Transfer of Credit Policy Expands Degree Access for Adult Students

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College’s Board of Trustees voted Monday, March 18 to expand the number of transfer credits students can apply to an associate’s degree program. Under the new policy, students can now transfer up to 75 percent of their credits earned from regionally accredited post-secondary institutions back to MCCC to complete an associate’s degree or certificate. The previous practice allowed 50 percent of transferred credits to be applied.

“The new policy is part of the College’s strategic effort to strengthen our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) model to improve adult student enrollment and persistence rates by building streamlined pathways toward degree completion,” explained Dr. Karen A. Stout, president. “These efforts also connect to our work nationally with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, which looks to train 10,000 baby boomers for high-demand jobs through 2015.”

In addition to expanding the percentage of accepted transfer credits, the new policy clarifies criteria for all forms of PLA, which is the process colleges use to evaluate a student’s life experience to determine if prior learning can translate into college credits.

Examples of PLA include evaluation of corporate or military training as established by the American Council on Education (ACE); nationally recognized exams such as Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP); review of student portfolios; customized tests to prove prior learning meets specific exit standards for courses; and examination of non-credit courses to document content for transferability to for-credit courses.

The policy also clarifies procedures for the acceptance of transfer credits; provides criteria regarding transfer credits earned at other institutions; reinforces the role of faculty and academic leadership in determining transfer course equivalencies based on student learning outcomes; and provides procedures by which students can appeal transfer credit assessments.

According to a 2010 study on PLA and adult student outcomes conducted by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), students with PLA credits had better academic outcomes, especially in terms of graduation rates and persistence, than non-PLA students, and many significantly shortened the time required to earn their credential.

To learn more about Prior Learning Assessment at MCCC, visit mc3.edu/admissions or contact Mary Beth Bryers at 215-619-6319 or mbryers@mc3.edu.

Learn About ‘Starting a Successful Woman-Owned Business’ Series

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College will hold an open house for its popular “Starting a Successful Woman-Owned Business” series on Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The session will be held in Parkhouse Hall room 129 at MCCC’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. For information, call 215-641-6397.

The spring installment of the College’s “Starting a Successful Woman-Owned Business” certificate program runs 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays from Feb. 18-May 6 at the College’s Central Campus. The cost, including the textbook, is $495.

The 12-week certificate program is designed to encourage women to develop their business ideas into a roadmap for success. Taught by a successful woman entrepreneur, the program enables participants to get practical knowledge about what it takes to make it as a business owner while being exposed to subject-matter experts across a wide range of business topics. Participants will also go through a business planning process and will receive course certification upon successful completion of a business plan.

To learn more, visit mc3.edu/academics, select Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, then Career Training Programs.

Innovative Partnership Brings a Drexel University Education to the College

by Alana J. Mauger

Presidents John A. Fry (Drexel) and Dr. Karen A. Stout (MCCC) signed the agreement on Jan. 8. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Presidents John A. Fry (Drexel) and Dr. Karen A. Stout (MCCC) signed the agreement on Jan. 8. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) and Drexel University (Drexel) have entered into a bold and innovative partnership that will build a pipeline of qualified graduates for high demand jobs in the region, especially in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and health sciences, among others.

Branded Drexel@MCCC, the program enables students to earn their associate and bachelor degrees from two premiere education institutions conveniently and affordably at MCCC’s Central Campus in Blue Bell, or online.

Unlike traditional articulation agreements, Drexel@MCCC is a fully-integrated partnership through which faculty and advisors from both institutions work together with students in dedicated learning spaces to provide a seamless education experience. The partnership extends to all areas of the institutions; libraries, facilities and students services are just a few examples.

“Montgomery County Community College and Drexel University are on the cutting edge of this emerging model for higher education that not only delivers a world class education to students, but also builds a qualified workforce to enhance the economic viability of our communities,” said MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “This partnership is an investment in the future: the future of our students, our institutions, and an investment in future of the greater Montgomery County region.”

“Drexel’s strategy for meeting challenges begins with expert partnerships,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Today’s higher education challenge is to increase access and value for all potential students, and we’re proud to partner with the experts at MCCC to do just that.  Through this partnership, we look forward to serving even more Montgomery County residents.”

Prospective students will graduate from MCCC with an associate’s degree before entering a fully aligned and integrated degree program with Drexel. This partnership not only saves participating students a significant amount of tuition money while they earn a rigorous, two-year degree, but it also enables them to complete a baccalaureate degree at a discounted rate.

