A Student Publication of Lorain County Community College

LCCC sets example of gender equality

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

Residents sound off on Lorain poll results

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

Campus beefs up covid-19 precaution to ensure safety

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

Lorain County Community College wins 11 Press Club awards

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

LCCC students’ research published in The Ohio Journal of Science

Special to the Collegian

Lorain County Community College’s innovative hard-working students aren’t just completing advanced science research as part of their coursework—three students’ independent research was published in the April issue of The Ohio Journal of Science.

LCCC science instructors including chemistry professor Regan Silvestri, Ph.D., and microbiology professor Harry Kestler, Ph.D., direct student research groups and research projects with individual students who completed the high-level research that was featured in the journal. 

Paul Warkentien was recognized for his research on thermal management properties of 3D printed multi materials for aerospace applications. Warkentien began conducting independent research with Silvestri in 2018 thanks to grants that Silvestri had secured from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Langley, Virginia. Warkentien then seized an opportunity to continue researching on the topic of additive manufacturing at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, during his second internship, thanks to funding from the Ohio Space Grant Consortium.

The LaGrange resident, 20, is working toward his bachelor’s of science in mechanical engineering, with plans to transfer to Cleveland State University in the fall. “I was so proud of myself and so happy to know that I was able to make a mark in the scientific community,” he said. 

“I wanted to test the thermal properties of these materials because, due to the sheer amount of these materials that are continually being added to the market, thermal data for many of the materials is scarce, especially when it comes to using multiple materials in the same structure,” Warkentien said. “The other reason I chose thermal data is because it built upon the skills I learned earlier on in my original internship with LCCC and NASA.”

Warkentien also presented his research at the national American Ceramics Society conference in Daytona Beach, Florida on January 27. He said he “would like to thank Laura Stacko, Jay Singh and Regan Silvestri because without their guidance and support none of this would have been possible.”

“We’re extremely proud of the successes of all three of these students, Andrea, Sara and Paul,” Silvestri said. “Their publications in the Ohio Journal of Science all seemed to come together naturally from the research they were doing, thanks to scholarships that all three of the students received from the NASA Ohio Space Grant Consortium.”

Another one of Silvestri’s students, Vermilion’s Andrea Zirkle, explored how the flavor profile of apple moonshine changes through a double distillation process. “I am so grateful to have the great support system of Dr. Silvestri and our research group,” she said. Zirkle felt “humbled and grateful for the opportunity” to have the chemistry research she completed also appear in the publication.

Zirkle                Submitted Photo

The 41-year-old universal science major recently received the prestigious Ohio Academy of Science Undergraduate Research award for her work. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bowling Green State University through the University Partnership with LCCC.   

“The research basically demonstrated how when the apple moonshine was distilled for purity, the double distillation process unfortunately removed all of the good fruit essence that was important to the moonshine’s flavor profile,” Zirkle said. 

Biology major Sara Martin, whose research was also published this month, performed HIV research with instructor Harry Kestler, Ph.D.’s research group that studies mutations and methods used for creating a vaccine for HIV.

“We’re looking at a mutation present in a child who was exposed to HIV but didn’t contract the virus,” Martin said. “We’re trying to essentially glue pieces of DNA together so that we can put this mutation into other cells, expose those cells to HIV, and see if this mutation was the reason why this child was resistant to HIV.”

The 21-year-old Sheffield Village resident is on track to graduate next spring with her bachelor’s in biology from Bowling Green State University through the University Partnership with LCCC. She said joining Dr. Kestler’s research group was one of the best decisions she has made while earning her degree.

“It’s pretty neat to be a part of a project as big as this one,” Martin said. “This research group started years ago and it’s cool to be able to be able to build on the work of countless students before me. It’s also really awesome to be able to teach the new students who come in how to work in a lab and what our project is all about. That’s one of my favorite parts of the lab.” 

Lorain County Community College is located at 1005 North Abbe Road, Elyria, Ohio. 

For more information on summer classes, visit www.lorainccc.edu/summerfall20

Engineering student gears for future

Mackenzie Jonke
JRNM 223

Sarah Park, 2018 graduate from Wellington High School, first became interested in computerized design and drafting while attending LCJVS during her junior and senior year of high school. Park decided her major while attending an internship.

“I had an engineering internship in high school that I earned with the skills I learned at LCJVS. I didn’t enjoy doing desk work, but I wanted to stay in manufacturing, so I looked for a more hands on degree,” Park said. “I was looking at automated engineering and another degree and I chose the automated one because it was geared more toward what I wanted to do.”

Park                        Submitted Photo

While studying at LCJVS, Park did many different projects. “We designed a bunch of different things like playgrounds, blueprints for houses, everyday objects, etc.,” Park explained. “I designed a vice at a competition based off of an existing drawing. I liked architecture a lot and I also really liked using the 3D printer.”

