July 2021 Central Connection

July 2, 2021

Center serves rural Nebraska

Central Community College-Holdrege serves as the first point of contact with CCC for many individuals, Diana Watson, extended learning services regional director, told the CCC Board of Governors at its June meeting in Holdrege.

For 26 years, the Holdrege Center has served Franklin, Furnas, Gosper, Harlan, Kearney and Phelps counties, which are home to about 28,000 people as well as one educational service unit, five hospitals, nine nursing homes, 12 school districts and 23 EMT squads.

“The Holdrege Center provides educational opportunities and services that demonstrate our commitment to the more rural parts of our 25-county area,” Watson said. Traveling to one of the three campuses isn’t always a feasible option. We have students who say they wouldn’t have pursued an education if not for CCC-Holdrege.”

During her report, she highlighted the following:

  • Adult Education/GED: A single dad with a new job requiring a high school diploma drove twice a week from Franklin to work on his GED. Although he had to go to Kearney to take the GED tests, CCC-Holdrege has since been approved as a GED testing center.
  • The community education program draws lifelong learners from elementary-age kids to adults who take the classes for as many reasons as there are topics. A recent student in his 80s, for example, took the Survival Spanish class so he could talk to his neighbors and later returned for a baking class. Another student, Jane Mooney, has taken more than 70 community education classes in the past 20 years.
  • Narratives of Ireland, a new virtual interdisciplinary program, began June 1 with 12 students who are learning in-depth about Ireland. Eight of the students enrolled for personal enrichment and four for professional development. The class will be offered again this fall.
  • Four of the seven EMTs at the Bertrand Fire Department received their initial training through the Holdrege Center and all of them have benefitted from the center’s EMS continuing education classes. Local access also is important for people who need CPR, medication aide or nursing assistant classes.
  • CCC-Holdrege helps coordinate the Republican Valley EMS Conference, Mid-Winter Fire School and the ABC’s of Child Care Conference. These events help area residents complete required continuing education without having to drive to Grand Island, Lincoln or Omaha. They also give the area economy a boost with local businesses catering the meals and attendees and presenters staying in local hotels, buying food and fuel, and shopping.
  • The Holdrege Center is working with more than 100 high school students who are registering for fall 2021 classes through the Early College program. 

Also addressing the board were:

  • Dan Janssen, who spoke about the Holdrege AUTO Program, a partnership of Janssen Auto Group, Phelps County Development Corporation and CCC. The program was developed to address a shortage of auto repair technicians by offering training locally to Early College students. Eight students signed up for the first class, which meets two nights a week at Janssen Ford. Students who complete 12 credit hours will earn a CCC automotive certificate.
  • Ana Espinoza, who graduated from CCC in May with associate of arts and associate of science degrees. She moved with her family to the U.S. when she was 5 years old and didn’t speak any English. She is now a wife, mother of four children and active community member. It took six years to earn her degree, but she graduated with honors and will be attending Purdue University online with a full scholarship to study criminal justice. She said if the Holdrege Center hadn’t been there, she would have had every excuse for not following her education.

“People view us as ‘all things CCC,’” Watson said. “We provide a safe, supportive and encouraging place where students can work toward their educational goals. If we can’t take care of something here, we connect them to people at the campuses who can. Central Community College makes a difference in people’s lives, especially those who don’t have the time, money or other resources to travel to another CCC location.” 

Military career rolls to an end for Horner

In the late 1970s, joining the National Guard was a popular thing to do for teenage boys in York, Nebraska.

But Barry Horner, who moved to York in 1978, wasn’t ready to follow them. After graduating from high school in 1979, though, he found himself facing a tough job market.

It took almost a year before he realized that what he needed most was structure and discipline, leading him to sign up with the National Guard on March 3, 1980.

Horner, who is now veteran and military services director at Central Community College, sailed through both basic training and advanced individual training and graduated in the top 10 percent of his 144-member class.

He served in the National Guard for less than a year before a worsening job market made him reevaluate his situation. He opted for active duty with the U.S. Army, a 12-year adventure that took him overseas to a small town in Germany; back to the U.S. to Ft. Hood, Texas; and then to Frankfort, Germany, where he was a military policeman.

During that time, in 1990, he was sent to Iraq. “When I was called, it was nerve-racking but once I got in country, my training kicked in,” he said.

