Jan. 19, 2011

In This Issue
MWCC Greets New and Returning Students
GFA Institute for Financial Literacy Launched at MWCC
MWCC and American College of History and Legal Studies Partner on New Transfer Agreement
MLK Day Brings Volunteers to HOPE
High School Alumni Share College Tips with Peers
Upcoming Events
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MWCC Greets New and Returning Students

new student orientationMount Wachusett Community College welcomed new and returning students onto its campuses this week as the spring semester got underway.


The college held a half-day orientation for new and transfer students on the morning of Jan. 13. President Daniel M. Asquino welcomed the incoming students to the college and asked the crowd why they chose to enroll at MWCC.

Jason Garceau, a junior hailing from Gardner, explained that he transferred from a larger university, after determining it was too large and not financially suitable. "It is an easier experience here at MWCC. There are so many more rewards: I save money and have better interaction with professors and friends to show me the ropes." Garceau, who is interested in a career in the medical field, is entering the Allied Health program and plans to pursue a nursing degree.

The orientation provided students with information about MWCC and college life in general. The students attended a variety of sessions including forums on financial aid and scholarships, and ways to achieve academic success.

"Orientation is always an exciting time of the year because the enthusiasm of new students, as they pursue their academic dreams, brings new energy to the campus," said Greg Clement, assistant dean of student services.

Clement was particularly excited about this orientation because the Student Life office received a high number of student sign-ups for its Leadership for Life program. 

          -  Meghan Perkins


Pictured: Incoming students Dayanara Cabrera and Daymi Quinones, pausing for a photo after getting their student IDs during spring orientation, joined the MWCC community this semester through the Gateway to College program.

GFA Institute for Financial Literacy Launched at MWCC

GFA Financial InstituteTwo community partners, GFA Federal Credit Union and Mount Wachusett Community College, have collaborated to fulfill an important community need - personal financial education - through the launch of the GFA Institute for Financial Literacy at MWCC.

The Institute includes series of financial workshops, online resources including articles, podcasts, financial checklists, calculators, self-led courses and budget management solutions.
"Over the past few years we've seen a great increase in the number of our members and people in the community seeking tools to aid in their understanding of financial topics ranging from budgeting and credit scores to planning for home ownership." said GFA President and CEO Tina M. Sbrega.

"We are proud to partner with MWCC, which is known for providing quality education and being at the forefront in meeting the needs of our community," Sbrega continued. "This partnership directly addresses one of those needs. And, it is open to the entire community at no-cost to participants."

"We are honored to partner with GFA in this new venture, and truly appreciate their continued commitment to serving residents of our region," said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. "Financial literacy is a critical skill, and even more so in this economy."

GFA has provided youth and adult financial education for over 20 years and in 2008 expanded the outreach by adding a full-time community education coordinator. GFA averages 170 financial presentations per year. Additional information is available under the 'Educate Yourself' tab on

GFA Federal Credit Union is a full service community financial institution serving Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.  Branch locations are in Ashburnham, Fitchburg, Gardner, Hubbardston, Rutland, Winchendon and Rindge, N.H.

Pictured: MWCC Foundation Executive Director Darlene Morrilly, Tina Sbrega, President & CEO of GFA, Dr. Daniel Asquino, President of MWCC and Miguel Sensano, GFA's Community Education Coordinator, recently announced the creation of the GFA Institute for Financial Literacy at MWCC.

MWCC and American College of History and Legal Studies Establish Transfer Agreements 

American College of History and Legal StudiesMount Wachusett Community College has entered into two transfer agreements with the American College of History and Legal Studies (ACHLS). One of the new transfer opportunities is available to Mount Wachusett students majoring in liberal arts and sciences, and the second agreement is for students enrolled in MWCC's paralegal studies program.


Located in Salem, N.H., the American College of History and Legal Studies was created by the Massachusetts School of Law and opened in August 2010. The ACHLS is an affordable "completion" college offering the junior and senior years of undergraduate study toward a bachelor's degree in history and legal studies.


The articulation agreements outline the appropriate course of study a Mount Wachusett student can take to acquire the 60 credits needed before entering ACHLS to pursue a bachelor's degree in history and legal studies, and, if a student qualifies, a law degree from the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, Mass. The ACHLS now has 10 articulation agreements with community colleges throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.