Computerized design and drafting requires a lot of hard work, but Park had a small advantage. “I knew it was going to be harder than high school and it took me some time to realize that I was going to need to spend a lot more time studying and doing homework than in high school or I wasn’t going to do well,” said Park. “So, I knew it was going to be harder, but I definitely had an adjustment period.”

Occasionally during college many student change carrier paths. Fortunately, Park decided against that option. “When I was younger, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I have a weak stomach for medical things, so I decided against it as I got older,” Park explained. “I would still like to work with animals when I get older (grooming, volunteering, etc.) but I think I chose a good career path and I like what I do.”

Hard work and dedication are only two things that are needed in this field, but Park has some advice. “Automated engineering technology is a growing field with a lot of career opportunities. Especially in our area. If this is a field that interests you, then I highly recommend you pursue it. Also make sure you study.”

LCCC one of two colleges to win Achieving the Dream award

Jayne Giese
Staff Writer

Lorain County Community College is one of only two winners for this year’s Achieving the Dream Award. Achieving the Dream is the highest honor awarded to colleges, it notes the strength of the institution as well as the student success rate.

“Colleges that want to be considered for this award have to meet a certain criterion just to apply. The fact that we are one of two winners this year shows our ability to invest in our student culture. At LCCC we believe that every student’s dream matters, and we want to help them achieve their dream,” Lorain County Community College President Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., said. She believes that winning this award means even greater success for the future students of LCCC.

Dr. Ballinger holding the Achieving the Dream Award.
                            Jayne Giese | The Collegian

One of the ways a college is calculated for this award is based on the number of students enrolled, and how many of those students went on to graduate. In fall 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Education Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), LCCC had 10,644 students enrolled.  Out of that number 26 percent were full time students.  As of Spring 2019, the graduation rate went up from eight percent back in 2011 to a 30 percent graduation rate. 

Ballinger feels that it is the Students Accelerated in Learning Program (SAIL) that has made a big difference in the success rate of the students. “SAIL is such an important program for many students to succeed. The program provides financial and academic support to help students earn their associates within three years. Some of the ways the program financially helps students is with gap tuition scholarships, vouchers for textbooks, even gas and grocery gift cards for students who qualify. We need to make sure every student has the ability to succeed, and SAIL is a great help for students both financially and academically,” said Ballinger.

The Achieving the Dream award                        Jayne Giese | The Collegian

LCCC is committing to the future now more than ever by launching the 10,000 Degrees of Impact. The 10,000 degrees of Impact is a strategic plan that promises by the year 2025, 10,000 students will earn a degree or credential from LCCC. There will be five areas of focus for this plan. Student focus, success focused, future focused, work focused, and community focused.  

LCCC will be helping students shape their futures. By being student focused they will prepare working age adults for the new economy. LCCC will also be working with K-12 to help more high school students graduate with college credit, encouraging future generations to achieve their goals. 

First African American mayor strives to help the community

Quentin Pardon
Assistant Editor

“It was something I believe God called me to do,” said the new and first African American Mayor of Elyria Frank Whitfield. 

Whitfield had been working for the city for 17 years since he was 15 years old.  “I just always had a passion for helping people and it grew over time. You fall in love with helping people.” To reach a tier such as becoming mayor, you must have support and help and Whitfield indeed had it from the start. “My wife is number one. No doubt about it. She’s been by my side the whole time. This was a very risky move for me professionally and personally and she never moved from my side from the beginning.”

Exposed at a young age

Whitfield grew up on the south side of Elyria and was exposed to life as a juvenile. “I was exposed to drugs and violence at a very young age,” said Whitfield. Whitfield and his group of friends had to take on the responsibility of finances around the age of 13. “A lot of them went down the wrong path and tried to find the short term ways to get money,” he continued saying. 

Whitfield admits nine of his friends had experienced jail or prison time and he’s the only one who hadn’t been institutionalized. 

“I watched us go down these paths and it wasn’t because we were bad kids or because we didn’t care about our future. We were hungry for opportunities and we took the ones more available to us in the neighborhoods. In most cases, they were illegal. That’s a part that motivates me. I understand what kids are facing and are tempted by and I want to disrupt that pattern and provide opportunities for them. I want to create a city that is designed to help the youth become successful.” Whitfield said he still sees what he experienced in today’s community.

Mayor Whitfield.                   Quentin Pardon | The Collegian


The cycling repeating

“It’s sad to see the cycle repeat itself. I’m on my third generation of seeing it. I watched the dad of my peers go down that path. Then I watched my peers go down that path and now I’ve seen children who are facing the same problem. As every generation comes and goes, I’m glad to see this upcoming generation stay out of trouble. It seems we are learning and teaching the younger generation to be better than us.”

