A Student Publication of Lorain County Community College

Road to recovery: The aftermath of domestic violence

After enduring and surviving domestic violence for three years, Jennifer Varney is now working on building a future for she and her son. Varney will graduate from LCCC with her associate’s degree this spring.
Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian

  Alex Delaney-Gesing Editor-in-Chief In the weeks that followed Jennifer Varney’s brush with death, angrily vivid, red hand marks encircling her neck served as unquestionable evidence of her experience. Though the bruises scattered across her body faded with time, the…

Collegian staffers win 5 Press Club awards

Alex Delaney-Gesing Editor-in-Chief Lorain County Community College’s student-run newspaper The Collegian won five honors in The Press Club of Cleveland’s Excellence in Journalism Awards competition for 2015. ‘Commodores complete sweep’, written by Olivia Moe and Keith A. Reynolds, featured LCCC’s…

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


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…

LCCC scores high in valued-added rankings

Special to The Collegian

Graduates of Lorain County Community College have independent verification that they have made the right choice in earning their degrees from LCCC.

LCCC scored the highest among all Ohio community colleges in earnings for graduates in a recent value-added report by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.

With more than 100 degrees and majors, LCCC prepares its graduates for good paying careers. Additionally, the University Partnership at LCCC gives its graduates additional ways to succeed with pathways to bachelor’s degrees in many of those same fields.

“The UP increases our graduates’ earning potential,” said LCCC President Dr. Roy Church.

On a value-added rating scale of 100 being the top score, LCCC scored a 93 for the median total earnings of its graduates with 10 years of experience. Value- added benefits that were used to calculate this quality score included graduation rates, market value of the skills the college teaches as well as exceptional leadership and teaching that contribute to student success. The report used a blend of government and private data for its analysis.

“This report confirms that LCCC provides a high quality education at a great value for our students,” Church said.

The Brookings’ report also notes that a college’s mix of majors and skills it provides students “are highly predictive of economic outcomes for its graduates.”

“We know people are worried about the high cost of higher education and the value of their degree,” Church continued. “Now we have data that proves an LCCC degree is an excellent value that positions you for success. LCCC’s tuition consistently ranks among the lowest in the state of Ohio – currently second among the state’s 23 community colleges – at $118.34 per credit hour (beginning in summer semester) for an annual full-time cost of $3,177.  The average annual full-time tuition for community colleges in Ohio is $4,145.”

Colleges where many students pursue degrees in fields like healthcare, engineering, computer science and business see higher earnings among their alumni, the report concludes.

“The choice of whether and where to attend college is among the most important investment decisions individuals and families can make,” Church said. “LCCC continues to provide the most affordable option for students to achieve their educational goals and be a success.”

To see the entire Brookings report – titled “Beyond College Rankings: a Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two and Four Year Schools” – visit http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports2/2015/04/29-beyond-college-rankings-rothwell-kulkarni.

To learn more about educational programs at LCCC visit www.lorainccc.edu.


Connect2Complete food drive & rally fights hunger

Gabe Garcia

When it comes to a topic like hunger, it’s difficult for some undergraduates to realize it’s not just a problem in places like Nigeria or Somalia. For the Connect to Complete Peer Advocate Program at Lorain County Community College, it’s an issue they hope to shed some light on with the Spring Food Drive and Rally.

The Food Drive is being held from April 27 through May 7. Students are invited to donate non- perishable food items in boxes across campus, such as the one near the Student Life Desk in the campus’ College Center or Career Services on the first floor of the Bass Library / Community Resource building. Last fall, the peer advocates were able to collect over 500 pounds of food. Though there is no goal set for this year, they hope to break that number.

“Hunger is a real problem in the community, even here on campus,” said Alissa Bambarger, peer advocate coordinator. “As a community college we have power to inspire, to give back and volunteer in any way that we can. The idea for the food drive came to us last year when we heard the New Life Community Action’s food supply had dwindled and we wanted to help them out.”

