Feb. 15, 2011

In This Issue
Paula and Francis d'Entremont Named 2011 Citizens of the Year
Education Secretary Reville Visits New Pathways Innovation School
Region-Wide Behavioral Health Initiative to Begin with Conference at MWCC
MWCC Opens Veterans Success Center
MWCC Students Among Top Winners at Dental Conference
Panel Debates Relevance of Black History Month in 21st Century
Upcoming Events
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Paula and Francis d'Entremont Named 2011 Citizens of the Year

Citizens of the Year

Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation, Inc. will honor Gardner residents Paula and Francis d'Entremont, 35-year volunteers with the American Cancer Society and key organizers in the enormously successful Greater Gardner Relay for Life, as the 2011 Harold E. Drake Jr. Citizens of the Year. The couple will be honored during the foundation's annual dinner on April 6 at the Colonial Hotel in Gardner. Outstanding MWCC students who receive foundation scholarship funds also will be honored.


Known throughout the region for their commitment to serving others in many capacities, the d'Entremonts will be recognized during a particularly significant year. This year marks the foundation's 40th anniversary of helping area residents achieve their academic goals, and is also the culmination of the college's decade of civic engagement initiative, which has served as a catalyst to increase community volunteerism throughout North Central Massachusetts.


The d'Entremonts have been at the heart of one of most significant community events in the region - the Greater Gardner Relay for Life. Since its inception in 1994, the annual event has raised more than $10 million for the American Cancer Society, and has grown exponentially each year. It is the largest Relay in New England and the fifth largest out of more than 5,165 relays in the country this past year. Several thousand participants now attend the two-day event, held each June on the track at MWCC.


"Paula and Fran d'Entremont epitomize volunteerism," said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. "They so willingly give their time, talents and compassion to serve others. Their countless acts of generosity not only inspire others in our region to serve, but have a ripple effect that extends throughout the entire country through their work with the American Cancer Society."


Mrs. d'Entremont has been a volunteer with the American Cancer Society since 1978, when she served on its board of directors for the Gardner unit. Since that time, she served in a variety of leadership roles, including past president and coordinator of the annual Daffodil Days fundraiser in Gardner and Athol.


She draws upon her nursing background to support others in need. In 1981, she co-founded the Greater Gardner Cancer Support Group, ironically a month before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She also co-founded a breast cancer support group to provide comfort and hope to hundreds of women. She has served on the planning committee for the Relay for Life since its inception, serving as luminary co-chair and assisting her husband in his role as logistics chair.


A nursing professor at MWCC from 1973 to 2001 and former department chair, Mrs. d'Entremont earned her nursing degree from the Heywood School of Nursing, her bachelor's degree from Boston University, and her master's degree from UMass, Amherst.  


Mr. d'Entremont has dedicated his life to serving others. He served the country in the U.S. Army Military Police during the Korean War, and worked as an Emergency Medical Technician for Woods Ambulance from 1975 to 1993, as a firefighter for Gardner from 1966 to 1994, and as a CPR instructor for many years.


He is known for his key role as logistics chair of the Relay for Life, recruiting over 100 volunteers to set up, manage and clean up after the event. In addition, he has also been an active volunteer for the past decade with the Gardner Lions Club.
Volunteerism has long been a way of life for the couple, though they are quick to point out the team effort required for such initiatives to succeed.


"You have to give credit to the Relay committee, which works so hard to meet all year long to make this happen, and to the community, which has backed us up," Mrs. d'Entremont said. 


"You get a good feeling from volunteering, and that's what we love to do - help people," added Mr. d'Entremont. 


The d'Entremonts, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year, raised their daughters, Beth and Ruth, in Gardner, and are also the proud grandparents of three grandchildren. In addition to their work for the ACS, the couple actively volunteers at Bethany Baptist Church in Gardner, where Mrs. d'Entremont serves as parish nurse and Sunday school superintendent and Mr. d'Entremont serves on the Board of Trustees. 


"We are delighted to honor Paula and Fran during this celebration year," said MWCC Foundation Executive Director Darlene Morrilly. "Their leadership and dedication to volunteerism exemplifies the 'pay it forward' attitude that MWCC continues to embrace for its students and community."


