Archive for October, 2017

Sara Wilkerson
The Montgazette Editor-in-Chief

New Academic Year, New Beginnings…

Whether it’s your first or second (or even beyond that) year here at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), the start of a new year can be daunting. The adjustment of getting a new routine set around classes, clubs, work in part time or full time jobs, family, friends… it can be a challenging experience to overcome. With these obligations, it can be easy to just say to yourself, “I want to give up.”

And I’m here to tell you this: You’re better than that.

I know that for me, I’m no exception to the challenge of college life and responsibilities. In addition to managing The Montgazette, I am involved in five other clubs: I’m a member of the Honors Club and Chess Club, I am a member of the Arts and Literature Magazine staff, I am the President of the Writer’s Club and I recently became the Phi Theta Kappa Public Relations Officer. Aside from clubs, I also have a part time job and have a full semester course load of five classes, with one of them being an honors course.

It is safe to say that I, along with many other student leaders on campus, can find the balancing act to be overwhelming. Yet, even as I say this, I’ve seen the excellence in the student body within the first few weeks this Fall semester. From the College’s Club Fair to the kickoff of the OneMontco Unity Series, the students of MCCC have expressed interest in involvement on campus. As a second-year student here at MCCC, I can tell you from experience that being involved in clubs is what can help you make the most of your college life – even amidst all your worrisome obligations.

I remember at the start of my first semester here at MCCC, I didn’t feel as if I belonged on campus because I didn’t have many friends. However, once I started to get involved in clubs, I realized that by joining clubs, I could hang out more with the people I saw in my classes every day. Even the simplest task of attending club meetings helped me in other aspects of my life: I’ve become more organized in scheduling my life every day – from clubs, to classes and all the other obligations that are thrown at me in life…

My point here is that I know that college life can be overwhelming, that perhaps you, a student here at MCCC, are feeling what I felt in my first semester of college. But I’m here to tell you that by simply being more proactive on campus, that perhaps all the other pieces in your life will fall into place.

If you’re interested in getting more involved on campus, I strongly recommend using the multiple resources that the College offers. First and foremost, there’s OrgSync, which is a website where you can find information on club and campus related events and activities being posted regularly. There’s also the Student Leadership Involvement (SLI) office where you can talk to the new Director of Student Life Tyler Steffy about clubs you’re interested in. And of course, you can sign up at club fairs when they happen once every semester and get information from there as well.

With that being said, I want to wish all of the students at MCCC good luck on completing the rest of the Fall semester. Don’t worry, you got this!

Read Full Post »

Lisa Sills
The Montgazette Staff

As we continue the Fall 2017 semester, many new and returning students at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) must do many errands to make ends meet. Besides keeping up with the demand of work assigned by their professors, students have hectic and busy schedules, as many students are also employed at full- or part-time jobs, and they must be able to support themselves and others that that they depend on, or others who depend on them. Students may also have a range of other struggles that are typical of the multitude of other stressors that face American college students in the 21st century. Being enrolled in many college classes (as many as four or five classes) simultaneously can lead to stress, which can lead to psychosomatic disorders.

A psychosomatic disorder is a disease that involves both the mind and the body. Some physical illnesses of the body are affected negatively by mental factors like stress and anxiety. Some examples of these physical illnesses, caused by stress and anxiety, are stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Mental illnesses can also cause physical problems; for example, when a person is afraid, he/she may develop a faster heart rate and faster breathing, as part of the classic “fight-or-flight response.” “This goes back to caveman days, and the ‘fight-or-flight response’ is encoded within us,” says Dr. David Posen, stress expert and author of Is Work Killing You?: A Doctor’s Prescription for Treating Workplace Stress. Our stress reaction is mediated by hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol—all of which provide us with immediate energy to fight or run away from danger.

While attending the Japanese Cultural Club’s table at MCCC’s Club Fair back in September, I learned about the kendama (けん玉, “sword [and] ball”), a Japanese toy that is a variant of the classic cupand-ball game.

The kendama is made up of the “ken” (handle) and the “tama” (ball), which is connected by a string. The kendama tricks are done by variations of juggling the ball in the three cups, spiking the ball with the ken spike, and balancing both in creative ways. Simply replace the tama (ball) with a medicinal stress ball! The modern kendama, which dates to the late 17th or early 18th century, takes its influences from a diverse range of skills, including yoyo, diabolo, juggling, and dance.

