Candace Benson of Pottstown is Runner-Up in BET’s Sunday Best Competition

by Diane Vandyke

Candace Benson

Candace Benson

Montgomery County Community College student Candace Benson of Pottstown is the runner-up on BET’s Sunday Best gospel-based music competition with Geoffrey Golden of Cleveland, Ohio, taking the top spot.

The results were announced Aug. 31 at the conclusion of a special two-hour finale, during which both finalists performed. After hearing her sing “I Won’t go Back” and “He Heals Me,” judges Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin and Kierra Sheard praised Benson, stating she had “grown by leaps and bounds” through the competition and was “truly gifted” and “multi-faceted.”

The 22-year-old Music major auditioned last April with hundreds of hopeful singers. She was one of 20 contestants selected to sing on the weekly television competition that started in July. Throughout the past several weeks, she successfully made it through each round. After the judges selected the two finalists, the competition was open to the public Aug. 24-30 to vote for their favorite performer via phone, online or mobile app.

Benson will continue her studies this fall to finish her associate’s degree at Montgomery’s Central Campus in Blue Bell. In addition to her classes, she sings in the College Choir and during Music Wednesdays, when students can perform for the campus during the lunch-time hour. Her professors, Andrew Kosciesza and Michael Kelly, among others, have been encouraging her throughout the competition and look forward to having her back in classes and the choir.

Passionate about music, Benson started playing the piano when she was only four years old. She has been singing in choirs and bands at church and with her family for many years. She currently serves as the music director at Bethel A.M.E. Church in West Chester. To see her performances, visit her website at For more information about the College’s Music program, visit

EITC Funding Helps Qualifying Families with Preschool Costs

by Alana J. Mauger

The Children’s Center at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) is offering subsidized preschool education to low-income families for the 2014-15 academic year through Educational Investment Tax Credit (EITC) funding from North Penn United Way.

Funding is available for children ages three and four with a household income that is under 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and who live in the North Penn or Souderton school districts. Those who qualify will have 70 percent of their weekly child care tuition covered. Funding is available on a first-come, first served basis and is open to current MCCC students and members of the community.

To learn more, contact Children’s Center Director Debbie Ravacon at 215-641-6618 or

The Children’s Center, which is located at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, is a fully licensed child care center that is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). It is recognized by NAEYC as an exemplary early childhood education program in the nation for its work to engage diverse families, has a top Keystone Stars rating of four, and is a consistent recipient of the Start4 Merit Award.

Research identifies cost and accessibility to affordable child care as reasons why lower-income students do not complete college. The Children’s Center supports Montgomery’s strategic goal to expand access to education and increase student success by offering accessible child care at discounted rates and flexible schedules to maximize affordability.

For more information about the College’s Children’s Center, visit

Registration for accelerated fall semester classes, which start on Sept. 24 and Oct. 15 at Montgomery County Community College, is going on now. Visit to learn more.

New Office Assistant Certificate Part of National Job Ready, Willing and Able Initiative

by Alana J. Mauger and Susan Williams

Montgomery County Community College is offering a twist to traditional workforce development with the introduction of its new Office Assistant Certificate this fall. The program—part of the national Job Ready, Willing and Able (JRWA) Initiative—provides built-in job placement assistance and a coach to guide students through the training and certificate completion.

The fall iteration of this 11-week program runs from Sept. 29 through Dec. 11. Classes are held Monday through Thursday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Students are also required to attend six workshop sessions, which are held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Oct. 13, Oct. 28, Nov. 11 and Dec. 4, and from 9:30 a.m.-noon on Saturdays, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13. The cost is $495, which includes instruction, workshops, course textbooks and Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam fees. To learn more or to apply, call 215-461-1468 or email

Students enrolled in the Office Assistant Certificate Program will learn critical computer literacy and other skills expected by employers in business environments. Course modules include Business Software Essentials, Microsoft Word Applications and Modern Office Management.

“Local industry is in search of qualified office assistants,” said Suzanne Holloman, dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education. “This 135-hour certificate is laser-focused to train individuals who are unemployed for a middle-skills job.”

After completing the certificate, students may pursue the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam for Microsoft Word 2013. This sought-after credential provides students with marketable skills that will further increase their chances for employment. In addition, students who complete the certificate can apply the courses to the College’s Office Administration Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, office and administrative support occupations comprise one of the largest occupation groups in the Commonwealth. The Center for Workforce Information and Analysis projects 105 annual openings in this field in Montgomery County. Additionally, there is a growing need in the Montgomery County Region for general office clerks, with an expected 338 annual openings in the County and an estimated 14,620 total jobs in 2016.

