A Student Publication of Lorain County Community College

A victim of violence: one student’s love story gone wrong

Jennifer Varney, a victim and survivor of domestic violence, lived through three years of abuse from her partner. Varney’s story highlights the somber fact that 20 people are  physically assaulted in the United States each minute.

Submitted photo

  Alex Delaney-Gesing Editor-in-Chief Legs crossed underneath her, Jennifer Varney, a Lorain County Community College social work major, sat curled in a barrel chair while staring out the glass window-covered door of room 207 in LCCC’s College Center building. Though…

Spring 2015 President’s Forum draws a crowd

3prezforum

Gabe Garcia President’s Forum As the temperatures outside warmed up to a long overdue 60 degrees, it marked that time of the year for the spring semester’s President’s Forum at Lorain County Community College.  LCCC President Dr. Roy A. Church gave an…

Canvas to replace Angel this summer

Kim Teodecki Staff Writer Beginning this upcoming summer semester, Lorain County Community College will introduce its students to Canvas, an online learning management system set to replace the current ANGEL system. Canvas open-lab sessions will be held starting May 18-22…

Biomimicry transfer technology center opens on campus

LCCC President Dr. Roy Church and GL Bio founder CEO Tom Tyrell announced the opening of the first biomimicry technology center for a community college to promote innovation development in Northeast Ohio on Feb. 25.        
Alex Delaney-Gesing| The Collegian

  Alex Delaney-Gesing Editor-in-Chief Biomimicry studies nature’s best ideas and imitates those ideas to solve human problems. It has the ultimate goal of creating new ways of living that are well-suited to life on earth over an extended period of time….

From the frontline to the classroom

LCCC student veterans like Tom Blackburn, a Navy veteran,  benefit from the use of the Veterans and Military Service Center located on the second floor of the campus’ College Center. 
Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian

Alex Delaney-Gesing Editor-in-Chief Transitioning back into civilian life can be a shocking and disorienting adjustment for veterans and returning soldiers fresh off the battlefield. Tom Blackburn, a ten-year Navy veteran, enrolled at Lorain County Community College last year in order…

Catalytic converters stolen on campus

Suspect vehicle 
Submitted by LCCC Campus Security

Alex Delaney-Gesing Editor-in-Chief Three vehicles were reported to have had their catalytic converters stolen on Lorain County Community College’s campus on Feb. 23. Two of the thefts took place in parking lot eight, while the third incident occurred in parking…

Shock of war on the homefront

Alex Delaney-Gesing Editor-in-Chief   When ‘‘G.I. Joe’’ arrived home after time in the service, his transition back into civilian life was haunted by nightmares and flashbacks of  the inescapable vivid images he witnessed in the Iraq War. As the symptoms…

Forever Professor” featured in alumnus’ documentary

LCCC alumnus Mika Johnson (above), visited campus the week of March 23 to promote his 32-minute documentary “Forever Professor,” about LCCC psychology Professor Mark McKinley.     Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian

LCCC alumnus Mika Johnson (above), visited campus the week of March 23 to promote his 32-minute documentary “Forever Professor,” about LCCC psychology Professor Mark McKinley.
Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian

Brenna Shippy
Contributor

Professor Mark McKinley might not be considered an average psychology professor at Lorain County Community College. From the increasing number of knick-knacks decorating his office to his unique and amusing way of getting around campus on a personal transporter; even his great shock of white hair makes him stand out in a crowd. With McKinley having taught at the college for 48 years, it occurred to one alumnus that it was the right time to share this most unusual man with a larger audience

LCCC student alumni Mika Johnson co-wrote, directed and produced “Forever Professor,” a 32-minute documentary about McKinley and his obsession with time. The short-film premiered at the 2015 Cleveland International Film Festival showcase, which ran from March 18 to 29.

Johnson was a student of McKinley’s Intro to Psychology course 18 years ago. The initial intrigue that drew him into creating “Forever Professor” was a personal interest in McKinley’s large collection of clocks; something Johnson identified with.

“I remember Professor McKinley [as] being one of the most eccentric professors I ever had,” Johnson said. “By eccentric, I mean outside of conventional understandings of normality. He’s always been aware he’s different. And he’s always been presenting that in the most artistic way.”

The idea of time has become more than just a topic of conversation for the professor; it’s a lifestyle. Over the years, McKinley has continued to add to his talking clock collection, and currently holds two Guinness World records, one for owning the largest assortment of talking clocks (currently over 1,000) and the other for the “most personal transporter figure –of-eights in two minutes.”

Johnson described the documentary as being co-authored, with it being as much McKinley’s story as his own. As the filming progressed, it became a story of more than just talking clocks.

