$1M gifts to help at FSC, MWCC; Sterlite grants for student aid.


Byline: Paula J. Owen

FITCHBURG - Fitchburg State College and Mount Wachusett Community College announced yesterday the schools will receive a gift of $1 million each from Townsend-based Sterilite Corp. that will go directly to aiding students through scholarships, counseling and other support services.

With state aid continuing to dwindle, public education institutions are finding it more and more difficult to keep their doors open, said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. He and FSC President Robert V. Antonucci said the historic gift will make possible better opportunities for students.

"We don't see this often for public institutions," Mr. Esquino said. "Making gifts like this is essential to keep our doors open."

The $2 million donation to the schools will mean the difference between pursuing dreams of higher education for some students or dropping out of college.

One of those students is Eric A. Gregoire, 20, from Ludlow - a junior majoring in political science at FSC. He grew up on his family's farm, he said. His mother, a cashier, and father, a truck driver, had trouble making ends meet and raised animals to help supplement the family's income. Without financial aid for college, which includes subsidized loans and scholarships, Mr. Gregoire said, he would have to leave school.

"My parents can't supplement educational costs," he explained. "I wouldn't be able to attend. If I took out the entire cost in loans, I would be drowning by the time I graduated."

Mr. Gregoire is also a student trustee, and said he appreciates the help he gets and gives back to the community when he can.

MWCC freshman William M. Dos Santos, 29, of Gardner, says he is in the same boat. He works full time as a licensed practical nurse at UMass Memorial - HealthAlliance Leominster Campus and attends MWCC's nursing program part time.

His wife, Danielle M. Dos Santos, is looking for work as an LPN and...

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