students

President James Vander Hooven.

(Article courtesy the Telegram & Gazette) Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) is more than half a century old, yet the school has only had a few presidents – the newest is James L. Vander Hooven, 45, who officially took the post as MWCC’s third president on March 19.

His predecessor, former president Daniel M. Asquino, who retired March 17, held the post for 30 years and was the longest-serving public higher education president in the state. Mr. Asquino, appointed in 1987, succeeded the college’s first president, Arthur F. Haley.
On Dec. 15, the MWCC board of rrustees voted to appoint Mr. Vander Hooven and the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education approved the appointment on Jan. 17.

Mr. Vander Hooven, who lives in Keene, N.H., was vice president of enrollment management at Landmark College in Putney, Vt. He previously served as president of Tohono O’odham Community College, a tribal college in Arizona; as vice president of student affairs and management at Lakes Region Community College in Laconia, N.H.; and as regional dean of academic and student affairs at National American University in Denver. He holds a doctorate in higher education leadership from the University of Maine.

Mr. Asquino, who announced his retirement last year, remained at the college through a transition period with the new president.

At the end of Mr. Vander Hooven’s first week at the accredited, two-year public college that serves 29 cities and towns in North Central Massachusetts, he conducted interviews with the media.

He said he was humbled to be able to follow in Mr. Asquino’s footsteps and moving into the post solidified his return to New England a year ago.

He became aware of the opportunity during his “brief” time working at Landmark College, he said.

“I wasn’t actually looking for anything,” he said. “I think my wife signed up for automatic alerts through HigherEdJobs.com and it came to her, and she, at some point, said, ‘This is just down the road.’ Five months later, I’m talking to you. Otherwise, I would have stayed where I was. I was not on the market. It was an unexpected opportunity – one I could just never pass up trying for. I have a deep, longstanding passion for community college and coming back to this environment here is a real thrill and honor.”

He echoed the same sentiments about following in Mr. Asquino’s long-lasting footsteps.

“I’ve known his reputation for many years in the community college world, even on a national scale,” Mr. Vander Hooven said. “It is a real honor to help build upon the foundation he built at the college.”

Asked if he thought he would stay as long as Mr. Asqunio, he joked, “If I do, I think the college will be like 95-years-old and looking for its fourth president. But, I’d like to get through my first week as president before I commit to 30 years.”

Mr. Vander Hooven was chosen over four other candidates for the post. He didn’t apply to any other colleges, he said. MWCC’s commitment to civic engagement and the dedication of the faculty and staff attracted him, he said.

“I was attracted for two reasons: one is the passion the faculty and staff have for the students and for the North Central Massachusetts community and also there is a really heavy focus on civic engagement for students as well as our partnerships established over many years with different regional entities, businesses and industry.”

Mr. Vander Hooven said he plans to build and expand on those relationships.

He said he was also attracted to the 269-acre main campus with its innovative buildings and green technology including two wind turbines, calling it “groundbreaking in many areas.”

Working at one of the nation’s 37 tribal colleges was one of the “most fascinating experiences” of his life, he said, and gives him a unique perspective because of the fully-accredited school’s focus on culture and maintaining the tribes’ cultures, history and personality within an education system.

“I think it will help with my ability or desire to truly, constructively listen to the challenges that students have to be successful,” Mr. Vander Hooven said. “I once heard someone indicate that a lot of our students’ challenges are beyond our control as an institution. Are they? I really challenge that line of thinking.”

Supporting a diverse student population, he said, including some that are single parents, needs to be part of the culture and system to make sure MWCC can support those students.

MWCC’s five-year strategic plan is also coming to a close, as Mr. Vander Hooven takes the post. He said he plans to extend it a few months while he takes eight to 10 months to develop a new strategic plan, requesting input from the community and the college’s partners, as well as students. Expanding on partnerships that are already in place like MWCC’s many workforce development programs, is key, he said. Responsiveness to the needs of area employers in regards to what they are looking for in a skilled workforce is one of MWCC’s strengths, he said.

“Companies are saying they have jobs, but need trained people to hire,” he said. “They are looking for quick, in-depth training programs for certification. Community college, by definition, should be a higher education entity to do that. We can be more nimble than other colleges that are a little bit more entrenched with what they are doing, and we can be there on the spot.”

Mr. Vander Hooven and Jennie L. Vander Hooven, his wife of 12 years, have three children, daughter Josephine, 4, and sons Jonah, 6, and Jude, 9.

