Student Kimberly Coffland Earns National PTK Scholarship

Montgomery County Community College student and Phi Theta Kappa Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarship recipient Kimberly Coffland works with a simulated mannequin in the College’s Nursing Lab. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College student and Phi Theta Kappa Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarship recipient Kimberly Coffland works with a simulated mannequin in the College’s Nursing Lab. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Kimberly Coffland has been on a 14-year journey. Since she was 10 years old, the Lansdale resident has been working toward becoming a nurse. She took a detour between 2010 and 2012 because of the need to move frequently as her husband was transferred and deployed.

“I recently returned to the area in July 2012 following my husband’s discharge from the Marine Corps and started attending Montgomery County Community College,” she said. “I chose to attend this school primarily because of its affordability, but I also was excited to hear that the College has a reputable nursing program.”

Along the way, Coffland was selected as one of only 20 students to receive Phi Theta Kappa’s 2014 Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarship, which recognizes the outstanding academic and leadership accomplishments of students enrolled in registered nursing, respiratory care, or emergency medical services associate degree programs. A total of $50,000 was awarded in 2014 to assist students in the attainment of these associate degrees.

“The Frank Lanza scholarship means so much to me,” Coffland said. “Because of this scholarship, I will be able to graduate nursing school without using student loans, and there are no words to describe the joy that that brings to my life!”

The Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarship is named in honor of the founder of L-3 Communications, a defense contractor that comprises more than 73 operating units, including Medical Education Technologies Inc. (METI), now known as CAE Healthcare. Lou Oberndorf, founder and retired chairman of METI, endowed the Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarship, which is also funded by L-3 Communications, CAE Healthcare, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

In addition to the Frank Lanza scholarship, Coffland received a Pell grant and qualified for the PHEAA state grant. “These grants have been a huge blessing, allowing me to only work part-time during the nursing program.”

Coffland started her nursing coursework in 2009 and married in 2010.

“I transferred from the school where I was taking classes to the local community college in North Carolina where my husband was stationed,” Coffland said. “I took a few classes, then he was deployed, so I moved back near family, and I had to transfer schools again. Online classes were a wonderful blessing during this phase of my life, as I moved several times in a couple years.

Her husband was discharged in 2012, and Coffland transferred to Montgomery County Community College “to settle down, finish my prerequisites, and begin the clinical portion of nursing program.

“Anyone who has transferred schools knows what a pain it is, and with moving, enduring deployments, and the school transfers, I was ready to give up at times. However, with the support of my family and especially my husband, I have been able to reach the point of being close to graduation — so close to becoming an RN!” she said.

Coffland balances her roles of wife, student, and nursing assistant with the support of her husband and her faith.

“It’s been a long road, but I feel so blessed to be able to get a good nursing education at an affordable price here,” she said. “This past summer, many of my classmates and I participated in the PA Hero Walk. This event’s proceeds benefited various Pennsylvania veteran associations. It is definitely one of my fondest memories of my time at the College thus far.”

After graduation, Coffland plans to work as a registered nurse while pursuing her bachelor’s degree online, but she has not decided where yet.

“Also, within a few years of graduating, I plan to go on a medical missions trip to a country where standard medical care is not readily available. This has been a goal of mine since I decided to be a nurse at age 10, and I am so looking forward to finally being able to contribute in such a way,” she said.

~ Nerée Aron-Sando

Dr. Stout Named President & CEO of Achieving the Dream

Dr. Karen A. Stout (center) was named President & CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc. on Feb. 17 at the organization's annual DREAM conference in Baltimore, Md. Photo courtesy of Achieving the Dream

Dr. Karen A. Stout (center) was named President & CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc. on Feb. 17 at the organization’s annual DREAM conference in Baltimore, Md. Dr. Stout is pictured with Dr. William E. Trueheart (left) current President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, and Dr. Robert G. Templin Jr. (right), Chair of the Achieving the Dream Board. Photo courtesy of Achieving the Dream

Montgomery County Community College President Karen A. Stout has been named the next President & CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., (ATD) the national, nonprofit leader in championing evidence-based institutional improvement across U.S. community colleges. She will remain at the College through the current academic year and assume leadership of ATD on July 1, 2015.

“Our College has been fortunate to have such a quality leader, mentor and individual as Karen Stout serve as the president of this great institution for more than 14 years,” said Michael J. D’Aniello ’78, Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. “We wish her every success and look forward to all she will achieve in developing policies and strategies to extend access to quality community college education for minority and low income students nationwide.”

Read Board Chairman D’Aniello’s message to the College community

Stout’s 14-year tenure at Montgomery County Community College has been remarkable for the broad initiatives that both expanded the college’s footprint and strengthened student success. She has led the development and implementation of three strategic plans and two facilities master plans that resulted in the expansion of the West campus in Pottstown, the expansion and near re-making of the Central campus in Blue Bell; a new Virtual Campus, a Culinary Arts Institute, new occupational and transfer programs, strong relationships with community partners, and new relationships with school districts and colleges and universities. In addition, the College’s 50th Anniversary, $9 million fully-private College Foundation campaign for scholarship support is on track to exceed its goal.

Stout has served at the helm of Montgomery County Community College since 2001. Her appointment is both a natural next step and a vote of confidence based on successful leadership of the College’s participation in the ATD program since 2008, her role as president of an ATD Leader College since 2011, and the winning of ATD’s prestigious Leah Meyer Austin award in 2014. She has led the College to statewide and national prominence in its work around student success, technology and analytics, and sustainability. The new post will enable her to make a broader impact; ATD reaches 200 community colleges and nearly four million students in 35 states.

“I am proud of our leading work at Montgomery in so many areas,” Stout said. “I’m eager to extend the learning from this work to help community colleges across the country. There is an increasing call for us to help the citizens in our communities gain access to affordable post-secondary education as well as complete an experience that leads to successful employment and citizenry.”

Read Dr. Stout’s message to the College community

Stout succeeds Dr. William E. Trueheart, ATD’s founding president & CEO, who announced his retirement from the independent nonprofit on October 30, 2014. Robert G. Templin, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Achieving the Dream, Inc., made the announcement at the organization’s annual convening in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Stout leaves the College well positioned for the future. The College’s next president will arrive with the Middle States decennial review near completion, and the strategic plan to 2016 in its final year of implementation. A self-study conducted by the administration is complete and offers a new president a roadmap for the future based on the College’s strengths while the establishment of an early retirement plan offers a new president the opportunity to build, hire, and train the faculty of the future. The College’s first facilities plan is complete and a second is underway with funding secured for renovation of a new Health Sciences Center, an expanded Science Center on the Central Campus, and a growth strategy in place for the West Campus. In addition, strategies for enrollment development and student success are in place and showing momentum.

D’Aniello and the Board of Trustees will conduct a nationwide search for a president who can build on Stout’s momentum.

“In 2000, when we embarked on a mission to find the College’s fourth president, the single most important character trait was to find and individual who truly carried in their heart our core mission: to provide the citizens of Montgomery County and all our students, no matter their economic status, the highest quality education at the most affordable tuition possible,” D’Aniello said. “In January 2001, we found that person in Karen Stout. As we look toward our next leader, those core values will remain paramount.”

