Chef Marz Travels to China to Share Cuisine & Culture

by Diane VanDyke

Chef Francine Marz. Photo by Lynn Likens

Chef Francine Marz. Photo by Lynn Likens

Chef Francine Marz, director of The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College, will be joining chefs from around the globe to share cuisine and culture at the 15th Annual Chinese Food Festival and International Gourmet Expo in Wuhan, China, Sept. 22-26.

A combined effort of the China Hotel Association, Wuhan Government and International Hotel & Restaurant Association, the festival and expo are considered the most influential large-scale restaurant industry exhibitions in China. The 40,000-plus square meter exhibition will feature more than 30,000 professionals from approximately 2,000 hotels and restaurants. About one million visitors are expected to attend the three-day event.

“While in China, I will be meeting many professional chefs and experiencing cuisine from around the world,” Marz said. “I will be able to bring new dishes and cooking techniques back to our classrooms at the Culinary Arts Institute to share with students and broaden their culinary knowledge.”

For the expo, famous chef masters will showcase their cooking skills while restaurants and hotels will share their signature dishes and experts will discuss the developing trends of the food industry.

Chef Marz plans to travel to Beijing on Sept. 18 to begin preparing for the exhibition. She will be cooking at least eight unique specialty dishes for each table representing the countries of Italy and Mexico. After cooking, the dish will be glazed in aspic (gelatin) and displayed for the exhibition.

Following the exhibition, Chef Marz will continue her stay in China to visit numerous kitchens and restaurants with stops in Beijing, Wuhan and Shanghai. During the exhibition and her travels, she will blogging about her experience, as well as tweeting about her trip and posting photos on Facebook. To follow Chef Marz, visit

“I want to promote study abroad opportunities for our students by sharing my experiences through social media,” said Chef Marz, who has spent most of her career traveling through the United States and learning about the foods from different areas. “I would also like our students to travel as part of their culinary education and training, and hopefully, I am able to inspire them to explore this avenue. Food brings people together, and it’s amazing how quickly you can connect with others when you take the time to enjoy their cuisine.”

College Earns GVF Platinum Sustainability Award for Transportation Initiatives

by Alana J. Mauger

For the fourth consecutive year, Montgomery County Community College earned a platinum-level sustainability award from the Greater Valley Forge Management Association (GVF) on Sept. 8 during the organization’s annual Sustainability Breakfast. MCCC was one of 32 organizations recognized for sustainability efforts in 2014.

The College partners with GVF to operate a campus shuttle service between its Blue Bell and Pottstown campuses and, for the first time this fall, between its Blue Bell campus and Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale. Last year, more than 10,400 riders took advantage of the free, 20-passenger shuttle, which is equipped with wi-fi to support student success.

On Earth Day 2014, MCCC and GVF introduced a new vehicle that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG), which, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, will further reduce emissions by 11 tons of carbon dioxide over the next year based on the 28,560 miles driven and 3,483 gallons of diesel fuel used in 2013. Prior to the introduction of the CNG vehicle, the College’s shuttle program helped to eliminate approximately 54,527 metric tons of carbon emissions and reduce vehicle usage by 522,144 miles annually.

In addition to the shuttle program, MCCC also employs Zimride, an industry leading rideshare service that provides a safe and easy way for students and staff to arrange carpooling through college community network that fully integrates with Facebook. Since launching Zimride in 2011, the College’s network has logged 1,461,492 carpool miles.

At the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, drivers of electric, hybrid, and conventional vehicles that average 25 MPG or greater, as well as carpoolers and shuttle riders, have the opportunity to park in a designated, convenient 185-space parking lot adjacent to the Advanced Technology Center. Electric vehicle charging stations are available in the Green Lot, as well as in the South Hall parking lot at the West Campus in Pottstown.

Other transportation initiatives include a Segway program for public safety officers in Pottstown, electric and hybrid vehicles for public safety and facilities staff in Blue Bell, and an increased effort to promote bicycle accessibility at all MCCC locations.

