Honors in the News

Honors Student Board Member

2021 Virtual Research Conference

Dana Meyer

Merilyn Mbombo, Nursing/Honors graduate: https://teamsites.middlesex.mass.edu/pressreleases/Announcements/DispForm.aspx?ID=2367&fbclid=IwAR065V78o5QXxp9_hW7XGg1MpHbXwDzGBCPw4CRGMDjo8Cpog3YGVqLe5bY

Caleb Chin – MCC Computer Science and Commonwealth Honors Program student – won the Massachusetts Student Employee of the Year Award from the National Student Employment Association.

UML and Middlesex Work Together for Transfer Success: https://www.uml.edu/news/stories/2019/community_college_partnerships.aspx

MCC Adds Computer Science Track to Its Honors Program

Middlesex Community College strives to help students find their paths and reach their goals. In an effort to continue supporting student success, Middlesex is adding a Computer Science track to the college’s Commonwealth Honors Program (CHP). Participating in CHP nurtures students’ integrity, honesty, perseverance, academic achievement, intellectual curiosity and a collaborative spirit, while honing leadership, research and networking skills.

Binnur Ercem, MCC’s Director of the CHP and Professor of Sociology and Cultural Anthropology, worked with faculty from the Computer Science program to offer five seminars that are eligible for honors credit for students who qualify.

“This new and one-of-a-kind track is the first honors track in a STEM field,” Ercem said. “The track provides an opportunity for computer science majors to take honors courses and to graduate as honors scholars.”

Qualifying MCC students will take three honors courses in place of elective courses, according to Sylvia Yeung, Chairman of MCC’s Computer Science Department. Course options include Ethics and Technology, English Composition I and II, World Cultures, and Globalization.

“The Computer Science honors track is the first STEM honors offering at Middlesex and provides a distinctive opportunity for students,” Yeung said. “Eligible students are strongly encouraged to participate in this program since it does not increase their credit requirements for graduation.”

CHP provides advanced-level course options and seminar-style classes for students who have at least a 3.2 GPA upon applying to the program. MCC students gain an increased opportunity for scholarships, guaranteed transfer to any CHP or Honors College in Massachusetts, and an enhanced prospect for acceptance to private four-year colleges and universities.

Students in the CHP participate in an Honors Poster Conference in the spring to present their research projects. In 2021, the event will be held virtually.

Psychology grad found confidence 

At Middlesex Community College, students continue to use the knowledge and skills they learn during their time at the college well past graduation. Seda Korroch attended Middlesex to help bridge the gap between high school and a four- year college. She believes her experience at MCC is reflected in her everyday life and taught her how to be more motivated in her studies.

The Bedford resident graduated from Middlesex as a Psychology major last spring. Although she struggled in high school, she worked hard at MCC to improve her grades and set herself up to be in a solid position to transfer to UMass Amherst to earn a Bachelor’s degree.

MCC provided her with an opportunity to meet and learn from mentors, as well as with experiences that expanded her interests. Her professor and adviser, Jennifer Pisarik, offered her the support and encouragement she needed to succeed, while her time in MCC’s Commonwealth Honors Program developed her abilities further.

“ Every day at UMass, I use the confidence, ambition and knowledge I gained at MCC to keep furthering my education,” she said. “ The rigorous schedule of homework, papers and reading helped me develop the study techniques I needed to support my ambitions.”

While her initial interest in psychology stemmed from the opportunity to work with people, Korroch grew more fascinated by her major as she dived deeper into her course work. The cognitive, developmental and social psychology specialties, in particular, showed her what she wanted to do in her career because of how they all relate to each other.

“ We are constantly having to combine subjects like biology and chemistry with philosophy and human nature,” she said. “ I like the challenge of being a scientist who studies something with this many moving — and oftentimes contradictor — parts.”

In the Commonwealth Honors Program, Korroch came to understand why she wanted to pursue psychology — which is what she considers the first step to being motivated — as well as the value of hard work and commitment. In addition to research projects, she learned how to complete literature reviews, analysis and applying the knowledge she learned in classes to realworld situations.

