Student Stories

Whos Who 2014 CJ Grace and Sandra

MWCC students recognized in the 2014 Who’s Who list include, from left: CJ Husselbee, Grace Hartin and Sandra Bushey.

MWCC students enrolled in a range of academic programs and involved in numerous activities have been selected as national outstanding campus leaders and will be included in the 2014 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.

The students were selected based on their academic achievement, service to the community, leadership in extracurricular activities and the potential for continued success. They join an elite group of students from more than 1,000 higher education institutions in the United State and several other countries. The tradition of recognizing noteworthy college students in a Who’s Who biographical volume began in 1934.

The honorees were among the student leaders recognized by the office of Student Life during a reception April 24 at the Gardner Museum.

Students named this year include: Lourdes Abreu, Maria Alicea, Sheila Beane, Nicholas Bonfilio, Koral Brooks, Constance Brown, Mary Burns, Sandra Bushey, Ramon-Alejo Correa, Kathleen Craigen, Brianna Cullins, John Day, Anna Farwell, Nelida Figueroa Lopez, Grace Hartin, Thomas Hill, Charles  Husselbee, Jillian Johnson, Rachel Kalagher, Naomi Kiarie, Erin Leamy, Leandro Lopez, Heidi Lupien, Amber Martel, Kathleen Matson, Joan Mellanson, Dawn Murphy, Linda Patterson, Seth Pease, Elizabeth Reiser, Edward Sanchez, Bryan Sanderson, Hayleigh Sundstrom, Austina Towle, Brigitte Wong, Bridgette Woodcock and Jeffrey Young.

Kathy Matson

Kathleen A. Matson

The state Department of Higher Education will spotlight top students from across Massachusetts at the fourth annual 29 Who Shine” student recognition ceremony on Thursday, May 8, at noon at the Grand Staircase of the Massachusetts State House. The award honors 29 outstanding public college and university graduates, one from each community college, state university and UMass campus in the state, for their academic achievement and community service.

Kathleen A. Matson, a highly regarded student leader on campus and across the state who will earn an associate degree in Business Administration in May, is among the honorees.

A motivated, enthusiastic leader with a passion for helping others, Matson has served this academic year as the student member on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. As a full voting member of the board, she provides a voice for all public higher education students on issues such as affordability and college completion. During her term, she represented Massachusetts during a Student Voices conference in Washington, D.C., joining peers from across the country in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss ideas and concerns regarding higher education.

A member of the state-wide Student Advisory Council, Matson serves as a liaison between the council and the BHE. She has served on MWCC’s Student Government Association for two years, including the past year as president.

Matson earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice from MWCC in 1985, and then worked in the private security field for many years. In 2012, she returned to the college to pursue a business degree to combine her interest in these two fields. An exemplary student, she has consistently been recognized for her academic achievements as a President’s List and Dean’s List honoree.

In addition to working two part-time jobs and volunteering for her community, Matson has provided more than 400 volunteer hours to various campus organizations and student groups during this academic year alone. Among her many activities, she holds officer positions with the Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Beta Gamma honor societies, volunteers as an ambassador in the admissions office and as a mentor in the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) office, serves on the MWCC Alumni Association Board, and assists the campus community as a work study student in MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. For her dedication and commitment to serving others, Matson was recognized earlier this year with Campus Compact’s national Newman Civic Fellow Award.

She and her husband, Calvin, have three sons: Isaac, who graduated from MWCC in 2012, served as SGA president and is now completing a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at Westfield State University; Caleb, a Criminal Justice major, and Zechariah, a Fire Science major, who will both graduate from MWCC this year. All three sons are serving in the military.

The ceremony will also include recognition of each honorees’ faculty and staff mentors. Matson selected Associate Dean of Students Gregory Clement as her mentor.

“Greg has been a constant mentor and friend. He has always been there encouraging and helping me to attain goals I never thought possible. He has been instrumental in my success as a student leader, continually guiding me to broader horizons.”

