February 2019 Central Connection

January 29, 2019

VanBoening receives top campus honor

Lori VanBoening of Hastings has received the 35th Annual Outstanding Service Award at Central Community College-Hastings.

The award is presented annually to a Hastings Campus employee who demonstrates exemplary service to the college.

Nominators cited her commitment to not only teaching her students the information and skills necessary for their profession but also the attitudes and behaviors needed to be effective employees.

 “She cares passionately about students and supports them 110 percent, skillfully facilitating collaboration among the students in the program,” said one nominator.

Another nominator added that the success of VanBoening’s graduates reflects her efforts to be both a quality instructor and an excellent role model.

“She has been a wonderful mentor and sounding board for me, helping me in many ways to develop and improve my courses,” one student nominator said.

VanBoening began work at CCC-Hastings in 1989 as a biotechnology instructor. The position morphed into medical laboratory technology instructor in 2002. She was responsible for writing all the curriculum for the new MLT program.

She works closely with the MLT’s advisory committee as well as with off-campus practicum sites where students gain practical experience in the field. She also is a member of CCC’s Assessment of Student Learning Committee.

VanBoening is a long-standing member and chair of the Vital Signs Health Fair and a longtime volunteer for the South Central Nebraska Children’s Chorale. 

She has two grown children, Zachary of Glenvil and Alexis of Manhattan, Kan., and a grandson, Remington.

CCC photography, art show to feature student work

Artwork by Brooke Alejos of Burwell

The creative work of 15 students at Central Community College-Hastings will be on display in the media arts program’s 17th annual photography and art show.

This year’s theme is “Lights, Camera, Design.” The exhibit preparation class mats and frames the artwork for the show, does promotion and hosts the opening reception, which is set for 2 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 24 in the Phelps Building.

The artwork will be on display through March 29 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays in the Phelps Building.

The reception and show are open to the public free of charge.

Students who will be displaying their work are: Jenna Kuck of Bertrand; Brooke Alejos of Burwell; Noah Brown of De Bois; Courtney Baker-Smith of Doniphan; Anisa Jelinek of Grand Island; Sean Alcorn, Luisa Najera Torres, Mytien Thai and Adam Waite, all of Hastings; Wade Nissen of Henderson; Amanda McClain of Litcheifeld; Alexus Vanhoosen of Marquette; Danni Schuster of Minden; and Kaeli “Flynn” Nester and Kaytlynn Tockey, both of Superior.

Retirement begins for three employees

The following Central Community College employees have retired:

Beth Bohrer

Beth Bohrer of Hastings first worked at the Hastings Campus from 1973-81, serving as a secretary to the veteran affairs officer, director of housing and financial aid, associate dean of students and assistant dean of students

She was employed as a shipping clerk and as a receptionist and switchboard operator at Thermo King Corporation and as a secretary and bookkeeper at Borley Moving and Storage before returning to the college in 1985. At the time of her retirement, she was executive assistant to Campus President Bill Hitesman.

While at CCC, she was a member of the Scholarship Committee and the Position Review Committee and served as a staff representative on the College Cabinet. In 2015, she received the Hastings Campus’ Outstanding Service Award.

She is a graduate of Red Cloud High School who went on to earn an associate of applied science degree in office technology from CCC and attend the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

She and her late husband, Bud, have two daughters, Stephanie Hogan of Gretna and Kathryn Bohrer of Lincoln. She also has two grandchildren.

Bohrer’s fiance, Chuck Breunig (retired CCC-Hastings counselor and wellness coordinator), lives in Lincoln.

John Brooks

John Brooks of Hastings joined the CCC-Hastings staff in 1987 as a broadcasting instructor.

He later helped start the media arts program and was one of the original faculty members involved in launching the college’s distance education program.

Before joining the CCC staff, he worked as a reporter and photographer for KOLN-KGIN TV as well as at radio stations in Hastings and Omaha.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and theater from Dana College in Blair and a master’s degree in teaching from Hastings College.

At CCC, Brooks has served as the Faculty Senate president for the Hastings Campus and as the All-College Faculty Senate president. He received the campus’ Outstanding Service Award in 2016.

He is a member of Nebraska Press Photographers and the National Press Photographers Association. He also has taught CCD, a religious education program for Hastings Catholic Schools.

He and his wife, Sharon, have two adult sons: Michael, a foreman at Pacha Soap in Hastings, and Matthew, an English teacher at Omaha Burke High School.

Karen Niedfelt

Karen Niedfelt of Grand Island joined the CCC staff in 2003, filling in for two employees absent for medical reasons. She first worked for six weeks in the CIT building and then answered the switchboard in the evening and entered adult education material.

She was an administrative assistant for the early childhood education grant and then for the occupational therapy assistant program when it was getting started and undergoing the certification process. Eventually she exclusively became an administrative assistant for the adult education program.

