Registration Open For MCCC’s 20th Annual Technology & Learning Conference

Blue Bell, Pa.— Registration is going on now for Montgomery County Community College’s 20th Annual Technology and Learning Conference, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 24 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, in Blue Bell, Pa.

The cost of attending the conference is $25 and includes all conference materials, parking, continental breakfast and lunch. For registration information, including step-by-step directions to guide you through the registration process, visit http://www.mc3.edu/campus-life/techconf.

To help celebrate Montgomery County Community College’s 50th anniversary, this year’s keynote address will be given by MCCC alumnus Kwan Morrow. Morrow has been involved with Internet marketing and communication since 2001. He currently owns KM Digital Relations, which provides consulting, training and other services to businesses and educators who wish to engage their digital communities and achieve specific objectives.

During the keynote, Morrow will address the impact that digital and social technologies have on students and education. He’ll discuss best practices for using digital technology to promote student success and preparing students to thrive in the quickly evolving digital world.

MCCC’s Technology and Learning Conference provides a forum for participants to share state-of-the-art information technologies, to contribute to a vision of the future of information technology in the academic enterprise, and to exchange ideas and best practices for incorporating technology, security and learning.

Designed for higher education and K-12 faculty and administrators, the conference is divided into several threads, which include Teaching and Learning; Metrics and Measurement; Technologies to Leverage Student Success; Security and Identity Management; Emerging Technologies; Sharing Resources; and e-Learning. Session types include forums, hands-on labs, poster sessions and panel discussions.

To learn more, visit http://www.mc3.edu/campus-life/techconf or email techday@mc3.edu.

Focus On Student Learning Earns MCCC Recertification As Achieving The Dream Leader College

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blue Bell/Pottstown/Lansdale, Pa.Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) continues to position itself at the forefront of student learning with recertification as a Leader College by Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count (ATD), a national non-profit organization committed to helping more community college students succeed.

Even before joining ATD in 2006, MCCC was hard at work improving student learning outcomes by placing student access and success as top priorities in its strategic planning.

“Montgomery County Community College takes a holistic approach to student success,” explained Dr. Karen A. Stout, president.  “By leveraging data to align our strategic planning efforts and budget decisions with student success goals, we are able to continually make improvements and remove barriers that impact retention and completion. At the same time, we’re able to engage faculty, administrators and staff from across disciplines and departments in our student success work.”

As part of its overarching Student Success Initiative, MCCC faculty and staff systematically examine all aspects of its students’ educational experiences both inside and outside the classroom—from enhancing student services, like advising and mentoring; to identifying and developing interventions for at-risk cohorts; to redesigning developmental curriculum and placement; to strengthening its focus on completion and increasing transfer opportunities.

Several of the College’s student success projects have national appeal. For example, Barbara Lontz, assistant professor of mathematics at MCCC, developed a new way of teaching basic developmental math by conceptual units rather than topics. Her curriculum, “Concepts of Numbers,” encourages active learning by starting with a problem, solving it as a group, and then learning the applicable algorithms. The method has increased basic math success rates by 20 percent and math confidence rates by 20-35 percent at MCCC, and institutions are adopting Lontz’s curriculum and textbook across the U.S. “Concepts of Numbers” was honored as a national 2010 “Innovation of the Year” recipient by the League for Innovation in the Community College.

Another example of a project with broad appeal is “Montco Money Matters” a multimedia financial literacy prototype that helps students understand how to pay for college. The 30-minute, self-guided pilot program, funded through a Next Generation Learning Challenges EDUCAUSE grant, introduces students to the concept of paying for college through topics such as financial aid, loans, grants, scholarships and the long-term implications of current and future debt. The project’s next steps are to build out additional modules under the umbrella of financial literacy and to make the program accessible to school districts within Montgomery County and to the general population at large.

In addition to its work with Achieving the Dream and EDUCAUSE, MCCC’s student access and success efforts continue to gain momentum with President Stout’s participation in White House Summit for College Opportunity. First held in December 2013 and continuing through next year, the Summit has enabled MCCC to further develop initiatives around student advising and planning, financial literacy and mentoring—specifically designed to improve college access and completion for at-risk students.

MCCC is one of 16 institutions in the country to be recertified as Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges in 2014. ATD also welcomed 16 new Leader College institutions to its ranks, bringing the total number of active Leader Colleges to 79. Other Pennsylvania institutions earning recertification this year include Community College of Beaver County, Community College of Philadelphia, and Delaware County Community College.