“Community colleges are at a crossroads in redesigning their work to support the economic and civic needs of our country for the next 50 years,” said Stout. While she is drawn to the challenge, Stout acknowledged that moving on was a difficult decision.

“I love Montgomery,” Stout said. “Mostly, I will miss our students and our alumni who show us in so many ways why the work we do is important. Their stories of aspiration and success motivate me to serve.”

~ by Denise Portner

Montgomery Leads Launch of New Online Resource for Prior Learning Credits

College Credit Fast TrackNot all education happens within the walls of a classroom—many people learn through their employment, life experiences, volunteer positions, or other avenues. As students, these adults now will have a streamlined pathway to earn college credits based on prior work or life experiences with a new online tool, College Credit Fast Track, developed by Montgomery County Community College in collaboration with Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges and announced on Feb. 2 at a launch event at Harrisburg Area Community College.

“Today, we are launching College Credit Fast Track, found at, a new website and e-portfolio platform, which provides a single point of entry for adult learners in the Commonwealth to access prior learning credits at any of our community colleges,” said Dr. Kathrine Swanson, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management at Montgomery County Community College, during at the Feb. 2 launch event.

Developed by AcademyOne, the College Credit Fast Track online site provides a uniform standard for the practice and promotion of PLA. AcademyOne also was the technology partner for the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Center (PA TRAC) which supports student transfer in the Commonwealth.

Through use of features on the site, prospective students will be able to build a profile, create a petition requesting prior learning credit, select a local community college, submit an application to a specially trained advisor at the community college and build an e-portfolio. College Credit Fast Track will help students obtain credit for a variety of prior learning experiences, including employment, training programs, military service, independent study, community service and completion of free online courses. All prior experience and knowledge must meet certain criteria to qualify for college credit.

Earning credits for work or life experience will help students, like Anthony Caso, who is working on his associate’s degree in Criminal Justice at MCCC. Caso, who currently works as a police detective for East Norriton Township Police Department, was awarded 27 credits for his law enforcement experience and training.

“I am convinced that just as PLA will change the narrative for individuals like Anthony, PLA will also change the narrative about the number of adults in the Commonwealth with earned postsecondary credentials who are participating in Pennsylvania’s workforce,” said Swanson.

To introduce this new tool and help prospective students walk through the process of creating an online portfolio of their prior learning experience, Montgomery County Community College will be holding free PLA Portfolio Information Workshops. The workshops are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 23, 6 to 7 p.m. and Wednesday, Feb. 25, 10 to 11 a.m. at Parkhouse Hall, Room 115, Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, and for Thursday, Feb. 26, 10 to 11 a.m., and Monday, March 9, 6 to 7 p.m. at South Hall, Room 220, West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. To register, contact Denise Collins at 215-619-7313 or

Funded by a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant, the College Credit Fast Track program is part of a combined initiative of the Commonwealth’s community colleges to train and place underemployed and unemployed residents in high-demand job fields.

To learn more about the program, visit or contact Denise Collins at 215-619-7313 or To talk to an advisor, contact Mary Beth Bryers at or call 215-641-6319.

~ by Diane VanDyke

‘USA Today’ Mobile App Puts the News at Students’ Fingertips

BLOG USA TodayMontgomery County Community College students are now able to easily access their campus news along with national news thanks to USA TODAY’s new mobile application, The Buzz.

The Buzz is an extension of USA TODAY’s Collegiate Readership Program, which has provided free daily newspapers to Montgomery’s campus community since 2003. USA TODAY selected several colleges across the nation to pilot the new app, and MCCC is the only community college among the participants selected for the program.

“We’re excited to share this new app with Montgomery County Community College because it will give students access to relevant national, college and campus news,” said Renee Speers, national director for USA TODAY College. Other participants in the program include Villanova University, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Sam Houston State University, Carnegie Mellon University and Syracuse University.

The new mobile app combines the current news from the USA TODAY newsroom, national college stories from USA TODAY College and MCCC’s student newspaper, “The Montgazette.” Founded in 1967, “The Montgazette” includes news, features, opinions and photographs written or taken by students.

Additional content will be added to the mobile app in the spring, such as MCCC’s Buzz Update (student produced video news and features), and MontCo Radio (student produced radio programs). USA TODAY will continue to provide printed newspapers on campus with the new app.

As part of the promotion of The Buzz, the College will be hosting a kickoff party during the student club fair on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 12:20-1:20 p.m. at Parkhouse Hall Atrium at Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, and South Hall Community Room, West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown, where students will be introduced to the new app.

The app can be downloaded for free at the Apple App store on iPhones or Google Play on Android phones by searching “The Buzz: Montgomery County Community College.”

~ by Diane VanDyke

$2 Million from MCEDC Benefits Scholarships, Workforce Development Programs

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) announced the receipt of the largest private gift in its history—$2 million from the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC)—during a celebration on Jan. 30. Making the announcement were (from left) Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh; MCCC Nursing student Mis Kulsum; MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout; MCCC Engineering Science student Nick Silva; Montgomery County Commissioner Chairman Josh Shapiro; and MCCC Board of Trustees Chairman Michael J. D’Aniello. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College announced the receipt of the largest private gift in its history—$2 million from the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC)—during a celebration on Jan. 30. Making the announcement were (from left) Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh; Nursing student Mis Kulsum; President Dr. Karen A. Stout; Engineering Science student Nick Silva; Montgomery County Commissioner Chairman Josh Shapiro; and  Board of Trustees Chairman Michael J. D’Aniello. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

The Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) presented a check today for $2 million to Montgomery County Community College, the largest private gift ever given to the College.

The $2 million gift will establish an endowment within the College’s Foundation. Annual interest from the endowment will fund workforce development programs and scholarships for students pursuing high-demand industries that support the continued prosperity of the County and its citizens.

“This is a gift that will keep on giving,” said Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “The gift provides important new dollars to ensure student access to education and training programs that build the workforce pipeline in key areas.”

The gift comes as the result of an April 24, 2014 vote by the MCEDC Board of Trustees to dissolve the private, independent nonprofit organization and distribute some of its assets to the Montgomery County Development Corporation (MCDC) and the College to create efficiency in the administration of the County’s economic development programs. The selection of the College as a recipient of these funds reflects the College’s strong relationships with the County and business community as well as its past success in workforce development.

MCEDC has requested that the College leverage its gift by raising an additional $2 million in matching funds.

The endowment created by the MCEDC gift and matching funds from the challenge will support workforce projects at the College such as:

• Seed money for new programs and student scholarships in critical health sciences fields and other high-demand industries such as culinary arts, entrepreneurship, biotechnology, information technology, and environmental studies;

• Funding for innovative incumbent worker training to attract and retain businesses in the County; and

• Stipends for books, transportation, and childcare for veterans pursuing their education in high-demand or STEM fields, or for use of the College’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies incubator to start a business.

“Montgomery County is strongest when we create an atmosphere to promote job growth, while at the same time having well-trained individuals to fill those positions,” said Josh Shapiro, chair of the County Board of Commissioners. “The generosity of MCEDC and the proven ability of Montgomery County Community College to create programs to answer the needs of its students and our workforce will help ensure a bright economic future for our county.”

