A Student Publication of Lorain County Community College

Students win nine Excellence in Journalism awards

Oscar Rosado Editor-in-Chief Six LCCC students received nine awards from the Press Club of Cleveland’s 41st Annual 2019 All Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards banquet at the House of Blues on June 7. President of the Press Club of Cleveland,…

LCCC awards 2,436 degrees at 2019 commencement

Oscar Rosado Editor-in-Chief “It’s been a long journey, four years in the making,” Lorain resident Omar Vargas said after receiving his Associate of Arts degree through Lorain County Community College’s College Credit Plus (CCP) program at LCCC’s 55th Commencement ceremony…

College sets 10,000 diplomas-degrees goal by 2025

Special to The Collegian (Elyria, OH, April 18, 2019) The Lorain County Community District Board of Trustees adopted the College’s new strategic plan that declares a bold goal of 10,000 individuals earning a degree or certificate by 2025. The plan…

Path to bachelor’s from LCCC to CSU

LCCC and CSU had made an agreement to have students start their college path off at LCCC and graduate with their Bachelor’s degree at CSU through a new program called UP Express CSU initiative. The program is an extension of…

Donating blood on campus saves many lives

Nicolaou donating blood Photo by Gregory Visnyai

Gregory Visnyai
JRNM 151

With a desire to help others, people have been gathering at Lorain County Community College to donate their blood. Vitalant, a nonprofit organization hosted the blood drive where students like Alex Nicolaou and Colleen, a nurse at Fairview Hospital, gave blood.

Vitalant is one of the nations largest nonprofit transfusion medicine organizations and comprises a network of community blood centers. This drive was held at LCCC’s College Center on April 3 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and on April 4 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

“Anybody can put money into a Salvation Army pot at Christmas, but donating blood is a great thing. It directly saves a person’s life,” said David Blessing, supervisor of the blood drive. When blood is collected, three products are extracted: red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. According to the American Red Cross website, approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed daily in the U.S. In addition to the red blood cells, 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed as well. 

O negative blood cells are one of the most needed types, both locally and nationwide. This is because it can be given to all the other blood types, making it versatile in trauma situations. It is possible that a single car accident victim can require up to 100 pints of blood, according to the American Red Cross website. Therefore having a substantial amount of O negative blood readily available is essential. The issue is that only 7 percent of people in the U.S. are O negative.

In general, there is a local and nationwide shortage. After collecting blood, the red blood cells must be used within 42 days and platelets within only five. On average, people who donate blood usually only donate once a year. This can lead to an insufficient amount collected. Twice this year there was a critical shortage, which means there was less than a two-day supply of blood, in Northeast Ohio. “If people were to donate three times per year, we would never see a shortage,” said Sarah Wering, the marketing and communication specialist at Vitalant. 

At other recent drives, Vitalant collected 10 to 15 units of blood on average—which was rather low. But at the drive on April 3, they collected 25 units of blood—which was a great amount. The blood collected at this drive will be distributed to local hospitals.

“This is my first time since 1998,” said Colleen, who gave blood on April 3. Everything went well the very first time she gave blood, except she passed out an hour after donating. But from that experience and donating blood numerous times since, she advises first-time donors to not be nervous and to drink lots of water.

Nicolaou, an LCCC student majoring in computer science and art, gave blood on April 4. He has been giving blood for four years, but the first time he donated, he became dehydrated for an hour and a half after because he did not drink enough fluids. “I think it’s like a nice thing to do—I have plenty of blood,” said Nicolaou. He says to first-time donors that it does not hurt that much.

Facts about giving blood

Before giving blood, one should eat a healthy meal and be well-hydrated. One should also know what medications they take and what conditions they may have. Since there are many requirements for giving blood, Vitalant has made the process more efficient. One can go online to Vitalant.org, and under Donor Express, one can register and answer questions. From there, one will receive a barcode and will be able to schedule a time to give blood.

One common misconception is that veterans from Operation Desert Storm are barred for life for giving blood; however, the truth is that they are only barred for one year. This is due to diseases that can remain dormant in one’s blood. If a person traveled to a country where malaria is known to be present, they will not be able to donate blood for a year since malaria can remain dormant in a person for that duration. But if a person traveled to certain parts of Europe at particular times, there is the potential that they could be barred for life from donating blood.

