August 2021 Central Connection

July 30, 2021

Family fun

Fun and educational activities drew 150 to 175 participants to Stolley Park in Grand Island in late June. Kimberly Milovac, early childhood education coordinator at Central Community College, said this first big community event hosted by Leapfrog Village, gave families a chance to enjoy time together while participating in sensory, craft and building projects that can easily be replicated at home. About 25 current and former CCC students and employees helped at the event, which was held in collaboration with Hall County Community Collaborative, Home Depot, Hy-Vee and Super Saver. Leapfrog Village is the result of a CCC mini-grant and is aimed at giving students opportunities to help plan and host community-wide family engagement programming.


Funds to benefit criminal justice program

Central Community College was selected from a competitive field of community colleges across the country to receive $100,000 to transform the future of students in the community.

Funded by Metallica’s All Within My Hands (AWMH) and led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Metallica Scholars Initiative is designed to directly support students while also elevating the importance of career and technical education. Now in its third year, the initiative continues to highlight the global influence of Metallica, whose members continue to speak about the dignity of professional trades and the community colleges that prepare students for them.

CCC has earmarked the funds for its criminal justice program and will prioritize underrepresented female and minority groups.

“CCC is honored to join an impressive class of colleges that have shown innovation and support for students in career and technical areas,” said CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall. “Our growing criminal justice program is an example of the combined positive results of outstanding faculty, dedicated student support staff, involved leadership and active community partners. It is a tremendous blessing when these efforts are noticed by generous donors.”

“The foundation and the band pay attention and follow these programs and students, and there is no doubt that lives have been changed,” said AWMH Executive Director Dr. Edward Frank. “What makes this work so unique is that in addition to supporting students directly, our goal is not just to change individual lives, it is to unabashedly promote the trades as meaningful and well-paying career pathways. We are not afraid to be loud nor to dig in on things we believe in, and we believe in these students.”

“We are proud to work with Metallica to advance the career and technical education provided by the nation’s community colleges,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC’s president and CEO. “Colleges across the country provide pathways to well-paying jobs through programs, services and training that lead to in-demand skills, certificates and degrees for students. These programs are responsive to the needs of local businesses and provide a pipeline of qualified workers to local industry.

Metallica vocalist, guitarist and co-founder James Hetfield said, “As a touring entity, we are in direct involvement with multiple essential career choices along our path, from electrical, professional driving and culinary to mechanical maintenance, public safety and logistical organizers. And that just scratches the surface. Those, along with a multitude of other technical careers, make our touring and our performances possible. We are passionate and grateful to these trades and tradespeople.”

AWMH was established in 2017 by Metallica as a means to invest in the people and places that have supported the band. It also provides a mechanism for Metallica’s fans to become engaged in philanthropy and volunteerism.

Top row: Kathryn Ballobin and Ju Hall. Middle row: Wayne Littrell and Deb Parr. Bottom row: Diana Rainforth and Judy Weston

Retirement begins for college employees

The following Central Community College employees have retired:

Kathryn Ballobin

Kathryn Ballobin of Columbus joined the Columbus Campus staff in 1984 as a community education coordinator.

She went on to serve as a business instructor and associate dean of students before becoming an associate dean of instruction in 2010. At the time of her retirement, she was supervising academic education but previously handled business administration, business technology, information technology and agribusiness. She also served as interim dean of academic education in 2018.

Her previous work experience includes employment as a high school business teacher in Belleville, Ill.; a GED teacher at Spoon River Community College in Macomb, Ill.; and in the training department at Western Electric in Omaha.

Ballobin is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and business education and a master’s degree in college student personnel/administration.

At CCC, she was budget officer for the National Science Foundation/GPS Grant and previously served as co-chair of the General Education Committee, chair of the Area Diversity Committee and chair of the College Strategic Goal for Retention. She was involved with the National Endowment of Humanities Grant focusing on Nebraska Plains Native Americans in 2010 and 2012; North Central Association College Accreditation Leadership Team; and various professional state association boards. She also has been active in the Platte Valley Literacy Association and the Columbus Public Library Board, including serving as president in 2018-19.

