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Mount Wachusett Community College students thanked police and other criminal justice community partners from communities including Ayer, Gardner, Greenfield, Lunenburg, Orange, Templeton, and Westminster at a recent recognition luncheon.

At the end of every semester, MWCC hosts a recognition luncheon where participating criminal justice students thank their internship hosts for all they have learned and for the incredible mentoring each has enjoyed. To thank them for providing real-life, career experiences for the students, department chair Reed Hillman presented certificates of appreciation during a gathering at the Gardner campus.

“These fortunate students acquired a wealth of information about how progressive agencies serve their citizens and our students are uniformly grateful for the opportunity they have been provided,” Hillman said.

Police and criminal justice officials throughout the region provided internship opportunities for a number of MWCC Criminal Justice majors during the spring semester. Participating students completed a minimum of 120 hours over the 15-week semester.

Reed Hillman, chair of Mount Wachusett Community College’s Criminal Justice program, was recognized at the recent Massachusetts Colleges Online conference as MWCC’s Course of Distinction award recipient for his online course “Massachusetts and the Federal System.”

Reed Hillman, chair of MWCC’s Criminal Justice Program, is presented with a Course of Distinction Award from Michael Badolato, chair of Massachusetts Colleges Online.

According to MWCC’s Dean of Academic and Institutional Technology Vincent Ialenti, Hillman’s experience as an attorney, state legislator, head of the Massachusetts State Police, and 2006 Republican party candidate for Lieutenant Governor helped him to design a course that engages students in practical assignments that confront the issues facing Massachusetts and the Federal government. For example, students analyze state budget proposals, and research current political issues to help develop an informed opinion on current issues and then advocate their positions in correspondence with elected officials.

Students’ reactions to Hillman’s course have been extremely positive, Ialenti said. Students have commented that the learning experience created new awareness of the complexity and importance of the state and nation’s political system.

Hillman has been pleased and encouraged with his students’ reactions. “Most of the students become excited about a topic that they previously found to be uninteresting,” he said. “I hope that this excitement will continue long after the course. Individuals that understand the political system will be better prepared to become active and informed citizens.”

The COD awards are named after the “sacred cod” located in the Massachusetts House of Representatives Chamber since 1791, paying tribute to the role of the fishing industry on state’s economy, welfare, and life of its citizens. The online courses of MCO make similar 21st century contributions to the Commonwealth. This year’s conference took place at Bridgewater State University.

To be eligible for a COD award, the course content must be at least 80% instructor created and not rely on textbook publisher created materials.