veterans

Director of Veterans Services Bob Mayer with student veterans during this fall's orientation.

Director of Veterans Services Bob Mayer with student veterans during this fall’s orientation.

For the sixth consecutive year, Mount Wachusett Community College has been recognized as a top military-friendly school for creating a culture of positive energy and academic support for veterans, active military members and their dependents.

The 2015 Military Friendly Schools list, released by Victory Media, names the top 15 percent of American colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace military students and ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation. Now in its sixth year, the list serves as the primary resource for service members and military families seeking education and captures best practices among schools in supporting military students.

The list features 1,600 institutions and was compiled through research and a data-driven survey of more than 8,000 schools approved for Post-9/11 GI Bill funding. Qualifying campuses will be featured in the G.I. Jobs Guide to Military Friendly Schools, among other Victory Media publications.

“It is our responsibility to foster an environment in which student veterans can thrive, both in the classroom and on campus,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “This award is a testament to our student veterans who courageously serve our country and then make the decision to transition to college life. We also have a wonderful staff in the Center of Excellence for Veteran Affairs and a supportive group of faculty and students.”

“This title we’ve received is not in name only; we’ve earned that status,” said Veterans Services Director Robert Mayer.

A designated Yellow Ribbon School with a long history of supporting veterans, MWCC was cited for the wrap-around support provided through the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success and the Veterans Group student club, an affiliate of the Student Veterans of America.

Established in 2010 the veterans success center now serves more than 350 students each year, addressing the unique academic, financial, social and physical needs of veterans, military personnel and military families transitioning to college life.

“The college has an excellent support team for veterans, and Bob is very involved in helping us succeed,” said Tom Berger, a business administration major who served in the U.S. Army from 1990 to 1998. “I enjoy being part of this peer group of students and getting involved in the college and local community.”

In August 2013, MWCC became one of the first 250 higher-education institutions to implement President Obama’s “8 Keys to Success” initiative to help boost academic opportunities and improvement employment outcomes for veterans. The eight keys build on the administration’s work to provide veterans and military families with a high-quality, affordable education and highlight specific ways that colleges and universities can support veterans as they pursue their education and employment goals.

In MWCC’s sixth year of recognition as a military-friendly school and service through the Veterans’ Success Center, and second year of implementing the “8 Keys,” its staff is still poised to increase the breadth of services to veterans.

- Cameron Woodcock

VFW scholarship donation to MWCC Foundation

Members of Ovila Case Post 905 Veterans of Foreign Wars recently presented a $1,000 donation to the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation to support scholarships for student veterans. Pictured, from left, Commander Howard Sands, President Daniel M. Asquino, Service Commander Kenneth Fournier, board member and past commander Don Progen, and MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse.

The Ovila Case Post 905 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Gardner recently donated $1,000 to Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation’s Veterans Memorial Scholarship.

President Daniel M. Asquino and Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse accepted the generous donation from VFW Commander Howard Sands, Service Commander Kenneth Fournier and board member and past commander Don Progen, and thanked the post members for their continued support of MWCC and student veterans.

The scholarship was established to recognize the important role played by MWCC in ensuring that the sacrifices and service of veterans who served the country will not be forgotten.

Scholarship funds are awarded to new or returning full-time students who were honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces or are currently serving in the Reserves or National Guard.

MWCC’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success has become a vibrant hub on campus. Earlier this year, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, center, and representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Veteran Services, were among the visitors.

Mount Wachusett Community College has received its third national recognition this fall as a top military-friendly school.

This month, Military Advanced Education awarded MWCC the designation of a top military-friendly college in its 2014 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities. In November, MWCC was named to Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges 2014 rankings, with special recognition as one of the country’s top community colleges for veterans. In September, MWCC was named to the 2014 Military Friendly Schools list by Victory Media for the fifth consecutive year.

The national publications provide service men and women a gauge by which to judge whether a school or degree program will truly benefit them.

MAE’s 2014 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities provides potential students with information about institutions that go out of their way to give back to our men and women in uniform. The publication was recently released in print and is also available online at www.mae-kmi.com.

Attributes considered in evaluating institutions for inclusion in the guide include the flexibility of online learning options, extent of transfer credits accepted by degree level, on-campus ROTC, Servicemember Opportunity Colleges (SOC) participation, on-campus active duty/veteran assistance, the support provided to the families of service members, faculty trained in veteran reintegration issues, and full-time counselors trained in veteran-specific mental health concerns.

A designated Yellow Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs with a long history of supporting veterans, MWCC is recognized for the wrap-around support it provides through the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, as well as for its vibrant Veterans Group student organization, which is a chapter of the Student Veterans of America.

