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Bridget Depew
The Montgazette Editor-In-Chief

I didn’t go to college immediately after high school. I was fortunate enough to find a good-paying job not long after graduation, and I never really saw the need to pursue higher education. Besides that, my true passion, writing and journalism, was always squelched as I was growing up. My father strongly encouraged me to seek the career that would yield the high-paying salary. Journalism was not it as far as he was concerned. He would hear nothing of how much I loved to write. I abandoned my passion and honestly had forgotten about it.
Twenty years, a husband and two kids later, I found myself writing things on social media or my blog that contained certain points of view that resonated with the readers. Friends approached me and suggested I pursue a career as a writer. They said I had a way with words that made people take pause and engage. I hadn’t focused any thoughts towards a career, much less a writing career. Being a stay-at-home mom, I had become content and comfortable.
That said, I couldn’t ignore how writing made me feel. I decided to enroll at Montco to pursue a degree in Communications. What happened? What was the difference between now and twenty years ago? Well, besides life experience and a few gray hairs, it was someone’s belief in me. People believed in me! My husband. My family. My friends. People breathed life into my passion, and the fire that I thought had gone out was hanging on by one little ember. And, that ember was ignited.
After realizing how much I enjoyed even writing essays for classes and being bit by the journalism bug in Montco’s online professor, Dr. Rebecca McGovney–Ingram’s class, my passion took off. When I enrolled, I had planned to be more of a Montco wallflower – attend classes and go home. Before I knew it, I had become the Social Media Editor and contributing writer for The Montgazette. And now, I will be taking over as Editor-In-Chief this coming Fall. I’m doing a lot more than showing up for classes and going home. As daunting as the task may be, I’m engaging so that I can engage others.
So first, allow me to put on my mom hat for a minute and speak to the younger crowd: you have something to offer. Don’t be afraid to explore your dreams, and don’t let anyone deter you if you truly believe in your passion. As a grown adult with a mortgage and a family to help support, I won’t tell you that the money isn’t important. It’s simply that life is too short to live only for the almighty dollar.
To my fellow Gen Xers, I know why you’re here, and I know your struggle. You’re working moms and dads with bills to pay and children to raise, but you need more and want more. Moms, in particular, have a way of fading into the background. And though the family/school/work juggling act is a tough one, it’s worth it to be recognized for our accomplishments and achievements.
To those of you graduating this May, well done! As you embark on the next journey, maybe take a little time to breathe life onto someone else’s ember, igniting their passion.

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Sara Wilkerson
The Montgazette Outgoing Editor-In-Chief

On April 4th, 1968, the world said farewell to one of the most outspoken and courageous civil rights leaders of the 20th century, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s legacy of standing up for justice and equality is still in good standing today to inspire the generations who have followed his example. His legacy could be no more evident than in the 50th anniversary commemoration event sponsored by the African American Student League at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) on April 4th.
The commemoration featured presentations of speeches, poetry and songs from young students from Various schools in the county.
Elizabeth Smith, a sixth grader from Reiffton Middle School, expressed Dr. King’s decision to speak his mind by saying, “He chose not to listen to the people who stood in his way and told him what he could and couldn’t do. That was his choice… If he hadn’t chosen to do all of the wonderful things that he had done, we wouldn’t be standing here right here, right now today. He was known for his decisions that made such an impact on our civilization.”
Following Smith’s speech, Abigail Brand, a home schooled seventh grader, spoke about how Dr. King’s actions impacted future leaders. “He didn’t sit back and say ‘Change happens. Someday people will be equal.’ Instead, he forced movement toward equality. It’s because of people like him [Dr. King] that change happens. Barack Obama didn’t just become president; many, many people, including Dr. King himself, helped him get there.”
The student speeches were not the only highlight of the commemoration. Toward the end of the event, an open mic forum was made available to the audience to express their own thoughts on the impact and legacy of Dr. King.
Ninety-three year old Evelyn Warner, MCCC Class of 2002 graduate, said that Dr. King understood that racism doesn’t define human beings, rather that everyone is equal, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
When asked of her opinion about what her favorite moments were during the commemoration, Brigette Barrow, President of the MCCC African American Student League, said that the open mic was among her favorite moments since she, “loved hearing the wisdom that everyone offered.”
Ezinne Ottih, the incoming MCCC Student Government Association President next fall, reflected on the event by stating, “I loved how they [the African American Student League] started testimonials off first with the youngest children because it made me realize that MLK and his message is still trickling down to the younger generations that he never got to meet, which makes me really happy.”
The legacy and impact Dr. King left on society is still felt even today. At the end of her speech, Elizabeth Smith said it best: “People who were alive during his time remember him now. Future generations will learn about him too. And even kids who are growing up now fifty years after he died, will learn about him.”

