Student Stories

MWCC Dental Programs 10 year celebration group photo

President Asquino, former Trustee Ellen Daly, outgoing Dental Education Programs Director Anne Malkasian and new chair Cynthia Cadoret are joined by students and alumni at the anniversary celebration.

Mount Wachusett Community College administrators, faculty, students and alumni joined representatives from North Central Massachusetts dental and medical community to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the college’s dental education programs. The event, held Jan. 22 at the programs’ new academic site, the Fitchburg Family Community Health Center, featured a reception, tours of the new facility, student presentations and refreshments.

President Daniel M. Asquino praised the college’s dental education programs as a model among the state’s community colleges for their clinical partnership with the Community Health Center to serve area residents who otherwise would not have access to dental care.

“There is no program like this, where students get the kind of exposure and experience they get at Mount Wachusett,” he said.

The college launched its dental hygiene program in 2005 following an outpouring of generosity from the dental community who saw a healthcare need and partnered with the college to address it, Asquino said. The part-time dental assisting program began in 2012. “It’s a model partnership where dentists and the dental community got some grants and we started the program for the community.”

To date, the programs have celebrated the academic success of 113 graduates. Alumni representing each graduating class from 2007 to 2014 attended the event, along with current students.

The event also recognized the decade-long leadership of Program Director Anne Malkasian, who is retiring.

“This evening we are celebrating a milestone for the dental education programs at Mount Wachusett Community College,” she said.

Malkasian thanked the numerous supporters who helped launch the program and ensure its continued success, including Ellen Daly, former chair of MWCC’s Board of Trustees. A retired dental hygienist, Daly was instrumental in starting the program. Daly, who attended the celebration, said she is delighted with the growth and continued success of the dental education programs.

“I may have planted a seed, but the work has been done by the college staff,” Daly said.

Professor Cynthia Cadoret, the new chair of the dental education programs department, announced the creation of the Dental Health Alumni Scholarship to benefit future students. Alumni, current students, college faculty and administrators, industry vendors and other supporters have contributed to the new scholarship. 

 

CJ

Charles “CJ” Husselbee, a first-generation college student, simultaneously earned his high school diploma and an academic certificate in accounting through MWCC’s Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation Career Tech Scholarship. He went on to earn an associate degree in Business Administration in 2014 a year ahead of schedule, and is now pursuing a bachelor’s in accounting at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Mount Wachusett Community College’s dual enrollment programs are showcased as innovative models in the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy’s second annual report, the Condition of Education in the Commonwealth. The report, released January 22 by the Cambridge-based research institute, examines areas of success and areas for continued improvement in student outcomes across the education pipeline, from birth to college and career success.

The report notes MWCC’s record of success and its potential to serve as a model for other communities across the Massachusetts, citing as example the Gateway to College program for students at risk of dropping out, the Pathways Early College Innovation School, and the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation Career Tech Scholarship.

The second annual report includes a set of 25 data indicators representing critical student outcomes and, for the first time this year, an action guide that focuses on three areas where data indicate the need for further reform: setting a strong foundation in early childhood, attending to the whole child with comprehensive supports, and preparing college-ready students through innovative high school designs.

The action guide focuses on existing programs that could, if brought to scale, lead to substantial progress in educational outcomes for students. Mount Wachusett Community College was showcased as a model for policymakers and practitioners.

“The Condition of Education project offers a platform for constructive dialogue among stakeholders about the most effective strategies to promote student success,” said the center’s Executive Director Chad d’Entremont. “Through this report, the Rennie Center brings together thought leaders to develop a shared understanding, grounded in evidence, of the state of our educational system. We are excited to shine a light on the great work that Mount Wachusett is doing to contribute to positive outcomes for Massachusetts students.”

“Dual enrollment programs expand academic opportunities and open doors to higher education for teenagers,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “Our programs cover a wide spectrum – including programs that restore excitement in learning for students who feel disengaged from the traditional high school experience, to those that help students accelerate the pace of their studies to get an early start on their career goals. We are delighted to partner with the Rennie Center to share our best practices with communities across the commonwealth.”

The report was released during a forum on Jan. 22 in Boston. Speakers included Massachusetts Secretary of Education James Peyser, Dr. Andrew Hargreaves of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College and author of The Fourth Way: the Inspiring Future for Educational Change.

Building upon its successful Gateway to College program, MWCC partnered with the Mahar Regional School District to launch the Pathways Early College Innovation High School in. Students with a GPA of 3.0 enroll during their junior year and earn a high school diploma and an associate degree simultaneously. The program focuses on high-achieving students, and recruits a largely low-income, first-generation population that might not attend college without this opportunity. The Pathways school draws on a variety of public and private funds, including district school-choice funds, to remain sustainable.

