The Collegian is a public forum for Lorain County Community College. Publishing the truth is the ultimate goal of The Collegian and every effort is made by the students to be accurate. The Collegian provides the students with an outlet to exercise their First Amendment rights regarding news of interest to the LCCC community. News and views published in The Collegian are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of staff, advisers and faculty members of LCCC.
Ethan LindenbergerJRNM 151As a 10–year-old, Harry Kestler, studied his medical books looking for information about rheumatic fever. This is where the immune system responds to the earlier strep throat or scarlet fever infection and causes a generalized inflammatory response. But…
Hunter OsborneJRNM 151 For the second consecutive season, the Lorain County Community College’s baseball team has to take a seat on the bench.The 2021 season has ended before it began for the Commodores, just like the 2020 season. After two…
Anthony LaRosaStaff Writer More than 1900 Lorain County Community College graduates along with the largest class of University Partnership graduates, 362, will receive their diplomas during a virtual commencement at 9:30 a.m. on May 15.As was in 2020 though, commencement…
Emma KonnJRNM 151 Even though LCCC students are not on campus, scammers are finding ways to get to them. The new scam, according to Better Business Bureau, crooks are pretending to be from the school’s Financial Aid Department. The scammers…
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…
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…
Ethan Lindenberger JRNM 151 As a 10–year-old, Harry Kestler, studied his medical books looking for information about rheumatic fever. This is where the immune system responds to the earlier strep throat or scarlet fever infection and causes a generalized inflammatory response. But Kestler, who has a doctorate in microbiology and a professor at LCCC, was not studying the disease for academic purposes or to become a physician. “My little brother came down with rheumatic fever and this changed everything for my family. I have a tendency to obsess on things when I feel like I’m out of control. So as a 10-year-old, I’d begin looking into medical articles.”
But Kestler’s obsession didn’t end with his brother’s illness. Kestler attended Monroe Community College, New York, from 1974-1975, and later studied at the University of Rochester, also in New York, from 1976 to 1986. During his postgraduate studies at the University of Rochester, Kestler didn’t just study psychology and biology, he also taught it. “I was a teaching assistant for genetics. I find teaching to be simultaneously terrifying and invigorating,” he said.
Kestler even attended Harvard MedicalSchoolfrom 1986-1991, studying molecular virology and later taking on the role of a research associate. Here, Kestler studied HIV/AIDS and assisted in the production of a vaccine against the disease, an effort that is still ongoing today. “I thought I would change the world by creating a vaccine for AIDS. In fact, I discovered one and developed a second one and we are working on a third right now,” Kestler said.
Kestler has been teaching at LCCC for 24 years. However, many wonder why a Harvard educated professor with legitimate research and major contributions to an important vaccination, chose to teach at a community college.
“Why a community college? When I left graduate school, a Beatles song stuck in my head. The third line from “Revolution” is “we all want to change the world” that line repeats many times in the song. It also repeats many times in my head, to this day,” he said.
“I have taught at many levels and it is my finding that there are brilliant people at Harvard University, the University of Rochester, Clark University (Massachusetts), Case Western University’s Lerner College of Medicine, and at Monroe Community College.”
“What is different about community colleges is opportunity. A student from Harvard it’s going to be successful no matter what I do. At LCCC, I have a chance and I hope to make a difference for my students because “we all want to change the world,” Kestler said.