New Life Community Action is a non-profit food pantry located in downtown Lorain that provides food and clothes to people with a low-income background. All donations from the food drive and following rally will go to the organization as well as Campus Hunger Relief Efforts.

The Food Rally will take place on May 7 in the College Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students must bring a canned good or non-perishable food item in order to participate.

“We’ve had so many of our peer advocates getting involved and volunteering in this project,” said Bambarger. “One in particular is Joslyn Francis, who’s basically become the life of this entire operation. Her mother-in-law runs the New Life Community Action Program, so naturally this hit home for her.”

Joslyn Francis is a mother of two and current LCCC student majoring in culinary arts. Along with Francis and Bambarger working on the project are student peer advocates Stefan Jarema, Nautica Jones, Brandon Pullen, Mary Bernard, Pam Arabian, Alyssa McLaughlin and Co-coordinator Deana Shook.

The rally will offer a variety of activities, including line dancing,  a ‘canstruction’ contest, line dancing, Couponing 101 and a Taste Off with food samples from common pantries as well as 89.1 radio providing music for the event.

Prizes include tickets to the Cleveland Orchestra, YMCA family passes, Segway tours of Cleveland, Crushers tickets and others from Commodore Books & More, the campus bookstore.

“We really just hope to get as much food as possible,” Bambarger said. “If this one goes well we hope to have another one in the fall. With food and prizes, it’s sure to be fun.”


Faith Meets Faith panel to examine women’s role in religious history

Kristin Hohman
Staff Writer

The Lorain County Sacred Landmarks Initiative (LCSLI) is set to host a conference titled “Faith Meets Faith: Women in Abrahamic Religions – an Interfaith Dialogue” at LCCC. The free event will take place on April 23, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm, in the Spitzer Conference Center Grand Room.

Throughout the conference, a discussion will be conducted regarding the study of women in three of the world’s major religions; Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Women’s importance and function in these religions will be examined.

Featured presenters will include Rabbi Lauren Werber of the Temple B’nai Abraham, Reverend Mary Carson of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, and Julia Shearson, executive director of the Cleveland Chapter Council on American Islamic Relations.

“The role and significance of women in Abrahamic religions have often been overlooked under the male-centered custom in religious traditions,” said LCSLI Director and Lorain County Community College Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion Dr. Young Ko.

“The three panelists will address the significance of women in their religious texts and religious institutions,” said Ko.

The LCSLI supports fine arts and educational programs to commemorate the religious practices of Lorain County residents. These outreach programs include church tours, performances, and gallery exhibits.

Funded by grants from LCCC, the Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County, and the College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, the initiative also documents the history, features, and current usage of churches, synagogues, and temples in Lorain County.

The upcoming event marks the second of its kind. The first Faith Meets Faith panel, “Buddhist-Christian Dialogue,” which took place last fall.

“I hope that the audience will have a new opportunity to learn the role and significance of women’s experiences as relational, embodied, and interdependent in the Abrahamic religions,” Ko said.  “Understanding religious diversity lies at the core of interreligious dialogue. We read and experience the world through the lens that the context provides us with. The lens formulates our assumptions with which we think,experience, and evaluate. Yet, the lens are not stagnant but transformational in the process of dialogue.”

One student’s dream of coming to America

Submitted photo by Sinegugu Gasa

Submitted photo by Sinegugu Gasa

Kristin Hohman
Staff Writer

Sinegugu Gasa, known as Sne on Lorain County Community College’s campus, is a native of Durban. She came to the United States two-and-a-half years ago.

Known as eThekwini, meaning bay or lagoon in Zulu, Durban is located in the KwaZulu-Natal Province along the Indian ocean on South Africa’s southeastern coast.

While the climate in her home country is significantly warmer than in Ohio, important factors in the average South African’s lifestyle like post-secondary opportunities aren’t as accessible and as high of a priority as they are in the U.S..

“Access to tertiary education in South Africa [isn’t what it should be]…I mean, I asked myself ‘How am I going to go to college?’,” she said. “I knew it was something I had to do, but the resources just weren’t there. And I didn’t want to go to just any school, as well.”