The Citizen of the Year Award is presented in memory of Harold E. Drake, Jr., treasurer and former president of Royal Steam Heater Co. and Lynde Hardware & Supply, Inc. The award recognizes community members who exemplify Mr. Drake's extraordinary commitment to the North Central Massachusetts region. 


Tickets to the annual foundation dinner are $75 per person. A social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required and may be made by contacting Jessica Connors at 978-630-9387 or  


Education Secretary Reville Visits New Pathways Innovation School

Sec. RevilleMassachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville visited MWCC's new Pathways Early College Innovation School on Feb. 10 to hear directly from students involved in one of the state's first innovation schools.
Established in partnership between the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, the Pathways school enables teenagers to enroll in college-level courses as high school juniors and simultaneously earn their high school diploma and an associate degree during the year-round, two-year program.
"We think this represents a major step forward in public education and the way we deliver public education services in Massachusetts," he said. "We needed some pioneers to pick up the work and get it started and that is what happened here. We want to create innovation in public education generally."
The students said they were happy with the program, as it allowed them to make choices that they would not be able to make at their high schools. Several students shared their personal stories about why they chose the program. While some students explained that they are still discovering their academic and career interests, others were certain of their direction in the arts, health care, education and other fields.
Monica Diffenderfer said she enrolled as a way to leave the drama of high school behind and focus on her academic studies. "Here, everybody just wants to do the same thing, get an education."
MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District Superintendent Michael Baldassarre, Vice President of Access and Transition Pati Gregson, Pathways Director Garo Papazian, Gateway to College Director Deb Bibeau and Patrice Lincoln, fiscal director for the division, also took part in the meeting.
Reville finished his meeting thanking the students for their input as innovation schools are striving to improve public education. "This is exciting for me to hear how this has come to life and it is especially gratifying to hear your enthusiasm and what this program means to you. I'm confident you will turn this into a foundation on which to build your respective futures."
The Pathways Early College Innovation School is the first in Massachusetts established as an Early College High School under new legislation, An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap. The primary purpose of the school and others like it is to provide motivated students, many of whom face particular socio-economic and other challenges, with an alternate pathway to higher education. Early college programs are gaining momentum nationwide, allowing high school students to save time and money while pursuing their academic degrees. The innovation plan is modeled upon the Early College High School initiative launched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The first cohort of 20 students started in September 2010 with teens from Athol, Barre, Baldwinville, Bolton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, Lunenburg, Orange, Shirley, Sterling, Townsend and Winchendon. Several additional students from the region enrolled in the Pathways innovation school at the start of this spring semester.
- Kim Anderson

Pictured: Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville, center, visited students enrolled in the new Pathways Early College Innovation School, which is a partnership between Mount Wachusett Community College and the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District. Mahar Superintendent Michael Baldassarre, left, and college president Daniel M. Asquino also took part in the discussion.

Region-Wide Behavioral Health Initiative to Begin with Conference at MWCC

SHINEBehavioral health problems affect more than 50 million Americans and their families, and the stigma surrounding mental illness creates barriers and discrimination individually and systemically. In March, the SHINE Initiative is launching a region-wide, multi-year approach to raise awareness about behavioral health issues with the goal of helping ensure that children, teens and young adults have the support needed to succeed in school.


The endeavor will roll out a series of conferences at schools throughouth North Central Massachusetts, beginning with a day-long conference Friday, March 4 at MWCC. The conference, "Voices for Change: A Mentally Healthy Campus for All," will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the south cafeteria and is open to all MWCC employees and students.


"Mount Wachusett Community College is proud to partner with Fidelity Bank and the SHINE Initiative in this multi-faceted approach to compassionate understanding of an issue that affects countless lives and families in the U.S. and locally," said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. "As an institution of higher education, we want a learning environment that is accessible to everyone. Through the support of the SHINE initiative, we can work in collaboration with our community partners and local school districts to develop and implement a program aimed at enhancing student success at all levels of education."


Behavioral health problems are described as diagnosable mental disorders that can be severe enough to disrupt daily functioning. Problems range from mood, anxiety and eating disorders to serious emotional disturbances.