She previously had worked in banking for 40 years, starting as a secretary and receptionist at The Overland National Bank the day after she graduated from Grand Island Senior High School in 1959. She became secretary for the trust and loan departments and went on to supervise the loan administration function, process mortgage loans, and serve as credit analyst. After she was placed in charge of the operations division as senior vice president and cashier, she served as compliance officer, prepared the annual operating budgets and was the liaison with the holding company in investments and human resources. She also was secretary to the board.

After Overland was acquired by Wells Fargo in 2000, she worked two more years as a market operations analyst, retiring from banking in 2003.

She was a member of and served in all officer positions for the Central Nebraska Legal Professionals Association, which disbanded in 2018. She is a member of the Nebraska Legal Professionals Association and served as state treasurer several terms. She is a board member and secretary and treasurer of Chrysalis, a HUD housing project, and is active in her church.

She and her late husband, Dick, have two children, Shelley Schroeder of Phillips and Rick Niedfelt of Grand Island, She also has a grandson.

Students receive TRiO scholarship

Three Central Community College students have received a $500 TRiO Leaders Award scholarship.

The scholarship is awarded annually to TRiO/Student Support Services (TRIO/SSS) students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership potential and submitted an essay about rising above obstacles to reach their educational goals.

This year’s winners were Aidan Johnson of Lincoln, a Hastings Campus student; Dakota Miller of Columbus, a Columbus Campus student; and Malena Wire of Aurora, a Grand Island Campus student.

The TRiO/SSS program helps first- generation and low-income students with a demonstrated academic need overcome barriers to their dreams. It also is open to students with documented physical or learning disabilities.

Staff mark special anniversaries in 2018

The following Central Community College employees celebrated special employment anniversaries in 2018:

Administrative Office

  • Twenty years: Barb Larson, registrar and special projects director.
  • Fifteen years: Beth Meyer, payroll manager.
  • Ten years: Cindy Lothrop, human resources hiring manager; Sherry Peters, senior buyer; and Glenn Sparks, information technology systems specialist.
  • Five years: Ron Golka financial operations manager; Jessica Houser, information technology systems administrative assistant; Pennie Morgan, employee training specialist; Abie Ott, educational planning director; and Tiffany Seybold, web content specialist.

Columbus Campus

  • Thirty years: Kathryn Ballobin, associate dean of academic education; Leon Finecy, advanced manufacturing design technology instructor; and Karen Mroczek, community education coordinator.
  • Twenty-five years: Bernie Keber, executive assistant to the campus president, and Sharon Smith, Academic Success Center assistant.
  • Twenty years: Willie Piitz, student accounts director.
  • Fifteen years: Jerry Becker, history instructor; Juan Lara, Spanish instructor; and Dianne Moural, retention specialist.
  • Ten years: Sue Baer, training and development administrative assistant; Kim Ostdiek, English instructor; Gary Becher, custodian; Patrick Clark, history instructor; and Ryan Frauendorfer, electrical maintenance technician.
  • Five years: Lisa Brestel, early childhood education instructor; Irene Clayburn, nursing assistant instructor; Nedine Farnham, adult education instructor; James Hansen, custodian; Darla Jarmin, health instructor; Doug Kluth, education instructor; Adam Lassen, residence hall monitor; Dann Matchett, welding lab assistant; Crystal Ramm, extended learning services  regional director at the Ord Learning Center; and Spring Wendt, health instructor.


  • Ten years: Dean Moors, executive director.
  • Five years: Cheri Beda, alumni director.

Grand Island Campus

  • Thirty-five years: Mark McCaffery, building maintenance technician, and Kathy Woitaszewski, math instructor.
  • Thirty years: Nick Freelend, student activities director and academic adviser, and Hylee Horner, financial aid director.
  • Twenty-five years: Craig Ratzlaff, personal development instructor.
  • Twenty years: Donna Fisher, GED instructor; Glenda Heath, student services administrative assistant; and Susan Hooker, associate dean of ELS and training.
  • Fifteen years: Donnell Plinsky, English instructor, and Katia Valencia, English as a second language instructor.
  • Ten years: Barb Beck, early childhood education instructor; Deb Holmes, business technology instructor; Wayne Littrell, psychology instructor; Maria Lopez, recruiting coordinator; Amy Osburn, instructional technology specialist; Nancy Straatmann, student accounts director; and Rachel Zeiger, nursing instructor.
  • Five years: Wendy Baumeister, criminal justice instructor; Rachel Brown, math instructor; extended learning services math instructor; Leah Clarke, English instructor; Becky Fausett, Project HELP director; Tami Jones, nursing simulation coordinator; Stacy Karr, health instructor; Bradley Keasling, associate dean of skilled and technical sciences and business: Harry Koch, academic education instructor; DeAnna Krolikowski, math instructor; Thomas Leininger, biology instructor; Erin Lesiak, admissions director; Judy Lorenzen, English instructor; Barbara Marsh, health information management services instructor; Kenton Naylor, advanced manufacturing design technology instructor; Jamey Peterson-Jones, Early College director; Henry Roy, virtual campus media technician; Callie Schwartzkopf, occupational therapy assistant program director; Mike Snell, welding instructor; Matthew Treffer, electrical technology instructor; and Daniel Vahle, math instructor.