Gasa said that while the government in her country is trying to help more young adults gain admittance to college, earning a degree is not a top priority for many in her homeland.

Initially, though, attending college was not something Gasa thought about. When she first came to the U.S., she registered for a job as an au pair in an attempt to find new experiences and see a different country.

“I wanted to work and get some money, and not be in [South Africa],” Gasa explained. “I wanted to live somewhere else and see how they do things there. I just had that curiosity – I was like ‘South Africa is not big enough for me’; I needed to see something else besides my little hometown.”

The au pair program Gasa registered for had paired her with several different families, but she said she had a good feeling about her Ohio family.

“When I arrived, I was a live-in nanny and later managed to change my visa to a student visa with [their] help,” Gasa said.

After a few years in the U.S., she began to consider earning a college degree. A friend of hers mentioned LCCC, saying that it was a good college to look into if she wanted to become an international student.

“I chose LCCC because the international initiatives staff was extremely welcoming and friendly upon my visit there,” Gasa stated. “[LCCC International Initiatives Coordinator]Cheryl Miltner was very kind and helpful to me before and during my application process.”

She enrolled at LCCC this past fall and presently works at the Commodore Books & More bookstore on campus.

Currently working toward earning her associate of arts degree, Gasa plans on acquiring a bachelor’s degree in international relations and business.

College in the U.S. varies greatly compared to college in South Africa, according to Gasa.

“I find [that] here, college is way more accessible than back home,” she said.

Gasa said her perception of the the United States was very different to what she had anticipated before her move here. After her arrival, she was surprised that, “not everybody drives a Range Rover,” as she put it. “There were some generalizations I made before I got here.”

Gasa’s plans for her future include assisting in bettering her home country with the knowledge she will take away from her time in the U.S.

“Although my path is not 100 percent clear to me right now, I think I would like to use the skills I have learned and will still learn from my [experience at] American college and help out people in my own country,” she said. “I would like to have a career where I could help and offer the broader perspective I have gained in America to help combat issues like injustice and poverty in South Africa.”

Pothole season takes its toll on campus

Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian

Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian

Kristin Hohman
Staff Writer

With spring finally here, ‘tis the season for potholes -  every driver’s (and their vehicle’s) worst nightmare. Swerve as you will, there is no escaping them.

Potholes are particularly troublesome across the campus of Lorain County Community College. Spend a day on campus, and the zigzagging cars swerving to avoid holes in the road are the norm.

“I just dealt with some [potholes] this morning,” said Savannah Derrick, an LCCC police science major. “I try to avoid them.”

More common after winter, potholes are created by the expansion and contraction of groundwater. As it freezes, groundwater expands. Think of a tray of ice cubes. At first, it’s just a tray of water. But when left in the freezer for a few hours, the water will have expanded into fully-formed ice cubes. Potholes are created in a similar fashion, according to the Summit County Engineer.

Once groundwater seeps in underneath the pavement and freezes, it takes up more space, and the pavement bends, cracks, and expands to accomodate. This process weakens the pavement material, creating gaps under the surface of the road. As vehicles pass over the weak spot, the weight then further breaks down the pavement, creating the pothole.

LCCC’s campus began repair work on its roads on April 13, according to LCCC Director of Physical Plant Operations Dale Lucas.
Physical Plant crews have already laid down five tons of cold patch (a temporary pothole repair agent), before the cold weather hit. But with one of the area’s coldest winters on record, it didn’t last.

“Most [of the cold patch] came out during the heavy rain and freezing we experienced,” Lucas reported.

All areas of campus have been affected, particularly along North Drive between parking lots 6 and 7, and on East Drive headed towards the Lab Sciences building and parking lot 5.

“I just completely avoid the back road,” said Elizabeth Wreyford, a second year nursing student. “I haven’t seen anyone working on the roads.”

Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence in our area with the cold winter weather. The problem has only been exacerbated by the subzero temperatures that hit the state this year.
Road crews in North Ridgeville have been utilizing a machine called a Falcon Recycler, as reported by cleveland.com. The city paid $38,000 last July for the equipment, which melts previously used debris from torn up streets to create a hot patch that will last for years.