According to Achieving the Dream, Leader Colleges demonstrate the way in which data can inform policy and practice to help community college students achieve their goals, resulting in improved skills, better employability, and economic growth for families, communities, and the nation as a whole.

To learn more about Montgomery County Community College’s Student Success Initiative, visit its website at mc3.edu or its Think Success blog at mc3success.wordpress.com. To learn more about the work of Achieving the Dream, visit www,achievingthedream.org.

Learn About Programs & More At MCCC Fall Open Houses

Blue Bell/Pottstown/Lansdale, Pa.— Montgomery County Community College will hold three open houses this fall to provide prospective students and the community with information about the College’s programs, campuses and activities. The open houses are free of charge and are open to the public. For more information and to pre-register, visit mc3.edu/open house or call 215-641-6551.

The College’s West Campus, located at 101 College Drive in Pottstown, will host an open house on Thursday, Oct. 16, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in the South Hall Community Room.

The College’s Central Campus, located at 340 DeKalb Pike in Blue Bell, will host an open house on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m.-noon in Parkhouse Hall.

Both open houses will provide prospective students and their families with information about MCCC’s credit and non-credit programs. Admissions representatives will be on hand to answer questions about the admissions process, transfer opportunities, e-learning, financial aid and intercollegiate athletics, among other topics, and members of the College’s faculty will share information on the 100+ associate degree and certificate programs that are part of a comprehensive curriculum.

The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College will also host an open house on Saturday, Nov. 15 from 10 a.m.-noon at its new facility located at 1400 Forty Foot Road in Lansdale, Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the kitchens and classrooms while learning about MCCC’s Culinary Arts and Pastry and Baking Arts associate degree programs, as well as its Culinary Enthusiast classes. Student Success Center advisors will be on hand to answer questions about the admissions process and financial aid, among other topics.

To learn more about all the Montgomery County Community College has to offer, visit http://www.mc3.edu online.

Montgomery County Community College Announces Summer 2014 Dean’s List

Blue Bell/Pottstown/Lansdale, Pa.—Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez is pleased to announce the summer 2014 Dean’s List at Montgomery County Community College. The Dean’s List recognizes full-time students who have earned at least 12 cumulative credits at the College and who have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher.

Dean’s List honorees are listed by area of residence.

Abington: Chad Davenport, David Robbins

Ambler: Brian Bailey

Audubon: Neil Ahern, Collin Bomgardner

Bala Cynwyd: Anthony Klaumenzer

Birdsboro: Tanesha Killgore

Blue Bell: Sarah Frank

Bryn Mawr: Eliel Ytterberg

Collegeville: Lindsay Bly, Salvatore Natale

Conshohocken: Kye Ho Kim, Ali Mohammed

Doylestown: Kenneth Stephon

Dresher: Peter Vernacchio

Eagleville: Daniel Buttorff

East Greenville: Rebecca Levengood

Fleetwood: Vivian Wentzel

Fort Washington: Tony Vernacchio

Glenside: Simba Allen-Martin, Crystal Nieman

Green Lane: James Cox

Harleysville: Zachary Boccella

Hatfield: Kasey Dietrich

Huntingdon Valley: Hryhory Yakymiv

Jenkintown: Sunghee Lee

King of Prussia: Joshua Differ

Lansdale: Thomas Catagnus, Tram Hoang, Matthew Prestifilippo, Brian Sirocka, Nicole Troy

Norristown: Wesley Hamilton

North Wales: Yoon Kim, Christopher Mills, Daniel O’Connell

Oreland: Matthew Will

Pennsburg: Kyle Fairchild

Philadelphia: Elizabeth Bergland, Katelyn Kallas

Phoenixville: Darlene Cornelison, Kaley Wohlgemuth

Plymouth Meeting: Brian Leahy, Scott Lukens

Pottstown: Brian Brown, Nick Centofanti, Kathleen Galligan, Leif Hums, Luke Moser, Meghan Oberholtzer, Victoria Smurthwaite, Sean White

Roslyn: Angela Tate

Royersford: Kelley Burris, Heather Holmes

Schwenksville: Christopher Wood

Souderton: Frank VanDerBogart-Maiorana

Spring City: Jonathan Carville, Daniel Samanen

Trappe: Brian O’Donnell

Willow Grove: Robert Wiley, Molly Wyman

MCCC Earns GVF Platinum Sustainability Award For Transportation Initiatives

MCCC

GVF Assistant Director Maureen Farrell (far right) and Action News Anchor Matt O’Donnell (far left) present (from left) Peggy Lee-Clark, MCCC executive director of government relations, and Dr. Celeste Schwartz, MCCC vice president for information technology and college services, with a platinum level sustainability award.

