Student Stories

Nate Haney

MWCC alumnus Nate Haney, now a stage manager at ESPN, recently shared his career experiences with current students.

How do you get from Studio B in the basement of Mount Wachusett Community College to the advanced television studios at ESPN? MWCC alumnus Nate Haney shared how he did just that during presentations to Media Arts and Technology students on February 5 at the college’s Gardner campus.

Haney, a 2006 graduate of MWCC who now works full-time as a stage manager at the Bristol, CT-based sports station, shared how he navigated the journey from classroom to dream job and what it’s like to work for the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

Internships, networking, volunteering and making the most of every opportunity that comes along were among the key tips he shared.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of internships due to the competitiveness. Be bold and daring, but not pushy. Make the most of every opportunity to learn and to network. Even if it’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday, do it. It will be worth it in the end,” Haney said. “Make yourself valuable, indispensable and unexpendable and great things can happen.”

Haney received his degree from MWCC in 2006 and transferred to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams to earn his bachelor’s degree. He started in the industry as an intern at WCVB Boston-Channel 5, then went on to work for four years as a freelancer and part-time seasonal studio technician for New England Sports Network, covering the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins.

After enduring a six-hour interview at ESPN, he was hired as a stage manager in February 2013, starting off on the station’s Sports Center. He is curently in training to become an associate director.

The MRT department, formerly known as Broadcasting and Electronic Media, developed a speaker series more than five years ago to introduce current students to industry professionals and hear first-hand about various aspects of the industry, said Associate Professor Joel Anderson. “We’re always excited to invite our alumni back to share their experiences in the field.”

pennant[1]Mount Wachusett Community College will host FAFSA Day Massachusetts on Sunday, Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. at the Gardner campus.

Every high school senior, college student, and adult student who will be attending college during the 2015-2016 academic year needs to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to apply for federal, state, and institutional financial aid. FAFSA Day Massachusetts, part of the national College Goal Sunday program, provides free help statewide to students and families looking to complete the FAFSA.

Families are encouraged to visit www.FAFSADay.org to view locations, dates, and times, to register, and to see a list of what to bring. The services are free and available to anyone attending college for the 2015-2016 academic year. Low-income, first-generation students are especially encouraged to attend.

FAFSA Day is staffed by volunteer financial aid and higher education experts available to provide families with one-on-one assistance. FAFSA Day is a non-profit program sponsored by Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, MEFA, American Student Assistance, and USA Funds.

To register or for more information visit www.FAFSADay.org.

Bath Spa University

The Massachusetts Department of Education has announced a new scholarship opportunity for community college students to study at Bath Spa University in England.

Massachusetts community college students interested in starting careers in business and entrepreneurship will have a unique opportunity to study abroad and earn their bachelor’s degree for free through a new scholarship program launched by Shorelight Education in partnership with Bath Spa University and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Department of Higher Education has announced.

Shorelight, a Massachusetts-based company that partners with leading nonprofit universities to increase access for international students, has established the Shorelight Global Scholarship Program to give two Massachusetts students a full two-year scholarship worth an estimated $85,000, including tuition, housing and airfare. Students will attend the undergraduate School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Bath Spa University in Bath, England, and are expected to complete the coursework required to earn a bachelor’s degree. The program will begin in the fall 2015 semester.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for highly motivated students to earn a four-year degree while also having an opportunity to study abroad,” said Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland. “I commend Shorelight Education and Bath Spa University for creating the scholarship program and for recognizing the talents and creative potential of our community college students.”

The primary goal of the scholarship program is to help aspiring community college students turn their business ideas into reality through the combination of a rigorous academic curriculum with real-world resources available in the Bath-Bristol region—a major innovation hub and the UK’s second largest community of tech startups. Students enrolled at Bath Spa University’s School of Business and Entrepreneurship will have the opportunity to explore their ideas while learning the fundamentals of business operations and management in an international setting. The program aims to help them launch and manage ventures that can succeed in today’s global economy.

“We look forward to helping two hard-working Massachusetts students access an amazing opportunity to get a global perspective and a world-class business education,” said Shorelight CEO Tom Dretler.

The scholarship is tailored for students who are interested in starting new businesses, offering a new product or service, creating an innovation or commercializing an invention. Students interested in applying for the scholarship must submit an application by April 1. Full details on eligibility and how to apply can be found at the Department of Higher Education’s web site, http://www.mass.edu/osfa/programs/shorelight.asp.

