Archive for April, 2011


Emmy-Award-Winning Journalist Visits MCCC

 By Billie Bakhshi, Montgazette Staff Writer

Lu Ann Cahn visited Montgomery County Community College’s Blue Bell campus on March 28, to speak to Professor Gail Ramsey’s Communications 100 class for what Cahn called a “conversation” rather than lecture.

Cahn presented her experiences as a journalist in the hour-long, informal, back-and-forth with students.

Topics included social media such as Twitter and Facebook and other Internet sources for news. Cahn seemed resigned to the fact that local news is “drying up,” due to lack of advertising and the fact that the next generation turns to the Internet for their news needs.

Due to budget restraints within most news stations, Cahn advised students the importance of next generation of reporters being versatile and proficient in many roles, such as being able to shoot and edit video and be able to write for the Web.

“If this is what you love, if this is your passion, do it. If there’s something else you’d rather do, do that instead,” Cahn said.

Competition is fierce, she said, adding that there are fewer jobs available – even entry-level positions.

Cahn stressed the importance of getting an internship while still in college, calling it “a must.”

Her other advice?

•Make contacts while in those internships.

“It’s grunt work, but your foot is in the door,” Cahn said. If you can’t score an internship locally, then go to the smaller markets (one of Cahn’s recent interns just got a job in Casper, Wyoming.)

•Look for intern positions as a production assistant, assignment desk assistant or working in the Web-based division.

•Make your audition tapes while still in college.

•Make friends with photographers and editors. In other words, network!

“Survival is learning. Keep changing, growing and keep up with technology, or retire,” said Cahn.

Cahn speaks from experience. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1978, Cahn went to work in broadcasting in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Huntsville, Ala. before reporting in Little Rock, Ark. She was working in Miami when her career pathway brought her to Philadelphia as a broadcast and investigative journalist 23 years ago. She’s presently working on her master’s degree, and said she hopes to be able to teach someday.

She smiled when asked if she’d consider teaching at Montgomery County Community College.

“I’m inspired by students, and impressed with the equipment, Smart Boards, and fantastic technology here,” she said.

Cahn also blogs at http://www.oneyearoffirsts.com and co-hosts NBC-10’s “The 10 Show.”

For more information, visit http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/on-air/about-us/Lu_Ann_Cahn.html


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Coda to Perform During Relay for Life

By Sarah Grebe, Montgazette Staff Writer

Chris Cachuela calls his band’s project a heartfelt concept album–a memoir to his late mother, who died from esophageal cancer.

Released in September, the EP called “Project Coda” contains tracks that Cachuela wrote and performed with his band Coda. All profits from the album will be donated to cancer research.

Coda will perform during the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraiser on April 29 at Montgomery County Community College. The band will give a special 2 a.m. performance on the Central Campus quad.

Recently, Coda was featured on MontoCo Radio during the weekly RadioRoxx show hosted by Ryan Witsen. The band plans to perform two other shows to benefit the American Cancer Society in 2011.

Cachuela recorded the first few tracks of the album in a spare room at his sister’s house.

“The project began as a way for me to help find myself again,” he said. “After my mother lost a short and brutal battle against esophageal cancer, I was lost. I was scared of how my family, especially my little sister, 13, would deal with this in the long run.

“I had a vision that if I wrote an album based off of my grieving process, start to finish, that when I write a song about acceptance, I will finally be at peace with myself.”

Cachuela’s vision was a great deal of work, and to foster his creativity and keep him driven, he added pianist Brandon Stack as the first addition to the band’s line up. Glenn Musser, a guitarist and lyricist, was added shortly after.

“I originally offered to do instrumental repairs for Chris, but was later offered the position as rhythm guitarist,” Cachuela said. “Being that I had the itch to get back into playing in a band, and the project struck me as very driven and purposeful, I accepted the offer.”

Josh was the most recent edition to the band as the drummer and is delighted to be a part of Coda and its mission to raise cancer awareness.

All songs are written, recorded, mixed and mastered by the members of the band, which makes them a truly holistic group. Their music theory consists of cozy melodies with a rock sound that is nothing less than inspiring.

For more information, visit www.projectcoda.org or join their fan base on the Project Coda Facebook page.

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Save My Pell

Eight MCCC Students Advocate in D.C. to Save the Pell Grant

By Paul Goraczko

Montgazette Staff Writer

Imagine a world without education. Think about what that world would be like. What would the repercussions be?

On March 19, eight students from Montgomery County Community College were confronted with this question when they attended the American Student Association of Community College’s 2011 National Student Advocacy Conference held in Washington, D.C.

I was among the eight who attended the conference in order to address the issue of H.R. 1, a continuing resolution that aims to cut the 2011-2012 maximum Pell Grant by $845, which would reduce the maximum award from $5,550 to $4,705.

For nearly 40 years, the Pell Grant has been a foundation of federal postsecondary financial assistance for students from low-income families. It has given millions of students the opportunity to seek higher education.

My fellow students and I attended ASACC’s Student Advocacy Conference on behalf of the more than 3,900 students at MCCC that receive Pell Grant funding. 

We visited the offices of four of the seven members of Congress who represent parts of Montgomery County: Rep. Patrick Meehan, Rep. Jim Gerlach, Rep. Allyson Schwartz and Rep. Charlie Dent.

Psychology major and Student Government Association Senator Arthur Mongrande, a recipient of the Pell Grant, expressed his gratitude for the Pell Grant during a meeting with a staffer for Rep. Meehan.

“Without the Pell Grant, I probably wouldn’t be able to attend college,” Mongrande said. His story rings true for many other MCCC students.

As heartbreaking as it may be, many MCCC students wouldn’t be able to attend college had it not been for the Pell Grant.

Over the last six years at MCCC, the number of students using Pell Grant funds has increased 122 percent, according to the college. And there has been a 20 percent increase in the number of students who received a Pell Grant in the past year, the college adds.

At MCCC, 2,404 students receive the maximum Pell Grant funding of $5,550 per year.

Needless to say, Pell Grants are critical for many students to continue their education.

 It is estimated that 1.5 million students across the United States will not be able to go to school next year if the Pell Grant funding cuts are passed.

So the question remains. Do you want live in a world that does not support higher education?

 If not, my fellow SGA members and I urge you to contact your senators and representatives.

For more information on how you can get in contact with your representatives, please visit the Student Leadership and Involvement office in College Hall.

You can also e-mail Christopher Coia at CCoia@mc3.edu or visit http://www.savemypellgrant.com.

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Norm’s Niche

By Norman Detweiler

Montgazette Staff Writer

“Can anyone imagine anything so cheerless and dreary as a springtime without a robin’s song?” This quote is from Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” which was first published in 1962. Her book deals mostly with our overzealous use of pesticides and the damage that it caused. We almost destroyed our national symbol, the bald eagle. The book is largely credited for launching the environmental movement, which led to the first Earth Day in 1970.

What day?

Earth Day. You know – planting trees, picking up trash,  going  green, green, green and all that good stuff.

Well, let’s just face it: for most people, Earth Day isn’t one of the most anticipated holidays.

But throughout the region and on our own campus it will be celebrated with an infectious zeal that’s hard to ignore. In fact, Montgomery County Community College will host a whole week’s worth of events in celebration of Earth Day.

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. It was the idea of the U. S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, who had been trying to put environmental issues into the political spotlight since 1962. According to an article written by Nelson, he saw a chance to tap into the antiwar movement’s use of “teach-ins” at universities throughout the United States as a way of starting a grassroots movement that focused on what he saw as the environmental degradation of the earth. According to the Congressional Record, he proposed such a “teach in” in the fall of 1969, to then-President Richard M. Nixon. 

 “Mr. President, because of the grave mistakes of their elders, the youth of today face an ugly world of the near future with dangerously and deadly polluted air and water; sprawling, crowded development, festering mounds of debris and an insufficient amount of open space to get away from it all.”

The press ran with the idea and it became a reality the following spring.

One interesting note: while doing the research for this article I came across a letter to Nelson from a young man from our area:

“Please send me all the information you have on Earth Day. I am in the fifth grade and would like to organize my community. The teachers and adults of my area are less aware of the urgency of this problem than the children and I would like to help make them aware. I will send money when I can.”

— Jerry Murphy, Lansdale, PA

This truly was a grassroots movement.

Things seem a bit better today, but there are still problems. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at things, today’s environmental issues aren’t as visible as the smog and water pollution was at the time of Earth Day’s founding. Today, we deal with issues such as global warming and mercury given off by power plants, potentially invisible killers. And suburban sprawl is still a problem and is very visible if you pick the wrong time of day to try to drive to or from campus.  Because of this, the education that Earth Day is trying to promote is as important now as it was then – maybe even more so. 

I like to think of every day as Earth Day. This is the only planet that I am intimately involved with.  It’s the one that all my food and water comes from. It’s the one that all my relatives live on (at least as far as I know, anyway). I sometimes wonder about this final point.

We take this place for granted because it has always been here for us. Earth Day is a day in which we need to take a moment and get re-acquainted with the outdoors, which in these modern days of technological overload is  often overlooked and less appreciated than in days past. So, if you do nothing else on this auspicious occasion, at least put the iPod and cell phone aside and take a hike in a local park and get re-acquainted with your roots, literally.   

Environmental group spotlight: The Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy. The PWC is a nonprofit that was formed in 1964 by local citizens to combat pollution in the Perkiomen watershed. The Perkiomen Creek is one of the tributaries to the Schuylkill River. PWC’s headquarters is located about halfway between MC3’s Central Campus and West Campus, near the town of Schwenksville.

 According to Trudy Phillips, PCW’s Director of Environmental Education, the organization focuses a lot on youth education and has a wealth of programs on wildlife and local environment. They’ve served nearly 10,000 students this year.

“We are small but we work hard,” Phillips said.  They have some programs for adults as well, including geocaching, an annual stream clean-up project, a canoe sojourn down the creek in May and are involved in various other conservation projects that often need volunteers. They can be found at: http://www.perkiomenwatershed.org

This month, the PWC will hold its Lenape Challenge on April 30 as part of Earth Day and Arbor Day. This is a four-mile run that culminates with a climb to the top of Spring Mountain ski area and a run back down to the Perkiomen Creek, where participants board canoes and paddle two miles back to PWC headquarters. This is two-person team event.  Canoes and lifejackets are provided. The entry fee helps support PWC’s many programs.

MC3 environmental spotlight: In case you haven’t already discovered it, we have an environmental blog at: mc3green.wordpress.com. It’s updated regularly and you can keep up on the environmental goings on of past and present. Be sure to check the site for the entire list of events that will take place on our campuses during the Earth Week celebration.

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MCCC Proud

So, What are YOU Wearing?

By Billie Sherwood-Bakhshi 

If you wear what you love, and you wear a label to represent that love and support, then looking around campus can be an interesting experience.

You don’t see anyone walking around campus with a Kmart logo on their T-shirt. I’ve never seen a souvenir sweatshirt from Paducah, Kentucky. And I’ve also never seen a “hoodie” featuring UCSC Banana Slugs (remember John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction?”).

I have seen Phillies shirts galore. And most of our other local sports teams are represented: Flyers and Eagles and even local high school teams such as North Penn and Abington.

Most of the college shirts I have observed on campus sport Temple or Penn State logos. Gwynedd-Mercy and Holy Family College are also well-represented.

But during a week’s worth of observing what students wear on Montgomery County Community College’s campus, I’ve seen TWO students wearing MCCC apparel.

Is it ironic that MCCC students wear the labels of other institutions?

Judging from where the vast majority of clothing comes, the MCCC student body shops in expensive places, attends major sporting events and vacations in nice places. Yet they go to MCCC.

Are students equating enrollment at community college as something to be ashamed of – like being a poor-country boy who wants to live like his rich and sophisticated cousin from the city? Is that why the MCCC “hoodies” and T-shirts seem to be collecting dust at the bookstore?

MCCC surely doesn’t have the prestige of the big four-year universities. It isn’t likely that the ticket sales for the Mustangs will ever compete with the Temple Owls. But MCCC surely isn’t a school to be ashamed of attending.

Our school is among the best community colleges in the nation for its use of technology. With the school’s annual average tuition at $3,226, it’s no wonder that students can afford a $39.50 “hoodie” at Hollister and a week in Cape May.

So don’t be so ashamed of being a MCCC student. As the weather changes, buy a MCCC “hoodie,” and wear your Mustangs T-shirt. Chances are, once you’re paying tuition at a four-year university, you’re going to miss MCCC and the disposable income it allows you to spend

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