Johnson added that “when I reconnected with [McKinley], I [knew] this was going to be such an interesting film because he’s such an interesting subject.”

In the feature film, McKinley comes across as quick witted and light hearted.

When asked if he thought he might be going too far with his collection of clocks, he responded that “no collector ever thinks they’ve gone too far.”

The film not only received many well deserved laughs during its premiere, but it engendered a collective fascination with the clocks that Johnson respectfully took the time to capture and show off.

The overall production of the documentary took half a year, with students from Oberlin College assisting in the cinematography and sound.

“The Cleveland International Film Festival is just the first step,” Johnson said, on the film’s first screening. “We’re already taking the next steps for the film to play internationally.”

Johnson has been in the filmmaking industry for the past ten years. One of his productions includes an online web series called “The Amerikans,” featuring local area people with unique stories to tell. The series caught the eye of the Prague Film Institute, where Johnson is now currently instructing “directing and documentary production.”

A special showing of “Forever Professor” will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on April 1 in LCCC’s Stocker Arts Cinema Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Navajo story teller brings culture to life

 

Dooley Submitted photo

Dooley
Submitted photo

ENG 267 students

When Sunny Dooley came to Lorain County Community College during the week of March 9, she brought with her 30 years worth of Navajo Blessingway stories to share with all who came to hear. Working as a storyteller, folklorist and cultural consultant, she has spent a large portion of her life collecting, learning and retelling the oral tradition of the Diné Hozhojii Hané (Navajo Blessingway stories).

Dooley visited various English and Communications classes as well as student organizations to spread her Navajo cultural background. Called “Navajo Blessingway” stories, they present a world view of the Diné people and detail their relationships with the landscape of the Four Corners area, a Navajo-dominated region in the United States that consists of the southwestern corner of Colorado, northwestern corner of New Mexico, northeastern corner of Arizona, and southeastern corner of Utah.

An audience of 50 attendees gathered in the Cinema Hall of LCCC’s Stocker Center to hear her traditional stories on March 11. Included in this group were students from English Professor Kim Karshner’s Children’s Literature class. They shared their thoughts and experience of Dooley’s presentation.

“It was really cool to have Sunny come talk to us about her culture. It was a nice reminder that here in America, we all celebrate different cultures, which are then combined to create our great, big American culture.” - Lexie Elswick

“I enjoyed hearing the history behind basket weaving in the Navajo culture and how the basket tells a story. I’d like to learn more about Navajo people and other Native American cultures.” -Anna Tumbas

“I loved listening to Sunny speak. I took away this beautiful notion that her ancestors lived for her, and now they know just what words she needs to speak in her stories. I actually wrote down a few things she said that seemed so simple, but were utterly profound. One of the most touching things she said was, ‘I am the prayers of my ancestors’.” – Isabel Billinghurst

“I was blown away. I found myself being drawn into the story she was telling and it seemed different than reading a story in a book or watching a movie. It was more personal and intimate. It was like she was taking us on a journey and I began to develop a much greater appreciation for the art of storytelling.” -Hallie Brown

“When looking at Sunny’s basket, it told of her family and her legacy. Many of us just have memories, but Sunny’s was beautifully illustrated in her woven basket.” -Amy Jo West 

“There is a sort of reverence that tends to wash over people when a speaker from another culture presents. Sunny has a way of maintaining that reverence while also giving you the feeling that it is a mutual admiration between our culture and hers.”- Jenelle Rodriguez

“Sunny was very warm and inviting. She became a bridge between her culture and ours, allowing us to learn. Hearing about all the different ceremonies, beliefs, and cultural differences was amazing. Hearing her speak made you feel like she was an old friend.”- Sidney Handyside 

“[Sunny’s] ancestors sat proudly on the rims of her ears and told her exactly what we needed to hear. At times, she truly seemed to be speaking directly to me, for my personal beliefs. She so effortlessly touched on many things that had been on my mind or that I had overheard in the few days prior. Though she’d say she was ‘just talking,’ she talked about exactly what needed to be talked about.” -Zachary Rofe 

Alex Delaney-Gesing contributed to this article.

Canvas to replace Angel this summer

Kim Teodecki
Staff Writer

Beginning this upcoming summer semester, Lorain County Community College will introduce its students to Canvas, an online learning management system set to replace the current ANGEL system.

Canvas open-lab sessions will be held starting May 18-22 and continuing May 26-29. These sessions will help students and faculty adapt to the new system and answer questions about the upcoming transition.

Distance Learning has been working closely with the marketing department to make the switch easier for students. LCCC has not changed learning management systems in 10 years, so Distance Learning is making an effort to spread awareness of their plans to implement the Canvas system, according to Luz Rivera, administrative assistant to the Distance Learning team at LCCC.