The city of Avon has taken a similar approach, sending out crews to do repair work after each snow plow. Avon also has a crew member that circles the city and makes lists of the repairs that need done.These treacherous road conditions have forced many area drivers to file claims with their cities. Between December 2013 and April 2014, the law director’s office in Elyria investigated about 22 related claims submitted by residents. Only one of those claims was paid out in the amount of $64.57, according to the Chronicle Telegram.

Repair plans on the campus of LCCC does not involve a total resurfacing of roads and parking lots, but includes an effort to grind out any major damages in the pavement and fill all potholes. According to Lucas, all roads and parking lot will be impacted.

“I had a flat tire not too long ago,” said Breanna Meyers, a second year special education major. “I don’t know if it’s a direct result of the potholes on campus, [but] it’s possible.”

Tire puncture and wear-and-tear are just the beginning of a myriad of issues that can be caused by potholes. Damages can also include premature wear on shocks, suspension breakage, misalignment of the steering system, exhaust system damage, and even engine damage, according to Firestone Auto Care.
Derrick voiced her concern. “[I think] patching the bigger holes is important,” she said. “If too much damage happens, you can’t get to class or go to work.”

American drivers could be paying roughly $6.4 billion for car repairs due to potholes, with many drivers paying out-of- pocket to cover those costs, the American Automobile Association (AAA) reported.

About 500,000 claims are filed annually for pothole damage, according to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA). The IIABA also cited a 1997 Environmental Working Group and Surface Transportation Policy Project report, which stated that motorists spent approximately $4.8 billion on pothole-related repairs and poor road conditions. That amount is nearly four times the $1.3 billion spent on road and highway repairs by state highway departments each year.

The AAA suggests several tips to avoid pothole damage to a vehicle: Maintaining correct amount of air pressure in tires, watching for potholes by leaving plenty of space between you and the car in front of you, and maintaining proper speeds are all ways that can lessen the damages caused by potholes.

“Like anywhere you drive,” Lucas said, “just be cautious of road conditions and slow down.”

Men’s baseball splits victory with CSU

Photo by Ron Jantz

Photo by Ron Jantz

Olivia Moe
Sports Editor

Lorain County Community College’s varsity baseball team took a victory with a final score of  16-1 in their first game against Cleveland State University’s club team on April 8.

Now 3-9 midway through the 2015 season, the team displayed both great defense and offense throughout the two games played, despite the lack of visibility brought on by the clouds and fog.

“As a team we are starting to put together much better games,”said left fielder Brian Mahilo. “We seem to be gaining more confidence and chemistry.”

LCCC powered through the first inning with the team running through their player lineup before receiving their third out. They maintained the momentum well into the second inning. With the exception of the third inning (in which there were three back-to-back strikeouts), LCCC was able to hit multiple team members onto the base and home plates.

Although strong pitching allowed CSU to rally for the win (12-2) in the second game, LCCC remained in high spirits with a positive outlook on their future.

“We’re still [aways] from where we need to be, but we’re getting better every time we step out there. It’s a work in progress,” said Garrett Mullins, LCCC’s  first baseman and pitcher.

“At the beginning of the season, our team was struggling, new people new positions, and no chemistry so everything was different,” added infielder Norbert Velez. “But looking at where we are now, we are becoming a good solid team that’s ready to play baseball. Not only physically, but mentally too.”

Key players of the game were pitcher Shane Derricotte (Amherst), Angel Flecha (Lorain), left fielder Brian Mahilo (Elyria), centerfielder Cole Rosmarin (Avon Lake) and utility Samer Mustafa (North Olmstead).

The team will be on the road for the next  six games before returning to their home field for their final home game against CSU at the Pipeyard on April 22, with the first pitch beginning at 5 p.m.

CARE Addiction & Recovery Center opens on campus

Kristin Hohman
Staff Writer

“Addiction can affect anyone,” said Students in Recovery (SiR) President Michael Plas. “…and those that suffer from it or are affected by it are not alone.”

