A Student Publication of Lorain County Community College

LCCC sets example of gender equality

Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Dylan Rice, Oscar Rosado and Alyssa Watson Journalism students Only 30 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities have women as presidents, according to a 2017 study by the American Council on Education. Lorain…

Residents sound off on Lorain poll results

Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Dylan Rice and Alyssa Watson JRNM-151 students Brian Yarosh, a North Ridgeville resident, voted for President Donald Trump because the incumbent “is different from every other politician.” Like Yarosh, 76,719 (50 percent) Lorain County…

Campus beefs up covid-19 precaution to ensure safety

Oscar Rosado Editor-in-Chief   As a Fall semester starts, security measures to keep COVID-19 in check have been implemented by LCCC to ensure the safety of the students, faculty and staff. Campus Security Chief Kenneth Collins said many new procedures…

Lorain County Community College wins 11 Press Club awards

Jayne Giese Staff  Writer LCCC took home 11 honors at the 2020 All Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards held by the Press Club of Cleveland via a Zoom conference on Aug.7, 2020. The Collegian won nine honors and the Boom…

Covid restrictions cut athletic programs,
cross country takes second place

Anthony LaRosa
JRNM 151

The National Junior College Athletic Association announced on March 13 that their spring sports would be postponed for 21 days. Three days later, the NJCAA released a statement cancelling all spring sports for the season. This was just the beginning of a complex situation involving the status of sports through the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Jul. 13, fall and spring sports were postponed until new year except one sport: men’s and women’s cross country.

Mackenzie Diebel and Charlie Yonts display their medals.
Mackenzie Diebel and Charlie Yonts display their medals.

“We had to keep it in everyone’s mind that we have the opportunity to participate right now, but that could change. We always needed to be in clear communication, we knew for the safety of our student athletes we may have to shut down at any point,” said Jim Powers, LCCC cross-country coach and assistant athletic director.

In a normal year, the cross-country team has eight races. This year that was reduced to four.

“We always kept it in the back of our mind that any race could be our last race. I said that before the regionals, if this is our last race, then let’s make it a great one,” Powers said, “They did, all of the men’s team ran their season best races at regionals and two out of our four women did also.”

The men became the 2020 NJCAA Region 12 DIII Champions at regionals and the women’s team placed second to Kellogg Community College, the second-best team in the country.

“It was one of the most rewarding years I had. There were good sports programs that were just not having good seasons. For the men and women to come out and run their best race of the season at the most important race of the season was phenomenal,” Powers said.

 “I wanted them to know how proud they should be of themselves. To be taking a full-time class schedule and working a job, to maneuver through this landmine of a season and still be successful in the season, they should be proud of what they have accomplished. A lot of sports programs didn’t even get that chance to compete, don’t be let down that we did not go to nationals, but we were able to compete.”

The Commodores were unable to participate in NJCAA DIII National Championships in Fort Dodge, Iowa, due to the pandemic.

Powers said, “We knew a few weeks ahead of time that this trip may not happen. Iowa was a state on Ohio’s travel advisory list. The more we talked about it, it just wasn’t going to happen. Everybody thought it was the right decision.”

In his statement announcing the suspension of athletics, Jonathan Dryden, LCCC provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and the University Partnership, said, “As with everything we do, the decision to suspend athletics was made with the health and safety of our athletes, coaches and our entire campus in mind. We are disappointed to have to make this decision, however, it would be nearly impossible to implement the precautions needed to ensure a safe environment during competition, practices and travel.”

Powers said he was not surprised about the decision that the college came to. The coaches, administration, and athletic director were all in an agreement.

To the athletes whose season has been affected, Powers said to “remember that you are a Commodore.”

“The season may not be going on right now but you are a student athlete here at LCCC. We are still going to do everything we can to keep you engaged. We are still here academically, support system wise, and student success wise. We want to make sure our student athletes still think of themselves as Commodores here at LCCC and the season will start next year.”


LCCC sets example of gender equality

Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Dylan Rice, Oscar Rosado and Alyssa Watson
Journalism students

Only 30 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities have women as presidents, according to a 2017 study by the American Council on Education. Lorain County Community College found a spot in the trend-setting group, thanks to Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., who took

Dr. Ballinger

the reins of the college in 2016. Ballinger, as a junior in high school, wrote a career paper on public affairs. That experience motivated her to pursue leadership roles and eventually become the president of LCCC.

Ballinger is not the only woman to occupy a leadership role at LCCC. Among the top 23 top executives and administrators at LCCC, 16 (70 percent) are women, which is a 20 percent increase from 2010, according to the data provided by the college’s Human Resources Department. There are two women vice presidents out of our; five women deans out of six; eight women directors out of 13 in addition to the president.

Ballinger, who still keeps the high school career paper, said she never felt any gender bias in several executive positions she had held at LCCC. She was also inspired by late Supreme Court Judge Ruth Ginsberg who had said, “Fight for the things

that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

“Dr. Ballinger has taken our college to the next level,” said Jonathan Dryden, Ph.D., who is the provost and vice president Academic Affairs. “That is a tribute to her strong leadership. It is not because she is a woman but because she is an excellent leader and the college is very fortunate to have someone of her caliber in that role.”

