Students Graduate High School Through ‘Gateway to College’ Program

Eight students recently graduated from high school through Montgomery County Community College’s Gateway to College program. Pictured are (first row, from left) College President Dr. Karen A. Stout; Gateway Director Keima Sheriff; graduates Ne’Cole Casalena, Erika Knappenberger, Meghan Benson and Rachel Voltz; Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Dr. Kathrine Swanson; (second row, from left) Resource Specialist Lori Davidson; graduates Justin Leamy, Carlas Rich and James Hanible; and Resource Specialist Esau Collins. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Eight students recently graduated from high school through Montgomery County Community College’s Gateway to College program. Pictured are (first row, from left) College President Dr. Karen A. Stout; Gateway Director Keima Sheriff; graduates Ne’Cole Casalena, Erika Knappenberger, Meghan Benson and Rachel Voltz; Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Dr. Kathrine Swanson; (second row, from left) Resource Specialist Lori Davidson; graduates Justin Leamy, Carlas Rich and James Hanible; and Resource Specialist Esau Collins. Photos by Sandi Yanisko

by Alana J. Mauger

Eight students from Montgomery County Community College’s 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, Montgomery 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 Montgomery in the fall.

Ne’Cole Casalena, Phoenixville High School, was selected as valedictorian.

Ne’Cole Casalena, Phoenixville High School, was selected as valedictorian.

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 Montgomery, 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 Montgomery’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.

Fifteen of Montgomery's students were recognized as Gateway Achievers by the Gateway to College National Network.

Fifteen of Montgomery’s students were recognized as Gateway Achievers by the Gateway to College National Network.

The College 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 the College’s Gateway students along with Jelani Crosby, Upper Moreland.

Marcus Gordon, Pottsgrove, and Rachel Voltz, Upper Merion, were recognized as Transitioned (second term) 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 the College’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.

Watch the full graduation and awards ceremony below! Video produced by Matt Porter

Graduates Transfer to Bucknell; Students Become Summer Scholars

by Alana J. Mauger

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

Bucknell Summer Scholars (from left): Brian Richmond, Mary Colleen Watson, Yinquing (Lindsay) Pan, Margaret Crush, and Summer Grenyion-Smith. Jeremy Lowery is not pictured. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Bucknell Summer Scholars (from left): Brian Richmond, Mary Colleen Watson, Yinquing (Lindsay) Pan, Margaret Crush, and Summer Grenyion-Smith. Jeremy Lowery is not pictured. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

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.

Bucknell transfer graduates (from left) Mallory Murphy, Brian Hipwell, Ken Stephon, David Reedel, and Lydia Crush. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Bucknell transfer graduates (from left) Mallory Murphy, Brian Hipwell, Ken Stephon, David Reedel, and Lydia Crush. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

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.

Montgomery and Bucknell alumnus Oscar Beteta. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery and Bucknell alumnus Oscar Beteta. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

During an annual scholarship reception on May 14, Montgomery 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.

Business Students Earn Awards at PBL State Leadership Conference

by Alana J. Mauger

PhiBetalogoMontgomery County Community College’s chapter of Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) earned several awards during competitions at the PBL State Leadership Conference last month in Gettysburg. The winners will compete in the national conference in Nashville, Tenn. in June.

Four MCCC students earned first place awards: Matt Handwerk, Lansdale, in the Accounting Principles competition; Lindsey Montague, Wyncote, and Jacob Robertston, Malvern, in the Business Decision Making competition; and Jessica Sauer, Lansdale, in the Job Interview competition.

Ariel Mookherji, Plymouth Meeting, was honored with the Who’s Who in PBL award for her role as MCCC’s chapter president and as vice president for the State Executive Council for Phi Beta Lambda Pennsylvania. Prior to the conference, MCCC student Kevin Burks, Philadelphia, was selected for the role of Internship Conference Photographer based on a review of his portfolio.

In addition to these individual honors, MCCC’s PBL chapter earned the Spirit Award for its ongoing engagement with the state organization.

During the PBL State Leadership Conference, MCCC’s students competed against chapters from across the state, including four-year institutions such as Temple University, Drexel University and University of Pittsburgh. Along with the competitions, MCCC students participated in workshops and business events during the conference.

Phi Beta Lambda is a student-led, collegiate-level organization of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). For more information, visit fbla-pbl.org.

Computer Science Students Showcase Work During Spring Tech Day

by Alana J. Mauger 

Students enrolled in Associate Professor Kendall Martin’s Computer Science II—Object Oriented Programming (CIS 111b) course at Montgomery County Community College showcased their projects on April 24 at the Central Campus in Blue Bell.

“We want students enrolled in CIS 111 [Computer Science I – Programming/Concept] to see the kinds of projects they can work on if they enroll in the next course,” explained Martin, who organizes these Technology Transfer Days at the end of each semester. “In the intro class, students really learn the basics, but in the CIS 111b course, they get to apply that knowledge and work on collaborative projects like the ones showcased here.”

Among those projects was an MCCC mobile app, developed by students Julian Greenberg, Roberto Zuccarini, Dan Marcoux and Wellington Rodriguez.

“Info about the College is spread everywhere, so we designed a centralized mobile site with information that students care about, such as food service hours, Org Sync [student club portal] and Blackboard,” explained Greenberg, who will be transferring into Penn State Abington’s Information Systems Technology program.

Greenberg is president of the Tech Connect Support Squad, a new student club that provides peer “help desk” support to students at the Central Campus, which enabled him to get real student feedback on his project.

CIS 111b students Dan Marcoux, Wellington Rodriguez and Julian Greenberg showcase their mobile app. Photos by Alana J. Mauger

CIS 111b students Dan Marcoux, Wellington Rodriguez and Julian Greenberg showcase their mobile app. Photos by Alana J. Mauger

Another team, comprised of Robert Vogel, Jonathan Drozd and Kevin Loughlin, developed a real-time text translator to enhance communication for international students. The Android-based app uses a smart phone’s built in camera, Microsoft Translate and Google to provide real-time text translation for a variety of languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Hindi, among others.