If a person is healthy and meets all the requirements, anyone from ages 17 (or 16 with parental consent) to even one hundred can give blood. Blessing urges people to give blood and realize the life-saving power of it. He also would like to see more young men giving blood because women outnumber men in giving blood. “That’s right up there with jumping in a river and saving a drowning person—I mean, to me it does,” said Blessing.

Graduating students reflect on path at LCCC

Quentin Pardon
Staff Writer

All that hard work had finally paid off and you can finally walk across that stage with your family and friends in the crowd cheering you on as they announce your name and you grab your degree. No one knows the struggles and sacrifices you made on your journey to try and achieve a successful life. You had witnessed many of your closest peers dropout either because of personal problems or temptation. Throughout the troublesome years you had faced, you showed resilience and fight even in their darkest hour. It’s a day to celebrate your academic efforts so enjoy it.

The students’ reflection

Sara Specht spent two years here at LCCC. “It was a challenge. I’ve been out of school for about ten years” said Sara on how difficult it was at first. “Everyone here was very helpful, kind and caring. The availability of tutoring and that the professors actually cared was a great thing.” She plans continuing her studies at the Ohio State University to earn her bachelor’s degree in education.

Aaron Davis took classes at LCCC for three years. Davis’ reflection back on his time here in his own words was an “Interesting ride,” and said, “I did online schooling for most of my life so it was a whole new experience. It was incredible yet challenging but it was a lot of fun.” He added, “I’m studying to be a teacher. I just switched to an education major. I’m considering going to Ashland or Kent State but I may just do something through the University Scholarship,” said Davis on what he planned for himself in the future.

Amaya Robinson is an Early College student and is graduating with her associate’s degree and then her diploma from Lorain High on the 21st of May. “The program pushed me a lot because the work wasn’t easy and knowing that I was gonna receive an associate’s of arts with my high school diploma was motivation for me,” said Robinson. “My biggest obstacle was my depression and anxiety. I let it bring me down a bit but I overcame it greatly!” she exclaimed on her path through high school. She plans to major in radiology so she can go on to study and be an MRI technician. After graduation she is staying at LCCC. “The benefits are the reason I’m staying. Basically getting two free years to get things done is great”.

Student lounge opens for students to recharge

Students unwinding in the lounge in UC 122. Oscar Rosado | The Collegian

Oscar Rosado

The campus’ own student lounge officially had a grand opening on April 17. Saul Aguilar, executive secretary of the Student Senate, said that there is “definitely a big difference between this year and last year,” and is pleased with the progress the lounge has made. He said the funding had come from the Operation Council, and has been approved by Dr. Marcia Ballinger, president of the college.

The grand opening of the Student Lounge was located in UC 122. 

There are more than 25 board games in the lounge, such as monopoly, Uno, giant Jenga, and giant connect 4 to name a few. There is also a ping pong table, an air hockey table, a mini basket hoop, as well as ski ball, and also a pool table which was already there. There is even a Nintendo Switch gaming console where people could play fun simple multiplayer games like Just Dance. 

Aguilar said that the items present in the lounge isn’t what the senate came up with alone, but rather the input of what students wanted to see in the lounge via word of mouth, or by survey. The purpose of the lounge is for students to “go in, have fun, and forget about stuff.”

This has been a project two senate groups ago, and is still a progress as Aguilar assured “it’s not the end of it.” It is a continuous effort to always make the lounge better. As the current senate members leave and the next group comes in, they are passing wherever they leave off at, essentially passing a torch from one senate group to the next.

Aguilar commented that in the end, it is a “student effort, not just the council.” He adds that the council is always open, and if students have any suggestions for things to be included in the lounge in the future, things can always be added.

There was food, drinks, and snacks at the grand opening and everyone was “encouraged to have a good time,” said Aguilar. He added “the goal of the grand opening is to show it’s a place students can go.” 

Path to bachelor’s from LCCC to CSU

LCCC President Marcia Ballinger (right) and CSU President Harlan Sands exchange gifts after announcing the pathway agreement.