Dryden said he is very proud of the women leaders at LCCC. “We have a fantastic leadership. Not just in the academic area, but also in the executive leadership area. We have a lot of strong, creative, and talented women leaders. I don’t think they are great leaders because they’re women or that their leadership qualities are defined by their gender. They do a great job here because they are excellent leaders, period. It just so happens, they are women.”Tracy Green, vice president of Strategic and Institutional Development, echoed similar views.
Green, who was an LCCC student, said she became vice president not “because of being a woman. I worked hard to get to this position.”

Women’s success, Green said, depends on “where they want to make a career. Women are in positions of power in many different places.”

Samantha Marx, director of Client Service at Employers Resource Council (ERC) based in Highland Heights, lauded the women’s leadership roles at the college.

“LCCC has won our NorthCoast 99 award several times in the program’s 20-plus year history. Their commitment to a great workplace for all has been commendable. The NorthCoast 99 Award honors top workplaces throughout Northeast Ohio based on their workplace practices,” Marx noted in an email.

Kelly Zelesnik, dean of Engineering, Business and IT Technology, asserted the dean’s positions were not given to women over men. They were given to the person that best fits the qualifications of the job, regardless of their gender, according to Zelesnik.

Zelesnik said she remembers two unsavory experiences at a private company where she had worked. The first time, a male coworker told to her face and in front of their client that he “didn’t think women made very good engineers.”

In the other instance, a new male coworker revealed his salary. She then found out he was making “substantially” more money than her even though she had more experience, and both had the same education.

Zelesnik started her journey at LCCC as an engineering student, and after graduation worked in the private sector until she came back to LCCC to teach. When the dean’s position opened up, she fit the skill set required.

LCCC is eons ahead of other colleges in gender equality, according to Brenda Pongracz, Ed.D., who is the dean of Arts and Humanities and interim provost of the University Partnership. There are many areas where the college is advanced that have nothing to do with gender. “LCCC is setting an example for women that they can be successful.”

However, Pongracz said she had experienced challenges from students. For example, they may speak to her with less respect than they would with a man in her position. But such incidents are few and far between, she said.

Marisa White, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Services, said, “It (gender equity) is really important for us because we serve such a diverse group of students. It’s important for our leadership to reflect on them.”

White, a mother of a 3-year-old boy, said, “There are certain expectations of being a mother by society. Having the traditional mother role definitely adds an extra layer of complexity to an already very busy job.”

White establishes respectful relationships with her peers. She cautions that being too strict or too emotional could lead to negative outcomes.

“We don’t necessarily have to work harder than men, but we have to be more mindful about how we are creating relationships with people at work,” she said. “Holding on to the connectivity of feminine qualities could be an asset when coming to leadership. It allows us to drive changes in a more human way.”

Residents sound off on Lorain poll results

Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Dylan Rice and Alyssa Watson
JRNM-151 students

A row of campaign signs in Lorain. Photo: Harleyann McQuaid

A row of campaign signs in Lorain. Photo: Harleyann McQuaid

Brian Yarosh, a North Ridgeville resident, voted for President Donald Trump because the incumbent “is different from every other politician.” Like Yarosh, 76,719 (50 percent) Lorain County residents endorsed Trump as opposed to 72,792 (48 percent) residents who supported former Vice President Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election, according to unofficial results published by Lorain County Board of Elections.
Lorain County flipped to red in this election. In the past two presidential elections, Lorain County has been blue. In the 2016 presidential election, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton collected 66,949 (47.3 percent) votes whereas Trump received 66,818 (47.2 percent) votes. In 2012, incumbent Barack Obama easily won the county by garnering 81,464 (57 percent) votes against his Republican challenger Mitt Romney who received 59,405 (41 percent) votes.
This political party flip did not surprise Yarosh. “Seeing all the signs around the county, it seems like it has been more pro Trump,” Yarosh said.
“I liked that he wasn’t a career politician. As brash and arrogant as he can come off sometimes, I didn’t think he was in the pockets of the elites,” Yarosh said, “He says what he feels and he gets stuff done.”
Matthew Rasmussen, an Oberlin native who voted for Biden, said he was disappointed by the election outcome in Lorain County as well as in the state. “I do not love Biden. I think he is not the best things for this country and I certainly disagree with some of his policies, I wish he was more progressive. However, he is leagues ahead of Trump.”
Lorain resident Leah Aulisio-Sharpe agreed saying, “I am absolutely not surprised by the results of the election so far.” Nonetheless, she voted for Biden because she felt “morally obligated.”
Christina Dempsey, of North Ridgeville, expressed similar views.
“We have a president who thrives in chaos,” Dempsey, a Biden supporter, said. “Trump doesn’t have the leadership we need to overcome this critical moment in history and that is scary. Biden comes to the table with the qualities that I want my children to see in a leader.”
But, Ronald Miller, a has a different view. The Sheffield Township resident said he voted for Trump “because I like the way the country is run by him in terms of taxes and jobs.” Miller added his party loyalty didn’t influence his decision. “I vote for the person I think is best for the job regardless of party.”
Courtney Koler, another Sheffield Township resident, agreed. Koler said she supported Trump “because he has the courage to stand up for Americans, and also because of his many accomplishments with the First Step Act and jobs prior to COVID-19.”
However, not everyone voted for either of these candidates.
Rich Hawkins, a long-time Republican, changed his vote to Independent this year. “I feel very disenfranchised right now,” Hawkins said. He voted for Jo Jorgenson in hopes of a more controlled government. Jorgenson had stated that “the older system isn’t working anymore” Americans need smaller government.
London Dejarnette, an Oberlin resident, is a Biden supporter. “Trump has proven in the last four years, especially this last year, that he is unfit to represent all Americans,”  Dejarnette said, noting they are concerned because Amy Coney Barrette, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, had threatened to take away health care rights, access to abortion care and the rights of LGBTQ and the of sexual assault.
Sydney Broucek, of Avon, said she was not surprised that Trump won the county. She said Lorain County has a large margin of white upper-middle class residents that voted for him.
Likewise, David Corrigall, a North Ridgeville resident and a Trump supporter, said he was not surprised by the election outcome because Trump appeals more to the working class.
Meanwhile, Sofia Intagliata, a first-time voter, was surprised especially because the county voted blue in the two previous elections. “I thought Biden was going to win Lorain [County],” the Avon resident said.
Both Broucek and Intagliata supported Biden because they didn’t like how Trump has run his presidency. “I did not like how the past four years have been,” said Broucek. Broucek specifically she does not agree with Trump’s immigration policies while Intagliata “did not like the way Trump handled the coronavirus pandemic.”
Intagliata also added that she agreed with Biden’s stance on student loans as she is about to join a college.
Corrigall, a Trump voter, said that he voted for Trump because “I feel like we need a strong president.” Corrigall predicted that Trump would get back up if he gets knocked down. Biden will stay down.”





