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Archive for the ‘Personal Interest’ Category

David Aston & Sean Laughlin
The Montgazette Staff

In 1964, Montgomery County Community College started small. What would later become a gold mine of learning and an award-winning college with more than 190 fulltime faculty members teaching thousands of students began with only 17 driven, student-focused teachers. Retired physics professor Alec Goldberg is one of them.

Goldberg, now 93, remembers those early years vividly. “Those were tough days,” he says. He remembers the offices being held in a Conshohocken funeral parlor. Alec remembers more distressingly how many college teachers by 1968 seemed more interested in the how much they made instead of being interested in teaching. A fact a New York Times syndicated analysis published that same year picked up on.

David Selden, the president of the American Federation of teachers at the time, called for, a nationwide strike “to bring about the vast improvement in schools that we need.” The analysis also noted that the Philadelphia area was one of the major “hot spots” of the teacher strikes because classrooms were overcrowded and the “remoteness from policy making in the school system and a sense of repression from telling the public about their working conditions.”

Instead of joining the strikes, Alec Goldberg focused on helping his students succeed and feel at ease. He began every semester by telling his students, “Look, I know what it is, physics can be hard.” This simple statement made many students taking his class less anxious.

This attitude is what landed Goldberg the job in the first place. Dr. Leroy Brendlinger, the College’s first president, called up Goldberg after hearing of his student-focused attitude and his credentials that took him from the Franklin Institute to Rider College (now a university) to the Frankford Arsenal. With his Master’s Degree in physics from USC, Goldberg began a legacy that is still fresh 17 years after his retirement.

Now residing in Elkins Park, Alec Goldberg looks on his past fondly and knows what it takes for students to succeed. “Find the good teacher, that’s [the] important part.”

To the teachers here at the College he says, “You have to have knowledge of the subject. You have to be able to show enthusiasm. Otherwise, you’re not going to transmit your knowledge to the students. You also have to let go, have fun with the students.”

More than a half-century later, we keep finding nuggets of Alec Goldberg’s attitude and focus in the faculty that are here today. His dedicated focus on his students is part of what helps make Montgomery County Community College the great school it is today. To which we, the students who cherish that legacy, say: Thank you Mr. Goldberg.

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Sara Wilkerson
The Montgazette Editor-in-Chief

Commencement is upon us. It is that time of year where soon-to-be grads are cramming for finals, solidifying their plans on transferring to four year institutions, and saying farewell to their fellow classmates as they move forward in their academic endeavors. This issue, The Montgazette would like to shine a spotlight on one of the many graduates graduating on May 18th, 2017, and this graduate is our outgoing Editor-in-Chief, David Aston.

Aston’s journey at Montgomery County Community College started all the way back in 1996 when he was taking college credit courses while still in high school. Taking these college credits proved challenging, considering Aston had failed his junior year english class yet was taking English Composition 101 on Tuesday nights for three hours here at the College as a senior. With the help of the College’s professors, Aston managed to not only graduate high school but also further his education by taking a creative writing course in 2000.

Despite his initial success at the start of his college career, Aston’s personal life began to interfere with his studies. In the middle of his first semester, Aston lost the full time job he had and ended up moving to Lafayette Hill with his family. The sudden shift in his personal life caused Aston to not return to the College for over a decade as his concerns were focused primarily on supporting himself and his family.

Aston did not want to settle for the life that he had, which is why he came back to Montgomery County Community College as a digital audio major. Aston is grateful for his time at the College, stating, “This is the place where you achieve your dreams… it is where you have the freedom to be who you are without the pressures of having it forced upon you what somebody else wants you to be. You have the freedom, you have that openness. Grasp that, and God can’t stop you. And you become better because of it.”

With the support of many individuals on campus, including but not limiting to professors Gail Ramsey, Jerry Collom, Allan Schear, Jeff Asch, Stan Feingold, Matt Porter, David Ivory as well as former College President Karen Stout, Aston was able to complete his studies and find his passion. Aston claims that the professors at the College, “…find the importance and value in you and make you realize that you matter to yourself, if to no one else.”