Canvas will offer new features including a global dashboard, where students can view assignments listed for all of their classes on a single calendar, as well as a mobile-friendly feature. With these additions, course materials will be made more accessible through most mobile devices.

“There will be a ‘what if’ button where students can calculate what their final score would be in a course if certain assignments received certain grades,” said George Taylor, a technical application specialist with Distance Learning.

Taylor added that students will be able to view assignment grades via most mobile devices as soon as the instructor posts them with a notification feature.

Instructors will also have notifications that allow them to view and grade coursework and assignments as soon as students upload and submit them.

“[The notifications] will appear somewhat like a text message would on your phone, and instructors can then see and read the files immediately,” Taylor said.

Student reactions to the upcoming changes have been mixed, with some looking forward to the advancements and others not looking forward to having to learn a new system.

“I like Angel a lot, so I don’t want it to go away,” Amanda Davis, a middle childhood education major with the Ashland University Partnership, said.

“Everybody’s used to using Angel right now, but if this new program will be easier to use, then I suppose it’s okay,” said Mackenzie Murray, a general arts major.

“There have been many [Canvas] training sessions for faculty as well as student lab aids,” said Rivera. “We would like to have some ambassadors that know the system well enough to help other students become more comfortable in using it.”

“I think changing [Angel] is for the better,” Sandra Saldana, an undecided major and student worker in Student Life, said. “I’m pro all updates in technology at LCCC, especially if it’s going to make navigation easier.”

The Canvas learning management system will offer 24/7 support to resolve technical issues as quickly as possible, and the Distance Learning office will continue regular hours of operation for technical support as well.

Alex Delaney-Gesing contributed to this article.

LCCC Police Academy training to protect

LCCC Police Academy students attend the program Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.    Kim Teodecki | The Collegian

LCCC Police Academy students attend the program Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Kim Teodecki | The Collegian

Gabe Garcia & Austin Remo
Contributors

At Lorain County Community College, the men and women who choose a career in the police force can find exactly what they’re looking for at the LCCC Police Academy. Students are trained physically and mentally to be prepared for life as a uniformed police officer.

The academy was launched in January of 2002, with the first scheduled classes beginning that summer. Since its inaugural year, it has seen a number of students graduate and move on to careers as police officers all over Ohio.

Patty Ferritto, assistant to the academy’s Commander Paul Graupmann, said that the course offers a maximum of 20 students to enroll each semseter, and that it’s “usually full up to the 20 spots offered.”

Currently, there are 18 cadets enrolled in the academy this spring semester, with training running until June.

As far as scheduling goes, Ferritto said the classes aren’t offered on a traditional college schedule, but rather on their own separate times.

“Students are required to complete 632 hours of instructional classes,” said Commander Graupmann. “While doing that they are working through the Ohio Attorney General to pass the state certification and start looking for employment. My job is to train the next generation of law enforcement correctly to produce quality individuals that will serve the public the way it deserves to be served.”

Physical training and exercise is the main focus behind Graupmann’s course plan, who started as an instructor at the academy before he became the commander in 2010.

“Students must pass the physical training portion offered at LCCC before they are qualified to take the state-administered written exam to become a police officer”, said Ferritto.

A physical demand of the program includes two weeks of firearm training, according to Steven Lumadue, a 2010 graduate.

“We did [physical training] two times a week that consisted of a lot of running, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, and plenty of other variations of exercise,” said Lumadue, a current police officer in Milan, Ohio. “The physical training helped me be more confident; just the matter of staying in shape [was a big confidence booster].”

Before becoming a police officer in Milan, Lumadue spent time in Olmsted Falls and Sandusky as an officer, and credits the academy for helping him get to where he is today.

Current students like Devin Woods hope to receive the same opportunity.

“I’ve been working in the security division at Cedar Point for a few years,” said Woods. “It was there that I decided this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and my goal is to meet the right people so that I may secure a job in law enforcement.”

The academy is a full-time commitment, running Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Biomimicry transfer technology center opens on campus

LCCC President Dr. Roy Church and GL Bio founder CEO Tom Tyrell announced the opening of the first biomimicry technology center for a community college to promote innovation development in Northeast Ohio on Feb. 25.         Alex Delaney-Gesing| The Collegian

LCCC President Dr. Roy Church and GL Bio founder CEO Tom Tyrell announced the opening of the first biomimicry technology center for a community college to promote innovation development in Northeast Ohio on Feb. 25.
Alex Delaney-Gesing| The Collegian

 

Alex Delaney-Gesing
Editor-in-Chief

Biomimicry studies nature’s best ideas and imitates those ideas to solve human problems. It has the ultimate goal of creating new ways of living that are well-suited to life on earth over an extended period of time.