Whitfield had collected a vast collegiate background of knowledge and degrees including a Bachelors in Nonprofit Administration from Cleveland State University, becoming a Certified Weather head Executive Coach and earning a MBA from Case Western Reserve University. Yet the community college in his hometown is the foundation where he began to mold his career together. 

“LCCC is where I learned how to be a leader,” said Whitfield. He earned his Associate of Arts degree at LCCC. While on campus, Whitfield ran into his old professor, Malcolm Cash, who used to work in his old neighborhood and offered Whitfield a deal he couldn’t turn down, which was to come down to New Orleans with his group of students and help rebuild the community Hurricane Katrina destroyed. 

“I got involved with the group, raised money, presented a bunch of presentations. It really showed me how to put a project together and have a set initiative,” said Whitfield.

More interactive with others

From that point on Whitfield had been more interactive in the community. He has been part of many organizations such as Youth Development Leader Save Our Children, Boys and Girls Club, Eden Vision (Co-Founder) from 2001 – 2010, Foundation Fellow Nord Family Foundation from 2012 – 2014 and most recently the President & CEO of Lorain County Urban League 2014 – 2019.

The Foundation to help LCCC students grow and succeed

Oscar Rosado

“We are here to support the key strategic priorities of the college. We primarily support scholarships and those key strategic priorities identified by Dr. Ballinger and the Vice President and the Trustee of the College and the Board of Directors,” said Executive Director of the LCCC Foundation Lisa Brown, who has been involved with the Foundation for three years.

What it is

The Foundation was established in 1973, ten years after the campus was established. It is a nonprofit organization that assembles and utilizes resources to support the mission and vision of LCCC. “We enhance the community’s quality of life by investing in key LCCC priorities that present the greatest impact and growth opportunities for the people of the community,” said Brown.

“It was the earliest foundation for a community college in the state of Ohio. It has one purpose: to support the mission and vision of LCCC. A big part of what they do is they raise scholarship dollars for students,” said Vice President for Strategic and Institutional Development Tracy Green, who started working here on campus 24 years ago, in the foundation, where she got her start there. Prior to becoming vice president for strategic and institutional development, which also serves as Vice President of the Foundation, she was also the Executive Director of the Foundation. Mar 18 was her 24th anniversary at LCCC. 

She added, “In fact, probably 90 percent of the resources they hold are for scholarships for students at LCCC. That’s a really important mission that they do, and they raise private funds to help students attend LCCC for scholarships. They also raise funds for technology enhancements, and new programs that we would have here at the college. That is their number one mission, is on that fundraising side, and then they manage those resources to go towards supporting this institution, supporting our students.”

From left to right: Executive Director Lisa Brown, Administrative Associate Brenda Troxtell, Director of Finance and Operations Charles Wiersma, Development Officer Lisa DeVito, and Senior Specialist Development Operations Laura Slys                                        Oscar Rosado | The Collegian

Types of scholarships given

The Foundation has a number of different types of scholarships. Academic based scholarships for non-traditional students, scholarships for veterans, and scholarships for those who are going on to the university partnership program. 

“I have a long history of what the Foundation is, and all that it does, its purpose, and its role,” said Green. The Foundation reports to Green’s position as she is an officer of the Foundation serving as Vice President. With this position, she oversees the workings of the Foundations, its goals, its operations, and works very closely with Brown, as well as Dr. Marcia Ballinger who serves as President.

A generous community 

“Our community is so generous. It spans those who donate. Staff, students, and faculty also participate, and we are grateful to everybody. It’s not just on this campus, but also emcompasses our learning centers. We are focusing on exercising civic rights and looking for a participation goal. We are looking to grow participation in the campaign,” said Brown.

United Way Campaign

United Way Campaign is a national network of people within communities to come together to help the community by way of volunteers, contributors, and local charities. The campaign started on Feb. 19 and ran until Mar. 17. On Feb. 25. There was a kick-off breakfast at the College Center to kick-off the campaign.

At the kick-off breakfast, there were fun activities at the College Center.  Interim Dean for the Health and Wellness Sciences Division Lisa Augustine Ph.D., partnered up together and there were activities such as line dancing, corn hole. Students from the children’s learning center also took part in the event. Breakfast was offered in the morning and raffles were also a part of the event, for chances to win prizes. Brown is hopeful everyone had fun raising dollars for a good cause at the kick-off breakfast. 

This year, the fundraiser will benefit Ready Set Go which is a program to prepare children for Kindergarten, and the Children’s Learning Center which is part of the Ready set go collaborative, according to Brown. “Dollars raised that day will go toward the Ready Set Go collaborative, so we’re really excited about that,” said Brown.