King of Prussia, Pa.— For the fourth consecutive year, Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) earned a platinum-level sustainability award from the Greater Valley Forge Management Association (GVF) on Sept. 8 during the organization’s annual Sustainability Breakfast. MCCC was one of 32 organizations recognized for sustainability efforts in 2014.

MCCC partners with GVF to operate a campus shuttle service between its Blue Bell and Pottstown campuses and, for the first time this fall, between its Blue Bell campus and Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale. Last year, more than 10,400 riders took advantage of the free, 20-passenger shuttle, which is equipped with wi-fi to support student success.

On Earth Day 2014, MCCC and GVF introduced a new vehicle that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG), which, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, will further reduce emissions by 11 tons of carbon dioxide over the next year based on the 28,560 miles driven and 3,483 gallons of diesel fuel used in 2013. Prior to the introduction of the CNG vehicle, MCCC’s shuttle program helped to eliminate approximately 54,527 metric tons of carbon emissions and reduce vehicle usage by 522,144 miles annually.

In addition to the shuttle program, MCCC also employs Zimride, an industry leading rideshare service that provides a safe and easy way for students and staff to arrange carpooling through college community network that fully integrates with Facebook. Since launching Zimride in 2011, MCCC’s network has logged 1,461,492 carpool miles.

At the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, drivers of electric, hybrid, and conventional vehicles that average 25 MPG or greater, as well as carpoolers and shuttle riders, have the opportunity to park in a designated, convenient 185-space parking lot adjacent to the Advanced Technology Center. Electric vehicle charging stations are available in the Green Lot, as well as in the South Hall parking lot at the West Campus in Pottstown.

Other transportation initiatives include a Segway program for public safety officers in Pottstown, electric and hybrid vehicles for public safety and facilities staff in Blue Bell, and an increased effort to promote bicycle accessibility at all MCCC locations.

Since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, Montgomery County Community College has put into place policies and procedures to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As a result of its efforts, MCCC is a two-time recipient of Second Nature’s national Climate Leadership Award.  To learn more about MCCC’s sustainability initiative, visit http://www.mc3green.wordpress.com.

GIS Certificate Of Completion: Cross-Industry Appeal In Competitive Job Market

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.— Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, has applications far beyond maps and geography.

Law enforcement, health care, urban planning, economics, environmental science, history, business, real estate and information technology—these are just some of the growing number of industries that incorporate GIS into their daily work.

In fact, according to Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) Assistant Professor of Geography Samuel Wallace, virtually every field of study today uses some form of GIS, making knowledge of its use critical for students and employees across all disciplines.

“GIS requires people who have basic understanding of spatial relationships, along with the system software,” said Wallace.

MCCC offers a nine-credit Certificate of Completion program in GIS that provides students with valuable skills that can lead to immediate employment in a GIS-related field. The program is ideal for current students, as well as for working individuals who want to add a GIS credential to their resume.

The College’s GIS program prepares students to operate industry leader ESRI’s ArcGIS 10.2 software. The Certificate of Completion is comprised of three courses: Introduction to Geographic Information, Map Design in GIS and GIS Applications. Courses are offered evenings to accommodate working adults, and the entire certificate can be completed in under a year.

The intro course, GEO 210, is being offered Thursday evenings this fall at MCCC’s West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. The next course, GEO 220, is tentatively scheduled to run at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, in spring 2015.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, GIS-related occupations are expected to grow by 20 percent overall through 2022—nine percent higher than the average occupation growth rate.

To learn more about GIS at MCCC, email Assistant Professor Samuel Wallace at swallace@mc3.edu.

Fall semester classes at Montgomery County Community College begin on Aug. 27. Visit http://www.mc3.edu/fall2014 for registration information.

MCCC President Returns To White House For College Opportunity Working Session

Karen Stout 2013Washington D.C.Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) President Dr. Karen A. Stout returns to the White House Aug. 12 to continue the national dialog on college readiness that began on Jan. 16, 2014 during a summit convened by U.S. President Barack Obama. That summit saw approximately 140 leaders from higher education, philanthropic organizations, businesses and local and state governments launch a plan of action for increasing college opportunity for low-income and disadvantaged students.

Summit participants are reconvening Aug. 12 to provide updates on their institutional commitments made in January and to discuss challenges and next steps. MCCC’s commitments include three specific initiatives aimed improving access for low-income and disadvantaged students. These include redesigning student entry and advising processes, developing a multi-platform model for student engagement, and expanding its minority student mentoring initiative.