For the second consecutive season, the Lorain County Community College’s baseball team has to take a seat on the bench. The 2021 season has ended before it began for the Commodores, just like the 2020 season. After two off-seasons of hard work and dedication, Coach Bill Frawley is disappointed his squad won’t get the chance to take the field. “It’s extremely disappointing,” said Frawley. “It’s a year or two now that these guys won’t get back because of the virus. I just want to coach, and let my players have some fun.” Frawley has been coaching at LCCC for over 15 years now and has had some disappointing seasons, yet none worse than this one. “I just wish there was something I could do, but I can’t,” he said in a recent interview. Most importantly though, Frawley feels for his players who had to miss out on two seasons due to the pandemic. “I feel terrible for them. When it’s all said and done, I get to come back and coach. Mostly all of these guys won’t come back to play because they’ll be on to bigger and better things. I’m very proud of the young men they’re becoming off the field.” Since March 2020, recruits and college coaches have been in a constant state of uncertainty as the NCAA monitors the coronavirus pandemic and makes changes to the recruiting rules and calendar. As a result of the NCAA’s suspension of in-person recruiting, college coaches have shifted to recruiting digitally. This means coaches are relying more heavily on online recruiting networks like NCSA or Field Level to discover, communicate with, evaluate and recruit talent. “I love using Field Level. I usually have my guys sign up for it right before the season starts so we can get colleges to look at them. Obviously, we can’t do that this year,” said Frawley. Frawley added he had players coming in from different states including Minnesota, California and North Dakota to try out for the team this year. Frawley said he is already looking forward to the 2022 season with his team. -30-
More than 1900 Lorain County Community College graduates along with the largest class of University Partnership graduates, 362, will receive their diplomas during a virtual commencement at 9:30 a.m. on May 15. As was in 2020 though, commencement will look different than it has for previous classes. Last year, LCCC’s graduation commencement was 100 percent virtual. As Covid-19 guidelines have changed since then, this year the college will be offering an in-person stage crossing in conjunction with the main virtual ceremony. “Our main commencement will be a virtual event similar to what we produced last year,” Alison Musser, LCCC’s director of Marketing and Strategic Initiatives, said. “We are also offering a stage crossing on our Stocker Center stage where graduates can have their names called, cross the stage, and receive their diploma from Dr. Marcia Ballinger (LCCC president).” In order to maintain social distancing, guests will be given timeslots on when to arrive and the graduating students are able to bring upto two family members for the in-person event. “Our graduates have worked so hard and persevered during the most difficult of times. While we are not able to bring together all our graduates and their families physically at the same time just yet, we wanted to create a special and safe experience to celebrate their extraordinary accomplishments,” Ballinger said. “We are so proud of all the graduates of the Class of 2021. Earning a college degree is always a grand accomplishment. But, to do so in such a challenging environment takes an extraordinary amount of effort, resiliency and perseverance. We are thrilled to celebrate all these great graduates and their families.” As part of the commencement celebratory events this year, the college will be creating a large-scale public recognition display titled “Doors to Opportunity.” Musser added, “If people can’t come and have their ceremony, we can at least have them come and see this recognition piece that is a tribute to this class as well as the graduates that came before.” The display will be installed outside near the Campana Center for Ideation and Invention. It will consist of 21 full-size doors and feature an augmented reality component. Families are welcome to visit the display to reflect on the accomplishments of students over the past year. “[Commencement] is the day and time we can all come together as a campus and celebrate everything we stand for as an institution. Getting these students to that finish line is what we work towards all year long,” Musser said. Graduates are encouraged to register online at www.lorainccc.edu/graduation for instructions on submitting videos and pictures for the event. Graduates are able to pre-register for the Stocker Center stage crossing at www.lorainccc.edu/graduation and will receive a day and time closer to the weekend of May 15.
Juliana Pepple JRNM 151 When COVID-19 started in March of 2020, Lorain County Community College responded by shutting down the campus and turning to virtual learning. This meant that the businesses on LCCC’s campus were affected too, including the LCCC bookstore. The LCCC bookstore had to take a different approach to get the students what they needed for their classes.
“We had to completely rethink our operation,” said Patty Clark, manager of LCCC’s bookstore, Commodore Books & More. Everything that was available in-store had to all be ordered through the website. That meant keeping one person on staff to manage the website. “All part-time staff was laid off except for the online workers,” said Clark. COVID-19 policies required the store to be at 50% occupancy at the start of everything. However, as time progressed, that number changed and allowed only 10-15 customers at a time.
Along with the new occupancy restrictions, plexiglass, new signs, and mask requirements followed closely behind.
After the new policies were put in place, this meant that the bookstore employees could start returning to work. To employee Elizabeth Lawrence, this idea was a little bit unnerving. The initial skepticism remained with her due to her father being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and her mother recovering from cancer. “My concerns were about social distancing guidelines, but after the first meeting I felt a little more relieved,” said Lawrence. Luckily after being immersed into a new normal, Lawrence feels more comfortable working again, despite the initial fear being in the forefront of her mind. That being said, Commodore Books & More is up and running with their new normal and can accommodate other necessary school supplies.