Lorain County Community College has teamed with Great Lakes Biomimicry (GL Bio)  to house the center for biomimicry innovation development in Northeast Ohio. Partnered since 2012, this new expansion includes the opening of a technology innovation and commercialization center at LCCC’s campus in the Richard Desich SMART Commercialization Center for Microsystems.

“[This] center is the first of its kind to integrate the discipline of biomimicry and business development resources of a community college that fosters product innovation and commercialization,”LCCC President Dr. Roy Church said during the announcement event at the SMART Center on Feb. 25.

Already a national leader in industry focusing on microsystem product development, the center currently serves as a multi-user, shared resource center for companies, entrepreneurs and workforce training and certification.

GL Bio was created in 2010 by entrepreneur and current CEO Tom Tyrell, LCCC’s Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE) Innovation Fund founder Don Knechtges, and University of Akron evolutionary biologist Dr. Peter Niewiarowski. The organization is made up of an association of northeast Ohio groups and individuals focused on developing a place-based, living learning ecosystem based on biomimicry, according to their website.

As a result of the alliance with GL Bio, an estimated $1.3 billion and 1.6 million jobs is expected to be added to the nation’s economy over the next 10 years, according to a media advisory published by LCCC.

With LCCC’s devotion to promoting economic growth and resources for Lorain County businesses, it is well suited to provide a setting for biomimicry technology innovation and commercialization. By serving as the center for this new development, it will promote entrepreneurship, long-term economic growth as well as job creation by means of modernization for the county.

“We are very excited about this partnership because we believe that this approach to economic growth and development represents one of the best bets that northeast Ohio is going to be able to make on a prosperous future for years to come,” said Church. “We believe that Lorain County needs to be an integral player in that process.”

A biomimicry incubator will also be included in the center, open to entrepreneurs who are using biomimicry approaches in starting their businesses, Tyrell said. This will include free of charge resources such as use of space and business advice sponsored by a GL Bio team who will be based in the center.

“We’re going to develop the [center] into a specialized, focused water based sensor laboratory that provides that kind of capability to anybody who want[s] to apply biomimicry notions to the product development of their business,” said Church.

Besides a collaboration with LCCC, GL Bio has already partnered with the University of Akron on biomimicry with their Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center (BRIC) that provides doctoral degrees and scholarships in the field.

Avon Lake Municipal Utilities intends to sponsor a current Ph.D. fellow working in biomimetic research to determine the ways zebra mussels respond to contaminated water through the use of water sensor research. One other Ph.D. fellow from the college, presently operating at Lake Ridge Academy, will also be working within the new water sensor lab.

In addition to the accessibility of the water sensor lab to fellows of UA, LCCC faculty and students will be given the opportunity to conduct research in the area of biomimicry. This will be done with the advanced equipment from the campus’ Fab Lab as well as onsite aid from GLIDE. Three members of LCCC’s Chemistry department were a part of the lab’s development; Professor Dr. Celeste Lau, Associate Professor Dr. James Beil and Assistant Professor Dr. Regan Silvestri.

“A goal of this innovation model is to bring together institutions like the University of Akron and LCCC,” said Tyrrell. “Also, to bring in [other] institutions where we can go ahead and share ideas [and] our resources as a way to build and strive for greater excellence.”

Along with UA, GL Bio has partnered with Lorain County schools including Amherst, Elyria, Wellington and Lake Ridge Academy with the intent of fostering courses aimed towards the study of biomimicry.

Other new developments at LCCC include a new addition to the academic programs offered, including an Associate of Applied Science degree in environmental technology. With a primary focus water quality, students will be able to take courses in the field of Operator Training Center of Ohio in order to become eligible for the Ohio Certified Operator Level 1 examination. Pending on approval of the Ohio Board of Regents, the degree will be offered starting fall of 2016.

From the frontline to the classroom

LCCC student veterans like Tom Blackburn, a Navy veteran,  benefit from the use of the Veterans and Military Service Center located on the second floor of the campus’ College Center.  Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian

LCCC student veterans like Tom Blackburn, a Navy veteran, benefit from the use of the Veterans and Military Service Center located on the second floor of the campus’ College Center.
Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian

Alex Delaney-Gesing
Editor-in-Chief

Transitioning back into civilian life can be a shocking and disorienting adjustment for veterans and returning soldiers fresh off the battlefield.

Tom Blackburn, a ten-year Navy veteran, enrolled at Lorain County Community College last year in order to pursue an associate of science degree in public administration. Like many veterans, he is familiar with the struggles faced by service members upon returning home.

“Being in the service, you operate within a structure; you know where you have to be at what time. You don’t have to wonder about what to wear for job interviews, for example,” he said. “Those are all decisions [you] never have to make. Uncle Sam gave you a uniform and you know how to dress depending on what the function is. You operate within a bubble, where you’re told where you’re going to be, when to be there. Now you’re left to your own devices; how do you get somewhere? It’s all kind of new.”