Through the many obstacles that Aston has faced over his time in college, from dealing with age differences, adjusting to his editorial position of The Montgazette, and being a part time student while balancing his full time job, family and school life, Aston has remained optimistic and passionate about his future as he transfers to West Chester University in the fall as a communications major.

Based on his experiences over the past two decades, David Aston has proven that second chances do exist, as long as one believes in themselves. This is why Aston’s advice to readers that when it comes to self doubt, one should not let doubt cloud their ambitions. “Put the worries away, just do it. The worries will be there, they’re not going to go away… but if you focus on the worry, you won’t get anything done. Take it from someone who let the worry drag him down for 15 years. Don’t do it.”

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David Aston; 2017 Graduate Photo by Erin Ilisco

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Ariel Angelichio
The Montgazette Contributor

I hope to be a child psychologist. Working in the field of psychology has always been a dream of mine. What would make my career perfect would be working with children who suffer with mental health problems. Also, learning about psychology has always been interesting to me, especially here at Montgomery County Community College.

First, I love psychology because I love learning about it. I love the field and how complex it can be. You can work almost anywhere with a degree in psychology from a school to a prison. Taking courses at the college for psychology is great, and I only have two left after this spring semester. Classes are always interesting and the professors share personal stories that make me even more eager to start my career someday. My favorite class so far has been Abnormal Psychology with Professor Kathleen Nash.

Secondly, I want to be a psychologist because of my own struggles. When I was younger, I suffered from severe depression and anxiety. A psychologist helped me cope and solve the issues at my lowest points in life. They put me on a prescription regime that helped me get back to being myself again. This made me realize that that’s what I would love to do for someone else, help them get their life back in control.

Thirdly, I wish to work with children. I am great with them and I can relate to a lot of children’s issues dealing with mental health because I have been there. Through all of it, life wasn’t easy for me growing up, dealing with abandonment issues, physical abuse, and even mental abuse. My parents were always in and out of my life, at times I wouldn’t see them for months, even years. I had nobody to talk to, or vent my feelings to without being judged or yelled at by someone in my family. I was always told to “suck it up”, or “stop being a cry baby, Ariel.”

Eventually, I learned that I needed help on my own, and not from someone close to me. I needed an outsider’s view on things, I had fallen apart. I first went to a mental health clinic when I was fourteen, and I stayed there a few times after that. They gave me the help I needed, at Horsham Clinic, and I was always better when I returned. Finally, in 2014, I felt complete and whole again when I came out. I knew that was the last time I would allow myself to stoop that low, and I was strong enough to face the world head on all by myself.

Therapy was my next step in life. After coming out of Horsham Clinic, I voluntarily went to therapy. The therapist soon learned that my family was a major component in my mental health, and we had therapists come to our house twice a week for the next eight months. This helped us enormously and today we have functioned much better as a family.

As a result, I hope to become a child psychologist. I will do anything to fulfil this dream of mine. Going to school for so long and putting all of my effort into something I love and not achieving my goal is not an option for me. I will help children someday soon.

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Thea Howey
The Montgazette Contributing Writer

He was three or four when the bullying started, “Hey, four eyes, you walk like a cripple!” The Norristown bullies had spotted his braces.

“I didn’t walk right,” says David Aston, former editor-in-chief of The Montgazette. “I had problems with my speech. [And by] the time I was eight or nine, the bullying was commonplace, and I accepted it. I thought, ‘This is who I am.’”

Born with cerebral palsy, scoliosis, and other complications, David lives with daily pain. Yet you would never know it. Today at 38 years old, he looks like any other Montgomery County Community College student. He wears jeans, a baseball hat and a scruffy beard. He stands 5’ 9” and walks without support.

“The seminal moment in my life came when I was about 5,” David says. “One fine morning I woke up. I looked at the band that cuffed my waist and the two solid connecting rods that went all the way down my legs into a specially made pair of orthopedic shoes.”

He didn’t want to put on the braces. “The fear in the back of my head was that my Mom would scream at me.”

