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MCC Welcomes Alumni Back to Speak on Writing with Students

April 22 @ 12:30 pm


To reserve space, contact Tom Laughlin at or Student Engagement at Visit for more information.

With 50 years of supporting students, Middlesex Community College is inspired by the college’s over 26,000 alumni. Middlesex will welcome back six alumni as part of the Spring 2021 Visiting Writers Series. The live streamed event will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22.

The participating Middlesex poets and writers include MCC Assistant Professor of English Willy Ramirez, Dana Shahar Meyer, Deenah Jacques, Boyd Mason, Emily Grochowski and Charles Paolilli. They will take time to read from their work and answer student questions.

Before returning to Middlesex as a professor, Ramirez earned a bachelor’s from Pace University and a master’s in Spanish and Latin America Literature and Cultures at New York University. His poetry has been published in anthologies such as “Atlantic Currents: Cork & Lowell Writers” in 2020, “Retrato íntimo de poetas dominicanos: Antología poética de la diaspora” in 2019, “Feipol Anthology” in 2018, and “Poets in New York” in 2013, among other publications.

An avid reader, Ramirez has a passion for knowledge and adventure which inspired his interest in teaching. Throughout his journey – including at Middlesex – he had mentors who motivated him and helped shape his path. To provide his students with a similar experience and opportunities, Ramirez founded the La Guagua Reading Group and the annual La Guagua Poetry Festival.

“My experience with people taught me that human beings pertained to a long and unavoidably connected chain in history,” Ramirez said. “I strive to give students what these extraordinary people once gave me – guidance, patience, trust and the tools to create my own path.”

A 2018 MCC graduate, Shahar Meyer went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at Fitchburg State University and is finishing up a master’s program. At Middlesex, Shahar Meyer enjoyed the sense of community, support from professors, and the ability to save money on tuition.

Shahar Meyer’s poetry has been published in Massachusetts’ Best Emerging Poets, MCC’s Dead River Review and other local magazines. A winner of the 2019 Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival’s MCC Poetry Contest, she has self-published four children’s literature collections. Now a fourth grade teacher, she believes writing provides a platform that is unique to the individual.

“Reading or listening to other writers gives one endless opportunities to be humbled and to grow as a writer themselves,” she said. “There is nothing more personally educational than exposing yourself to the stories of others. Only half of writing is mastering your craft – the other half is finding your voice.”

An MCC Dual Enrollment student, Jacques graduated in 2015 and transferred to Salem State University. An active member of the community, she participated in a variety of student clubs, including at the Multicultural Center, Women’s Leadership Network, Latinos Unidos and the Paul Sullivan Institute. She also enjoyed taking different classes that helped her figure out what she wanted to pursue.

In addition to having her work published in MCC’s Dead River Review, Jacques’ chapbook “Stranded” was published by Salem State in 2018. She is now applying to MFA poetry programs for Fall 2021. At Middlesex, Jacques had what she calls an “amazing” experience that helped her grow confident in her abilities as a poet.

“It’s important to talk about creative writing because it’s truly a healing process – not only for yourself – but for others who are touched by your words,” Jacques said. “They may be inspired to pursue their own healing or question what’s been taught by them, or maybe it could be a call to action.”

As an adult learner at MCC, Mason was offered a welcoming environment and easy admissions process. He graduated with highest honors and is now writing his first novel based in Maine. He credits the college and his professors for helping him to develop his abilities as a writer.

Mason’s work has been published in MCC’s Dead River Review where he also did some editing work. About his first novel he said, “it never would have happened without my time at MCC!”

“It is important to talk to students about writing because the written word is what makes the world go around,” he said. “With every film that is made, there needs to be a written script which drives the story. Every great speech that will ever be remembered ­– from ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ to ‘I Have a Dream’ – was written before it was spoken.”

After graduating from MCC with highest honors – as well as a writing award – Grochowski earned a bachelor’s in Creative Writing. In addition to her poetry being published in MCC’s Dead River Review and “La Guagua Anthology: Celebration & Confrontation,” she will be featured in the anthology “14 International Younger Poets.” She is now applying for graduate writing or philosophy programs.

From Lowell, fiction writer Paolilli writes about the cultures and landscapes of the Merrimack Valley. He graduated from Middlesex in 2016 and went on to earn a bachelor’s in English from UMass Lowell.

MCC Visiting Writers Series is co-sponsored by the Creative Writing Program and the Office of Student Engagement. To reserve space, contact Tom Laughlin at or Student Engagement at Visit for more information.

Discover your path at Middlesex Community College. As one of the largest, most comprehensive community colleges in Massachusetts, MCC has been a proven leader in online education for more than 20 years. We educate, engage and empower a diverse community of learners, offering more than 80 degree and certificate programs – plus hundreds of noncredit courses. Middlesex Community College: Student success starts here!


April 22
12:30 pm
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MIddlesex Community College
(781) 280-3200
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