Drexel@MCCC will launch in fall 2014 and will include six initial onsite programs: B.S. in Business Administration with Co-Op; B.S. in Computing and Security Technology; B.S. in Electrical Engineering with Co-Op; B.S. M.S. in Engineering Management with Co-Op; Mechanical B.S. in Engineering with Co-Op; and a hybrid B.S.N. program designed for registered nurses. In addition, A.S. to B.S. Business Administration and Criminal Justice programs will be offered fully online through a partnership between MCCC’s new Virtual Campus and Drexel University Online.

Years two and three of the partnership will see Drexel@MCCC significantly expand to include even more undergraduate and graduate programs, especially in the health sciences. These will complement the opening of MCCC’s brand new Health Sciences Center in fall 2016. The Center is expected position MCCC as the regional leader in health and wellness education to be the catalyst to transform lives.

The Drexel@MCCC program builds on a growing partnership between the two institutions. Last spring, Drexel began offering doctorate, graduate and professional development programs in Pottstown and Blue Bell as part of MCCC’s University Center, a framework that enhances access to higher education opportunities through partnerships with select four-year colleges and universities. MCCC also has dual admissions transfer agreements with 29 colleges and universities, both regionally and internationally.

In addition to MCCC, Drexel has similar partnerships with Burlington County College and Delaware County Community College. Drexel has been offering degrees at South Jersey’s Burlington County College since 2006.

Innovative Program Makes ‘POWERful’ Impact on Individuals in Recovery

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College celebrated the journey of 28 individuals who successfully completed its innovative Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) Program during a December ceremony at the Central Campus in Blue Bell.

The POWER Program helps individuals in mental health recovery to successfully develop and reach their education and career goals through a two-credit college course that focuses on time management, basic computer skills, study skills, public speaking, college success skills, career assessment, resume writing and professionalism.

For the graduates, the POWER Program gives them the confidence and skills they need to take the next steps in their lives. Several participants reflected on their journeys during the ceremony.

“The POWER Program has allowed me to experience how to interview and write a resume, and I want to continue my studies and work toward obtaining a better job,” shared Jordon Giraldi, who was diagnosed with autism at age three. “I look forward to trying new things.”

Recent high school graduate Lea Lavelle aspires to start a foundation that partners sick children with animal companions – a passion that developed from her own experiences with Pets for Companionship following multiple surgeries for a brain tumor.

“I want a career where I help animals because they have helped me so much,” she shared. “I want to earn my associate’s degree [at MCCC] and then transfer.”

Michael Soder shared his journey to the POWER Program, which led through addiction, incarceration and, now, recovery.

“The POWER Program helped me gain confidence, and now I know I will amount to something,” he said. “The most important thing is the friendships I made.”

Paul Sirianni shared excerpts from journal entries he wrote while incarcerated as a teen.

“One thing people can’t take away from you – it’s hope,” said the creative writer, encouraging his classmates to push themselves past their “mental walls.”

As part of the ceremony, 14 students were recognized for their achievements through the POWER Plus Program. These students are attending college classes or are currently employed as a result of their participation in the POWER Program.

“When I completed the POWER Program last year, I had a sense of purpose,” shared POWER Plus participant Jacob Reeder. “Now, I am a support to those around me, and I look forward to getting my degree [from MCCC].”

The POWER team includes Director/Faculty Diane Haar, Program Coordinator/Advisor Lisa Barbiero, Community Liaison/Advisor Lori Schreiber, Peer Mentor George Rohde, Administrative Coordinator Dianne Johnson, Faculty Byron Goldstein, and Dean of Social Sciences Dr. Aaron Shatzman.

Montgomery County Community College and the Office of Montgomery County Behavioral Health/Development Disabilities provide funding for POWER and POWER Plus Programs, which also receive support from the Huston Foundation, Patricia Kind Foundation, the OddFellows of Philadelphia and other private foundations. However, the programs are in need of funding to continue next year.

Individuals interested in the POWER program may obtain a referral from their mental health or school provider or may self-refer.  For more information, contact Community Liaison Lori Schreiber at 215-461-1151 or lschreib@mc3.edu or Program Advisor Lisa Barbiero at 215-641-6425 or lbarbier@mc3.edu.

POWER and POWER Plus Program participants from December 2013 graduation ceremony.  Photo by Sandi Yanisko

POWER and POWER Plus Program participants from December 2013 graduation ceremony. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Intro Hospitality Students Tour Casino Resort, Cook with Celebrity Chef

by Melissa S. Treacy

Students participate in a cooking demo with celebrity chef Tony Clark during their visit to Valley Forge Casino Resort last month.

Students participate in a cooking demo with celebrity chef Tony Clark during their visit to Valley Forge Casino Resort last month.