Student Zac Chelbi demonstrates a level on The Big Robot Game

Student Zac Chelbi demonstrates a level on The Big Robot Game.

Former CIS 111b student Zac Chelbi returned to this semester’s technology event to showcase The Big Robot Game, which he and his team are developing as part of the College’s Electronic Game and Simulation Design program.

“Players can customize their tanks and environment. We’re still working on adding functionality and on simplifying the process to launch,” said Chelbi, who is transferring to the Art Institute in the fall.

Other students from the class, like Paul Lizeaus, partnered with MCCC’s Engineering program to write code and develop a website for the program’s Quad Forge project.

“The program is open source, so we actually made a change that was later incorporated into the program by the original designer,” shared Lizeaus, who is transferring to West Chester University in the fall.

CIS 111 and 111b are required courses for many of the College’s STEM programs, including Computer Networking, Electronic Game and Simulation Design, Information Technology, Software Engineering and Web Design and Development, among others. To learn more, visit mc3.edu/academics.

Theatre Students use Creative Talents/Skills for Creative MontCo’s Artbox Competition

by Diane VanDyke

Back row, from left:  Steve Buck, Tyler Sanderson, Tim Odom. Front row, from left:  Timothy Gallagher, Matthew Nitchke, Brian Shim and Julia McIntyre. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Back row, from left: Steve Buck, Tyler Sanderson, Tim Odom. Front row, from left: Timothy Gallagher, Matthew Nitchke, Brian Shim and Julia McIntyre. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Students in Montgomery County Community College’s Drama Club and Theatre Arts program recycled defunct musical instruments to decorate a newspaper box on behalf of the Settlement Music School, Willow Grove, for Creative MontCo’s Artbox Competition.

All of the completed boxes will be on display during the Norristown Arts Hill Festival on Saturday, May 3, where they will be judged. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, PECO and the Montgomery County Foundation Inc., Creative MontCo’s contest challenged artists, nonprofits, community organizations, businesses, etc., to redesign a classic newspaper box and turn it into public art.

Several students—Tyler Sanderson of Skippack, Brian Shim of Ambler, Tim Odom of Lansdale, Matthew Nitchke also of Lansdale, Julia McIntyre of Springfield and Steven Buck of Hatfield—under the direction of Theater Instructor Timothy Gallagher, cut, soldered and welded parts of non-usable old instruments. Using epoxy, they attached the parts to the spray-painted newspaper box to create a G clef and musical notes.

“The students used skills they learned in our Theatre Production Workshop to turn a saxophone, trumpet and flute into these shapes,” said Gallagher. “This was a good starter project for them.”

The project also gave the students an opportunity to help the Settlement Music School, a community school that provides the high-quality instruction in music and the related arts to children and adults, regardless of age, background, ability or economic circumstances.

The students’ project is one of 50 Acts of Kindness that is part of the College’s 50th anniversary celebration.  Throughout 2014, MCCC students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters are committed organizing 50 acts of community service – one for every year of the College’s existence. To learn more about the College’s 50th anniversary activities, visit mc3.edu/50.

Hospitality Students Serve the Hungry at MANNA on Main Street

by Nichole Hall

Sixteen Hotel & Restaurant Management students from Montgomery County Community College recently prepared and served dinner at Manna on Main Street (MANNA) to the homeless, as part of a class service learning project.  The project was also part of MCCC’s 50 Acts of Kindness, in celebration of the College’s 50th anniversary.

Located in Lansdale, MANNA is a community outreach organization whose mission is to end hunger in the North Penn region by providing soup kitchens, food pantries, and education programs to its residents.

All 16 students in Instructor James Lynch’s Fundamentals of Special Event Management course were involved in the project; half of the class prepared the food, while the other half served it at MANNA the following day. In the course, Lynch teaches students the set-up protocol for special events in the hospitality industry, as well as the necessary tasks that need to be fulfilled at corporations and conventions.

Upon arriving at MANNA, Operations Manager Scott Lukens prepped the students for service. The students were then assigned to different stations: serving food to the families, working in the kitchen to deliver food, or cleaning the dishes.  Listed on the menu for dinner was turkey breast, steamed broccoli, roasted herbed potatoes, artisan rolls, and garden salads. Chocolate mousse was served for dessert, and residents drank fruit punch, ice-tea, milk, and ice water, with milk being the most popular choice.

As a student service learning project, the purpose of serving dinner at MANNA was to connect what students learned in the classroom to a real-world experience.

“Projects such as this not only increase a student’s knowledge, but also reinforce our College’s commitment to service and the power of volunteerism,” said Lynch.  “These are the key building blocks in creating and growing a supportive and productive community.  The Hospitality Industry is uniquely positioned to do projects like this.  Success in our business is based upon the fundamentals of superior, consistent service—whether in a restaurant, hotel, or in the community.”

One student, Tom Heller, 21, was no stranger to being a server at the event.  The second-year student had previously been a server at Olive Garden and Rendazzo’s Pizzeria.  Heller enjoyed the event and shared his learning experience at MANNA.

“I’ve pretty much just learned that there’s a lot of people in the community and around us that are homeless,” he said. “We learned how [homelessness] was occurring. It’s a rough experience just seeing that and also going back to your house and talking to your family about [it], and also how they’ll react to it,” he said, describing the experience as “heartfelt.”

“It all got to us because once Scott [Lukens] announced that we were students from MCCC, and were making all this dinner and stuff, everyone was clapping and really appreciated the meal that we made for them,” Heller continued.

Lynch stressed the importance of preparing students to be good citizens, as well as successful professionals.

“By having our students actively involved in local hunger-relief activities, we hope that hands-on experiences, like MANNA, gives our students the opportunity to witness first-hand how powerful a gesture of kindness can be in the lives of those less fortunate. We strive to make our students not only successful professionals, but good citizens of their community as well.”