SiR is a new student-run club on Lorain County Community College’s campus centered toward providing a safe place for those whose lives have been changed by addiction.

The club will offer monthly meetings open to any LCCC and University Partnership students, according to Plas.

“There is no requirement to become a member. The only thing the SiR club asks for people who attend and become a member of the club is to respect one another’s anonymity,” Plas said.

SiR provides members with the support of those in the recovery process, as well as providing vital information for those afflicted with addiction, their friends, and their family.

“[The goal of SiR is] to provide support and education to students at LCCC who have difficulties with addiction, or have a family member or friend with an addiction related issue,” Plas said.

He continued, “[SiR wants] to provide educational resources and awareness to students in need about recovery.”

SiR has been chartered in coordination with the new Caring Advocates for Recovery Education (CARE) Addiction and Recovery Center. The center, ]located in BU113D, provides appointments for those seeking recovery.

“The new club and CARE center will give students with alcohol, drug, and other addictive behaviors a place to meet and interact with those who are leading a balanced lifestyle,” said LCCC Student Life Manager Selina Gaddis.

The CARE center offers scheduled or walk-in appointments with counselors on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., while a referral specialist will be available on Mondays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“[We are looking] to provide opportunities for students…to meet in a safe and confidential environment where they can interact with those who are actively involved in the recovery community,” Plas said.

Students in Recovery meet on the last Monday of every month. The next meeting will be held on April 27 at 4 p.m. in BU 113.

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

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

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 it’s only been a year since that night, the horror and pain of last spring is seared into her memory.

“I just remember when I hit the ground, it was at that moment that I realized I was going to die; he was going to kill me, ” she said.


The American Dream
The relationship started out promising enough. Both in recovery from drugs and alcohol, Varney met him through a support group in the spring four years ago. In the span of a few months, they were immersed in a whirlwind romance.

“I had never felt safer with anybody, never felt more in love,” she said. “We planned our baby, planned a wedding, I got the dress; everything was ordered.”

As plans moved forward, he relapsed. With this step backward, Varney’s ideal future began to shatter.

“It started out small at first; usually it was just him picking me up and throwing me out of the house and locking me out. Then after he’d sober up, he’d call begging me to come home,” she said.


A nation-wide issue
Each minute that passes in the United States, an average of 20 people are physically abused by their intimate partners, the Coalition Against Domestic Violence Network (CADVN) reported.  That number equates to more than ten million men and women each year who experience domestic abuse.

Regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or income, any person can experience to varying degrees repeated acts of abuse; physically, emotionally, sexually or financially, according to Safe Horizon, a victim’s service agency.

“I always justified his behavior in my head,” Varney said. “I’d say, ‘Oh, it was just the drugs. If he stops, it’ll get better’…all this justification and rationalization of just making excuses for him.”

One in four women and one in seven men have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).


Misunderstood problem
 In Lorain County, 1,670 women between the ages of 18 and 64 are physically assaulted by their partner each year, a 2014 report by the Ohio Family Violence Prevention Project (OFVPP) found.

“The psychology of domestic abuse is very important to understand because it is extremely misunderstood,” Quentin Kuntz, a licensed professional clinical, crisis intervention and career counselor in Enrollment and Financial Services at LCCC. “The average person would say ‘just leave [them]’.”

Leaving isn’t always the easiest route to follow. Their partner’s shifting behaviors can leave conflicting uncertainty as to their innate behavior. Often, choosing to see the good in them enforces their decision to stay.

“He didn’t ever scream at me, he didn’t call me names. It was always just the physical abuse when he was high,” she said. “He was a complete gentleman when he was sober; he would give anybody the shirt off his back. But when he was using, he was a monster.”


Effects of addiction
While not necessarily a direct cause of domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse play leading roles, often going hand-in-hand with the subject.

“I see very few cases where drugs or alcohol are not involved in these situations,” said Kuntz. “However, some people don’t need drugs or alcohol; they can be very punishing and controlling on their own.”