Henry_David_Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

MWCC’s Humanities Project, East Meets West in a Cabin in Concord: Walden and Beyond, continues during the spring semester with several community book discussions and a poetry reading. The events, inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, are free and open to the public.

A discussion on Cal Armistead’s “Being Henry David,” will take place Wednesday, Feb. 11 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Gardner campus. In Armistead’s debut novel about a teen in search of himself, 17-year-old “Hank” lands at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything – who he is, where he came from or why he’s running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David – or “Hank” – and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of – Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. As Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past, he realizes that the only way he can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories.

A book discussion on Jane Langton’s mystery, “The Transcendental Murder,” will take place Thursday, March 5 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Leominster Public Library. In this first Homer Kelly mystery, Langton takes readers to Concord, where a manuscript that may or may not have been written by Thoreau is at the center of a mysterious murder.

“American Primitive,” Mary Oliver’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry, will be the topic of a book discussion Thursday, March 26 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Fitchburg Public Library. This collection of 50 poems offers readers a lesson in stillness and observation. Called “an indefatigable guide to the natural world,” Oliver’s book keeps alive the tradition that Thoreau began a century and a half earlier.

A poetry reading with Gail Thomas, author of “No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley,” will take place Wednesday, April 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Athol Public Library. Thomas’s collection of poems recreates with grace and dignity the voices of the men and women of the Swift River Valley who were displaced when the Quabbin Reservoir was created. What would Thoreau have said about this reclaiming of the natural world at the expense of community and individual autonomy?

Funded by a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MWCC Humanities Project is an ongoing initiative designed to strengthen the college’s humanities curriculum, support collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching and research in the humanities, examine the intersection between the humanities and other academic disciplines, and engage MWCC and the community in the discussion of enduring themes from the world’s many cultures and traditions. For more information, visit http://mwcc.edu/humanitiesproject.

Haiti trip January 2015

MWCC nursing students, alumni and faculty joined Forward in Health on a mission trip to Haiti in January.

During the winter recess, a group of MWCC nursing students, alumni and faculty members spent a week in the Caribbean, though swimming, snorkeling and tropical feasts were not on the agenda. Rather, they went to Haiti to provide health care to impoverished children and adults served by the Gardner nonprofit Forward in Health.

Forward in Health, founded by Dr. John Mulqueen and MWCC alumna Paula Mulqueen, RN, is dedicated to providing health care to residents in a rural area just outside Les Cayes. The organization has organized more than 50 mission trips since 2001, and is now in the final stages of building a clinic to serve residents in one of the world’s poorest countries. On these trips, they bring with them medicine, supplies, volunteers from the community – and hope.

The trips are strenuous, but rewarding and life-changing, said Paula Mulqueen, a 1994 graduate of MWCC’s nursing program. “It was a privilege to take my alma mater to the third world,” she said. “Our MWCC nursing pin is engraved with the words “Service to Humanity and the World, and this trip was a true testament to the Mount and to Gardner that we have produced the finest nurses who are willing to step outside their comfort zone to serve others.”

Faculty members Katherine Pecorelli and Kathy Panagiotes, nursing students Diana Bronson, Lori Bellieveau, Katelyn Halfrey and Dawn Fuller, and nursing program alumni Marquita Day and Donna Muse joined Paula on the mission trip Jan. 3 to 13. Forward in Health board member Debbie Orre, former director of MWCC’s nursing program, joined the healthcare team, along with several other volunteers from the community.

Days before they were set to leave from Boston, the trip was nearly canceled due to a new round of political unrest in Haiti. Once there, the country’s electricity was not working for much of the time. The volunteers were there for the country’s National Day of Mourning on Jan. 12, marking five years since a massive earthquake devastated the island.

Without access to health care, even the most common of ailments than can be cured with over the counter medicines in the U.S. can become full-blown health issues in Haiti when left untreated, such as respiratory illness and skin infections.

“I believe the nursing students develop a deeper compassion, understanding and empathy,” after serving in this capacity, Pecorelli said. While in Haiti, the team of volunteers held a mountain clinic and assessed close to 100 patients, she said. In addition to the time spent administering direct care to patients, volunteers visited an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa, and took in some local sites.

“Forward in Health has created a safe, welcoming and bonding method of bringing various people from the community to Haiti,” said Professor Panagiotes.

“I think this experience makes me more grateful for the things that I have in the U.S. and I would love to do more to help,” said student volunteer Lori Belliveau.

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  Massachusetts, citing as examples 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.