The students’ project at MANNA on Main Street is one of 50 Acts of Kindness as part of the College’s 50th anniversary celebration.  Throughout 2014, MCCC students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters are committed organizing 50 acts of community service – one for every year of the College’s existence. To learn more about the College’s 50th anniversary activities, visit mc3.edu/50.

President Stout Participates in National STEM Leadership Conference

by Diane VanDyke

BLOG KStout2013PhotoMontgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen Stout joined other visionary leaders from business, government and education at the annual U.S. News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference April 23-25 in Washington D.C. to discuss viable solutions for America’s skills and education gap in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Dr. Stout was selected to serve on the panel, “The Community College, Reinvented,” and discussed effective practices used to engage and motivate students in STEM fields. The panel included Dr. Stout; Dr. Bruce H. Leslie, chancellor of Alamo Colleges, San Antonio, Texas; and Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, Florida. They discussed methods to engage and retain students and how community colleges can implement high-impact practices that many four-year colleges use, including offering clearly defined career pathways with a focus on STEM skills and employability.

“Our country’s economy requires an educated, skilled workforce in the STEM career fields, and as a result, we have strengthened our programs and now provide more opportunities to engage students in these areas through hands-on learning experiences and a variety of partnerships,” Dr. Stout said. “It was an honor to join in this conversation and share how Montgomery County Community College is making a positive impact in the STEM fields.”

MCCC’s STEM programs integrate the key areas of experiential learning, professional development, connections with local businesses and academia, and direct access to defined college and career pathways.

In the Engineering program, for example, the College immerses students in a research and development experience with its QuadForge Undergraduate Research Program in which students, using open-source materials, create and develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with onboard Wi Fi and 4G communications, high-definition video recording, embedded electronics with full weatherization and customized mission computers.

The innovative nature of this project increases students’ motivation and participation. Further, the program allows first-year and sophomore students the opportunity to conduct research for real-life applications. Now in its third year, the program draws interest and investment from the Swiss government, private angel investors and corporate partners.

In the area of professional development, MCCC’s educators continually collaborate to develop their curricula, share resources and best practices and learn how to best support each other and students. The College’s streamlined Calculus program is an example of this ongoing teamwork. Using shared information and student data results, the Math department revamped the program to enable students to fulfill the Calculus requirements in two instead of the typical three semesters, allowing students to progress to upper level math and science courses and complete their degrees sooner.

As an ongoing initiative, the College has been building relationships with other STEM partners to provide more opportunities for students. For example, the College is part of the Northeast Biomanufacturing Center and Collaborative (NBC2) that consists of 22 industry partners from nine states and 14 education partners from 10 states. The shared vision for NBC2 is to be a nationally recognized center of excellence that develops a world-class sustainable biomanufacturing workforce to improve the quality of life.

To accomplish this vision, NBC2 supports the local development and growth of biopharmaceutical manufacturing and related industries that use bio-production methods. Many of the graduates of NBC2 are employed by biopharmaceutical companies, such as Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Genzyme Corp. and Lonza Group, to name a few. Additionally, NBC2 has received three National Science Foundation grants in recent years to implement outreach programs and create a biomanufacturing textbook.

One of the ways the College provides direct, clear pathways for graduating students is through its new Drexel University partnership. Starting in fall 2014, students who graduate from MCCC with an associate’s degree may enter into fully aligned degree program with Drexel that is taught at MCCC’s Central Campus in Blue Bell. Programs initially include B.S. in Business Administration with Co-Op; B.S. in Computing and Security Technology; B.S. in Electrical Engineering with Co-Op; B.S. M.S. in Engineering Management with Co-Op; Mechanical B.S. in Engineering with Co-Op; and a hybrid B.S.N. program designed for registered nurses.

Dr. Stout discussed these programs and initiatives, among others, during the panel discussion as viable solutions for engaging and retaining STEM-focused students.

U.S. News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference is a mission-critical event focused on the shortage of science, technology, engineering and math skills in the American workforce. Produced by the U.S. News & World Report, it brings the issue onto the national stage and assembles major corporations, leading educators, top policymakers and education technology companies in order to create the collective impact needed to fill jobs now and advance the future STEM workforce. This year, the conference was held in conjunction with the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C.

5K Service Learning Project Raises $875 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand

ESW 5K Students and participants. Photo by Matt Carlin

ESW 5K Students and participants. Photos by Matt Carlin

by Diane VanDyke

Students in Montgomery County Community College’s Introduction to Exercise Science and Wellness (ESW 102) classes raised approximately $875 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer by hosting a Run 5 Save Lives! 5K run/1-mile fun walk on April 14 at the College’s Central Campus, Blue Bell.

Sixty-eight participants—including community members, faculty, staff and students—participated in the 5K run/1-mile walk organized by 54 students under direction of ESW Assistant Professor Dr. Anne Livezey and Instructor Amanda Wooldridge, co-coordinators of the ESW program.

“The classes host a dodge ball tournament during the fall semester and a 5K run and walk during the spring as our service learning projects,” Livezey said, noting that the dodge ball tournament is more focused on student participation, whereas the run/walk targets all areas of the College. Faculty and staff also may count the walk/run as part of the employee wellness program.

The run and walk both started in the Central Campus quad.

The run and walk both started in the Central Campus quad.

Sporting tie-dyed shirts, the students registered the runners and walkers, sold baked goods and other items and cheered on the runners throughout the race around the campus grounds. The students planned, organized and promoted the event by creating promotional flyers and a video. They also reached out to local businesses for support, and Wawa of Blue Bell donated lemonade and iced tea for the festivities.

As a prelude to the 5K and walk, children from the College’s Children’s Center ran their own fun run around the quadrangle in the center of campus. ESW students work with the children on a weekly basis to teach them different physical activities and the importance of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.

The overall winner of the run was Assistant Professor of Economics Jill Beccaris-Pescatore. A seasoned runner, she competed in the Boston Marathon last month for the second time, finishing with her best time of 3 hours and 51 minutes.