To compensate for his addiction supply, Varney’s partner stole from her already meager funds. Taking her engagement ring, jewelry and the necessary money for school, she was left broke and struggling to make ends meet. Defending herself seemed pointless when he could easily overtake her.

Research has shown that varying degrees of financial abuse are experienced in 98 percent of domestic violence relationships, the National Network to End Domestic Violence reported. Often a tactic to gain control and power over a victim, it can begin subtly and increase over time.

After continuous relapses, a financially-exhausted Varney resisted his power . This time, when he forcefully took her money and car keys, she fought back. Attempting to prevent him from stealing her car, she blocked his exit out of her driveway.

“I stood behind him, just thinking that ‘he’s not going to run me over, I’m pregnant with his baby,’ ” she said. “He [actually] tried to run me over.”

With road rash and bruises covering her body, a then-pregnant Varney pressed charges. In jail for assault, he was released early upon her request. She felt there might be hope for them, a chance for him to redeem himself as a father.


Conflicting obligations
Victims may see it as their ‘duty’ to give their partner a chance to change, according to an advocacy guide published by the non-profit organization Futures Without Violence.

Across Lorain County, a reported 2,433 victims are involved in law enforcement-handled domestic violence incidents per year, the OFVPP found. Criminal courts commonly see the majority of domestic violence cases involving intimate partners.

“The bulk of cases seen in municipal courts are DUIs and domestic violence cases,” said Virginia Beckman, executive director of Lorain County Safe Harbor / Genesis House. “They are a huge part of the criminal case load in our courts.

“Our baby was due [soon],” Varney said. “ I wanted him to be there and was very committed to giving him the opportunity to be with his son and raise his son and be part of the family he had always wanted.

Her optimism proved to be futile.

“People look at me like I’m crazy when I talk about everything that happened, like, ‘What were you thinking?’ ‘Why did you stay with him?,’ ” she said.

Not having a relationship with her own father, Varney wanted more for her child. Even if it meant dealing with his addiction. She saw the person he could be, and that image stayed in her mind; a glimmer of hope.

“I didn’t want my son to be growing up without his dad. I think that that’s really what kept me with him for so long,” she said. “I always had this picture in my head of the happy family and, the white picket fence and the whole American Dream.”

Varney’s ideal future kept her stuck in a constant cycle of issues with him, even after their son was born.

“He’d decided to stop getting high [again],” she said, once their son arrived. “ But, like always, it never lasted.”

After repeated charges of assault, domestic violence and robbery by the end of 2013 – followed by time in an addiction treatment center – he found his way back into Varney’s life through her weak spot; their son. After an extended duration of sobriety, she began to believe he had changed for good.

“I was starting to fall in love with him again. We weren’t really even fighting anymore; he would voice his opinion about something and I would voice mine and we would compromise and work together,” she said. “That’s how it was in the beginning, when things first started. It was so refreshing.”


The Final Straw
It was the first warm spring day of the year. In rare high spirits, Varney and her son met him at a family member’s house. Though attentive to their son, he appeared distant and cold to her.

Standing side-by-side near the bonfire in the backyard later in the evening, she discovered the source of his altered behavior; alcohol.

“The wind blew in just the right direction, and I could smell [it],” she said, “I grab[bed] his drink off the table and smelled it. And he saw me smell it, so he knew right then that I knew.”

Not wanting to stay when he was intoxicated, she made her way to the basement to gather her things while trying to explain to him why.

“I was not being loud with him, not yelling at him,” she said. “I just told him ‘You’re not the same person when you’re using. You have a great heart, but when you’re using you’re a monster’.”

Honesty only made the situation worse. In his head, Varney said, everything was a conspiracy; everything was a lie, a betrayal.

“No matter what I did, I couldn’t say anything right. So I just decided to walk away,” she said. “But he wouldn’t let me leave.”

“It’s always a control issue, and control has got to be earned based on trust. A couple that has a positive relationship has earned the trust of each other,” said Kuntz.  “But for somebody in an abusive relationship, they haven’t given trust and they’re more interested in control, which they haven’t earned.”

