Student Stories

While there’s not a lot of pomp and circumstance, there’s definitely a feeling of accomplishment and new possibilities. This past August, another group of students received its certificates in Industry Readiness from the Advanced Manufacturing program at Mount Wachusett Community College’s Devens campus.

The graduates are a diverse group ranging in age from 19 to 56. Some are looking to begin their careers while others are looking for a fresh start. What they all have in common is the foresight to take advantage of a free six-week program that gives them the skills needed in today’s advanced manufacturing workplace.

As part of the program’s mission, the graduation ceremony is only one step in the process of helping graduates find good jobs. Right after the ceremony, each graduate sits and talks with representatives from a number of local partner companies looking to hire new employees. You could call it speed dating for jobs. Students are interviewed in a casual setting and get a leg-up in landing a job matched to their training. Everyone leaves the interviews feeling confident that a good job is on the horizon.

Jorge Rabelo Interviews with Celltreat Scientific

Jorge Rabelo Interviews with Celltreat Scientific

Samantha Wood, the human resource manager for Georgia-Pacific/Dixie Consumer Products in Leominster, is excited about meeting the graduates. “Mount Wachusett offers wonderful programs for training potential workers that also are good springboards for career growth,” Wood says. “The speed interviewing process after graduation is a very effective way of getting to meet potential employees one on one in a casual, less stressful environment. The training the MWCC program provides, followed by the speed interviewing, is evolving into an open door to employment.”

Dr. John Henshaw, dean of workforce development at MWCC, is proud of the advanced manufacturing program and how it helps graduates and local businesses. He notes that Massachusetts will need to fill 100,000 new manufacturing jobs in the next few years. “We’ve built a sustainable model where good education leads to good employment,” Dr. Henshaw says. “Manufacturing is still a big part of our region, and growing. But the types of manufacturing are changing, and we’ve created programs that provide pathways to these new jobs and toward building a good career.”

Dr. Henshaw is also quick to note the MWCC program has an 80 percent placement rate with students. “We have a proven track record of getting our graduates good jobs,” Dr. Henshaw says. “Our programs have excellent content, great equipment for hands-on learning, and a dedicated staff of instructors. The value added is that we also provide training, support, and counseling to help graduates find jobs.”

Jorge Rabelo, 19, is one of the program’s graduates and he’s looking to begin his career. More precisely, he’s looking to fulfill his dreams. “I eventually want to create a business.” Rabelo says. “The Industry Readiness Training program has given me the start to my dreams. The program offers good skills for advanced manufacturing in a very short period of time. It gave me the experience I need to keep moving forward. My goal is to keep studying and get my degree in bio-manufacturing. Within 10 years I want to have my own company.”

Highly motivated, Rabelo’s next steps include graduating from the two-week Quality Systems manufacturing training program and then working on his associate’s degree at MWCC.

Mount Wachusett Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing classes consists of two-week and six-week certificate programs and one-year and two-year degree programs that are designed to complement businesses utilizing automated, computer-controlled production systems. The programs include training in Industry Readiness, Quality Systems (both of which are free of charge), an associate degree in Manufacturing Biotechnology, and an associate degree in Manufacturing Technology. It’s all part of the emerging field of mechatronics, which integrates electrical and mechanical systems with computer control and information technology. It’s a combination of mechanics and electronics, highlighting the importance of automation and robotics in modern manufacturing processes.

According to Dr. Henshaw, “More and more manufacturing businesses are looking to bring production home to the United States. These businesses are coming to us to help them find qualified people. And many companies are sponsoring the training. Our programs are designed to complement businesses creating injection molding plastics, metal fabrication and tooling, and biotech and medical devices. Today’s manufacturing is clean, advanced, requiring a new set of skills in electronics and computer literacy. Everything today is electromechanical. You still need good mechanical ability, but you need to have diverse training in modern technology because it’s embedded in everything related to advanced manufacturing today.”

That type of training appealed to Industry Readiness graduate Craig Dougherty, 56, who has worked at a variety of labor-intensive jobs. “I’ve always been mechanically inclined,” Dougherty says. “But I knew I needed current training to put all my talents to work in a newer, modern, less strenuous job. Going through this program was an awesome experience. It gave me new skills and allowed me to incorporate and adapt all my prior knowledge. Advanced manufacturing is now in my future. I wish I had done this years ago.”