First, to improve student entry and advising processes, MCCC launched a pilot Student Success Network in March.  The network includes college-wide mid-term reporting, which garnered a 96 percent faculty participation rate and positive student and faculty feedback. The network also employs Starfish Retention and Connect software, through which students are able to see and connect with members of their student success team—advisors, faculty and staff from other support programs, like veterans’ resources and disability services. Faculty can refer students to tutoring and can address concerns and reinforce positive academic behaviors throughout the semester. These tools will be brought to scale this fall.

In September, MCCC will also launch student educational planning, which requires advisors to meet with all first-time college students prior to spring registration to map out their educational plans for their entire degree programs. In addition, analytical tools, including student and advisor dashboards, will be available by end of 2014.

MCCC also made significant progress on its second commitment—developing a multi-platform model for student engagement—by creating a “Montco Money Matters” financial literacy prototype. The module introduces students to the concept of paying for college. The 30-minute, self-guided program introduces students to concepts of financial aid, loans and grants; highlights the long-term implications of loans and future debt; and makes them aware of other resources, like scholarships, to help pay for college.

A total of 425 students actively engaged in the pilot program during a seven-week period. Of those, 95 percent of students who provided feedback indicated they will recommend the online resources to others, and 80 percent said the course will influence future academic decisions. MCCC’s next step is to build out additional modules under the umbrella of financial literacy and to make the program accessible to school districts within Montgomery County and to the general population at large.

Finally, MCCC delivered on its third commitment to transition its Minority Male Mentoring Program (MMMP) into a Minority Student Mentoring Initiative (MSMI). Twenty-five African-American and Latina female students joined MSMI in spring 2014, comprising almost 27 percent of all participants. The program connects students with caring mentors for guidance and support while providing opportunities for civic engagement, academic advisement, personal development and leadership development. The participants’ cumulative GPA is currently 2.45, up from 2.15 three years ago.

All three programs are part of MCCC’s overarching Student Success Initiative, which works to expand access to higher education and increase student success through process improvements and support strategies that reduce the barriers for students to complete their education. In 2011, MCCC was designed as an Achieving the Dream Leader College, an elite group of 73 community colleges across the country that have demonstrated committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systematic institutional improvement. In February, MCCC earned the prestigious Leah Meyer Austin Award from Achieving the Dream for its continued improvement of student access and success.

During her 13-year tenure as MCCC President, Dr. Stout’s unwavering commitment to student access and success has impacted thousands of students, their families, and the community. In addition to laying the groundwork for MCCC’s selection as an Achieving the Dream Leader College, Dr. Stout helped to design and launch the College’s first comprehensive Honors Program and Minority Student Mentoring Program; expand support services for student veterans; re-introduce MCCC’s intercollegiate athletics program; collaborate with the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board to deliver GED instruction to more than 800 community residents; and re-energize the College’s facilities to enhance teaching and learning, among many other accomplishments.

The impact of Dr. Stout’s leadership extends nationally, evidenced by her selection to participate in the White House’s College Opportunity initiatives. A passionate advocate for community colleges, Dr. Stout serves as Chair of the President’s Advisory Board to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University Teacher’s College and is a Commissioner with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. She previously served as a member of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Board of Directors and as co-chair of the American Association of Community College’s (AACC) 21st-Century Initiative Steering Committee.

Dr. Stout holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and a bachelor’s degree in English from University of Delaware, as well as a master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Baltimore.

Dr. José Alicea Named Dean Of Academic And Student Affairs For MCCC’s West Campus

Jose-AliceaPottstown, Pa.— Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) welcomes Dr. José Alicea as dean of academic and student affairs at its West Campus in Pottstown. In his new role, Dr. Alicea will provide strategic leadership in the delivery of academic credit and non-credit programs and student services that lead to increased student progression, retention and completion.

Dr. Alicea comes to MCCC from Roxbury Community College (RCC) in Massachusetts, where he served in various roles since 2003. He began his work as dean of continuing education and community services. After one year, he became assistant to the vice president of academic affairs for programs and student services, and later the dean for institutional effectiveness, during which time he led the President’s Institutional Effectiveness Initiative. He also served as interim dean for RCC’s Division of Business and Technology from 2008-2010.

Most recently, Dr. Alicea served RCC as associate dean of academic affairs, where he was responsible for special academic programs, projects and partnerships; reviewing and formulating academic policies; providing leadership within the major division of the college; and representing the institution in the wider community.

