College Hosts Employment Programs for Career Link, EARN

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College will host two upcoming programs as part of its Business Leadership Series for Pennsylvania Career Link and the Montgomery County Employment Advancement Retention Network (EARN).

Workshops on June 10 and 12 will focus on technology, manufacturing and service careers, while workshops on June 16 and 19 will focus on financial, insurance and service careers.

On June 10 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host an Employer Summit, during which human resources managers from technology companies will discuss their expectations of job applicants in the areas of computer science, information technology, management information services, digital design and computer graphics. The summit is ideal for participants seeking technical as well as non-technical occupations, including accountant, administrative assistant, customer service representative, technician and other office, technical, non-technical and entry level positions.  Participants will also learn basics of what to do, and what not to do, when applying for a position.

On June 12 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host a hands-on workshop “How to Apply Online,” during which participants will learn how to navigate employers’ online application systems. Instruction includes how to post a resume and complete required testing, as well as information on testing strategies, test anxiety and stress.

On June 16 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host a Financial Insurance and Service Summit, during which human resource managers will discuss their expectations of job applicants seeking employment with financial, insurance and service companies. Participants will also learn basics of what to do, and what not to do, when applying for a position.

On June 19 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host a hands-on workshop “How to Apply Online,” during which participants will learn how to navigate employers’ online application systems. Instruction includes how to post a resume and complete required testing, as well as information on testing strategies, test anxiety and stress.

The programs will be held at Montgomery’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell and will include networking opportunities and refreshments. The programs are free and are open to the public, but registration is required, as seating is limited. To register, contact Denise Garrigus at 215-619-7403 or dgarrigu@mc3.edu or Jennifer Kirkwood at 610-278-7289 or jkirkoo@montcopa.org.

Computer Science Students Showcase Work During Spring Tech Day

by Alana J. Mauger 

Students enrolled in Associate Professor Kendall Martin’s Computer Science II—Object Oriented Programming (CIS 111b) course at Montgomery County Community College showcased their projects at the end of the spring semester at the Central Campus, Blue Bell.

“We want students enrolled in CIS 111 [Computer Science I – Programming/Concept] to see the kinds of projects they can work on if they enroll in the next course,” explained Martin, who organizes these Technology Transfer Days at the end of each semester. “In the intro class, students really learn the basics, but in the CIS 111b course, they get to apply that knowledge and work on collaborative projects like the ones showcased here.”

Among those projects was a College mobile app, developed by students Julian Greenberg, Roberto Zuccarini, Dan Marcoux and Wellington Rodriguez.

“Info about the College is spread everywhere, so we designed a centralized mobile site with information that students care about, such as food service hours, Org Sync [student club portal] and Blackboard,” explained Greenberg, who will be transferring into Penn State Abington’s Information Systems Technology program.

Greenberg is president of the Tech Connect Support Squad, a new student club that provides peer “help desk” support to students at the Central Campus, which enabled him to get real student feedback on his project.

CIS 111b students Dan Marcoux, Wellington Rodriguez and Julian Greenberg showcase their mobile app. Photos by Alana J. Mauger

CIS 111b students Dan Marcoux, Wellington Rodriguez and Julian Greenberg showcase their mobile app. Photos by Alana J. Mauger

Another team, comprised of Robert Vogel, Jonathan Drozd and Kevin Loughlin, developed a real-time text translator to enhance communication for international students. The Android-based app uses a smart phone’s built in camera, Microsoft Translate and Google to provide real-time text translation for a variety of languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Hindi, among others.

Student Zac Chelbi demonstrates a level on The Big Robot Game

Student Zac Chelbi demonstrates a level on The Big Robot Game.

Former CIS 111b student Zac Chelbi returned to this semester’s technology event to showcase The Big Robot Game, which he and his team are developing as part of the College’s Electronic Game and Simulation Design program.

