June 25, 2012
In This Issue
Pathways, Gateway Graduates Celebrate Milestone
MWCC Receives CASE Gold Circle of Excellence Award for Turbine Communications
MWCC Instructor Receives Massachusetts Colleges Online Award
MWCC Professor's "Strength of Heart" Inspires Others on Healing Journey
Mural Honoring Veterans Graces MWCC's Veterans Success Center
MWCC Fitness & Wellness Center Hosting Three Events
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TopPathways, Gateway Graduates Celebrate Milestone

Gateway and Pathways valedictorians
Gateway Valedictorian Megan Reiser and Pathways Valedictorian Thomas Elbourn

Whether they came to Mount Wachusett Community College to accelerate the pace of their education or to get back on track after a problematic high school experience, the 44 graduates of the Pathways Early College Innovation School and the Gateway to College program have this in common: this spring they each reached a milestone.

Students enrolled in the two programs, which are offered in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, were recognized during a May 23 graduation ceremony in the college's Raymond M. LaFontaine Fine Arts Center theatre. As dual-enrolled students, the graduates all completed the requirements for their high school diploma while simultaneously earning college credits or a degree.


MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino congratulated the students on their achievement, before extending an offer to each graduate to take another free, transferable course at the college. "And if you get an A, I'll give you another," he said to a cheering audience of graduates and their families and friends.

Guest speakers included Patricia Gregson, associate commissioner of Vocational, Workforce and College Readiness Programming for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education who was instrumental in establishing the two programs while serving as vice president of Access & Transition at MWCC; Michael R. Baldassarre, superintendent of the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District; Ishmael Tabales, principal of the regional school; Sharyn Rice, senior vice president of Access, Transition and Development at MWCC; and Deborah Bibeau, assistant dean of transitions programming at the college.

Thomas E. Elbourn, the Pathways innovation school valedictorian who is transferring to Assumption College to continue his studies in psychology and counseling, shared that his faith and experiences inspired him to speak on the most important truth he's learned in his young life.

"I firmly believe that the purpose of life, its deepest fulfillment, lies in that basic love and care and kindness to one's fellow man. We live in a world of endless pursuits, infinite beauty, unbelievable experiences and 7 billion characters to play along with - don't waste this chance, this life, on the mundane. Don't waste it on the trivial. Don't waste it by getting hung up on anger and sorrow and selfishness. Waste it on love," he said.


"Whether this love is shown by living with the poor in Africa, the poor in New York or the poor in spirit next door, whether it is shown by the kind, encouraging word spoken to your friend or to your enemy, whether that love is shown by forgiveness and healing, whether that love is toward family, friends, a significant other or a stranger, or as Emerson stated, a little garden patch that you nurture, I urge you to love extravagantly."

Elbourn thanked the college, the Mahar district and his classmates "for an unforgettable and unbelievable" two years.
"We all became adults together, and I think that was - and is - something marvelous."


One of the first two innovation schools created in Massachusetts as part of Governor Deval Patrick's education reform bill and the first early college innovation school, Pathways provides motivated high school juniors and home schooled students the opportunity to accelerate the pace of their academic careers. The Pathways program covers the cost of tuition and fees through school choice funding, enabling students to earn their high school diploma and college degree for the cost of textbooks alone. Sixteen students graduated from the program this spring.


Gateway valedictorian Megan Reiser said the program and its staff and faculty were instrumental in helping the graduates overcome adversity to achieve their goal.

"The education we have received here has helped us open doors full of new and exciting opportunities. We have all had our ups and our downs. However, we have reached one goal today receive a high school diploma. That is something that no one can take away from us, we have each earned it. There is no doubt that more struggles may come our way at times, but I leave you with this quote by Ralph C. Mahar to help you persevere throughout your lives:


"May you always have faith in yourselves whatever hardships may develop in the years ahead. May you be the individuals in the sense that you make up your minds, that you think straight and that you stand on your own two feet. May you have a sense of social conscience which shows concern for your fellow man, and yet, may I urge you to beware of the philosophy of those who advocate something for nothing."

