Student Stories

Gardner Mayor, MWCC Trustee and Alumnus Mark Hawke with 2015 MWCC Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Inductees.

Gardner Mayor, MWCC Trustee and Alumnus Mark Hawke with 2015 MWCC Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Inductees.

Gardner Mayor, MWCC Trustee and Alumnus Mark Hawke shared lessons learned throughout his career in business and public service with 17 Mount Wachusett Community College students who were inducted into the Chi Gamma Chapter of Alpha Beta Gamma, an international business honor society, at the 25th annual induction ceremony, Thursday, April 23.

After graduating from MWCC, Hawke transferred to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, then went on to earn an MBA from Anna Maria College. After pursuing a career as a financial analyst, he took a pay cut to take a job with the City of Gardner, and learned he loved the work so much, he wanted to run for Mayor. Now serving his eighth year as mayor, he still loves the work. “In this job, I can see the results of our work. If we plan to build a playground, we build a playground. If we say we are going to fill a pothole, we fill a pothole and we see the result.”

He shared several pieces of advice gathered from his own career and lessons learned from other business leaders. “Never stop learning, never stop trying, and surround yourself with a good team,” he said. He challenged the students to work hard and always to strive to surpass expectations. “You will be noticed and rewarded.” He also credited Mount Wachusett Community College for putting him on a path of academic success. “It is an intimate setting and you really get to know the faculty, the staff and the college leadership,” he explained.

To be eligible for membership into Alpha Beta Gamma, students must be enrolled in a business curriculum, have completed 15 academic credit hours in a specific degree program and demonstrate academic excellence by attaining a grade point average of 3.0 or above. At MWCC, the programs include Business Administration, Paralegal Studies, Computer Information Systems, Graphic & Interactive Design, and Medical Assisting.

The Chi Gamma chapter has a long history of community involvement, including activities to benefit NEADS, a Princeton-based service assistance dog organization; the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center; the House of Peace and Education in Gardner; local food pantries; military troops serving overseas; and the national Alzheimer’s Association.

Who's Who 2015MWCC 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 2015 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.

The 30 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 following honorees were among the student leaders recognized by the office of Student Life during a reception held April 23 at the Gardner Museum:

Louis Ayisi, Amanda Baldino, Andrea Bartlett, Thomas Berger, Aleisha Berthiaume, Michelle Blackmore, Evan Bonenfant, Tara Burke, Micaiah Bushnell, Carrie DeCosta, Roxanna Figueroa, Mary Fournier, Chelsea Garrity, Michael Godin, Celine Grimley, Emily Lapinskas, Jillian Legere, Brandi Logue, Siobhan Mack, Michael P. MacLean, Amber Martinez, Ariel Meaney, Sharon Nabulime, Michelle Nye, Desiree Procell, Phillip Stan, Cathy Teague, Sammi Tovar, Aaron Trudeau and Robin Wead.

MWCC ECE Week of the Young Child Art Exhibit

Early Childhood Education faculty, students, alumni , Garrison Center students and area child care centers celebrated Week of the Young Child with an art exhibit and reception on April 14.

For the ninth consecutive year, Mount Wachusett Community College’s Early Childhood Education Department, MOC Head Start, students, teachers and most importantly, preschool children, have adorned the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education with creations in celebration of the annual Week of the Young Child.

This year, the exhibit combined art, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, to tie in with the MWCC’s Humanities Initiative focused on the writer and naturalist.

To date, MWCC students have completed a combined 300 hours of service learning to make the event a success. Guests visited the center throughout the day on April 14, and were amazed at the imagination, ingenuity and creativity that children’s art represents. In the afternoon and evening parents, grandparents, friends and important others joined the children for an open house with Early Childhood students supporting the teachers and offering guided tours of the artwork. Additionally, accepted students in Early Childhood and Elementary Education were invited to join the festivities and learn more about the academic program.

“It certainly is a tremendous amount of work for all those involved, but when we have the opportunity to see the joy on the faces of our youngest members and hear them explain complicated pieces in the simplest of terms to those around them, we know why we are passionate about our art show,” said ECE Professor Maureen Provost.

“At the end of the day it is about the children, their families and their lives. I am thrilled to be part of their journey and excited to see what their futures hold. Thank you to anyone who was a part of this experience!”