Even though LCCC students are not on campus, scammers are finding ways to get to them. The new scam, according to Better Business Bureau, crooks are pretending to be from the school’s Financial Aid Department.
The scammers will send an email with a link to information on the COVID-19 stimulus check. Once the link is opened, students will have to provide personal information, which is stolen by scammers.
“Scamming destroys people not only financially but it also affects their home life,” said April, an LCCC student who doesn’t want to reveal her last name. “People send a lot of money that there is a sense of shame. In some cases, the person (victim) attempts to commit suicide.”
Richard Eppstein, president of the BBB serving Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan, said, “Crooks advertise that they have a system to get relief for your student loan.”
Another issue Eppstein uncovered was internet advertisements. “Students are often looking for ways to make extra money. They see ads for part-time jobs, many of which are scams,” he said.
The ploy by scammers gets through to too many students, April agreed. “If you have to pay for scholarship information, it usually is a scam.”
The BBB recommends students who are trying to get student loan-help to reach out to the agency or bank in which their loans are held. It eliminates the risk of a scam.
As a precaution, the BBB urges students to be careful accepting payment from an unknown source. There are counterfeit checks circling around that can cause more debt.
April, who almost fell victim to the scam, urges others to “question everything you are told that is not through a reliable source or person.”
The BBB reports that employment scams are the number one aimed at people of ages 18-25. The BBB provides tips to help students avoid scams. They include:
Do your research when applying for credit cards and loans
Check your credit report for any unauthorized
Use caution when meeting people online., and
Do not apply for offers that are “too good to be true.
“When I get a flu vaccine or any vaccine, it’s to help myself, and also because I love you,” said Harry Kestler, Ph.D., in a recent online interview. Dr. Kestler is a microbiology professor at LCCC, and he had aided in the development of the HIV-AIDS vaccine. He uses his experience and knowledge to advocate for vaccines and educate his students on the importance of immunizations. “When I’m vaccinated, I’m one less vector, one less place, where the virus can be transmitted.”
Vaccines protect individuals from preventable diseases, but through that, the chance of a disease spreading to others by infecting someone also decreases. This is why Kestler said he vaccinates because he “loves you.” The vaccines he receives protects everyone around him, a concept known as herd immunity. However, herd immunity works only if enough people have received their vaccines.
“If we get to a certain level [of vaccinations] for this virus (COVID-19), we think it’s around 70%, we can at least return to more normalcy,” Kestler said. The normalcy of life without constant mask-wearing, quarantine, and social distancing from loved ones. If this 70% margin of a vaccinated population is reached, the rest of the population that remains unvaccinated are protected. In hopes of getting to this 70% margin, experts like Kestler are trying to educate students about vaccines, but not in the way you might expect.
“I don’t try to teach facts on the issue, I try to teach people how to acquire the best information,” Kestler said. “You play whack-a-mole if you try to knock down one particular theory and another one just pops out over here.” Instead, he recommends his students, “look for information from a reputable source.”
Logan Valdez, a first-year criminology student at LCCC, said, “I’m going to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available for the general public. I believe this is a virus that will not be going away within this year. It might take everyone catching this virus to finally see the number of cases drop. I would get the vaccine to protect others that are more prone to danger.”
Other professionals such as Mikhail Varshavski, a board-certified family medicine physician popularly known as “Doctor Mike,” are also trying to educate people about the importance of vaccines.
Varshavski’s YouTube channel has over 6.7 million subscribers, with educational content about medicine and science. “Humans are naturally skeptical,” Varshavski said. “Trust in governmental institutions is at an all-time low,” and this all contributes to the rise in skepticism. To combat this, Varshavski gave the same advice as Kestler, saying, “Basic science literacy could be greatly improved, knowledge about quality vs poor-quality studies.”