Assistant Professor of Economics Jill Beccaris-Pescatore won the 5K race

Assistant Professor of Economics Jill Beccaris-Pescatore won the 5K race

In addition to raising money for Alex’s Lemonade, the event provided students with a feeling of accomplishment.

“Everyone had a great time, and it was nice to see the community come out to support the cause. I was excited to see how well the students took to the event, and it created a sense of community on the campus that I believe everyone benefitted from and enjoyed,” said student David J. Franco.

The students’ Run 5 Save Lives! event is one of the College’s 50 Acts of Kindness as part of the College’s 50th anniversary celebration. Throughout 2014, students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters are committed to organizing 50 acts of community service—one for every year of the College’s existence. To learn more at the College’s 50th anniversary activities, visit mc3.edu/50.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation was started by cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott in 2000 when she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for children with cancer. Since Alex created that first stand, the Foundation has grown into a national fundraising initiative to support research and help children with cancer.

Students Record Master Class with Percussionist Pablo Batista

Digital Audio Production and Digital Broadcasting students at Montgomery County Community College had the unique opportunity to work with renown international percussionist Pablo Batista on April 16 at the Central Campus in Blue Bell.

Internationally renown percussionist Pablo Batista demonstrates percussion techniques in the College’s TV studio. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

Internationally renown percussionist Pablo Batista demonstrates percussion techniques in the College’s TV studio. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

Batista, who has toured and recorded with such musicians as the late Grover Washington and Alicia Keys, worked with the students to record a percussion master class in the College’s TV studio. Grammy nominated producer David Ivory, who is also an adjunct instructor at the College, hosted the master class, during which Batista alternated between demonstrating and explaining a variety of percussion techniques.

MCCC students operated cameras, sound and controls, while also directing the entire production under the guidance of Ivory and Assistant Professor Morgan Betz. Students will also be editing the piece, which will eventually be made available online for download.

According to Betz, this is the first of what he hopes are a series of opportunities to provide both audio and video students to work on projects with artists from the community, while also using the College’s state-of-the-art TV studio and control room for projects outside of class.

~ Alana J. Mauger

SMPTE Streams Live Seminar from Montgomery’s TV Studio

The Philadelphia Chapter of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) streamed its first-ever student-focused seminar live from Montgomery County Community College’s TV studio in the Advanced Technology Center on April 2.

Eight of the College’s Digital Broadcasting students, under the direction of Associate Professor Neil Goldstein, Assistant Professor Allan Shear, and Technical Services Assistant Shawn Sealer, ran the technical aspects of the live streaming event: camera, sound, graphics and controls.  Approximately 30 students from the College’s Communication, Digital Audio Production and Digital Broadcasting programs were able to observe the entire session from inside the TV studio.

MCCC students operate the control room board during SMPTE’s seminar on April 2. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

MCCC students operate the control room board during SMPTE’s seminar on April 2. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

The students had the opportunity to work with Philly SMPTE Manager Rick Gamble, who hosted the program, which focused on the topic of building a tapeless infrastructure with asset management and tiered storage. The program also included a presentation from Editshare representatives.

Students and industry professionals from throughout the greater Philadelphia region watched the live stream and submitted their questions via Twitter.

~ Alana J. Mauger

Students Honored as Members of All-PA Academic Team

by Alana J. Mauger

Four Montgomery County Community College students were among 45 students from across the Commonwealth recognized this week for their academic and community achievements.

Montgomery’s students include Serena Dunlap, Gilbertsville; Elizabeth Holleger, Norristown; Angelique Moon, Pottstown; and Shari Nelson, Pottstown.

Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout (far left) and Board of Trustees Chairman Michael D’Aniello (far right) stand with MCCC’s All-PA Academic Team members (from left) Serena Dunlap, Elizabeth Holleger, Angelique Moon and Shari Nelson. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout (far left) and Board of Trustees Chairman Michael D’Aniello (far right) stand with MCCC’s All-PA Academic Team members (from left) Serena Dunlap, Elizabeth Holleger, Angelique Moon and Shari Nelson. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

Collectively, the students comprise the All-PA Academic Team, which is administered nationally by Phi Theta Kappa, the national two-year college honors society. Students were recognized in Harrisburg on March 31, both on the floor of the House of Representatives at the State Capitol, and during a banquet facilitated by the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.

Serena Dunlap

Serena Dunlap already graduated from the College’s Honors Program in December, earning an associate’s degree in Liberal Studies before transferring to Bryn Mawr College on full scholarship. Her long-term plans include earning a Ph.D. and specializing in art therapy.

After graduating from Boyertown Area High School, Serena spent a semester at a private university, struggling to pay the tuition price out-of-pocket. Then she learned about MCCC’s Honors Program, which offers full-tuition scholarships for high-achieving students.

“I chose to attend community college because it was affordable,” Dunlap said. “Not only is it affordable, but it is very easy to get involved on campus and in the community itself, which makes it a pleasure to attend. Affordability was my goal when I decided to attend community college, but what community college gives in education and community is priceless.”

On campus, Dunlap was very engaged in student life, serving as vice president of the Student Government Association, president of the Environmental Club, member of Phi Theta Kappa, and as the Northwest Regional Representative of the American Student Association of Community Colleges (ASACC). She also worked as a peer mentor in the College’s Upward Bound program and served as a student representative on the President’s Climate Council and Student Life Committee.

BLOG Beth HollegerElizabeth Holleger is an Education in the Early Years major who hopes to one day work as an elementary school teacher and reading specialist after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education. She dedicates her time to volunteering and performing service work in the community in memory of her mother, who lost her battle with invasive breast cancer in 2007.

“I decided to turn a difficult situation into a positive one, and I started volunteering and fundraising in my mother’s memory,” Holleger said. “I want to do all that I can to help others who are also affected by breast cancer. It has become a huge part of my life, and I often volunteer together with my sisters and brothers. My mother’s death has allowed me to grow as a person and to think positively about any situation.”

On campus, Holleger was instrumental in helping to charter the College’s first-ever Rotaract community service club, and she serves as its secretary. She is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa honors society, and she participated in Alternative Spring Break, during which she volunteered for five days at The Samaritan Woman in Baltimore, Md.