“The MCEDC gift sets a great example we can build on,” Stout added. “We know that our tuition, while affordable, is not within financial reach for some residents in our area. For a long time, our focus was not on private fundraising. By establishing a tradition of philanthropy, Montgomery County Community College can achieve even greater progress in our workforce development efforts.”

To address the nearly $20 million in unmet student financial needs, the College launched the $9 million Futures Rising Campaign in November, during its 50th Anniversary year. This first-ever comprehensive campaign is designed to support student success, beginning with scholarships that broaden access to this education. The MCEDC gift is the largest the Campaign has received.

The gift recognizes the longstanding productive relationship between the County and the College and their joint ability to align training to business needs. One of only 50 institutions in the nation to offer training through the Global Corporate College international network, the College’s Center for Workforce Development partners with dozens of businesses annually to provide training.

The College recently added a Pennsylvania Real Estate Pre-licensing Fast Track Program and a Medical Office Assistant course, in addition to new certificate programs in Fall 2014 in the high-demand occupations of Biotechnology/ Biomanufacturing, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security, and an expanded Dental certificate. Currently under development are training programs for Physical and Occupational Therapy Assistants.

~ by Denise Portner

Community Service Efforts Earn College a Spot on National Honor Roll

cncs_1Montgomery County Community College’s students engaged in 24,172 hours of community service and service learning projects in 2013, earning the institution a spot on the Corporation for National and Community Service’s (CNCS) 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

A significant portion of Montgomery’s service hours resulted from academic service learning, which integrates a service component into an academic course. As part of MCCC’s core curriculum, students are required to complete at least one course that addresses civic responsibility. Last year, 6,456 students engaged in service learning activities while in 225 courses taught by 73 faculty.

An additional 1,411 students and 306 faculty and staff engaged in other forms of community service last year.

“The College’s commitment to service has helped us establish a stronger presence within the community and has raised our students’ awareness of the importance of giving back to the communities in which they live and work,” said Jenna Klaus, MCCC assistance director of civic and community engagement.”

One of the largest community service initiatives in 2013 was a College-wide Day of Service, held in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Day of Service in January. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, family and friends spent a day volunteering at several locations in Montgomery County, including the Olivet Boys and Girls Club in Pottstown and the Police Athletic League (PAL) and Preschool Intervention Program in Norristown. In total, 147 volunteers completed 937 hours of service.

Several other larger-scale service initiatives took place throughout the year, including College-wide food drives, an administrative staff day of service, and alternative spring break experiences.

In terms of service learning, the College’s Health Sciences majors led the way by offering free health screenings and information to the College community and to community residents in collaboration with local health care partners. Last year, more than 400 Health Sciences students performed 1,624 hours of service, offering 786 screenings and health information to approximately 1,500 individuals.

According to CNCS, college students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service. In 2012, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country—a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.

Over the last five years, 5,400 Montgomery volunteers have completed 46,000 hours of service and have contributed $117,571 in monetary donations to partner organizations.

To learn more, visit or join MCCC’s community service conversation on Twitter using #ThinkBigService.

~ by Alana J. Mauger

TD Bank Supports Gateway to College Program

 by Diane VanDyke

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, recently donated $65,000 through the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program to support the Gateway to College program at Montgomery County Community College , as part of the bank’s commitment to giving back to the community.

Gateway to College is a national initiative that helps students who are at risk of not completing or have disengaged from their high school education. Through the program, students complete the requirements to earn their high school diplomas while earning college credits at MCCC.

“Montgomery County Community College is committed to helping students succeed, and the Gateway to College program provides students with a supportive learning environment where they can thrive,” said College President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “We greatly appreciate TD Bank’s generous investment to assist our students and this vital program, as well as the donations we received from The Maguire Foundation, PECO and Waste Management.”

The donation will be used for operational support for the Gateway program. Regional Vice President for TD Bank Geoffrey Brandon attended the graduation ceremony, where he presented the ceremonial check to the students and director of the program, Keima Sheriff.

“This program gives young people who may have gone off course, a second chance,” said Geoffrey D. Brandon, Regional Vice President, TD Bank. “We are extremely proud to support an organization that strives to improve the quality of life for our community and provides the tools necessary to achieve success.”

In addition, The Maguire Foundation has provided $30,000 for student scholarships. These funds will be used to provide support to students from Pottstown and Norristown school districts and will target students who will graduate with a high school diploma in one year. These students will have the opportunity to compete for Maguire Scholarships to continue their education at Montgomery County Community College and into other participating colleges

Earlier in 2014, PECO donated $10,000 through the EITC program to assist students with these expenses for the 2014-15 school year. Similarly, in 2013, Waste Management donated $5,000 through EITC to cover these expenses for students in the prior school year.

Montgomery County Community College is one of only 43 colleges in the country and only the second college in Pennsylvania selected to participate in the Gateway to College National Network. Seventeen school districts and the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board currently partner with MCCC and refer students for the program, which is held at campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown. Fifty-eight students were enrolled in the fall 2014 semester, and 11 students graduated with their high school diplomas on Dec. 19.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development approved MCCC’s Gateway Program as an innovative educational program that is eligible to receive funding through EITC. State-approved businesses are eligible for tax credits when they make donations through EITC.

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, recently donated $65,000 through the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit program to support the Gateway to College program at Montgomery County Community College. From left: Kathrine Swanson, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management; Paige Carlson-Heim, TD Bank Community Development Group Manager; Laura Krueger, Gateway to College Valedictorian; Robin Garis, TD Bank Retail Market Manager, Montgomery Region; Geoffrey Brandon, SVP, Regional Vice President, TD Bank; David Rink, TD Bank Store Manager, Whitpain Store; Karen A. Stout, President; Thomas Rosa, Gateway to College Transition student speaker; and Keima Sheriff, Gateway to College Director. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, recently donated $65,000 through the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit program to support the Gateway to College program at Montgomery County Community College. From left: Kathrine Swanson, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management; Paige Carlson-Heim, TD Bank Community Development Group Manager; Laura Krueger, Gateway to College Valedictorian; Robin Garis, TD Bank Retail Market Manager, Montgomery Region; Geoffrey Brandon, SVP, Regional Vice President, TD Bank; David Rink, TD Bank Store Manager, Whitpain Store; Karen A. Stout, President; Thomas Rosa, Gateway to College Transition student speaker; and Keima Sheriff, Gateway to College Director. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Shuttle Service Expands, Includes Ambler SEPTA & Culinary Arts Institute

by Diane VanDyke

The College's Campus Shuttle at the Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

The College’s Campus Shuttle at the Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) will expand its transportation shuttle program to include a pilot that runs from the SEPTA station in Ambler to its Central Campus in Blue Bell and its Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) in Lansdale starting on Jan. 21, 2015, the first day of the College’s spring semester.

The new shuttle will depart from the SEPTA station, 35 W. Butler Ave., Ambler, at 6:15 a.m., Monday through Friday. The shuttle first will stop at Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, and then travel to the CAI, 1400 Forty Foot Rd., Lansdale. The bus will then return to Central Campus before going back to SEPTA’s Ambler station.