Dr. Alicea holds a Doctor of Education degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy and a Master of Education degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, as well as a Master in City Planning degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Legal Advocacy and Human Services from University of Massachusetts-Boston.

Ursinus College Graduate Wins Fellowship For 12-Month Global Travel

POTTSTOWN, PA — Codey Young has been awarded a fellowship award that comes with a 12-month trip around the world.

Young, 22, graduated this spring from Ursinus College, and was recently accepted into the master’s program at Harvard Divinity School.

Young is now a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, one of only 43 students from selected colleges across the country.

Sponsored by the Watson Foundation, those students chosen are given $28,000 to travel the world for 12 months in pursuit of their thesis.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/social-affairs/20140725/ursinus-college-graduate-wins-fellowship-for-12-month-global-travel

Moon Schools Eager To Talk Merger With Cornell

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Moon Area School board voted recently to reach out to its much smaller neighbor, the Cornell School District, to discuss a possible merger, it resurrected an issue that had been explored at least twice before.

In 1992 and 1998, the districts studied the idea of a merger or of Cornell students attending Moon on a tuition basis. It died both times because of opposition in the communities and the lack of state financial incentives, but the voluntary merger of the Center Area and Monaca districts, to form Central Valley School District, in recent years has some Moon board members taking a new look at the prospect of sharing resources.

The Central Valley merger, initiated with board votes in 2007 and finalized in 2010, was the first since the court-ordered formation of the Woodland Hills School District in 1981 and the only district in Pennsylvania to be formed through a voluntary merger.

“I just think it’s something we should take a look at,” said Moon school director Laura Schisler, who raised the idea at a May 25 board meeting to vote on the closing of an elementary school.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/07/07/Moon-schools-eager-to-talk-merger-with-Cornell/stories/201407070045#ixzz36o7qTuSO

Tax Increase Set For State College Area School District Residents

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 — Taxpayers in the State College Area School District will see a 1.95 percent tax increase after the district school board adopted its final general fund budget Monday.

Board members unanimously approved, with no discussion, a real estate tax increase from 38.75 mills to 39.5056 mills, with each mill representing $3.95 per $100 of assessed value.

Under the budget of $126,791,664 for the fiscal year starting July 1 and ending June 30, 2015, the median district homeowner will pay an additional $54, according to the district.

The district projects that the tax increase will add $1.56 million in revenue, while assessed value growth will provide another $1.2 million.

45 Graduates Complete MCCC’s Accelerated GED Program

Pottstown, Pa.— Forty-five students earned their General Education Diplomas (GED) during Montgomery County Community College’s annual graduation ceremony on June 5 at the West Campus in Pottstown.

The graduates were part of MCCC’s rigorous five-week program that is among the most accelerated in the state. According to GED Program Coordinator/Instructor Raymond Ricketts, 860 students have completed the program since its inception in 2006–an 84 percent graduation rate.

The Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) funds the program, which is free to Montgomery County residents. The fee for out-of-county students is $100 and includes the course and GED exam.

John Vestri, vice president of operations and finance for Video Ray in Pottstown, provided the keynote address. He commended graduates for taking ownership of their education, and encouraged them to take advantage of all future educational opportunities that arise.

“Every single you chance you have to improve yourself through education, please take advantage of it. It will pay off in some way in the long run,” said Vestri. He added that there is “no such thing as a traditional education,” sharing “we all pursue what works for us; everyone is on some non-traditional path.”

Providing the student address, graduate Jamie Gehman, Lower Pottsgrove, said the program “allowed me to focus on my problem area—math—and pass the GED with flying colors.”

Gehman described how it became more and more difficult to return to school as time passed. However, as her youngest of four children started kindergarten this year, she realized it was time to continue her own education as well.

“It’s never too late to give yourself or your loved ones a brighter future through education,” she shared.

Gehman recently completed her first semester at the College, during which she earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA). She ultimately hopes to work with children who have learning challenges and brain trauma.

Marisol Lezcano, executive director of the Montgomery County WIB and deputy director of commerce, presented the graduates with their diplomas, and Peggy Schmidt, chair, WIB Youth Council, provided closing remarks.

“I’m sure, as you have gone through this journey, people told you that you couldn’t do it. But your hard work paid off,”  she said, just before asking attendees to join her in reciting the lyrics to “High Hopes.”

To learn more about the GED program or GED testing services, visit http://www.mc3.edu/adm-fin-aid/ged.