The Gateway to College program, established in 2005 as the first Gateway site in New England, provides a true second chance for students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out. Students simultaneously earn their high school diploma through the Mahar Regional School District, as well as college credits toward an academic degree or certificate in the field of their choice.

Approximately 100 students from throughout the area are enrolled each year. Twenty eight students graduated this spring. The majority of the graduates will continue their education at MWCC or at another college or university, and one is now serving the country in the U.S. Army.

The Gateway program is funded through school choice funding from Mahar. The cost of courses is covered by the scholarship, and the cost of books is covered during the first semester and on a scholarship basis during subsequent semesters.


Due to the success of the Mount Wachusett Gateway to College program, the college's Division of Access and Transition was selected to assist the Gateway to College National Network by providing training and partner support for the three new Gateway start-up locations being created in Massachusetts under the High School Graduation Initiative. In total, Massachusetts will host six Gateway programs throughout the state.


Pathways and Gateway 2012 graduates
Gateway and Pathways 2012 graduates
MWCC Receives CASE Gold Circle of Excellence Award for Turbine Communications 
Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan Jr. addressing the audience during the 2011 wind turbine dedication ceremony.
Mount Wachusett Community College has received the gold Circle of Excellence Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in the Public Relations and Community Relations category for the multi-faceted "Catch the Wind at MWCC" communications project.

The communications effort highlighted the activation and dedication of MWCC's two 1.65 MW wind turbines, as well as the college's decade-long commitment to renewable energy and energy conservation; sustainability awards received from state and national agencies for the wind project; and leadership role in the national campus climate commitment movement.

Further, the effort showcased MWCC's integral role in the Massachusetts "Leading by Example - Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings" program.

The story of MWCC's wind energy initiative became an integrated, cross-college concept, sparking excitement and interest throughout the campus and involving the Marketing & Communications Division, the President's Office, Institutional Advancement, Facilities Management, Media Services, Student Life, faculty, students and student clubs. The project combined in-house communications efforts in the areas of public relations, social media, website, and photography with service-learning projects for students majoring in Computer Graphic Design and Broadcasting and Electronic Media.

Aspects of the project included ongoing media relations; graphic design projects for signage, banners, turbine pride t-shirts sold to raise funds for student scholarships, and a car wrap; social media projects including posts to Facebook, YouTube and the college's Green on Green Street blog; video projects and photography. The project also created opportunities for others. For example, key state agencies, Congressman John Olver, and environmental organizations such as the U.S Department of Energy, posted news and videos on their own websites, blogs and Facebook pages.

"This gold recognition is a great tribute to everyone at the college for stepping up to the challenge of incorporating new ways to communicate and bring greater visibility to our college," said President Daniel M. Asquino. "The wind project was a complex one, with many other sustainability efforts being implemented at the same time. Our communications team did an outstanding job of building a campaign that tied all these efforts together, and bringing not only local, but national recognition to Mount Wachusett Community College."

Robin Duncan, MWCC vice president of Marketing & Communications commented, "I am very fortunate to work with a great group of people, and I am especially proud of this recognition as it truly showcases the diverse and cutting-edge talents among team members. This project was a collaborative college-wide effort and the communications strategy was a successful one. That's what we do, here in our office - spread the good word about Mount Wachusett Community College! But it's nice to be acknowledged by our colleagues for doing our jobs well, across all kinds of media - traditional and new."

Advancement professionals from a number of higher education institutions, including Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Mount Holyoke College, Rutgers, Seton Hall University and Tulane University, served as judges in a wide range of categories for the 2012 CASE awards, which focused on work completed in 2011. MWCC joined silver award winner Duke University and bronze award winner Thomas More College as the top winners in the PR/Community Relations category.

CASE is an international professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas. CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with their alumni and donors, raise funds for campus projects, produce recruitment materials, market their institutions to prospective students, diversify the profession, and foster public support of education. The Circle of Excellence awards celebrate programs that measure up to high standards, contribute to a growing body of knowledge and add substance and insight to the profession and its practitioners.