Through JRWA, Montgomery  joins 17 other community colleges across the country in providing middle-skills training, industry recognized credentials, and access to employment across varying industry sectors for unemployed individuals. The initiative is funded by a three-year grant from the Walmart Foundation and is led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

College, Township Invite the Community to Drive-In Movie

by Diane VanDyke

Maleficent-2014-image-maleficent-2014-36106527-738-1082Relive the nostalgia of watching a movie on the big screen outdoors in the comfort of your vehicle on Friday, Sept. 19, when Montgomery County Community College and Whitpain Township’s Department of Parks and Recreation present Disney’s “Maleficent.”

The College’s parking lot near the 595 Cathcart Road entrance in Blue Bell will open at 5:30 p.m. and the movie will begin at dusk. Admission is $10 per car for the general public and $5 for College students, faculty and staff with a valid ID card. Concessions will be available. As part of the College’s ongoing 50th Anniversary celebration this year, the first 50 cars will receive anniversary magnets.

Starring Angelina Jolie as the villainess Maleficent, this action-adventure family movie is a re-creation of Walt Disney’s 1959 animated film, “Sleeping Beauty.” Co-stars include Elle Fanning and Sharlto Copley. The movie is approximately 97 minutes in length.

Prior to the start of the main feature, a brief trailer of “The History of Montco, a Documentary” will be shown. Created by alumni Joe Sapienza and Sean King, the documentary features the 50-year history of Montgomery County Community College. Copies of the documentary will be available at the College’s libraries at Central and West campuses this fall.

For more information about upcoming 50th anniversary events, visit

Gallery Season Opens with ‘A Painting Renaissance in Pastel’

by Diane VanDyke

“April Orchard” by Carol Kardon

“April Orchard” by Carol Kardon

Montgomery County Community College will commence its 2014-2015 fine arts season with “A Painting Renaissance in Pastel” art exhibition featuring the artwork of Teresa DeSeve, Catherine Grygiel, Carol Kardon and Doug Tweddale at its Fine Arts Center Gallery, Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. The exhibit opens Monday, Sept. 8, and continues through Friday, Oct. 3.

The community is invited to meet these talented artists and chat about their artwork at a “Meet the Artists” reception on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 5-7 p.m. Both the exhibit and the reception are free and open to the public—and provide the perfect opportunity to escape from busy routines to enjoy the creativity of these masters of the pastel medium.

The exhibit is being curated by Nancy Moldofsky, art lecturer and faculty instructor of Fine Arts at the College since 2006. Nancy, who has served as President of the Greater Norristown Art League for two years and on their Board of Directors for eight years, recently had a solo exhibition, June-July 2014 at the Abington Art Center and continues to both work and volunteer in many art exhibitions along with volunteering with Habitat For Humanity and Kitty Adoption Team of Blue Bell.


“John” by Teresa DeSeve

For the exhibit, Nancy has coordinated a varied yet complementary selection of pastel artwork from four well-known area artists.

Artist Teresa DeSeve of Collegeville features people and their emotions in her artwork and uses light as a way to show the struggles they face, as well as their emergence from darkness. Originally from Beloit, Wisconsin, she moved to Pennsylvania when she was 15 years old and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, eventually earning her BFA in painting from Rosemont College. Her artwork has garnered several national pastel awards, including the Andrew Giuffuni Award from the Pastel Society of America in 2012 and the Richeson Prize in the Pastel 100 Competition. She teaches at the Wayne Art Center and the Norristown Art League.

As an expressionist artist, Catherine Grygiel of Souderton evokes inner emotions with her landscapes and floral paintings. Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, she graduated from Kutztown University. Although largely self-taught, Cathy’s art experience has been enriched by local artists who generously share their knowledge and experience. Inspired by nature and influenced by her rural upbringing, Cathy prefers painting landscapes in the plein air tradition. Although a watercolorist for many years, Pastel has become her medium of choice because of its vibrancy and immediacy. Painting on location contributes to a more spontaneous and expressive outcome and allows Cathy to capture the atmosphere and light on the landscape. She is always looking for new and better ways to express herself especially with the use of color often in an impressionistic style Cathy is a member of the Pastel Society of America, a Signature member of the Pastel Society of Maryland and a member of the International Association of Pastel Societies.

“Valley” by Doug Tweddale

“Valley” by Doug Tweddale

Working in both oil and pastel, artist Carol Kardon of Wynnewood features landscapes and still life in her artwork. She is a native of Mt. Vernon, New York, and holds BA from Bennington College, where she studied stage design. In addition, she has a MS in Education from Temple University. Her paintings have been entered in many national and regional juried exhibitions over the years, and she has received more than twenty awards. She exhibits regularly at the Salmagundi Club in New York City and the Philadelphia Sketch Club in Philadelphia. Additionally, her work was included in 1996 Included in Best of Pastel and 1999 Included in Best of Sketching and Drawing, Rockport Publishers, Rockport, Maine. She has taught for more than 20 years at the Main Line Art Center, Wayne Art Center, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and on Cunard Line cruise ships including the Queen Elizabeth. Carol is a Master Member of the Pastel Society of America.

