An MCC Student Pennsation!
The MCC Student Activities Crew yesterday hosted a tremendous outing to bring attention to the global relief efforts occurring in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country, and thanks to an MCC prof, the panel brought some star power in the form of Hollywood headliner Sean Penn!
Penn, a two-time Academy Award winner, is the founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board of the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, which focuses on medical aid, protection and relocation.
The relief panel evolved via MCC Psychology Professor Ryan Keen, whose father, Lt. General Ken Keen was in Haiti when the earthquake struck and was in charge of relief efforts on the ground for a long time to come afterwards.
Penn disclosed yesterday that as he watched the world news evolved, he realized he couldn't just sit idly by, and needed to get involved, and as a result, has spent much of the past three years on the ground in Haiti, travelling there at least twice a month to oversee the rebuilding.
At one point, Penn and Keen met with Cherylann Gengel of Rutland, Mass., whose 19-year-old daughter Britney was killed in the collapse of a hotel during the earthquake. Britney had only been in Haiti one day when the quake claimed her life, but now her parents have started a new foundation, Be Like Brit, and are raising money to build an orphanage in Haiti in their daughter's name. Here's Gengel with Penn.
Keen and Penn were joined on stage by Jarrett Barrios, from the American Red Cross Chapter of Eastern Massachusetts. He spoke of the Red Cross' relief efforts not just in Haiti, but of their support for families in Massachusetts who lost loved ones in the quake.
After the panel discussion, MCC student Julie Quertenmont, president of the International Club, presented Penn with a check for monies raised over the past three weeks by MCC students in grassroots fund-raising efforts on both our campuses.
President Cowan presented Penn, Keen, and Barrios with MCC sweatshirts, which Penn was only too happy to don for the photos that followed.
Backstage with President Cowan and Student Engagement Guru Paula Dias, who moderated the event
And here's an encapsulation of the groups of our terrific students who Penn and Keen took time to take photos with, along with their faculty and staff advisors. Some of MCC's finest here!
Afterwards at the Nesmith House, Ryan Keen and his family
And Penn himself, who had lots of questions about the history of the college, the city, and our student international efforts.
Overall, a great day for MCC faculty and students to shine, and an inspirational presentation by Keen, Penn, and Barrios that reminded the audience to think globally, and realize the world's not that big a place after all.