LCCC’s theatre program and Spark Theatre join forces to host two events

Anthony LaRosa
JRNM 151

The show must go on.

That is the mindset of Jeremy Benjamin, the director of theatre for Lorain County Community College’s student theatre program. After having to cancel their spring show earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Benjamin has found himself in a difficult situation of planning the theatre’s upcoming year.

A rehearsal scene from The Imaginators. Submitted photo.

A rehearsal scene from The Imaginators. Submitted photo.

“All live performances nationwide have been shut down since March. So, we really had to figure out how we could do something that we could present in a socially distanced manner,” Benjamin said.

Luckily for him and all the students involved in the program “all the stars aligned” in the middle of August.

Rachael Endrizzi, Spark Theatre director and LCCC theatre alumni, approached Benjamin about a collaboration in order to help make sure their shows went on. The Spark Theatre Company is a local theatre that “exists to celebrate the power of young people through professional theatre,” according to their website. Spark tours local K-12 schools performing professional theatre productions at school assemblies.

“We are collaborating to produce and film two productions, one in the fall, and one in the spring,” Benjamin said. “We are filming and shooting right on campus, and then they are going to edit those down and present those as virtual assemblies so we can still bring theatre to the schools and the community. It’s allowing us to continue doing what we do and continue to expose our students to the curriculum but doing so in a safe and socially distant manner.”

A single, socially distanced and limited capacity performance of their production, The Imaginators by Dwayne Hartford, will be held on Nov. 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hoke Theatre at Stocker Center.

The students began rehearsals for this play on Zoom and just recently met in person while staying socially distanced and wearing masks in their rehearsal space. Everybody working on the show will be tested two-three days before the filming day in order to guarantee a safe environment to take off their masks.

Benjamin said, “There has been a lot of planning involved to make this safe. Everybody is being very careful in their daily lives.”

In spring, LCCC Theatre program along with Spark Theatre Company will produce Posters & Flip Flops by LCCC alumni Jeremy Gaydosh.







Student Senate president juggles events, classes during the pandemic

Dylan Rice
JRNM 151

LCCC Student Senate President Zarai Aquino’s biggest challenge is “managing my classes and my job.” Aquino is majoring in Organizational Leadership at the University Partnership with Cleveland State University.
Aquino said during a telephone interview that she got “into my position the same way all senators get in. I gathered 100 signatures from students and then started to campaign.”
When asked what she does in her position, Aquino said, “As student senate president I attend council meetings. Give insight on behalf of the students. I reach out to students so they can voice their opinions, then I make a report and give it to the higher-ups.”
Aquino added, “I saw it as an opportunity to make changes.”
Aquino said that “gaining student participation during COVID-19” is another challenge. “Now that everything is online, we don’t have a student data base. Now with coronavirus everything is online, the meetings are on WebEx. We have been promoting them on our social media.”
Some of the upcoming events include a Facebook costume contest, Instagram scavenger hunt, and RealTalk meetings.




No Welcoming Week events due to pandemic


As the fall semester begins, the LCCC campus is missing many excited and eager faces as it used to seeing around this time of year. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the look of LCCC during the Welcoming Week.

No Welcoming Week festivities at College Center. Photo: Mackenzie Jonke.

“In the six years I’ve worked here, no other year has looked like this,” explained Marketplace cashier Leanne Failing. “I was aware of the changes, but having segregated entrances and your temperature taken was surprising.”

Covid-19 screening stations have been set up in select entrances to the campus. After the screening, students and faculty have to walk through connecting buildings to get to their classes.

With many classes opting for online learning and the strict precautions to provide a safe environment for students, College Center and other buildings were bare. Even with all the modifications, Failing was eager to return to the school.

“I was looking forward to coming back, but it definitely has a different vibe. I think this is just a time for us all to be patient”.

Campus Security Chief Kenneth Collins, who was working at the temperature check station in CC building on the first day back to campus, said the pandemic has left people confused on many new rules and regulations. He said there are a lot more students on campus than he expected. Many students have chosen a community college as opposed to a four-year university because of the coronavirus in an attempt to save money or preserve health.