Hastings Campus

  • Forty-five years: Sherri Portenier, registration and assessment director.
  • Twenty years: Steve Buss, virtual campus director; Lael Churchill, skilled and technical sciences administrative assistant; and Rae Ann Lurk, extended learning services administrative assistant.
  • Fifteen years: Fred Kuta, auto body technology instructor, and Dale Long, heating, air conditioning and refrigeration instructor.
  • Ten years: Bruce Bartos, advanced manufacturing design technology instructor; Jeanne Cook, health instructor; Mary Dixon, English instructor; Lu Ann Fitzgerald, student services/housing administrative assistant; Mark Funkey, associate dean of skilled and technical sciences; Carol Hipke-Muske, medical assisting instructor; Jeff Kroeker, welding instructor; and Julie Mullen, academic transfer specialist.
  • Five years: Drew Ceperley, media arts instructor; Peggy Chessmore, instructional technology specialist; Kim Danehey-Nibbe, dental hygiene clinic assistant; Dave Hassett, welding instructor; Brian Keene, avocational-recreational instructor; Carol Kucera, executive assistant to the campus president; Jean Meis, health instructor; Rachael Robinson-Keilig, psychology instructor; Travis Songster, building maintenance technician; Jessica Sorge, prevention education director and crisis counselor; Cindy Spady, philosophy instructor; Mike Spicknall, custodian; Jane Stratman, dental hygiene instructor; and Pamela Vap, English instructor.

Kearney Center

  • Twenty years: Kelly Christensen, dean of training and Kearney Center administrator.
  • Five years: Rebecca Bartlett, English instructor; Amy Hammond, English instructor; and Ingrid Orsted, mathematics instructor.

Lexington Center

  • Five years: Lori Fong, avocational-recreational instructor.
  • Ten years: Margaret Bader, GED instructor.

Employee news

Columbus Campus

New employees include James Bennett, women’s soccer coach, and Hannah Miller, human resources generalist.

Dr. Gwen Preston-Jensen, 59, of Wayne died Dec. 31, 2018, at her home. Memorial services were Jan. 5 at the First United Methodist Church in Wayne She was a speech and theater instructor at CCC from 2000 through 2002 before returning to her hometown to teach at Wayne State College. Haseman Funeral Home of Wayne was in charge of arrangements.

Grand Island Campus

Early childhood education instructor Barb Beck has been selected to participate in the inaugural 2019 class of the Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy. The academy is a nonpartisan project designed to help citizen-leaders expand their knowledge and skills so they can to effectively engage lawmakers and major influencers on early care and learning issues. Participants will do this through monthly meetings in person or online from January through May 2019.

Campus President Marcie Kemnitz has been named to the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Hastings Campus

David Schacht has joined the staff as a HVAC-R technician.

Kearney Center

Chemistry instructor Yunteng He has received the Best Presentation Award from the Clute Institute. He presented “Traffic Light Cards – A Cross and Modification Between the Minute Paper and Muddiest Point” at the Clute International Conference on Education Jan. 1-5 in Maui, Hawaii.

He’s presentation focused on a simple and effective classroom assessment technique to improve student learning that he calls a Traffic Light Card. Here’s how it works: Shortly before the end of class, students “traffic light” their understanding of the topics covered on a notecard as high (green), partial (yellow) or low (red). The results are used by the instructor to give appropriate review in the next lecture and help students gain better understanding of the content.

“There were several remarkable presentations that truly embodied our mission of facilitating knowledge on a global scale,” the Clute Institute told He. “Your peers, from around the world, have named your presentation one of the best.”

Ashley Ourada has joined the staff as a nursing assistant and medication aide instructor.

Lexington Center

JoHannah D Hochstetler, 53, of Lexington died Dec. 31, 2018, at the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha. A memorial celebration of her life will be held at a later date at Reynolds-Love Funeral Home in Lexington.

She was born May 29, 1965, in Grand Island, to John and Beverly (Cox) Kinzie. She graduated from Merna High School in 1983 and later earned a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She was community education coordinator at the Lexington Center and was also teaching some classes at UNK.

Survivors include her husband, Kurt Metzger; two sons, Ashton Hochstetler and Calvin “CJ” Shaw, both of Cozad; a brother, Chris Hochstetler of Council Bluffs, Iowa; and four grandchildren.

Memorials are suggested to the family for later designation. Reynolds Love Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.