This year’s event was sponsored by: the MWCC Early Childhood Education Department; children and teachers at the Garrison Center; MOC Childcare and Head Start Services; the Early Childcare Education Club; service learning students from Early Childhood and Elementary Education; the MWCC Humanities Project, funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities; and MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Henry David Thoreau

advanced manufacturing grads April 2015

MWCC Career Development Coaches Christian Reifsteck and Meghan Koslowski, front row, at right, with the newest graduates of MWCC’s ongoing Advanced Manufacturing Career Preparation program, from left: Chad McCarthy, Paul Kanga, James Nason, Shane Murray, Bill Cohan, Marciel Vargas and Jim Concannon.

Recent graduates of Mount Wachusett Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Career Preparation program met special guests at their recognition ceremony – their potential employers.

Recruiters and human resource professionals from Nypro, Bemis Associates, Injectronics, RockTenn and Boutwell Owens were at the college’s Devens campus on April 9 to congratulate the new graduates and speak with them about job opportunities at their companies.

Julie Crowley, regional manager for the national grant funding the project, said the matchmaking is one service of the six-week program, currently free to qualifying students through a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration.

“We know this isn’t about just getting a job. This is going to be a career path,” Crowley said.

The training program is designed especially for unemployed or underemployed adults, veterans and recent high school graduates who want to train for careers the manufacturing industry. Programs provide students with training in skills required for entry-level employment in positions such as technicians in manufacturing, validation, quality control, documentation, and process operations. Students who successfully complete the program will earn an MWCC Certificate of Completion, an OSHA 10-hour Safety Certification and the National Career Readiness Certificate, while learning about working in the fast-growing manufacturing field.

Following stints in restaurants and lumberyards, plumbing and some manufacturing, 22-year-old Shane Murray of Fitchburg enrolled in the program to gain training and certification to build a career, he said. “I just needed a change and this was the perfect thing I needed. I’m glad I made this decision.”

Marciel Vargas, 38 worked in textile manufacturing in the Dominican Republic and holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from her native country. After moving to the U.S. a decade ago, she honed her English skills, raised her family and worked part-time as a tax preparer. When her children entered school, the Fitchburg resident decided it was time to re-enter the workforce.  In addition to gaining employment, her goal is to become licensed in industrial engineering in Massachusetts within two years. She said she considers the MWCC training program an important rung in the ladder to get there.

“I enjoy the challenge of the work. I like to make things and there’s a variety of things you can do in manufacturing,” she said. “Even though you may be working on one specific product, there are a lot of things going on in the process.”

In addition to Murray and Vargas, other recent graduates are Chad McCarthy of Westminster, James Nason of Phillipston, Paul Kanga of Worcester, Jim Concannon of Fitchburg and Bill Cohan of Westford.

Lauren Beckner, human resources coordinator for Injectronics, said the medical device manufacturing company recently tapped into the training program for two components – blueprint reading and quality boot camp – to help an incumbent worker gain skills in order to be promoted.

Through the TAACCCT grant, the programs will continue to be offered for free for the next 18 months to prepare students to directly enter the workplace. The sessions include training in basic machines and robotics, measurement techniques, electronics, Lean,Six Sigma, Work Keys, quality/clean room processes, blueprint reading and success skills. Students can further their education in the manufacturing field through MWCC’s new academic certificate and associate degree programs in Analytical Laboratory & Quality Systems, and earn transferrable credits toward a bachelor’s degree.

An upcoming, two-week Quality Boot Camp training will begin on April 27. The upcoming six-week, 180-hour Advanced Manufacturing Career Preparation program will begin on May 11. This program is open to students who do not already have a college degree. The course includes hands-on work with robotics and other equipment, as well as self-paced KeyTrain curriculum leading to the National Career Readiness Certification. Additional six-week sessions will take place throughout the year.

For more information about enrolling in the training program, contact Career Development Coaches Christian Reifsteck or Meghan Koslowski at 978-630-9883 or email creifsteck@mwcc.mass.edu.

Sen Brewer Congressman McGovern 2

Congressman Jim McGovern, with Senator Stephen Brewer, at the MWCC Foundation annual dinner.

An outpouring of admiration and acclamation for state Senator Stephen M. Brewer and Mount Wachusett Community College student scholars fueled an evening of inspiration and celebration during the MWCC Foundation’s annual dinner on April 9.

The event, held at the Wachusett Mountain ski lodge, honored the long-serving legislator as the foundation’s 2015 Harold E. Drake Jr. Citizen of the Year.

Congressman Jim McGovern delivered remarks both heartfelt and comical, before announcing that Senator Brewer’s 26-years of exemplary leadership in the Legislature has been officially noted in the Congressional Record.