Collins, who is also a criminal justice graduate, explained there is an influx of telephone calls his department was receiving due to most entrances being closed.

Collins said he was pleased that “everyone was pretty patient and polite” to him and to his coworkers at the screening areas.

Six feet distancing signs are posted in the bookstore. Photo: Mackenzie Jonke.

Peyton Kellick, a psychology major and a Commodore Bookstore staff, said she wasn’t sure what to expect on the first day of the class, but she was definitely excited to see people at the campus again. As she works in the bookstore, she is used to seeing a lot of foot-traffic. She said she thought a lot of people would order their books online, and she was surprised to see as many people as she did in the bookstore and it was a “pleasant surprise.”

However, the first day back was still nowhere near as busy as it was in years past.

Ana Marzan, a Student Life staff and a criminal justice major, said she also saw more people on campus than she expected to see, but the amount of people present today was nowhere near the amount of people that are usually seen roaming the CC building. In addition to there being fewer people, she said that she did not expect the temperature checks when she walked in at CC, and while she was expected to wear a mask, she said it felt “weird.”

Journalism students Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Madison Leon, Dylan Rice, and Alyssa Watson contributed to this report.

Campus beefs up covid-19 precaution to ensure safety

Oscar Rosado


As a Fall semester starts, security measures to keep COVID-19 in check have been implemented by LCCC to ensure the safety of the students, faculty and staff.

Campus Security Chief Kenneth Collins said many new procedures are now in place to tighten extra safety measurements such as having anyone who enters the building have their temperature checked, having masks provided for those who don’t have one, having sanitizing stations throughout the campus, limiting its entrances and exits, and having more security on board.

A student checks his temperature at College Center. Photo: Oscar Rosado

A student checks his temperature at College Center. Photo: Oscar Rosado

Collins said an additional eight to 10 officers have come to campus and been spread out to help monitor anyone who enters the building via temperature check. Collins added the campus has partnered with the Elyria Police Department to have these additional officers on board, and mentioned North Ridgeville and Wellington are interested to help out if more extra hands are needed.

“Fall semester is our busiest,” said Collins. He added with the additional number of officers “we are able to help the campus out more.”

Due to a new cloud system, the exact number of people who were checked on the first day and week is yet to be determined, but Collins said the College Center was the busiest.

“The bookstore is here, Starbucks is here, this is the heart of the campus,” said Collins. He also said he was at first concerned how many people were going to line up the first week, but said the lines moved swiftly and with no problem, as everyone complied with the new rules of checking temperatures. “Our students understand, and are receptive to it. With what we’re doing, we can get through this.”

This new system of checking everyone’s temperature started in early August as the semester was preparing to officially start in the upcoming weeks, to determine how things were going to go.

“There have been no real high cases,” said Collins regarding the temperatures of the number of passing people. He assures if the initial touchless temperature mechanism has a high reading of a person, the security officer there will take a second reading from a handheld temperature reader.

In the event someone has a high fever of 100.4 or above, the person will be asked to leave, but also said if someone does have a high temperature it could also be due to the person being checked running a lot due to being late or whatever the case may be, therefore raising their temperature. With that as a case, if that is to happen, the person will be asked to wait outside for approximately ten minutes, to see if the temperature changes.

According to Collins, there are a complete total of eight open entrances available to enter through at the campus, with the remaining doors only being exit only. The eight locations that are open through the campus are: two entrances at the Physical Education building, two entrances at the Bass Library, both the North and South sides, the East door of the Lab Sciences building, the Stocker Center Lobby, and the Spitzer Center lobby. Collins mentioned the Learning Center is also open through its entrance as well.

In addition, there is one entrance available to the campus’ off-site locations such as the Lorain City Center, the Wellington Learning Center, as well as the University Partnership Ridge Campus.

Collins said the cleaning company that helps with the sanitation of the campus, ABM Industries, has made extra efforts to keep the campus clean and sanitized every day for those who do come into the campus.

With these new restrictions, Collins said the college’s hours have not changed much. The security hours will remain the same as always, and the security will close the majority of campus doors around 8:00 p.m. as not a lot of classes are held around that hour regardless. However, Collins and the other security officers are well aware there may be students working on computers on campus who cannot get access to one outside, and are well aware of them being on campus in the later hours. “We’ve been in their shoes before,” said Collins on the matter, and will keep their interest to stay longer if they must in mind to ensure their educational success.

“We’re making a positive growth to get things somewhat back to normal,” said Collins as he assures he is very confident about the extra security measurements to keep the campus safe for all who enter. “We don’t know how long this is going to last, but everyone has been pretty flexible with all the changes so far.”

In the event that COVID-19 slows down, Collins said the campus will consider easing its restrictions. But for the time being, this is the new normal for the campus everyone will have to adjust to.

“The college really has done a wonderful job to keep the campus’ health in mind,” said Collins.



Lorain County Community College wins 11 Press Club awards

Jayne Giese
Staff  Writer

Oscar Rosado

LCCC took home 11 honors at the 2020 All Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards held by the Press Club of Cleveland via a Zoom conference on Aug.7, 2020.

The Collegian won nine honors and the Boom Radio won two honors in the Best Print Newspaper Story 2 year/trade school category.

The first place for the Best News went to Oscar Rosado, editor of The Collegian, for his story titled “Coping with anxiety issues in the classroom.”  LCCC also won third place in this category forArt center helps fight mental health stigma” written by Quentin Pardon, assistant editor of The Collegian.

