Newman Civic Fellows Award

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

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.