Dougherty is also moving forward at MWCC by enrolling in the Quality System training program and then starting on his associate degree. “I really want to learn as much about robotics as I can,” he says. “There really should be a line out the door to get into these programs.”

“We have programs to match your individual level, whether you’re just starting out or need more training or to advance in your current job,” Dr. Henshaw adds.  “A very important part of our program is that we provide training to incumbent workers already in jobs. This helps them get ahead. The hands-on nature of our programs also leads to successful outcomes. Many of our students tell us the hands-on approach works for them because it’s more about learning practical things that they use in the workplace. And our free programs help take off the financial pressure.”

“Mount Wachusett Community College training programs offer a great background in manufacturing if you’re just starting your career or if you’ve been in the workforce and need to reinvent yourself,” says Wood from Georgia-Pacific/Dixie. “The programs provide a sneak peek for future careers. It’s up to the individual to take advantage of opportunities, but the programs provide a great introduction, and a more comprehensive, realistic point of view of modern manufacturing. Modern manufacturing is all about automation, technology skills, quality control, and safety. Today’s manufacturing is clean and safe. We’re committed to our partnership with Mount Wachusett and the possibilities it has for manufacturing jobs within our company and in the region.”

“I highly recommend the Advanced Manufacturing program,” says new graduate Rabelo. “I can’t wait to get started. Help yourself, learn something new, and get the experience you need.”

Fellow graduate Dougherty says, “ I would recommend the program to anyone. It gave me focus and showed me I still had the vitality to work in the advanced manufacturing industry.”

As all the graduates complete their speed interviews and head out, MWCC career development coach Meghan Koslowski says she’s pleased with the day’s events and that this group is well-prepared for future job success. Because she wants them all to succeed, Koslowski and her team have helped them prepare résumés, coached them on how to interview, and arranged the one-on-one meetings. She will follow up with each of them on their job progress.

“Working in manufacturing is not a natural path for a lot of people today,” says Koslowski. “They’re unaware of the many opportunities available in manufacturing. The programs we offer at Mount Wachusett can give you the tools you need to be successful in today’s advanced manufacturing workplace. Come try us out.”

Information sessions about the Advanced Manufacturing program are held most Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Devens campus. For more information or to reserve a spot, please call 978-630-9883 or email ammqc@mwcc.mass.edu.  For more information about the Advanced Manufacturing programs at Mount Wachusett Community College, visit mwcc.edu/manufacturing.

united-way-day-of-caring-mwcc-sept-16-2016

Photo by Eddie Vargas

A group of nearly 200 enthusiastic volunteers at Mount Wachusett Community College worked in shifts throughout the day to more than double last year’s efforts to combat hunger in the region.

Through the college’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, students, faculty and staff teamed up in assembly lines to package 46,872 meals to serve families in need. The meals were distributed in the afternoon to food pantries and veterans centers in North Central Massachusetts.

The college became a Day of Caring host site in 2013, following years of participation in off-campus activities, and the event continues to grow each year, said Jana Murphy, a Liberal Arts & Sciences major who spearheaded this year’s packaging event in her role as this year’s Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA.

MWCC participated along with numerous other organizations in North Central Massachusetts, recognizing the 21st annual United Way Day of Caring.

Outreach, Inc., an Iowa-based nonprofit that also operates in the Northeast, provided supplies to create packages of meals consisting of macaroni and cheese and rice and beans.

sept-11-cards-2016

Twins Jessie and Jammie Mascitti pause to write a note of appreciation to area first responders in commemoration of Sept. 11.

MWCC student volunteers are collecting notes of appreciation for first responders in the region who put their lives in jeopardy for the sake of others, as a way of honoring the nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

For the second year, the activity was coordinated by the college’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success and the Student Leaders in Civic Engagement (SLICE) program, an initiative of MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

Volunteers provided and collected cards throughout the day on Monday, Sept 12. Cards will be available for signing at the Gardner campus on Tuesday, Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. before they are distributed. Each year, the college community also pauses to remember Carrie Beth Progen, a 1995 alumna from Ashburnham who was among the victims at the World Trade Center.