Around the world, there are many cultural variations of the kendama. The Hispanic version of this toy is known as the “boliche” or “balero.” The French version of this ball-and-cup game, which dates to the 16th century, is known as the “bilboquet.”  The object of these toys is the same: catching one object with another, where both are joined by a string.

As an activity, to deal with stress, anyone can build a medicinal stress ball-in-a-cup game at home. These days, most stressors are psychological rather than physical. When a person is stressed, the body tightens up—so the physical release of squeezing a medicinal stress ball helps to let go of some of that energy. You can squeeze the medicinal stress ball—with a tight fist, as hard as you wish!


Ilisco_Stress Management (Sills)

Members of the Japanese Club at MCCC’s Club Fair — Photo by Erin Ilisco


Read Full Post »

Dave Aston
The Montgazette Staff

Today’s media are increasingly synergistic. Not a day goes by when KYW NewsRadio doesn’t post a video on Facebook or the Phillies doesn’t broadcast their games in print, audio and video. Donnell Peake, Montgomery County Community College’s station co-manager of Montco Radio, recently experienced how that works in the real world and how he plans to apply it to Montco’s media clubs.

On September 14, Peake and other representatives from Montco’s media clubs attended a networking event courtesy of the Philadelphia Phillies in the press room of Citizens Bank Park. An experience Peake called “electrifying,” the Montco student representatives met several members of the Phillies’ media business and front office. Each member relayed stories of how hard work eventually paid off.

“[Some] of the people on the panel got rejected more than three times, but they still pursued their dreams, and now they are head of the [Human Resources] Department for the Phillies,” Peake said. “Being able to hear [about] peoples’ journeys and what it took for them to get in the position they are now really [speaks] to me.”

Peake wishes events like this would happen more often “because having opportunities to speak with people in the broadcasting industry is like winning the lottery.”

This winning attitude is what motivates this Montco media club leader every day. Over the summer, Peake invited leaders of the other major media clubs of Montco, The Montgazette and Communicating Arts Production Group (CAPG), to discuss a plan to team up for long-range projects and promotions to help club members become better prepared for work in the media business.

“[The Phillies] experience can be used to enhance the Montco Media Clubs by organizing the three media clubs for different events that involve MCCC. [This] would help show the students who are involved what the industry is going to be like,” Peake said.

Peake’s plans to unite Montco Radio, The Montgazette and CAPG for major campus events so that each club can increase listeners, readers and viewers. One of his long-range plans is the introduction of a “Montco Radio Scholarship” for members in each of the media clubs.

In addition, Peake suggests that the college reach out to more media organizations. “I would say [the college should] get connected with…Fox 29, CBS 3, PHL17, 6ABC or NBC10 and see if there is [a way to] allow students to shadow someone who works for one of these media outlets.”

Merging Montco’s media clubs takes a lot of hard work, creativity and inspiration. With Donnell Peake and Montco’s student media club leaders, the hard work will pay off in ways to make all MCCC media students become tomorrow’s media professionals.


Woods_Phillies Media

Photo by Donnell Peake


Read Full Post »

Joining Japanese Club

Grace Lee
The Montgazette Staff

The Japanese Club at Montco is very exciting and cultural. I will explain what the Japanese Club does, what you learn while in the club, and why you should join the club. We meet every Friday from 12:30pm to 1:30pm in Parkhouse Hall 124. We gather together, have pizza and candy of different flavors during meetings. In our first meeting this semester, the club’s president, Tina Merianou, gave members an introduction on what the club is all about and talked about important dates for events and field trips. Following the introductory speech, the first activity we did as a club was an ice breaker where we got to know each other, played fun games and had a great time.

When you think of Japanese culture, you might think about the Samurai warrior or a young Geisha, but there are a lot of other elements of Japanese culture to learn about. For instance, Japanese people bow down to their elders to respect them. Being polite in this culture is important. In Japan it is not polite to tip people at a restaurant. While at a restaurant, using the word “itadakimasu” signals politeness to servers. When you are going to a guest’s house, you should take your shoes off before going inside. When Japanese people are in public, they should try not to draw attention to themselves by speaking loudly on a cellphone.