President James Vander Hooven.

(Article courtesy the Sentinel & Enterprise) James Vander Hooven was expecting a lot of tough questions his first day this Monday as Mount Wachusett Community College president.

Is the tuition going to go up? Is there something you can do about the price of textbooks? What is your educational philosophy?

But one question caught him off-guard.

“I asked the students there if they had any questions for me and the very first student said ‘Well, how are you doing?’ ” he said. “And I’m like, ‘Whoa!’

“That was just so cool. That to me really provided a definition of the culture here.”

For some of the tougher questions, after one week on the job, he still doesn’t have answers , he said.

“I think it would be disingenuous of me to come in in my first week and say we’re going to have this specific program and we’re going to start it by the fall,” he said.

However, he is expecting to begin the process of creating a strategic plan to replace the three-year plan that ends in 2017. He said he wants the process, which will take about a year to develop, to involve the community, including businesses, industry, K-12 partnerships, as well as the college’s faculty, students and staff.

“We’re a community college,” he said. “The word community is really important there. We need to listening and engaging our partners agencies organizations, hospitals, et cetera to make sure that we are providing the academic programs that will meet there needs.”

Vander Hooven, 45, said he has been interested in the idea of educational access ever since he walked into a non-traditional classroom at a business school in Colorado prepared to teach “The Great Gatsby,” only to discover, at about age 28, he was the youngest person in the room.

“I don’t know if I ever taught ‘The Great Gatsby’ in my class,” he said. “I think they taught ‘The Great Gatsby’ to me.”

He was expecting to teach the book similar to the way he did during his day job at a high school, but soon realized this would be impossible.

“It was a big moment in my life because it opened my eyes to, quote unquote, nontraditional higher education and to the desire these students have to improve their lives, improve the lives of their families and overcome significant obstacles in order to do that,” he said.

Vander Hooven said his own education was traditional. From birth he knew he was going to go to college — Ohio State University, to be exact.

He struggled in high school, particularly with test anxiety.

“One day I was taking a test and I had a cough attack, like I couldn’t breath, so I went out into the hallway to try to get some water,” he said. “The teacher sent a student out to say if I don’t get back in there to take the test you’re going to get a zero.”

Vander Hooven said that teacher’s unhelpful response to his anxiety combined with the positive, supportive teachers he encountered, made him interested in pursuing a career in education.

He graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in English and went on to get a master of arts degree in American studies. In 2009 he was awarded a doctorate in higher education leadership from the University of Maine where he studied access in education.

Vander Hooven served as an administrator at several colleges before becoming a president in 2011 of Tohono O’odham Community College, a tribal college in Arizona.

He said his previous experience as a college president is guiding his approach to settling into the job this time around.

Though not a schoolwide initiative, personally, he is trying to take a step back from technology, such as avoiding his email from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in order to better engage with the people around him and build a team.

He left Tohono O’odham Community College in 2015 for a position at Landmark College as the vice president for Enrollment Management.

Later, drawn to the school’s “innovation” and strong community connections, he applied to MWCC.

“I was also really drawn to the extraordinary level of civic engagement that students have in our communities,” he said.

Though he is just starting his position, he said the conversations with students and the community about access and how to best serve students have already begun.

“We can’t take the obstacles away totally,” he said. “So what can we do? Is it the delivery format? Is it the time of our classes? Is it financial support for childcare? Is it actual childcare?”

“It’s all a web so we really need to seek a strategy that will enable our students to be even more successful.”

President Daniel M. Asquino (center) stands with Kennedy Owino of Fitchburg, Diversity Committee Co-Chair Maria Gariepy, Rebecca Schlier of Westminster, Diversity Committee Co-Chair Carla B. Morrissey, Gemini Walter of Leominster, and Rachel Adams of Fitchburg after presenting the students with their President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition awards.

Four MWCC students have been honored in the fifth annual President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition that sought out poems, essays and artwork highlighting the value diversity brings to learning and working.

This year’s winners are Rachel Adams of Fitchburg, Kennedy Owino of Fitchburg, Rebecca Schlier of Westminster, and Gemini Walter of Leominster. Each will receive a free, three-credit academic course for use during the spring or summer semesters.

The competition was developed by MWCC’s Diversity Committee to highlight the value of diversity to work and educational environments. Students are encouraged to submit papers, posters, essays, research work, art work or other original, creative work related to issues of diversity or identity, such as those involving disability, race, socio-economic status, veteran status, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and national origin.

