Archive for the ‘Personal Interest’ Category

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



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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


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By Daniel Whitney
The Montgazette Staff

Stepping into the Fine Arts Gallery at Montgomery County Community College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, I was taken aback at how many people were in attendance at the Gallery’s Fall premier on September 13. After marveling at the works of art and sampling a fine cup of coffee, I met Arlene Reynolds, a Career Services department employee of the College and art gallery owner.

The 81-year-old owner of Creative Arts and Expressions in Philadelphia, Reynolds started her career in New York City. For six years, she singlehandedly covered The New York Times classified section as she worked through college as a journalism major. During this time, she attended countless art premieres, met numerous artists and journalists and met a few people she knew.

After regaling me with tales of her past exploits and adventures in the Big Apple, Arlene switched gears and shared a story that flabbergasted me. Arlene recalled a time when she was visiting her brother at a news casting studio in Chicago. She went through the motions of the basic meet-and-greet with all of the staff and reporters, and decided to slip off to the green room for some water and a moment of peace. She had no sooner sat down to rest her feet, when a very tall man approached her and engaged her.

In her own words, “I was sitting in the green room of this news station, and a very tall African American man approached me and, without any hesitation, began telling me about why blacks and whites should never integrate in schools. I was shocked; I didn’t know what to say. After a few minutes of [his explanation], a crew member approached and tapped [the] very outspoken man on the shoulder and said, “you’re on in 2 [minutes].” The man offered his hand and thanked me for listening, and quickly headed into the recording studio. After a moment of incredulous contemplation, I asked the crew member who the man [I had listened to] was. With a short smirk, the crew member looked at me and said ‘Ma’am, that was Malcolm X.’ So that was the day I met Malcolm X.”

I had heard of old men sharing war stories, but this woman surprised me with each new tale she unraveled for me. If I have learned anything from listening to Arlene, it’s that you should never judge a book by its cover. Beyond that, if someone ever offers to share a story from his or her life, it’s worth listening. Maybe one day you will be the one sharing your stories with a young, eager journalist.

Art Barn Gallery pic 1

Art Barn Gallery pic 2
Photos by Daniel Whitney

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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.”


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.”


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


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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