All of those experiences are relevant to what she is now doing at UMass in her studies and in her job at a developmental psychology research lab.

“ The honors program was so instrumental in my success at MCC,” she said. “ The subjects and professors really inspire students to push themselves academically. The research papers helped me figure out I had more of a passion for research than I initially thought, and the flexibility of what the paper could be on helped me explore more areas in my major.”

In addition to her studies, Korroch also had an opportunity to work for MCC’s Office of Disability Services as a student notetaker. She enjoyed helping her classmates while being able to sit in on other classes she found interesting. For her, it’s the support Middlesex offers that stands out the most, and she was proud to have been a part of that.

“ I always recommend MCC to anyone who wants to further their education and have an amazing support system behind them,” she said. “ The staff and faculty genuinely want to see students grow into their full potential.”


School helped immigrant with college and with life 

When Apitchaya Ramirez first arrived in the United States from Bangkok to start her college journey, she was afraid it would be overwhelming.

She chose Middlesex Community College for its small class sizes and the ability to connect with her professors and classmates on a personal level. Instead of feeling lost, MCC’s welcoming environment helped her feel comfortable as she adjusted to her new circumstances.

“As an international student, I did not want to jump right into a big university because I felt I wasn’t ready academically and financially,” Ramirez said. “ MCC was affordable. But not only that, it was filled with valuable academic resources and support that prepared me for my future.”

Ramirez worked as an au pair when she first came to the U. S., and started at Middlesex in the Adult LearningCenter, where she improved her English, math and digital literacy skills. When she felt more prepared, she started taking courses to work toward an Associate degree and participating in more events and clubs across campus. MCC helped her learn what she wanted to pursue both academically and professionally.

As a History, Politics and Global Studies major, Ramirez graduated from MCC in 2017 and transferred to UMass Lowell. For her Bachelor’s degree, she studied Peace and Conflict Studies with a minor in American Studies. After graduating last spring, she decided to serve as an Ameri-Corps member in the New American Integration Program at Somerville Community Corporation.

“ I participated in many leadership programs at MCC, which allowed me to become more confident and develop other skills, such as organization, time management, teamwork and professionalism,” she said. “ I found that these skills were important after MCC as they were part of my success in college later on when I graduated from UML, and in my career.”

During her time at MCC, Ramirez participated in the International Club and First Year Champion, and was an orientation leader, peer facilitator and peer mentor for the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative Program. A member of the Commonwealth Honors Program, she enjoyed participating in the Annual Honors Conference and attended many events on campus, including Orientation Day, the MCC International Thanksgiving Dinner and other Welcome Month events.

Her favorite courses were in the social sciences, including a seminar on globalization with Professor Binnur Ercem and another on world cultures taught by Professor David Kalivas. She also credits professors Dona Cady, Robert Kaulfuss and Stephanie Pesce for “ going above and beyond” in support of her success.

With a heavy reading requirement and research projects, Ramirez believes her courses were intense but engaging.

“ I got to present two research projects from honors courses at the Annual Honors Conference in 2016 and 2017, and I was very proud of my works,” she said.

“ People at MCC — professors, staff, other students — are there to help you succeed not only in college, but also in life,” she added. “ You don’t have to worry about getting lost in this community because there are resources and guidance available for you from day one.”

Nursing added to Commonwealth Honors 

Middlesex Community College is adding Nursing courses to the college’s Commonwealth Honors Program.

MCC’s Honors Program started a decade ago under the recently retired first director of the program, History Professor David Kalivas. The program provides advanced- level course options and seminar- style classes for students who have at least a 3.2 grade- point average upon applying to the program.

Binnur Ercem is MCC’s new director of the Commonwealth Honors Program and a professor of Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. She has worked with the faculty of the Nursing program to designate Nursing Care of the Adult I and II, as well as Ethics and Society to be seminars eligible for honors credit for the nursing students who qualify.

“ I am excited to announce that MCC’s Nursing Program and Commonwealth Honors Program have partnered to add honors courses for nursing students,” Ercem said. “ This unique and creative new partnership is the first of its kind and will provide an opportunity to nursing students to take honors- level Nursing classes and graduate as honors scholars.”