LCCC and CSU had made an agreement to have students start their college path off at LCCC and graduate with their Bachelor’s degree at CSU through a new program called UP Express CSU initiative. The program is an extension of LCCC’s successful University Partnership with Cleveland State University, and will be open to all degree programs at CSU.
It was made official at the Lorain County Superintendent’s meeting held at LCCC on March 6. “From day one, students will be dual admitted to both institutions,” announced by CSU President Harlan M. Sands. “This is a groundbreaking model. There are other places that exist who are doing it, but we’re gonna do it better, faster and more efficiently.”
Benefits students will gain from this program will be joint ID cards for both institutions, allowing students to attend special events at both schools. Other benefits available are taking a first year course taught by a CSU graduate and will be able to take up to three classes at CSU while attending LCCC.
“Cleveland State University was one of our founding partners when we launched the University Partnership in 1995-making it even more meaningful that today we enhanced our partnership with CSU to create this unique transfer experience for LCCC students,” said Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., president of Lorain County Community College. “Together, LCCC and CSU are leveraging the best of both institutions to offer students a direct, precise path to a bachelor’s degree, while also engaging in the exceptional experiences available on both campuses.”
CSU is the number one transfer destination for LCCC students. The new UP Express CSU program will prepare students for an urban school experience through a Future Vikings Learning Community where they will take classes with peers on LCCC’s campus, receive streamlined advising services from both institutions, and have access to facilities such as computer labs and recreation centers at both schools from the beginning of their educational journey all the way through graduation from CSU.
Students still in high school can get a head start on this path to a CSU bachelor’s degree by taking College Credit Plus courses from LCCC, saving more time and money in pursuit of a four-year degree.
“We’re incredibly proud of the longstanding partnership between LCCC and CSU,” said Cleveland State President Harlan Sands. From 1999 to 2018, 542 students earned a bachelor’s degree from CSU through LCCC’s University Partnership program. CSU continues to offer six bachelor’s degree programs through the University Partnership. UP Express CSU will provide additional opportunities for students and help to increase educational attainment both within Lorain and Cuyahoga counties-further strengthening the region’s economy with knowledgeable, prepared talent.
“The program is designed for students who want to have that experience to express themselves in a different academic setting – in this case, on Cleveland State’s unique downtown campus. Students will not only save on tuition costs, they will be guided down a streamlined pathway to success – with courses for both LCCC and CSU mapped out from their first semester,” said Ballinger.

The appeal of esports: big and small

Trent Ufheil
JRNM 151

Two teams compete up on the big stage, with thousands of cheering fans gathered around them while millions more watch at home. There’s more than just team pride at stake, with millions of dollars on the line. Suddenly, a roar rises from the crowd! One team has prevailed over another dog piling on one each other while cameras swoop in to catch all the drama, for both the winners and losers history and is made. But it wasn’t always like this. Esports as a big business, a $700 million industry for 2017 alone with projections for a revenue of $1.6 Billion by 2021, is a relatively new development, and it’s still growing.
From humble beginnings, Video games played in a tournament fashion is nothing new, you can even find it happening right here on LCCC campus. Gamers lounge Vice President Matthew Williams, who can be found most days in and around the Lounge, located between the College Center and the Center for Ideation and Invention offers his own take, “Video games have a positive effect on culture, it helps to bring people who might not otherwise have socialized out onto the campus, interacting with fellow students and making bonds and friendships.”
It’s from these small gatherings that local tournaments where competitors meet and friendships start and rivalries spark that we get to where we are today. League of Legends is a MOBA-Style game, short for Massive Online Battle Arena, and it has just seen it’s biggest year in esports yet. The largest tournaments played for League, the ‘Worlds Tournament’ had a cash prize pool of $2.25 Million and was watched simultaneously by 200 million people around the world and in person in October 2018. Included in this was Television broadcasts of the actual event, nothing new in Asian countries who have featured other games as part of their normal programming since the 90s but it is making headway here too, with networks like ESPN showing broadcasts of some larger ‘fighting game’ tournaments held in California last year.
What does all of this mean? For LCCC student Jon Ruiz, it means that a dream he held not so long ago is fast becoming a reality. “Tournaments for games that I like, when they get big enough is kinda like Opening day for the Indians, it’s an event.” He continued. “And it’s really cool, that like when I wanted to play video games for a living, it’s not just a dream or something to laugh at, these guys are doing it!” The numbers are on John’s side, esports aren’t just for the hardcore anymore, even those with a passing interest in the medium recognize a name like ‘Ninja’ the same as people who don’t care for Basketball know Lebron or Soccer, Messi.
For advocates like Williams this is all a positive, though he holds some issues with how things are run. “If we want to be taken seriously, there needs to be higher standards, less cheating, Drug tests? You know, having people reign in their behavior, it’s hard to be taken seriously, especially with money on the line with people acting like children.” And for others, like Student Jaden Santiago there are still doubts to how this all bears out. “The coverage is really cool but they aren’t really sports. I don’t think they are.”
With LCCC looking to create an esports club, something that Williams calls “a nice legacy to leave behind.” It’s clear that for some, the decision of whether to take esports seriously or not, has already passed.