Among his memories: The beauty of Turkey and northern Iraq and the desert of southern Iraq. The lack of shops and stores. Iraqis stopping their cars in the middle of the street during the daily five calls to prayer. Cleanup time when everyone goes to the river, and the livestock is given upstream priority over men, vehicles, laundry and women – in that order. 

After a 41-year career that took him overseas, including
to Iraq, Barry Horner has retired from the military. In his
position as Central Community College’s veteran and
military services director, he now works to help student
veterans succeed with their educational goals.

“I enjoyed being a soldier. It was something I excelled at,” Horner said. “I would have stayed in, but I got caught in the drawdown after Iraq in 1992.”

Rather than call it quits, he signed up with the Army Reserves where he found a new home.

“My knees were giving out, so I wasn’t going to be deployed,” he said. “Instead I trained those who would be deployed.”

Serving as a certified army instructor turned out to be a perfect fit. He taught truck driving, military wheeled transportation and other soldiers how to be instructors. Later, he evaluated job and survival skills in simulated combat missions.

“It was a blast,” he said. “This job wasn’t teaching a skill but evaluating a skill set and making sure a squad and platoon work as a unit.”

But all good things come to an end. In May, after 41 years, Horner retired from the Army Reserves as a first sergeant.

For 25 of those years, he balanced his military service with his employment in CCC’s information technology services department. After such a long stretch in ITS, he had decided it was time for a change, even if it meant seeking employment outside the college. But then a new opportunity presented itself when Travis Karr resigned as CCC’s veteran and military services director.

Horner jumped at the opportunity. “I love it,” he said of the position he has now held for 10 months. “Personally and professionally, it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

He describes CCC’s Veteran and Military Resource Centers at the Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings campuses and the Kearney Center as a “CCC-based USO. We have a lounge, snacks, beverages, things to do. We give you a quiet place to study or do an interview. Vets are a different breed who have seen things, lived through things. Here (the VMRC) they can find camaraderie.”

He said he inherited a solid team from Karr and is now focused on using the skills the military taught him – self-discipline, motivation and strategic thinking – to build a better one by increasing cross-college cooperation to meet the needs of student veterans.

Their work, Horner said, can have an important impact on those students’ lives, something he realized at his military service retirement.

“You often don’t realize the impact you have on someone until well after the fact,” he said. “If I’ve affected a change in someone for the better, that’s something that’s touching and humbling.”

The 2019-20 (or 21) Leading with Excellence class includes (from left) Jennifer Walker, Paige Gibreal, Jamie Logue, Maria Flores, Catrina Gray, Margaret Treffer, Tami Jones, Dani Schwinn, Sandy Samuelson, Sara Stroman, Laura Cline, Pennie Morgan and Carrielynn Peace.

Employees learn to lead ... excellently

It may be 2021, but the 2019-20 Leading with Excellence class at Central Community College has finally graduated.

Like almost everything else in the world, COVID-19 interfered with and delayed the normal schedule.

The Leading with Excellence program began in the 2016-17 academic Year. It is designed to help CCC employees identify opportunities within the college for growth or advancement.

“Not everyone who enrolls in the program is necessarily interested in advancement or changing positions,” said Pennie Morgan, employee relations manager. “Other benefits could be to improve working relationships between departments and campuses; learn best practices to enhance services within departments and identify ways to better serve students.”

The nine-month program gives participants exposure to every location and access to current CCC leadership. They also learn about college operations and departments, build relationships across departments and locations, and gain from personal and professional development activities.

They spend one full day each month at a different CCC location. Half the day is focused on college-specific services or departments and the other half on personal and professional development activities.

Applications for the 2021-22 class will be sent in an “All CCC” email by late August.

To date, 63 individuals have completed the program. They are:

2019-20 Class

Administrative Office: Paige Gibreal, college accountant, and Dani Schwinn, technology integration specialist.

Grand Island Campus: Maria Flores, enrollment specialist; Tami Jones, nursing simulation coordinator; Carrielynn Peace, registration technician and welcome desk; and Jennifer Walker, service center supervisor.

Hastings Campus: Laura Cline, health sciences and business administrative assistant; Tanner Jenkins, biology and chemistry instructor; Sandy Samuelson; extended learning services regional director; Sara Stroman, Project HELP success coach; and Margaret Treffer, assistant registrar.