 

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Elizabeth Smith from Reiffton Middle School on stage at the 50th Anniversary Commemoration ~Photo by Bill Lottmen

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Abigail Brand giving her speech “Shaping Our Future” ~Photo by Bill Lottmen

 

Barry M. Hunsberger
The Montgazette Contributor

Eight Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) students and one faculty member travelled to Harrisburg for the 47th annual Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) state conference on April 6th and 7th. Thomas Meehan (SGA president, PBL president), Mike Antoine, Jimmy Sovocool, James Lowery, Nicoletta Pelchat, Nate Balog, Barry Hunsberger, Mike Howard, and Professor Damon Gray (faculty advisor) were in attendance as MCCC Phi Beta Lambda representatives.
PBL is an organization of future and current business professionals at the college level. PBL is an organization that stems from the high school oriented organization, Future Business Leaders of America. PBL sets up its members for success in the business world through workshops, networking, community service and more. The business organization was founded in 1942 and continues to serve its 200,000+ members worldwide.
Over the weekend, the students were competing against 25 PA state chapters and 300+ students from schools such as Drexel, Penn State, Temple, and Bloomsburg, among others. Throughout the weekend they attended a keynote address and participated in various professional development workshops from nationally recognized speakers and networked with students and faculty from collegiate institutions from across the nation. At the close of the weekend during the awards ceremony, our students represented MCCC very well, taking home six awards:
James Lowery – First place in Management Concepts
Barry Hunsberger – First place in Impromptu Speaking
Nicoletta Pelchat – First place in Emerging Business Concepts and Third place in Small Business Management Plans
Jimmy Sovocool – Second place in Organizational Behavior and Leadership
Mike Antoine – Third place in Business Decision Making
Our very own MCCC Phi Beta Lambda chapter president (Thomas Meehan) was elected to the 2018/2019 FBLA – PBL PA state Presidency.
As a team, we are thrilled to have been able to represent Montgomery County Community College on such a high level of competition against so many prestigious universities from Pennsylvania. The wins from the state competition have solidified our students’ place to compete at the MCCC national competition during June 2018 in Baltimore, MD.
Montgomery County Community College will be competing against the best in the United States because we earned the right to be on that stage.
Thank you for your continued support as we move forward, showing the world we are a serious institution that produces amazing students and future leaders.
If you are interested in learning more about Phi Beta Lambda, or attending a meeting, contact the organization at montcopbl@gmail.com.

 

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PBL Members (left to right) Jimmy Sovocool, Mike Antoine, Mike Howard, James Lowery, Nate Balog, Thomas Meehan, Nicoletta Pelchat, Damon Gray, Barry Hunsberger ~Photo Courtesy of Barry Hunsberger

 

Bridget Depew
The Montgazette Incoming Editor-In-Chief

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Trite as it may be, it also could not be truer in Sara Wilkerson’s case.
Born on the north side of Chicago, Sara grew up raised by only her mother. Her father left Sara and her mom shortly after Sara was born. “We were inseparable,” Sara says, recalling her time with her mother. “She literally was my everything.”
Tragically, her mom was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer in February of 2012. Sara was just 14 years old. It was a fast-moving cancer, and Sara’s mom lost her battle with the disease on June 21, 2012, right after Sara’s middle school graduation.
Two days after her mom passed, she moved to the Philadelphia area with her grandparents. She spent the large part of her freshman year in a fog, grappling with her mother’s death and trying to find her place in the world. It led her to a dark place of depression to the point where Sara wondered if she wanted to go on. In desperation, she reached out in prayer to God for a sign that all the pain in this life was worth it – she needed something to hold on to. In that moment, her prayer had been answered. She felt her mom’s spirit close to her. “My mom saved my life that night,” Sara says. It was from that moment on that Sara knew she could not only survive, but thrive, with her mom always right by her side.
After graduating from Upper Merion High School, Sara started at Montgomery County Community College in the fall of 2016. Majoring in Mass Media: Media Studies, Sara decided to continue the path of journalism she had started when she ran The Viking Call, her high school newspaper. It was, in a sense, a lifesaver. “Journalism is what helped me come out of the shell I was in. Journalism is how I’ve connected with other people.”
Sara became Editor-in-Chief of The Montgazette in May of 2017. During her tenure as Editor-in-Chief, she started a new edition called, “Poetic Voices,” giving students with a penchant for poetry the opportunity to make their poetic voices heard.
There’s no slowing Sara Wilkerson down. In addition to being The Montgazette’s Editor-in-Chief, Sara is the president of the Writer’s Club, a member of the Honors Club, the Literature editor of the Art and Literature Magazine, and a member and the Public Relations officer of Phi Theta Kappa. She also assists with CAPG and Montco Radio.
“You can learn from experiences of tragedy and loss,” Sara says. “We all have a motivator in life – for me, it’s my mom.”
That’s the Sara I know. Had I not had this interview with her, I would have never known she’d experienced such pain and loss. I only see a high-energy, incredibly friendly and wildly talented writer who takes time to tell me that my voice is worth hearing. She has motivated me to become a better writer.
To say she’ll be missed at Montco and The Montgazette is an understatement. But we can’t be selfish; we have to share this amazing person with the people whose lives she’ll affect in the future. If I could meet Sara’s mom, I would thank her for sharing Sara with us.