Throughout the day from Monday through Friday, the 14-passenger shuttle will continue making trips among these three locations and in coordination with the classes offered at the CAI. The last stop at SEPTA’s Ambler station will be at 6:10 p.m., except for Friday when the last stop is at 4 p.m. For more information about the shuttle schedule and to make reservations, visit

The shuttle is wheelchair accessible and is free for newly enrolled and current students during the spring semester pilot. Reservations are recommended, particularly during peak runs. Students will be required to present a valid student ID and sign in before they board the vehicle.

Since 2010, the College has provided shuttle service between Central and West campuses, allowing students to take advantage of courses offered at both campuses to complete their program requirements. This existing service will continue and enable students at West Campus to take the shuttle to Central and then to CAI. The new pilot will expand the existing shuttle service to CAI to five days a week, since it was previously available only Monday through Wednesday, and add the Ambler stop.

The College’s students, faculty and staff can register for the shuttle here.

Montgomery County Community College’s transportation shuttle program is managed by the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVF) in coordination with TransNet Suburban Transit Network, Inc. The College will assess the passenger usage of the pilot program at the end of the spring semester for future planning.

Transportation alternatives, like the shuttle program, are part of the College’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Montgomery is a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and is a two-time recipient of Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Award. To learn more, visit

Student Gina Villaloz is a Coca-Cola ‘Leader of Promise Scholar’

by Nerée Aron-Sando

Gina Villaloz Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Gina Villaloz
Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Gina Villaloz, 29, chose Montgomery County Community College because it was a perfect fit with her life, not necessarily with her budget. Since she is not a county resident, tuition was double the cost. She thought it was worth it.

“The quality of education I receive is extremely important to me even if that means I have to pay extra. I heard so many good things about the College. After taking the tour, I knew it was the perfect fit for me. A bonus was the beautiful scenery I get to see every time I walk on campus,” Villaloz said in an email interview.

Villaloz was selected to receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society as a 2014 Coca-Cola Leader of Promise Scholar. The Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program provides new Phi Theta Kappa members with financial resources to help defray educational expenses while they are enrolled in associate degree programs.

“Grants have helped greatly! The 2014 Coca Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar scholarship is the first one I have received so far, and it has truly been a blessing. This recognition means everything to my family and me,” Villaloz said. “I am still kind of in shock that I was selected. I know how competitive the scholarship process was. Words cannot express my gratitude. And the best part, my son was so excited to see my name posted on the Phi Theta Kappa website as a recipient. He was just as proud of me as I am of him. As a mother/parent, there is no better feeling than leading by example.”

One example of her leadership is her determination to succeed when she might have been pigeonholed as someone with little potential.

“What’s remarkable about me is that I overcame the stereotype of being a teen mom. I graduated from high school with the best grades of all my high school years, while statistics show more than 50 percent of teen moms drop out. I attended a technical school about a year after high school while working at a local Staples. I am now a mother and a college student working full-time and pursing a higher education.”

While full-time motherhood and full-time work make it difficult for Villaloz to do everything she needs and wants to do, the ability to take courses online has helped.

“A challenge for me has been finding the time to get everything done in the specified time frame,” she said. Balancing work, school, and everything my son’s schedule entails can be tough, but I’ve managed to make it work. Time management and sacrifice play key roles in helping me overcome those tough times.”

She works full time during the day and most College activities take place mostly during the day, she said. “However, I recently became a member of SPARK (Single Parents Achieving and Raising Kids). And it was truly an honor to be a member of Phi Theta Kappa, such an elite organization and community.”

On graduating with her associate’s degree from Montgomery County Community College, Villaloz hopes to transfer to Chestnut Hill to earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

“My ultimate passion is to help others and make a difference any way I can. I aspire to become a juvenile probation officer in Philadelphia and to bring my skills and education into the investigative field one day. I love the research and ‘problem-solving’ aspect of the Criminal Justice field.”

It can be no surprise, then, that one of the most important experiences Villaloz has had at the College was a field trip. “I had the opportunity to sit in on court proceedings for Behavioral Health Court and to take a tour of the Montgomery County Correctional Facility,” she said.

Ultimately, Villaloz would like to become a paralegal.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Miss., is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, plus Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, Peru, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. Nearly 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 132,000 students inducted annually.

Largest Cohort Graduates from ‘POWER Program’

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College celebrated the journey of 36 individuals who successfully completed the fall session of its innovative Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) Program on Dec. 4 during a ceremony at the Central Campus in Blue Bell. The fall 2014 cohort is the largest class since the program’s inception.

The POWER Program helps individuals in mental health recovery to successfully develop and reach their education and career goals through a two-credit college course that focuses on time management, basic computer skills, study skills, public speaking, college success skills, career assessment, resume writing and professionalism.

For the graduates, the POWER Program gives them the confidence and skills they need to take the next steps in their lives. Several participants reflected on their journeys during the ceremony.

“After my first arrest, it became apparent I was trapped in the system,” said Ian Bullock, who aspires to work as a drug and alcohol counselor. “Now, I am clean from drugs, doing well in school, and recently started a job that I love. I learned from my mistakes. I love this program and everyone involved.”

As part of the ceremony, 11 individuals were recognized for their achievements through the POWER Plus Program. These are former POWER participants who are now attending college classes or are currently employed as a result of completing the program. For the first time, POWER Plus offered two classes during the fall semester: POWER Employment Plus and POWER Education Plus. Many students choose to participate in both.

Student Gail Tinneny participated in both POWER Employment Plus and POWER Education Plus while enrolled in the College’s Human Services program.

“The POWER Program boosted my confidence and helped me and my boys get in the right path in life,” she shared.

POWER Community Liaison Lori Schreiber presented a POWER Advocate Award to Eric Goldstein, who is retiring from his post as Administrator for the Montgomery County Office of Behavioral Health.

“Eric has been our biggest supporter since we started this program in 2006,” said Schreiber, noting that Goldstein was an early advocate that individuals in mental health recovery can be successful students and employees, and not just patients.

Accepting the award, Goldstein explained, “the POWER Program is a collective dream—that you, as a citizen of Montgomery County, regardless of diagnosis, have an opportunity to go to college, make friends, and be part of a group.”

The College’s POWER team consists of Associate Professor of Human Services and Program Director Diane Harr; Program Coordinator/Advisor Lisa Barbiero; Community Liaison/Advisor Lori Schreiber; Employment Coordinator Tarsha Scovens; Faculty Byron Goldstein; Peer Mentor George Rohde; Administrative Coordinator Dianne Johnson; and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

Montgomery County Community College and the Office of Montgomery County Behavioral Health/Development Disabilities provide funding for POWER and POWER Plus Programs, which also receive support from the Huston Foundation, Patricia Kind Foundation, the OddFellows of Philadelphia and other private foundations. However, the programs are in need of funding to continue next year.

Individuals interested in the POWER program may obtain a referral from their mental health or school provider or may self-refer. For more information, contact Lori Schreiber at 215-461-1151 or or Lisa Barbiero at 215-641-6425 or

POWER and POWER Plus Program participants at the Dec. 4 graduation ceremony.  Photo by Sandi Yanisko

POWER and POWER Plus Program participants at the Dec. 4 graduation ceremony. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

White House Publishes Student Retention & Completion Progress

by Denise Portner

White House logo copyThe progress that Montgomery County Community College has made in student retention and completion as part of its participation in an elite group of thought leaders in education is documented in a 2014 report presented during a presidential summit at the White House on Dec. 4. The progress report is a follow-up on commitments made at the Jan. 16, 2014 College Opportunity Day of Action, designed to expand college opportunity for all students.