Whitney Doucet, a 2013 graduate of MWCC, has been chosen to perform “America the Beautiful” during the ceremony. The outgoing, upbeat performer grew up in Leominster and discovered her love for music at a young age, particularly country music. She has been pursuing her passion for singing and performing since 2005 is a voice teacher in Boston and Worcester.

In May 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education launched “29 Who Shine,” a program to recognize outstanding students representing each of our 29 public campuses. The honorees, chosen because of their academic achievements and record of student leadership and community service, stand poised to contribute greatly to the civic life and economic well-being of the state. Whether furthering their education or entering careers here in Massachusetts in fields as diverse as education, public policy, medicine, creative arts, and engineering, they truly embody the vibrant future that we all envision for the Commonwealth.

 

PTK All Massachusetts Award

Award winners Bryan Sanderson and Kathleen Craigen are congratulated at the State House ceremony by President Daniel Asquino.

MWCC student leaders Bryan Sanderson and Kathleen Craigen were honored as members of the All-Massachusetts Academic Team during a recognition ceremony at the State House on April 24. The Phi Theta Kappa honor society, community college presidents and the Massachusetts Community College association sponsored the event.

Sanderson, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and president of the college’s Veterans Group, will earn an associate degree in Human Services in May. A highly engaged figure on campus, Sanderson has continuously named to the President’s and Dean’s lists. He is also a Commonwealth Corps Member, a student ambassador, peer veteran liaison/mentor, and work study student for the college’s Veteran Success Center. He founded the MWCC’s Students Serving Our Students (SOS) office, now located within the Center of Civic Learning and Community Engagement, and was a recipient of the Campus Compact’s national Newman Civic Fellow Award in 2013.

Craigen also will graduate in May with an associate degree in Human Services. This year, Craigen is serving as the AmeriCorps MACC*VISTA for MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. She also serves on the Student Government Association and participates in the Leadership for Life Series. During this spring semester, she is completing an internship with the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) office located within the center, working on capacity building and volunteer management at local nonprofit organizations. Craigen works directly with the new General Studies capstone courses, ISC 220, working with students placed within the community at the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster.

 

PTK donation to HOPE

Members of MWCC’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society recently donated $250 to HOPE in Gardner from proceeds raised through 2013 Commencement DVD sales. PTK and the Alpha Beta Gamma business honor society are teaming up this year for the 11th annual Project Graduation.

MWCC’s Phi Delta Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society recently presented a donation to the House of Peace and Education in Gardner from proceeds raised during the chapter’s 10th annual “Project Graduation” conducted last year.

The $250 donation was collected through the sale of the 2013 Commencement DVDs in conjunction with the college’s Broadcasting and Electronic Media program.

“We truly appreciate this,” HOPE Executive Director Christian Orobello told the chapter members during a visit to the college. “The money you raised will send a child to summer camp who would not be able to go otherwise. The good you’ve done and the effort you put in really grows within HOPE. We could not exist without the people of greater Gardner.”

During this year’s 11th annual Project Graduation, half of the proceeds will benefit MWCC’s Students Serving Our Students program, with Phi Delta Chapter teaming up with MWCC Chi Gamma Chapter of the Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Society to raise funds to help students in need. Members of the two honor societies are also conducting a food drive through Commencement day, on May 21.

All graduates and their guests are being asked to bring a non-perishable food item to the Commencement rehearsal or ceremony. Receptacles will be located at entrances to the Fitness and Wellness Center and all donations will be delivered to the Gardner Community Action Committee’s food pantry to benefit the local community. Donation receptacles are also located on the Gardner campus through May 21.

 

STEM Starter Academy event April 2014

High school students extract DNA from strawberries during a STEM Starter Academy demonstration.

Approximately 250 students from several North Worcester County high schools sampled college life and STEM careers during Mount Wachusett Community College’s STEM Starter Academy event on April 4. The event, coordinated by the divisions of Academic Affairs and Access, Transition & Development, featured a variety of science and health sciences demonstrations, hands-on experiments, and information about financial aid and college readiness, and served as a prelude to MWCC’s STEM Starter Summer Academy.