She and her husband, Bill, have a daughter and a grandson.

Ju Hall

Suwimon “Ju” Hall joined the Hastings Campus staff in 2004, serving as an adjunct instructor for a semester before being promoted to a full-time position.

She previously had been employed for 23 years as an associate professor at Chulalongkorn University, the oldest university in Thailand.

A native of Thailand, Hall completed all her educational levels there up to a master’s degree in math. She came to the U.S. in 2001 and earned a second master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she finished everything for a doctoral degree except for the dissertation.

Math also was a centerpiece of her professional activities. For eight years, she coached the Thai team to compete in the Mathematical Olympian, including one year as head coach. The international event draws students from 76 countries, and Hall traveled with her team to Turkey, China, Canada, India and Romania. She also served as executive secretary for the math association of Thailand and as president of the Nebraska Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.

She goes to the Buddhist temples in Grand Island and Salina, Kan.

She and her husband have a son.

Wayne Littrell

Wayne Littrell of Hastings worked as an adjunct psychology instructor for a year or two before being promoted a full-time position at the Grand Island Campus.

He previously worked in private practice and at hospitals and other agencies doing clinical work and program supervision.

Littrell earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif., and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from California State University in Hayward.

He is a U.S. Air Force veteran who worked in air traffic control while he was on active duty. His memberships include the National Educational Association and the American Psychological Association.

He and his wife, Beth, have a son.

Deb Parr

Deb Parr of Columbus began work at the Columbus Campus on July 7, 1986, as an administrative assistant for instruction, the position she still holds today.

Prior to joining the staff, she worked in the administrative services department at the State Capitol and as secretary to the president at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte.

She is a graduate of West Point Central Catholic High School and is now an active member of St. Isidore’s Catholic Church in Columbus.

She and her husband, Mike, have three daughters and two granddaughters.

Diana Rainforth

Diana Rainforth of Doniphan joined the Grand Island Campus staff as a part-time employee and work-study student in the media services office. She started on a full-time basis in 2000 as a media services assistant, the position she holds today.

Her primary duties included scheduling IP connections and meetings; providing classroom support; meeting the department’s logistical needs by shipping out broken items or receiving new classroom audio-video equipment; helping to onboard new faculty classroom equipment; and assisting in the Service Center by checking laptops in or out, answering the phone or getting ID badges made.

Prior to CCC, Rainforth held different temporary or seasonal positions with businesses in Shelton, Hastings, Doniphan and Trumbull and worked as an independent Avon representative.

She is a Lexington High School graduate who went on to earn an associate of applied science degree in paralegal studies from CCC-Grand Island.

She has been involved in church, scouting and school activities.

She and her husband, Leonard, have four children and seven grandchildren.

Judy Weston

Judy Weston of Juniata has been the community education coordinator at the Grand Island Campus for 14 years.

Her previous employment includes 10 years as a florist at Bob Sass Flowers in Hastings and as a paraeducator in a special needs program as well as stints at the Pizza Hut and Goodwill. She also worked at the Hastings Probation Office where she helped those on probation get jobs through AmeriCorps.

Weston is a graduate of Howells High School. She went on to earn an associate of applied science degree in commercial horticulture from CCC and a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Bellevue University.

She is an active member of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Hastings, serving on its board and as the leadership chair of the Lincoln Diocese of Catholic Women group.

She and her husband, Bill, have three children and six grandchildren.

Criminal justice pathway launches

The University of Nebraska at Kearney and Central Community College are working together to fill a statewide need for law enforcement officers and other criminal justice professionals.

A new pathway program launching this fall makes it easier for students to start their criminal justice education at CCC before finishing a bachelor’s degree at UNK. The 2+2 plan creates a seamless transition between the partner institutions and provides additional flexibility for transfer students and working professionals.