“Senator Brewer is a giant; someone who not only looked out for his constituents and his community, but also for Massachusetts. I can think of no one finer to receive this year’s Harold E. Drake Citizen of the Year award for his service to the Commonwealth and to the constituents he represented over nearly three decades of public service,” the official record reads, in part. Senator Brewer retired from the Legislature last fall.

“As senator, Steve helped countless people,” Congressman McGovern said. “I admire him because of all the great things he’s done and because he’s never thrown away his conscience.” Regarding the senator’s popularity, the Congressman quipped, “Have you ever walked in a parade with him? It’s like walking with Elvis, everyone wants to meet him.”

In addition to celebrating Senator Brewer’s legacy, the event acknowledged the academic success and civic engagement of MWCC students, as well as the volunteerism of area middle school and high school students who participate in United Way Youth Venture, a thriving partnership between the college, the United Way of North Central Massachusetts, and the international organization Ashoka.

The audience of 220 college supporters, benefactors, students and community leaders rose to their feet on many occasions throughout the night, beginning with remarks delivered by student speaker Cathy Teague, president of the Student Government Association. She shared how she and her husband, Jason, an Army veteran, rebuilt their troubled marriage after realizing the power of a college education to shape a brighter future for themselves and their children. The Winchendon couple, who divorced and later remarried, credited the support they received at MWCC through various student and veteran support services.

“During the past two years, I have transformed from a scared single mother of three little boys that didn’t know where her life was going. I have grown to be a more confident person who has a clear path. Through MWCC, Jason has found one of his true passions, which is helping other veterans” as a mentor and advocate for veteran suicide prevention she said.

“Because of the scholarship support and the positive encouragement I received, I have an amazing story. My once broken family is back together again, and I have grown into a person that I never thought I could be.”

An exchange between the couple and Senator Brewer sparked the most poignant moment of the night, when the senator presented Jason Teague with the flag lapel pin he was wearing, along with words of encouragement. In response, Teague asked to approach the microphone, and then presented Senator Brewer the pin he was wearing – the high school graduation pin of his 20-year-old son, who is currently serving in Afghanistan. The men embraced, tearfully, as tears flowed freely throughout the banquet hall.

During his remarks, Senator Brewer lauded President Daniel Asquino for his visionary leadership and the college for its ability to transform lives through education and student-centered service. He spoke of his love for America, his admiration for Harold Drake, and the dedicated spirit of the Youth Venture teens who represent the country’s future.

“The promise of our country is to do better for the next generation,” he said.

President Asquino described Senator Brewer as a man of many hats and talents, but above all, “a great human being and an example of a truly caring and engaged citizen of our democracy. Today all of our lives have been improved because this year’s honoree exhibits the fine characteristics of good citizenship, of sacrifice well beyond self-interest and of volunteerism.”

President Asquino recognized several student leaders in attendance for exemplary achievements this spring, including Ms. Teague, who will be MWCC’s recipient in May of state Department of Higher Education’s 29 Who Shine Award; John Day of Gardner, who was recently named a national Newman Civic Scholar by Campus Compact; Student Trustee Phillip Stan of Gardner, one of 150 students named a national Coca-Cola Scholar this year; newly elected 2015-2016 student Trustee Thomas Berger of Winchendon, a veteran of the U.S. Army; Louis Ayisi of Leominster, who has represented MWCC students as a featured speaker high-level events at the statehouse; and Aaron Trudeau of Rindge, N.H., a Marine veteran who was selected nationally to join President Obama and Vice President Biden at the recent dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for his essay on community service.

Featured speakers also included State Senator Harriette Chandler, Foundation board Chairman Richard Mohnk, Foundation Executive Director Carla Zottoli, and former MWCC Trustee Jay Davis Drake, who has presented the annual award for the past two decades to community members who exemplify his father’s volunteerism and commitment to the North Central Massachusetts region.

“Mount Wachusett Community College,” Congressman McGovern remarked, “is a place where incredible things happen and dreams come true.”

MWCC Group with students

Senator Stephen M. Brewer, front row, center, was recognized with the 2015 Harold E. Drake Jr. Citizen of the Year Award by the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation. Pictured front row, from left: Jason and Cathy Teague, Jay Davis Drake, President Daniel M. Asquino, Senator Brewer, Congressman Jim McGovern, Valerie Brewer, Rep. Stephen DiNatale. Back row, MWCC student leaders with Senator Harriette Chandler, second from left, and Rep. Jon Zlotnik, right.