Holleger currently holds a 4.0 grade point average (GPA), which she plans to maintain through next December when she will graduate from MCCC with an associate’s degree.

BLOG Angelique MoonAngelique Moon proudly became the first woman in her family to earn a college degree when she completed her associate’s degree coursework in December at MCCC. A mother of three boys, Moon was majoring in Business when she signed up for a drawing class to fill an elective.

“I never really knew what I wanted or who I was until after I took this [drawing] class. It changed my life,” she expressed.

Because art helped Moon overcome her social anxiety, she wants to help others to help themselves through art, too. She is currently taking more Fine Arts classes at MCCC and hopes to continue her studies at Kutztown University.

“As far as my long-term goals, I would love to teach but I know that many public schools are removing the arts; therefore, I am keeping an open mind to possibly curating at a museum,” she said. “I also plan to show my work as often as possible and to volunteer my services as an instructor to spread the love of art and to teach others how to express themselves through art.”

BLOG Shari NelsonShari Nelson chose to attend MCCC so that she could pursue a degree while helping with her family’s business–Nelson Illusions, a theater company specializing in magic and illusion. A Liberal Studies major at MCCC’s West Campus, Nelson plans to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics and hopes to one day teach math, while continuing to work in the arts and to travel as a professional magician and illusionist.

“Learning has always been important to me, and I love understanding new things and applying them to my life and work,” shared Nelson. “Montgomery County Community College has given me the opportunity to achieve my education and work with wonderful professors while still being able to continue my jobs. At college I aim to learn the most I can to better myself and, hopefully, my future family.”

Nelson will graduate this summer from MCCC with an associate’s degree in Liberal Studies. On campus, she co-founded the West End Student Theatre club and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She also volunteered during MLK Day of Service and as a new student orientation leader. As a magician, Nelson has earned four major awards, including the Magicians Alliance of the Eastern States Award of Excellence, and has competed nationally in magic competitions.

Members of the All-PA Academic Team qualify for two-year scholarships to any of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions and compete at the national level for scholarships from the All-USA Academic Team and the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team. To learn more, visit pacommunitycolleges.org.

Portrait photos by Sandi Yanisko
Neree Aron-Sando also contributed to this story

34 Cadets Graduate from Municipal Police Academy

by Alana J. Mauger

Thirty-four cadets graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy Class 1304 on March 26 during a ceremony held at the College’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

Academy alumnus Wayne T. Johnson, Deputy Sheriff with Chester County Sherriff’s Department, sang the National Anthem to begin the ceremony, followed by a moment of reflection from Director of Criminal Justice & Fire Science Programs Benn Prybutok. The Philadelphia Police Department Honor Guard and the Philadelphia Emerald Society Pipe Band led the procession.

Patrol Commander Darren Nyce from Upper Dublin Township Police Department was selected by class 1304 to give the keynote address, during which he stressed the importance of preparation.

“Prepare for opportunity, [so that you’re] ready for opportunity when it comes. Being prepared to do the right thing at the right moment takes tremendous heart, courage and perseverance, and, at times, great sacrifice,” shared Nyce, who is an alumnus of the Academy as well as an instructor.

Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., County Deputy Chief Detective Samuel Gallen, and County Coordinator of School Safety Steven A. Beck were also in attendance, along with representatives from Tredyffrin, Upper Darby, Upper Merion, Upper Moreland and Whitpain police departments and the FBI.

Earning the highest GPA in his class, Cadet Cpl. Jason Kesack, Lansdale, offered remarks on behalf of the graduates.

“I think love is probably the most important thing, not only in police work but in life in general,” he shared. “It’s about community policing and how you interact with the people around you. Everyone is someone’s mother, someone’s brother. I think it’s important that we remember that golden rule—that we should treat people the way we would want our families treated.”

Academy Director Frank Williar presented Cadet Lt. Laina Stevens, Philadelphia, with the Platoon Commander Award, describing her as “a breath of fresh air.” Stevens, who is now an officer with the Upper Darby Police Department, then ceremonially handed Academy command over to Class 1401 Cadet Lt. Andrew Burrows, Doylestown.

Williar also presented the Director’s Spirit of Distinction Award to Cadet Cpl. James Apgar, Frenchtown, N.J., adding that the award goes to “the MVP of the group; to an individual whose personality is instrumental in making the class what it is.”

Stevens presented the James R. Miller Marksmanship Award to Eric Meoli, Lansdale. The award is presented in memory of Upper Dublin Police Sergeant Jim Miller, who died in an automobile accident while on duty in 2004.

During the ceremony, members of the McGowan family—Karen and her sons Scott and John McGowan IV, presented the Chief John J. McGowan III Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $3,500 to Robert Calvin Wiley, Willow Grove. The scholarship honors the late East Norriton Police Chief John McGowan, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2010. Wiley thanked the McGowan family for the honor, adding that he will use the scholarship to continue his education in MCCC’s Criminal Justice program in the fall.

Cadets from class 1304 attended the academy full time, Monday through Friday for 22 weeks. Graduates include Cadet Cpl. James Apgar, Frenchtown, N.J.; Ryan Benner, Drexel Hill; Steve Berg, Levittown; Cadet Sgt. Andrew Brown, Exton; Cadet Sgt. Michael Cabry, Coatesville; Michael Carlson, Elkins Park; Liz Cartwright, Telford; Timothy Clark, Abington; Amber Culton, Quakertown; Zachary Danowski, Skippack; Kevin Deegan, Downington; James Falatovich, Birdsboro; Cadet SSgt. Evan Flora, Collegeville; Jarett Gordon, Collegeville; Patrick Halcovage, Hatfield; Jonathan Huber, Souderton; Cadet Cpl. Jason Kesack, Lansdale; Patrick Kitchenman, Levittown; Cadet Cpl. John Kreuer, Ephrata; Kevin Lowry, Willow Grove; Brett Mackow, Green Lane; Eric Meoli, Lansdale; Jay Nakahara, Allentown; Nicholas O’Connor, Conshohocken; David Pagan, Philadelphia; Stephen Romanic, Coopersburg; Cadet SSgt. David Rosenblit, Philadelphia; Cadet Sgt. Nicholas Ruud, Doylestown; Kathleen Ryan, Horsham; Alex Sansone, Huntingdon Valley; Cadet Lt. Laina Stevens, Philadelphia; Ryan Umberger, Bristol, Gabriel Wasserman, Ambler; Calvin Wiley, Willow Grove.