Kearney Center: Catrina Gray, apprenticeship coordinator.

2018-19 Class

Administrative Office: Krista Niemoth, purchasing buyer, and Tiffany Seybold, web content specialist.

Columbus Campus: CoLynn Paprocki, disability services director, and Nick Whitney, biology instructor.

Foundation: Cheri Beda, alumni director.

Grand Island Campus: Kristi Behlmann, Project HELP data and marketing coordinator; Misty Peterson, Project HELP success coach; and Amy Stuart, drafting and design technology instructor.

Hastings Campus: Tara Bialas, TRiO coordinator; Daniel Deffenbaugh, associate dean of academic education; Regina Somer, admissions director; and Erika Wolfe, Academic Success Center coordinator.

2017-18 Class

Administrative Office: Mike Garretson, universal design and assistive technology assistant director; Shelia Kiiker, payroll and accounting specialist; and Lauren Slaughter, equity and compliance manager.

Columbus Campus: Kristin Hoesing, admissions director.

Foundation: Jessica Rohan, development director.

Grand Island Campus: Denise Kingery, occupational therapy and Project HELP administrative assistant; Erin Lesiak, admissions director; Lydia Lough, psychology instructor; Susan McDowall, English instructor; and Chris Miotke, Project HELP career coach and recruiter.

Hastings Campus: Travis Songster, building maintenance technician, and Brandon Stalvey, enrollment specialist.

Kearney Center: Ruth Kirkland, learning center manager.

2016-17 Class

Administrative Office: Fran Davis, institutional research coordinator.

Columbus Campus: Brenda Preister, career and employment services director.

Grand Island Campus: Jerry Dunn, extended learning services regional director; Becky Fausett, Project HELP director; Mariah Garcia, skilled and technical sciences and business administrative assistant; Emily Gildersleeve, assessment coordinator; Ben Newton, environmental sustainability director; Amy Osburn, instructional technology specialist; and Kyle Sterner, associate dean of academic education.

Hastings Campus: Carol Kucera, executive assistant to the campus president.

Holdrege Center: Elena Olson King, learning center manager.

Other people who completed the program but have either resigned or retired are June Collison, Katherine Cooley, Keith Dubas, Delilah Gillming, Janice Hill, Linda Lautenschlager, Jamie Logue, Liz McAteer, Shelly Mendez, Leah Paulson, Jamie Reitz, Angela Smith, Joan Wilkins, Jessica Williams and Brittney Zetocka.

Employee news

Administrative Office

Teresa West, human resources specialist and college wellness coordinator, has completed 25 years of service at the college.

She started in the human resources department as a work-study in 1993 and was promoted to a full-time position on June 10, 1996. The wellness duties were added in 2016.

Prior to joining the CCC staff, she worked for 17 years in the dry cleaning industry as a working manager and then for five years at Skagway.

West is a graduate of Grand Island Senior High School. She earned two associate of applied science degrees from CCC: one in information technology and the other in business and management.

She is a member of the Trinity Lutheran Sewing Circle for which she sews quilt tops that go to missions in Tanzania, Russia and other places where they’ll be cleaned in rivers. West has done as many as 96 quilt tops in a year.

She is married to Ray West and has two sons, Kenny and Timmy, and a stepdaughter, Susan Miller, all of Grand Island. She and Ray have eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Columbus Campus

Two individuals have joined the staff: Christian Heppner as an HVAC maintenance technician, and John McKinney as coordinator of the Schuyler Cargill Learning Center.

Two employees have shifted position: Robin Coan, from registration technician to Academic Success Center coordinator, and CoLynn Paprocki, from Project HELP success coach to disability services director.

Beverly Lahlum Taylor has resigned as associate dean of students.

Hastings Campus

New employees include Haiwei Lu, biology instructor, and Warren Shull, mathematics instructor.

Promoted to new positions are Brandon Stalvey, from electrician/maintenance to enrollment specialist in the admissions office, and Carly Walker, from part-time automotive lab assistant to full-time transportation lab assistant.

The following employees have resigned: Laurel Bain, construction technology instructor; Deremia Clark, career employment services director; and Jamie Logue, associate dean of business.