“When I first saw this event, it really was something special. It really is something to see. People come together and have so much fun and the dollars raised for the United Way. This is our community and the people come together for our community,” said Brown

“Proud of what we do”

Brown went on to say, “These are our students, these are the same people that we serve and the recognition of that, whether it be through the United Way collaborative, or through our own Commodore Cupboard or the emergency assistance funds that we have through the foundation, these are all the same people we are serving and our faculty, staff and students recognize that and it’s a really nice day that we all come together in recognition of that, and it’s something I’m very proud of that we do here.”

“Our foundation is just amazing. It’s here to support our students. I never cease to be amazed by the generosity of our community that supports our foundation,” said Brown. 

The Foundation was established by a group of visionary individuals.

According to Green, there are about 200 named scholarships, which came from a family, a company, or another foundation who has established a scholarship with LCCC under their name. The Foundation manages that are awarded each year. 

“We’re always looking at novel approaches, we always seek to support our students and we’re always looking at new partnerships with the community and always looking for new ways to support our students. Students and LCCC are our number one priority, supporting the strategic plan of the college is our number one priority,” said Brown.

According to Green, the Foundation has up to 60 Board of Directors, who are all from the community and they represent business and industry and healthcare, and community leaders, the philanthropic community. Green works very closely with these groups to fulfil the mission of the foundation. Brown agrees this is an excellent number of people involved.

“It is an amazing number. All of them are passionate. Our directors are a diverse group of individuals who represent a very wide variety of businesses as well as geographically. They are from all over the county, their businesses are also from all over Northeast Ohio. They are male, female, different ethnicity, and represent our student population very well,” said Brown.

She went on to say the directors understand and strive to understand the student population very well. “They are passionate about LCCC, about community colleges and they are great advocates for LCCC. They truly understand the value of a community college education and are really grateful for what LCCC brings to this community. They are very engaged and very supportive.”

“We are just so grateful for all the support the community provides to us. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the leadership of the college and the trust that they place in us and the trust the community places in us. The donors are the reason why we are here. Their trust they place in us and their trust in the college. It is all about them. They are inspired everyday by the students of this college, by the leadership of this college,” said Brown.

How much donors give

Donors entrust a dollar amount, and Brown said donors rise up in numbers every year. Rough estimate is $800-900,000 on an annual basis, with official numbers totalling to approximately $800,000 in scholarships, last year with the total dollar amount adding to $784, 643, according to Director of Finance and Operations Charles Wiersma.

Luckiest people in the world

She expressed great excitement, “We are the luckiest people in the world!,” exclaimed Brown. “We are just here to facilitate. I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world to have this job. Just to see everything come together, it’s just such a wonderful job, it really is. We are blessed. We have the trust of the community.”

Green expressed similar feelings. “Having been involved with the Foundation for my entire career, one of the pieces of continuity that I’ve seen from the moment I started here, is how much this community believes in the mission.”

Alumni encourages future reporters to be right, not first

Oscar Rosado

Digital Media Coordinator Ron Jantz shares his past experiences at LCCC, aiming for his career goal to be a broadcaster.

Graduating from Midview High school in 1983, Jantz considered both college, and military service, the latter following in the steps of his father who was a marine. Jantz chose college and during his time here at LCCC he had help from a mentor.

“When I was here, I had a great instructor who turned into a mentor for me. His name was Dr. Roy Berko. He was my communications professor, broadcast television professor, he was a lot of things for me,” said Jantz. Burko taught in the Arts and humanities division, and taught a variety of subjects.

Tieing two interest together 

“I came here knowing that I liked two things a lot: one was sports, and two was writing; so I thought how could I tie those together?” said Jantz. He added he wasn’t good at sports, but loved playing them, and being around them. He thought he could be a sports writer. With the help of Berko, keeping Jantz under his wing, he was led to the idea of being a broadcaster. Jantz studied journalism, and eventually got a journalism degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps school of journalism, with a broadcast bend to it.

Jantz graduated from LCCC in 1985 with an Associates of Arts degree. He then proceeded to go to Ohio University E.W. Scripps school of Journalism, at the time, one of the top three journalism schools in the country. 

Jantz went to Ohio University as a full standing Junior, and didn’t lose anytime, graduating in four years. Two at LCCC, another two at Ohio University.

Jantz interviewing Legendary race car driver Mario Andretti at the Cleveland Grand Prix in July of 1988.  I was working in CLEVELAND for the Ten O’clock News as a television sports reporter.  I was a television sports reporter/anchor for 14 years in Cleveland. See years at Ch 43 and 7 years at Channel 3 News.                                                                                                     Submitted Photo

Hands on training

“I loved them both,” said Jantz. “There were pluses to both. Going here [LCCC] first provided me the opportunity of that one-on-one attention that I got from a guy like Dr. Burko, that you wouldn’t get at a university – there were just too many students. The second was that I was able to participate in things like the Collegian. I wrote for the Collegian in 1983. I was also able to put my hands on television equipment right away. I learned how to operate video cameras, learned how to edit, tape to tape back then, now everything’s digital. Learned how to work in a television studio we had here on campus – right away, as an eighteen year old out of high school.”