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.

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Class 1304 graduates are congratulated by Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., MCCC Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, and MCCC Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman. Photo by John Welsh

QuadForge UVA Research Project is ‘Innovation of the Year’

by Alana J. Mauger

The QuadForge Undergraduate Research Program earned Montgomery County Community College’s 2014 Innovation of the Year award last week during an annual ceremony recognizing projects that advance the College’s mission and strategic goals.

The College’s QuadForge program is an open source research project that provides freshmen and sophomore Engineering and Computer Science students with the unique opportunity to develop autonomous quad rotor flight vehicles, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UVAs). The project is made possible by a unique collaboration with the Science and Technology Competence Center in Switzerland, which provides funding for the program.

The QuadForge program partners with industry and government entities to provide real-word product deliverables. To date, students and faculty involved with the project have delivered four quad rotor UVAs to the Suisse Government, which is using them to survey and deliver data between weather stations to aid in predicting potential disasters, such as landslides.

The team’s accomplishments include developing modular flight platforms that feature onboard wi-fi and 4G communications, first-person view, high definition video recording, customized mission computers and the world’s first full weatherization, which enables the UVAs to fly in any environment, such as saltwater, snow and rain.

Those recognized as part of the QuadForge Undergraduate Research Program include Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Andrew Ippolito; Associate Professor of Engineering William Brownlowe and Adjunct Engineering Lecturer Jean Jacques Reymond.

To learn more about the QuadForge project , visit quadforge.net.

The College’s Innovation of the Year nominees are evaluated against criteria established by the League for Innovation in the Community College—an international organization committed to improving community colleges through innovation. Award criteria include quality, efficiency, cost effectiveness, replication, creativity and timeliness.

As recipient of the College’s award, the QuadForge Undergraduate Research Program will be forwarded to the League for Innovation in the Community College for national recognition in a program that is designed to showcase innovation at America’s community colleges.

Other projects nominated the 2014 Innovation of the Year at the College included the Cone 6 Transition project that reduces the carbon footprint of the College’s Ceramics firing; curriculum pathway mapping; Mustangs Academic Success Program in support of the College’s student athletes; Green Office Initiative; College Pathway Academy for Health Professions, in partnership with Phoenixville High School and Phoenixville Hospital; Production Internship Program with MCCC’s Lively Arts program; the University Center framework; and the Veterans Resource Center.

2014 Innovation of the Year award recipients (from left) Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Andrew Ippolito; Associate Professor of Engineering William Brownlowe and Adjunct Engineering Lecturer Jean Jacques Reymond. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

2014 Innovation of the Year award recipients (from left) Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Andrew Ippolito; Associate Professor of Engineering William Brownlowe and Adjunct Engineering Lecturer Jean Jacques Reymond. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Transfer of Credit Policy Expands Degree Access for Adult Students

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College’s Board of Trustees voted Monday, March 18 to expand the number of transfer credits students can apply to an associate’s degree program. Under the new policy, students can now transfer up to 75 percent of their credits earned from regionally accredited post-secondary institutions back to MCCC to complete an associate’s degree or certificate. The previous practice allowed 50 percent of transferred credits to be applied.

“The new policy is part of the College’s strategic effort to strengthen our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) model to improve adult student enrollment and persistence rates by building streamlined pathways toward degree completion,” explained Dr. Karen A. Stout, president. “These efforts also connect to our work nationally with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, which looks to train 10,000 baby boomers for high-demand jobs through 2015.”

In addition to expanding the percentage of accepted transfer credits, the new policy clarifies criteria for all forms of PLA, which is the process colleges use to evaluate a student’s life experience to determine if prior learning can translate into college credits.

Examples of PLA include evaluation of corporate or military training as established by the American Council on Education (ACE); nationally recognized exams such as Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP); review of student portfolios; customized tests to prove prior learning meets specific exit standards for courses; and examination of non-credit courses to document content for transferability to for-credit courses.

The policy also clarifies procedures for the acceptance of transfer credits; provides criteria regarding transfer credits earned at other institutions; reinforces the role of faculty and academic leadership in determining transfer course equivalencies based on student learning outcomes; and provides procedures by which students can appeal transfer credit assessments.

According to a 2010 study on PLA and adult student outcomes conducted by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), students with PLA credits had better academic outcomes, especially in terms of graduation rates and persistence, than non-PLA students, and many significantly shortened the time required to earn their credential.

To learn more about Prior Learning Assessment at MCCC, visit mc3.edu/admissions or contact Mary Beth Bryers at 215-619-6319 or mbryers@mc3.edu.

National Award Recognizes College’s Commitment to Student Success

by Alana J. Mauger

AtD 2Montgomery County Community College was honored for its ongoing commitment to student access and success on Feb. 24 during the annual Achieving the Dream Strategy Institute in Orlando, Fla. The College was one of two institutions presented with the sixth annual Leah Meyer Austin Award by Achieving the Dream.

The Leah Meyer Austin Award, sponsored by The Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was established in 2008 to recognize outstanding achievement in supporting and promoting student success through the creation of a culture of evidence, continuous improvement, systemic institutional change, broad engagement of stakeholders, and equity, with particular attention to low-income students and students of color.

Austin, whose visionary leadership shaped the development of Achieving the Dream, is the former Senior Vice President for Program Development and Organizational Learning at the Lumina Foundation, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Achieving the Dream.