Mount Wachusett is currently recruiting 30 students to participate in its STEM Starter Summer Academy, which will run July 7 through Aug. 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gardner campus. Participating students will receive two free college courses, textbooks, a $1,750 stipend, academic support, tutoring, and community service and industry tours.

Funded through a $300,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the summer academy is open to students who graduate from high school in 2014 or earlier; place into English Composition and Intermediate Algebra or higher; and enroll in one of MWCC’s STEM starter qualifying majors in the fall 2014 semester.

Qualifying STEM majors include biology, biotechnology, chemistry, clinical laboratory science, computer information systems, dental hygiene, fitness leadership and exercise science, natural resources, nursing, physical therapist assistant, physics or pre-engineering.

Courses offered during the summer academy include intermediate algebra, statistics, introduction to functions and modeling, life science for allied health, introduction to biotechnology, and introduction to psychology.

For more information about the STEM Starter Summer Academy and other STEM programs at MWCC, contact the admissions office at 978-630-9110 or admissions@mwcc.mass.edu.

Kevin Hines with MWCC Nursing & Human Services students.

Kevin Hines, seated, with MWCC Nursing & Human Services students following his presentation.

Had someone just smiled and asked if he was okay that September 2000 afternoon in San Francisco, 19-year-old Kevin Hines would not have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. The voices in his head, caused by the brain illness of bipolar disorder prevailed, convincing him that he must die. Mid-air, he prayed he would live. Miraculously, he did.

Hines, one of 33 people to survive a jump off the 220-foot bridge and author of Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt, was the keynote speaker during the second annual Mental Health Awareness Conference, sponsored by The SHINE Initiative, Mount Wachusett Community College and Heywood Healthcare.

The half-day conference, held March 27 at the Colonial Hotel, was attended by more than 300 people, including healthcare professionals, educators and students. A panel presentation focused on the stigma associated with mental illness and its impact on seeking diagnosis and treatment; the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, and veterans’ post-war health issues. More than 150 MWCC students majoring in nursing and human services participated in the conference and a suicide prevention training session that followed.

President Daniel M. Asquino, Paul Richard, executive director of the SHINE Initiative, and Dawn Casavant, vice president of external affairs for Heywood Hospital, delivered welcoming remarks, and Human services major, Renee Chandler, shared her award-winning poetry reflecting on living with mental illness. College Counselor Melissa Manzi, MSW, LCSW, and College Health Coordinator Diane Kin, RN, BSN, HNC, led a QPR (question, persuade, refer) suicide prevention training program that focuses on how to assist someone is in distress.

Panelists included Dr. Heather Brenhouse, assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience Psychology at Northeastern University; Dr. Stephanie Rodrigues, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry’s Division of Addiction at the UMass Medical School; and Bryan Doe of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Affairs.

Approximately 57 million Americans experience a mental health disorder in any given year. Between 70 to 90 percent of these individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with combined treatment of medication and therapy.

“Ultimately, resources and time are spent on things that are a priority. Let us make certain that mental health awareness, treatment of mental illness and the sensitivity of mental illness are everyone’s priority,” President Asquino said.

Hines’ presentation provided an inside-look at the thought process and actions, as well as the effect on his family. Born to poor, young parents who struggled with mental illnesses and substance abuse, Hines said he and his birth brother would frequently be left alone in seedy hotel rooms. Within a year, they were taken into child protective services, and bounced in and out of several foster homes. Hines’ brother died as a result of neglect and untreated health conditions, while Hines was adopted by loving and supportive parents, Pat and Debbie Hines. In adolescence, what he describes as a “brain disease” began to surface, and at 17, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This imbalance in his brain chemistry resulted in paranoia, mania, horrific hallucinations and grandiose illusions, which he attempted to mask from his family and doctors.

One of the few Golden Gate Bridge jump survivors to regain full mobility, Hines has since shared his story with over 300,000 people to raise awareness about mental illness, treatment, and suicide prevention. He has been featured in the critically acclaimed film “The Bridge,” on Larry King Live, 20/20, Anderson Cooper 360, and Good Morning America, as well as in hundreds of national and international print, radio, film, and television media outlets. A signed copy of his memoir is available at the LaChance Library.