The reason why I’d like people to join the Japanese Club is because you can learn something new and tell friends and family about the culture. In the club you can learn how to speak the Japanese language and how it was started, as well as the type of food that is eaten, the type of music listened to and different types of artwork from long ago.

Finally, let me tell you why I enjoy the Japanese Club. You are able to meet new people and communicate well. You are able to enjoy the company of others and listen to their stories. My favorite parts about this club are going on field trips, eating new foods, watching Japanese animation movies, playing fun Japanese games and especially hanging out with new friends.

I have made a lot of memories in this club. The best time I’ve had was going to dinner at the Fuji Japanese Restaurant in North Wales, Pennsylvania. The food was so yummy and delicious, my favorite food featured in the restaurant was the fried dessert. After dinner, we decided to sing karaoke. Towards the end of that trip, it was hard to leave friends when you are having lots of fun.

This is the end of my story and adventure on my experience joining the Japanese Club. I hope you are able to join if you are interested. Please come to the meetings on Fridays from 12:30pm to 1:30pm in PH124.

Lee_Japanese Club

Photo Courtesy of Grace Lee

Read Full Post »

The KEYS to Success

Dejah Wallace
The Montgazette Staff

Are you a parent who wants an education but needs assistance with balancing school and your personal life? Montgomery County Community College, along with the other 14 community colleges in Pennsylvania, offers students that receive financial or food benefits from Pennsylvania the support that they need.

The Pennsylvania Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) is a 24-month program that offers each student guidance from a KEYS facilitator – an employee of the College – who helps identify the student’s career goals and find jobs that offer sustainable wages. In order to achieve their goals successfully, the KEYS facilitators also assist in creating course schedules, maintaining transportation, buying school supplies, completing financial aid applications, and making child care arrangements.

According to Ingrid M. Fisher, director of the KEYS Program at the College, “I have been a KEYS student, not literally, but having had to face some of the challenges that our KEYS students must handle academically, financially and socially… It was truly a village that helped me to earn my two Bachelor degrees from Widener University and my Juris Doctorate Law Degree from Seton Hall Law School.”

The KEYS staff serve as mentors and are their students’ biggest resource, but unfortunately, students often interact with them as an extension of the County Assistance Office (CAO). Eligibility for the program is all determined by the CAO.

Some of the eligibility requirements include receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, or financial benefits) before the 60-month time limit that is placed on their assistance and being currently enrolled in (or planning to attend) a community college. Those who lose their TANF eligibility but still receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food) benefits may remain in the KEYS program, though those students who lose their SNAP eligibility can only remain in the program until the end of their current semester.

Likewise to many benefits and assistance offers, you will have to fulfill certain requirements in order to maintain them. KEYS participation requires 20 hours per week if you are a parent with a child under six years of age, and 30 hours if your child is six years or older. The Department of Public Welfare sees the participation in KEYS as your work requirement until your time in the program is up. Your weekly hours are all counted by your class time, unmonitored study time, community service, or work related activities. During school breaks, such as annual Thanksgiving, winter, spring and summer breaks, you would make up your hours by work study, job search or community service.

In addition to the KEYS program, the College also provides a Child Care Center to their students on the Central Campus. They provide a quality environment and preschool setting for children ages two to five. The Child Care Center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 12 months of the year, except for the last two weeks of August. The center also offers a summer camp program that takes place mid-June to mid-August.

Visit the Student Success Center, located in College Hall on Central Campus, to find out more information about KEYS and the many more ways the College can assist you on your journey to success.


Betancourt_Student Success Center


Read Full Post »

Bridget Depew
The Montgazette Staff

With all the talk of the general irresponsibility and self–centeredness of the millennial generation, there are a great many millenials who flip that narrative on its head. One in particular would be Noah DiMarcello.

A student here at Montgomery County Community College, Noah is a Communication major. He, like a lot of students who attend Montco, didn’t know exactly where his path would take him when he first entered the doors three years ago.

“I had no idea what to do. I started off as Liberal Studies, and I took the COM111 [class] and that’s what got me into it. I don’t want to write papers anymore. I’ve always been creative, and I thought, ‘How can I make a job out of that?’” said DiMarcello.

Like many of us, Noah initially allowed his fears and insecurities to prevent him from following his passion. But a lightbulb went on, and he realized he couldn’t let fear hold him back.

