Student Stories

Women's Herstory Project 2015 honorees front row, from left, Ann Reynolds, Glaisma Perez Silva, name, Madhu Sharma; back row, Catherine Maddox-Wiley, Elizabeth, Cindy Doyle, and Aliza Miller.

Women’s HerStory Project 2015 honorees front row, from left, Ann Reynolds, Glaisma Perez Silva, Paula Clapp, Madhu Sharma; back row, Catherine Maddox-Wiley, Elizabeth Kilpatrick, Cindy Doyle, and Aliza Miller.

Eight MWCC faculty and staff members who play an instrumental role in the lives of our students were recognized during the college’s annual Women’s Appreciation Day on March 26.

For the past several years, students in Professor Susan Goldstein’s Journalism I class interview and write feature articles on women who are making a difference in the lives of others. The Women’s HerStory project this year recognized Paula Clapp, math tutor; Ann Reynolds, CCAMPIS advisor; Cynthia Doyle, accountant; Glaisma Silva Perez, coordinator of Disability Services; Catherine Maddox-Wiley, advisor, Rx program; Aliza Miller, math professor; Madhu Sharma, professor, English as a Second Language; and Elizabeth Kilpatrick, professor, anatomy and physiology.

The celebration capped off a month of activities and events in celebration of Women’s History Month and included a performance by singer-songwriter Christa Gniadek.

Juniors Symposium 2015

High school juniors respond to MWCC Dean Jason Zelesky’s presentation during the college’s annual Juniors Symposium.

 

Two hundred area high school juniors were welcomed to Mount Wachusett Community College’s annual Juniors Symposium to gain insight into applying to colleges and universities, seeking financial aid and scholarships and related topics to help them succeed.

One hundred juniors from Narragansett Regional, Fitchburg, Sizer Charter and Athol high schools attended the half-day symposium on March 17, while another 100 students from Gardner, Fitchburg, Murdock and Mahar Regional high schools participated on March 19.

The event is one of 18 college access and readiness programs provided by MWCC’s Division of Access and Transition to approximately 4,000 middle and high school students in the region.

A pep rally, led by MWCC Dean of Students Jason Zelesky as a new feature of the symposium, served to inspire students with positive, relevant messages about the importance of education and pursuing one’s dreams. While a new car will depreciate the minute it is driven from the dealer’s parking lot, a college education will gain in value throughout adulthood by enhancing one’s earning potential, he explained.

“The work you do every day (as students) translates into real dollars. When you purchase an education, every day that degree is worth more. That value continues to increase. You are making an investment in yourself.”

Touching on the theme of applying grit while striving to reach one’s goals, Zelesky shared inspiring stories that spanned a century of national events. When shown photographs from the early 20th century, no one in the audience recognized prestigious millionaire Samuel Langley, who was generously funded and well publicized during his efforts to be first in flight. But they did know who the Wright Brothers were, who despite being poor and unknown, succeeded.

He closed the presentation with a social media activity inviting students to share their dreams on Twitter, using the hashtags #grit and #MWCC. Careers in pediatric nursing, occupational therapy, engineering, teaching and the performing arts were among the many responses.

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.

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.

 

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.