And he was right. “She fought with me tooth and nail.” Still, he refused. This was the mother who had devised physical therapy for her son—on her own.

“She saw the need intuitively,” David says with great pride and love, “because of her medical background” as an EMT. “She came up with a long and hard series of therapies for me,” he says.

Thanks to his mother’s selfless devotion and rigorous discipline, young David could walk without braces and talk, though many others with cerebral palsy can’t.

That was a big turning point in David’s life: He discovered that cerebral palsy was not going to stop him. “It’s done the exact opposite!” he happily exclaims. “Knowing that these conditions exist in me has been positive because I must go beyond my limitations.”

And he has. David is an academic high achiever with a GPA of 3.8. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. He also has produced, directed and hosted a weekly news show on Montco Radio.

In addition to attending classes and doing homework, David puts in 38 hours a week or more as the technology sales supervisor of an office supply retailer. “I have an aptitude for basic computer repair,”
he explains. But even with three people working under him, he still has to haul printers that weigh thirty pounds or more.

“That can be taxing for someone with my conditions,” David admits. “I’m constantly in pain. That’s why I’m here [at Montco].” Once again, Aston is blasting away any obstacles in his path. “I want to move forward with higher education, progress beyond where I am now in terms of career and earnings.”

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Gift of Appreciation to outgoing editor David Aston of his first letter from the editor to his last letter as editor for The Montgazette. Photo courtesy of Sara Wilkerson

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Sara Wilkerson, the new editor of The Montgazette, presented David Aston with the Gift of Appreciation at a surprised event sponsored by the paper. Photo courtesy of Rahul Theva

David’s goal, however, is to be a spokesperson for others with disabilities, “I want to champion people who have conditions like mine. I look back on my life not to be depressed but to remember where I’ve come from. This is the foundation upon which my future is built.”

 

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Dave Aston
Montgazette Editor-in-Chief

Let’s see… Can I write this without crying…?

Here it goes.

“All good things come to an end.”

Chaucer’s famous quote has been used constantly to describe any kind of change in life. This time, the change directly involves me. After nearly three years as the Editor-inChief of this wondrous publication, I will be passing the baton to a new leader.

Since 2014, I’ve learned more things than I ever thought I would and have been positively influenced by the stories that have been printed in these pages. Along the way, I’ve also been inspired by a great number of students, faculty and others.

First and foremost, my undying thanks goes out to Gail Ramsey, The Montgazette’s faculty advisor. In early 2014, I met Gail as an instructor in a media class, listening to her engaging lectures and her closing every class with, “We need an editor…” This gentle prodding led me to say, “Sure, I’ll throw my hat in the ring,” thinking there were at least a half-dozen others waiting in line. Instead, the first email I got read, “Hi, David. Here are the articles for the coming issue.”

In addition, my thanks to the many student leaders who have assisted in editing, promoting and doing the many other behind-the-scenes work that have kept this paper as the most engaging publication on campus. Jessica Pupillo, last year’s Editorial Assistant, who is studying at Bloomsberg University, was instrumental in boosting The Montgazette’s social media presence. Our current Social Media Editor, Bridget Depew, a mother and a student, has only made that presence even more prominent.

My boundless gratitude is further extended to the myriad staff writers, contributing writers, student writers and others who helped keep this publication relatable and relevant through the years. This gratitude includes, but is not limited to, Diane VanDyke, Rebecca McGovney-Ingram, Michele Cuomo, Philip Needles and MCCC President Dr. Kevin Pollack.

For me, however, there are two other people I want to single out. Former MCCC President Dr. Karen Stout and MCCC
student Sara Wilkerson. Dr. Stout was instrumental in reviving The Montgazette. In 2006, she made it her personal mission to keep print journalism alive by creating a foundation upon which The Montgazette will stand for years to come. Sara Wilkerson will build upon this foundation as my successor and your new Editor-in-Chief of The Montgazette.