MWCC Instructor Receives Massachusetts Colleges Online Award
Kristin Riordon
Kristin Riordon

MWCC instructor Kristin Riordon has been recognized with a Course of Distinction Award from Massachusetts Colleges Online, for her online course, "Comparative Religion." Riordon, an Athol resident, received the award during the June 6 Massachusetts Colleges Online: Sharing Best Practices conference.

"The COD Awards recognize faculty from throughout the state who have developed and teach innovative and exciting online courses. These courses are representative of the best uses of eLearning instructional tools to enhance student success," said conference committee member Dr. Vincent Ialenti, dean of Academic and Institutional Technology at MWCC.

Riordon's course is well-organized, with all requirements presented in a clear and concise manner, Ialenti said. Course guidelines are highlighted in an introductory video, as well as syllabus, project and announcement folders, allowing the instructor to guide students through the week's assignments while offering flexibility for different learning styles. Riordon also presents a weekly streaming PowerPoint "audio lecture," layering her spoken words with written information and photographic images to reinforce the fundamentals presented.

Riordon acts as a facilitator and guide to her students during a comprehensive tour of the world's religions. Week by week, she presents a diverse variety of visual and auditory materials to spark student curiosity, exploration and discussion, Ialenti said. She also regularly utilizes multimedia, including short films, audio and video clips, as well as current article and posts from sources such as Films on Demand, YouTube, CNN's Belief Blog and others.

Riordon also consistently receives positive reviews for availability and support, Ialenti said. She maintains daily interaction with her students via weekly discussion board assignments, remaining attentive and responsive and energizing classroom dialogue. Riordon's course attracts an increasing number of students each semester based on positive student reviews and recommendations.


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MWCC Professor's "Strength of Heart" Inspires Others on Healing Journey 
Members of the MWCC Nursing Dept. Relay TeamAs those who participate in the Greater Gardner Relay for Life will attest, one of the most powerful moments of the entire event is the Survivor Lap. As a sea of purple shirts walk with hope around the track, one can imagine how many stories of inspiration, strength, and perseverance could be told by each of those survivors. One of those "purple shirts" has dedicated much of her time to telling her story.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Judy Fredette, a Winchendon resident and nursing professor at Mount Wachusett Community College, wrote Strength of Heart: An Optimistic Journey Through Breast Cancer. In her book, Fredette shares her story of cancer survival, describing her experiences through diagnosis in fall 2009, chemotherapy, radiation and recovery. The book includes many letters she wrote to her family and friends before, during and after her treatments.

Fredette shares important, useful facts about breast cancer in her book including, "Only 10 to 20 percent of breast cancer patients have a family history." She also shares some light-hearted advice and opinions. While sharing advice to newly diagnosed cancer patients, she details her journey, including all of her ups and downs. The most unique aspect of the way she presents her story is her use of positivity and humor. She believes that humor was a supportive tool in her journey. She gave chemotherapy the new name "the treatment to the cure," to give it a more positive spin.

At the beginning of her treatments, Fredette was presented with a charm bracelet from her nursing students. As she completed treatments towards her cure, she added new "empowerment beads" to the bracelet. Throughout her journey, she was not discouraged by her treatments, but empowered by the fact that they were leading her toward recovery.

After reading Fredette's book, one can clearly see how grateful she is for the support she received from her friends and family. She shares how throughout her experience her family and friends stayed with her through many of her treatments and gave her anything they could. In addition to providing care, Fredette shares how much time her family and friends spent with her, keeping her company during treatment, volunteering their time at cancer walks, and just having fun. She also describes the impact that her journey with cancer had on her family and friends, or her so-called "soldiers."