He blocked her way to the stairwell, a brick wall refusing to budge.

“He started coming closer to me, and the closer he came the more I would back up,” she remembered. “I [ended up] standing right in front of the metal pole [holding the foundation of the house up] and he just stopped. Wouldn’t say anything;  just looked at me and his [brown] eyes looked black as night.”

He simply stared at Varney.

“We’re about to rumble,” he said, calmly.

Using both hands, he rammed her further up against the metal pole, the back of her head taking the brunt of the impact. Falling to the ground, Varney’s head hit the nearby pool table before landing hard onto its surface. He immediately jumped on top of her and wrapped his hands around her neck; choking her.

The minutes that followed passed in a haze, relief coming only when a friend descended the steps to check on her. Dropping his hands to chase the friend out of the basement, Varney saw her chance to escape.

“I was at least halfway up the flight of stairs when he came back, and I literally saw the Devil,” she said.

Gripping both sides of the stairwell, he kicked her down the steps with his feet. Varney flew back down the stairs, stopping only when her head made contact with the hard floor at the bottom.

“I just remember saying ‘Oh fuck, that hurt’,” she said. “[Then] he jumped on top of me and started choking me again. That’s the last thing I remember.”

Varney regained consciousness while being loaded into the ambulance after police and paramedics arrived.


After effects
Varney suffered a severe concussion, with bruises covering nearly every surface of her body. Red marks in the distinct shape of hands circled her neck.

Each year, domestic violence costs the U.S. over 8.3 billion dollars, according to the NCADV. This includes some form of medical care (emergency, hospital, out-patient, overnight visits), for nearly 79 percent of all victims.

A year later, permanent damage to her mental and cognition capabilities affect her everyday lifestyle.

“I was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” she said. “I have severe memory loss; my short-term memory is terrible, I have a tendency to cross stories and get confused really easily. Entire bits and pieces of my childhood [memories] are lost.”

Following that night, he was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. Charged with attempted murder, abduction, and domestic violence, he will remain behind bars until 2021.

To be continued in ‘Road to recovery’ of Issue 14

Sheeler moves audience with pulitzer-winning stories

Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian

Alex Delaney-Gesing | The Collegian


Kristin Hohman
Staff Writer

“Shut up [and] learn how to listen.”

These were the words of advice from Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jim Sheeler.

The Shirley Wormser professor of journalism and media writing in Case Western Reserve University’s English Department, Sheeler visited Lorain County Community College’s campus on April 7.

Sheeler won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his article “Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives” while reporting for the Rocky Mountain News in Colorado.

“I’ve never been good at asking questions,” he said, “but I am good at listening and figuring out where the story is.”

During his presentation, Sheeler had a multitude of lessons to pass along to budding journalists. Among them were patience and curiosity. Becoming embedded into a story is a key component to good story telling. A journalist must truly immerse themselves into the core of an article’s subject in order to have a worthy finished product.

His advice to all journalism students was simple: “Make sure your readers can touch the hand beneath the glove.”

Sheeler worked as a freelance writer for The Denver Post from 1999 to 2003 and was a senior staff writer for the Boulder Planet from 1996 to 2000.  He was then hired at Case Western Reserve University in 2010.

“If you’re willing to really commit yourself to a story, you [need to] find these kind of raw moments that illustrate more of humanity than just breaking news,” he advised.

Sheeler’s 24-page story, “Final Salute” documented the story of a Marine officer with the duty of informing family members that their loved ones had been killed in action.

“Yes, it’s great that as a growing reporter you have a front page story, but that scandal…is not something you’re going to return to,” Sheeler said. “Write a few sentences that you’re proud of, even in stories that you don’t care about. Find a way to make things interesting.”

Sheeler encouraged journalism students to challenge themselves, especially while they are young. He pointed out that the journalism field today is a tough spot to be in, but in some ways it provides journalists with more opportunities to write.