A memorial to Carrie, located adjacent to the library entrance, was created several years ago in collaboration with her parents, Don and Kathy Progen, and her brother, Matt, all alumni of MWCC. A scholarship created by the Progen family in Carrie’s memory is awarded to an art student each year through the MWCC Foundation.

mwccIn response to the sudden closing of all 137 campuses of the ITT Technical Institute, including two in Massachusetts, Mount Wachusett Community College is working with the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office and other state and federal agencies to assist affected students with their academic pursuits.

The community colleges are also ready to partner with the U.S. Department of Education, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to assist these former ITT students, the MCCEO has affirmed.

The abrupt closure of the schools has affected more than 35,000 students nationally, including approximately 500 students in Massachusetts at campuses in Wilmington and Norwood. More than 100 of the Massachusetts students are veterans. The vocational institute closed Sept. 7, following an Aug. 25 decision by the U.S. Department of Education the for-profit college chain could no longer enroll students that receive federal financial aid.

“These students have had their hopes and dreams dashed just as the new academic year begins,” said Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino. “MWCC and our sister colleges throughout the Commonwealth are ready to help these students get back on track with their educational goals.”

MWCC welcomes ITT Technical Institute students to enroll in academic programs and courses at our campuses in Gardner, Leominster and Devens, as well our many online academic programs,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. MWCC is recognized as a state and national model for its wrap-around support services for student veterans, available through its Center for Excellence for Veteran Student Success.

Mount Wachusett Community College is encouraging ITT students to submit a Request for Assessment of Prior Learning, as credits may be earned for college-level learning through alternative educational experiences such as ITT.

More information about this process can be found in the admissions office, where representatives are committed to assisting ITT students with the enrollment process at Mount Wachusett Community College.  For more information, contact Admissions at 978-630-9110 or admissions@mwcc.mass.edu.

For general inquiries and help with federal student loans, please reach out to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office at 1-888-830-6277. The Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office (MCCEO) works on behalf of the presidents and trustees of the fifteen Community Colleges in Massachusetts – currently representing more than 184,000 students across every region of the Commonwealth. For more information on the 15 community colleges across Massachusetts, visit www.masscc.org/ourcampuses or call 617-542-2911.

ComCom + MassTransfer Logo - Horizontal - RGBMassachusetts students and families now have access to a new, full-service web portal that will allow them to explore a wide range of academic offerings at the state’s public colleges and universities and chart a course to an affordable bachelor’s degree through transfer from a community college to a state university or University of Massachusetts campus, the Baker-Polito Administration announced today.

The new MassTransfer web portal will, for the first time, allow the Commonwealth’s high school and college students to identify and compare a wide range of degree programs, transfer options, and college costs at all undergraduate campuses. They will be able to see what is required to transfer seamlessly between campuses, including course-by course “degree maps” available for some majors.

They will also be able to use a savings calculator to find the typical savings associated with earning an “A2B” – associate to bachelor’s – degree. The portal’s features also include a detailed description of the three different transfer options available to students, a course-to-course equivalency database to allow them to see exactly how various course credits will transfer, and an additional tool to view cost savings associated with an A2B degree earned through the Commonwealth Commitment program, announced in April by Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and the leaders within public higher education.

“This new online tool will save students valuable time and money while completing their degrees, and I hope that many students take advantage of the Commonwealth Commitment as early as this fall,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our colleges and universities are critical partners in ensuring a strong workforce pipeline and through this new program, it will be even easier for students to take the classes and earn the degrees they need to succeed.”

“The national research is clear that even a few hundred dollars can make a powerful difference in whether students stay on the path toward college completion or leave school because they cannot afford to continue,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are thrilled to offer the students in our Commonwealth substantial savings off an already great deal on college credentials.”

“I am grateful to the leadership of all three segments of public higher education and the Department of Higher Education for stepping forward and collectively creating the Commonwealth Commitment to ensure we make college as affordable and transfers as seamless as possible for all students,” Education Secretary Jim Peyser said. “What’s incredible is that the savings a student will see in this new online tool could be even greater than what’s listed, with the addition of scholarships and other financial aid awards, which can lower the cost of an associate and bachelor’s degree even further.”