The goals of the conference are to increase knowledge, awareness and understanding of behavioral health problems, to identify stigma and discrimination associated with behavioral health problems, and to identify additional support systems needed in schools in order to increase the graduation rate of students affected by behavioral health problems. The event aims to create system-wide change that will allow every student to successfully complete a college degree, explained Arlene Betteridge, executive director of the SHINE Initiative, who is co-chairing the conference with Sharyn Rice, senior vice president of advancement and external relations at MWCC.


"We need to develop compassion, respect and tolerance for individual differences, lifestyles, cultures, and that, to me, is what defines a mentally healthy campus for all students," Betteridge said. "To do this we are opening doors to have a conversation within the community," she said.


"There is a lack of information about mental illness, and because of the stigma people are afraid to discuss it," said Richard Breault, one of the conference organizers and director of child and adolescent services for Central Massachusetts for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.


Guest speakers include Bruce Meltzer, M.D., executive medical director for the departments of pediatrics and psychiatry at UMass Medical School, who will provide a clinical overview of emotional disorders, ranging from stress to serious behavioral disorders, among adolescents and young adults; Erica Tolles, LMHC, a counselor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute who will discuss the peer advocacy organization Active Minds; and a person successfully living with mental illness. During the afternoon, participants will break out into discussion groups.


Registration is required by Feb. 23. MWCC employees may register by contacting Jo-Ann Meagher at or ext. 105. Students may register through the iConnect portal. The rain date is Friday, March 11.


- Kim Anderson


Pictured: Arlene Betteridge, executive director of the SHINE Initiative, and Richard Breault, director of child and adolescent services for Central Massachusetts for the Mass. Department of Mental Health, are among the conference organizers. 

MWCC Opens Veterans Success Center

Veterans Success Center

In January, MWCC opened its new Veterans Success Center, which already is making a difference in the lives of the students it serves. 


MWCC was one of 15 colleges in the country selected to establish a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success through a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Serving as national models, the centers are being created to help ease the transition to college life for veterans and their families, as well as to provide ongoing support for current active members of the military and their families.The mission of the Veterans Success Center at MWCC is to address the unique academic, financial, physical and social needs of veterans transitioning from solider to student,  

Many veterans on campus have already tapped into the center's resources and tailored services.  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. In addition, the new center provides the use of computers and a quiet study area for students.  


"This is a one-stop shopping center that is a convenient and comfortable place for veterans," said Kristine Larkin, assistant project director. "We want veteran students and the surrounding community to know that Mount Wachusett is a veteran-friendly place." 


One of the center's first initiatives involved collaborating with Work Vessels for Veterans (WVFV), a New Jersey-based, all-volunteer organization that assists veterans with the transition to civilian careers or in their educational pursuits by donating start-up tools such as laptops, vehicles, machinery, tools and fishing boats. On Feb. 9, John Niekrash, the CEO and founder of WVFV, paid a visit to the center to drop off several laptops to support veteran students in their academic studies. Additional computers are on the way. 


Ray Greeno, a business and administration major, was among the recipients. "This is an unbelievable feeling, for someone to go out of their way to provide veterans with a laptop," said Greeno, a retired Army master sergeant and veteran of the war in Iraq. The new center is already proving to be a valuable asset, he said. 


"I was so overwhelmed when I first started classes in January, that I wanted to do an about face and go home. Talking to my professors and the assistance I received from the Veterans Success Center got me going in the right direction. I couldn't believe all the resources that the center and college have to offer. The Veterans Success Center is a place that has a feeling of camaraderie," he said. 


"Veterans returning to college are excited for the next chapter," said Tom Tobin, a Navy veteran who serves as the center's career development and veterans' affairs counselor. "I relate to their enthusiasm and apprehension in returning to school. The Veterans Success Center provides an opportunity for the veteran students to make a connection, and succeed simultaneously," said Tobin, also a veteran of the Iraq war. 


Larkin and her family spent six years living on Kwajalein Atoll, U.S. Army Reagan Test Site, located in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where her husband worked. Her husband, Richard, is currently working as an engineer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, which conducts research and development aimed at providing solutions to problems critical to national security. 


As a way to further assist veterans as they transition to college, MWCC implemented a new course this semester, "First Year Experience for Veteran Students." The course is led by instructor and academic advisor Bob Mayer, a veteran of the Army and National Guard.  