“Players can customize their tanks and environment. We’re still working on adding functionality and on simplifying the process to launch,” said Chelbi, who is transferring to the Art Institute in the fall.

Other students from the class, like Paul Lizeaus, partnered with MCCC’s Engineering program to write code and develop a website for the program’s Quad Forge project.

“The program is open source, so we actually made a change that was later incorporated into the program by the original designer,” shared Lizeaus, who is transferring to West Chester University in the fall.

CIS 111 and 111b are required courses for many of the College’s STEM programs, including Computer Networking, Electronic Game and Simulation Design, Information Technology, Software Engineering and Web Design and Development, among others. To learn more, visit mc3.edu/academics.

Montgomery Selected for National Job Ready, Willing and Able Initiative

by Diane VanDyke

Montgomery County Community College is one of 17 community colleges from across the country selected to participate in Job Ready, Willing and Able Initiative (JRWA) to help train America’s workforce. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) recently announced the Walmart Foundation will provide a $4.19 million three-year grant to support the JRWA initiative with $2.67 million directly supporting community colleges, including MCCC.

“Montgomery County Community College’s Center for Workforce Development provides high-quality business skills programs to meet the needs of individuals, businesses and professional organizations in Montgomery County and the local region,” said College President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “The Job Ready, Willing and Able Initiative will allow the Center to offer new courses that will enable students to gain viable skills needed for immediate employment opportunities.”

The JRWA initiative will provide middle-skill training, industry recognized credentials, and access to employment across varying industry sectors in each of the 17 communities.

As part of this initiative, MCCC will develop a pipeline through its existing Office Administration Program to create a non-credit, competency-based Office Assistant certificate. Students will enroll in three courses—Business Software Essentials, Microsoft Word Applications and Modern Office Management—to attain computer literacy skills, as well as the vital “soft” skills expected by employers in business environments. The certificate can be completed in less than a year, allowing students to quickly enter the workforce.

Additionally after completing the certificate, students will have the opportunity to 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. Moreover, students who complete this certificate will have the opportunity to stack the courses into credit programs at the College, if they decide to continue their education in the Office Administration field and gain additional skills that will lead to new opportunities and higher salaries.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, office and administrative support occupations is 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.

“We are proud to continue our work with Walmart Foundation at a time when the nation is focused on middle-skill careers and opportunities. This initiative is a model for how community colleges can connect students with specific, sustainable jobs in their communities and contribute to long-term economic growth,” said Walter Bumphus, AACC president and CEO.

Working with the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board, the College plans to reach unemployed populations to provide this invaluable training to fill the open office positions of the County’s workforce. Additionally, the College will work with the Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) program to offer this training to deserving students in the program.

The AACC selected the 17 participating colleges through a highly competitive process. Four colleges will be mentor colleges, with support from AACC, the National Association of Workforce Boards, AACC Affiliate Councils and industry associations. Mentors were selected from AACC’s 2008–2010 Workforce Economic Opportunity Initiative funded by Walmart Foundation and will provide additional guidance to 13 mentee colleges.

All colleges will work closely with local businesses, economic development leaders and the area workforce systems to collaboratively address the needs of the unemployed. The initiative aims to provide more than 5,000 unemployed adults with new skills, credentials and jobs.

The four selected mentor colleges are Arkansas Northeastern College, Arkansas; Northeast Community College, Nebraska; Umpqua Community College, Oregon; and Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia.

In addition to MCCC, the 12 mentee colleges selected for the JRWA initiative are Grossmont College, California; Community College of Aurora, Colorado; St. Johns River State College, Florida; Kirkwood Community College, Iowa; Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana; Hazard Community and Technical College, Kentucky; Jamestown Community College, New York; Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio; Northeast State Community College, Tennessee; Tarrant County College District, Texas; Snow College, Utah; and West Virginia University at Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Individuals in Recovery Find Success in ‘POWERful’ Program

by Alana J. Mauger

 Montgomery County Community College  celebrated the journey of 19 individuals who successfully completed the spring session of its innovative Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) Program on April 22 during a 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 given me the tools to succeed and has improved my confidence by 110 percent,” said Qiani Bennett, who described her decade-long “tug-of-war” with depression. “I will never forget the role this class has played in my journey.”