LCCC, a nationally recognized Military Friendly School, provides support and service opportunities for veterans while they earn their degree in a timely manner.

Vietnam War veteran and Distinguished Professor of LCCC Dr. Bruce Weigl has also recognized the difficulties those who have been severely affected by their experiences in the military often face upon return.

“Veterans share an important bond and we know from a great deal of research that one of the most effective tools in dealing with veterans issues is utilizing peer support,” Weigl said.

 

A place to call home
The recent dedication of a new Veterans and Military Service Members student lounge and office last November has provided a home base for veterans and active duty service members to congregate and develop a sense of camaraderie and encouragement as they pursue their education.

“It’s a great place for [veterans] to come and relax for a little bit, talk to other vets and network about benefits that are available to them,” Blackburn said. “Other vets are a great resource to help each other and ask for assistance because we’re used to working as a team.”

“Today’s returning veterans deserve all the support we can give them, and then some,” said Garis Distelhorst, executive director of the Lorain County Community College Foundation as well as a veteran lieutenant of the Navy. “My best piece of advice [for veterans] is [to] look ahead into the future at the kind of life you want to have, at the kind of job/career you want to have, and then work every day to get yourself one step closer.”

 

Benefits for veterans
Finding a post-secondary school that is military-friendly with access to numerous resources for veterans in the transition process is a key first step, Weigl advised.

A key benefit to be utilized by service members is the GI Bill, the federal government’s primary educational funding program for qualifying veterans, active duty and dependents.

The number of veteran students and their beneficiaries accessing VBA [Veterans Benefits Administration] educational benefits across the United States has increased from 397,598 in 2000 to 564,487 in 2009 and to 1,014,227 in 2012, totaling over $10.5 billion in utilized benefits (in 2011 alone), according to the VBA Office of Educational Services.

At LCCC, veterans are offered opportunities such as career guidance, priority registration, academic advising/counseling, job search preparation and evaluation of military credit. With these resources, the transition to education and post-military life can be made easier.

 

Overcoming roadblocks
“Some of the typical barriers and obstacles [veterans run into] can be just getting started in the process and understanding the paperwork involved in using their Veterans benefits and financial aid,” said Krista O’Neill, coordinator of counseling and advising services in Enrollment, Financial and Career Services at LCCC.

By meeting with a VA certifying official, veterans can set up an education plan for their future. Whether hoping to earn an associate degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree through LCCC and any of its 12 university partnerships, veterans have a plethora of options. Specialized orientations are provided as well as various scholarships pending on meeting specific requirements. All information can be found at lorainccc.edu/Veterans.

“I think a lot of veterans kind of feel funny about taking “free stuff” because they’ve earned their way all those years in the service,” Blackburn said, “..but these are benefits that they’ve earned, that they’ve paid for by serving their country.”

 

Veteran education rising
In the past 15 years, the percentage of veterans receiving post-secondary education has steadily increased. Of the  projected 21,937,000 population of veterans in the United States, (with  866,481 in Ohio), nearly 40 percent of male veterans and 45 percent of women veterans have earned some form of a college degree, 2011 research by the US Department of VA found. Comparatively, 25 percent of non-veteran males and 29 percent of non-veteran females who delayed starting college earned some type of post-secondary degree.

Academic completion rates for veterans vary, with 67 percent of Air Force veterans,  47% of Army veterans, and 45% of Marine veterans acquiring vocational certificates or other degrees (associate, bachelor’s), according to a 2013 report published by the Student Veterans of America (SVA) service organization.
Veterans versus civilians

A major difference found between non-veterans and veterans included motivation.

Three out of four veterans who pursue a college degree are more likely to follow through to completion. Civilians who delay entry to college have a significantly lower chance of obtaining a degree, the SVA discovered.

“Veterans are mission oriented and used to being very busy during the day,” O’Neill said.

“Overall, [they] do very well [at LCCC],” O’Neill said. “The discipline and training they receive in the military translates very well to being a successful and disciplined student and we see this evidenced in their overall academic performance.”

Use your leadership and responsibility experience in the service as keys to the person you want to be.  Look at the service as an important building block, and at LCCC as another,” Distelhorst said.

“[There’s] an old saying; today is the first day of the rest of your life.  The service was yesterday; your future is tomorrow, and working on what you will be in the future is today.”

Enrollment down eight percent

Kim Teodecki
Staff Writer
This spring semester, 10,626 students are currently enrolled in classes at Lorain County Community College.  Compared to the 11,542 students enrolled in the fall semester of 2014, there has been a near eight percent enrollment decrease, according to Stephanie Sutton, dean of Enrollment, Financial, and Career services at LCCC.