“We are proud of the progress made this year, and we’ll build on that momentum in 2015 to continue improving college access for low-income and disadvantaged students,” said Montgomery President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “Montgomery County Community College’s participation in these national conversations underscores our commitment to systematic improvements in the areas of access and completion that anchor our work as an Achieving the Dream Leader College.”

The national dialogue on college readiness 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.

Through Dr. Stout’s participation in the White House Summit, the College has focused on three specific initiatives aimed at 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.

All three programs are part of the College’s  Student Success Initiative, which works to expand access to higher education and increase student success through innovative process improvements and support strategies that reduce the barriers for students to complete their education. In 2011, Montgomery was designated 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, the College earned the prestigious Leah Meyer Austin Award from Achieving the Dream for its continued improvement of student access and success.

The White House published the following progress report on Montgomery County Community College’s initiatives:

Montgomery County Community College (Montgomery County, PA)

College Opportunity Commitment: Montgomery County Community College committed to help low-income students successfully complete a certificate or degree at the College. First, to improve student retention and completion, the College reviewed and then redesigned the student entry and advising process. The technology integration included four components: early alert, a self-service student appointment scheduling, student academic planning, and student/faculty dashboards that support student academic planning and advising.

Second, the College is developing “New Literacy” modules designed to support student success in three areas: financial, digital, and civic literacy. The initiative is supported through the EDUCAUSE Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) Breakthrough Models Incubator (BMI13).

The third initiative, the Minority Student Mentoring program, provides each participant with a personal mentor. College faculty, administrators, and staff volunteer are mentors that support and guide their mentee throughout their College engagement. Additionally, this cohort of students receives support from the Office of Minority Student Mentoring including personal development workshops, academic advisement, and leadership development.

Progress Made: In spring 2014, the College implemented student self-service appointment scheduling and piloted a student early alert system. The early alert system launch resulted in 93% faculty participation compared to an average 71% participation in previous semesters. As of fall 2014, the early alert system has been fully implemented, with all faculty encouraged to send student alerts as needed. Many faculty are also using the early alert system to send kudos to students.

Additionally, all new fall 2014 full-time students will be meeting with their academic advisors to develop their student educational plan. Currently, the College is working on designing dashboards that include data on educational planning, demographics, and course participation.

Over the past year, the College has developed and implemented an online resource that supports financial literacy, a social media campaign to support the Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) and a series of 30 second information videos on various financial literacy/services topics. The online resource created, Montco Money Matters, is open source and available through Blackboard CourseSites.

In addition, in May 2014, the College was awarded an additional NGLC BMI13 grant to further develop financial, civic, and digital literacy online resources. Early results of this investment have shown a decrease in the number of students cancelled for non-payment. Finally, over the past year, students who participated in the Minority Student Mentoring program persisted at a rate higher than non-participants (73% compared to 66%) and 25 students graduated.

Anniversary Event Honors 50 Exceptional Alumni, Launches $9 Million Fundraising Campaign

by Diane VanDyke

In celebration of its 50-year milestone, Montgomery County Community College honored 50 exceptional alumni and launched a comprehensive fundraising campaign to raise $9 million for student scholarships during a special award ceremony on Nov. 14.

View the Event Program

“Our alumni are a reflection of the excellent work of our dedicated faculty and the high quality of our programs,” said President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “Many of our alumni have taken non-traditional paths to their careers, but each of them is an inspirational success story that exemplifies persistence and determination. The vast majority of them choose to live and work in Montgomery County, and they advance our regional economy as visionary leaders, innovators and creative decision makers in the workforce.”

Since 1964, Montgomery County Community College has opened the doors of education to students from all walks and stages of life andsupported them on a path to success and achievement. More than 55,000 of the College’s alumni have gone on to higher education and/or pursued careers in a variety of professions from attorney to artist, cardio perfusionist, business leader, architect, judge, Major League umpire and others.

One of the many notable alumni is Board of Trustees Chair Michael D’Aniello (1976), an attorney with law offices in Norristown. “The College gave me an opportunity I otherwise wouldn’t have had,” says D’Aniello, who has served on the Board since 2001 and as Board Chair since 2011. “The reason I’m here is to give back by supporting the College’s students.  MCCC is an incredible asset to our community.”

To ensure that future students continue to have these opportunities, Montgomery County Community College set the bar high with a goal of $9 million for its first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign for student scholarships. The campaign has been in a “quiet” fundraising phase for the first 18 months, during which time the College’s Foundation Board and Futures Rising Campaign committees raised $6 million.

Montgomery County Community College's Foundation announced its comprehensive fundraising campaign to raise $9 million for student scholarships. MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout and (from left) student Jeremiah Garcia, alumnus Antonio Marrero, student Theresa Dech and student Trudy Jefferson share the moment on stage during the announcement that $6 million has been raised during the first phase of the campaign. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College’s Foundation announced its comprehensive fundraising campaign to raise $9 million for student scholarships. MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout and (from left) student Jeremiah Garcia, alumnus Antonio Marrero, student Theresa Dech and student Trudy Jefferson share the moment on stage during the announcement that $6 million has been raised during the first phase of the campaign. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

“The scholarships created through this campaign address critical funding gaps that our students cannot fill by themselves,” said Stout to a full auditorium of more than 350 attendees. “Almost 90 percent of our students are already working, and 60 percent are supporting families. Scholarships created through this campaign can open doors for 500 additional students every year.”

Scholarships provided the entryway for many of the College’s alumni, including science teacher Peter Grove (1974), whose life was transformed when he earned his associate’s degree  on a full scholarship. He then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and has taught science classes for 27 years, transforming the lives of his students at Friends’ Central Lower School in Wynnewood.

As part of the anniversary program, the College presented the President’s Award to the Pennsylvania legislative delegation and Montgomery County Commissioners, whose actions honor the spirit of the Community College Act and support the belief that the College serves as a vital stepping stone to economic well-being. Their support has enabled the development of state-of-the art facilities at two campuses, the Culinary Arts Institute, a Municipal Police Academy and the University Center, where students can pursue bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees with seven regional colleges and universities.

With these facilities and a future Health Sciences Center renovation, Montgomery County Community College provides high-quality education in relevant programs that paves the way for transfer to four-year institutions or employment as dental hygienists, nurses, police officers, radiologists and other high-demand professional careers. Today, many students choose Montgomery County Community College as a way to minimize student loan debt, as they earn their baccalaureate degrees.

For Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Vereb (1986), the College allowed him to follow his passion for law enforcement. “MCCC helped me to get an affordable education and my first job as a police officer,” says one of the youngest members to be elected to the Pennsylvania House leadership. “MCCC is economical, convenient and second to none academically.”

While some students know their direction, others find it during their College experience, as was the case for Fulbright Scholar Michael Pflueger (2007), who recently completed a year teaching in Durban, South Africa, as part of the federal program. According to Pflueger, “MCCC was where I got the vision of what I wanted to do. It’s where I found my focus.”