Established in 2010, the center has helped MWCC create a culture of positive energy and enthusiasm for its military students. The center was among the first 15 in the county selected by the U.S. Department of Education to serve as national models. Support services address the unique academic, financial, social and physical needs to veterans transitioning to college life.

MWCC has again earned a top spot among veteran-friendly colleges by Military Times.

Mount Wachusett Community College has earned national recognition for its support for veterans from several military-focused organizations over the past several years. On Veterans Day, Military Times again named MWCC to its Best for Vets: Colleges 2014 rankings.

Best for Vets provides service men and women a gauge by which to judge whether a school or degree program will truly benefit them. The rankings factored in service member enrollment, percentage of tuition covered by the GI Bill, and availability of specific programs to help service members. The organization placed a new emphasis on academic rigor this year when conducting and scoring the fourth annual Best for Vets: Colleges survey, a 150-question analysis of a school’s complete offerings for veterans.

MWCC was ranked fourth nationally for two-year schools. The full rankings include 120 four-year, two-year, online and nontraditional schools. The top schools in each category are being showcased in the November issue of Military Times EDGE magazine, the premier publication for military transition, and affiliated Gannet Company publications and websites, including USA Today and the newsweeklies Military Times, Army Times, Navy Times. Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times.

“Mount Wachusett Community College has a long history of serving veterans, and we’re delighted to be recognized for our commitment to those who courageously serve our country,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “In recent years, we have enhanced our services through our Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, which is helping veteran students and their dependents transition to college life and receive ongoing support.”

The Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, initially established in 2010 through a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, has helped MWCC create a culture of positive energy and enthusiasm for its military students, said Director Kristine Larkin. The center was among the first 15 in the county selected to serve as national models and has become a staple in the lives of student veterans at MWCC and a hub of activity on campus. Support services address the unique academic, financial, social and physical needs to veterans transitioning to college life.

Collaborating with nonprofit community partners and building strong relationships with student veterans are contributing to the center’s success in serving students, Larkin said. Community partners include the Montachusett Veteran Outreach Center, the Northeast Veteran Training & Rehabilitation Center operated by Veteran Homestead, Inc., the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services’ SAVE program, and local posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

MWCC is a designated Yellow Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. In addition, the college developed a First year Experience course designed specifically for veterans and many of the students are active in the veterans club on campus, which is affiliated with Student Veterans of America.

A Veterans Appreciation Breakfast for students, faculty and staff members who have served in the military or are currently serving, will take place Thursday, Nov. 7 from 8 to 10 a.m. in the North Cafe. MWCC is sponsoring the event to thank members of the college community who have served the country.

MWCC’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success has become a vibrant hub on campus. The college has received national recognition from several organizations for its support for veterans and military personnel, including being named for the fifth consecutive year to the Military Friendly Schools list. Staff members and student veterans include front row: Andrew Brunell, David LeBlanc, Andy Kinglsey, Nick Guthmiller; back row, Nate Radke, Center Director Kristine Larkin, Jeff Young, Chris Miller, Adam Tenney, MWCC VA certifying official Sarah Savoie, Mitchell Landry and Nicholas Jamieson.

For the fifth consecutive year, Mount Wachusett Community College has been recognized as a top military friendly school for creating a culture of positive energy and academic support for veterans, active military members and their dependents.

The 2014 Military Friendly Schools list, released by Victory Media, names the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students and ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation. Now in its fifth year, the list serves as the primary resource for service members and military families seeking education and captures best practices among schools in supporting military students.

“We are proud and honored to be recognized for our ongoing commitment to the men and women who courageously serve our country, and to their families who also make a tremendous sacrifice,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “It is our privilege and duty to support these heroes within our communities as they pursue academic and career goals. Moreover, their presence and active participation on our campus enriches the entire college community.”

A designated Yellow Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs with a long history of supporting veterans, MWCC was cited for the wrap-around support provided through its Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success and vibrant Veterans Group student organization, which is Student Veterans of America chapter.

In 2010, MWCC was one of 15 colleges in the country selected to establish a model center through a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Though the three-year, $400,000 grant concludes this month, MWCC is fully incorporating the center’s services and programs into its array of comprehensive student support services. The veterans’ success center is now serving more than 300 students each year. Support services address the unique academic, financial, social and physical needs to veterans, military personnel and military families transitioning to college life.

“I got here just as the center was starting up and got to see how it progressed over the years,” said Marine Corps veteran and business administration major Nick Guthmiller, who served in Iraq. “This veterans center has really helped me out. The first semester I was here I really struggled with the transition of going from one world to a completely different world. Being around other veterans who are going through the same thing really helped ease the transition.”