Quentin Pardon

Pardon also took both first and second places in Best Sports category. His story titled “Volleyball team comes up short in tournament play” took first place while “Junior college offers benefits for transferring athletestook second place.

LCCC’s Journalism students also took all winning spots of first, second and third for Features. First place was won by  Pardon for a story titled “Stop the vaping, save the living.” The second place went to a story written by Madelyn Hill titled “LCCC students bring typewriters back to life.” Third place spot was won by Jayne Giese for the story “One international student’s journey for a U.S. education.”

Jayne Giese

The Boom Radio won both first and second spots for Best radio/podcast news story. They are: “Career Exploration Podcast— SoYou Want to be in Broadcasting” by Janet Maltbie, first place, and “Dabble Podcast” by Jim Lanigan, second place.

The final winning category for LCCC of the night was for Best Online Reporting. The Collegian took both spots for the third time of the night, going out with a bang.  First place went to Weliton DeOliveira for his story “Facts and concerns of internet addiction for students and youths.” Giese took second place with her story “College offers ways to prevent cardiovascular disease.”




LCCC goes virtual for 2020 graduation ceremony

Special to the Collegian

The coronavirus-related restrictions didn’t stop Lorain County Community College from celebrating the accomplishments of its largest graduating class in the college’s 57 year history on May 16. The college honored the Class of 2020 via social media.  With 2,510 degrees and certificates being earned by 1,918 graduates and another 260 students earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees through LCCC’s University Partnership, the LCCC Class of 2020 is historic for a number of reasons.  Included in this year’s class are 125 high school students that are earning both a high school diploma and associate degrees through the Early College High School and College Credit Plus programs.

“In more ways than they might realize, this class is history in the making. These times are unprecedented, but so are our graduates’ innovative thinking, determination, and potential,” said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. at the Commencement that was streamed on social media platforms. “I’ve always known LCCC students have grit and perseverance, but in the past two months our new graduates have demonstrated extraordinary determination and commitment to continue their education and achieve their goal of graduation.”

LCCC previously announced that due to the COVID-19 health crisis preventing mass gatherings the college was forced to cancel its in-person commencement ceremony originally scheduled for May 16.  That date will now be the launch for a two-week tribute and celebration of the class of 2020.  It will begin Saturday, May 16 with a virtual ceremony on LCCC’s Facebook page as a premiere event at 9:30 a.m. – the date and time of the originally scheduled in-person commencement.  The online ceremony featuring theme of “Perseverance” will pay tribute to the class of 2020 with video messages along with keynote addresses from Student Senate President Udell Holmes and Dr. Ballinger. The video can been seen with the following link: https://www.facebook.com/lorainccc/videos/712054356231953

To provide an opportunity for graduates to join in the celebration, the college has sent graduates their regalia and asked them to submit a photo and message to their families, which will be shown during the online ceremony. Many graduates are decorating their caps for the ceremony and are encouraged to share photos of the completed caps on social media. 

While graduates decorate their caps, the LCCC’s team is creating an outdoor public recognition display that Dr. Ballinger hopes will make this year’s ceremony even more special. 

LCCC’s commencement team designed the tribute that will be comprised of thousands of marking flags forming the shape of a graduation cap on the Elyria campus. The graduation cap display will span 351 feet by 279 feet.  The symbolic display celebrates this year’s graduates, as well as all grads since 1964, which marked LCCC’s first graduating class. The 47,000 marking flags each represent an LCCC graduate.  One square, identified by yellow flags, represents the end of the tassel within the design and has an additional 2,185 flags – one flag for each graduate of the class of 2020. Boards located near the display list the names of the Class of 2020 to further recognize their accomplishments.  The display will remain up until June 1 and allow the opportunity for graduates to drive by and take a photo.

“The spirit behind this display is to show our graduates, their friends and families, and our entire community that while we are celebrating this milestone occasion physically apart, the class of 2020 is united as LCCC graduates today and alumni forever,” Dr. Ballinger said.  

Udell Holmes, LCCC Student Senate president and 2020 graduate, plans to share his own message of enthusiasm with his fellow graduates during the non-traditional ceremony. The Lorain resident will be graduating from the college’s University Partnership program with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cleveland State University. Once he finishes graduate school, Holmes plans to become a clinical psychologist. 

“It seems that our lives are constantly flooded with news of the coronavirus and it can be a bit overwhelming,” Holmes said. “But I choose to focus on the positive things that helped us earn our degrees – the family members who found creative ways to celebrate our birthdays, the phone calls from friends that kept us sane, and the professors who showed us compassion and understanding when we needed it the most.”   

LCCC plans to continue celebrating the class of 2020 throughout the month of May through a social media campaign that will highlight graduates’ stories along with videos as a way to share with the community the impact LCCC graduates are already having on our community. 

With this year’s graduating class, LCCC is 34 percent of the way toward its goal of 10,000 degrees of impact, the core focus of LCCC’s strategic plan, Vision 2025. Vision 2025 aims to raise educational attainment to improve the lives and economic status of individuals and their families, while fueling the economy to thrive and building stronger communities.

For more information on LCCC, visitwww.lorainccc.edu/graduation.

Issue 17 levy passes regardless of covid-19 quarantine

Oscar Rosado

Despite social distancing and other covid-19-related restrictions, LCCC’s Issue 17 levy passed by 27,650 (59.5 percent) to 18,809 (40.5 percent) votes, according to unofficial results released by Lorain County Board of Elections on April 28.