Though the content of her book is powerful and inspiring, even more inspiring is her purpose in writing it. "The purpose of sharing my story is to 'pay forward' for all that other survivors who shared their stories with me, helping me to create my own story of survival," she said. She aspires to share her story with any person she meets who is newly diagnosed with cancer, by giving them each a copy of her book. "I have learned how important it is to share my experience with others. If you know anyone who is newly diagnosed or struggling with the diagnosis of cancer...please give them my name," she said. Though her original intent was for her book to be shared with newly diagnosed cancer patients, her positivity and strength is an inspiration to all.

MWCC Relay for Life 2012 team participantsIn her book, Fredette refers to a story she received from her students called "The Pearl," which truly represents the lifestyle she chose to live with while fighting cancer. "Just like the pearl," the story states, "we can be inspired to take action in our own lives to create beauty and hope out of times that are traumatic and painful. We can create something strong that will be admired by all we let see it, for the depth of its many layers-the beauty of its strength. We can transform what life brings us and use it to move forward with wisdom and grace."

Fredette has donated copies of her book to the LaChance Library at Mount Wachusett Community College, the Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon, and the Fitchburg Public Library. Her book also is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Members of the MWCC community joined thousands of others participating in the Greater Gardner Relay for Life 24-hour walk to benefit the American Cancer Society on June 8 and 9 on the college's track. The MWCC-Fitness Center Relay for Life team, chaired by English Professor Susan Goldstein and Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob LaBonte, saw overwhelming support from the college community, with coverage for all 24-hours of the walk. The team sponsored a "1 oz. of cancer prevention" fundraiser at the college's tent, offering healthy snacks for a donation. The Gardner Relay has raised more than $10 million for cancer research over the past 19 years and is the largest relay in New England and one of the largest in the U.S.

- Hillary Jaillet
Pictured, top: MWCC Professor of Nursing Judy Fredette with MWCC nursing students during the 2012 Greater Gardner Relay for Life. From left: Sarah Patch, Shevaun Connors, Rya Bennett, Professor Judy Fredette, Megan Wallace, Audra Kelliher, Lynn Valeri and Laura Le Van. Pictured, below: MWCC team participants include Senior Vice President Sharyn Rice, Director of Articulation and Learning Assessment Ruth Slotnick and Professor Chris Kisiel.


Mural Honoring Veterans Graces MWCC's Veterans Success Center 
Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success
Artist Liam Malley, an MWCC alumnus, with Kristine Larkin, assistant director of the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.
When Liam Malley of Barre learned that the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success at MWCC was in need of an artist to create a mural, he jumped at the chance to break out his paints.

As an art student at MWCC, Malley had participated in service learning projects that entailed painting murals in downtown Gardner at two restaurants. The 2010 graduate recently heard from Associate Professor of Art Thomas Matsuda, who asked if he would be interested in creating a military-themed mural.

"It seemed like a really great subject to work with," said Malley, who decided on a theme of sacrifice. The mural depicts a folded flag and dog tags of a fallen soldier, a quote, and the seal for each of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Malley culled through many quotes to find the perfect sentiment for the mural. "Those things which are precious are saved only by sacrifice," a phrase attributed to World War II infantryman David Kenyon Webster.

"We wanted to capture the essence of those men and women who are serving the country in all five branches, and our students represent all five branches," said Kristine Larkin, assistant director of the center. "Our veteran students have made sacrifices not only of their time with their families, but also the lives of friends. This mural serves as a remembrance."

The center, which opened in January 2011, is a hub of activity for nearly 300 veterans and their dependents who are attending MWCC.

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 help ease the transition to college life for veterans and their families, as well as provide ongoing support for current active members of the military and their families. The mission of the center is to address the unique academic, financial, physical and social needs of veterans transitioning from soldier to student.

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.

MWCC Fitness & Wellness Center Hosting Three Events
MWCC Multi Sport TeamA summer sprint triathlon, a fall bike ride and a 5K race are among the upcoming events that will be hosted by Multi Sport Team at Mount Wachusett Community College's Fitness & Wellness Center.
The Fitness & Wellness Center strives to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to achieve a healthy lifestyle. With this as an ongoing goal, the center established the MWCC Multi Sport Team last year, which allows participants to train for racing in triathlons, duathlons, marathons, road races, bike races, open water swims and other similar events. The team is for adults of all ability levels, from beginners to professionals.