Students in Montgomery County Community College’s  Introduction to the Hospitality Industry (HOS 111) were treated to a special tour last month, and the “gamble” paid off. Though they were just entering the field, it was an eye-opening, first-hand view at many aspects of the industry.

Jim Lynch, hospitality management instructor at MCCC, connected with an old friend to make the visit possible.

Nick Waller is now the Director of Conventions and Catering at the Valley Forge Casino Resort. After meeting in the late 1980s, Lynch stayed in touch.

“He shared his story with the students,” Lynch said of Waller. “He was born and went to school in England. He had his education there and was a Captain at the Savoy Hotel in London. He told the students about the special space they had there for the royal family, and of his experience coming to the states.”

From the renowned Mansion on Turtle Creek to the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Waller had much to share with the intro students.

“He told them of his local experiences in Delaware, Philadelphia and his overall progression in the industry.”

Just a short drive from the Blue Bell campus exposed the students to a bright new world.

“[We] had an incredible experience,” said Lynch of the visit. “Students just starting in hospitality tend to think there is just lodging or food and beverage. I think this really showed them that there is so much more.”

Waller escorted the students on a full tour of the facilities, in what Lynch called a “mixed bag of treats.”

“We toured the full facility,” he said. “We got to see where special events take place, food and beverage was included in the restaurant tours and, though the rooms were all booked, they got to see the hotel flavor, too.”

The tour didn’t stop there. The group ended their day with a big surprise. World-renowned celebrity chef Tony Clark shocked the visitors with an astonishing visit.

Clark presented a private cooking demo and had the students assist him in making lunch, which included red snapper, saffron risotto and minted asparagus.

“He was so good with the students,” said Lynch of Clark. “I had never met him, but he was so great to walk through it all with them. He kept the tone very pedestrian, so the students really understood what they were being shown.”

Clark has announced recently that he’ll now head up the Casino’s famed restaurants. He is now the Executive Chef for both Pacific Prime, the resort’s fine dining chop house, and Viviano, the casino’s Italian hot spot.

Clark is no stranger to the area, cooking in such restaurants as Agiato, Tapestry and the Philadelphia-based Belvedere Restaurant Group, not to mention Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia and Harry’s Savoy Grill in Wilmington, Del.

It was an honor for the MCCC students to be able to cook with such talent, according to Lynch.

“What a great day [it was] for the students, and a great chance to meet an internationally known chef and cook in his kitchen!” he said.

Overall, the students took a lot away from the day’s events. Such hands-on experiences can really progress the student’s learning. Moving from a classroom setting to the real-deal kitchen means a lot to Lynch’s students.

“I hope they took away, and I think they did, that there are broad opportunities in the hospitality industry,” he said. “There is so much to offer.”

Fast-Track Real Estate Pilot Starts Jan. 25

by Alana J. Mauger

This winter, Montgomery County Community College wants to help professionals get their start in real estate sales – a high priority occupation that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is projected to grow by 12 percent through 2020.

“The College has always offered Real Estate 101 and 102 as part of its Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives (BEI) program,” explained Ayisha Sereni, administrative director of the College’s BEI division and a licensed Pennsylvania real estate broker. “Historically, interested students enroll in these courses as electives within their areas of study.”

However, by offering the two-credit courses in an accelerated, hybrid format, the College hopes to attract a new population of students to its Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson Pre-licensing Fast Track Program, which launches Jan. 25.

According to Sereni, the fast track program can be completed in less than one month, with two-thirds of the course work taking place online and one-third in a face-to-face classroom setting. By employing interactive video conference technology, students can complete the eight hours of face-to-face classroom instruction at either the Central Campus in Blue Bell or the West Campus in Pottstown.

“We’re leveraging many of the College’s technology resources to tap into a variety of learning styles – minimizing face-to-face instruction in order to maximize students’ time,” said Sereni.

Students who successfully complete the 30-hour Real Estate Fundamentals (RES 101) and Real Estate Practice (RES 102) courses are eligible to sit for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson Exam. Individuals who acquire their Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson License may seek employment as commissioned or salaried residential or commercial real estate agents, property managers, leasing agents or real estate assistants. Both courses must be completed prior to taking the exam.

Real Estate Fundamentals begins on Saturday, Jan. 25 with in-class instruction from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and online instruction through Feb. 7. Real Estate Practice begins with in-class instruction on Saturday, Feb. 8 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and online instruction through Feb. 18.

To learn more about the College’s Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson Pre-licensing Fast Track Program, contact Ayisha Sereni at 215-461-1147 or asereni@mc3.edu.