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Students Graduate High School Through MCCC ‘Gateway To College’ Program

Gateway Grads Sp 2014 (1)Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.— Eight students from Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) Gateway to College Program earned their high school diplomas this spring after completing the requirements necessary to graduate from their respective school districts.

Gateway to College is a national network designed for young adults ages 16-21 who are at risk for not completing high school. One of only 43 Gateway to College programs in the country, MCCC partners locally with 16 area school districts and the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) to help increase high school—and ultimately college—graduation rates.

Spring 2014 graduates include Meghan Benson, Wissahickon; Ne’Cole Casalena, Phoenixville; James Hanible, Pottsgrove; Erika Knappenberger, Souderton; Justin Leamy, Pottsgrove; Jose Ortiz Rivera, Hatboro-Horsham; Carlas Rich, Phoenixville; and Rachel Voltz, Upper Merion. All of the graduates plan to pursue post-secondary education, and at least six will attend MCCC in the fall.

One of those graduates, Ne’Cole Casalena, Phoenixville High School, described her journey in rhyming lyrics, speaking as class valedictorian.

“And I want to thank everyone but me, cause without you, I don’t know where I would be. Where I am, as a person, they are life lessons, not a burden…If I could, I wouldn’t change a thing, cause out of 18 years, this was the best spring,” she recited.

In only its first year at MCCC, the Gateway to College program has grown from 21 students in the fall to 52 this spring. At full capacity, the program will serve up to 150 students annually.

“My Gateway students are some of the most resilient and capable young people I have had the pleasure of supporting on their academic journey,” shared Keima Sheriff, who is MCCC’s Gateway to College program director. “Many are faced with incredibly difficult life circumstances, yet they consistently attend school, participate in a rigorous learning environment and meet the expectations of the program. My students prove that if given the opportunity to excel, they can and will rise to the occasion.”

Fifteen of MCCC’s students were recognized as Gateway Achievers by the Gateway to College National Network. Students include: Jose Ortiz Rivera from Hatboro-Horsham; Gustavo Ascencion from Norristown; Ne’Cole Casalena and Laura Krueger from Phoenixville; Brianna Gagliardi, Marcus Gordon and Anthony Romano from Pottsgrove; James Hanible from Upper Merion; Christopher Anderson, Shane Bowman, Jelani Crosby and William Dobnak from Upper Moreland; Shaquilla Anderson from WIB; and Meghan Benson and Emahnie Holmes from Wissahickon.

MCCC also recognized spring Gateway students for their achievements.

William Dobnak, Upper Moreland, and Laura Krueger, Phoenixville, were recognized as Foundation (first term) Students of the Semester. They also earned the highest GPA among MCCC Gateway students along with Jelani Crosby, Upper Moreland.

Marcus Gordon, Pottsgrove, and Rachel Voltz, Upper Merion, were recognized as Transitioned (second term through completion) Students of the Semester.

Perfect Attendance went to Shane Bowman, Upper Moreland; Anthony Romano, Pottsgrove; and Thomas Rosa, of Plymouth Meeting. Rosa was also recognized as Most Courageous, along with Paige Trump, Pottsgrove. Romano was recognized for Change of Heart, along with Jose Ortiz Rivera, Hatboro-Horsham.

Brianna Gagliardi, Pottsgrove, and Julian Richardson, WIB, earned Most Improved, while Amber Keyes, Norristown, and Faith Owens, Pottsgrove, earned Rising Star awards.

Additional awards included Perseverance, given to Nicole Snyder, Upper Moreland, and Dejah McMillan, Pottsgrove; and Most Determined, given to Gustavo Ascencion, Norristown, and Keara Hyden, Phoenixville.

Students begin the Gateway to College program with a Foundation semester, during which they take classes in reading, writing, math, and college skills as part of small learning communities. After successfully completing the Foundation term, participants transition into one of MCCC’s academic programs, earning college credits while completing high school requirements. Throughout the program, students are advised and mentored by Gateway resource specialists Lori Davidson and Esau Collins. They also actively engage in college and community service.

Partnering school districts include Boyertown, Cheltenham, Daniel Boone, Hatboro-Horsham, Norristown, Perkiomen Valley, Phoenixville, Pottsgrove, Pottstown, Souderton, Spring Ford, Upper Dublin, Upper Merion, Upper Moreland, Upper Perkiomen, Wissahickon and the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board.

To learn more about the Gateway to College Network, visit gatewaytocollege.org.

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Job Prospects For Luzerne County Grads? Cashier Tops The List

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Graduating and looking for a job in Luzerne County?