Since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, Montgomery County Community College has put into place policies and procedures to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As a result of its efforts, MCCC is a two-time recipient of Second Nature’s national Climate Leadership Award. To learn more about MCCC’s sustainability initiative, visit

GVF Assistant Director Maureen Farrell (far right) and Action News Anchor Matt O’Donnell (far left) present (from left) Peggy Lee-Clark, MCCC executive director of government relations, and Dr. Celeste Schwartz, MCCC vice president for information technology and college services, with a platinum level sustainability award. Photo courtesy of GVF

GVF Assistant Director Maureen Farrell (far right) and Action News Anchor Matt O’Donnell (far left) present (from left) Peggy Lee-Clark, MCCC executive director of government relations, and Dr. Celeste Schwartz, MCCC vice president for information technology and college services, with a platinum level sustainability award. Photo courtesy of GVF

Gateway to College Receives $10,000 Grant from PECO

by Diane VanDyke

Montgomery County Community College received a $10,000 PECO grant on Sept. 3 to support the College’s Gateway to College program. The funds will be used for textbooks, transportation, meal subsidies and other costs not covered by the program.

Gateway to College is a national initiative that helps students who have dropped out of high school or are not on track to graduate to earn a diploma and college credits. In November 2012, MCCC was one of only 43 colleges in the country and only the second college in Pennsylvania selected to participate in the Gateway to College National Network. In September 2013, the College launched the program, which is held at the college’s Central Campus in Blue Bell and West Campus in Pottstown.

“Montgomery County Community College is committed to helping students succeed, and the Gateway to College program provides students with a supportive environment where they can complete their high school requirements, graduate and attain their post-secondary credential,” said College President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “We appreciate PECO’s generous investment and ongoing support of our work and our students.”

In its inaugural year, the Gateway program had 50 participants and 11 graduates. This year, 55 students are enrolled, including returning and new students. Eighteen school districts and the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board partner with MCCC and refer students for the program.

“Education is invaluable, and we know how important it is to help students develop skills that prepare them for future success,” said Mike Innocenzo, senior vice president and COO, PECO. “PECO has been a proud partner of Montgomery County Community College since 2005, and this is one of many programs we have supported to help improve access to higher education for local high school students.”

For Upper Moreland High School student William Dobnak, the Gateway program gave him a second chance to achieve his true potential.

“I was failing my classes in high school,” Dobnak told the incoming Gateway students at orientation. “I barely passed my sophomore year and was at risk for failing my junior year when my school counselor told me about Gateway. Being here and taking classes 8on a college campus helped my stress level and overall happiness.”

The college environment and caring professors and staff made all the difference, he said, noting that his GPA after his first term in Gateway is 4.0.

“We deeply appreciate our partners—the school districts, Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board and PECO—and their investment in this program,” said Dr. Stout. “Programs like Gateway to College not only transform lives but create a ripple effect of positive benefits for the community and local and state economies, too.”

For more information about Gateway to College, contact Director Keima Sheriff at

From left, PECO Senior Vice President and COO Michael Innocenzo, Director of Gateway to College Program Keima Sheriff, student William Dobnak and College President Dr. Karen A. Stout. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

From left, PECO Senior Vice President and COO Michael Innocenzo, Director of Gateway to College Program Keima Sheriff, student William Dobnak and College President Dr. Karen A. Stout. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Art Show Celebrating the Schuylkill River Region Opens Sept. 16

by Laura Catalano, Schuylkill River Heritage Area

The 11th Annual Scenes of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area Art Show will open on Sept.16 featuring 82 original works that celebrate the Schuylkill River region.

Sponsored by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area in partnership with Montgomery County Community College, the juried exhibit will be on display through Oct. 17 at the College’s Fine Arts Gallery, North Hall, West Campus, 16 High St. in Pottstown. The show is free and open to the public.

This year’s show includes a total of 82 original paintings, drawings and photographs by regional artists. All works were carefully selected from 112 submissions by juror Lisa Tremper Hanover, Director and CEO of the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown.

This is the 11th year the Schuylkill River Heritage Area has organized an art event. The Scenes of the Schuylkill Art Show began as a print competition in 2003, and has evolved into an annual exhibit that attracts over 100 pieces of art each year.

“We are pleased that this art show has grown steadily over the years so that it continues to attract new talent and an impressive selection of artwork each year,” said Heritage Area Executive Director Kurt Zwikl. “Our goal in hosting this exhibit is to support and promote regional artists. At the same time we want to foster an appreciation through art of the diverse beauty and character of the Schuylkill River valley.”

Tremper Hanover selected three winning entries and two honorable mentions. Susan Williamson, Ambler, earned Best of Show for her pastel “Haying Day,” which depicts a Gwynedd Valley farm scene. She will receive $300 and will be presented with an award of distinction valued at $1,000, through Montgomery County Community College, from North Penn Art, in Lansdale.