30 Cadets Graduate from Municipal Police Academy

by Alana J. Mauger

Class 1302 Valedictorian Cadet Hope A. Sanderlin addresses cadets.

Class 1302 Valedictorian Cadet Hope A. Sanderlin addresses cadets.

Thirty cadets graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy on Nov. 13 during a ceremony held at the College’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

Skye McLaughlin sang the National Anthem to begin the ceremony, followed by a moment of reflection from Director of Criminal Justice & Fire Science Programs Benn Prybutok.

Chief Robert A. Schurr from North Coventry Township Police Department was selected by class 1302 to give the keynote address. During his remarks, Schurr, who is an instructor at the academy, spoke about the unique role held by police officers in the community.

“As police officers, we see and do things that no one else has the opportunity to see and do,” Schurr told the cadets. “Only 20 percent of what you will do is actually law enforcement. In most cases, what we’re really doing is providing service and guidance to our community. We’re reinforcing that residents can count on us to help.”

Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., County Detective Lieutenant Jim McGowan and County Deputy Directory of Public Safety Jesse Stemple also attended the ceremony, along with representatives from Abington, Drexel University, Delaware River Port Authority, East Norriton, Lititz, Lower Merion, Pottstown, and Springfield police departments.

Earning the highest GPA in her class, Cadet Hope A. Sanderlin, Philadelphia, offered remarks on behalf of the graduates.

“We are ultimately defined by the sum of small kindnesses we demonstrate to the people around us,” she said. “In that way, we are custodians of our communities and the law enforcement profession.”

In addition to serving as valedictorian, Sanderlin also earned the Spirit of Distinction Award.

Academy Director Frank Williar presented several other awards during the ceremony, including the Leadership Award to Cadet Lt. Andrew Thiel, Bedminister, and the James R. Miller Marksmanship Award to Eric Lacovara, North Wales. The award is presented in memory of Upper Dublin Police Sergeant Jim Miller, who died in an automobile accident while on duty in 2004.

Williar also introduced a brand new award that will be presented annually to an outstanding Academy instructor. The Charles O. “Chip” Pritchett Exceptional Instructor of the Year Award is given in honor of former Academy Deputy Director Chip Pritchett, who lost his battle with cancer last month. The award was presented to Abington Township Police Department Director of Training Bob Sands, who has taught at the academy for more than 25 years.

Cadets from class 1302 attended the academy full time, Monday through Friday for 22 weeks. Graduates include Octavius Baker, Pottstown; Kenneth Berger, Philadelphia; Zachary Bubnis, Horsham; Scott Burnick, Collegeville; Carlos Cartagena, Lansdale; Nicholas Catagnus, Norristown; Adam Clark, Lansdale; Michael Corbo, Norristown; Michael Damiano, Collegeville; John D’Amico, Pottstown; Dominic Dovidio, Warminster; David Engle, Levittown; Anthony Fischer, Lansdowne; David Fleishman, Elkins Park; Robert Kerstetter, Norristown; Eric Lacovara, North Wales; Ian McAnlis, Langhorne; Michael Mullen, Pennsburg; Chris Neal, North Wales; David O’Neill, Plymouth Meeting; Daniel Quinn, Levittown; Brian Reguera, Horsham; Brian Roth, Lower Pottsgrove; Hope Sanderlin, Philadelphia; Andrew Saurman, Abington; Andrew Thiel, Bedminister; Francis Toth, Boothwyn; Phillip Voorhees, Lansdale; Edward Washington, Willow Grove; and Adam Wolfinger, Quakertown.

Montgomery County Community College, in conjunction with the state training commission, operates the Municipal Police Academy at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, 1175 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken.

The academy has been the training ground for approximately 3,400 cadets with a consistent graduation rate of more than 90 percent. The 800-hour curriculum allows successful students to articulate up to 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice Studies.

Cadet Lt. Andrew Thiel of Class 1302 transfers command to Cadet Lt. Laina Stephens, Class 1304. Photos by John Welsh

Cadet Lt. Andrew Thiel of Class 1302 transfers command to Cadet Lt. Laina Stephens, Class 1304. Photos by John Welsh

46 Graduates Complete Accelerated GED Program

Student speaker Vanessa Perry addresses her fellow graduates. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Student speaker Vanessa Perry addresses her fellow graduates. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

by Alana J. Mauger

Forty-six students earned their General Education Diplomas (GED) during Montgomery County Community College’s semi-annual graduation ceremony on Oct. 16 at the West Campus in Pottstown.