For more information, stop by the Veterans Success Center in rooms 137 and 138 or contact Larkin at 978-630-9408. 

- Kim Anderson


Pictured: John Niekrash, left, CEO and founder of Work Vessels for Veterans, recently delivered laptop computers to several MWCC student veterans, through an initiative of the new Veterans Success Center.  With him, from left to right, are students Ray Greeno, Jacqueline Rosario and Mike Valila, Assistant Project Director Kristine Larkin, and students Chris Shea, Chris Akey and Erik Goroshko. 

The mission of the Veterans Success Center at MWCC is to address the unique academic, financial, physical and social needs of veterans transitioning from solider to student.

MWCC Students Among Top Winners at Annual Dental Convention

Dental WinnersMWCC's Dental Hygiene program and Harvard Dental School were the top winners during the Yankee Dental Congress' 36th annual Student Table Clinics, held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Jan. 29.


MWCC students Iolanda Eldridge and Lauren Cormier won the top honors among dental hygiene students for their abstract, "Erosive Quality of Sports Drinks on Tooth Enamel." The Massachusetts Dental Society sponsored the event.


In their abstract, Eldridge and Cormier compare the acidic pH of popular sports drinks to other beverages and devised two experiments to support their theory. One experiment was to measure the pH of a variety of popular beverages, including colas, coffee, fruit punch and water, and compare the results with the pH obtained from samples of popular sports drinks. In the second experiment, the group obtained extracted human teeth, submerged them in both types of beverages and recorded their results.


They discovered that sports drinks, often considered a healthy alternative to sugary sodas and nutrient-deficient water, contain citric acid and have a pH as low as some sodas. Dental erosion, commonly linked to soda consumption, can now be linked to sports drinks. 


Each year, MWCC sends second-year students submit poster demonstrations to a panel from the MDS and based on their abstracts, one or more students are invited to participate in the competition. This year, five MWCC were invited to participate in the event, which attracts dental professionals from all over the country.


"This experience provides our students the opportunity to network and meet their peers from other schools in New England, while experiencing the convention center and learning about the new dental products available," said Anne Malkasian, director of MWCC's Dental Hygiene program. 


- Kim Anderson 

Pictured: Dental Hygiene students Lauren Cormier and Iolanda Eldridge

Panel Debates Relevance of Black History Month in 21st Century

Black history panelIs Black History Month still relevant in the 21st century? Or does it perpetuate division? Members of the college community aired their views on this topic during a panel presentation on Feb. 9 sponsored by the Student Life office and the School of Liberal Arts, Math, Education and Developmental Studies.


Dr. Vincent M. Bates, dean of Liberal Arts, Math, Education and Developmental Studies moderated the discussion and provided an overview of the origin and history of the celebration, which was initially created in 1926 as a week-long celebration, and then expanded to a month-long observation in 1976. In addition to the initial goal of educating people about the culture, background and contributions that African Americans have made, the hope also was to incorporate a more complete picture of American history in textbooks.


Serving as panelists were Associate Professor Candace Shivers, RX Program Transfer Counselor Catherine Maddox-Wiley, and MWCC student and Math Club President Javier King. Audience members also were invited to share their views.


Shivers and Maddox-Wiley view the month-long celebration as still relevant today for the educational opportunities it provides. "Black History Month is an opportunity to educate," said Maddox-Wiley. "It invokes thinking and caring, and without it, it would be a backwards step." 


Shivers agreed. "I've learned something about my ancestors that I would never have known about."

King argued that Black History Month is not a necessary celebration because it creates separatism by calling attention to a particular difference. "It creates a partition in the mind," he said. He also argued that today, young people are more apt to embrace diversity. "While the generations before me needed Black History Month to educate the ignorant, young people today grew up in a society that reaped the benefits of those who broke the color barrier," said King.


One thing the entire panel did agree on is that black history is not equally represented in history books. Panelists urged the audience to speak up to textbook publishers and demand equal representation. 

- Kim Anderson


Pictured: Associate Professor Candace Shivers and student Javier King were among the participants in recent Black History Month forum. 