Student embraces engineering and plans for her future

Kirsten Hill
Staff Writer

Cintron in the HIV Algal Bloom research lab. Photo: Oscar Rosado


Early college high school student from Lorain’s east side will receive two associate degrees and her high school diploma at the LCCC commencement on May 18.
Eleana Cintron, 18, started her high school years in August 2015 along with approximately 90 other students from Elyria and Lorain High Schools.  Nearly all of them will receive  Associate of Arts degrees plus their high school diplomas but less than 10 will leave the stage with one more honor, an Associate of Science degree, according to Cintron.  All classes have been held at the LCCC main campus.

The amount on her plate
“In middle school, I took algebra so I was a year ahead in math,” said Cintron adding, “To get the Associate of Science [you need] to take two sequences of [additional science and math].”    General Chemistry 171 and 172 and Mathematics (Calculus) 181 and 182 are the courses she completed.
“Right now, I have three classes, General Chemistry, Calculus and Introduction to Psychology,” said Cintron.  One of the classes is held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings after she works eight hours at NASA Glenn Research.  She started there in June 2018 through a U.S. Air Force grant program.
Cintron has been able to narrow down her interests through the experience at NASA Glenn Research.  She explained there are so many different kinds of engineering.  One day her mentor at the research center handed her a big book and said, “Go read this and come ask if you have questions.”  She did and found that she was interested in X-ray crystallography.
“I really like this field because you can connect it easily with biology and biochemistry, for example looking at protein structures,” said Cintron during the interview in one of the LCCC biology labs.  “This senior year has been my most challenging but my most fruitful year.”
In December, Cintron was accepted to Case Western Reserve University and will pursue a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.  “Very sharp girl.  Very intelligent girl,” were the words Ramona Anand, LCCC professor, used.  Anand is the founding advisor of the Society of Women Engineers chapter on the LCCC campus, of which Cintron is a member.  Anand explained that Cintron was recently the ‘STEMbassador’ on WKYC Channel 3 in Cleveland.
“I’m in the process of working out the credit transfers (from LCCC) with Case Western,” explained Cintron.  She’ll be able to complete a bachelor’s degree in less than four years and plans to continue on for a doctorate in biochemistry.
How has Cintron been able to accomplish so much in so little time?  She explains, “Get here at 8 (a.m.)  Yesterday stayed here until 9:30 (p.m).  Research starts at 3 o’clock and ends at 5 or 6.”  Her dad finishes work at 4 p.m. and then has band practice two to three times per week and picks her up around 9 p.m. afterwards.  “In junior year is when I started staying late.”  Her dad is a CAD technician mapping out roadways but doesn’t have a degree in engineering himself.
The research that Cintron has been doing on campus is on algal bloom.  The project is led by Dr. Kathryn Durham and Michelle Neudeck under Bowling Green State University guidance.

Cintron is not the only one in her family earning a college degree this year from LCCC.  “My grandma is actually graduating with me,” said Cintron.  Marjorie Cintron of Lorain is Eleana’s grandma and will receive an Associate of Arts in Individualized Studies this spring.  In the fall, Eleana’s sister, Thalia Cintron, will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration through the University Partnership.

Conquering the stress of gym anxiety

LCCC student Aja Cyran is very reluctant to go the gym because she is self-conscious. “I definitely feel uncomfortable at the gym especially being a girl, because I feel like it’s a guy’s territory, so I feel out of place. Guys are judging my form and most girls judge in general,” Cyran said. Like Cyran, many women fear the gym because they are afraid of being judged.
According to Fitness Magazine, a survey of 1,000 people by Fitrated found that 65 percent of women avoid the gym entirely because they are afraid of being judged while only 35 percent of men felt this way. When asked if she judged others while at the gym, Cyran had very litt