The graduates were part of the College’s rigorous five-week program that is among the most accelerated in the state. According to GED Program Coordinator /Instructor Raymond Ricketts, 828 students have completed the program since its inception in 2006 – an 84 percent graduation rate.

The Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) funds the program, which is free to Montgomery County residents. The fee for out-of-county students is $100 and includes the course and GED exam.

During the ceremony, MCCC alumnus and Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Scott Rau, Pottstown, provided the keynote address. He encouraged graduates to “make a commitment to self,” ask for help when needed, and give back, noting that “the most valuable resource you can give is your time.”

“You don’t have to stop. Everything is a milestone; everything is a step forward,” said Rau, who is senior vice president and director of mobile payments with Chase, and is also a member of the College’s Foundation Board of Directors.

Providing the student address, graduate Vanessa Perry, Pottstown, explained how a “fighting spirit” helped her to persist through the program in spite of obstacles that included her husband’s death.

“I’ve been trying to earn my GED since 2002,” shared Perry, who is already enrolled in MCCC classes this semester. “No matter what people say and what challenges come your way, only you can change your future.”

Marisol Lezcano, executive director of the Montgomery County WIB and deputy director of commerce, closed the ceremony by challenging graduates to “be daring” and go after their dreams.

“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity,” she said.

To learn more about the GED program or GED testing services, visit mc3.edu/adm-fin-aid/ged.

GED graduates stand with faculty, staff and community supporters. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

GED graduates stand with faculty, staff and community supporters. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Fall Open Houses Showcase Campuses, Programs

by Alana J. Mauger

Prospective students and members of the community are invited to learn about Montgomery County Community College’s programs and services during two open houses this fall. Pre-registration is requested. For information and registration, visit mc3.edu/openhouse or call 215-641-6551.

On Saturday, Oct. 19, the College will host an open house at its Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, from 10 a.m.-noon in the College Hall Conference Center (lower level).

On Saturday, Nov. 2, the College will host an open house at its West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown, from 10 a.m.-noon in the North Hall lobby. 

Both open houses will provide prospective students with information about the College’s credit and non-credit programs. Student Success Center advisors and counselors will provide individual academic advising and will be on hand to answer questions about the admissions process, transfer opportunities, e-learning and financial aid, among other topics.

Representatives from the College’s award-winning faculty will also be on hand to provide details on the College’s 100+ degree and certificate programs. 

For information or to pre-register, visit mc3.edu/asps/openhouse/oh-reg.htm.

Then, on Thursday, Nov. 14, the College’s Culinary Arts Institute (CAI), located at 1400 Forty Foot Road, Lansdale, will hold an Open House from 6-8 p.m. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the College’s Culinary Arts and Pastry and Baking Arts programs, as well as its Culinary Enthusiast classes. For information or to pre-register, visit mc3.edu/culinary or call 267-646-5970.

Fall ‘Culinary Enthusiast’ Classes Start This Week

by Alana J. Mauger

Whether you’re a seasoned cook looking for exciting new meal ideas, or you’re a beginner in the kitchen, Montgomery County Community College invites you to enroll in its fall series of Culinary Enthusiast classes at the brand new Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) in Lansdale.

The two-hour demonstration classes cost $79 each and are offered on select Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and select Saturdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. throughout October, November and December.

Classes are taught by experienced chef instructors, and small class sizes and video technology ensure that participants can follow every move while networking in a relaxed and fun environment. In addition, non-alcoholic beverages and food samples will be served during the classes, and participants will each leave with a goodie bag that includes the demonstrated recipes.

For a full list of classes and registration info, visit mc3.edu/culinary. You can also learn more about the Culinary Arts Institute’s credit and non-credit programs during an Open House on Nov. 14 from 6-8 p.m.

The fall schedule begins with the basics – “How to Boil Water” – on Oct. 2, during which students will learn basic knife and other culinary techniques. Other October courses cover topics that include weeknight meals, gnocchi, baking bread, soups and stews, cooking with beer, sushi and wedding cake design.

“Football Foods” starts off the November course schedule on Nov. 6, and anyone who’s cooking Thanksgiving dinner won’t want to miss “Everything but the Turkey” with CAI Director Chef Francine Marz on Nov. 16. Other November topics include holiday cookies, poultry and Spanish cuisine.

December course topics include pastas and sauces, gingerbread house design, hors d’oeuvres, and holiday brunch ideas.

Culinary Enthusiast classes are held in the state-of-the-art demo kitchen on the first floor of MCCC’s Culinary Arts Institute, located in the Towamencin Town Square complex, 1374 Forty Foot Road, Lansdale. To learn more, visit mc3.edu/culinary or call 267-646-5970.