Adams, a business administration student, wrote an essay entitled “I am invisible” with the goal of showing what it is like to be someone with an invisible disease. Not every struggle is seen and it is important to celebrate even the smallest victories, she said of her piece.

“Some people have a ball and chain around their ankle and it’s called an invisible illness,” Adams wrote in her essay. “It’s time to look at someone and really look at them. It’s time to celebrate small achievements of the day and be proud.”

Owino, a pre-engineering student, was honored for an essay entitled ‘When will it happen’ that explores the difficulty of making choices and being brave in an uncertain world.

“I champion that diversity should bring us together, not tear us apart,” he wrote. “Diversity is appreciating others for who they are.”

Schlier, a Gateways to College student, created a painting called “Mask” that depicts a multi-colored figure removing a theater-style mask. The piece embodies the experience that Schlier has undergone at Mount Wachusett Community College, where she has been able to remove her own mask.

“The mask represents how I had to be at my old school; I had to bottle up stress and sadness in order to fit in,” she wrote in her explanation of the piece.

Walter, a Human Services major, is the competition’s first three-time honoree, following up on his winning essay on what it means to embrace diversity with a free form literary piece designed to get people thinking about the impact of their words.

“When you last said goodbye to a child,” he writes, “did you let them know they are part of the chain of humanity, that they make a difference in this world?”

Walter’s piece asks the reader what message they are giving to children; encouraging the reader to empower children to accept diversity in all its forms and create a more accepting society as a result.

In addition to the awards and free academic course, the students’ work was displayed on MWCC’s campus.

Assistant Professor of Math and Physics Peter Olszak instructs students at the recent opening of the new Dr. Daniel M. Asquino Science Center. Beginning on January 17, MWCC’s classrooms will be full of similar scenes of student learning.

Mount Wachusett Community College will spring to life on January 17 as students return to the school for the first day of the spring semester.

The first day of classes will begin next week for both the college’s semester-long courses as well as an accelerated option that allows students to split their semester into two cycles. Full-semester courses and Cycle 1 courses will begin on January 17. However, Cycle 1 courses will end on March 8 with Cycle 2 courses beginning on March 20 and wrapping up with full-semester courses on May 15. These options allow students to build a class schedule that fits with the rest of their lives, setting them up for success.

“The beginning of the semester is always an exciting time, with students filling the halls and classrooms with energy as both our full-semester and accelerated classes begin,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “I am also pleased to start the second semester of the Commonwealth Commitment, which benefits students who qualify by locking in their tuition and getting them money back at the end of the semester.”

The Commonwealth Commitment was announced in March with every public campus in Massachusetts committing to providing 10 percent rebates to qualifying undergraduate students at the end of each successfully completed semester while freezing costs for qualified students. Students who meet the program requirements will, depending on the transfer pathway they choose, be able to realize an average savings of $5,090 off the cost of a baccalaureate degree.

The full academic calendar is available online at mwcc.edu/academic/academic-calendar/ along with course listings. More information on the Commonwealth Commitment is available online at mwcc.edu/macomcom.

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.

Mount Wachusett Community College’s third annual STEM Starter Academy came to a close on Thursday, Aug. 18, following a seven-week schedule that provided two free academic courses with textbooks, academic support, and a stipend for participants.

More than 30 students from throughout the region enrolled in one or two courses such as a four-

PHOTO: Stem Starter Academy students enrolled in Mount Wachusett Community College’s summer biology course Life Science for Allied Health, with Dean Janice Barney and Assistant Dean Veronica Guay, checked out the new science classrooms nearing completion at the Gardner campus.

Stem Starter Academy students enrolled in Mount Wachusett Community College’s summer biology course Life Science for Allied Health, with Dean Janice Barney and Assistant Dean Veronica Guay, checked out the new science classrooms nearing completion at the Gardner campus.

credit lab science and one general elective. In addition to earning up to seven free credits toward their STEM Pathway, the students toured the college’s new science, technology, engineering and mathematics building, received presentations on STEM careers, and explored MWCC’s transfer opportunities for its graduates.

“We are excited to complete our third annual summer program for local learners pursuing a degree in STEM fields,” said Veronica Guay, Assistant Dean of the School of Business, Science, Technology and Mathematics. “This summer’s Academy was outstanding. We nearly doubled the number of participants who attended in 2015 as the word is spreading about this amazing opportunity. Students have increased confidence in the areas of time management, study skills and ability to access to the college’s numerous student services. Some of the greatest areas of growth for the students include their interactions with college faculty, the willingness to access academic tutoring, and to assist one another and establish study groups. We are already looking forward to welcoming the summer 2017 STEM Starter Academy students!”

Funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the STEM Starter Academy is open to high school graduates or qualifying MWCC students who place into college-level English and math courses and are enrolling in one of MWCC’s STEM majors in the fall.

Qualifying MWCC STEM majors include analytical lab and quality systems, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, computer information systems, exercise and sports science, fire science technology, graphic and interactive design, interdisciplinary studies-allied health, medical laboratory technology, natural resources, physics, pre-engineering, and pre-pharmacy.

Courses offered during the summer academy included intermediate algebra, introduction to functions and modeling, life sciences for allied health, chemistry, statistics and introduction to psychology. In addition to the coursework, the students will also participate in MWCC’s Summer Leadership Academy on Aug. 23 and 24.

“Our students have had an outstanding summer and are ready to continue their studies this fall with two courses already under their belt,” said Christine Davis, MWCC’s STEM Starter Academy recruiter. Students from approximately a dozen area towns enrolled in the rigorous program, and tackled classes in an accelerated format that will prepare them for their careers, she said.

Many of the academy students are also recipients of STEM SET scholarships at MWCC. These awards of up to $3,500 per year are available to qualifying STEM majors through a grant the college received from the National Science Foundation.

In another MWCC STEM program supported by the DHE this summer, nearly 40 high school seniors participated in a four-credit introduction to physical science course and toured the college’s new science and technology building that is nearing completion.

For more information, contact MWCC’s admission’s office at 978-630-9110 or admissions@mwcc.mass.edu.

A goat munches hay at Heifer International’s Overlook Farm in Rutland.

MWCC’s Green Street Café is continuing its holiday tradition of supporting Heifer International’s mission to end hunger and poverty around the world.

Dining Services Manager Lynne Franciose and her team are collecting loose change and other donations through the end of January with the goal of raising $1,000 for the non-profit organization, which operates the Learning Center at Overlook Farm in Rutland. Heifer International sponsors programs in the U.S. as well as 50 other countries, including projects in Massachusetts, the Mississippi Delta Region and the Appalachian Mountains.

“For many, many people in the world, food cannot be taken for granted,” said J.P. Perkins, Heifer International volunteer coordinator for central Massachusetts, who recently presented a talk to MWCC students in the cafeteria. The Green Street Café’s efforts are raising awareness about global hunger issues as well as funds to provide support where it is most needed, Perkins said. The nonprofit organization was established nearly 70 years ago by Dan West, an Indiana farmer.

“The Green Street Café adopted the Heifer International Project as its charity three years ago in an effort to reach out and inform the college community of the organization’s inspiring and positive efforts towards ending hunger around the world,” Franciose said. “In the spirit of the giving season, we wanted to recognize the Heifer Project and give to their effort in the form of donations collected at our cash registers.”

The organization teaches families and communities who are struggling with poverty and hunger how to raise a variety of animals, along with techniques to improve their gardening. Heifer provides livestock that ranges from chicks to water buffalo to be raised for their milk and eggs, or in the case of water buffalo, a powerful field-tilling force, Franciose said. The animals are not slaughtered. As they reproduce, the project requires that the “gift” of one of the offspring be passed on to another needy individual, family, or community.

“There are so many important causes and meaningful efforts of charity all around us that choosing one is difficult. However, we have made a conscious effort to focus on this cause as it relates to our effort in providing food, and that food and health are the base for everything,” Franciose said. “The knowledge and tools that Heifer provides will help the recipients and give to them and their families and communities for a lifetime. It’s a gift that keeps giving, and that’s a thoughtful and meaningful gift!”

The café collected $1,000 last year and is hoping to match that goal again this year.

“We are very pleased with the contributions made by our customers to this valuable cause that helps  people all over the world,” Franciose said. “Thank you to all that have made a contribution and all who will before the end of January!”

Heifer’s Learning Center at Overlook Farm offers educational programs and events for the public year-round.  For more information, click here.