The second place award went to Nancy Durkin Green for her watercolor, “Blue Barrow Against a White Barn,” and David Thomas took third place for his photograph, “Allegheny Aqueduct.” Durkin Green and Thomas were awarded $200 and $100, respectively.

In recognition of the Schuylkill as Pennsylvania’s River of the Year, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area staff selected a Staff’s Choice award that depicted a river scene. That award went to Mary Kosar for her photograph, “Fog in Woods, Riverfront Park.”

The two honorable mentions selected included “Window Light at Hopewell Furnace,” a photograph by Ginnie Lodge and “Dawn at Lauer’s Run,” an oil painting by Russell Slocum.

Most works are available for sale, and a portion of all proceeds benefits the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.

The show is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. and Fri. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For more information contact the SRHA at 484-945-0200 or the MCCC Galleries Director Holly Cairns at 215-619-7349 or Click here for photos of the winning entries and more show details.

The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, managed by the non-profit Schuylkill River Greenway Association, uses conservation, education, recreation, cultural and historic preservation and tourism as tools for community revitalization and economic development. For more information visit

Scenes of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area Best of Show, “Haying Day,” by Susan Williamson, Ambler.

Scenes of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area Best of Show, “Haying Day,” by Susan Williamson, Ambler.

Community Invited to Annual Montgomery County Regional College Fair

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College will partner with Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC) to present the annual Montgomery County Regional College Fair on Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. As a result of renovations to MCCC’s gymnasiums, the fair will be held at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, 201 East Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting. The event is free and is open to the public.

For information, contact or 215-641-6551. An updated list of participating colleges and universities will be posted to MCCC’s Facebook page at prior to the event.

Representatives from more than 160 accredited colleges and universities will be on hand to speak with students and their parents about admissions criteria and procedures. High school students in grades 10, 11 and 12 are encouraged to attend along with their parents and friends. The fair will also be beneficial for transfer and adult students, as well as for college students seeking a place to take courses while home for the summer.

Financial aid officers from local colleges and guidance counselors from Montgomery County high schools will be prepared to answer questions regarding paying for college and the college search process. In addition, representatives from lending institutions and financial advisors will offer information about their services.

Admissions and financial aid workshops with both be offered at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. During the “Introduction to Admissions” workshop, participants will learn about application procedures, writing an entrance essay, early action and early decision options, scheduling a campus visit and other relevant topics. During the “Financial Aid” workshop, participates will get an overview of the financial aid process.

College Joins ‘Yellow Ribbon Program’ to Benefit Student Veterans

by Ben Litman and Alana J. Mauger

Yellow RibbonMontgomery County Community College was recently selected to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the 2014-15 academic year. The program enables the College to assist up to 10 student veterans with fees associated with out-of-state residency.

“Many students return or relocate to Pennsylvania after their military service only to be charged as ‘out-of-state’ residents, which the VA does not cover under normal Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits,” explains former U.S. Marine Justin Machain, coordinator of veterans services at Montgomery. “The College applied to, and was accepted by, the Yellow Ribbon Program to assist these students with out-of-state costs starting this fall.”

To qualify for funding, veterans must be eligible for the maximum benefit rate under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and cannot be on active duty. Visit for full eligibility requirements.

Montgomery County Community College’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program builds on its commitment to a student veteran population that has grown by close to 130 percent since 2007. Fiscal year 2013-14 saw 705 student veterans enrolled at the College, which is nationally designated as a “Military Friendly School” by Victory Media for five years running.

The College’s support services for student veterans include a dedicated resource center, lounge, new student orientation, study groups, career counseling and yoga, among others, facilitated by a dedicated Veterans Support Team. The College also has an active Student Veterans Organization, which is an official chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA).

Veteran services are a part of the College’s overarching Student Success Initiative—expanding access to higher education and increasing student success through process improvements and support strategies that reduce the barriers for students to complete their education.

To learn more about Veterans Affairs at Montgomery County Community College, visit or contact Justin Machain at 215-619-7307 or For information about the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, visit

VIDEO: Learn About Fall Accelerated Courses

Please note: Students who plan to use federal financial aid for accelerated courses must register by Sept. 16, 2014.

Video produced by Matt Porter, Alana J. Mauger, Cindy Haney and Paige Murray.