As the nation is approaching a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers of victims are continuing to rise. The pandemic is growing at about 3,231 as a 7-day average, whereas during March of 2020 it was growing at 30 as a 7-day average. This prompts school communities to continue with an online education, which is exactly what Lorain County Community College is practicing. The online learning system has put many students out of reach for the help they need, particularly international students. Wafaa Al-Quraan, an international student studying Psychology in their second year, is trying hard to carry on life as normal as one can during the pandemic. Restrictions such as online classes, social distancing, and quarantine can make it difficult to manage as a student. But Al-Quraan says “because of the online learning restrictions it creates social isolation, lack of motivation, less creativity, and no longer developing communication skills.” This lack of social exchange and interrupted educational growth are not the only effects felt by international students. Reina Gjinika, an international student studying Universal Science in their second year, explains the difficulty that they have been seeing throughout the international student community as a whole, which is roughly 42 students. “As an international student, the greatest impact that COVID-19 had in my life is the restriction of closing the borders. This way many of us couldn’t see our families overseas,” said Gjinika. Online learning has been a necessity to the education system as quarantine has progressed. However, it does pose certain effects that can cause distress for international students, including communication delays, feelings of being a castaway, and unable to travel to meet their family in times of need.
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.
“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.”
Taylor Anderson, Courtney Crell, Anthony LaRosa, Dylan Rice, Oscar Rosado and Alyssa Watson
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
When Marcia Ballinger accepted a job as director of Marketing/Recruitment and Media Relations in 1991 at Lorain County Community College, she didn’t know she would become the president at college. “I fell in love with the mission of community college,” Ballinger, Ph.D., said while reflecting on her 30 years at LCCC. “It’s vital to tell the story of the importance of community colleges and the value of higher education.” Ballinger, who took the reins of the college in 2016, received her doctorate in Community College Leadership from Walden University, an MBA from Kent State University, and a BA in Journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“My background in Journalism made it easier to communicate with others when I obtained my job in Marketing.” After Ballinger became the vice president of Strategic and Institutional Development, she knew that she belonged in the community college circle. Ballinger not only evolved in her position as president but also took the college on an evolutionary path as well. Ballinger was at the forefront in creating University Partnerships at LCCC “I created a vision that is now the University Partnership. I had to write up a concept paper, and then get it approved in the levy. After it was approved, I then enrolled as a student as well to take advantage of the University Partnership. Every student’s dream matters and the reason we, as faculty, exist because of our students.” One of Ballinger’s goals is to have students obtain 10,000 degrees by 2025. Ballinger relates to her students because she was a student and it, gives her an insight into the students’ world. Ballinger gives the advice that she followed herself by saying this, “I urge you to aim high, and truly pursue the dream that aligns with who you are.” Ballinger is an inaugural member of the Aspen Institute’s Presidential Fellowship. Under her stewardship, LCCC became the first community college in Ohio to offer an applied bachelor’s degree program in MEMS (Micro Electromechanical Systems) in 2018. LCCC also garnered the top two national honors for excellence in student success awarded by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) as “First in the Nation for Excellence in Student Success” in 2018 and by Achieving the Dream, Inc. (ATD) as the Leah Meyer Austin Award recipient in 2020. Her other accolades include recognition as a 2020 Crain’s Cleveland Business Power 150 Leaders in Northeast Ohio and the 2020 Pacesetter Award by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR). -30-
By Leigh Keeton Special to The Collegian When Chris Mariner decided it was time to start a new career, he was scared. “I was unhappy with the work, but it was my family’s main source of income,” says Mariner, who lives in Elyria. “And I had grown quite comfortable with the job and the lifestyle it was able to provide.” But Mariner, 34, was looking into the associate of applied science in mechatronics technology – microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) program at Lorain County Community College. It was a new and exciting program, and its graduates were in high demand. Mariner just had to believe in himself. “Convincing myself I could do this and I deserved to give myself a chance was the largest barrier I had to break,” he says.
Absorbing it all Mariner eased his way into the program, continuing to work his full-time job and taking one or two classes each semester. LCCC had designed the MEMS program similar to all its programs, making it affordable and accessible to working adults. It didn’t take long though for Mariner to know he was in the right place and learning from the right instructor, Johnny Vanderford. “Johnny teaches the material so well and with such enthusiasm, his students begin to love and absorb all of the information so easily,” Mariner says. Vanderford made it clear that the information Mariner was absorbing was exactly what local employers wanted him to know. At the start of nearly every class, Vanderford showed listings of available MEMS-related jobs at local companies. He then drilled down into the job requirements and drew direct correlations between those requirements and the daily lab or lecture. “These were real life skills we were learning and knowledge that would be used throughout our careers,” Mariner says.