Montgomery County Community College, Pennsylvania, and Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC), Massachusetts, were each awarded $25,000 to support their ongoing student success efforts. According to Achieving the Dream, both institutions were recognized for “building whole-college solutions to improve student success and equity, which have resulted in noteworthy increases in student success.”

“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.”

“The College’s selection as a Leah Meyer Austin Award recipient underscores our continued commitment to advance the areas of student access, success and completion that anchor our work as an Achieving the Dream Leader College,” she continued.

In addition to building college-wide solutions and engaging in data-informed decision making, Achieving the Dream commended the College for its work to improve developmental education outcomes, college readiness, and student persistence.

One highlight is the College’s efforts to reduce the number of students who place in developmental English by 31 percent, without impacting their subsequent success in college-level English courses. This was achieved through a combination of adjusting placement cut-off scores, moving from an ACCUPLACER placement test to a WritePlacer exam, and allowing students with SAT scores of 500 and up to enroll directly in college-level English. In fall 2011, more than 900 students benefited from these changes, successfully completing Composition I (ENG 101) at the same rate as those students who placed in college-level English under the old cut score.

ENG Placement

MCCC also continues to build momentum in its efforts to improve success in developmental mathematics. The College was previously recognized by Achieving the Dream for the complete redesign of its basic arithmetic curriculum, which increased student success rates by 20 percent and math confidence rates by 20 to 35 percent. MCCC also developed two-week accelerated basic arithmetic and beginning algebra “boot camp” review courses for students whose ACCUPLACER test scores are close to the cutoff. To date, 300 students have completed the accelerated courses, outperforming students who follow the traditional path.

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Achieving the Dream also noted MCCC’s efforts to improve the college readiness of students from feeder high schools through a variety of initiatives. Among these is MCCC’s participation in the national Gateway to College Network, designed for young adults ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school or who are significantly behind in credits and are unlikely to graduate. The program enables qualifying students to complete their high school diploma requirements while simultaneously earning college credits toward an associate’s degree or certificate. In addition, MCCC developed a College Pathway Academy for Health Professions in partnership with the Phoenixville School District and Phoenixville Hospital. The Academy enables students to earn college credits in the health sciences while completing their high school graduation requirements.

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Another highlight is the College’s success in improve persistence rates for minority students. In 2009, the College first launched its Minority Male Mentoring Program (MMMP) to close the nationally documented achievement gap for African-American male students. The program connects participating students with caring mentors for guidance and support while providing opportunities for civic engagement, academic advisement, personal development and leadership development. Between 2009 and 2013, participants showed a term-to-term persistence rate of close to 80 percent – significantly higher than the 63 percent for non-participants. This spring, the initiative was expanded to include African-American and Latina female students and was renamed the Minority Student Mentoring Initiative (MSMI).

MMMP

To learn more about MCCC’s Student Success Initiative, visit its website at mc3.edu or its Think Success blog at mc3success.wordpress.com.

Achieving the Dream, Inc.
Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit leading the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. The Achieving the Dream National Reform Network, including over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 34 states and the District of Columbia – helps nearly 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust 
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services.  Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. Through its National Education Program, the Trust views education as a lever to advance both American economic competitiveness and individual social mobility.  In K-12, the Trust focuses on ensuring all students graduate high school prepared for college or careers by supporting teacher effectiveness and the adoption and implementation of high academic standards. In postsecondary education, the Trust is primarily interested in increasing the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates who can participate in high growth sectors of the economy.  The Trust also focuses on policy levers that improve postsecondary completion, particularly for underrepresented populations.

Culinary Students Learn Revolutionary Era Baking for Presidents’ Day

by Alana J. Mauger

Pastry Arts students from the Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) got an historical lesson in baking as they partnered with Valley Forge National Historical Park to celebrate the 282nd birthday of first U.S. President George Washington on Feb. 17.

The CAI was tapped to recreate Martha Washington’s cake recipe, which 25 students, under the guidance of adjunct instructor and Chef Julia Quay, used to create one large birthday cake and 500 patriotically-decorated cupcakes for hundreds of children and families in attendance.

The Park’s annual Presidents’ Day celebration also included arts and crafts, singing, dancing and a formal cake-cutting ceremony by General Washington himself.

The creation of Washington’s birthday cake is one of MCCC’s “50 Acts of Kindness” as part of the College’s 50th anniversary celebration. Throughout 2014, MCCC students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters are committed organizing 50 acts of community service – one for every year of the College’s existence. To learn more at the College’s 50th anniversary activities, visit mc3.edu/50.

To learn more about the Culinary Arts Institute at Montgomery County Community College, visit mc3.edu/culinary, or stop by the CAI’s spring open house, 1400 Forty Foot Road, Lansdale, on April 26 from 10 a.m.-noon.

Photos by Sandi Yanisko

Life Sciences Degree Builds Pathway to Biological, Biomedical Careers

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College’s Board of Trustees took action Tuesday to approve a new Associate in Science (A.S.) Life Sciences degree program effective fall 2014. The program affirms the College’s commitment to developing relevant STEM programs that build a pipeline of skilled science and technology professionals for the region.

Designed for seamless transfer, the Life Sciences A.S. degree program will provide students with a clear pathway to a four-year degree in life science disciplines, while offering flexibility that accommodates concentrations in both traditional biology disciplines and biomedical health sciences.

The Traditional Life Sciences concentration will prepare students for future study in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in general biology, microbiology, organismal biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, environmental science, agriculture, and biology education. The Biomedical Science concentration will prepare students for study in the fields of cytotechnology, medical laboratory science and nuclear medicine, among others.

MCCC’s STEM faculty continue to work with faculty from premier four-year colleges and universities to establish program-to-program articulation agreements that facilitate seamless transfer opportunities for the program’s students.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the demand for life and medical scientists is expected to grow by nine to 13 percent through 2022, depending on specialization. The median salary for life and medical scientists in 2012 ranged from $68,780 to $76,980.

The Life Sciences degree program replaces the College’s previous A.S. in Biological Sciences degree program, which was deleted by the Board in May 2012 after determining that the program no longer met the broad-based educational needs of the College’s students.