Upcoming Events

A Resource Fair, sponsored by the Carl D. Perkins grant program, will take place Tuesday, February 15 from 10:30 to 1:30 in the South Cafe. Representatives from various human service agencies in the region will be on campus to showcase their services and provide brochures, flyers & presentations.  Agencies attending include: Battered Women's Resources Inc., Boys & Girls Club of North Central Massachusetts, CCAMPIS, First Concern Pregnancy Resource Center, Gardner Visiting Nursing Association, House of Peace & Education (HOPE), MOC Head Start , MOC Lead Poison Prevention Program, North Central Human Services, Spanish American Center and the Veterans Homestead


An American Red Cross Blood Drive will take place Wednesday, Feb. 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Commons. To register, contact the Health Services office at ext. 136, or 978-630-9136. Walk-ins are also welcome.


The spring Student Life Film festival will feature The Great Debaters on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 12:30 p.m. in the North Cafe, in celebration of Black History Month. This drama is 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. The students comprised the first African American team ever to compete against Harvard and defeated the prestigious team in the national championships.


In celebration of President's Day, the AmeriCorps Job Ready Program will host a family-friendly, presidential-themed breakfast buffet on Sunday, Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Polish American Citizens Club, 171 Kendall Pond Road West, in Gardner. The breakfast will feature food provided by the Ugly Omelet of Lunenburg and Subway of Gardner, photo opportunities with AmeriCorps members dressed as several of America's most notable presidents, raffle prizes, history-based activities, face painting and more. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. Proceeds will benefit AmeriCorps Youth Career Exploration Art Showcase, which will take place April 7 at the Fitchburg Art Museum. The AmeriCorps Job Ready Program was established last fall in partnership between Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State University, through a three-year grant awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service to address joblessness and job preparedness in North Central Massachusetts. Tickets to the breakfast may be purchased in advance by calling 978-630-9531, or at the door.


MWCC's Fitness and Wellness Center and the Silver Sneakers program is hosting an arthritis presentation, "Move it or Lose it," on Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. in the fitness center. Suzanne Gauthier, vice president for health education at the Arthritis Foundation will explore the various approaches to pain management. The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are requested. For more information and to register contact the center 978-630-9212.


MWCC will host the conference, "Voices for Change: A Mentally Healthy Campus for All," on Friday, March 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the south cafeteria. The conference, open to all MWCC employees and students, is sponsored by MWCC, the SHINE Initiative and the MWCC Foundation, with funding provided by Fidelity Bank, to help raise awareness and eliminate the stigma around mental illness. Registration is required by Feb. 23 by contacting Jo-Ann Meagher at 978-630-9105 or Students may register through the iConnect portal. 


Theatre at the Mount will kick off its 2011 season with The Drowsy Chaperone. 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


In celebration of Mardi Gras, the Student Life office and CATS will sponsor the annual Mardi Gras Carnival on Thursday, March 3 from 6 to 10 p.m. is the South Cafe. The carnival will feature karaoke from 6 to 8 p.m. and dancing from 8 to 10 p.m. 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.


The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available at MWCC's Gardner and Leominster campuses. In Gardner, assistance is available in room 240 on Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 978-630-9124. At the Leominster campus, appointments are available on Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. Appointments can be made through MOC by calling 978-343-5706. In addition, assistance is available in Fitchburg at the Cleghorn Neighborhood Center on Mondays and Wednesdays by calling 978-342-2069, ext. 200 and on Tuesdays and Saturdays at the MOC office by calling 978-343-5706.


MWCC is offering Information Sessions on a number of academic programs. Upcoming sessions will take place on the following dates: Clinical Laboratory Science: Feb. 22, 4 to 5 p.m., HealthAlliance Hospital, Leominster; Physical Therapist Assistant Degree: Feb. 22, 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, room 204; Dental Hygiene: Feb. 16, 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, room 204; Nursing A.S. Degree: Feb. 15, 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, room 204; and Practical Nursing Certificate: Feb. 17, 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner campus, room 204 and March 7, 5 to 6 p.m., Devens campus, room 124. In addition, small group information sessions are offered daily Monday through Thursday beginning at 3 p.m. Prospective students are asked to call the Enrollment Center at 978-630-9284 (TTY 978-632-4916), or send an email to

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