For Nicola Manning-Davenport (2007), Montgomery County Community College was the place where she turned her life around. Starting as a single mom, she enrolled in a computer class, and then persisted until she earned her associate’s degree and a full scholarship to Bucknell University, as part of Bucknell’s Community College Scholars Program. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Economics, she was hired as a Pennsylvania Information Management System Client Support Specialist at the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit. Now, after completing her master’s degree, she is thinking about pursuing her doctorate. “I was nurtured at MCCC, and it’s where I became a lifelong learner,” she says.

Every year, the College offers these opportunities and more to the 25,000 students enrolled in its degree and certificate programs. However, last year students’ unmet needs added up to almost $24 million and resulted in oppressive loans or as a complete barrier to enrollment.

“Montgomery County Community College serves as a vital gateway to opportunity and success,” Stout said. “Through private philanthropic investment, we can ensure the gateway remains accessible for all students today and for future generations. Investing in an MCCC education is life-transforming for students, their families, our community and the region.”

For more information about the College’s 50th  anniversary, visit

Montgomery County Community College's Fabulous 50 alumni. Photo by Anita Jerva

Montgomery County Community College’s Fabulous 50 alumni. Photo by Anita Jerva

Cadets Graduate from Municipal Police Academy

by Neree Aron-Sando

Class 1402 Lt. Brett Burns is congratulated by Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Vicki Bastecki-Perez, Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr., and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

Class 1402 Lt. Brett Burns is congratulated by Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Vicki Bastecki-Perez, Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr., and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

“This is not a one-time process,” said Municipal Police Academy Director Frank Williar, welcoming cadets and their families to the graduation of Class 1402 on Nov. 12 in the Montgomery County Community College Science Center Theater. “We have an obligation to assist each other…to provide resources to each other. People who leave here come back.

Moments before, after 19 cadets filed on stage with military precision, Horsham Township Police Officer Kate Ryan came back to the academy from which she graduated with Class 1304 to introduce Williar, who in turn introduced the evening’s special guests: Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor Jr.; Dr. Aaron Shatzman,  dean of Social Sciences; Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, vice president of academic affairs and provost; Jesse Stemple, first deputy director Montgomery County Department of Public Safety; East Norriton Police Chief Karyl Kates; East Norriton Police Lt. Brandon Pasquale; Lower Merion Police Superintendent Michael McGrath; North Coventry Police Chief Robert Schurr, Officers Andrew Thiel and Igor Parfeniouk, and Sgt. Rob Malason; and Springfield Police Chief Michael Pitkow.

Cadet SSgt. Anastasios Apostolidis called for a moment of silence for those in uniform, both military and law enforcement, who gave their lives in the line of duty.

North Coventry Police Officer Andrew Thiel, commander of Class 1302, came back to introduce Keynote speaker Whitemarsh Township Police Lt. Francis “Fran” Wheatley, who congratulated the cadets on enduring a long and demanding course of studies.

“As a police officer, you will be constantly under intense scrutiny, both on and off duty,” Wheatley warned. “You have chosen a career and will take an oath to lead by example for the rest of your lives.” He urged the cadets never to forget the discipline they learned at the academy. “You should embrace every opportunity to be the counselor, the social worker, the help desk . . . the life-saver” roles beyond merely catching the bad guys that make the world a better place. “We are the peacekeepers who make sure that our communities are safe.”

Sean Maguire,was valedictorian of Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Sean Maguire,was valedictorian of Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Class Valedictorian Cadet Cpl. Sean Maguire of Jeffersonville told his classmates that “we step out of our secular lives into a life of service. We are the next generation of law enforcement, and we are strong.”

Upper Darby Township Police Officer Laina Stevens, commander of Class 1304 and the winner of the 2012-2014 Outstanding Academy Cadet award, introduced Castor, who returns to address the graduating classes every chance he gets. Police officers, he told the cadets “are not just people. They are symbols of a free society. If you attack one of them, you are attacking all of us. You cannot enjoy any of the things you love to do if you are afraid. And that is not the promise of America.”

Class 1402 Cadet Lt. Brett Burns was honored for his leadership. “Brett stamped his personality on the class,” Williar said. “You left some big shoes to fill.”

Burns presented the Director’s Spirit of Distinction Award to Cadet Cpl. Ryan Cifelli of Chalfont, and congratulated Cadet Joseph “Joey” Metzinger on his acceptance to the Pennsylvania State Police Academy.

Cadet David Arredondo of Stockton, Calif., won the James R. Miller Marksmanship Award in memory of the Upper Dublin police sergeant who died in a motor vehicle accident in the line of duty in 2004.

Robin Pritchett introduced the second annual Charles O. “Chip” Pritchett Exceptional Police Academy Instructor of the Year Award, named in honor of her husband, an East Norriton police officer and Municipal Police Academy deputy director who died in October 2013, and read the name of the second recipient: North Coventry Police Chief Robert A. Schurr.

“We miss him every day,” Schurr said, of Pritchett. “I’m humbled. And thank you.”

Dr. Bastecki-Perez conferred diplomas on Lt. Brett Burns, Abington; SSgt. Anastasio Apostolidis, Abington; Sgt. Joseph Metzinger, Rockledge; Sgt. Dylan Royce, Schwenksville; Cpl. Kelly Adams, Newtown; Cpl. Josué Gerena, Philadelphia; Cpl. Sean Maguire, Jeffersonville; Cpl. Branden Sisca, Trappe; Cadet David Arredondo, Stockton, Calif.; Cadet Ryan Cifelli, Chalfont; Cadet John Davis, Douglassville; Cadet Colleen Harner, Glenside; Cadet Marc Laing, Trappe; Cadet Christopher Miller, Gilbertsville; Cadet Aamir Raza, Warrington; Cadet Kevin Siebert, Oreland; Cadet John Smart, Bensalem; Cadet Steffy Shane, Perkiomenville; and Cadet Kyle Williamson, Montgomeryville.

No doubt, many of the graduates will return to speak at future graduations and to assist their successors.

Lt. Burns passed the torch to his own successor, Lt. Brian Manion, Class 1404, completing the continuity inherent in the ceremony. Manion’s classmates provided an honor guard throughout the graduation.

Cadets from class 1402 attended the academy full time, Monday through Friday, for 22 weeks, alternating studies with physical conditioning, as Maguire put it, “running and more running.”

Montgomery County Community College, in conjunction with the state training commission, operates the Municipal Police Academy at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, 1175 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken.

The academy has been the training ground for approximately 3,500 cadets with a consistent graduation rate of more than 90 percent. The 800-hour curriculum allows successful students to articulate up to 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice Studies.

Whitemarsh Township Police Lt. Francis “Fran” Wheatley gave the keynote address to cadets from Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Whitemarsh Township Police Lt. Francis “Fran” Wheatley gave the keynote address to cadets from Class 1402. Photo by Matt Carlin

Mustangs Soccer Players Earn All Region Honors

by Bob Kent

Marisa Christensen (left); Kristine Wackes (right)

Marisa Christensen (left); Kristine Wackes (right)

Forwards Marisa Christensen and Kristine Wackes earned All Region recognition for their efforts in the Fall 2014 season.

Christensen was named to the 2014 Women’s Soccer Division III All Region XIX First Team. In fact, she was the lone Pennsylvania school representative on the First Team.

