GARDNER — When 2015 high school graduate Rachel Dickens heads off to Northeastern University this fall, she’ll bring everything she needs for her dorm room, along with first-hand experience with college life, solid study skills and a free semester’s worth of academic credits that will transfer toward her bachelor’s degree.
The Murdock Middle/High School graduate has just completed her fourth year in Upward Bound Math and Science, a year-round federal TRIO program administered by Mount Wachusett Community College for Gardner, Athol and Winchendon students.
More than 50 high school students participated in the program’s six-week residential component, which took place this summer at Fitchburg State University and included academic courses, extracurricular activities, career exploration and field trips.
The students were recognized for their academic success during an inspiring awards ceremony on Aug. 6. Dickens was joined by fellow Murdock graduate Jocelyn Cormier and rising Murdock seniors Sean Sutton and Zach Mallette as the event’s featured student speakers. This fall, Cormier plans to study video game design at Fitchburg State, while Sutton and Mallette plan to serve the country in the military after graduating from high school in 2016.
“UBMS is really an incredible opportunity. It prepares you for the future,” said Dickens, who earned 12 college credits through MWCC’s dual enrollment course offerings while in high school.
The UBMS program is offered to students who have an aptitude for math and science and are in grades 9 through 12 at Gardner High School, Athol High School and Murdock Middle/Senior High School in Winchendon. Two-thirds of the students are from low income or first-generation college families and have an identified need for services. The supervised residential component acquaints students with campus life while providing an opportunity to grow academically, socially and culturally, said Angele Goss, Director of MWCC’s UBMS and North Central Mass Talent Search programs.
This summer, rising juniors, seniors and recent high school graduates took college courses in statistics, English and communications, while freshmen and sophomores participated in pre-college courses in science, math and foreign language. All of the students attended workshops on leadership and careers, took part in a variety of recreational and educational programs, went on field trips to colleges, universities and museums, and participated in a family fun night.
“Mount Wachusett Community College has been helping people find access to higher education for over 50 years,” Lea Ann Scales, Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnership, explained to the students and their families during the ceremony. “We appreciate your participation, we’re excited about your future, and we’re delighted you have had a great summer.”
Winchendon resident Charles “CJ” Husselbee, a graduate of the UBMS program, an alumnus of MWCC and a soon-to-be graduate of UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management, shared his experiences over the past six years with the program, beginning as a student participant and continuing through this summer as a senior staff member. After graduating from UMass this December, he plans to enter the Peace Corps. Husselbee thanked the leadership and staff of MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition for their support and encouragement over the years, and described the characteristics that set UBMS students apart from others: leadership, resilience, ability to be open-minded, independence and motivation.
“Take every opportunity provided to you from this program and make the most of it,” he said. MWCC’s North Central Massachusetts Upward Bound Math and Science program began in 2008 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In 2012, the college received a five-year, $1.3 million grant to continue funding the program. Now completing its eighth year at the college, UBMS prepares high school students for success in high school and college in the fields of math and science.The Gardner News, Aug. 21, 2015