“Needed to feel confident”

“When I went to OU as a Junior, I felt pretty confident in my abilities. I needed to feel confident because I was going to a very competitive school, specifically the E. W. Scripps school of journalism,” said Jantz regarding being a part of a bigger school. 

“You needed to believe in yourself because you were competing with a lot of other students for opportunities to write for the paper, and broadcast for the students’ news. You better be ready to compete,” said Jantz. He then added, “With journalism, you have to want it! You want to live it, you gotta have passion for it.”

Jantz believes education plays a big role in success.

“Think things in a construction way. Like the foundation of your house. If it’s not strong, the house is gonna crumble. If you don’t have a strong foundational base in your education, it’s gonna crumble,” said Jantz. He added, “I had a strong foundational base in my education, and in my pursuit for a career because of LCCC. I was able to accomplish the things that I chased because of the confidence that my foundational base here gained me.”

During his time at the Collegian, Jantz recalled when Ken Olcott was the journalism instructor in his time as a student in the 80’s. Jantz was responsible for an array of assignments, not just focusing on just one subject such as strictly sports. Jantz recalled when he reported a story regarding Vincent Price who visited campus once. At the time, there was an event called the great American lecture series at the Stocker Center. These events would bring high profile speakers, such as Coretta Scott King, including Vincent Price. Jantz said during Price’s visit, he was at a high popularity due to the newly released Thriller song by Michael Jackson.

“It was cool for an eighteen year old kid to talk to Vincent Price who happened to be in the hottest song right now. I got to do stuff like that,” said Jantz. He added he did not just big events happening, but also smaller ones as well. “Other stuff would be just typical stuff you know? Is the lunch room food any good? Where were students going for spring break, little stuff like that.”

Jantz has also worked at Cleveland’s Channel 43’s 10:00 news. He worked seven years at Channel 43 from 1987-1994, and seven years at Channel 3 after that.

Working at those stations, Jantz went to be a sports reporter. Doing so right after college at the age of 22.

“It was everything. I got to cover sports at my home town in a time where all three teams [the Browns, the Cavaliers, and the Indians] were relevant. They were all playing with big steaks and it was a lot of fun. I had a front row seat,” said Jantz.

Jantz graduating from LCCC with my Associate of Arts degree in May of 1985. Submitted Photo

Digital vs Physical Media

With everything going digital today, Jantz gave his opinion about it.

“Digital makes things more immediate,” said Jantz. “You could tweet something, or Instagram something right now,” said Jantz who added he is still very old school about receiving his news. “I still love having in my hands a physical paper in the morning to start my day.”

He went on to say the pluses and minuses to digital and physical media. “The pluses are the immediacy of it, but it’s also negative because people report stuff before they check their facts, and then they backtrack a lot, and trust is lost,” said Jantz. He went on to add, “There’s this great chase to be first with whatever and I think with journalists today, they get caught up in the thirst to be fist and sometimes it bites them in the butt. They release a story that’s not ready to go.”

“Thirst to be first”

“Make sure you’re right, and then make sure you’re right again. Don’t be first, be right,” said Jantz emphasizing the importance of taking time to fact check. “Everybody’s thirst to be first has caused them to make a lot of mistakes. Be the tortoise, not the hare. But if you can both then you got something.”

Jantz gave advice for anyone going for journalism/broadcasting. 

“Be inquisitive about everything. Be a good listener. Learn how to be a good writer. Those are the top three,” said Jantz. He then added, “Walk through life with your eyes wide open, and your head up. You’ll see things differently. You’ll notice things you’ve never noticed before.”

Jantz is currently working at the campus as a full time coordinator of the media department where he is responsible for visual marketing.

“We tell stories visually on students, professors, and programs of LCCC. Anything you see visually regarding LCCC would’ve come from my area, such as billboards down the street. Anything directly college related, like a nurse smiling in a hospital setting. Those are real LCCC graduates, and I will take their photo and I will tell their story.”

Words from Tracy Green

LCCC Vice President for Strategic and Institutional Development Tracy Green had a few words to describe Jantz.

“He is our most passionate story teller. Not only for this college, but for the community. He is able to inspire others by drawing out the story of the people he meets. Many of those happen right here through his work at LCCC. That is truly a gift. We’ve been very very fortunate to have him part of this team,” said Green. She added, Dr. Ballinger was the one who hired him. “She certainly saw that talent and I think Jantz has created such an awareness of the impact this institution has on people by that gift of storytelling. He is a people person. He finds the story in just about anything. He is able to walk across this campus and genuinely wants to sit down and talk with people and understand who they are, why they are here, and what their hopes and dreams are. He’s touched a lot of folks in that way. He has a way of earning people’s trust, and they open up and share.”