“With college costs identified as a chief barrier to college completion, we knew we needed a more seamless, efficient system to allow students to transfer from one campus to another and graduate in a more timely and cost-effective manner,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “The new MassTransfer portal provides all the information students need to complete their academic journey without delay and added debt. I think many students will be pleasantly surprised by the academic excellence, diversity of degree programs and affordability available at each of our public campuses.”

Through the Commonwealth Commitment program, students who enroll full-time at one of the state’s 15 community colleges will be able to transfer to a state university or UMass campus and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in one of a number of select programs. They must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and graduate in no more than four and a half years. Students in the program will realize substantial savings off the “total sticker price” of a traditional bachelor’s degree, qualifying for a freeze in tuition and mandatory fees, 10% per-semester rebates, and a full tuition credit in their last two years of school worth an average of $1,200.

During the student’s enrollment, he or she would receive part of the savings in the form of per-semester rebates, which could be used for textbooks, transportation costs, child care or other expenses that can often derail a student’s college aspirations. A student wishing to live in a dorm could also apply the savings to defray the cost of on-campus housing.

The list of degree programs offered through the Commonwealth Commitment program includes liberal arts and sciences programs such as Biology, Psychology and Economics, as well as degrees leading to careers in fields such as Printmaking, Facilities Management and International Maritime Business.  The full list of programs offered in Fall 2016 and Fall 2017 is available here.

 

 

The Clarkson S. Fisher Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse. "New Deal" WPA Art. Built in 1932 and designed by architect James Wetmore. The exterior of the Trenton Federal Building is a well executed design with a "Stipped Neo-Classical" form, both Classical and Art Deco terra cotta detailing. The "New Deal Art" murals are by Charles Wells.

“New Deal” WPA art, Clarkson S. Fisher Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, Trenton, NJ, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith.

Following an inaugural year with Henry David Thoreau and last year’s examination of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Mount Wachusett Community College Humanities Project will begin its third year this fall with an artistic focus on “Imagining Work.”

During the upcoming academic year, students, faculty, staff and members of the greater community will delve into the many ways artists, writers and photographers have expressed the changing nature of work over the past 150 years. From farm to factory in the 19th century to our present-day knowledge economy, the effects of automation, globalization, immigration, war, and race on the identity of the American worker will be explored. A variety of events scheduled at the college and in the community are free and open to the public.

Funded through a multi-year challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the MWCC Humanities Project strengthens the college’s humanities curriculum; supports collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching and research in the humanities; examines the intersection between the humanities and other academic disciplines; and engages the college and the greater community in the discussion of enduring themes from the world’s many cultures and traditions.

The theme will focus on the Great Depression photographs of Dorothea Lange, the Great Migration paintings by African American artist Jacob Lawrence and the poetry of Diane Gilliam Fisher, author of the award-winning book, Kettle Bottom, which depicts the Virginia mining wars.

“Year three of the Humanities Project is focused on something that MWCC students, faculty, staff and community members know a lot about – work,” said English Professor and Project Coordinator Michelle Valois. “Can the mundane be the subject of great works of art?  Can we find beauty in something we do day in and day out?  Our study will focus on paintings, photographs and poems that have transformed work into more than just a paycheck. These works of art show us the struggles and the joys of the American worker.”

This summer, participating faculty representing multiple disciplines met for a two-day workshop to develop curriculum and activities centered on the theme. Among several presentations, Stephen B. Jareckie, consulting curator of photography for the Fitchburg Art Museum, spoke on early 20th century photography, and artist and MWCC art history instructor Donalyn Schofield discussed the artwork of Jacob Lawrence.

Upcoming fall events include a gallery talk with Tracie Pouliot, founder of the Chair City Community Art Center and Oral History Bookmaking Project; the third annual hike for the humanities fundraiser at Wachusett Mountain; a pizza party and poetry readings from Kettle Bottom; an interactive art project creating replicas of Lawrence’s paintings; and a student poetry and prose slam.