Your best bet: Cashier. Second best bet: Retail salesperson. Keep going down the list; with few exceptions, the fastest growing occupations around here are in low-paying, low-skill jobs.

Or you can scan the state’s “High Priority Occupations” list for the county, an attempt “to align workforce training and education investments with occupations that are in demand by employers, have higher skill needs and are most likely to provide family sustaining wages,” according to the state Department of Labor & Industry.

Of 2,202 projected annual openings in 111 high priority occupations ranging from accountants to welders, 1,419 of them — 64.4 percent — generally require no more than a high school degree, valuing on-the-job training more.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1408957/Grads-face-rough-job-market

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MCCC Graduates Transfer To Bucknell; Students Become Summer Scholars

Blue Bell, Pa. — Eleven Montgomery County Community College students soon will be attending Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., through the Bucknell Community College Scholars Program.

Six of the students—Margaret Crush, North Wales; Summer Grenyion-Smith, Ambler; Jeremy Lowery, Gilbertsville; Yinquing (Lindsay) Pan, Blue Bell; Brian Richmond, Gilbertsville; and Mary Colleen Watson, Phoenixville, will participate in Bucknell’s Summer 2014 Residency Program.

During the summer program, selected students enroll in two courses and work with student and faculty mentors for six weeks. The program is free for the students and includes tuition, room and board and books. Participating students then have the opportunity to apply to Bucknell in 2014, and if accepted, they will transfer to the university with junior status on full-tuition scholarships.

Five of the students who participated in last year’s summer program— Lydia Crush, North Wales; Brian Hipwell, Cheltenham; Mallory Murphy, West Lawn; David Reedel, Roslyn; and Ken Stephon, Doylestown—were selected to transfer to the university in the fall as juniors with full-tuition scholarships from Bucknell.

Initially funded for four years by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Bucknell Community College Scholars Program enables high-achieving, low-income community college students to complete their undergraduate education at the university. According to Mark Davies, Bucknell’s Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and the liaison for the Community College Scholars Program, the university is committed to continuing the program, which it has funded for the past four years.

During an annual scholarship reception on May 14, MCCC and Bucknell alumnus Oscar Beteta spoke about how the program enabled him to reach his goals. After earning his associate’s degree at Montgomery County Community College, he transferred to Bucknell on full-tuition scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering.  He now works as an engineer at Air Products and Chemicals. Inc. Beteta was part of the first summer cohort to participate Bucknell Community College Scholars Program.

Montgomery County Community College has participated in Bucknell’s Community College Scholars Program since 2006. Including this year’s scholars, a total of 54 students attended the summer residency program, and, including this year’s graduates, a total of 36 students transferred to Bucknell on full-tuition scholarships.

Bucknell’s program extends to five community colleges:  Montgomery County Community College, Garrett College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Community College of Philadelphia and Harrisburg Area Community College.

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2014 Commencement Creates ‘Digital Moment’ For MCCC Grads

Blue Bell, Pa.—Montgomery County Community College’s class of 2014 made history on May 15, as graduates, faculty and guests participated in what may very well be the largest group of “selfie” photos taken simultaneously.

Dr. Celeste Schwartz, alumna and Vice President for Information Technology and College Services, initiated the selfie during her Commencement keynote address, encouraging close to 5,000 graduates, faculty and guests to take and share selfies to commemorate the evening.

Shared with the hashtag #ThinkBigGrad to a variety of social media platforms, many of these photos are archived on the College’s Think Success blog at mc3success.wordpress.com or Pinterest at pinterest.com/mc3mustangs.

With a combined 90 years of service to MCCC, Dr. Schwartz along with Professor of Economics Dr. Lee Bender were selected as 2014 Commencement keynote speakers as part of the College’s 50th anniversary celebration. Together, they painted a picture of 1960s and imparted wisdom from lessons learned to graduates from the Class of 2014.

One of those graduates, Michelle Sikora, Lansdale, had the opportunity to share her story as the selected student commencement speaker. During her remarks, Sikora a single parent to a child with significant medical needs, shared the challenges of balancing coursework with doctor appointments and hospital visits.

“Some trials are just a part of life. They are life’s pop quizzes; they are opportunities for growth and improvement, and they have rewards,” she shared. “We can benefit even from life’s toughest challenges by asking, ‘what can I learn from this experience? How can I approach this in a new way, and what can I change? And, most importantly, how can I use this experience to help others?’”

Graduating with a degree in Liberal Studies, Sikora will return to the College in the fall to pursue a degree in Nursing.