The goal of renewing the existing 1.8 millage as well as adding a 0.5 millage won by 8,841 votes.

LCCC will receive an estimated $15.6 million per year with the passing of the levy. This levy amount will run until the next decade, lasting until 2030.

“We all won, together!”

“We all won, together,” exclaimed Vice President for Strategic and Institutional Development Tracy Green.“We are humbled by the results and by the confidence this community has and what LCCC means to the lives of the people here. Issue 17 has passed at about 60 percent and that is a phenomenal testament to how this community values higher education and the impact that LCCC is making on our community and our future.”

Won regardless of the coronavirus outbreak

Regardless of the initial setback of the election pushed from Mar. 17 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the levy has passed.

“It is absolutely remarkable, and I am so grateful for the continuation of the community’s support. It was this community that built LCCC as the first community college in Ohio in 1963,” said Green. She went on to say, “That tradition of investing in ourselves and in the best hope of our community’s future continues today. So this result just really reflects that continued commitment for our local access to affordable quality higher education and all the gratitude goes to our community. We are the community’s college and we will continue to fulfill that mission.”

Going forward with the future, Green said, “This is a ten-year renewal levy, so it keeps a foundation of support that has been part of LCCC since 1963. It is instrumental to making LCCC who we are and what we’re able to deliver to this community.”

Not a typical election

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, celebrations have been put on hold. “First and foremost is the health and safety of our community. So while prior election years when we had an issue on the ballot that has been up for renewal, we’ve had wonderful celebration times with large gatherings, but we want to protect the health and safety of our campus and our community,” said Green.

It was not a traditional celebration nor a watch-party to see results come up on April 28, according to Green. She went to say, “It was not a typical gathering, we were just watching the results come through with Lorain County Board of Elections.”

“It was a little quieter, but that doesn’t make the celebration any less enthusiastic just because we weren’t able to do it in that way. There is such sincere gratitude for the support of this community,” said Green.

Thank you to all students

Green also paid tribute to students. “Thank you to all the students. Our students are the reason why we exist and what we do every day, and it is their stories that I believe demonstrate the impact that we make,” said Green.

Green believes statistics are just half of what reflects the success of students and the college. “Certainly, percentages and numbers say one side of the story, but when you really tell the story, like the story of yourself and other students and the impact that our college was able to make on the individual lives, that is when it becomes real, and that’s when it becomes meaningful. We are grateful to our students for entrusting us with their futures and choosing us as their higher education providers.” 


Journeys of 2020 LCCC graduates

Special to the Collegian

Sticking to the plan

Anna Lewis wanted a challenge. 

So, the incoming Avon High School freshman asked her parents if she could enroll in a Lorain County Community College class through the College Credit Plus program. Her parents, Dell-Ann and Ron, were familiar with the CCP program because their older daughters had taken a few LCCC classes during their junior and senior years of high school. 

They were a bit hesitant to let Lewis start CCP courses at such a young age, but knew Lewis had always been academically oriented and driven to excel. 

“So we told her to figure out what classes she wanted to take her freshman year,” Ron said. 

Little did they know, Lewis had a plan.

She presented her parents with a detailed four-year plan that included not only taking CCP courses her freshman year of high school but for all four years. 

And her plan was built on logic. Lewis had always wanted to go to medical school and become a doctor, and she knew that by taking CCP courses she could earn college credits toward an expensive degree at no cost to her parents. 

Lewis had mapped out a pathway to earning 60 college credits and included regular meetings with an LCCC academic advisor to make sure she was enrolling in classes that met the requirements for an associate degree in science. 

From the very first course – Introduction to Psychology – Lewis knew she was on the right path. 

“I fell in love with it,” she said of the CCP program. “I knew that taking college classes throughout the rest of my high school career was right for me.” 

But it wasn’t a stress-free road; not that Lewis expected it to be.  

“Taking college classes in high school is not meant to be easy. It took me a while to get used to the coursework and the time required,” she said.

And as Lewis’ course load and difficulty level increased throughout her high school years, so did her involvement in extracurricular activities. At one point, Lewis was on three cheer leading squads, president of the high school SADD club, working part time, and doing volunteer work. 

To do it all, she took classes online, on campus, and over the summer. That meant spending more time in her room studying and less time with her friends.

Lewis                                     Submitted Photo

Sometimes it seemed like too much. 

Lewis admits now that she probably didn’t get as much sleep as she should have during her time in high school. She was tired in more ways than one. 

“There were times when Lewis would get tired of studying all the time or get frustrated when she was taking a more challenging class,” Dell-Ann said. “We would remind her that she was a 14 or 15-year-old girl taking college level classes. We told her to just do her best.”

In addition to her parents and sisters, Lewis leaned on the student services office at Avon High School and her professors and academic advisor at LCCC for additional encouragement and guidance.

And it was during a meeting with her LCCC advisor, Andrea Horning, that Anna could see – on paper – herself closing in on her goal.

“She told me that if I kept on track, I would earn my associate of science degree by the time I graduated high school,” Lewis said.

And that wasn’t all. She also learned she was just one course shy of earning an associate degree in arts too. Lewis plans to take that course this summer to earn her second associate degree in August.

“I am super excited. It’s been a very long journey to get here and I am proud of myself that I made a goal, stuck to it, and achieved it,” Lewis said.