Enjoyed every moment

When asked about his experience as a whole at LCCC, Jantz said he enjoyed every moment of it.

“I loved it,” said Jantz. He went on to say, “It’s a beautiful campus, it’s always been beautiful and it gets more and more beautiful as it matures. I loved my time here at LCCC.”

Leena Boone named one of top 20 community college students

Special to The Collegian

Leéna Boone, who enrolled in her first class at Lorain County Community College when she was just 12 years old, has just been named one of the top 20 community college students in the country and the number one community college student in Ohio.

 Boone, of Grafton, is now 17 years old and a senior at Lorain County Early College High School, a combined high school and college experience on the LCCC campus.  The Lorain County Early College High School is a partnership between LCCC, Elyria City Schools and Lorain City Schools. In May, Boone will graduate with two LCCC associate degrees, a high school diploma, and a world of opportunity.

One of twenty

 Boone is one of just 20 students to be named to the All-USA Academic Team nationwide and will receive a $5,000 scholarship. The All-USA program is widely recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students attending associate degree-granting institutions. All-USA Academic Team members were selected for their outstanding intellectual achievement, leadership, and community and campus engagement.

 Boone placed first in Ohio and was also named a 2020 New Century Transfer Scholar and will receive an additional $2,250 scholarship. Over 2,000 students were nominated from more than 1,200 college campuses across the country. Only one New Century Transfer Scholar is selected from each state.

 “Leéna is a stand-out student at LCCC and we are thrilled to see her recognized at the national level,” LCCC President Marcia J.  Ballinger, Ph.D., said. “In addition to her impressive academic achievements, Leéna is a leader on campus and has taken full advantage of every opportunity at LCCC and Early College. We are so proud of her and can’t wait to see what she will accomplish in the future.”

Boone                                 Submitted photo

 Boone, who first enrolled in LCCC classes through the College Credit Plus program at the age of 12, has served as president of the LCCC’s student chapter of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). She has also presented her research on the mechanisms of resistance to HIV infection at national, statewide and local conferences. At the ASM conference in 2017, she was one of the youngest presenters, and she won first place at the Microscopy Society of Northeast Ohio conference in Oberlin last year.

“Leéna Boone is an amazing individual. She has presented her work at two national conferences and has amazed scientists from Harvard to Stanford with her maturity sophistication and impressive drive,” said LCCC microbiology professor Harry Kestler, Ph.D. “She will accomplish great things. I am extremely proud of her.”

 Boone is also a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, an elite scholarship program for students transferring from community colleges to top-ranked or Ivy League colleges and universities. Boone is in the process of interviewing with Harvard University, Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania, among other institutions.

 A car accident when she was 10 years old left Boone with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a rare disease that causes chronic pain. Boone aims to earn a Ph.D. and become a medical researcher, to help find relief for people who suffer from conditions like hers.

 The All-USA Academic Team is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, with additional support provided by Phi Theta Kappa and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

 LCCC student Dulce Cintron also received a national ranking in the competition, earning the Coca Cola Silver Academic Team Award. Cintron is a senior in Lorain County Early College High School. She will receive a $1,250 scholarship and be recognized at the Phi Theta Kappa conference in April.

 “We congratulate Leéna and Dulce for receiving these prestigious and highly competitive scholarships that recognize outstanding achievements both inside and outside the classroom,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “Scholarship programs like these not only recognize student achievement, but also create meaningful pathways for college students to succeed by putting completion within financial reach.

 The New Century Program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Phi Theta Kappa, and AACC. The New Century Transfer Scholars and All-USA Academic Team will be recognized at Phi Theta Kappa’s Presidents Breakfast in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 30 during the AACC Convention.

 Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations, with approximately 240,000 active members in the nation’s colleges.

 For more about Leena, visit https://www.lorainccc.edu/stories/scientific-superstar/

Lorain resident scales down her big wedding, posts on Facebook

Josefa Collazo
JRNM 151

Braving the COVID-19 pandemic scare, two Lorain love birds said “I do” at a scaled down wedding from 100 guests to 15, and beamed the exchange of rings on Mar. 21 on Facebook so their friends and relatives could witness the ceremony.

Six months before the word “coronavirus” began to appear in the news, Priscila Collazo began preparing for her dream wedding with her sweetheart Abdiel Perez, also a Lorain resident, in Florida.

Collazo, 22, hoped for a large wedding with music and dance. But, when the risks of coronavirus pandemic set in, Collazo’s wedding plan skidded downhill. One by one, families from all around the country cancelled their flights. Perez’s family members from Puerto Rico were not allowed to fly in to the U.S.  Priscila goes from 100 plus guests to 15 which includes the wedding party.

