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January 25, 2010

In This Issue
MWCC Launches Accelerated Business Degree
CAPP Alumni Share College Insights with Peers
Gateway to College Programs Expanding Nationally
MWCC Students Reach Out to Haiti
MWCC Celebrates Black History Month
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MWCC Launches Accelerated Business Degree 

Mount Wachusett Community College has created the Accelerated Business Administration Transfer degree program for students interested in earning an associate degree in just one year before transferring to a four-year college or university to complete a bachelor's degree. The intensive program not only saves time, but pares $5,000 off the cost of an associate degree.

"We've had a very favorable response to this new program from area high schools, guidance counselors and their students," said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. "This accelerated business program puts students on a fast track to reach their academic goals in a manner that is cost-effective, especially in this economy."

Applications are now being accepted for 24 seats in the program. The cohort will begin taking classes in September and finish the entire program in early July 2011. The accelerated program includes courses in management, general business, economics, accounting and marketing, as well core courses in English, Math, science, communications, humanities and social sciences.

The schedule is comprised of a combination of day, evening and online courses designed to run in cycles. Students will also complete an intersession and Maymester course. Since students will be completing a two-year program in one year, the program is best suited for high-achieving students. Preference will be given to students with a high school GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale.

Benefits of the program include the ability to save time and $5,000 in college expenses due to the cost structure of the accelerated schedule; numerous transfer opportunities with public and private four-year institutions; study groups; tutoring; advising; career counseling; and real-world experience through service learning and internships. Additional cost savings potential exists through the 3 Plus One program, which allows students to complete their junior year at MWCC, at MWCC's cost, and their senior year at a partnering college. Students earning a 3.0 GPA after the first semester will be eligible for induction into the Alpha Beta Gamma business honor society.

"We created the Accelerated Business Administration Transfer degree to fulfill the needs of motivated students and get them to their career starting line sooner," said Professor Michael T. Greenwood, chair of MWCC's business department.

"The cohort model emphasizes the value of individual accountability, leadership and working together as a team with shared goals. Learners who are interested in a business career, possess the self-discipline to pursue their studies seriously, like working on a team, and have a passion for creative ideas are ideal candidates for this program," Greenwood said. "The program is also perfect for learners planning to undertake a leadership role not only in their program of study, but in the community as well."

Upcoming information sessions for the Accelerated Business Administration Transfer degree will take place Feb. 16 at 2:30 p.m., March 16 at 6 p.m., April 20 at 2:30 p.m., May 11 at 6 p.m. and June 8 at 2:30 p.m. in room 125 at the Gardner campus. Information about the new program is available by contacting MWCC's Admissions office at (978) 630-9284.

CAPP Alumni Share College Insights with Peers

Leominster High School alumni from the class of 2009

Want to know what college life is like? Ask a student. College students who recently graduated from Gardner, Athol, Fitchburg, Leominster and Murdock high schools returned to their alma maters in January to offer tips to current high students on a wide range of topics, including the application process, coursework and study requirements, financial aid, dorm life and cafeteria food.

The alumni events were sponsored by MWCC's Division of Access and Transition, in conjunction with the guidance departments at the high schools. Many of the returning alumni are past participants of MWCC's Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound Math Science programs, which are offered free through the division's College Access and Preparation Programs (CAPP). The alumni are now enrolled in public and private colleges and are majoring in a variety of academic programs including marine biology, nursing, pre-med, art, music, communications, English and education.

"The purpose behind the alumni presentations is to have student peers come back and explain to the high school students that with hard work and preparation, they can be successful in college. That message is much stronger when it comes from a peer who has succeeded," said Rebeccah Sonn, Community Partnerships Director for CAPP.

Murdock Principal Nick DeSimone noted that this year's alumni panel was the largest to date since the event was initiated there five years ago. The alumni event provides an opportunity for current high school students to gain insight into ways to "make college a reality," he said. "We're lucky to have the close and longstanding relationship that we have with Mount Wachusett Community College and its staff."

The alumni spoke frankly of their experiences, such as how many hours of studying is required to stay on top of their coursework, how to get along with messy roommates, and why it's a good idea not to spend their high school graduation gift money all at once.

Alexis Jenkins, a former participant in Educational Talent Search at Murdock who is now studying to become a physician's assistant at Howard University in Washington, D.C., advised the high school students to be themselves during the college interview process. "Just relax, definitely bring up all your credentials, and represent yourself well."

"Have fun," advised Fitchburg alum Keith Bourne, who is now attending Boston College on a football scholarship. "But don't have too much fun. You are there for a reason."

Many of the remarks elicited laughter from the high school students, for instance when Fitchburg alum Michael Phouangsaly related that his mother will sometimes call him at midnight to ask: "What are you doing up so late? Go to sleep!"