Sara is a talented writer with experience as an editor of Upper Merion High School’s newspaper. She has an unstoppably upbeat attitude with a passion for sharing stories. A staff writer last year, she was recently honored with First Place by the Pennsylvania News Media Association’s Collegiate Keystone Press Awards for her article about author Jacqueline Woodson.

This speaks nothing but good things to me for the future of The Montgazette.

Oh… Here come the tears.

Come to think of it, maybe Chaucer was a bit off. Good things don’t come to an end, they are placed into the hands of people you know will not just carry on a legacy but make one for themselves and make good things happen for others. I know that Sara, supported by her staff, writers and an amazing community college that invests its resources in our future, will not just make this paper good, she’ll make it great.

So before my tears stain these pages, permit me to write a letter to the editor.

To the editor… It’s your turn to lead now. Remember, this is the students’ paper, their voice. Please, let it be heard.

Thanks, Dave Aston

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Dave Aston
The Montgazette Editor-In-Chief

On March 1, Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes hosted a community action forum in the Science Center Auditorium at Montgomery County Community College’s Central Campus. The primary focus of the forum was to present information about numerous upcoming State House and Senate bills. The forum also exposed the community to local advocacy groups.

The bills that were highlighted ranged from the State’s budget to upholding Philadelphia’s Sanctuary City status to Medicare changes in advance of the possible replacement of The Affordable Care Act. The advocacy groups included anti-gun violence, child education and other political action groups.

Throughout his recapping of the key State bills, Senator Hughes periodically made
reference to opponents of the bills he supports as “the bad guys.” Some in attendance fed off of this by raising more politically-oriented than community-oriented concerns when Senator Hughes concluded his presentation.

After the forum, I waited in line to get answers to key questions from the senator.

Q: Knowing that businesses, with the current ACA in place, will continually cut back hours [of their employees], are you an advocate for keeping it as it is?

A: No. My position is real simple. We need to make improvements in the Affordable Care Act. We need to have a good listening ear [so we can] figure out how we can fine tune it, make adjustments, so that we can minimize some of the problems people are having with this. What I fear is [what’s] coming down from Washington…which would only do much more harm than an appropriate kind of improvement. If we don’t advocate for [a change] then we’re not going to have a seat at the table to make the right changes.

Q: Are there any initiatives that you would propose, or are being proposed, to lighten the financial burden on college students?

A: Each individual case [is different]. But, given the fact that each case is different, the basics are that we need to provide more financial assistance. Maybe renegotiate some of the outstanding debt. [The] debt is at an interest rate that is far too high. Maybe we need to cap off the debt payments at a certain number, as a percentage of income. Maybe we need to push that down to 10 percent or 5 percent [from 50 percent]. The [student loan system] is about trying to drive more dollars to [people] like yourself and other folks who are trying to pay off student loans, but we can’t do that without new money added into the mix.

Q: In order to do all this, would you advocate for a restructuring of the Pennsylvania budget?

A: Oh, absolutely.

Q: You gave us a lot of great information but I kept hearing political rhetoric about “the bad guys” but you’re also talking about getting involved and unity. Do you not see this as a contradiction?

A: No. I use the terms good guys and bad guys because it takes some of the pressure off the intensity of the conversation. The organizations who gathered here want [the political parties] to work together so they can be a stronger force in advocating for progressive policies when we have to sit at the negotiating table. What we see a lot of times is folks who are elected…say one thing to their constituents and [then] vote differently. And I find that very frustrating… We want everyone to work together from a position of knowledge and strength. And a lot of folks are operating grassroots organizations…and not with big time lobbyists. And that’s what this [forum] was about.

The Montgazette thanks Senator Hughes and his staff for their cooperation and information. To stay involved in your government and for more information about Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes, visit http://www.senatorhughes.com.

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Senator Vincent Hughes — Photo courtesy of senatorhughes.com

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Sara won First Place in the Feature Story category 2017 Student Keystone Press Awards for her story Critically Acclaimed Author Jacqueline Woodson Visits Montco.

The Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA) Foundation sponsors this highly regarded writing competition among PA colleges and universities.

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Sara Wilkerson — Photo by Brittney Baldwin

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