Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the Berkshires and changed everything about the way we work, live, and interact, the staff at MCLA's MountainOne Wellness Center have been working around the clock—first to help plan the College's pandemic response activities, then to coordinate testing and contact tracing while also seeing students for various other health-related issues as usual.
MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center produced an extensive slate of virtual programming, exhibitions, and discussions this academic year, all focused on using art as a catalyst for advocacy and a deeper understanding of current social issues like immigration, racism, and public health.
Though it wasn't possible to pack the Amsler Campus Center with visitors this year, MCLA still brought diverse voices, thought leadership, and expert perspectives to campus through virtual lectures. Thousands of people, from students to community members to parents and alumni located far from campus, were able to enjoy these events from their homes.
Before the pandemic, the MCLA Volunteer Center was running regular weekly programs, with participation from more than 200 student volunteers and community members. The COVID-19 pandemic forced it to pivot, but the staff and student volunteers rose to the occasion, expanding food pantry access, developing virtual programming, and keeping as much of its usual activities going as possible despite pandemic restrictions.
Did you know MCLA regularly lends its expertise to the Berkshire community, from college prep seminars to developing employment pipelines between the College and major local employers?
The greenhouse connected to MCLA's Venable Hall, right across from the Amsler Campus Center, is now home to seedlings that will become veggies and herbs for sauces, salsas, and pickles. When students return to campus next semester, they'll be able to try a few varieties of an "MCLA Pickle" created by MCLA Dining Executive Chef Tony Fiorentino.
Jake Daigneault '21 knew he wanted to survey a diverse population. "I realized we have this whole alumni network potentially available to us," he said. Steele and Daigneault reached out to the MCLA Alumni Office, which sent Daigneault's survey out to the alumni community. He ended up with more than 400 responses--much higher than the usual number of survey respondents for senior thesis work.
John and Cecelia Kennedy met at MCLA, both members of the Class of 1978. They've been married almost 40 years, but their time at the College didn't just bring them together. It also helped nurture their shared values about giving back to the community and helping empower young people.
According to Kate Gigliotti, MCLA's senior director of constituent engagement, 2020 was a record-breaking year for alumni volunteers. In the 2020-21 academic year, 440 alumni volunteered their time, spending 2,650 hours helping with programs that support students and recent graduates, plus 1,250 hours spent volunteering through alumni leadership roles, including the Alumni Association Board of Directors and other alumni boards and committees.
Crystal Wojcik '21, a business major at MCLA with a concentration in accounting, is staying local after graduation, starting her career as the finance director for her hometown of Adams, Mass.