A mother of three sons, Bennett is enrolled in MCCC’s Human Services program for the fall semester.

POWER participant Leya Ross, who spoke about her struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, will be joining Bennett in the Human Services program this fall.

“I will be a confident, productive and successful critical thinker. I will carry everything I have learned for the rest of my life,” she vowed.

Devon Heise was the final student to speak, sharing her emotional journey through years of drug abuse, incarceration, rehab and attempts at college.

“All of these failures piled up,” she said. “I somehow survived a grim reality that was so bleak.”

Going forward, Heise hopes to work with teenagers as a way to give back to those professionals who helped her.

“Instead of letting my past mistakes define me, they now influence who I am today,” she shared.

As part of the ceremony, 14 students were recognized for their achievements through the POWER Plus Program. These are former POWER participants who are now attending college classes or are currently employed as a result of completing the program.

“I felt my mind expanding and myself improving already during [new student] orientation,” said POWER Plus participant Bob Maddox, who is enjoying his Spanish classes at MCCC and hopes to one day become a translator.

Associate Professor of Psychology and POWER Program Director Diane Haar presented a POWER Advocate Award to Nancy Wieman, who is retiring from her post as Deputy Administrator for Montgomery County’s Mental Health Services after 28 years.

“Nancy has been at the forefront of the mental health recovery movement, and as a result of her work, the County’s program is not only a model for the state, but also for the country.”

In addition to Haar, the College’s POWER team consists of Program Coordinator/Advisor Lisa Barbiero, Community Liaison/Advisor Lori Schreiber, Peer Mentor George Rohde, Administrative Coordinator Dianne Johnson, Faculty Rose Regan, 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 and staff at April 2014 graduation ceremony.  Photo by Sandi Yanisko

POWER and POWER Plus Program participants and staff at April 2014 graduation ceremony. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Fast Track PA Real Estate Salesperson Program Moves Fully Online

by Alana J. Mauger

Building on the success of its Fast Track Real Estate pilot program launched in January, Montgomery County Community College will incorporate even more flexibility when it offers Real Estate 101 and 102 again in May.

“We’re leveraging many of the College’s technology resources to maximize students’ time,” said Ayisha Sereni, administrative director of Montgomery’s BEI division and a licensed Pennsylvania real estate broker.

According to Sereni, the 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.

To encourage participation, the May-start classes will be taught fully online, which differs from the hybrid format used in the pilot. Now, virtual meetings will take the place of face-to-face instruction in a classroom setting.

The fast track program can be completed in less than one month. 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 runs from May 8-20, and Real Estate Practice runs from May 27-June 5.

To learn more about the College’s Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson Pre-licensing Fast Track Program, email Ayisha Sereni at asereni@mc3.edu or call 215-641-6374.

Criminal Justice, Public Safety Careers Focus of Biennial Event

Photo by Christine Reckner

Photo by Christine Reckner

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College will host its 15th Biennial Criminal Justice and Public Safety Career Day on Wednesday, April 23, from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

The event is free of charge and is open to the public, including students from other institutions. For information, contactDirector of Criminal Justice Studies and Fire Science and Emergency Management & Planning Benn Prybutok at 215-641-6428 or bprybuto@mc3.edu.

The event begins with an opening ceremony at 9 a.m., which will include remarks by Montgomery County and College officials and presentation of awards. Then, starting at 10 a.m. participants will have the opportunity to meet with top law enforcement, criminal justice and public safety agencies and recruiters in order to become better acquainted with opportunities in these fields.

More than 50 exhibitors will be in attendance, including municipal police departments, state and federal law enforcement and investigative agencies, private security companies, public safety agencies, four-year baccalaureate programs and area law schools.

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