 

 

Regional High School Art Exhibit 2015Students from 12 area high schools participated in Mount Wachusett Community College’s 33rd Annual Regional Exhibition of High School Art. Sponsored by the MWCC Art Department, the competition presented cash prizes to 10 students, the MWCC Art Club award to one recipient, and honorable mention awards to 72 students during a ceremony April 9. More than 300 items were on exhibit in the college’s East Wing Gallery.

“The Annual Regional Exhibition of High School Art is one of the most popular exhibits and annual events for the college and the community,” said Art Professor John Pacheco, who organizes the event. The exhibit featured work in both two and three dimensions, including drawings, photographs, painting, graphic design, collage, sculpture, ceramics and mixed media. The exhibit was judged by the art department faculty, who look for artwork that demonstrates originality and artistic technique.

Cash prize winners in this year’s exhibition are: Dakota Deal of Gardner High School; Jordan Martin of Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School; Nick Zbikowski and Cassandra Fayorsey of Oakmont Regional High School; August Stowers and Olivia Witkor of Quabbin Regional High School; Julie Fox, Megan Gage and Haley Wilmot of Wachusett Regional High School; and Michael McKenna of Contoocook Valley Regional High School in Peterborough, N.H.

Angela Kelly of Wachusett Regional High School received the MWCC Art Club Award.

MWCC offers an associate degree in art and many graduates continue their studies to pursue bachelor’s degrees at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Massachusetts College of Art and Design; Montserrat College of Art; UMass Amherst; Savannah College of Art and Design; and others.

This year, MWCC added a new academic program, Liberal Arts and Sciences with an art concentration. The new program provides a broad foundation in academic studies with an emphasis in art and design. This degree includes important fundamental courses recognized by transfer institutions and industries that value creative thinking and innovation. Students transfer to four year programs where an art background is necessary but not the sole focus such as: art therapy, art history, museum studies, art conservation, art administration, non-profit management, or education. This program meets the requirements for MassTransfer agreement.

Matt Agosto

Videographer Matt Agosto has entered First Lady Michelle Obama’s #ReachHigher video contest.

With hard work a bit of luck, Mount Wachusett Community College student Matthew Agosto’s Discover You – Reach Higher with MWCC video will bring First Lady Michelle Obama to Gardner.

Through her #ReachHigher initiative, Mrs. Obama is challenging high school and college students to make attending and completing college a reality for all students. She put out a call for videos, in particular videos that depict college students inspiring high school students to achieve academic excellence. If Agosto’s video is chosen as a finalist, the FLOTUS could be a speaker at MWCC’s commencement in May.

The Reach Higher initiative is the First Lady’s effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.

Students, teachers, school counselors and administrators from high schools and colleges were invited to create video submissions showing how they encourage high school students to extend their education.

“Education is the key to success for so many kids,” Mrs. Obama said earlier this year about the Reach Higher Initiative. “And my goal specifically is to reach out directly to young people and encourage them to take charge of their futures and complete an education beyond high school.”

Agosto, who is majoring in Media Arts & Technology with a concentration in photography, said he fully supports Mrs. Obama’s cause. “She actually wants to start a movement and see people become successful,” he said, adding that the #ReachHigher initiative will “give the younger generation something to look forward to and actually push them to become more successful.”

In addition to supporting the cause, Agosto enjoyed making the video, especially being the director. Creating and directing a video had been a long-held dream, and “the fact I got to see my vision through and receive encouragment from the college was an amazing opportunity. This project really pushed me to another level. Creating this video proved to myself and to others that I have what it takes to become a director and a cinematographer.”

Coming up with an idea was the hardest step, though Agosto knew he wanted his message to be strong and compassionate, and with just music in the background, video of students and text.

Agosto’s creation is at the whim of the contest’s judges, who have not yet announced the winner. Regardless of the outcome of the contest, he said, “I am proud to say that I made this video.”

To view Agosto’s video on YouTube, go to http://ow.ly/LBn2W.

 

Student Trustee Phil Stan

Student Trustee Phillip Stan has been named a 2015 Coca-Cola Scholar

MWCC Student Trustee Phillip Stan has been named a 2015 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholar. This year, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation recognized 150 students out of 1,700 applicants. Stan was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a medallion.

“We are extremely proud of Phil Stan for achieving this prestigious recognition,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “The Coca-Cola scholars program is highly competitive and is awarded to our nation’s best and brightest students. Phil is an outstanding, dedicated mentor to his peers and an inspiration to the entire college community.”