“Look for lessons in every story you do. Journalism is not an endeavour that’s going to make you rich, so you need to find ways that it’s going to enrich you in other ways,” he continued.

“Look for stories that last.”

 Alex Delaney-Gesing contributed to this story




Spring 2015 President’s Forum draws a crowd


LCCC President Dr. Roy Church updated the college community on recent and upcoming events as well as answered questions from students.
Gabe Garcia | The Collegian


Students, faculty and staff of LCCC gathered for the spring forum on April 2.
Gabe Garcia | The Collegian

Gabe Garcia | The Collegian

Student Senate welcomes the Easter Bunny to the College Center.
Gabe Garcia | The Collegian

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 insightful presentation on April 2. during the Student Senate-hosted event that took place in the campus’ College Center from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“In today’s world of career, value of a higher education is not realized unless you can obtain a credential,” Church said. “Our goal here is to educate our students in areas people will pay for and work with the community at large. In a period of rapid change we need to deliberately reflect on those changes and learn to adjust.”

Church presented the topic of the forum “Student Engagement” after announcing the raffle of prizes such as Skull Candy headphones and apparel from the campus bookstore, Commodore Books & More.

Opening the forum with the question ‘What can the Student Senate do to get engaged in life on campus?,’ Church described his vision for LCCC of focusing on impacting lives with quality education.

The audience participated in a group activity, where each of the ten tables had to answer the question ‘Why is it important LCCC exists?’ via laptops provided by  Student Senate.

“LCCC just offers more affordability,” Student Senator Phillip McHolland said. “Other colleges charge [have] more than triple the cost of [LCCC’s] tuition for undergraduate students, plus it provides parents or those in the workforce a chance to come back and pick up where they left off.”

Other responses included LCCC being a stepping stone to create jobs and students should take full advantage of the various University Partnerships offered through the college.

“It’s a ray of hope, so to speak,” said full-time LCCC student Justin Wascack, on describing the college. “Basically people want to stay [at LCCC] simply because they are proud of where they come from.”

One member of the audience however took on the question from a different perspective.

“This place used to be so much more vibrant,” said Shamballa Warner, a graduate student of LCCC. “When I was an undergraduate, I joined as many programs as possible [and]  there was life here. Now everybody’s too scared to speak up.”

After the activity, Church’s presentation moved on to the Q & A portion of the forum. Previously submitted questions by current students covered topics regarding scholarships, the UP and opportunities to foster student engagement.

The scholarship questions were answered by Stephanie Sutton, dean of Enrollment, Financial and Career Services at LCCC.

“We offer many scholarships for students who study abroad,” Sutton said. “Although there is limited funding for international students, every year we still see an increase for scholarships than the year before.”

Questions regarding the  UP were directed toward John Crooks, associate provost to the UP.

“Beginning this fall, executive Masters Business Administration’s will be offered,” Crooks said. “ [This will] sav[e] students more than 70 percent of the cost for a bachelor’s degree at any university.”

Many students wanted a chance to give their opinions as to what could make LCCC a better  institution.

“The teaching here should be more interactive instead of powerpoint presentations,” said Biology major Christelle Incza. There are no study groups or time to get together outside of class.”

All students were encouraged to form their own clubs or participate in other activities on campus as volunteers during this presentation and were encouraged to speak with Provost / Vice President for Academic and Learner Services Dr. Marcia Ballinger to express any concerns regarding LCCC’s student life.

Antonio Lateulade, a current LCCC student, said, “Dr. Church really covered a lot. I enjoyed how much he reinforces students on their feedback and encourages them to always come to the board with questions or opinions.”

The forum concluded with a surprise appearance from the Easter Bunny.The winner of a free iPad was Early College High School junior and  Student Senator Carson Moen.

“Although we are blocked by the Ohio Board Regions for certain classes and certificates, we still care about our students,” said Church, in his closing statements. “We connect information from workforce data to find in-demand jobs. The last thing we want to do is send our students into diminishing workforce jobs.”

Reagan Sender (JRNM 151) contributed to this story.