Pictured above: Leominster High School alumni from the class of 2009 returned to the school to share tips about attending college during a Jan. 8 event co-sponsored by the high school and the College Access and Preparation Programs administered through MWCC's Division of Access and Transition. Front row, from left: Paige-Ashlee Bennett, a student at MWCC; Kelly Saintelus, who is attending Boston College; and Cathy Tang, a student at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Back row: Jessica Montalvo, a student at MWCC; Ashley Rivera, who is attending Salter College and Elizabeth Burgos, a student at MWCC.

Gateway to College Programs Expanding Nationally

Four leading foundations have awarded $13 million in grants to the Gateway to College National Network to expand the program into 15 additional community colleges, make the program a model for colleges serving students who need remedial academic help, and provide resources for existing Gateway programs, including the one launched at MWCC three years ago.

The national organization announced on Jan. 22 that it will receive $7.28 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $3.8 million from the Foundation to Promote Open Society, a sister organization of the Open Society Institute, and nearly $1 million each from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Kresge Foundation. The program is now in operation in 27 colleges in 16 states. Gateway to College's success is due to a combination of intensive academic and non-academic supports, and can be an important model for community colleges nationwide that struggling with high remedial rates.

The Gateway to College program is designed for youths age 16 to 20 who have dropped out of high school, are at risk of dropping out of high school, or are not succeeding in a traditional high school environment. MWCC's program, which now enrolls nearly 100 students who simultaneously work toward obtaining their high school diploma and college degrees, was the first out of three program sites now located in Massachusetts.

"It's very exciting to see the Gateway to College National Network continue expansion efforts to serve even more at-risk youth," said MWCC Gateway Director Deb Bibeau. "Locally, the new grant has the potential to enhance staff professional development and resources for continuous improvement of services provided for our students." In addition to professional development opportunities, the new funding could benefit MWCC's program with research opportunities, site visits to other GtC partners and Peer Learning Conference tools, she said.

Joseph Benavidez, 19, who graduated from the Gateway program in June 2009 and is now pursuing an associate degree in Liberal Arts - Communications at MWCC, said the program was instrumental in helping to shape his academic and career goals. "The Gateway program definitely got me on my feet," said Benavidez, now an assistant editor of the student newspaper, The Mount Observer, and a contributor to the college literary journal i magazine.

He enrolled in the Gateway program after falling behind in his high school studies due to an illness and a move out of state. After graduating with his associate degree this December, or May 2011, he plans to transfer to a four-year college for a bachelor's degree and then work in the communications field. Benavidez said he was thrilled to learn that the program is being expanded nationally. He attended a Gateway conference in Washington, D.C. last July and saw the difference the program is making in people's lives. "Gateway did save some of those students' lives. They were so close to not wanting to do anything anymore. Gateway gave them a purpose. I just want to tell everyone, 'Go to Gateway!'"

Ensuring that more young people in America have the opportunity to complete college is crucial to the country's economic growth and stability, as the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2016, half of all U.S. jobs will require college-level skills. Between 2005 and 2007, the average high school dropout earned $18,800 a year, while the average community college graduate brought home more than $34,500.

The Obama administration has called on states and education leaders to help the United States lead the world in percentage of college graduates by 2020. Programs like Gateway to College are taking the important step of helping students succeed by developing individual college graduation plans, teaching time management and stress management skills along with note taking and communication skills.

MWCC Students Pooling Time & Talents to Help Haiti

Kyle, Bryan & Julian
Mount Wachusett Community College students are pooling their time and talents to raise money for the American Red Cross International Response Fund to benefit Haiti relief efforts.
On Thursday, Jan. 28, the Student Government Association, the International Club and the new Theatre Club are hosting a fundraiser from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the South Cafeteria. Twenty-five percent of food sales from the college's Green Street Café will go toward the relief fund. The event, which will include performances by Theatre Club members with guest appearances from MWCC officials, was initially planned to raise money to buy new volleyball nets for the college, but the focus shifted following the devastating earthquake.
"We were going to do a fundraiser for the nets, and then when the whole thing in Haiti went down, it was a collective thought to donate the funds to Haiti," said Kyle Carlson, an Early Childhood Education major who serves on the SGA and co-founded the Theatre Club with Julian Fox. "It's going to be a really fun event, and it's the Theatre Club's first-ever performance, so it's something you won't want to miss."
"It's really good that the clubs are coming together to help this cause because collectively we can make a greater difference," said Faheem Muhammad, co-president of the International Club. "We're hoping a lot of people will come out to this event. It's very important."

