Archive for the ‘Personal Interest’ Category

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.


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.


Sara Wilkerson — Photo by Brittney Baldwin

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Mary Haviland
The Montgazette Contributing Writer

Many people continue to purchase new clothes without remembering what they already have. Buying is actually more expensive and throwing away old clothes is more than just wasteful. There is a way to maintain frugality and avoid waste: secondhand clothing efforts.

The Environmental Sustainability Club (ECS) will be collecting new and gently used, and washed, clothes for a Clothing Swap up to and including, April 14. The “swap” will be held the same day as Central Campus’ Earth Day, April 19th, from 12:15PM to 1:15PM in the Quad. After the event, all remaining garments will be donated to the Green Drop, a charity that supports the Purple Heart, the American Red Cross, the National Federation of the Blind and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Philadelphia.

A clothing swap is a two-step process. The first part is a collection of clothing. This allows people to clear their closets of clothes that they do not wear anymore to lessen clutter and avoid creating more trash. The second step is the swap itself, which allows people to come and pick out any clothes that have been collected free of charge, effectively recycling the garments.

The purpose of this swap is to help bring awareness to the waste the fashion industry creates. Eileen Fisher, a fashion retailer with her own clothing line, has on several occasions admitted to the waste the industry creates, even from the production of her own clothes. She has spoken out about it on her Twitter account, and her admissions
and hope to change it have been quoted by many publications, including the article “The Fashion Industry Tries to Take Responsibility For Its Pollution” published in The Washington Post. This pollution is both from the consumption of resources to create the garments and the amount of clothes that ultimately find their way into landfills.

Looking at materials used to make clothes, cotton is one of the most popular, and the thirstiest. The World Wildlife Fund has estimated that it takes approximately 5,300 gallons of water to produce around two pounds of cotton, which makes only a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans. That could mean each person could easily be retaining 140,000 gallons of water within their weekly wardrobe.

Additionally, some people update their wardrobe seasonally, four times a year. Retailers promote “must-have” seasonal fashion items, an extremely wasteful concept which leads to landfills being flooded with out of season textiles that are still completely wearable. Those fashion followers could be wasting up to 560,000 gallons of water a year individually, and that is only assuming their wardrobe consists of just seven pairs of jeans and shirts.

The odd piece of new clothing here and there is alright, after all clothes sometimes wear out; but it is important to be cognizant of the forgotten clothes at home, the resources used to make them and where they will end up when they are discarded. Will they be tucked away, thrown away, or will they be given away?


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Shalynn McGhee
The Montgazette Contributing Writer

My two daughters are the most important people in my life. Ashlynn is nine years old, sharing her birthdate with her grandfather on March 30, 2007. Lauren is one year old, born on May 9, 2014. I noticed a change in my work habits after I had Ashlynn. Before I had Ashlynn, if I became the least bit annoyed with my employer, I’d start calling out until the employer finally fired me, or I would quit the job without notice, or find another employer, which was creating a bad employment history for me but at the time that didn’t matter to me at all. After I had Ashlynn my irresponsible attitude regarding “steady employment” changed. I became serious about staying employed and realized that staying with the same employer also helped to establish credit, which I needed having a baby to raise.

After Lauren entered into my life, I decided that being employed wasn’t good enough, especially because I wasn’t happy with the line of work I was in, nor did I feel that I was making enough money to provide for my girls, if I were to ever become a single mother. Lauren’s dad and I are still together and he is supportive of me going back to school and accomplishing my goals; however, in order for me to be comfortable, I have to know that if anything ever happens between us, I can handle taking care of my little queens comfortably on my own.

Being the mother of these two ladies has changed me and my perspective on life. I’ve set goals for myself and have become serious about achieving them. I’m very cautious about who I allow in my personal life and even more cautious about not allowing anything or anyone outside of my girls to be a distraction. I am also determined to set a good example for them, especially my oldest. She has made comments and asked questions about my college life. Ashlynn tells people in a proud voice, “My mom is in college.” I see that my being in school has piqued her interest, which only makes me more determined to finish. I am setting the minimal requirements for my children just by bettering myself for them. It’s a win-win-situation! These two young ladies have changed me for the better. Having them has been a blessing and only made me focused on pursuing a higher education.


Shalynn McGhee and her daughters Lauren and Ashlynn — Photo courtesy of Shalynn McGhee

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Kayla McGruder
Montgazette Contributing Writer

When I was born, my mom found out that I had cerebral palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination.
Later on, the doctors found out that I couldn’t talk either. It took a toll on me when I was growing up. One time, when I was in elementary school and about to enter middle school, my old principal told my mom that she thought the best thing for me was go to a disability school. My mom told me what she said and I thought to myself, “How does she know what is best for me? She doesn’t know me. I know what is right for me.”
When I go to a public place, people stare at me. When people see me, they think that I’m not smart and I can’t do anything because I’m in a wheelchair and use an iPad to talk. Even though I’m in a wheelchair and use a device to speak, it doesn’t mean that I’m not smart. I’m an honors student and I graduated from high school. I’m going to attend college like other 18 year olds. We are all humans. We all have disabilities and feel the same thing.
I have a disability, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t do what everyone else can do. People think that if they were not born with a physical disability, then they could never have one, but it could happen to everyone! A person could have a car accident or a sports related accident and be in a wheelchair tomorrow.
We all have some kind of disability or disadvantage, whether it is physical or mental. So look at me, not my disability.

McGruder Photo

Kayla McGruder

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Rahul Thevar
Montgazette Contributing Writer

Mary Burch, M.S., LBS from Telford, Pennsylvania, is a Senior Lecturer of Psychology  at Montgomery County Community College. She loves studying human behavior, teaching and sharing her love of gymnastics. Burch was the 2015 Recipient of the Barnes and Noble Part-Time Teaching Excellence award.
Her passion for helping the community extends to holding food drives for Manna on Main Street. Her humanitarian work along with teaching made her a good choice for the teaching excellence award.  On top of that, the way she teaches makes students excited about learning.  “Personality is my favorite course to teach,” she said of her teaching style.
“I first met Mary when I started gymnastics at Spirit Gymnastics,” Melissa Ann, a former coaching assistant, said. “She was an awesome coach and very good at gymnastics so it was awesome getting to learn and train with someone who knew what they were talking about and was good at gymnastics themselves.”
Kerry Stone liked Mary’s personality. “I met Mary two years ago at Spirit Gymnastics. She started working with my daughter when she was 4. Mary is a great coach for [both of my] girls. She is funny
but still strict. She is a good example for the girls as she always works hard but has fun with her work.”
Mary’s tireless work and dynamic teaching style make her an amazing MCCC teacher and personality to match.

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Mary Burch

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