“A year ago when I first started coming up to the Blue Bell [campus], I saw the radio station and thought, ‘That’s really cool.’ And I thought I didn’t really have the confidence yet to do it, so I held off. I didn’t really know what to talk about.”

After struggling with where he wanted to go in life and how to get there, Noah said it just hit him. He gave himself a pep talk and garnered up the courage to tackle his dream.

“I was like, yeah, I’m gonna do it! I just marched in and was like, ‘Yo, I want a radio show, like now, we can call it Let’s Be Real.” And just like that, folks, Let’s Be Real was born.

Noah wants the show to be less about random happenings and more about a place where people can be real – with everything:relationships and even a place where people can be encouraged.

“I want people to share what they’ve been through and how they got out of it,” DiMarcello said. “I want to take what I’ve learned and share it with other people. I don’t want to get super deep, but deep enough to help others. Noah’s first guest was Carissa Mandracchia, a fellow Communication major here at Montco. Carissa, having shared the same struggles as Noah, said, “First of all, I want to support him because he’s my friend, and you need to support your friends, no matter what. Helping to contribute to this [was] awesome for me.”

Noah’s host name is Vee Nikitin. Not your average, run-of-the-mill name, so I had to ask its origin. Vee is short for Valentin. Noah DiMarcello, born Valentin Nikitin in Moscow, was adopted and brought over here to the United States as a baby. So this is a bit of a tribute to his roots.

I can’t think of a better way to talk about where you’re going than by acknowledging where you’ve been.

Check out “Let’s Be Real” every Thursday evening on MontcoRadio.com, 6-7pm.



Photo courtesy of Bridget Depew


Read Full Post »

Photos by Erin Ilisco

Read Full Post »

Rahul Thevar
The Montgazette Staff

A one-on-one interview with Montgomery County Community College English Professor, Monica D’Antonio

Q. What colleges did you go to to get to where you are now?

A. I attended Rutgers University for my undergraduate and graduate degrees in English. I am currently working on my PhD in Educational Psychology at Temple University.

Q. What do you like about being a professor?

A. I LOVE being a professor. There is no job in the world I would rather have. It’s almost impossible for me to describe what it’s like to watch someone learn something new or overcome a fear they had or develop confidence in themselves. It’s truly an honor to be a part of that experience. I also like the connections that develop through teaching. I really like the way my students bond with each other and with me throughout the course of the semester. Many stay in touch after the semester is over, and it’s awesome to watch my students to continue to be successful and develop their lives beyond my class. I’m not a religious person, but I consider teaching to be a calling for me.

Q. My next question to you is since you are poll worker, how do you improve political involvement with college aged (18-25) people?

A. It’s CRUCIAL for young people (18-30) to vote, to get interested and involved in politics, to be informed about domestic and international issues, and to run for office themselves. The tough part about this is that politics seems so stodgy and exclusive. When you look at the members of Congress… they are all fairly old, most of them are white, and most of them are men. Platforms and messaging are two other issues that politicians need to address. Politicians don’t know how to convey the importance of certain issues, like health care and taxes, to younger audiences. When pols do try to reach out, they do not communicate their platforms effectively… Obama was incredibly successful with young voters. He was reasonable, knowledgeable, but also just downright cool… He also had a community organizing background, which meant he knew how to talk and relate to people of all walks of life. Rarely do our politicians have that “ground level” knowledge. Most don’t know how the average person lives. Bottom line: we need cooler, younger, and smarter people – like Obama – get involved in government.

However, the issue isn’t just with politicians. Young voters need to
actually step up and take responsibility for the country they live in and the future they want to see. They can’t just wait for the “adult in the room” to solve their problems. If you’re in America, you need to protect it and transform it to make sure it’s the place that you want to live in. Take the outrage you display on Facebook and Twitter and go out and get involved.

Q. What do you want to say to current Montco students figuring out what they want to do?

A. To MCCC students trying to figure it all out, I say: Take risks and don’t be afraid to fall down. You will fail sometimes. Get over it. Failure is where the learning happens.



MCCC English Professor Monica D’Antonio — Photo by Andrea Betancourt


Read Full Post »

Lucy Derstine
The Montgazette Staff

I talk to myself sometimes. I lied. I talk to myself a lot. In all honesty, I talk to myself all of the time. I imagine that to some people I probably look a lot like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. I am truly ashamed to admit it, but sometimes, I even pretend I am talking on a Bluetooth when someone looks at me funny.