Plein air artist Doug Tweddale of North Wales immerses himself in the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors to capture the raw beauty and excitement of nature in his artwork. Painting and drawing since he was child, Tweddale has studied under artist Lester Gallagher, his uncle who specialized in oil paintings of the majestic Dunes of Lake Michigan, and recently under master painter and pastel artist Albert Handell. In “Painting Renaissance,” he will be exhibiting his pastels featuring his favorite outdoor scenes.

“Quiet Beauty” by Catherine Grygiel

“Quiet Beauty” by Catherine Grygiel

Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sunday. For more information about the exhibition, contact Galleries Director Holly Cairns at or 215-619-7349.

For the more information about upcoming exhibits and activities, like our Facebook page at, and visit our website at

Help support the arts and art education programs at Montgomery County Community College by becoming a Friend of the Galleries. Donations are tax deductible. For more information, contact the College Foundation at 215-641-6535.

Show Your Support for Student Candace Benson: Vote Now-Aug. 30

by Diane VanDyke

BLOG Candace Sunday BestMontgomery County Community College student Candace Benson, of Pottstown, made her final performance on BET’s Sunday Best competition Sunday. Now it’s up to the audience to determine the winner of the two finalists—Benson or Geoffrey Golden—by voting via phone or online.

Click HERE to Vote For Candace

Benson, a 22-year-old music education and audio production major at the College, auditioned last April with hundreds of hopeful singers to compete in the weekly gospel-based singing competition. She was one of 20 contestants selected to sing on the weekly television show starting in July. Throughout the past several weeks, she successfully made it through each round getting closer to her dream of winning the competition.

Now, she seeks the support of her ever-growing fan base, family, and friends and supporters at the College, Montgomery County and beyond to vote for through noon EST on Saturday, Aug. 30. The winner will be announced on Sunday, Aug. 31.

To vote for Benson, call 1-888-5-BEST-01 or 888-523-7801 or go online at and follow the instructions to complete the voting process. You can also vote by using the BET Now mobile app.

Voting is limited to 15 votes via the toll-free landline method and is unlimited via online and BET Now app. Airtime and roaming charges may apply if using a cell phone to call the landline numbers.

The winner will receive a new Ford Fusion, a national recording contract with Fo Yo Soul/RCA Records and a cash prize. For Benson, this is her opportunity of a lifetime and represents the culmination of singing performances at her church, locally and during Music Wednesdays

Click HERE to Vote For Candace

Officials Sign First ‘Reverse Transfer’ Agreement Between Community College and State System Institutions in Commonwealth

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout and Kutztown University Acting President Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto sign the first reverse transfer agreement between a community college and State System institution in Pennsylvania. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout and Kutztown University Acting President Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto sign the first reverse transfer agreement between a community college and State System institution in Pennsylvania. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College and Kutztown University (KU) signed a “reverse transfer” agreement on Aug. 20—the first agreement of its kind between a community college and a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (State System) university.

Under the new agreement, students who complete at least 15 credits at the College now have the opportunity to transfer credits they earn at Kutztown back to Montgomery in order to earn an associate’s degree in a parallel field en route to earning a bachelor’s degree.

According to President Dr. Karen A. Stout, the agreement builds on Montgomery’s strategic efforts to increase student access, progression and completion rates, and on work being done nationally to support community college degree completion.

“The associate’s degree has value and is an important credential for community college students,” said Dr. Stout. “By earning an associate’s degree, students demonstrate their ability to complete an area of study, which can help them in the job market or with career advancement while pursing their baccalaureate degree. While we encourage our students to earn their degree before transferring, it’s important for us to understand that our students take multiple pathways to complete their education.”

Close to 70 percent of the college’s students enter each year with the intention to transfer to a four-year institution, and Kutztown is a popular choice. In fact, last year, 182 of the College’s students transferred an average 44 credits to KU.

The institutions’ leaders envision that the new agreement will serve as a model partnership for Pennsylvania community colleges and State System institutions. MCCC and KU are not strangers to such innovation; in 2007, Montgomery became the first community college with which Kutztown signed a dual-admissions and core-to-core transfer agreement.

“Kutztown University is excited to once again partner with Montgomery County Community College in developing another program to benefit students of our region,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto, KU’s acting president.  “Serving students is at the core of all that we do, and this is truly a student-centric program.”