The bride with her father.         Submitted Photo

To add to her woes, the videographer, wedding coordinator, the musicians and the makeup artist had cancelled their appointments.

“There were definitely a lot of prayers, and finding peace in Christ. In chaos like that, you can have a lot of stress and anxiety,” Collazo said.

While all seems at a loss, these setbacks didn’t stop the couple from pushing through to make their special day a memorable one. They decided on a small wedding near the pool of the condo where Collazo had moved in, thanks to her grandfather who came up with the idea.

As the number of guests dwindled, Collazo had to cancel one of the two wedding cakes, cut down the quantity of flowers, rental items and had to haggle to get her deposit back.

Without a wedding coordinator, Collazo and Perez had to reorganize their wedding within seven days.

The groom.                         Submitted Photo

It is now Saturday morning and Priscila schedules a morning hair appointment, does her own makeup and keeps her dress. Family and friends are graciously willing to do all they can to make this day as special as possible for her. From friends of the condo attending and providing snacks, to individuals volunteering to take the place of the videographer and the broadcasting of Facebook Live for family and friends who cannot make it.

But their challenges didn’t end there. Their honey moon to Disneyworld hits a snafu. It was shut down forcing the newlyweds to rent a cozy cabin in Georgia for their honey moon.

“Interesting way to start a life-long commitment, even before getting married, we are already going through a period of trusting God and putting everything in his hands,” Perez said.

(Priscila is the author’s sister.)

Issue 17 levy passes regardless of covid-19 quarantine

Oscar Rosado

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

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

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

“We all won, together!”

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

Won regardless of the coronavirus outbreak

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

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

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

Not a typical election

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

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

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

Thank you to all students

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

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


A healing heart – Ohio nurse and LCCC instructor heads to New York to help in pandemic fight

Special to the Collegian

Adrienne Gray is going to New York City. 

The registered nurse, who goes by A.J., has been an emergency medical services instructor at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio for the past four years. But today she’s leaving her home – a state that’s emerged as a leader in slowing the spread of the coronavirus – and heading into the nation’s epicenter of the pandemic. She’ll spend six weeks working in a temporary hospital caring for patients suffering from COVID-19.

A.J. knows she can help. She has been an EMT and paramedic for 11 years, worked in a hospital emergency room, and is ventilator trained and A.C.L.S. certified.

Gray                        Submitted Photo


And she has her husband’s unwavering support. Jeremy Gray, a Lorain Police Department detective, spent four years in the Marine Corps and compared what A.J. is doing to his response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He told her it was an experience he’ll never forget.

“A.J. is a remarkable woman,” Jeremy said. “As I watched her prepare to leave for New York, I realized that I have never been more proud to be her husband.”

Jeremy talked about how A.J. has always served her community and now, she’ll serve from afar in New York City. He knows she’ll be a great asset for those she serves.

A.J. knows that, too. But just under a year ago, she couldn’t bring herself to be in an ambulance.

A tragic day

It was August 2019 and her stepson Gage had just turned 11. He liked baseball and basketball, art projects and family movie nights. A.J. had met Gage’s dad when Gage was four and she loved Gage with a mother’s love ever since. He was everything to her.

When A.J. landed her job teaching EMT courses at Lorain County Community College in 2016 – a welcome change from working as a full-time paramedic with 24-hour shifts – Gage was the first person she told.

A.J. remembered how happy Gage was. “He said, ‘Does this mean you’ll be able to come to all of my basketball games now?’”

But Gage’s life was cut short.

While vacationing at a lake house, Gage woke up complaining of a headache. Just ten minutes later, he was unresponsive. A.J. rode with him in the ambulance and worked with the EMTs to resuscitate him.

“But unfortunately, he didn’t wake up after that,” A.J. said.

Gage had an Arterial Venous Malformation – when an artery and vein intertwine in the brain. He was born with it and there were no symptoms until it ruptured. Gage’s was on one of the main cerebral arteries, so when it ruptured it caused a massive brain bleed.

No one could have saved Gage that tragic day. But A.J. couldn’t bear the thought that she couldn’t. 

Healing her heart

A.J. kept teaching while she grieved. She had a knack for taking complex subjects and simplifying them in ways her students could understand. And now more than ever, she wanted the best EMTs in her community.

“So many of our EMT graduates go on to work in Elyria and Lorain,” A.J. said. “They could be treating my family members, a friend. I want highly trained professionals out there, so anything I can do to help that I view as an honor.”

It was easy to walk back into her classroom. But it took months until she could be in an ambulance. She was still a volunteer firefighter and paramedic in Medina County and couldn’t fathom how she was going to return to that job.