More ways on campus to support charitable endeavors: 

Hurricane Sandy: The Fitness & Wellness Center is sponsoring a book drive to help a school in Union Beach, N.J. replenish thousands of library books lost during Hurricane Sandy. Aquatics Director David Graham, a former New Jersey resident, is organizing the effort. A childhood friend who is a teacher in New Jersey told him of the plight of Memorial School, which is located in one of the hardest hit areas of the Oct. 29 storm. Students in kindergarten through grade 8 are in need of children’s books, beginning reader books, and fiction and non-fiction books,

“I grew up in New Jersey and a lot of my friends have shore property and live down that way and they’ve lost everything,” Graham said. “When my friend showed me the pictures of how devastated the school was, I thought we could do something up here to help.”

Books may be dropped off in the collection box located at the front desk in the Fitness and Wellness Center during normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., or contact David Graham at d_graham@mwcc.mass.edu or 978-630-9354 for assistance coordinating a book collection or pick up.

MWCC Students: Student clubs and organizations will raffle off decorated wreathes and various campus departments will raffle off theme baskets during the annual Winter Fest Fair Dec. 5 and 6 in the Commons area. Proceeds from both raffles will benefit the Emergency Student Fund.

Veterans: The Veterans Group is collecting personal care items, coats, gloves, mittens, hats and other clothing for the Alfred H. Marengo, Jr. Drive for Homeless Veterans. The drive runs through Dec. 11 to support the Montachusett Veteran Outreach Center. Donations can be made in the Veterans Success Center, room 138. The student club is also selling 2013 calendars for $5 featuring MWCC student veterans to raise funds for the Marengo foundation. A Red Barrel media drive collection is also underway to support the foundation’s efforts to assist homeless veterans.

Children: MWCC’s Student Services Division is hosting a Giving Tree to benefit families in need at a Gardner child care center. To participate, stop by the Student Support Services office, room 141, and select a tag or two from the tree. Unwrapped gifts must be returned to the office by noon on Friday, Dec. 14 with the tag in place.

In addition, student clubs will continue to sponsor bake sales to support local nonprofit organizations, including the House of Peace and Education in Gardner.

COMECC: MWCC’s Human Resources Department is accepting donations from MWCC employees for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign.  COMECC offers the choice of donating to over 1,000 screened non-profit organizations. Last year’s campaign set a new record. Through voluntary one-time donations and payroll deductions and various on-campus fundraisers, MWCC faculty and staff pledged a total of $65,589 to aid those in need.

Performing Arts Showcase

December 3, 2012

Theatre, voice and dance students will showcase their talents in end-of-semester performances in December. All three performances are free and open to the college community.

Students in the Musical Theatre Dance Styles course, taught by Jerianne Warren, will present a dance styles showcase on Monday, Dec. 10 at 1:30 p.m. in room 182.

Students in the Introduction to Acting course, taught by Michael McGarty, will perform scenes and monologues in the theatre on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 9:30 a.m.

Students in Becky Ufema’s Voice course will perform a recital in the theatre lobby on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 12:40 p.m.

Fitness Leadership & Exercise Science majors Shaunna Woessner and Cody Savoy take a break before heading to a class on the first day of the new academic year.

MWCC welcomed thousands of new and returning students onto its main campus in Gardner and satellite campuses in Leominster, Devens and Fitchburg, as well as students enrolled in online courses. The new academic year began Sept. 5. 

More than 1,000 of the new students recently attended day, evening and program-specific orientations, marking a dynamic start to the 2012-2013 academic year. Coordinated by the office of Student Life, the orientation sessions provide students with an opportunity to learn about college life and MWCC programs, support services, and activities.

A majority of the new day students attended orientation on Sept. 4, which included seminars and other activities. Students met with faculty, deans and advisors, toured the campus, received information about college resources, and attended a student club expo. 

During the orientation for day students, President Daniel M. Asquino and college administrators greeted the incoming students and encouraged them to become involved with campus activities and tap into college resources to make the most of their experience at MWCC. Executive Vice President Ann McDonald, Assistant Dean of Students Greg Clement, and comedic motivational speaker Michael Miller also welcomed the students.

Orientation sessions for evening students and family and support networks also were offered to acquaint newcomers to the college.

In addition to the orientation events, the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success hosted a welcome for veteran students. The Aug. 29 event featured a variety of speakers who addressed topics relevant to veterans and active military members returning to college. Speakers included Nick Dutter and Tommy Furlong, veteran outreach coordinators for Home Base, a partnership between the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital, which provides clinical care and support services; Kevin Lambert of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services Statewide Advocacy for Veterans’ Empowerment (SAVE) program; and several college faculty and staff members.