To illustrate my point, the other day, I slipped as quietly as I possibly could into a class to print a picture for a deadline. I was trying to be very quiet so as not to be distracting because it had been brought to my attention recently by a fellow classmate that I was too loud. He said in a mean voice, “Do you have any idea how loud and distracting you are? People are trying to work.”

The worst part was, I had no idea how loud or distracting I was at all. I asked him to clarify. He did, and well, I cried. My lip actually quivered. It was awful, and I felt so bad, mostly because I felt so crushed that I could not be accepted as myself, loud and talkative.

I did not let it keep me down though! Well, I was going to certainly try! I digress, back to the real tale… I was working quietly and was focused. I patted myself on the back because I am so killing this quiet thing, when out of nowhere, the kid next to me said, “Dude. You could totally be a voice over artist.”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

The kid said in a genuinely impressed voice, “Do you even realize how many noises come out of you?!? It’s amazing! You should be a voice over artist!”

Confused, I replied, “I thought I was being quiet.”

Voluminous laughter erupted from within his depths. It became contagious and gained momentum from seat to seat from those who I am sure heard this entire conversation. Not entirely defeated, I left the classroom and mulled this over with myself at lunch.

There began my quest. That evening I typed into Google: “Talking to yourself.” It turns out that I am not alone; like many other humans, I just like to yammer to myself! According to Live Science, saying things out loud sparks memory and helps one to recall facts with more accuracy. Inner talking is actually beneficial to one’s health and has a special role in keeping our minds fit, organizing our thoughts, making plans, weighing actions, and regulating our emotions!

So, there you have it. Talking out loud could actually be a sign of high functioning genius, making me a more competent human being rather than one with a debilitating mental illness. Perhaps, just perhaps, the next time you catch someone talking to themselves, you can admire and learn from them rather than cut them down. I feel a lot less like a “mad scientist” and will continue to rely on the power of my very unique brain, albeit a bit more quietly!


Derstine_Self Portrait

Lucy Derstine — Self Portrait


Read Full Post »

Justin Oakes
The Montgazette Staff

Stephen King has been hailed as the “Master of Horror” for generations, not simply because he has the ability to make us jump at every little bump in the night, but because his stories bend our minds and make us think about the world around us through the use of the horror genre. His epic novel IT is no exception to this.

IT follows the story of seven friends growing up in the 1950’s in the fictional town of Derry, Maine. They battle bullies, build dams in the creek, and oh, did I mention they have to fight off a demonic clown named Pennywise who eats children? After defeating Pennywise the first time, the children slowly forget about the wild summer and push the horrible reality to the back of their memories. But because Pennywise comes back every 27 years, the children, now grown up, decide that they have to come back to stop the clown once and for all. The story was later adapted into a 1990 miniseries but has again gained prominence in 2017 due to the first in a two-part series of films based on the book.

On the surface, the story seems like just another run of the mill horror story. But at a closer look, we find a delicately intriguing look at childhood, growing up, and taking responsibility in order to save lives. When the grown adults of Derry look back at the time that they had spent fighting Pennywise when they were children, they speak about all of the times in which the adults knew something problematic was going on, but were too afraid to talk about or do anything about it.

Now, more than ever, this message rings true.

This is happening right now. Too many people in the older generations refused to do anything about climate change. They absurdly cut regulations on Wall Street that hurt millions of Americans and crippled our economy, and they failed to truly combat inequality in a system based on oppression. All of these responsibilities have fallen on our shoulders. The adults knew that they couldn’t push problems to the side like the past generations had done. They had to stand up, fight back, and most importantly, change the things in the world that they thought needed to be changed.

When faced with the idea of having to stand up to Pennywise, most of the adults say they’ve gotten too old, and scared, that fighting just wasn’t worth it. But, in the end, they did what was right and proved that one must take a stand in order to create real change. One must have convictions based in moral obligations to society, regardless of how uncomfortable those truths behind said convictions may make one. One must not push problems to the side just because the problems are scary or uncomfortable, but rather act responsibly in order to save lives. Posterity looks to us to be the positive change. The fate of the world is resting on our shoulders. We must follow the words of, yes, Stephen King, if we want to leave a better future for our children.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »