Archive for May, 2011

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By Sarah Grebe, Montgazette Staff Writer

Montgomery County Community College’s largest graduating class did not go quietly as they gave the nation’s Second Lady – Dr. Jill Biden – a standing ovation during the school’s 44th Commencement on May 19.

Biden, a community college professor who grew up in Willow Grove, said she felt right at home addressing not only a hometown audience but, particularly, community college graduates.

“People often ask me why I continue to teach, and my answer is very simple: it’s you. It’s the students,” Biden said. “Tales are often told of teachers inspiring students, but I find it is more often the other way around.

Biden shined her spotlight on three MCCC graduates who completed degrees despite at-home challenges or outside responsibilities. They are: Karen Vasko, who, at 57, aspires to be a nurse and fulfill a promise she made to her late father-in-law; Elizabeth Neuman, a biotechnology research assistant and Brian Lukens, who served two tours of duty in Iraq with the Marines before returning to college to complete his degree at MCCC.

In her address, college President Dr. Karen Stout noted the evening’s historical significance.

“Big results require big ambitions,” Dr. Stout said as she welcomed the crowd. “Our entire community comes together to salute the achievements of the class of 2011, the largest in our history.”

The significance of the evening wasn’t lost on Central Campus Student Government President Antonio Marrero.

His voice emphatic, his finger pointing, Marrero electrified the graduates and praised them for their “incorruptible powers of ingenuity, strength and courage” to complete their studies and earn degrees.

“We all know how it feels to wonder if we would graduate on time, or even at all. But it’s during those rough times when we find the raw materials to build who we want to be.

Marrero wrapped up his speech by informing faculty, administrators, community, state and national leaders to pay attention to this graduating class.

“We will not go quietly,” he said. “No. Not tonight. The graduates here are the vital futures of our humble community, this great Commonwealth and this illustrious nation. As the age of networking comes into fruition we will unite and we will conquer not only our own futures but the future of the common good. Mustangs, tonight is ours!

The crowd, at Marrero’s insistence, gave themselves a standing ovation.

Dr. Stout’s reaction to Marrero’s speech?


Dr. Biden’s?

“Thank you for your inspiring words,” she told Marrero from the stage. “Should I start calling you Mr. President right now?”

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Relay for Life

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By Sarah Grebe, Montgazette Staff Writer

Participants forming 28 teams took part in the 12-hour walk on Central Campus April 29-30 and raised more than $24,400 for the American Cancer Society, exceeding their goal by $9,400.

Additionally, the event also attracted more participants than projected and earned seven corporate sponsorships.

Opening ceremony, April 29

Cancer survivors kicked off the event with a walk around the campus called The Survivor’s Lap. Joining them were college President Dr. Karen Stout, who shared the story of her best friend’s bout with melanoma; event Co-Chair Joshua Schwartz, a cancer survivor; Co-Chair Grace Pusey, whose deceased mother was a huge proponent/organizer of her local Relay for Life; and Miss Pennsylvania International Julia Pauline, who shared her story about cancer’s impact on her loved ones.

“Look around tonight. Look at the masterpiece we have all created!” Schwartz told the crowd. “You will witness courage during the survivor lap. You will witness hope during the luminaria event. And you will witness faith that a cure for cancer will one day be found between all our enthusiasm and participation here at the first ever Relay for Life event.”

Stout said the greater-than-anticipated level of fundraising is a reflection of the good people of Montgomery County Community College and its supporters.

Through the night

Friends were made and stories were shared all night.

Club Thrive leader and musician Seth recalled the story of his best friend Linda, who was diagnosed with throat cancer.

“What and inspiration she was,” Seth said. He performed a song he had written for Linda, titled “Super Girl.”

At the beginning of the candle lantern, or luminary, ceremony, the most moving and touching portion of the night, Barbara Schaeffer shared her sad story of how her son, Brian, slowly slipped away from the effects of his cancer.

“Though cancer took Brian’s life, he was and is a surviving spirit, along with each living spirit here tonight,” she said. “Let’s light up the night with the people and [their] stories.”

More than 200 people walked in silence during the ceremony to remember loved ones. Students, faculty members and residents—young and old— all came together because they shared one thing in common: hope that researchers will find a cure for the disease that affects millions every year.

4 a.m. April 30

By 4 a.m., after a performance by the band Coda and while the rest of the East Coast slept, the excitement and energy continued on campus as walkers carried maracas and participated in “fun laps” that included game of limbo and dancing the cha-cha.

Though temperatures dropped and the winds picked up, walkers did not stop. They walked wrapped up in blankets, they walked in close groups, and they walked sipping hot coffee, or even ran laps to keep warm.

There was excitement in the air and a smile on every face throughout that sleepless but encouraging night.