Ruth Robertson, who serves in the Army Reserves, enrolled at MWCC this fall and is pursuing a career in health care. The support she found at the center and among her peers has already made a tremendous difference in her transition to college, she said. “I feel comfortable here.”

In August, MWCC was recognized as one of 250 colleges and universities taking part in President Obama’s new “8 Keys to Success” initiative to help boost academic opportunities and improvement employment outcomes for veterans. The eight keys build on the administration’s work to provide veterans and military families with a high-quality, affordable education and highlight specific ways that colleges and universities can support veterans as they pursue their education and employment goals.

 

The Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success has become a vibrant hub at Mount Wachusett Community College. In April, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone visited the center. Pictured standing, from left, Gabriel Nutter and Kevin Lambert of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services; Education Secretary Matthew Malone; Center Director Kristine Larkin; staff member Lisa Bentley; and MWCC student veteran Lucia Lebreton. Kneeling, from left, MWCC student veteran Bryan Sanderson and Erik DeGiorgi, chair of the Massachusetts Student Veteran Advisory Board.

Mount Wachusett Community College is one of approximately 250 community colleges and universities across the country implementing the Obama Administration’s new “8 Keys to Success” to help boost academic opportunities and improve employment outcomes for veterans.The “8 Keys to Success” build on the administration’s work to provide veterans and military families with a high-quality, affordable education and highlight specific ways that colleges and universities can support veterans as they pursue their education and employment goals. It aims to aid veterans in their effort to afford and complete their college degrees, certificates, industry-recognized credentials and licenses in preparation for jobs in high-growth sectors of the economy.

“We’re announcing what we call ‘8 Keys to Success’ – specific steps that schools can take to truly welcome and encourage our veterans,” President Obama said while introducing the initiative on Aug. 10 during the Disabled American Veterans National Convention in Florida. “And so far, more than 250 community colleges and universities have signed on. I’m calling on schools across America to join us in this effort. Let’s help our veterans get that degree, get that credential and compete for the high-skilled jobs of tomorrow.”

On Aug. 12, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced a challenge to education institutions to adopt best practices supporting educational success.

MWCC, which established its vibrant Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success in fall 2010, is one of six Massachusetts institutions and the first community college in the Commonwealth to embrace the initiative. Other participating institutions are UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell and Salem State University.

“We are proud and honored to continue our commitment to serving veterans and military families by embracing this new national initiative,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “The men and women who serve our country in the military, and the families that support them, do so at a tremendous sacrifice. This initiative increases awareness and builds upon our ongoing support of these heroes within our communities as they pursue academic and career goals.”

The 8 keys include: create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans; ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership; implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming; coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space; collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans; use a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion; provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans; and develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.

A designated Yellow Ribbon School by the VA, Mount Wachusett administers veteran support services on its main campus in Gardner and satellite campuses in Leominster and Devens. The Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success is now serving more than 300 student veterans, military personnel and dependents each year.

Established through a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the center was among the first 15 in the county selected to serve as national models. Support services address the unique academic, financial, social and physical needs to veterans transitioning to college life.

The center has established strong relationships with other college departments as well as with local community providers to support its veterans, said center Director Kristine Larkin.

Services and support include: admissions and advising counseling; career services; transfer assistance; veteran benefits and financial aid advising; assistance for students with disabilities; referrals to on-campus and off-campus service providers; a textbook loan program; emergency, scholarship and yellow ribbon funds; an adaptive technology loan program; an orientation course geared toward veterans; study groups; a mentoring program; and peer tutoring. The new center also provides the use of computers and a quiet study area for students.

Members of Ovila Case Post 905 Veterans of Foreign Wars Joseph LeBlanc, senior vice commander, David Caswell, commander, and past commander and MWCC alumnus Don Progen present a $1,000 donation to Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino and MWCC Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse to support scholarships for student veterans.

The Ovila Case Post 905 Veterans of Foreign Wars in Gardner recently donated $1,000 to Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation’s Veterans Memorial Scholarship.

President Daniel M. Asquino and Foundation Executive Director Carla DeFosse accepted the generous donation from VFW Commander David Caswell, past commander Don Progen and senior vice commander Joseph LeBlanc, and thanked the post members for their continued support of MWCC and student veterans. The scholarship was established to recognize the important role played by MWCC in ensuring that the sacrifices and service of veterans who served the country will not be forgotten.

Scholarship funds are awarded to new or returning full-time students who were honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces, or are currently serving in the Reserves or National Guard.

Tributes to Veterans

April 14, 2013

Visitors from throughout New England stopped by to honor fallen Vietnam War veterans during a four-day tribute at  MWCC’s Gardner campus.