Research prepared by Ohio Governor John Kasich and John Carey, Ohio chancellor, showed that  between the fall of 2013 and 2014, enrollment in community colleges decreased by two percent.

Writers from Bloomberg Magazine provide possible reasons as to why enrollment could be decreasing, not only in Ohio, but on a national level as well. The number of 18-year-olds in the United States is considerably low, but not dramatically low enough to be the sole cause for decreasing enrollment, according to their website. The economy is also stated cause of the decline.

Until the end of the spring semester, LCCC stands in second place for the lowest tuition cost in community colleges across Ohio, with Cuyahoga Community College in first place.

Despite the decrease, students who choose to enroll at LCCC do so as a result of the various advantages it has to offer.

“I chose to come back to LCCC this semester because I got a scholarship and because the campus is close to [my] home,” said Valerie Connor, a second year student at LCCC. Connor continues to take classes each semester because of the benefits of the financial aid program and the “steady and low” tuition cost.

“I can always depend on [LCCC] to offer the best programs that will help my future at the lowest cost,” she said.

Catalytic converter crimes sweep campus

Recent thefts bring to light dangers for vehicle owners

Kristin Hohman
Staff Writer

Alex Portik, a fire science major at Lorain County Community College, returned to his locked Pontiac Grand Am after class on Feb. 23 and discovered something amiss.

“I came back from class and that’s when I noticed [my catalytic converter] was stolen,” Portik said. His wasn’t the only one, either.

As part of a vehicle’s exhaust system, catalytic converters are located underneath its outer  structure. They reduce dangerous emissions such as nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide. As a result, the gases are converted into water vapor and other less detrimental gases. The equipment has been an auto-industry standard since the 1970’s.

“A catalytic converter [is] placed between the combustion engine and the muffler on a car [and] acts to decrease vehicle emissions,” said LCCC Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Regan Silvestri. “In terms of chemistry, a ‘catalyst’ is a substance that promotes an otherwise unfavorable chemical reaction.”

Other than Portik’s Grand Am, two Chevy Cavaliers also had their converters stolen from, mere minutes apart. The first theft occurred in the southwestern corner of campus in Lot 3, while the other two took place on the northern edge of campus in Lot 8.

Thieves take pieces of catalytic converters to scrap yards, according to Kenneth Collins, manager of LCCC Campus Security. “[Converters] are made of metal components, which makes them valued,” he said.

Fabricated of small amounts of platinum, palladium, and rhodium (used to speed chemical reactions and help clean emissions at  high temperatures), catalytic converters are already valuable. With today’s economy’s recent hike in precious metal pricing, that value has only accelerated.

“The catalysts are typically small quantities of precious metals … on a high surface area carrier such as silica or alumina,” said Silvestri. “The precious metals are quite valuable, but not easily extracted from the silica or alumina carrier.”

Vehicles like SUVs and trucks, with higher ground clearance, are more prone to thefts of their converters. This higher level allows thieves to slide under a vehicle with ease and gain access to the sought-after device.

Thieves remove the catalytic converter by slipping underneath a vehicle’s carriage and using battery-powered reciprocating saws and blowtorches. The more experienced thieves can remove a converter in mere minutes. Since there are no obvious signs of a break-in, car owners rarely notice that something is wrong until they start the ignition. The sound is usually accompanied by a loud roar – similar to that of a missing muffler.

On campus, Portik said the suspect behind the thefts used a car jack to steal his converter.

Because there is no Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) engraved onto converters, they are difficult to trace once stolen. In today’s market, scrap metal recycling centers pay top dollar for used catalytic converters. Payouts can range anywhere from $20 to $200, according to edmunds.com. Scrap metal recyclers typically draw out the metals from converters and resell them for as much as $6,000, depending on the types of metal used.

Across the state of Ohio, just over half of the private auto insurance market noted an increase in thefts over the last 24 months, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute. Typically, most insurance companies file these theft claims under vandalism or general theft categories. Because of this generalization, companies are unable to track the catalytic converter thefts specifically.

While converter theft statistics are not tracked nationally, car theft crimes in general have risen in tandem with rising metal prices. States such as Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio and Texas have seen the most converter thefts occur.

Many insurance companies cover catalytic converter theft and related repairs under “other-than-collision” or comprehensive coverage plans. For most insurance plans, this is optional coverage. Out-of-pocket expenses can range from $200 for universal replacements up to $1,000. If a vehicle’s exhaust line was damaged during removal, repairs could cost up to thousands of dollars.

To avoid having a converter stolen, Portik suggested parking next to other cars.

“Park in a row so no one can come up to your car,” he said.