 

Mount Wachusett Community College’s Anatomy and Physiology and Human Biology Club will host a “Delete Blood Cancer” donor drive on Wednesday, April 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gardner campus. The event, which registers potential bone marrow donors with the Delete blood Cancer DKMS registry, is open to the public.

Delete Blood Cancer DKMS assists patients with blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, and also helps patients with certain autoimmune disorders, including aplastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, and other rare genetic disorders.

The registry process takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to fill out a form, review eligibility and health guidelines and swab the inside of the cheek. Swabbing helps determine a personal Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) type. HLA are protein markers on cells that are used in matching donors with patients. They are inherited, which is why most patients match with donors from the same ethnic background. Prospective donors will be listed on the registry by their HLA type. Volunteers may become a match in a month, a year or longer, or may never be called.

Blood cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths and kills more people under age 20 than any other disease in the U.S. Bone marrow and stem cell transplants can be life-saving treatment for blood cancers like leukemia and approximately 70 other diseases. Patients in need of transplants must find genetically compatible donors to provide marrow or stem cells. While 30 percent of patients can find a matching donor within their family, 70 percent must turn to the national registry to find one. Each year, more than 10,000 patients need transplants using donated marrow or cells. Only half will receive them.

Delete Blood Cancer DKMS started with one family’s search for a bone marrow donor and is today part of the world’s largest bone marrow donor center. The organization leads the fight against blood cancer by working with families, communities and organizations to recruit more donors and provide more patients with second chances at life. To date, the organization has registered more than four million potential donors and facilitated more than 40,000 life-saving transplants around the world. For more information, visit deletebloodcancer.org.

 

Robinson Broadhurst scholars 2014

This year’s Robinson Broadhurst Scholars at MWCC include, from left, Dakota Wood, Courtney Paradise, Devan Tenney, Shelby Slemmer and Laura Cosentino.

This academic year, five Murdock High School seniors are simultaneously earning their high school diploma and an academic certificate from Mount Wachusett Community College through the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation Career Tech Scholarship program.

The one-year, full-time dual enrollment program, funded by a generous grant from the foundation, allows Winchendon students to earn academic credentials to enter the workforce or to apply toward an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Through this program, now in its second year, students are provided with scholarship funds to begin a trade or technical program in automotive technology, allied health, information technology support or accounting certificate. The Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation grant provides full scholarships for the students.

The scholarship program provides the students with an opportunity to learn a trade that will allow them to enter the labor force once they finish high school or soon after and earn a higher wage than they would with only a high school diploma. This year, all five participants are seeking a certificate in Allied Health. This year’s Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation Career Tech Scholars are Dakota Wood, Courtney Paradise, Devan Tenney, Shelby Slemmer and Laura Cosentino.

“We are most grateful to the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation for their generous and continued support of this initiative to benefit Murdock High School students,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “This program not only helps students achieve their goal of obtaining a college education without accruing tremendous loan debt, but ultimately supports the economic development of our region by preparing young people with skills they can directly apply in the workforce.”

Completion of the program with a high school diploma and a college certificate will allow students to enter the workforce with a marketable skill, increase their lifetime income and provide the opportunity to continue with their higher education.

“The Robinson-Broadhurst program means everything to me. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet new people and experience what independence really means. I joined the program so I could feel my way through what I wanted to do with my life and build a good foundation to pursue my dream,” said Deven Tenney.

“I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to get a year of college done while I was completing my senior year of high school,” said Shelby Selmmer. “I knew that I had the chance to earn college credits before I graduated and to get an early start in my college career.”

The program is led by Veronica Guay, Director of Dual Enrollment, and Shaunti Phillips, CVTE Transition Counselor, in MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition, in partnership with Murdock Guidance Counselors.

 

 

Kathy Matson

For her dedication and commitment to serving others, Mount Wachusett Community College student leader Kathy Matson has been presented with Campus Compact’s national 2014 Newman Civic Fellows Award.