Visitors from throughout New England joined the college community to honor fallen veterans of the Vietnam War during a memorial tribute sponsored by the college’s student Veterans Group, the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, and area supporters.The American Veterans Traveling Tribute brought its Traveling Wall to MWCC April 10 through 14. The wall,  an 80-percent scale version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., was escorted to the campus by more than 100 motorcyclists with the Patriot Riders Chapter 3, following a stop at Gardner City Hall for a brief ceremony.

Andrew Constant, president of the Veterans Group, spearheaded the initiative. The memorial was also made possible through the generous support of several community sponsors including the Patriot Riders Chapter 3, the VFW Ovila Case Post 905, Vietnam Veterans of America, Montachusett Veteran Outreach Center, Franco-American Vets in Leominster and many other school clubs and outside organizations.

The exhibit is a veteran-owned project committed to travel the nation to honor, respect, and remember men and women who served, and to pay specific tribute to those who gave all in that service. Across its 360-foot length, the wall contains every single name etched on the original. At its apex, the memorial is an impressive eight feet tall.

Events included an opening ceremony, a candlelight vigil and a closing ceremony.

Opening ceremony speakers included MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, and two alumni – Donald Progen, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in the Vietnam War, and keynote speaker Xuyen Nguyen, a native of South Vietnam who was imprisoned on several occasions for her support of the U.S. military.

“There would be no parades for Vietnam vts, like those which greeted the members of the Greatest Generation, upon their return from the battlefields of World War II, nor would they simply be ignored, like the veterans of “the forgotten war,” Korea,” Progen said. “Vietnam vets were in many places, openly ridiculed and reviled. There were however, some places – havens if you will – where Vietnam vets were accepted, allowed to come to terms with their experiences and move on. One such place was Mount Wachusett Community College, which I was lucky enough to find upon my return to the World in 1971.”

Progen, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and retired assistant district attorney in Worcester, commended MWCC for its long history of supporting veterans during its 50 years of existence.

Nguyen, a Gardner resident, shared her poignant story of how the American presence in South Vietnam meant a tremendous difference to those living there. She worked for the U.S. government on a military base as an interpreter and medical assistant, gaining respect of all the Americans on the base. When the U.S. pulled out and the Communists took over South Vietnam, she paid a heavy price.  She was placed in jail on a number of occasions simply because of her affiliation with the U.S.

Finally, in 1995, the U.S. brought her to this country under an amnesty program. She earned her GED at Mount Wachusett Community College, followed by an associate degree in Human Services and has worked in the field of social work for a local agency for many years.  She and her husband of 32 years raised four children in Gardner, who found success in careers including engineering, education and aircraft mechanics.

In addition to the traveling tribute, members of the student Veterans Group dedicated a monument near the college’s flagpole to all veterans. The club, which is a chapter of the national Student Veterans of America organization, received assistance from MWCC’s facilities department and grounds crew in installing the memorial and new landscaping.

 

AVTT Traveling Wall

Veterans and active members of America’s armed services travel great distances and make great sacrifices to preserve and protect freedom and liberty. How far will you travel to honor their contribution?

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute will bring its Traveling Wall to Mount Wachusett Community College April 10 through 14, in honor of the college’s 50th  anniversary. The Traveling Wall, an 80-percent scale version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., will be escorted on April 10 at 3 p.m. by the Patriot Riders Chapter 3 to Gardner City Hall for a brief ceremony, then proceed to the college soccer field. Events and activities will commence on April 11, beginning at 12:30 p.m. when student veterans dedicate a plaque at the college’s flagpole.

An opening ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. A candlelight vigil will take place April 13 at 6 p.m. A closing ceremony will take place on April 14 at 3 p.m. before the wall is dismantled.

The exhibit is sponsored by MWCC’s student Veterans Group and the college’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, through the generous support of several community sponsors including the Patriot Riders Chapter 3, the VFW Ovila Case Post 905, Vietnam Veterans of America, Montachusett Veteran Outreach Center, Franco-American Vets in Leominster and many other school clubs and outside organizations.

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute is a veteran-owned project committed to travel the nation to honor, respect, and remember men and women who served, and to pay specific tribute to those who gave all in that service. Since the tribute is mobile, it allows people to honor and respect veterans and active military personnel without having to travel great distances to do so.

The AVTT Traveling Wall was completed in 1998 and began traveling that year. Across its 360-foot length, the wall contains every single name etched on the original. At its apex, the memorial is an impressive eight feet tall. AVTT’s Traveling Wall is the largest wall replica traveling the country, and is not to be confused with several other replica walls that also share a mutual mission.

For more information about this event contact Andrew Constant, president of The Veterans Group at aconstant1@mwcc.edu or Kristine Larkin, director of the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, at 978-630-9855 or klarkin@mwcc.mass.edu or visit www.avtt.org.