Breaking the barrier While Vanderford taught Mariner the skillset he needed, Courtney Tenhover, program developer in the engineering, business, and information technologies division, was networking with local companies and recruiters on Mariner’s behalf and helping him perfect his resume. “By the end of my second semester, I got a well-paying internship, quit my job, and enrolled in classes full time,” he says. “I was ready to put all of my efforts into this program.” That internship was with Recognition Robotics, a technology company on the LCCC campus designing visual guidance sensors that communicate with robotics and automation equipment for industrial applications. The internship provided Mariner with experience in a range of tasks, including the first printed circuit board Mariner designed for a company. “I will forever be thankful for my time at Recognition Robotics – it was invaluable and one of the main reasons my career was able to get started,” Mariner says.
Launching a new career Mariner graduated in spring 2019 with his associate of applied science degree in MEMS and had job opportunities to choose from, including the one he ultimately accepted – electrical designer at Zin Technologies. Two years in, Mariner is doing more than succeeding at Zin Technologies, a regional company that provides full lifecycle development of aerospace systems. He spent his first year designing circuit boards and then was promoted to process engineer. He is now developing and improving the company’s manufacturing processes for circuit boards being sent into space. “It’s very exciting and each project is unique,” Mariner says. “I’m consistently seeing new things come up and processes can always be improved.” Mariner has come a long way in a short time, and says he is still in awe of his career transformation. “I went from working retail, to designing circuit boards going into outer space in less than two years,” he says. “Not a whole lot of people can say that.” -30-
One of only eight students in the country to receive the award
Special to The Collegian
Lorain County Community College student Nikita Johnson has been named a 2021 DREAM Scholar by Achieving the Dream (ATD) – the nation’s most comprehensive organization in advancing student success and equity. Johnson is one of just eight students in the country to be selected as a DREAM Scholar.
“I am still in shock that I am receiving this award. I am excited at the opportunity to continue my journey with the support of LCCC and the DREAM Scholar program,” Johnson said.
Achieving the Dream’s DREAM Student Scholars are resilient community college students, determined to reach their goals and lift up their communities. As a DREAM Scholar, Johnson will participate in the virtual ATD DREAM Conference, including sharing her story through an autobiographical poem.
“I am from late-night cries that carry the pain of hunger.
From dirty shoes to nappy heads, and clothes counted up to a few.
I am from early morning wake-ups, from eviction sheriff’s banging on the doors, to the cold touch of metal beds and wool covers from shelters housing the poor.”
The poem then reflects on her experiences on at LCCC.
“I am from a college that strives for its students to be more than their struggles.
A college that supports diversity, commitment, foundations, perseverance, creativity, ethnicity, equity, and inclusion.
with something as small as a text, but as strong as a hug.
a college that inspires hope that influence changes.”
The LCCC community is inspired by Johnson, as well.
“The Lorain County Community College family is so proud of Nikita. She’s demonstrated amazing resilience in her life and in reaching her goals. She continues to amaze us with her authentic passion to make a positive impact on her community,” said LCCC President Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. “Being named a DREAM Scholar is a fitting title, as Nikita is making her dreams come true, and is inspiring others to achieve their dreams, as well.”
LCCC is one of 300 community colleges in the national ATD network and one of only 11 colleges to earn ATD’s Leader College of Distinction status. In 2020, LCCC was named the Leah Meyer Austin winner, ATD’s top prize reserved for network colleges that show greatest, sustained improvements in student outcomes and student success. Through working with ATD, LCCC has made great strides in narrowing equity gaps for students in underserved populations, such as Johnson.
In May, Johnson, 30, will be the first person in her family to earn a college degree when she graduates with an associate of arts degree from LCCC. She’ll continue on through LCCC’s University Partnership in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in social work through Youngstown State University.
Johnson has a knack for finding order out in the midst of chaos. It’s a skill that is important for a career in social work, she said.
“Helping people reach the best versions of themselves, making sure people know and understand their rights; those are big things for me,” Johnson explained.