A Business Administration major, Matson represents college students across Massachusetts in her role as the student member on the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, and as a liaison between the board and the state-wide Student Advisory Council, on which she also serves. As a member of the Board of Higher Education, she advocates on behalf of students across the Commonwealth for public policy changes that will impact the ability of students to succeed in higher education. Two policy issues she has helped champion include the restructuring of the math sequence and the integration of civic education at all 29 public colleges and universities across Massachusetts.

In addition to working two jobs and consistently making the President’s List and Dean’s List, the Baldwinville resident has provided more than 400 volunteer hours to various organizations and student groups during this academic year alone. She serves as president of MWCC’s Student Government Association, as an officer in the Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Beta Gamma honor societies, as a Student Ambassador in the Admissions office, as a SALT Ambassador in the Financial Aid office, as a mentor with the Students Serving Our Students office, on the MWCC Alumni Association, and is an active volunteer with numerous Student Life events. She is a second time MWCC student, having first earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice in 1985.

“We are extremely proud of Kathy for her leadership on campus, at the state level, and in the community,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “We are delighted that she has been recognized with this distinguished award. As a student leader, she serves in many capacities and diligently works on behalf of students throughout the Commonwealth. She has a true passion for helping others.”

The Newman Civic Fellows Award recognizes inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. College and University presidents nominate student leaders representing the next generation of civic leaders. This year, 197 students from 36 states received the national award.

The award is named for educator Frank Newman, co-founder of Campus Compact, past president of the University of Rhode Island and author of Higher Education and the American Resurgence. Since 1985, Campus Compact has grown to represent more than 1,100 college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education.

“Being named a Newman Civic Fellow is an amazing honor,” Matson said. “I received this recognition for my civic engagement and volunteerism, but being civically engaged and volunteering is a way of life for me and not something that I do for recognition. I am appreciative to the president, staff and peers at the college who submitted my nomination. They have all been an inspiration to me during my time at MWCC.”

Matson’s ability to be a strong advocate for students make her an exceptional role model, said Fagan Forhan, director of MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

“Kathy is an excellent illustration of what it means to be an engaged student and citizen, and exemplifies hard work and determination. She provides alternative perspectives and a strong clear voice as an advocate for herself and others. Kathy is not afraid to be the dissenting voice in a discussion and is always willing to engage in dialogue and debate about important social issues facing our students. Her no nonsense attitude serves her well in this capacity as she empowers other to make positive change in their lives.”

Outside MWCC, Matson is an active volunteer within her community, including serving on the Templeton Community Emergency Response Team as administrative assistant to the Emergency Management Director. In addition, she also volunteers her time to maintain a database of over 4,500 families and volunteers for MassHOPE, the Massachusetts Home School organization.

She and her husband Calvin have three grown sons who are also alumni or current students at MWCC and are entering military service. Prior to returning to MWCC for her second degree, Matson was a stay-at-home parent who home schooled her children for 22 years.

This is the second consecutive year a Mount Wachusett has received the prestigious recognition. In 2013, Human Services major and student veteran Bryan Sanderson of Lunenburg received the award for his initiative founding the Students Serving Our Students peer mentor program.

 

Job Fair Fashion Extravaganza March 2014

Student John Day organized a career fashion show to promote the upcoming Job Fair 2014. Pictured at left, three students who are dressed to impress, and on the right, three who are not.

Students and area employers are gearing up for MWCC’s annual job fair, which will take place Wednesday, April 2 in the Commons. The event is open to MWCC students from 10 to 11:30 a.m., and to students and the general public from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to dress for success and bring their resumes.

The MWCC Job Fair is an annual event on-campus that is growing in popularity each year as evidenced by the increased attendance of participating employers, students, and community members, said Patricia Brewerton, Coordinator of Career Planning and Placement.

MWCC students attended workshops throughout the spring semester focusing on resume writing skills, dressing for success, and developing soft skills that are critical to the interview process. To showcase the upcoming job fair, student John Day organized a boisterous career fashion show on March 25. The fashion extravaganza featured students dressed in appropriate and inappropriate attire for the workplace.

A wide range of local employers offering job opportunities in a number of growth oriented fields will be in attendance, including human services, criminal justice, business, retail, and the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.