events in March.

On Thursday, March 5, author and poet Gail Thomas will present a poetry reading at 12:30 in the North Café. Thomas has published two books of poetry, No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley, (Haley’s) and Finding the Bear (Perugia). Her poems have appeared in more than 30 literary journals and anthologies. She has won the Robert Hearst Prize and the Pat Schneider Prize for poems that appear in her book, Waving Back, which will be published by Word Tech’s Turning Point imprint in 2015.

Thomas is the recipient of writing and teaching grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and was awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross. She was a founding artist and trainer for the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Elder Arts Initiative and has collaborated with artists across the state for workshops and performances. Thomas has led community writing workshops at schools, hospitals, libraries and senior centers, as well as private poetry craft workshops. Thomas is a learning specialist and teaches at Smith College.

In conjunction with the Student Life Film Series, the documentary “Malala: A Girl from Paradise” will be presented on Wednesday, March 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café. This documentary is about Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee who survived an assassination attempt at age 15 for her determined efforts to defend girls’ education in Pakistan, after the Taliban outlawed schools for girls in her native Swat Valley.

The Women’s HerStory Project will return with a display in the South Cafe. Students in Professor Susan Goldstein’s Journalism 1 class and the office of Student Life will display photos with feature articles of MWCC faculty and staff who play an important role in the lives of students. The women featured in the HerStory project will be recognized during a Women’s Appreciation Day event on Wednesday, March 26.

Singer-songwriter Christa Gniadek will perform during the Women’s Appreciation Day event on Wednesday, March 26 from 12:30 to 1:30 in the South Café. Described as a performer with the robust, velvety vocals of Norah Jones, the folk-pop elements of Anna Nalick and the quirky poeticism of Ingrid Michaelson, Gniadek’s minimalist musical style and clever lyricism is unexpected even in someone mature beyond her 24 years.

 

Business GroupMassachusetts business owners, presidents and human resources professionals are invited to attend a free North Central Massachusetts Resource Forum on Thursday, March 19 from 8:30 to 10:30 at Mount Wachusett Community College’s Leominster campus, 100 Erdman Way.

Sponsored by MWCC, the event will include representatives from the college, state agencies, the city of Leominster and regional Chambers of Commerce who will present information on the amenities, benefits and incentives available to businesses of all sizes.

Rosemary Scrivens, Central Regional Director for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development’s Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) will present the variety of business resources, expertise and tax incentive programs available in the Commonwealth, including how communities can provide Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) agreements for businesses.

Lisa Marrone, Economic Development coordinator for the city of Leominster, will present on how to apply a multi-faceted approach to achieve municipal economic success. She will share her view on building the vitality of a downtown core and neighborhood centers through the creation of new business and retail opportunities; connecting entrepreneurs and property owners with public financing opportunities; and supporting and enhancing connections between a city’s many economic generators.

Paulette Carroll, Director, and Scott Percifull, Business Service Representative for the North Central Career Center, will discuss On the Job Training grants, job postings and fairs, assistance with on-site and off-site recruiting and labor market information.

Joe Mello, Rapid Response Coordinator from the Division of Career Services, will speak about layoff aversion & management, pre-layoff services and layoff services designed for companies. He will also discuss the Massachusetts BizWorks program.

Jeremiah Riordon, Associate Vice President of MWCC’s Workforce Development division will present on corporate training, professional development and educational opportunities including state-funded program guidelines for Lean and leadership training to advance skills, enhance productivity and profitability.

John Henshaw, Ph.D., Dean of Workforce Development at MWCC, will discuss pre-employment training programs for advanced manufacturing and quality.

Roy Nascimento, Jim Bellina and Melissa Fetterhoff, presidents/CEOs of the North Central Massachusetts, Greater Gardner and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce respectively, will share information about the benefits and services provided through membership, such as increased visibility, networking, educational and marketing opportunities, health insurance and alternative lending.

John Harden, Economic Development Specialist with the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation, will discuss how it works with companies, legislators, state agencies, chambers of commerce and MWCC to assess the needs of business and enhance regional economic planning and growth throughout Northern Worcester County.

Continental breakfast and coffee will be provided. Register for the free forum online at mwcc.edu/continuing or call 978-630-9179.