The Montgomery County Community College Chapter of the American Cancer Society will keep the opportunity open for those who would like to donate. Donations will be accepted through August 2011. For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/pamccc.

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By Billie Sherwood-Bakhshi, Montgazette Staff Writer

“Green” parking anyone?

The removal of construction trailers from an area adjacent to Parkhouse Hall and the Advanced Technology Center clears space to add 185 parking spots.

Most students and staff returning in the fall will have a statistically better chance of finding a space that’s within a considerably shorter walk to their activities on Central Campus.

A minimum of six spaces will be handicapped-accessible, according to Thomas R. Freitag, the college’s Vice President for Finance and Administration. He noted that plans for the accessible spaces have yet to be finalized because they have to comply with statutes.

Freitag said the new parking lot would be “green” in that plans call for electric car charging stations, a rain garden complete with water cisterns and plants that would help alleviate runoff and prevent flooding.

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By Julia Tasca, Montgazette Staff Writer

English class and I had a pretty straight-forward understanding of each other for a very long time: it hated me and I hated it.  I should have failed 10th grade English. My instructor must have really liked me because I passed by a 10th of a point.  Over-achiever, I know.

Never in a million years did I think that I would enjoy writing, and I certainly didn’t fathom pursuing a career as a writer.

Literature is magic.  The most attractive thing about being a writer is knowing that anything can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. 

Trap a character inside of a walk-in freezer with another character.  The objective is not for the characters to escape, but for them to figure out how to survive inside of the freezer without food or water.  And no, cannibalism is not an option because their teeth have been pulled.  That’s easily a story.

Dr. Tiffany Rayl, Ph.D., (Dr. T) is an English professor here at Montgomery County Community College.  To honor my pursuit of being a professional writer, I got to know a little bit more about the writing classes she teaches as well as some of her educational background. 

Aside from English composition courses, Dr. T offers basic and advanced creative writing courses. 

Basic creative writing is perfect for all students who are interested in expressing themselves, even if they’ve never written before.  From poetry to short stories and everything in between, basic creative writing is an introductory class that allows students to get a taste of creative writing on a college level, says Dr. T.  Students participate in workshop, a circuit that gives them the opportunity to evaluate and be evaluated, she adds.

For writers eager to sharpen their skills and have a sturdy interest in writing, the advanced creative writing course is a great elective to take.  Dr. T tells me that it is writing intensive and workshop heavy, unlike the introductory course.  Advanced creative writing is being offered for summer session I at Montco’s main campus by Dr. T this year.

Basic creative writing is a pre-requisite to the advanced course.

Dr. T says she’s been intrigued by writing since the third grade.  For her, it was a great way to be able to find a way to say things.  “[Writing] just came naturally to me,” she says.

As she moved on to college, Dr. T began to think of writing as more of a career choice than a hobby.  She received her MFA degree at University of Montana in creative writing fiction and her literary Ph.D. at the University of Houston.  Along the way, Dr. T has had some of her short stories published in various literary journals.

“I get to do what I love every day,” Dr. T comments about teaching her English classes.  She says seeing her students become as fired up about their writing as she is can be very rewarding.

Unfortunately for aspiring writers and journalists like me, producing a successful living by writing isn’t the easiest career path to follow. 

But sure enough, Stephenie Meyers is making a killing writing about glittery vampires.  More generally speaking, books written on a third grade level seem to become best sellers. 

On the contrary, there are writers like Steven King and James Patterson who take the literary cake because they can effectively grab their readers by the – well – spherical organs.

If I do become a published writer, there is not guarantee that my work will generate enough revenue on which I can live.  So I guess I’ll either have to be extremely skilled at writing horrible cliché’s or extremely skilled at writing.

But I’m going to have to agree with Dr. T on this one: “It’s not about the money.”

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AmeriCorps is an opportunity to make a big difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. It’s a chance to apply your skills and ideals toward helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.

Each year, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. Whether your service makes a community safer, gives a child a second chance, or helps protect the environment, you’ll be getting things done through AmeriCorps!

AmeriCorps members address critical needs in communities all across America. As an AmeriCorps member, you can

  • Tutor and mentor disadvantaged youth.
  • Fight illiteracy.
  • Improve health services.
  • Build affordable housing.
  • Teach computer skills.
  • Clean parks and streams.
  • Manage or operate after-school programs.
  • Help communities respond to disasters.
  • Build organizational capacity.

As an AmeriCorps member, you’ll gain new skills and experiences—and you’ll also find the tremendous satisfaction that comes from helping others. In addition, full-time members who complete their service earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $4,725 to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans; members who serve part-time receive a partial Award. Some AmeriCorps members may also receive a modest living allowance during their term of service.

For more information, please contact the AmeriCorps Campus Administrator, Shantelle K. Jenkins, at 215-641-6363 or email sjenkins@mc3.edu.

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