In addition, proceeds from door prize ticket sales during the college's annual Mardi Gras celebration on Feb. 11 will go toward the relief fund, and a collection that began on Jan. 14 during an orientation for new students will continue through Feb. 12. Collection jars have been placed in the Green Street Café and at the LaChance Library and will be available during the Student Club Expo on Jan. 27 and the Volunteer Friday event in the Commons on Feb. 5.
Students in the Dental Hygiene Program are collecting donated toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash and sending them to Haiti.
Students collaborate on these campus and community initiatives with the office of Student Life and the Center for Democracy & Humanity, housed within the division of Academic Affairs. For more information about current hurricane relief efforts underway and how to help, go to www.mwccconnectsus/haiti.
Pictured: Student Government Association President Bryan Klink, center, and Theatre Club co-founders Kyle Carlson and Julian Fox, are among the students spearheading fundraisers to benefit earthquake victims in Haiti.

MWCC Celebrates Black History Month

  Billie Holiday
MWCC is celebrating Black History Month, a remembrance of important people and events in the history of African Americans, with a series of events throughout February.
Upcoming events include the film Road to Brown, on Tuesday, Feb. 2, which tells the story of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling as the culmination of a brilliant legal assault on segregation that launched the Civil Rights Movement; Strange Fruit, Monday, Feb. 8, the first documentary exploring the history and legacy of the Billie Holiday classic. The song's evolution tells a dramatic story of America's radical past using one of the most influential protest songs ever written as its epicenter; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, Thursday, Feb. 18, a film that depicts one family's painful but persistent confrontation with the continuing legacy of the slave trade. Katrina Brown uncovers her New England family's deep involvement in the Triangle Trade, and in doing so, reveals the pivotal role slavery played in the growth of the whole American economy.
A panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Vincent M. Bates, Dean of Liberal Arts, Math, Education and Developmental Studies, will take place Wednesday, Feb. 24. The panel will reflect on the highs and lows of the first year of President Barack Obama's presidency and what they see as challenges for the future.
All events begin at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café and are free and open to the public.

Upcoming Events

A Welcome Back Expo will take place Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 11:30 to 1:30 in the South Cafeteria featuring a variety of activities and a Student Club Expo from 12:30 to 1:30.
On Thursday, Jan. 28, the Student Government Association, the International Club and the Theatre Club are hosting a Fundraiser to Benefit Haiti from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the South Cafeteria. Twenty-five percent of food sales from the college's Green Street Café will go toward the relief fund. The event, which will include performances by Theatre Club members, was initially planned to raise money to buy new volleyball nets for the college, but the focus shifted following the devastating earthquake.
On-Campus Volunteer Fridays will kick off on Feb. 5 with a collection drive for Operation Winchendon Cares Packages for the Troops from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Commons. Operation Winchendon Cares collects donations and mails them to military personnel with ties to Winchendon. Student volunteers will be collecting items to be sent and will be assembling the boxes.
An American Red Cross Blood Drive will take place Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Commons. Donors may sign up in the Health Services office, room 133. Walk-ins are also welcome.
A Valentine's Day Celebration Chocolate Sampler will feature free samplers of chocolate desserts on Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. (or while supplies last) in the South Cafeteria. Sponsored by the Student Life office and CATS.
The annual Mardi Gras Carnival will take place Thursday, Feb. 11, featuring karaoke from 6 to 8 p.m. and dancing from 8 to 10 p.m. in the South Cafeteria. Costume prizes of $100, $70 and $30 will be awarded and a door prize of $100 will be awarded hourly. Snacks and beverages will be provided. Admission is free for MWCC students, faculty and staff and a guest. Sponsored by the Student Life office and CATS.
The Enrollment Center is offering Information Sessions on a number of academic programs. Upcoming sessions will take place on the following dates: Associate Degree Nursing Program: March 9 from 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, Wetmore Wing, room 12; Practical Nursing Certificate: Feb. 9 from 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, Wetmore Wing, room 12; Dental Hygiene: Feb. 3 from 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, Wetmore Wing, room 12; Complementary Health Care/Massage Therapy/Physical Therapist Assistant: Feb. 9 from 2 to 3 p.m., Enrollment Center; Clinical Laboratory Science: Feb. 24 from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Heywood Hospital, Laboratory Education Area; Energy Management, Feb. 18 from 3 to 4 p.m., Devens campus; Accelerated Business Administration: Feb. 16 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Gardner campus, room 125. In addition, small group information sessions are offered daily Monday - Thursday beginning at 3:00 p.m. Prospective students interested in all other information sessions are asked to call the Enrollment Center at (978) 630-9284 (TTY (978) 632-4916), or send an email to
Archived editions of Mount Wachusett Community College e-News can be found online at To submit a story idea or request coverage for your event, contact the Public Relations Office at (978) 630-9547.
Janice O'Connor
Director of Public Relations
Mount Wachusett Community College
(978) 630-9547