To learn more about Montgomery County Community College’s STEM programs, visit mc3.edu/academics.

College Introduces New Certificate Programs in Emerging STEM Disciplines

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College’s  Board of Trustees took action Wednesday to approve two new certificate programs in the emerging STEM disciplines of Biotechnology/Biomanufacturing and Cloud Computing.

“Both programs affirm Montgomery County Community College’s commitment to revitalizing our STEM programs and to building a pipeline of skilled science and technology professionals that will help shape the future of our region’s workforce,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president.

The 16-credit Certificate of Completion in Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing is designed to provide hands-on, industry-relevant training to students who already hold associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in science and who want to join the biotechnology workforce. It also provides an opportunity for individuals with degrees in other disciplines to retrain for careers in biotechnology and biomanufacturing.

“Biopharmaceuticals are the fastest growing segment of the pharmaceutical industry, and there is a growing need for trained technicians to manufacture these drugs, especially as generic versions start to be produced,” explained Dr. Margaret Bryans, assistant professor of Biotechnology at MCCC. “In addition to the four major pharmaceutical companies in Southeastern Pennsylvania, there are more than 100 small biotechnology companies in the Greater Philadelphia Region.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median salary for biological technicians ranged from $33,630-$45,380 in 2012, depending on the area of specialization. Overall, jobs in this field are projected to grow by10 percent through 2022.

The new 39-credit Certificate in Cloud Computing will train students in computer networking, cloud services, virtualization and data storage. Program graduates will qualify to take nine industry certification exams to validate their skillsets. The program is designed for Information Technology (IT) professionals, but interested students without an IT background may enroll.

“We’re seeing a massive movement to the cloud for both personal and business use, which means that IT professionals will be dealing with this technology in some manner daily,” explained Anil Datta, director of Information Technology programs at MCCC. “A recent Forbes study shows that, nationally, seven million cloud computing jobs will be introduced by 2015.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, computer occupations are expected to grow by 18 percent overall through 2022, with higher growth occurring in industries that provide cloud computing technology. In 2012, the median salary for all computer occupations was $76,270.

Both the Certificate of Completion in Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing and the Certificate in Cloud Computing are slated to begin in fall 2014.

To learn more about Montgomery County Community College’s STEM programs, visit mc3.edu/academics.

Heath Services Program Changes Enhance Pathways to Degree Completion

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College’s Board of Trustees took action Wednesday to approve modifications to the College’s Health Services Management Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) and Medical Coding Certificate of Completion programs.

Effective fall 2014, the changes align the programs with industry trends and requirements, while also building clearer pathways to degree completion.

The Health Services Management A.A.S. program is designed to provide graduates with a broad vision of health care management that enables them to seek employment in practices and businesses that employ medical coders. The program modifications remove a nine-credit concentration option in Holistic Health Studies and expand the nine-credit Medical Coding concentration into an 18-credit Medical Coding Certificate of Completion.

The Medical Coding changes expand professional certification options for graduates, depending on their qualifications and background. These include theAmerican Academy of Professional Coders’ Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) exam, as well as the Certified Coding Associate (CCA®) and the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS®).

The modifications also build stackable career pathways toward completion of the Health Services Management A.A.S. degree for students who complete MCCC’s Medical Coding Certificate of Completion, Medical Office Assistant Certificate of Completion, or Medical Assisting Certificate.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the demand for qualified medical records and health information administrators is projected to grow by 22 percent through 2022, double the average growth rate for all occupations. The median salary for medical records and health information technicians in 2012 was $34,160, with the top 10 percent of workers earning $56,200.

To learn about programs in the field of Health Sciences at Montgomery County Community College, visit mc3.edu/academics.

‘Legislator in Residence’ Program Brings Politics to Life For Students

by Alana J. Mauger

Each semester, Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) students enrolled in American National Government (POL 124) and American State and Local Government (POL 125) courses are afforded a unique glimpse into real-world politics.

Launched in fall 2012, MCCC Assistant Professor of Political Science Jodi Empol-Schwartz and Executive Director of Government Relations Peggy Lee-Clark developed a Legislator in Residence program in an effort to make the political process come to life for students.

The program brings Pennsylvania legislators and their staff members into six classes each semester to explain, from a first-person perspective, the concepts and information students read in their textbooks. The specific topics vary each semester; some topics from the fall included committee work, being a newly-elected legislator, working with constituents, and the difference between campaigning and governing, to name a few.

Prior to the guest lectures, students are required to research each legislator and develop questions.

“The students spend time outside of the classroom researching the guest speakers so that they can engage in a well-rounded discussion. The legislators do their homework, too; they take the role of instructor seriously and come well prepared,” explained Empol-Schwartz.

“The students can’t ask anything that can be found on the legislators’ websites or in their bios. I want them to research actual legislation. I encourage them to follow the legislators on Twitter and Facebook, and I provide them with links to tools like the General Assembly bill search,” she added.

At the end of the series, Empol-Schwartz’s students are required to select three legislators and their legislative staff to analyze in depth, and then they are asked to select one that embodies “a servant of the people.”

The program has prompted a number of students to seek internships in legislative offices, one of whom was later hired as staff.

“The program provides students with a unique perspective of state and local politics that, unless you’re in Harrisburg, you can’t experience,” shared Empol-Schwartz. “The discussions are intimate, respectful and genuine. The students can see that legislators do understand the issues impacting their communities and do care about the people. This program enables students to gain direct access to lawmakers without competing with outside interest groups.”

Going forward, Empol-Schwartz hopes that the Legislator in Residence initiative can continue to extend its reach political science classes.

“I would love to get legislators into every classroom – to make it a successful college-wide program,” she shared.

Pennsylvania Representatives Matthew Bradford and Marcy Toepel talked to MCCC Political Science students about party politics and governing in November 2013. Photo by Alana J. Mauger

Pennsylvania Representatives Matthew Bradford and Marcy Toepel talked to MCCC Political Science students about party politics and governing in November 2013. Photo by Alana J. Mauger