According to Dr. Sandra Shapiro, MCC’s director of nurse education, MCC’s Commonwealth Honors and Nursing programs form a natural partnership because both programs have values of “ integrity, honesty, perseverance, academic achievement, independence, intellectual curiosity, self- reliance and a collaborative spirit.”

“ The benefits for Nursing students to become honors scholars are many, but belonging to an intellectual community may be one of the most important advantages for nursing students, who, by their nature, are inherently inquisitive,” Shapiro said. “As members of the Honors Program, they will now be recognized for their intellect and curiosity. Additionally, Nursing students will be able to network and grow from their association within the honors scholars’ comschools munity.”

The Commonwealth Honors Program offers Middlesex students an increased opportunity for scholarships, guaranteed transfer to any Commonwealth Honors Program or Honors College in Massachusetts, and an enhanced prospect for acceptance to private four- year colleges and universities.

Students who participate also gain leadership, research and networking skills. Visit www. middlesex. mass. edu/ honors/ for more information on MCC’s Commonwealth Honors Program or contact the department at honors@ middlesex. mass. edu or 781-280- 3553.


Graduate calls MCC ‘hub’ for Cambodians 

For Farrorza Lim, Middlesex Community College offers opportunity.

Lim came to the United States from Cambodia to go to college and to be closer to his father. His initial interest was due to the efficient customer service the college offered him in his search process. When he called, Middlesex answered. When he had questions, MCC guided him to the right places.

Once he arrived, Lim soon learned to call the college a “ hub” for students from Cambodia to “start their journey.”

“I like the way they treat and help students,” he said. “For people who left their home and comfort zone to go to a new environment, it’s not easy. It’s something so hard to adapt to, but the lesson I learned from that was things will get better from day to day.”

During his time at Middlesex, Lim devoted a lot of time to helping others. As part of the Helping Hands Club, he volunteered throughout the local community, including at the Greater Lowell Boys & Girls Club. Having access to the club, and being part of the community, helped him adjust to this new chapter in his life.

Another place of comfort for Lim was the Asian Connections Center, where he could talk to friends in his native language and learn about the culture and ethics of the U.S. He also held a workstudy job at the center, where he helped organize events and kept the area clean.

“I learned from them,” he said. “MCC — the Asian Center, the school — I always hang out there when I’m free because that’s where I get my mind away from homesickness. With the large Cambodian community at MCC, I feel like home.”

MCC’s Asian Connections Center is funded with support from the college’s AANAPISI grant — a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution program in 2017. The center provides Asian American students a range of support services and co-curricular activities to improve their experience at the college, as well as completion and transfer outcomes.

Lim believes learning from other students was essential to his MCC experience. One of the more rewarding parts of his time at the college was with the Academic Enrichment Center. His first experience with ACE was during his first semester when, he needed help writing essays. The next semester, he was recommended for a job by one of his professors, and Lim became a writing tutor.

For him, being on both sides was a perfect give-and-take of learning. “ You feel close to the students who teach you,” he said. “It’s not about me teaching people, but talking with people to learn from them and sharing knowledge with each other.”

Although he was nervous when he first started tutoring, Lim said faculty and staff were supportive and guided him to succeed. That support was a constant during his time at Middlesex. “Instead of email, I could just go and talk with them directly,” he said. “ The people from ACE and where I would study at the Asian Center, they are very helpful. It was hard for me to find recommendations back home, but here people reach out to you when you need help, and I am very thankful.”

When he first arrived at MCC, Lim said his adviser offered him support, recommending an initial course load, following up with him as he got started, and telling him about a free English class he could take over the summer. His adviser also helped him with his plans to transfer to a four-year school.

Lim graduated last month with an Associate Degree in History, Global Studies and Political Science. A Commonwealth Honors student and member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, he will continue at UMass Lowell to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a Concentration in International Relations. He hopes to get a Master’s Degree and work for the government at the state or federal level. Lim’s advice to current and future students at Middlesex is to play an active role in the campus community.


Farrorza Lim moved to Lowell from Cambodia, then enrolled at MCC. He graduated last month.


Last Modified: 10/12/21