“It was really hard at first. About two months after the incident I just sat in an empty ambulance with my friend, just trying to get comfortable in it,” A.J. said.

Then she started to respond to a few emergency calls. But she always made sure there would be another EMT on the call in case she felt any anxiety. And A.J. was selective about the calls she’d respond to; she only took the calls that, at least on the surface, seemed routine.

Then she got the call that helped heal her heart.

Gray on a plane to New York                     Submitted Photo

It was December and A.J. responded to a call from a neighboring fire department. A woman had fallen and they needed one more EMT to transport the patient to the hospital. It sounded routine and the patient was in the township A.J. lived in. She knew exactly where to go and was the only paramedic on the scene.

But the woman hadn’t only fallen. She was dying.

“The patient had a heart condition and was actively dying. And I had the opportunity to save her life,” A.J. said.

A.J. did save that woman’s life. She administered medication to reverse her lethal heart arrhythmia. The woman spent Christmas with her family.

And something inside A.J. changed that day.

“That one call for me was really healing,” A.J. said. “It put me in a situation that was similar to Gage. I was in a different ambulance, working with medical professionals that I didn’t know, and I was forced to make decisions to save somebody. And that person got to live.”

A.J. couldn’t save Gage, but she could save others.

A new calling 

Today A.J. has the chance to save lives again. This time in a city whose citizens – including her own family members – are in dire need of help. She said made the choice to go rather quickly, calling it “a spur-of-the-moment decision that just took off.”

“I told my husband one day, I should go to New York City and work as a nurse. And he said, ‘You should.’”

A.J. gave herself a day to think about it and decided to apply and see what happened. She got a call with a job offer the next day.

The recruiter said the federal government is sending nurses to three locations and A.J. expects to be in Brooklyn. She has no idea what the first day will be like, but has been told to anticipate a war zone like environment.

“I’m preparing for the worst. If I do that, then I’ll be prepared or I’ll be over prepared,” she said.

She’s bringing all her own personal protective equipment, including N95 masks that are in such shortage, to cover herself for every shift in the six weeks she’ll be there.

She’s also taking with her a small sense of fear.

“I think that a little fear is a good thing. Then you’re constantly thinking about what you can do to stay safe.”

A.J. said she’s used to preparing for the unexpected and putting herself on the front line of emergencies. Every call she responded to as a firefighter and EMT has helped prepared her for this.

“Whenever you’re on a scene, you never know what you’re going to be walking into. You always need to be thinking what I can do to keep myself safe?”

But staying safe isn’t her greatest fear. What worries A.J. most is missing home.

In Ohio at heart

A big part of A.J.’s home life is her connection with students in the paramedic courses she teaches. She gradated from LCCC’s healthcare programs, earning her paramedic certificate in 2009 and her associate degree in nursing in 2015. A.J. chose LCCC because she knew it offered high quality healthcare programs. And she’s committed to doing her part to maintain the college’s reputation – now as an instructor – while she’s gone. In preparation of her journey, A.J. recorded the rest of the semester’s lectures for her students. So while she’s saving lives fighting the coronavirus in New York, she’ll still be helping to shape the next generation of paramedics.

“A.J. is a powerful role model for her students. She’s made the decision to go to the front lines of the pandemic in the U.S., and also found a way to stay connected to her students. She is a true hero,” said LCCC president Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D.

Her coworkers, who she says are more like family, are ready to support her wherever the need arises. Dawn Sgro, coordinator of LCCC’s paramedic program, will help monitor A.J.’s students’ progress. Dawn said she’s not surprised by what A.J. is doing.

“A.J. is drawn to serve in general, but I believe that she was particularly drawn to help in New York City because of her family there and it was a special vacation spot for her and Gage,” Dawn said.

To offer some comfort while she’s away, A.J.’s LCCC family collected cookies for care packages that they hope will remind A.J. she has people at home thinking about her and waiting for her safe return.

Leaving home but never alone

A safe return for A.J. – a Medina high school graduate and Litchfield resident – is something her parents will be hoping for every day. A.J. said her decision to go was hard for them to accept, but they understand why she needs to go. She admitted that worrying about her is nothing new for her parents. A.J. has spent most of her adult life as a first responder – helping others by putting herself in harm’s way.

“I’m probably responsible for every gray hair on my mom’s head,” she said. “But they are proud of me.”

And A.J. said she is proud of the state she’s leaving behind for now and hopes Ohioans continue to do their part to help her get back home.

“Together we have helped slow down the virus in Ohio and our communities, and flatten that curve,” A.J. said. “Keep it up; stay at home. The quicker this virus is under control, the sooner I can come home.”

She leaves today, but in her still-healing heart, she’s not leaving alone. She doesn’t go anywhere alone.

“I think Gage will be with me. He’s with me everywhere I go.”