On Sunday, July 1, the team will host the MWCC 2012 Summer Sprint Triathlon, beginning at 8 a.m. at the Polish American Citizens Club 171 Kendall Pond West in Gardner. The sprint triathlon, which is sanctioned by USA Triathlon, includes a half-mile lake swim, followed by a 15-mile bike ride and finishes with a four-mile run. Last year, more than 70 athletes from throughout New England participated. The sprint triathlon  is open to participants age 15 and above and beginners are welcome. Relay teams, in which one person swims, another rides and another runs, may also complete.

The Multi Sport Team's "Bike Wachusett" event will take place Sunday, Sept. 16. Beginning at 8 a.m. at the Fitness & Wellness Center, riders may participate in a 31, 50 or 101 mile bike ride. Families and friends are invited to enjoy a day of riding through area towns. Rest stops with water and snacks will be available along the routes for riders.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, the 2012 MWCC 5K Run/Walk, with a fun run for children, will take place beginning at 9 a.m. at the Fitness & Wellness Center. The Kid's Fun Run begins at 11 a.m., and will be held on the MWCC track. Children will receive a prize for every lap they complete up to one mile.
For more information or to register for an event, go to or contact the Fitness & Wellness Center at 978-630-9212.

Upcoming Events
MWCC is accepting registrations for Summer Programs for Kids & Teens. Families are encouraged to reserve seats early to secure a spot in popular summer programs including drama, art, computers and athletics. Sports and fitness camps offered through the MWCC Fitness & Wellness Center include basketball, soccer, baseball, field hockey, tennis, fit camp, and more. Course descriptions and registration forms can be found online at or by calling 978-630-9124.


facebook and twitter logosThe Summer Business Luncheon Training Series, with a focus on social marketing, continues with the following sessions: "Making Money with Facebook" on July 13; "Profitable E-mail Marketing Strategies" on July 27; "Trailblazing with Twitter" on Aug. 10; and an overview on ways to obtain training grants through the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund program on Aug. 24. All social media sessions take place from 12 to 1 p.m. in the North Café at MWCC's Gardner campus, 444 Main Street. The Workforce Training Fund session will take place from 12:30 to 1:30. The cost for each session is $10 when pre-registered or $13 at the door and includes a complimentary lunch. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Register for one or more sessions by calling MWCC's Division of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development at 978-630-9575 or email

MWCC Foundation golf tournamentMount Wachusett Community College Foundation, Inc. will sponsor its 17th Annual Golf Tournament to benefit student scholarships on Monday, July 23 at the Sterling National Country Club. The cost is $200 per person to play, which includes breakfast and dinner, or $40 to attend the dinner only. Registration and a breakfast buffet begins at 8 a.m., with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. The tournament will conclude with a social hour, auction and awards dinner. Auction and corporate sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information or to register, call (978) 630-9387 or email

MWCC is offering Information Sessions on a number of academic programs. Upcoming sessions will take place on the following dates: Automotive Technology: July 11 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Gardner Campus, Murphy Conference Room and July 20 from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Leominster Campus, Lab 4; Clinical Laboratory Science: July 23 from 4 to 5 p.m., Gardner Campus, room 214; Associate Degree in Nursing: Aug. 22 from 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner Campus, room 204; Practical Nursing certificate: Aug. 8 from 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner Campus, room 204; Radiologic Technologist: June 28 from 2 to 3 p.m., Gardner Campus, room 204. Prospective students interested in attending an information session are asked to call the Admissions Office at 978-630-9110 (TTY 978-632-4916), or email

To submit to the MWCC e-News or request coverage for your event, contact the Public Relations Office at 978-630-9547. Archived issues of Mount Wachusett Community College e-News can be found online at

Janice O'Connor
Director of Public Relations
Mount Wachusett Community College