Mount Wachusett Community College Receives 2021 Career Readiness and Educational Access Action Area Grant

The Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts has granted Mount Wachusett Community College $30,000 to continue the highly successful work of the MWCC Student Stabilization Scholarship Fund.

The MWCC Student Stabilization Scholarship Fund was established during the early months of the COVID-19 and has provided support to students to cover unmet costs for tuition, fees, and books. The scholarship fund has two funding priorities, with recipients selected in a collaboration between MWCC’s student retention office, the Thrive Center, and the Office of Student Financial Services.

The MWCC Thrive Center team members actively reach out to students who have been identified as candidates for the scholarship. The Thrive Center specialists will continue to track and provide proactive counseling services to help students successfully complete their education.

“The past 16 months have been most difficult,” stated MWCC President James Vander Hooven. “Our students have struggled. In our own ways, each one of us have struggled. I am so thankful for the support of the Foundation, and our Thrive Center staff who worked tirelessly to help these students.”

“The crisis hit our students hard and in unexpected ways and is still impacting them dramatically as the crisis continued into 2021,” stated Shelby Shaw, MWCC’s Director of Retention and Thrive Center. “We look forward to continuing the successes of last year and helping even more students this year.”

One such success story is husband and wife Kevin and Andrea Techera. The assistance provided by the grant enabled them to complete their associate degrees in May, both achieving the Deans List, while helping their daughters with remote learning. In the fall, Andrea will be continuing her pursuit of a PhD in psychology, and Kevin will continue towards a bachelor’s degree with the goal of a career in the growing biotechnology sector.

Challenges such as job loss, increased responsibilities for those in “essential jobs” and home/virtual schooling responsibilities for student-parents have turned students lives upside down. Additional challenges faced by students include the death of loved ones, increased childcare responsibilities due to the closure of schools and childcare faculties, their role as essential workers and mental health struggles. In the face of these difficulties, over 604 students residing in North Central Massachusetts have been forced to stop their education, possibly never to return. The availability of this funding enabled MWCC to assist 28 students in 2020 with direct scholarship assistance, wrap around support and advising services. The college seeks to support 30 students with the 2021 grant.