"We are so pleased to enter into two articulation agreements with Mount Wachusett Community College," said Michael B. Chesson, founding professor and dean at ACHLS. "This is a wonderful opportunity for Mount Wachusett graduates to continue their education in the field of history and legal studies by applying the knowledge, skills, and credits they earned in their associate degree programs," he said.


"We are very excited about our newly-developed articulation agreements with American College of History and Legal Studies," said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. "These agreements will expand transfer opportunities for students graduating from Mount Wachusett's paralegal studies and liberal arts and sciences degree programs and open a new door for those interested in the fields of history and law."


ACHLS is offering half tuition scholarships for qualified students with outstanding GPAs who plan to enroll for the fall 2011 semester. Such scholarships reduce the annual tuition to just $5,000 for the full year. A qualified student must submit a complete application to be considered for a half tuition scholarship.


All classes exclusively use the discussion (not lecture) method of teaching. ACHLS offers an "Early Admission to Law School" program that enables qualified students to combine their senior year of college with their first year of law school at the Massachusetts School of Law. For more information about ACHLS, visit or call 603-458-5145.

MLK Day Brings Volunteers to HOPE

AmeriCorps members volunteering at HOPEInstead of sleeping in a few more hours, visiting friends, or just relaxing on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, a group of 20 young volunteers rose early, put on some old clothes, and spent January 17 redoing floors, scraping wallpaper, and painting walls at the House of Peace and Education (HOPE) in Gardner. The hard-working crew is part of the AmeriCorps Job Ready Program recently created in partnership between Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State University.
"There are other things they could be doing right now on their day off," said HOPE Director Joanne Foster, adding that the nonprofit organization, which provides after-school programs for children and job skills training for women, greatly appreciates the efforts to renovate the early-1900's house. "It is costly to maintain, and there is no budget for maintenance and repairs." The Lowe's home improvement store in Leominster provided supplies for this week's renovations at half-price, including paint, primer, brushes and linoleum flooring.

Last summer, MWCC was awarded a three-year, $585,000 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to partner with Fitchburg State to address joblessness and job preparedness in North Central Massachusetts in a unified, regional approach. The AmeriCorps Job Ready program places 15 full-time members into the community each year to promote exploration of career skills and opportunities, perform service projects and other community work. Each year, each member will also plan and implment an individual service project, and the group will work together on a collaborative service project.

The group teamed up on the HOPE renovation project that was initiated last fall by AmeriCorps member Heather Lyons, a 2009 graduate of FSU and current graduate student at Northeastern University. The initial phase of the project included the renovation and expansion of the Hopeful Boutique, located at HOPE on Barthel Ave. The Hopeful Boutique offers a donated collection of modern, lightly worn business attire, including clothing, shoes and accessories, to women served by the nonprofit organization. Numerous volunteers pitched in to assist with that phase, including volunteers from St. Bernard's Central Catholic High School, MWCC nursing students, and FSU's women's basketball team.

Lyons smiled as she said that the renovations have really been an "awesome community event."


- Meghan Perkins

High School Alumni Share College Tips with Peers

CAPP alumni LHS breakfastThis month, a number of college students returned to their alma maters to share their wisdom of life after high school with current high school seniors and juniors who are feeling the weight of college applications and decisions. Panel discussions were held at Leominster, Fitchburg, Gardner and Murdock high schools.

Mount Wachusett Community College's Division of Access and Transition sponsored the events in conjunction with the schools' guidance departments. Many of the alumni were past participants of College Access & Preparation Programs offered by MWCC, including Educational Talent Search, a free, grant-funded program, while others were recruited through the guidance offices, explained Ramon Gonzalez, director of Educational Talent Search. The diverse group of college students hailed from private and public colleges and universities, ranging from small to large, near or far, and moderate to expensive in annual costs. The students' varying stats helped to further differentiate the experiences and advice offered to the seniors.

"The alumni breakfasts are a great way for current high school students to learn from the recent experience of college students. The message is much stronger when it comes from a peer," said  Rebeccah Sonn, director of Community Partnerships for MWCC's Division of Access and Transition.

Topics ranged from the college selection process to financial aid, study habits and dorm life. The size and location of schools factored heavily into many of the students' decisions, whether their preference was for a large college or small campus, close to home or further away. Harold Desauguste, Jr., a 2010 Leominster High graduate and freshman at MWCC, explained, "I chose 'the Mount' because I was undecided about my major and wanted to save money while I figured it out."