LCCC student Gabrielle Post works out at the college’s Fitness Center. Photo: Anthony Donofrio

le to say, “I typically keep to myself, but I’ll notice if something is out of the ordinary.” Cyran and others believe that everyone should be able to work out in peace and be happy and healthy.
Bill Mansfield, an avid LCCC gym member, said that he likes going to the gym because he loves the energy that the younger generation have and also relates to the older generation that come as well because he grew up with that generation.
Lisa Augustine, Ph.D., professor and program director at LCCC and coordinator at the LCCC gym, had a lot to say about the normalization of gym fear.
“At every gym, only 50 percent of people who have memberships actually come to the gym. Women are the ones who normally don’t come because they are more prone to self-consciousness then men are.” But Augustine offers assistance to those suffering from gym anxiety. “We give free orientations of the gym and equipment, you could get a free membership, there’s always someone in the gym to help you every step of the way if need be. The trainer is a real person just like you, nervous to start and not sure so they know what you’re going through and will help you as much as they can.” She said they (LCCC’s gym) have a modest dress code so no one will be quite so self-conscious.
Augustine has always wanted to help others based on her own personal situation. “My family suffers from obesity problems on both sides, so I’m more prone to gaining weight so I try my best to keep that from happening to my family. I want to help prevent illness by making exercise the new medicine,” Augustine said. Just like many individuals want or need it, she wants to help just as much.
Gym anxiety is something that almost everybody goes through at some point in their lifetime. Some people just overcome it faster then others. Just because people have the anxiety now doesn’t mean that they can’t overcome it in the future. Getting over the anxiety will not be easy, but once that first step of going to the gym is over, the rest becomes easier.
Kathryn Orantek, facilities and wellness coordinator at Health and Wellness Sciences, offers these tips to overcome gym fear:
*    Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Those of us in the fitness industry love to help others on their journey through wellness. Asking the fitness instructor/specialist to guide is smart and arms you with knowledge.
*   Remember those that look like Aquaman and Wonderwoman are usually too interested in how they look to worry about what you look like. Also, many of them didn’t always look like a super hero.
*   Many times, those super hero-looking participants are doing the exercises wrong. Please don’t do what they do just because they look fit. Safety should always come first.
*    Have a set of clear realistic goals before you start. Plan for all obstacles you might face and have things set in place to work around those obstacles.
*   Work out with a friend if possible. Not only will it keep both of you accountable it also will keep you distracted from what anyone else is doing.

Last but not least, remember everyone has fears, even the super hero look-a-likes. Their fears just may not be working out in front of others. All of these are a part of life just like being physically well.

LCCC students bring typewriters back to life

Gregory Visnyai and his twin brother Michael work on a typewriter. Submitted photo.

Do you have a dusty typewriter sitting in your basement thinking it will never be used again? Two Elyria twins are trying to give a new lease on life for neglected typewriters.
Gregory Visnyai, who is majoring in communications, and his twin brother Michael Visnyai, majoring in applied mathematics, fix broken typewriters at budget-friendly costs.
The LCCC students’ love for typewriters started when they saw one being used as a prop in a WWII open house. Then halfway through tenth- grade at First Baptist Christian Church in Elyria, the twins, for the most part, only used typewriters.
“It just started to click and we wanted to use them. When writing you can’t go back and fix it- you are forced to keep going. It forces you to make progress,” says Gregory.
Their repair business started at an antique shop when they met a man who sold typewriters. Due to typewriters not being as popular it can make things difficult when it comes to repairing the machine. “We have to take the steps cautiously and really be sure in what we’re doing,” Michael says. Some common problems they come across are rust, missing parts, and cracked feed rollers. When they can’t find a missing piece, they improvise. They use springs from old printers, look on eBay or use rubber tubing but it can’t always be reliable, they said.
However, they are not completely opposed to computers and other modern-day technology. Michael says, “Technology is a great thing. It doesn’t cost as much but I prefer the connection with the typewriter.” With their love of typewriters, they are hoping to grow their business. They would like to either have it as a full-time or part-time job in the future.
It takes them a couple of weeks to a month to repair a typewriter due to school but when they are free it only takes them a couple of days.
They are promoting their work by posting business cards on area public bulletin boards, but hope to go to antique stores and give sale pitches to those in need of repairing.  The fee is $30 for portables and $40 for standards, though it could cost more if parts need to be replaced.
Gregory says, “We are willing to work out a price that a client could afford. We strive to make typewriter repair affordable.” If you are interested in having your old typewriter repair you may contact Gregory and Michael at info@visnyaitypewriter.com or at 440-316-2137.