Lewis is eager to celebrate her accomplishments this spring, alongside her family and fellow Avon High School and LCCC graduates. But she admits, neither ceremony will be what she or her parents had imagined four years ago.

“To say that ending Lewis’ senior year of high school and her first two years of college during a pandemic has been easy would be a lie,” Dell-Ann said. “The events we had hoped to celebrate with her have been cancelled, rescheduled, or done alternatively. And we are sad that she cannot walk across a stage to get her high school and college diplomas.”

But they all know that these celebrations will continue and will be momentous all the same.

“We’re grateful to both institutions that they have supported the students and have offered alternatives to the end of the year events,” Ron said.

Lewis actually found the online graduation ceremonies a little satirical.

“I took about half of my credits at LCCC online, so it is kind of ironic to me that I will be graduating online as well,” she said.

As she waits for her cap and gown to arrive at home, Lewis is brainstorming how she’s going to decorate her cap. For three years now, LCCC has encouraged graduates to decorate their graduation caps with words and images of pride, motivation, and thanks.

“I keep coming up with new ideas on how to decorate it. I’d like to highlight my educational journey so far on half of the cap and my future education on the second half,” Lewis said.

As Lewis prepares for her special days, her parents taking it all in.

“Our family has come to appreciate the little things and to truly be in the moment,” Dell-Ann said. “The little moments that in the past would have been just been a simple occurrence, have become celebrations for Anna and our family.”

They have a lot to celebrate. After graduation, Lewis will attend the University of Toledo to finish her bachelor’s degree in biology. And then she’s off to medical school to fulfill a life-long dream.

“We are so proud of her. Words cannot describe how incredibly proud we are of Lewis’ accomplishments,” Ron said. “We are looking forward to what the future holds for her.”

Lewis is too. And when she looks back, she knows it all started with a plan. It wasn’t always easy to stick to it, but she never gave up. 

“When I faced many obstacles, I picked myself up, refocused and continued,” Lewis said. “I gave up a lot but taking CCP classes has given me a great foundation for my future.”

A degree earned and a weight lifted

This month James Wells Jr. is releasing a burden he’s carried for more than 20 years. He dropped out of college in 1999 – an opportunity he says he wasted as a youth – and that decision followed him everywhere.

Not having a degree was like a weight that I dragged around for most of my adult life,” Wells said. “Whenever applying for a job or considering a new position, lacking a degree on my resume was a limiting factor.”

Wells, who lives in Elyria, has been working in the information technology support field for 14 years and spent the last eight at MCPc, a data solutions provider headquartered in Cleveland. He had hopes to move into a cyber security position within the company, but without a degree he was never qualified for the open positions.

Going back to school had floated in and out of Wells’ mind for years. But time and money seemed like impossible barriers to overcome. And the life he had built with his wife and their six children, four of whom still live at home, kept him very busy. Beyond working full time Wells and his son James Wells III are actively involved at their church. Wells Jr. is a minister, plays piano and keyboards in the choir, and contributes to the church’s  online radio and television stations.

But then, in 2018 Wells read about LCCC’s cyber security program offered primarily online. It was the degree he wanted in a format that might suit his life. And even though fitting in the time still didn’t seem feasible, he decided to meet with someone to talk about it anyway.

Wells spoke with Larry Atkinson, associate professor at LCCC, who answered every last question Wells had about the program. Atkinson was direct but optimistic. He told Wells that completing this degree program would be challenging, but assured him that he could do it.  “Larry encouraged me to make an appointment to determine what schedule would work for me. Without that brief but effective interaction, I may not have taken the steps needed to get here today,” Wells said.

Wells (left) with his son (right)                                                                                              Submitted Photo

The road to earning his degree was trying but with his supportive wife, a nearby campus, and a flexible class schedule, Wells made it work. It also helped that he had a college study buddy in the home. His son James had enrolled in LCCC’s Early College program in 2016 through Elyria City Schools, which meant he spent his entire high school career on the LCCC campus taking college level courses.

“The fact that my son was selected to participate in the Early College High School program was a blessing and a privilege,” Wells said. “He will earn an associate of art degree along with his high school diploma – all at the age of 17.”

And Wells is earning his associate of applied science degree in cyber and information security – more than 20 years after dropping out of college.

“I never dreamed I would be able to graduate from college given the opportunities I wasted as a youth,” Wells said. “But I am overjoyed to have the privilege of graduating alongside my own son.” 

With his degree in hand, Wells plans to pursue those cyber security roles at MCPc that once seemed out of reach. He also hopes to earn a Certified Ethical Hacker certification and CISSP certification. As for his son, Wells III is still deciding his next steps, but is considering a career in the United States Military.

Whatever lies ahead, Wells knows he and his son are walking toward bright futures. And these days, Wells is travelling a little lighter.

Two Decades in the Making

It’s a degree that’s been more than two decades in the making.

Yecenia Rivera took her first class at Lorain County Community College in 1993. She completed her most recent class in May 2020. The extended timeline has made reaching graduation an extra special accomplishment, she said. 

“I like to joke that it’s been 27 years in the making,” Rivera said. “I started taking classes, I got married. I had kids, but I kept on with school when I could.”

This month, the Lorain woman is earning her associate degree in nursing, and will soon take the state exam to become a registered nurse. Along the path to RN, Rivera completed the LPN program in 2004. 