“It was the most exciting feeling. I was in shock when Coach (Francine Roseman) called me,” said Christensen, who graduated in June from North Penn High School, where she played soccer for three years. “I gave my all every game and tried to be an impact player; but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaches.”

Christensen, who grew up on the soccer fields while playing for her Ukrainian Nationals club team, credited the Mustangs’ men’s soccer team with whom she practiced with while the women’s team was still being assembled.

Meanwhile, the honor was totally unexpected for Wackes, the only Pennsylvania school representative on the All Region XIX Third Team.

“When Coach Francine called me, I was very surprised … pleasantly surprised,” said Wackes, a 2013 graduate of Hatboro-Horsham High School.

The honor was extra special because before walking on the soccer fields at Montgomery County Community College, Wackes had not played soccer since eighth grade.

“Thankfully I run and exercise and stay very active, so jumping back into it was very easy for me,” Wackes said.

Christensen and Wackes, along with Julie Primavera, often provided the offensive spark for a Mustangs team which struggled to score goals. The pair credited their teammates for never giving up during a season in which the team dealt with a shortage of players due in part to injuries, and failed to secure a win.

“Both played with passion and really gave their all each game,” Coach Francine Roseman said.

Wackes, along with Christensen, look forward to bigger and better things next season.

“I am unbelieveably honored and blessed to be playing the game I love every day,” Christensen said.

As students at Montgomery County Community College, both young women are enrolled in the the Exercise Science and Wellness program.

Mustangs Soccer Players Earn First Team All-Conference Accolades

by Bob Kent

Tenzin Wangyal (left); Wilson Gonzalez (right)

Tenzin Wangyal (left); Wilson Gonzalez (right)

Mustangs men’s soccer players Wilson Gonzalez and Tenzin Wangyal have been named First Team All-EPAC.

The pair of midfielders was instrumental in securing key wins for head coach Obed Arango’s squad during an 8-4-1 season.

“The honor is well deserved,” said Arango. “Both players have a tremendous work ethic and great vision.”

A resident of Oreland, Pa., Wangyal played four years of soccer at Springfield High School. He moved to the United States with his family in 2008 from India and has certainly found a home with the Mustangs.

“Obviously, it’s a great honor to be included in the all-conference team,” said Wangyal. “But I want to give a big shout-out to my teammates and my coaches, because without them it wouldn’t have been possible.”

Gonzalez echoed those same sentiments, noting that while being named all-conference was a personal goal, his “main goal entering the season was to see the team do well.”

Gonzalez found his stride in the Sept. 20 game at CCP, where he posted a hat trick in an 8-0 shutout win. Wangyal, meanwhile, was a steady presence as a defensive midfielder. On the field the two developed some great chemistry.

“Tenzin’s a very good player who I clicked with since the beginning of season,” said Gonzalez, a graduate of Souderton Area High School. “He’s a very technical and very skilled player.”

As students at Montgomery County Community College, both are carving out their career paths.

Gonzalez is enrolled in the the Exercise Science and Wellness program as he plans to pursue a career as a physical therapist. He hopes to eventually transfer to Temple University, University of Pittsburgh or West Chester University. Wangyal is an Engineering major.

Medical Billing and Coding Class Opens Door to Rewarding Career

by Alana J. Mauger

Holly Gately, Audubon, found a new career—one that she’s “excited” about—in the growing field of medical billing and coding thanks to Montgomery County Community College.

“I was a 30-something year old mother whose children were all in school for the first time. I had no career or post-secondary education,” shared Gately, who, like many adult students, was nervous about going back to school.

“I talked about it with my family and decided to try this new career. I registered for class and got my books. My life was changed. This was a path I could get excited about,” she said.

The College’s Medical Billing and Coding course—funded in part by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and offered through the Commonwealth’s JobTrakPA program—is designed for those who want to begin medical billing and coding careers or prepare for certification examinations. The course teaches students the principles of medical coding using the health industry coding manuals of CPT, ICD-9 and ICD-10 and HCPCS.

“It wasn’t always easy to get all the homework and studying done with family [obligations], but I thrived. I excelled in the course and was given the opportunity to extern for a billing company,” said Gately, who completed the course among the top in her class.

Gately went on to pass the rigorous Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Exam on her first try, and she is currently employed in a billing and coding position with an ophthalmology practice.

“I am so glad that I decided to take a chance on a new path. I have a new career, self confidence, amazing people that I now call friends, and, most of all, I have pride in knowing that I accomplished something big and wonderful,” she said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook cites that careers in medical records and health information technology are expected to grow by 22 percent through 2022—11 percent higher than the average occupation growth rate.

Registration is going on now for the next Medical Building and Coding cohort at MCCC. The class will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-10 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (with a one hour break for lunch) starting Dec. 2 and running through Feb. 17 at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Tuition is $1,350.

For more information about JobTrakPA programs at Montgomery County Community College, visit, call the JobTrakPA hotline at 215-461-1468 or email

Culinary Arts Institute Opens ‘Forty Foot Café

by Diane VanDyke

Montgomery County Community College celebrated the launch of its newest entrepreneurial initiative today with a ribbon cutting ceremony for a retail bakery café at its Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) in Towamencin Township.

Opening its doors to the community next Wednesday, Oct. 15, Forty Foot Café will offer assorted baked goods, coffee, sandwiches and other items prepared and sold by CAI students. Revenue from the sales will support the Culinary Arts programs, and tips will help students pay for competition and event fees, aprons and other program-related items. The café will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8:30-11:30 a.m., with easy access and convenient parking from Forty Foot Road.

“The bakery café provides a hands-on opportunity for students to learn the soft skills of operating a business, including how to handle customers and any issues that may arise, like running out coffee,” CAI Director Francine Marz told the roomful of attendees who gathered for the ceremony. “The students operating the café are part of our new course, Retails Operations I, in which students learn these invaluable customer service skills, along with how to produce culinary items and baked goods on a large scale.”

College President Karen A. Stout praised the partnerships that facilitated CAI’s construction and growth.

“Vision and collaboration are necessary for a new business endeavor to prosper, and that is what we see at work here today,” she said. “This state-of-the-art facility for our culinary program was made possible by a public-private partnership with Towamencin Township and Philadelphia Suburban Development Corporation.

“Our partners also include benefactors like Alma Jacobs, emeritus member of our Foundation Board of Directors and longtime supporter of the College, who invest in our students by providing scholarships,” Stout continued. “And our CAI team of instructors and administrators, who develop and implement programs that will provide our students with a well-developed spectrum of skills to succeed.”

The CAI’s future plans call for the opening of a restaurant bistro in the spring to coincide with the Retails Operations II and Quantitative Food courses that will be offered. Like the café, the bistro will feature rotating menu options prepared by the students in their courses.

For second-year culinary student Jennifer Rejniak, 38, of Glenside, the CAI and the J. Alexander and Alma Jacobs’ culinary scholarship enabled her to make a life-changing career decision. Rejniak worked as a park ranger for 10 years when she was seriously injured in a car accident and was advised not to return to that type of physically demanding work. So instead, she pursued her passion for cooking.

“It was a tough struggle to get here, but meeting my fellow classmates and hearing their hopes, fears and dreams solidified everything that I was feeling. . . Being a part of the inaugural class to step foot inside this beautiful facility has opened my eyes to the fact that I am part of something very special,” she said.