Stop the vaping, save the living

Quentin Pardon
Staff Writer

LCCC student Jody Page got into hookah for a while, and loved the relaxing feeling of smoking, but because hookah was not portable, she got into vaping.
Page started vaping about one year ago. She said no visible or no internal effects has happened to her, but a peer of hers had asked her to stop using the product. “My brother in law mentions that he’s heard that it can cause popcorn lung and others had said it was a stupid habit,” said Page. She does know that the vaping craze is not an all healthy substitute. “Smoking anything into your lungs is not healthy,” said Page, but recommends vaping to people looking for a substitute to smoking cigarettes. Page went on to say, “You can use vaping to lower and then cease your use of nicotine.” Page has past experience as well as she once used to smoke cigarettes. “I personally believe vaping is better than cigarettes and I will hold on to that belief. People seem to be afraid of anything new,” Page said. She went on to say, “Sadly smoking is deeply tied into American culture and tobacco is a very big business. The tobacco industry is being threatened for the first time in history so of course there is going to be backlash.”
Page believes cigarettes will not exist in the near future. “I personally believe that we are in the last generation of cigarettes. I think they are falling out of style and will eventually be replaced by vaping,” said Page.
The country has witnessed the evolution of teen use of cigarettes in the 1950s to now an electronic cigarette that is supposed to be a new healthier substitution.
E-cigarettes have became popular over the past few years and the consumers are majority teen through young adults. Due to it being so new and trendy, not many know if there is an effect to your body after consumption.

The dangers of vaping
What is known about e-cigarettes, according to centeronaddiction.org, by Director of Policy Research and Analysis, Linda Richter, PhD, e-cigarettes are not risk free. Though they are less harmful than smoked cigarettes, no evidence is given that they are safe. Research indicates that negative health consequences can still come to the body by using e-cigarettes, such as damage to the brain, cancerous tumor development, pre-term deliveries and stillbirths in pregnant women, and harmful effects on the brain and lung development, when use occurs during fetal development or adolescence.
E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which no matter if it is smoked or vaped, is still a highly addictive drug regardless of how it is delivered. “Nicotine addiction is notoriously difficult to reverse, and use of e-cigarettes frequently leads to use of other nicotine products, including smoked cigarettes as well as alcohol and other drugs,” Dr. Richter said. Nicotine can also affect brain development, and since a developing brain is more vulnerable to the effects of addictive substances than a fully developed brain. Additionally, nicotine can “disrupt brain development, interfere with long-term cognitive functioning, and increase the risk of various mental and physical health problems later in life,” said Dr. Richter.
There is little evidence that e-cigarettes can reliably reduce cigarette smoking, and Dr. Richter went on to say, “in fact, the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes and other vaping products may actually perpetuate addiction, in some cases making it even harder to quit smoking.”
Dr. Richter then went on to say there is also research that shows, “young people [beginning] to smoke cigarettes after using e-cigarettes.”
Professor and program coordinator at LCCC, Lisa Augustine, said “In our policy, e-cigarettes count as juuls, vape and pens. All are in the same category.”
“You don’t know what percent is nicotine and then they have different types of flavors to it so it becomes really addicting,” said Dr. Augustine, and continued to say, “We don’t know what is entirely is in the smoke. It still holds numerous amounts of chemicals that can affect your cells or even your family or pets. It’s a vice. Very addictive. They are going away with tobacco smoke but yet juuls isn’t the way either.”
When asked about the severity of e-cigarettes, Dr. Augustine said, “Center of Disease Control has a trend line of kids ingesting more and more liquid nicotine and the calls have increased by the thousands.”
President of the LCCC Faculty Senate, Hope Moon said, “If anyone puts liquid nicotine in their eye, nasal or any mucus membrane, you can have a toxic effect and can even die if exposed to a high level of it.”
LCCC has adopted a hundred percent tobacco free policy that supports a healthy environment for all as of August 1, 2017. The primary emphasis of this approach is to focus on the elimination of tobacco and all smoking simulating device use on all College property with cessation left as a choice for the individual.
LCCC also has multiple programs on-campus or online to help those who want to stop smoking. The Caring Advocates for Recovery Education (CARE) Center, located room number BU 113D, main purpose is to develop plans for students, community users, and staff to help tobacco users with the change to not being able to use tobacco products on campus. Charlene Dellipoala and Nanci Ickes are both Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists (CTTS) and are there to assist anyone who seek help.

Pepper happily pleased to meet you

Pepper first-pumps an admirer. Photo: Anthony Donofrio

Oscar Rosado

Meet Pepper. She answers your questions gladly most of the time. Being four feet tall, Pepper has a sense of humor, has knowledge, and is able to make hand gestures. She can help you with what you are curious about, and the best part; she is a robot!