“I have always wanted to take care of people. I’ve always had that passion. At LCCC, I was able to take classes slowly and reach my goal of becoming an RN,” Rivera, 47, said.

Registered Nurse is a title she’ll share with her son, Anthony, 20, who graduated from LCCC’s nursing program in December 2019. He began work at Mercy Hospital in Lorain in March.

After earning her LPN, Rivera began work at the University Hospitals Avon Rehabilitation Hospital. It was her stories from the world of health care that inspired Anthony to follow in her footsteps. Anthony is one of three kids in the Rivera family, but he is the only one who felt drawn to a medical career.

“I’m the only one of the kids who didn’t get grossed out by her stories from work,” Anthony recalled with a laugh.

When he was a freshman in high school, he enrolled in LCCC’s Early College High School, a combined high school and college experience on the LCCC campus. While at Early College, he had the opportunity to take classes in the state tested nurse assistant (STNA) program. He was hooked. 

Yecenia Rivera (left) and Anthony Rivera (right)                                                                                             Submitted Photo

“Once I did the STNA program, I knew I really wanted to go into health care. Early College prepared me for nursing school,” he said.

Anthony graduated from Early College in 2017 with both an associate of arts and an associate of science degrees. He began his nursing classes later that year, beginning a unique situation for him and his mother, as they both worked toward degrees in nursing. The mother-son duo used their classes a way to connect and support each other, and sometimes also as a source of good-natured teasing.

“I was one semester behind him, so we could share tips about classes and studying,” Rivera said. “We had all the same professors, so he knew he had to leave a good impression because his mom was following right behind him. I loved to remind him of that.”

Both of the Riveras said they benefited from the help and support of nursing professor Nanci Berman.

“She has been a constant for us. When we felt low or stressed, she gives the best pep talks,” Rivera said.

Starting out as an RN during the COVID-19 pandemic may not be what the Riveras expected, but they are eager to help.

 “Overall, I’ve enjoyed starting out during this memorable time,” Anthony said.

Once she passes the state exam, Rivera hopes to continue her career at the rehab hospital. 

“I love what I do and I’m excited at the idea of expanding my role as an RN,” she said.

Transferring to Lorain County Community College for smaller classes and hands-on co-ops connects graduate with in-demand career

Cecelia Dahlinger started her journey on the traditional path at a four-year college, but after struggling with her classes, she found a top program and her passion close to home with Lorain County Community College (LCCC)’s University Partnership computer science and engineering program with the University of Toledo.  At 24, the Huron resident is thrilled to be earning her bachelor’s degree in an in-demand field May 16 — and just completed  a lifelong dream of working at Walt Disney World. 

“The opportunities at LCCC have prepared me by letting me gain real world experience in my field, and giving me a leg up on the competition when searching for jobs, ” Dahlinger said. 

When she started out at the University of Akron after graduating from Olmsted Falls High School in 2014, Dahlinger struggled with her original major, chemical engineering.  “ I spent a year and a half there, but I slowly realized that I was being dwarfed by the class sizes and wasn’t getting a personalized education,” she said. Dahlinger switched her major to computer science but it wasn’t a success at the first try. She failed her first computer science course. 

“I lost my honors scholarship that was paying my tuition,” Dahlinger said. “My student debt was skyrocketing.” So, she decided to move back to her then-home in Olmsted Falls.

Upon returning, she took some general classes at LCCC before picking back up with her passion in 2016 when she found the University Partnership computer science and engineering program. She loved the personalization she could get at the LCCC University Partnership Ridge Campus in North Ridgeville, especially when she realized he could earn a four-year degree at a much lower cost close to home.

“I think it was a fantastic value,” Dahlinger said. “The smaller class sizes and the professors knowing my name helped me feel motivated to continue towards the completion of my degree. That’s something you don’t get on a large campus.”

“Since there are three semesters of co-op as degree requirements, I have been able to challenge the skills I’ve gained before I even graduate,” Dahlinger said. The highlight of her experience at LCCC was finishing a co-op at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where she worked as a software engineer on the modeling, simulation and training tools during the spring.

Dahlinger                      Submitted Photo

“Disney is special to me because I enjoy making people happy, and that’s what Disney is all about,” Dahlinger said.  “The team creates and utilizes tools to help simulate rides and attractions within the parks to do things like increase efficiency or even cut down on scheduled down time. While I was there I was treated just like a full-time engineer, getting to work on some amazing projects.”

She previously completed two co-ops at Macy’s Technology in Lorain where she worked on a support team for a semester and a proof-of-concept for a second semester. The University of Toledo’s College of Engineering was recently ranked as one of the top four engineering programs in the state of Ohio by the Princeton Review.

“Adrienne Aguilar, my advisor, was instrumental in me getting through the program,” Dahlinger said. “She knows all of her students personally, and I’m always amazed at her ability to keep track of everyone and make them feel like an individual.”

Dahlinger has a 3.4 GPA. 

“The students I shared the classroom with were equally motivated, and most came from non-traditional backgrounds,” Dahlinger said. “I think this environment fostered a sense of pride in what we were accomplishing, since most of the students were there because it was their own choice to continue with schooling.”

Dahlinger has always wanted to be some kind of engineer. She took her first computer science class during her junior year of high school. Today she’s proud to have come full circle and completed her degree at LCCC.

“Computer science is a growing field, and there are sure to be many opportunities down the road,” she said. Thanks to her real-life training with LCCC co-ops, Dahlinger knows her future will be bright.