LCCC’s security is staying up to date on the recent criminal activity.

“[LCCC Campus Security] has stepped up mobile patrols,” Collins said. The prime vehicle in LCCC’s suspected burglaries is a maroon Honda Civic, he said.

Unfortunately, there are not many ways to deter thieves from stealing converters. However, there are some precautions that can be taken. One includes having the VIN or license plate number of the vehicle etched onto the catalytic converter, so that if the need arises, the piece is more easily traceable. Since converter theft is more common in large, long-term parking lots and parking garages, parking as close as possible to a building’s entrance or road access is highly advisable, the Nationwide Insurance website reported.

“[Campus security] was a huge help,” Portik said. “They showed me the video [of the crime] and answered all of my questions, then suggested I file a report with the Elyria Police Department.”

Parking in well-lit areas free of any bushes or trees (where thieves can easily hide) is also ideal. Vehicle security systems that trigger at the slightest motion can discourage theft as well as having a converter welded to the frame of the vehicle by a mechanic. “These were not cars that were parked all by themselves,” said Collins. “These occurred in parking lots mixed in with other cars.”

Collins suggested that if students on campus see any suspicious activity, they need to notify security.

“Keep an eye out,” he said.

Catalytic converters stolen on campus

Alex Delaney-Gesing
Editor-in-Chief

Suspect vehicle  Submitted by LCCC Campus Security

Suspect vehicle
Photo courtesy of LCCC Campus Security

Three vehicles were reported to have had their catalytic converters stolen on Lorain County Community College’s campus on Feb. 23.

Two of the thefts took place in parking lot eight, while the third incident occurred in parking lot three, according to LCCC Campus Security Manager Ken Collins.

Two of the vehicles stolen from were Chevy Cavaliers and the third a Pontiac Grand Am. All thefts took place in the late morning to early afternoon. Campus Security identified the suspect vehicle as a maroon Honda Civic. The Elyria Police Department has been notified of the incidents.The investigation is ongoing.

In September of last semester, three Hondas had their catalytic converters stolen from them. The suspects were later caught and charged after being connected to similar crimes at the Cleveland Clinic.

LCCC Campus Security advises all students and faculty to be alert and aware of their surroundings and to notify the security office of any suspicious activity they may witness on campus grounds at (440) 366-4053 or (440) 366-4444.

 

Shock of war on the homefront

Alex Delaney-Gesing
Editor-in-Chief

 

When ‘‘G.I. Joe’’ arrived home after time in the service, his transition back into civilian life was haunted by nightmares and flashbacks of  the inescapable vivid images he witnessed in the Iraq War. As the symptoms worsened, he was clinically diagnosed with post-traumatic  stress disorder (PTSD), a common occurrence  among military veterans.

A Lorain County Community College student and veteran, Joe (who wishes to keep his identity private), spent eight years in the military. Completing two combat deployments, he spent the last two and a half years of his second deployment in Tikrit, Iraq.

As a medical specialist nearing the end of his final deployment, Joe and his fellow service members sat outside a provincial governor’s building waiting to securely transport high-ranking civilians and government officials.

Enduring the sweltering humidity of the Middle Eastern climate, they waited hours for their charges to emerge from the structure.

“We always felt that we were pretty safe,” he said. “Plus, we had been to that building a hundred times. Nothing ever happened.”

In the 120 degree heat, “normally, some of us would doze off; four hours sitting in all that gear in the hot sun,” Joe recalled. “It was really close to when we were going home and as we were out there, I started hearing this plinking sound. Then next thing I hear is ‘holy shit’ and [my gunner] spun around and I just saw brass [casings] falling down. I said what the hell is it; he said we were taking fire. So I got on [the radio] to my platoon leader and we were told to suppress the threat.”

The insurgents, as it later  turned out, were three adolescents, although what remained of them was not identifiable to the untrained eye.

“I had never seen human bodies look like ground beef,” he said. “We went and picked up pieces of these kids’ faces. That stuff will sit with you [and] you’ll feel guilty about it everyday.”

Dealing with the burden of ending the lives of children took Joe years to deal with.

“I don’t care how tough you are, it’ll knock you into a hole and you’ll grow up so fast,” he said.

 

Signs of PTSD 

Common signs shown when a soldier or civilian experiences a traumatic event include re-experiencing the ordeal (typically through nightmares or flashbacks), as well as a lack of interest in regularly-enjoyed activities.

“What we’re worried about is if someone’s isolating [themselves], which means they’re not getting any support,” said Quentin Kuntz, a licensed professional clinical, crisis intervention and career counselor in Enrollment and Financial Services at LCCC. “If they’re alienated or estranged from their family, friends, [or] from things they like to do or they used to do for pleasure.”