Spring events will include a poetry reading with author Diane Gilliam Fisher; a presentation by University of Massachusetts, Lowell Professor Robert Forrant on female mill workers in Lowell from 1825 to 1860; and film screenings with Fitchburg State University Professor Joe Moser, including “Grab a Hunk of Lightning,” about the life of Dorothea Lange, Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times,” “The Devil and Miss Jones,” and “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter.”

For more information, visit mwcc.edu/humanitiesproject.

 

PN disaster training Nov 7 2014Labouré College and Mount Wachusett Community College are partnering to support the continuing education of local nurses. The colleges have established a transfer agreement providing licensed practical nurses (LPNs) graduating from Mount Wachusett Community College a pathway to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Labouré College and obtain licensure as registered nurses.

Providing working nurses with a flexible, high-quality baccalaureate education has been the goal of Labouré College of Milton since the launch of its RN-BSN program in 2009. Labouré’s RN-BSN is offered in a hybrid format: courses are mostly online with two to three on-campus meetings per semester. Students find that this format provides the flexibility of online learning, while fostering important connections with their RN classmates as well as with their professors.

“A baccalaureate education builds on a strong nursing foundation and emphasizes leadership, critical thinking, and safe patient care. The BSN degree has become an entry level credential in many area hospitals, and we want to make sure our graduates have the chance for success,” said Al DeCiccio, Vice President of Academic Affairs for Labouré and a member of the team that orchestrated the agreement.

MWCC’s Practical Nursing certificate program provides short-term education leading to a rewarding healthcare career and prepares students to continue for a bachelor’s degree.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for graduates of our practical nursing program,” said Eileen Costello, Dean of MWCC’s School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Sciences. “Mount Wachusett Community College encourages all of its graduates to participate in lifelong learning. By providing LPNs the means of obtaining RN licensure and a BSN degree though this articulation, we are supporting our state-wide initiative of seamless academic progression for nurses at all levels of education.”

The colleges will continue to review this collaboration annually to make sure the agreement benefits students. Both institutions have agreed to share data and to collaborate on new theories and best practices for student success.

To learn more about this agreement, please visit laboure.edu/academic-programs/articulation-agreements or call the Labouré College Office of Admissions at 617-322-3575 or admissions@laboure.edu, or contact the MWCC Office of Admissions at 978-630-9110 or admissions@mwcc.mass.edu.

 

MWCC new student orientation 2016

President Asquino welcomes students during an orientation for new students on Sept. 1.

Mount Wachusett Community College students will begin the academic year amid a sea of change at the Gardner campus, following more than a year of construction and extensive renovations.

Approximately 950 new students got an early look at the campus’ transformation during day, evening and program-specific orientations held over the past week in advance of the new academic year, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Students will notice substantial changes to the Haley academic building and theater, as well as a new 44,000-square-foot science and technology building. The college will transition into the new building this month.

A majority of the new day students attended orientation on Thursday, Sept. 1, which included a half-day of seminars and other activities. MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino and college administrators greeted the incoming students and encouraged them to become involved with campus activities and to tap into college resources and services.

President Asquino emphasized that during their time at MWCC, students will be working in partnership with faculty and staff to reach their academic and career goals.

“Together, we want to make certain that you achieve that dream, that goal and that aspiration.”

The president also announced that plans are underway for construction of a new student center and repaving of the college’s driveways and parking lots. Both projects are in the planning stages with construction anticipated next spring summer.

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be at MWCC,” said Dean of Students Jason Zelesky. “These changes represent our commitment to excellence in education and meeting the needs of the students and communities that we work so hard to serve.”

Coordinated by the office of Student Life, the orientation sessions provide students with an opportunity to learn about college life and MWCC programs and activities. Students met with faculty, deans and advisors, toured the campus, received information about academic resources, and attended a student club expo.

Alberto Olivas, founding executive director of the Congressman Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service at Arizona State University, was the keynote speaker. Olivas, who also addressed faculty and staff, spoke on the importance of embedding civic engagement within classroom instruction in a way that allows students to make “connections between what they’re learning in the classroom and what is going on in the world and in their lives.”