A single mother from Lorain, Johnson said she hopes earning her associate degree and bachelor’s degree will lay a new path for herself and her four children. Her goal is to break the generational cycle of poverty that has played a pivotal role in her life.
As a child growing up in Cleveland, Johnson lived with the harsh realities of poverty, crime and violence.
“In minority communities living in poverty, children and families are placed in a constant fight or flight mode, unable to grow and be productive to make living a better place,” she said.
That environment took a heavy toll on young Johnson.
“I dropped out of school in the eighth grade. I became a teen mom when I was 15. Life was hard. I felt trapped in a life I did not choose,” she recalled.
Still, she was determined to make a better life for her new family. But she lacked the tools to make much progress, and the barriers of poverty stood in the way. Without a high school diploma, her options for employment were limited. She worked a variety of jobs, including various positions in fast food and nursing homes, but landing those jobs was a struggle.
“I applied to White Castle when I was 16 and I couldn’t pass the division part of the math test,” she recalled. “I felt shame. I knew then I needed to find a way to do better for myself and my family.”
In 2014, she decided it was time to put those thoughts into action. She took a leap of faith and signed up for the GED. She failed the math section, but passed the other parts of the test. By 2017, she was determined to pass the math portion of the test through LCCC. After multiple tries, she succeeded and earned her GED.
That achievement moment was a huge step forward and the confidence boost that Johnson needed to keep moving forward. As a GED graduate, Johnson earned a $500 scholarship to continue her education at Lorain County Community College.
Ballinger said the scholarship for GED graduates encourages students to continue their education and improve their economic station.
“Education is the most powerful driver of social and economic mobility,” Ballinger said. “When someone living in poverty earns a college degree, their chances of remaining at the bottom of the economic ladder drops from 50 percent to just 10 percent,” Ballinger said. “It’s LCCC’s mission to provide equitable access to higher education for all, no matter where a person starts out in life.”
With the momentum of earning her GED and the offer of a scholarship, Johnson knew it was the right moment to continue her education at LCCC and she enrolled right away.
“I signed up for LCCC classes that summer. At that time, my goal had always been to become a nurse and this seemed like it was my chance,” Johnson said.
She was only a few days into her nursing pre-requisite classes when a series of personal tragedies began – starting with the murder of her brother in June 2017. She dropped out of class to focus on her family and close circle of friends. By 2018, she had suffered more loss, but was ready to try college again. This time she had a new passion: to become a social worker.
The drive is personal. By earning a bachelor’s degree in social work, Johnson hopes to help young people access the skills that lead to a better future.
“Growing up in poverty, social workers a lot of times have a negative meaning associated with them. I’d like to change that. I want to show children and others the positive side of being a social worker,” she said.
Once she began her classes in the social work pathway at LCCC, Johnson quickly found a friend and mentor in sociology professor Aimee Dickinson.
“Aimee heard me tell my story to a classmate. She heard some of the hard things I’ve been through and she didn’t see something bad. She saw things in me that I’d never seen in myself before,” Johnson said.
Dickinson invited Johnson to a meeting of LCCC’s Equity Team, a group of faculty, staff and students who actively work to ensure LCCC’s commitment to equity is achieved through improving success for students from marginalized and underrepresented populations.
Johnson knew her life was changed from the first meeting.
“I attended the Equity Team meeting and I couldn’t believe what I saw: faculty and staff really fighting for their students to succeed. I shared my experiences with them and I could feel they truly listened to me and wanted to help me succeed,” Johnson said.
From that day on, Johnson said she had found her support system at LCCC. Dickinson introduced her to LCCC Student Services Navigator Kionna McIntosh-Pharms, and the two became Johnson’s biggest cheerleaders. Dickinson tragically passed away in August 2020, but Johnson said the impact on her life will never be forgotten.
“It seems like every time I am at my breaking point I receive a text from Kionna or the Equity Team giving me words of encouragement to keep moving forward,” Johnson said. “That’s all because of Aimee.”
She’s helping others find that support, too.
“Whenever I hear someone in class say they’re struggling, I let them know about the resources at LCCC, and that people genuinely want to help them. LCCC truly cares about each student and treats you like family,” Johnson said.