Following the Leominster presentation, Desauguste said he attended the breakfast in order to "give back to the community" and express the benefits of local options for higher education.


The alumni reiterated the importance of actually getting out of bed and going to class to get the most for their money. "You're not going to have your mom and dad there with you," said Leominster graduate and Boston College sophomore Kelly Saintelus. "College is an investment you're making."

Fitchburg High alumna and UMass, Boston freshman Brianna Marie Reyes also stressed the responsibility that comes with freedom at college. "You can do whatever you want. But you are only as responsible as the actions you do."

Many comments earned rounds of laughter and applause, especially the stories of adjusting to life with a roommate. The alumni emphasized that with any living situation, communication is key. They also warned not to wait until there are no more clean clothes left to do the laundry.


-  Meghan Perkins 


Pictured: Leominster High School alumni who are also alumni of Mount Wachusett Community College's Educational Talent Search program, shared tips with current high school students on how to succeed in college. Pictured, front row: Imani Davis-Collymore, Hang Nguyen, Kelly Saintelus and Cathy Tang; back row: Harold Desauguste, Jr. and Isaac Abaka.

Upcoming Events

MWCC's Fitness & Wellness Center will host "Know the 10 Signs," an early detection workshop presented by the Alzheimer's Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter, on Thursday, Jan. 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. The program will present facts on memory loss and behavioral changes, medications, clinical studies and more. The chapter annually hosts a Memory Walk each fall on MWCC's campus to raise money for research. The workshop is free and open to the public. To register, call 800-272-3900. 


Watch your favorite Theatre at the Mount performers compete in this take-off of the popular TV reality show, Survivor, as they try to "out sing, out perform, and out shine" in musical theatre challenges. Survivor, the Musical comes to the Theatre at the Mount stage on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. Singing, dancing, acting, puzzles, trivia, and the dreaded "tribal council" will provide a full evening of fun and proceeds will be used to support TAM's acquisition of new lighting equipment. Performers include Joyce Baldwin, Chuck Berube, Ryann Brown, Ethan  Caouette, Katrina Caouette, Kyle Carlson, Nicole Couture, Darlene Gaudet, Scott Hebert, Rob  Houle, Taylor Lawton, Tara McRae, Hillary Minicucci, Debbie Moylan, Jared Pedjoe, Pattie Pichette, David Prescott, Tim Recko, Tyler Simahk and Chelsea Young. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for subscribers and $10 for children age 16 and under and may be purchased through the box office 978-632-2403 or online at


A Welcome Back Fair will take place Wednesday, Jan. 26 in the South Cafe. Novelty events including free airbrush hats, gel candles and personalized name posters will take place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and the student club expo will be from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. This event is sponsored by the Student Life office and CATS.


A Chocolate Sampler celebrating Valentine's Day will take place Monday, Feb. 14 between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. in the South Cafe. Free samples of chocolate desserts will be available while while supplies last. This event is sponsored by the Student Life office.

The spring Student Life Film Festival will kick off on Wednesday, Feb. 16 with The Great Debaters, a drama based on the true story of Mel Tolson, a professor at Wiley College who inspired his students to start the school's first debate team. These students comprised the first African American team ever to compete against Harvard and defeated the prestigious team in the national championships. The screening will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the North Café. Upcoming films include Iron Jawed Angels, on March 23; The Joy Luck Club on April 13; and Earth on April 25.

Theatre at the Mount will present the musical within a comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone, on select dates in February and March. A modern-day musical theatre addict listens to his rare record of a 1928 musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone. The musical magically bursts to life in his very apartment. In his own front row seat, he learns the tale of a pampered Broadway starlet who wants to get married and leave show business forever. The characters surrounding this starlet are her producer who tries to sabotage the nuptials, her chaperone, her charming groom, the dizzy chorine, the Latin lover, and a pair of gangsters who pose as pastry chefs. Performances are Feb. 25 and 26 and March 4 and 5 at 8 p.m. and March 6 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for evening shows, $15 for the matinee, and $10 for students and may be purchased at the TAM box office, by phone at 978-632-2403 or online at
Archived issues of Mount Wachusett Community College e-News can be found online at To submit to the MWCC e-News 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