 

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Sara Wilkerson ~Photo by Justin Patrick Oakes

 

Rahul Thevar
The Montgazette Staff

Loretta Henry attended Senton Hall University for a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in English and Secondary Education with a minor in history. For her master’s degree in English, Henry started out at Montclair State University and then transferred to the College of New Jersey in Ewing, New Jersey.
Having a deep love for grammar and literature, Professor Henry knew she wanted to be an English teacher by the time she was a sophomore in high school. She taught eighth grade language arts in New Jersey public schools for eleven years. After the birth of her first son, she started teaching part time at Bucks County Community College. This allowed her to continue to teach while being able to spend time at home with her children.
After a few years, Loretta started teaching and tutoring at Montgomery and Bucks County Community Colleges. She loves engaging with students about writing concepts and literature and finds it very gratifying to see students grow as writers and get excited about their work. Loretta particularly loves interacting with students in Tutorial Services, where she often gets a fuller picture of students as individuals: their challenges, their strengths, as well as their concerns.
Her position as a tutor allows her to see the benefits the tutoring services provide students as a part of their learning process and education. Loretta especially enjoys facilitating writing workshops (Monday and Fridays from 12:30 till 1:30), enabling her to focus on the writing concepts that most often challenge writers.
Amisha Sanwal, a student at Montgomery County Community College who has benefitted from Professor Henry’s expertise said, “Loretta Henry is good and very helpful.”
Professor Henry’s advice to graduating Montco students is to keep up the smart decision-making. “I can see from the variety of students I have taught here and at Bucks that the decision to start at a community college is such a wise and prudent choice for students in so many different situations.”
Loretta Henry continued by saying, “the community college often allows students more wiggle room to realize where their passion lies. Students can explore more options rather than anchoring themselves down to a very heavy and constricting career choice straight out of high school. On the other hand, students can also get a very strong start in specific fields. They can get the foundation they need and the access to quality programs, like our nursing program which exposes prospective nurses to some of the top hospitals in the country.”
So, hopefully our graduates take advantage of the firm foundation they’ve built for themselves here at Montco and know they can go anywhere from here.

 

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Professor Loretta Henry working with a student at the Tutoring Service Center in College Hall on Central Campus. ~Photo by Rahul Thevar

 

Justin Patrick Oakes
The Montgazette Staff

This is my last of many articles as a writer for the Montgazette, and what a bittersweet moment it is. On one hand, I’m excited to move on to another school and other mediums of communication. On the other hand, it’s hard to leave the place where my career as a journalist really started. It was here that I found my voice and realized how much I enjoyed talking about pressing issues and speaking critically and frankly about our nation’s leaders. Now, that isn’t to say I haven’t gotten my fair share of critique. People have been mad at me, hated me, yelled at me, attempted to silence me, and much more. But, that’s okay. I’m a journalist. What else would I expect?
The world, specifically social media, is saturated with content about “fake news,” slandering the good names of hardworking journalists all over the world who are risking it all just to bring you the news. It’s a thankless job, one that far too many take for granted, and one that is constantly under scrutiny.
So, why do it? Why put myself in a position where I’ll be under constant scrutiny?
Well, I’m not a journalist in spite of all of that; I’m doing it because of all of that. I’m a journalist because, at the end of the day, people will need to know what’s going on in the world. Whether or not they choose to believe what I’m telling them is up to them, but I still find it important that it’s heard. At the end of the day,history is only remembered by those who observed, took note, and told said history, passing it down for the generations to come. At the end of the day, people need to be aware of the dangers in the world, both foreign and domestic, and the only way to be aware is to have someone out there that’s telling them about the dangers. That someone is me.
I tend to talk politically a lot, both in my articles and in everyday life; it’s hard to not get sucked in, especially as a journalist. I pay attention, I get the facts, I report them, and, more often than not, I give my take on the issue. People have told me that they love my advocacy, that I’m their main source of news. I don’t say this to brag about myself. I say it because I feel that, as a journalist, what I’m doing is so much bigger than me.
What I do is report on issues that impact marginalized communities. What I do is report on people who have had their voices stripped away. What I do is report on the forgotten people, both at home and overseas. What I do is tell the stories that matter, at least, that’s what I try to do. I don’t do it for any paycheck (reporters aren’t making that much nowadays anyway). I don’t do it for fame (quite frankly I hate the spotlight). I do it because even in the face of certain danger, I realize that what I’m doing is bigger than myself. So, when people ask, “why be a journalist,” the simplest reply is, “why not?”

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Photo by Justin Patrick Oakes

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Photo by Leah Schick

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Photos by Justin Patrick Oakes