The competition required students to write an essay on what they view as their most significant contribution at their college. Stan’s award-winning essay focused on his work as a volunteer mentor to fellow students through the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) program, created by students and administered through the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

“Were it not for the SOS program, many of the students that have visited us would not have seen their dream of college completion reach fruition,” Stan wrote. “It is for this reason that I consider my involvement with the program my greatest collegiate contribution.”

A Gardner resident and accomplished musician, Stan is majoring in Liberal Arts with a concentration in music. After graduating from MWCC this May, he plans to continue for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and pursue a career as a music therapist working with children with autism and other special needs.

At MWCC, Stan serves in several leadership roles. In addition to serving on the Board of Trustees, he is vice president of civic and community engagement for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, a member of Commonwealth Honors Program, and a mentor with the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) program within the Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

Stan will be honored during the PTK All-State Academic Team Recognition ceremony on May 1 at the State House in Boston.

The Phi Theta Kappa international honor society administers the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program and recognizes Coca-Cola Community College scholars during All-State Community College Academic Team Recognition ceremonies held in 38 states.

Community college presidents or their designated nominators may submit no more than two nominations per campus for this award. An independent panel of judges considers outstanding academic rigor, grade point average, academic and leadership awards, and engagement in college and community service in the selection process.

“We thank the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation for their vote of confidence in community college students by investing in their futures,” said Dr. Rod Risley, Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa. “Their support is especially welcome during this challenging economic climate, as more and more community college students need additional resources to help them complete their degrees.”

“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said J. Mark Davis, President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa and make it possible for deserving students to achieve their educational goals.”

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 1,285 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 states of the U.S., and in numerous countries. More than three million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.

 

John Day.Mount Wachusett Community College student leader John Day has been presented with Campus Compact’s 2015 Newman Civic Fellows Award for his dedication and commitment to serving others.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. The Newman Civic Fellows Award is named for Dr. Frank Newman, one of the founders of Campus Compact, who dedicated his life to creating opportunities for student civic learning and engagement.

Following an initial volunteer opportunity with the MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement during his first semester in 2012, Day became increasingly involved in campus life and community service.

The Gardner resident currently serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA, dedicated to working with community partners to provide quality service learning and civic learning opportunities for MWCC students. He is treasurer and past vice president of the MWCC Student Government Association, is president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is a founding member of the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) peer advocacy program.

In addition, Day participates in the college’s Leadership for Life program, is an orientation leader during new student orientations, has volunteered during alternative spring break with Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts, and is a past member of the Campus Activities Team for Students. Day earned an associate degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences in May 2014 and is currently a full-time student pursuing a certificate in Small Business Management at MWCC. He plans to continue his studies toward a bachelor’s degree in business.

“We are extremely proud of John for his leadership on campus and in the community, and are delighted that he has been recognized with this distinguished award,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “John is motivated, enthusiastic and dedicated, and cares very deeply for his fellow students. As a student leader, he serves in many capacities, but above all, he is a true advocate for others.”

For the past three years, Day has served as a peer mentor in the SOS program, where he provides guidance and advice to fellow students who are struggling to meet basic needs such as housing, transportation and childcare, while pursuing their education. Nearly 90 percent of the students who seek assistance from the SOS office remain enrolled. Day said that as an SOS volunteer and mentor, he has gained greater insight into the inequalities that many area residents encounter.

“It is truly humbling to witness the struggle some students face to get an education to better their lives and the lives of their families,” he said. “I am glad to help them succeed. Working in the SOS office has opened my eyes to needs in our community and how I can be a part of addressing injustice and inequality. Through these experiences I have volunteered alongside people who are very different from myself; they hold different political, religious, and cultural beliefs, and that has been invaluable. I have learned what it truly means to be a part of a community which is full of respect, compassion and caring.”

Day has helped develop numerous civic engagement projects and programming, including the national Economic Inequality Initiative that is being spearheaded by MWCC, Keene State College and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment. This past fall, Day coordinated student, alumni, staff and faculty volunteers during the college’s second annual United Way Day of Caring event. Crews assembled 20,435 meals for homeless shelters, food pantries and veterans organizations in North Central Massachusetts.

Day is one of 201 college and university students selected for the national award this year. This is the third consecutive year a Mount Wachusett student has received the prestigious recognition.

“These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building a better world,” Richard Guarasci, chairman of the Campus Compact board and president of Wagner College in New York.

The Newman Civic Fellows Award is generously sponsored by the KPMG Foundation. For more information about the organization and the award, visit http://www.compact.org.