Pepper’s background
Programmed by LCCC’s 2forty7 group, a capstone class at the Advanced Technologies department, she was brought onto campus by LCCC’s President, Dr. Marcia Ballinger. She witnessed a demonstration of Pepper at a conference eighteen months ago. After a five-minute presentation, Dr. Ballinger began to think what the campus could do if it had  a Pepper. Information systems and Services head Donald Huffman, who teaches the 2forty7 group, says Pepper was purchased last summer for roughly $20,000. She arrived basically as a statue, with nothing programmed yet. On her own, Pepper has the feature set of dialogue, being able to speak to communicate.

One of a kind
Pepper was conceptualized in France but was bought out from Japan’s company Soft Bank. The concept of Pepper is four years old. Pepper has been at LCCC for six months,  her duration  in the United States. There are only 15 Peppers worldwide. LCCC’s Pepper  is the only model in Ohio. Pepper moves around by rolling. She has arms to move as she speaks that make her appear to have a human-like personality. Pepper is built more for communication than movement. Huffman says, regarding working on future programming of Pepper, that the 2forty7 group “would if they could” work on her. They have other projects in the works. They have only one morning every two weeks to work on Pepper.
Pepper  works by being able to answer pre-programed questions built in her by the group. Pepper answers with pre-progrmmed worded dialogue not with just a simple yes or no. “She’s learned to respond to various questions,” says Huffman, but it also depends on, “how often the question is asked.” Huffman describes how technology and people can combine their strengths to become a greater whole. Huffman says we cannot process information as quickly as a computer, and the technology cannot think as humans.  Huffman says that combining the two strengths, from both sides, is a “tag team effort to work faster, harder, and better,” and that “technology is only limited by limits that we give it.”

She’s funny too!
Pepper herself is not artificial intelligence, but rather a programmable robot. The students of the 2forty7 group include; Peyton McDonough, Rashad Reed, Brandon Stephenson, Mike Jones, Chris Friend, Matthew Prugh, and Hannah Chernock. They are the ones who have programmed Pepper for the past six months and put their own flare to Pepper. Huffman says Pepper has humor, and depending who is working on her at the moment, has the “humor of the programmer.” Such humor includes if you ask Pepper if she is a rumba, she would reply “I’m not a rumba – wait, is that dirt?” She will proceed to make vacuum sounds while rolling. When asked how much she costs, Pepper replies, “priceless.” When asked what is her favorite music, she replies, “Heavy metal, it gets my circuits going.” She is also able to do hand gestures, such a fist bumping, dabbing, and waving her arms like an elephant’s trunk.  Her answers are all based on the humor the programmers give her.
Though the concept of having a robot answer all your questions is incredible, Pepper can only answer questions that are programmed into her. “It’s all programmed,” says Reed, of the seven students of 2forty7 working on Pepper. Reed adds all the time put in Pepper is simply “research and trial and error.” According to Brandon Stephenson, Pepper is also able to do some dance moves as well, showing that even though she can answer questions, she still has a fun personality.
Peyton McDonough, described that communicating with Pepper works with “sonar, sound, infrared, and a 3D camera” and when it comes to movement, such as her head it is based on the noise she hears. McDonough also said that to communicate with Pepper, you stand in front of her so she can see your face. Her eyes turn blue indicating that she will respond. Otherwise, she will not. McDonough says standing one to four feet close to Pepper will activate the interaction/communication, while standing five to eight feet away from Pepper will allow her to simply her arm, while standing away 10 – 12 feet away, Pepper won’t recognize any movement at all. According to Reed, Pepper “can take a 3D model” using her camera, and is programed to recognize faces, and differentiate them such as “this is face one, this is face two, etc.”.
There are a lot of options for Pepper, such as GPS, and full facial recognition, “but it is still being explored”, yet this project still “definitely holds a lot of potential,” says McDonough. Through the months working with Pepper, Reed comments, “we’re continuing to learn”.
Huffman says though she is still being worked on, there are plans to move Pepper forward. Such plans include her giving tours around campus. Pepper even has the potential to be a companion to the elderly. She could even help with schools through interaction. Along with the technical aspects, there Is always the psychology behind it as well. To this group of students, working with Pepper has “always been a passion project,” says Huffman, and as the time go by, he ensures, “we have a future for Pepper.”