“There’s a strong demand for law enforcement and criminal justice professionals across the state,” said associate professor Timbre Wulf, chair of UNK’s criminal justice department. “Agencies are looking for highly educated, skilled individuals to fill these positions, and a bachelor’s degree really gives applicants a leg up.”

“This 2+2 pathway between our two programs will provide another great opportunity for students once they complete their associate degree in criminal justice at CCC,” said Michael David, CCC criminal justice instructor. “This collaborative effort will be a win-win for everyone involved in central Nebraska and is just the beginning of great things to come between UNK and CCC’s criminal justice programs.”

The pathway program is a “road map” that allows students to follow a semester-by-semester course plan or take classes at a pace that better fits their schedule.

The first 60 credit hours are earned at CCC, which offers an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice.

After graduating from CCC, students can complete a bachelor’s degree through UNK. This option is also available to working professionals with an associate degree from CCC who want to advance their education or move up in their careers.

The university offers criminal justice degrees that can be completed online or through a traditional, on-campus format. Select courses at College Park in Grand Island can be combined with online, blended or in-person classes in Kearney.

This is the first program launched by UNK and CCC as part of the Equity Transfer Initiative, a two-year partnership aimed at increasing transfer and completion rates for black, Hispanic, adult and first-generation learners.

UNMC, CCC partnership focuses on nurses

Central Community College and the University of Nebraska Medical Center have embarked on a new education partnership that will allow CCC nursing graduates to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing through UNMC.

This online advancement program offers eight-week and 16-week sessions to for registered nurses with an associate degree of nursing. Courses are available on demand to best fit the student’s schedule.

“The ability of our nursing students to be able to not only stay in the community, but to keep working in our hospitals and nursing homes is so critical,” said CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall. “We’ve had some successful students transfer to UNMC over years, but it’s very exciting to have something more streamlined.”

All clinical requirements may be satisfied in the student’s local community or one nearby. UNMC has relationships with more than 100 health care institutions across Nebraska and in select other states to provide students with a convenient, diverse range of clinical learning.

“I am very excited because we see one of our major tasks to help with workforce development across the state,” said Dr. Dele Davies, UNMC senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “When we can take a student, who has just completed an associate of nursing degree and bring them into our BSN program, it means that we are adding value and increasing opportunities for future expanded roles and career advancement for the student.”

Under the agreement, UNMC will recruit and admit students to the program in collaboration with University of Nebraska Online, offer advising and send instructors to CCC for on-site facilitation. Instructors also will connect with students on a daily or weekly basis via remote technology.

CCC will assist with recruitment, provide space for on-site facilitation and collaboration and participate on an advisory committee.

Employee news

Columbus Campus

New employees include Luz Colon-Rodriguez, director of counseling and prevention education services; Michelle Evert, registration and assessment technician; Manuela Lopez,  accounting clerk; Amy Mancini-Marshall,  dean of academic education, a college-wide position; Janet Meays, human resources generalist; and Luis Pulido, men’s head soccer coach.

Dan Gettinger has shifted positions from associate dean of skilled and technical sciences to associate dean of extended learning services and training at the Kearney Center.

The following employees have resigned: Abby Pollart, women’s volleyball head coach, and Reye Snitily has resigned as student support coordinator.

Hastings Campus

Individuals who have joined the staff include Tim Hromadka, construction technology instructor, and David Kusek, groundskeeper and maintenance tech.

Brian Hoffman has been promoted from information technology services director to associate dean of business and entrepreneurship, and Erika Wolfe has been promoted from coordinator to director of the Academic Success Center.

Kearney Center

Resignations have been submitted by nursing instructors Heidi Patsios and Jennifer Soderquist.

Central Plains Library System Board

Jamie Dennis, library assistant at the Grand Island Campus, and Sherrie Dux-Ideus, resource center supervisor at the Hastings Campus, have been elected to the Central Plains Library System Board. The system was established by the Nebraska Library Commission to provide library services to 31 counties through cooperation of all types of libraries.