The name of the new retail bakery, Forty Foot Café, was the result of a contest and was submitted by Baking and Pastry Arts student Shannon Booker. As a result of her winning entry, she received a certificate and VIP luncheon for her and five guests.

Dean of Business & Entrepreneurial Initiatives/Strategic Advisor to the President Philip Needles, Culinary Arts Institute Director Chef Francine Marz, College President Karen A. Stout, College Board of Trustees Chairperson Michael D’Aniello and Culinary Arts Student Jennifer Rejniak cut the ceremonial ribbon for the opening of the Culinary Arts Institute’s new retail bakery café, Forty Foot Café. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Dean of Business & Entrepreneurial Initiatives/Strategic Advisor to the President Philip Needles, Culinary Arts Institute Director Chef Francine Marz, College President Karen A. Stout, College Board of Trustees Chairperson Michael D’Aniello and Culinary Arts Student Jennifer Rejniak cut the ceremonial ribbon for the opening of the Culinary Arts Institute’s new retail bakery café, Forty Foot Café. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Revisions to Education Curriculum Completed

by Alana J. Mauger

From pre-k to high school, teachers play an integral role in shaping students’ lives. And for decades, Montgomery County Community College’s Education programs have helped prepare teachers for the task. That preparation starts with an innovative curriculum that keeps pace with industry trends and transfer standards.

The College completed a multi-phase redesign of its Education programs in September, when the College’s Board of Trustees approved changes to the Secondary Education Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree program. That program completes the College’s redesigned Education portfolio, which also includes Education in the Early Years: Birth Through Grade Four A.A. and Education in the Middle Years: Grades Four through Eight A.A., approved in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

The Secondary Education A.A. program prepares students for transfer and ultimately certification to teach grades seven through 12. The program is divided into three distinct areas: liberal arts courses, professional education courses, and specific subject matter courses.

The College’s Education in the Early Years A.A. program, accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, prepares graduates for professional opportunities as teachers in early childhood settings and/or enables them to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree and teach elementary school up to grade four. The curriculum aligns with the statewide requirements for Early Childhood programs that ensure transfer to any of the fourteen universities in the state system of higher education.

Students enrolled in Education in the Middle Years A.A. program are required to select two areas of concentration, such as science and math, reading/language arts and social studies, or a similar combination (depending on the transfer institution). Graduates are prepared to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree and receive a Middle Years certification.

All three programs align with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) certification requirements, for which students must complete nine credits of special education courses and a three-credit course for teaching English language learners. Students must also take MCCC’s Introduction to Education course (EDU 100), which allows students to observe different classrooms at different grade levels and to learn about certification options and requirements, as well as Public Speaking (SPC 120) for Secondary and Teaching with Technology (EDU 120) for Middle Years and Secondary.

The Education program modifications also ensure that MCCC students can transfer seamlessly in to programs at four-year colleges and universities. In fact, the College worked closely with regional institutions to ensure that  students will transfer as juniors, having already fulfilled the schools’ first and second year requirements as long as they earn passing scores on the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) exams.

Visit the College’s Education webpage online to learn more.

Focus on Student Learning Earns College Recertification From Achieving the Dream

by Alana J. Mauger

AtD logoMontgomery County Community College 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, the College 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, the College’s 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, 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 the College, 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, the College’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 the College 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.

Montgomery 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 or its Think Success blog at To learn more about the work of Achieving the Dream, visit

Students Visit Harrisburg for Legislator Shadowing Program

by Diane VanDyke

As part of a new pilot program, four Montgomery County Community College  female students recently spent a day with women members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Harrisburg to explore careers in public service.

Last spring, the College hosted a legislative panel discussion, which was facilitated by Dr. Karen Stout, President, and featured Pennsylvania Representatives Madeline Dean, Kate Harper and Marcy Toepel, who shared their experiences as female members of the state Legislature. As a result of the discussion, the idea of a Legislator Shadowing Program was developed with a focus on introducing female students to career options in government.

Nationwide, only 1,784 women, or approximately 24.2 percent, serve in 50 state legislatures in 2014, according to data reported on the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website. In Pennsylvania, there are 45 women, or about 17.8 percent, who serve in the legislature.

For the Legislator Shadowing Pilot, students Danielle Leonhardt and Gabrielle Scotti, both of Lansdale, Lavinia Soliman of Harleysville and Elizabeth Waddell of West Conshohocken, met with host Representative Marcy Toepel and Representatives Kate Harper, and Mary Jo Daley to learn about their careers, achievements, and experience.

During a roundtable discussion, the students also met with lobbyist Ashley DeMauro, Public Relations Coordinator Abbey Fosnot, Deputy Director Tricia Harris of the Governor’s Office of Public Liaison and Director of Special Events Kelly Fedeli of the Speakers Office, among others. Montgomery County Community College alumnus, Rep. Mike Vereb, who provided the conference room space for the discussions as well as lunch, also spoke to the students.

“The discussion was very informational and empowering,” said Soliman, who graduated from North Penn High School in 2013 and traveled in Europe for a year before starting at the College in August 2014. “They offered great advice about taking risks, pursuing your passion and working hard, which applies to all careers. It’s good to see other community college graduates in successful careers, too. I am so grateful for this opportunity.”

In addition to the discussion, students attended Rep. Harper’s Local Government Committee meeting, observed House and Senate sessions and received a behind-the-scenes tour.

“This was a special opportunity to help the students explore legislative careers by sharing our unique experiences as female legislators, including the work we do in Harrisburg and how past jobs have prepared us for our current positions,” said Representative Marcy Toepel. “Ideally, the shadowing program will add another dimension to what the students have been learning in the classroom.”

The new Legislator Shadowing Pilot is an extension of the Legislator in Residence Program that was started in 2012 by Executive Director of Government Relations and Special Projects Peggy Lee-Clark and Assistant Professor of Political Science Jodi Empol-Schwartz.

For the Legislator in Residence program, members of the Montgomery County State Legislative Delegation and their staffs are invited into Empol-Schwartz’s American National Government and American State and Local Government classes during each semester to provide a firsthand perspective of the concepts students read in their textbooks, as well as their personal experiences.

Prior to the guest lectures, students are required to research the background and positions of each legislator and develop questions for discussion. The program has prompted a number of students to seek internships in legislative offices, one of whom was later hired as staff. The program was expanded this fall to include new topics, and state legislators have been added to an Introduction to Economics class taught by Assistant Professor of Economics Jill Beccaris-Pescatore.

The Legislator Shadowing Program will be an ongoing opportunity for students to personally witness and better understand our state’s legislative process and the leadership roles of public servants. Students are required to submit an application with a brief essay about why they want to attend and how the experience could benefit their future education and career goals.

From left, Representative Marcy Toepel with students Danielle Leonhardt, Lavinia Soliman, Elizabeth Waddell and Gabrielle Scotti and Representative Kate Harper on the floor of the House of Representatives before the session started. Photo by Diane VanDyke

From left, Representative Marcy Toepel with students Danielle Leonhardt, Lavinia Soliman, Elizabeth Waddell and Gabrielle Scotti and Representative Kate Harper on the floor of the House of Representatives before the session started. Photo by Diane VanDyke