In partnership with Winchendon Public Schools, high school students can opt into a one-year, full-time dual enrollment program that features career-oriented options, such as health care, information technology, accounting or computer science. Funded by the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation, this program lets students earn their high school diploma and an academic certificate simultaneously, which can be applied toward an associate degree. The Rennie Center report notes that these are popular choices for students who are eager to complete a two-year degree or a work-based certification and enter the workforce quickly. Students are provided with private foundation scholarships from the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation to cover the costs associated with coursework.

MWCC has also expanded on its college transition offerings in other ways as well, the report notes. As a solution to remediation, the college administers the Accuplacer math and English placement tests to all juniors in nine partner high schools. In addition, MWCC faculty collaborate with high school faculty to develop rigorous and targeted 12th grade math courses to prepare all students to enter directly into credit-bearing coursework upon graduation. Fitchburg High School, Leominster High School, Leominster High’s Center for Technical Education Innovation and Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School participate in this Math Modeling initiative, with a planned expansion to an additional two to three high schools in the 2015-16 school year.

The Rennie Center was launched in 2002 by then-Secretary of Education Paul Reville as a division of the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC). In 2005, the Rennie Center became an independent non-profit organization committed to addressing the critical challenges of reforming education in Massachusetts. For more information and to view the report, visit www.renniecenter.org.

 

Chad Stateler & Sandy TavaresWondering how close you are to earning a college degree? Mount Wachusett Community College is hosting a transcript evaluation day on Wednesday, Jan. 7 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Gardner campus Advising Center.

Past, current and prospective students who have taken credit courses at MWCC or at other private and public colleges and universities are invited to bring their transcripts and meet with an advisor to discuss completing an academic degree.

“This is a chance for students to make the most out of the work they have already accomplished, and accelerate their educational and career goals,” said Debra Boucher, MWCC Director of Student Success.

Advance registration is encouraged and can be done online at mwcc.edu/getcredit. The snow date is Monday, Jan. 12.

Tom Matsuda and Sculpture I students fall 2014

Art Professor Thomas Matsuda, front right, with Sculpture I students near one of nine site specific installment pieces created this semester.

Proving once again the power of art outside the gallery, MWCC students wrapped up the fall semester by installing nine sculptures throughout the Gardner campus.

The project, new this year to Art Professor Tom Matsuda’s Sculpture I course, provided students with the opportunity to create site specific installment tailored to a particular location on campus. Earlier in the semester, the class created sculptures from nature that were located inside and outside the campus.

“It’s great to have an environment where we can share art with the student body,” said Kyle Johnson, president of the student art club. ““We’ve had such great response from the college, which really motivates us. It’s invaluable for the art program here,” said Johnson, who worked with classmate Amber Martinez to create a colorful, multi-piece cloth sculpture they installed in the Commons.

Other participating students include Heather Chadsey (sculpture located near theater box office); Julia Stokes (art wing); Alexander Singleton (Commons and art wing); Bethany Proctor (art wing); Samantha Rutkowski (art wing stairwell to basement); James Ham (art wing) Garret Watson (art wing stairwell to second floor); Isabela Bourque (Commons).

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, and some amazing times that 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 globe sculpture with seven clay figures representing diversity on the seven continents.

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.

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TRIO trivia musical chairs

Where can you combine the classic party game musical chairs with TRIO trivia? At the Visions and Rx programs’ year-end party.

Dozens of students who participate in MWCC’s Visions and Rx programs shared some laughs and bits of history, along with a giant cake to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the federal TRIO Student Services Support programs.

Ten student volunteers dwindled to one winner in the game, with each participant taking a moment to share a TRIO fact. Among the highlights:

  • Since 1964, when TRIO launched its first program, Upward Bound, more than two million students have graduated with assistance from TRIO programs.
  • MWCC’s Visions and Rx programs serve approximately 320 students each year and are two out of 1,900 TRIO programs throughout the country.
  • More than 1,000 colleges and universities house TRIO programs, which are funded through the U.S. Department of Education.
  • There are 59 TRIO programs in Massachusetts providing services to students.
  • Celebrities Oprah Winfrey, Taye Diggs, Angela Bassett, Patrick Ewing an John Quinones were all TRIO participants.
  • Students served by TRIO graduate at a higher rate than students who do not participate in TRIO programs.
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.