Sikora was one of 1,491 graduates from the class of 2014, who collectively earned 1,525 degrees and certificates. Included among these are a record 52 military veterans, who, for the first time, wore navy blue stoles embroidered with the words “Valor & Respect;” a record 340 students who completed their coursework at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown; 275 members of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society; 75 students with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.9 or higher; 35 international students from 17 different countries; a record 21 graduates from the College’s Honors Program; and 21 Mustangs student athletes.

Class of 2014 graduates range in aged from 17 to 81. Of note, 99 graduates began their college careers as dual enrollment students from 34 regional and cyber high schools.

Graduates were not the only ones lauded for their accomplishments during the ceremony. Assistant Professor of Economics Jill Beccaris-Pescatore, Glenside, received the 2014 Pearlstine Award for Teaching Excellence. The award, given on alternating years with the Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence, is named in honor of founding Trustee Gladys Pearlstine and is presented to a faculty member who embodies the principles on which the College was founded and who is nominated his/her peers and students.

During the presentation, Beccaris-Pescatore, who has taught at MCCC since 2003, was recognized for using new media and current events to teach complex economic principles, as well as her energy and enthusiasm in the classroom and her participation in college activities. She is also an avid runner and has completed the Boston Marathon in each of the last two years.

Several dignitaries celebrated with the graduates, including Pennsylvania State Senator John Rafferty, Montgomery County Commissions Josh Shapiro and Bruce Castor, and members of the College’s Board of Trustees. In addition to these, 19 alumni who graduated between 1968-1972 attended the ceremony to commemorate the College’s 50th anniversary.

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MCCC Student Ryan Bergman Earns National Honor As 2014 Newman Civic Fellow

GetAttachmentBlue Bell, Pa.— Montgomery County Community College student and community leader Ryan Bergman, Collegeville, is among an elite group of students in the country to earn the 2014 Newman Civic Fellow Award from Campus Compact.

The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors college student leaders nationwide who inspire others and have worked to find solutions for challenges facing the community. According to the organization’s website, through service, research, and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change.

A Social Sciences major concentrating in Psychology, Bergman dedicates his service efforts to eradicating poverty and homelessness both on local and national levels. Selected as a Scholar for Community Service at MCCC for the 2013-14 academic year, Bergman used the opportunity to strengthen the College’s relationship with the Montgomery County chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Habitat ReStore.

“Ryan’s commitment and dedication to issues of homelessness and poverty have assisted in raising student awareness about Habitat for Humanity and ways to individually support the work being done within the County,” shared MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout in her letter of recommendation to Campus Compact.

Bergman chartered and serves as president of MCCC’s Habitat Club, whose members support ongoing volunteer dates at Habitat build-sites throughout the year. He also served as co-leader at the Habitat ReStore site in January during a college-wide day of service and again in March during spring break.

“Our goal for this new club is to show the importance of improving our community and lending a helping hand whenever needed,” explained Bergman.

In addition to his work locally, Bergman is a two-time participant in MCCC’s Alternative Spring Break program. In 2013, he traveled with students to West Virginia to build houses with Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge, and in 2014, they volunteered at The Samaritan Woman in Baltimore, Md., a transitional residence program for victims of human trafficking.

An electrician by trade, it was Bergman’s job that first brought him to MCCC when his company was contracted to do electrical work on the College’s new Children’s Center.  While working on the Center, Bergman began to fall out of love with his career choice, especially as he noticed students around his age walking to and from class.

“They all seemed full of life and motivated,” he shared.

When the company for which he was working closed two years later, Bergman enrolled in College’s Engineering Technology program, but soon switched to Social Sciences. He also got heavily involved in service work through the College’s Office of Student Leadership & Involvement, where he is a work-study student.

“I juggle my busy life by optimizing every moment of time; time management is crucial to excel at the college level,” he shared, adding that the work-study position enables him to “know the current happenings around campus” and participate as much as possible.

Adding to his full schedule, Bergman is also president of MCCC’s Psychology Club, performs contracting and electrical work off campus, and still finds time for basketball and weight training, as well as for saltwater fishing, longboarding and hiking.

After he graduates from MCCC, Bergman plans to continue his education in Clinical Psychology, knowing that the College prepared him for the next chapter in his life.

“I know it sounds cliché, but I have truly found a home here at Montgomery County Community College, and I hope that I can one day return to inspire other people to follow their dreams.”

Newman Civic Fellows are recommended by college and university presidents to acknowledge motivation and ability in public leadership. Newman Civic Fellows awards are made in memory of Frank Newman, who dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform.

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