While not all former service members develop signs of the disorder, 49 percent of those who saw combat while on active duty have been diagnosed, helpguide.org found. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) officially established PTSD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders third edition (DSM-III) . According to the DSM, the links between trauma of war and the post-military civilian life was established, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) reported. Since its original printing, the criteria of PTSD has been revised four times as research on the disorder continues.

A serious indication of the disorder in veterans and other trauma victims is the abuse of any type of medication or alcohol substance.

“Over-medication, whether it’s pills, booze [or] pot, the drug itself doesn’t really matter. It depends on what relationship that individual has with it,” Kuntz said. “People crave relief. [They] crave a break from all this anxiety and tension.”

In Joe’s case, nearly two years passed before he began to respond to the aftermath of the event.

“I started noticing nightmares, night sweats, [and] excessive drinking,” he said. “I started drinking a lot and abusing pills.”

Nearly 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, 10 percent Gulf War (Desert Storm), and 11 percent of veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from PTSD, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reported. This equates to one in five veterans being diagnosed.

 

Coping with trauma

“The big thing is at some point to establish a relationship of trust with a person,” Kuntz said. “Not every veteran wants to talk about what they’ve seen, heard or what they’ve been through. But it’s important [that] there comes a time where they can, if not specifically describe what they’ve been through; at least acknowledge how intense it was.”

In a study published by the U.S. Army Medical Department, it was found that exposure to combat in Iraq was considerably higher than those deployed to Afghanistan. PTSD and major depression were more likely to occur in returning soldiers from Iraq (with 17.1 percent) compared to those who fought in Afghanistan (11. 2 percent). Further, of those who were professionally diagnosed with PTSD, only 23 to 40 percent sought treatment.

“It got to be so bad with depression, that I would take an Ambien at nine in the morning so I could go back to bed,” he said. “ I finally got a hold of a whole set of Ambien pills and… ate them up and woke up in the ER  with a bunch of charcoal over my face because they had pumped my stomach.”

“PTSD does not mean anybody’s crazy. It does not mean that they’re going to hurt anybody,” he said.

While a majority of those who suffer from PTSD have developed symptoms that affect their daily lifestyles, the extent to which they’re judged on the homefront is not always as extreme as it is often made out to be.

 

Stereotypical viewpoint

“Some cases are very severe and some people do have triggers, but it’s no different than any trigger that you have that pisses you off,” Joe said. “PTSD is a very severe case of having a pet peeve. It’s just things that irk you, it’s things that drive you, things that’ll make you change your way of life because you don’t like the way it makes you feel, period.”

“Most of the people whom I’ve worked with accept the fact that it’s going to be with them in one form or another,” Kuntz said. “All the symptoms may not leave, but it’s just like any medical condition; you manage your condition.”

 

Accepting help

Veterans dealing with the effects of PTSD can find it difficult to seek aid. The VA provides two types of cognitive behavioral therapy for those in need; cognitive processing therapy (CPT) and prolonged exposure therapy (PE). In CPT, patients learn to understand and shift their outlook on their trauma and its impact.  PE includes gaining control of thoughts and emotions surrounding the source of the trauma while learning to not fear their memories.

While seeking professional help is highly advised, less than 40 percent of veterans who suffer from symptoms receive treatment, the PTSD Foundation of America found.

“There are some [veterans] out there who really are shell shocked, who will never be the same and will never be able to function in society again,” Joe said. “But not all of us are like that, and the bottom line is we all get treated like that.”

Self-help methods have been found to be just as effective in dealing with various symptoms of shell shock. Learning more about common reactions to trauma allows a person to realize they are not alone in their experiences, the VA reported. Connecting with those who have suffered through similar events provides much needed support.

“Other people are mirrors to our faces,” Kuntz said. “When we see people who have gone through similar trauma, it’s like, ‘I’m not alone; I’m not the only person who’s going through this’.”

 

Living life in the present

Dealing with and moving on from the guilt took Joe years. Today, though, he has since made peace.

“The biggest thing that I was able to do was stop living in the past and apply my mind to something else that’s in the future,” he said.  “Those kids made the decision five years into this war to go up there and shoot at an armored vehicle. We had better weapons, we had better training, we had better soldiers; it was the dumbest mistake they’d ever made.”

“It’s happened, there’s nothing I can do to change it,” Joe said.” Look towards your future, not the past. You can’t change anything about it.”

For student veterans at LCCC struggling to live a normal life as a civilian, maintaining achievable goals to work toward is key.

“One of the biggest things I did to help myself was enroll in classes here [at LCCC],” Joe said. “I started working towards a bachelor’s degree. I tried to remember that I was in the military but now I’m a civilian.”

Focusing on what’s to come and not what has come can make a world of difference in the long run.