May 2021 Central Connection

May 3, 2021

Campuses recognize outstanding alumni

Central Community College has announced the Outstanding Alumni Award winners for 2021.

This year’s recipients will also serve as keynote speakers at CCC’s commencement ceremonies on May 7. They are:

Dr. Charles E. Sepers Jr., Columbus Campus

Dr. Charles E. Sepers Jr. of Columbus is chief public health officer for the East Central District Health Department. In this capacity, he serves as the chief public health strategist for Boone, Colfax, Nance and Platte counties.

Sepers completed an associate of arts degree at Central Community College-Grand Island, a bachelor’s degree in psychology and exercise science at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, a master’s degree in public health at the University of Kansas Medical Center and a master’s and doctoral degrees in behavioral psychology at the University of Kansas.

With nearly 15 years of public health experience, his work has focused on understanding and improving conditions that contribute to health and well-being by working with communities, especially those with traditionally underserved populations experiencing health disparity.

His work encompasses addressing childhood obesity in urban and rural communities, improving physical activity and healthy food access among Latinos, using federally qualified health centers and patient-centered medical homes as a public health strategy for addressing diabetes, increasing health care access among minority populations, and working with World Health Organization colleagues to implement and evaluate social mobilization efforts to fight the 2015 West Nile Virus outbreak in West Africa.

Allan Wade Osburn, Grand Island Campus

Allan Wade Osburn of Cairo is a middle school special education teacher at Ravenna Public Schools.

Osburn earned an associate of arts academic transfer degree from Central Community College-Grand Island in 2017, graduating with honors.  He then transferred to the University of Nebraska-Kearney where he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in special education from UNK.

Throughout his academic career, he has been an active member of the CCC-Grand Island Alpha Tau Tau chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges, and is vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa alumni association. His other memberships include Phi Alpha Theta, a history honor society; Kappa Delta Pi, an international education honor society; and Phi Kappa Phi, a multidiscipline honor society.

Osburn is an Army veteran who served on active duty for three years and nearly 20 years in the Army Reserves. He has been a volunteer firefighter for more than 30 years, a Boy Scout leader for more than 25 years and is the current commander of Cairo American Legion Post 333.

He and his wife, Amy, have three sons, one daughter and three grandchildren.

Bradley Keasling, Hastings Campus

Bradley Keasling of Grand Island is an associate dean of business at CCC who supervises faculty on the Columbus and Grand Island campuses and at the Kearney Center.

Keasling earned an associate of applied science degree in information technology and networking from CCC-Hastings in 2001. He transferred to Bellevue University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2006 and a master’s degree in business administration in 2008.

His career includes work in a variety of industries, including farming, the meat industry, retail, manufacturing, finance, banking and sales. After working in the for-profit industry for over 10 years, he took a full-time position with Bellevue University on the CCC-Grand Island campus. He also started teaching business and information technology part time at CCC as well as the night business program for Bellevue University.

Keasling is a member of Peace Lutheran Church in Grand Island where he serves on the Mission and Ministry Council and Praise Team and fills in as a lay minister. He also serves on the CHI St. Francis Foundation Board of Directors.

He and his wife, Katie have two daughters.

Stuart receives Campus Spirit Award

Amy Stuart of Henderson, drafting and design technology instructor, has received the 2020-21 Campus Spirit Award at Central Community College-Grand Island.

The Campus Spirit Award recognizes employees who make a significant contribution to Central Community College. The focus is on service above and beyond what is considered a normal or expected part of their job description.

“She goes above and beyond her job description,” her nominator said. “As a department-of-one on campus, it would be easy to work in a silo and perhaps fly under the radar, but she stands out as one who goes the extra mile to care for her students.”

Stuart was cited for promoting her program in innovative ways, working with faculty members in other divisions to support students struggling with coursework and for being actively involved in projects outside her division.

“She also has demonstrated her support for the academic education division with her involvement on the Gardner Institute course redesign committee for elementary algebra,” the nominator said. “Her insights have been appreciated on that committee.”

Stuart “jumped at the chance” to use the 3-D printer to benefit both the campus and community. For CCC, she fabricated models that are now instructional tools in calculus classes. For the community, she made headgear frames for face shields and s-hooks for face masks for health care providers fighting COVID-19.

She also has been involved with the Nebraska Summer Transportation Institute, which is a summer camp offered by the CCC extended learning services department to students who want to learn about the transportation career fields.

“As a fellow instructor, I have learned from her how to be better with my students,” her nominator said. “She leads from the front and by example.”

What’s your next big step?

The Big Event on April 15 at Central Community College-Hastings focused on next steps. Students learned about planning for the fall semester, graduation and careers. They also had the chance to enjoy ice cream and a free dinner, play laser tag and glow golf, and participate in such activities as Plinko and Let’s Make a Deal (above). A family fun night and bowling concluded the event. (Photo by Andrea Hays)

Commencement set for May 7

Central Community College will hold commencement ceremonies at its Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings campuses on Friday, May 7.

The keynote speakers will be this year’s Outstanding Alumni Award recipients.

The Grand Island and Hastings ceremonies will be held at the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island. The Grand Island commencement will begin at 10 a.m. with Allan Wade Osburn of Cairo as the keynote speaker. The Hastings commencement will be held at 2 p.m. with Bradley Keasling of Grand Island as the keynote speaker.

The Columbus Campus commencement will be held at 7 p.m., but because of social distancing concerns, it is not open to the public. Each graduating student received tickets for six guests; individuals without tickets will not be admitted. Dr. Charles E. Sepers of Columbus will be the keynote speaker.

For individuals attending in person, face coverings will be required and social distancing will be encouraged.

Alumni Weekend

A variety of activities on and off campus await individuals attending the Central Community College-Hastings Alumni Weekend May 13-15.

Hastings Campus buildings will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 13-14. Visitors are welcome to take a guided tour or see the buildings on their own.

Other activities include:

May 13

The CCC Foundation, Hastings Campus and Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce will host Business After Hours at the Hastings Museum.

The premiere of a CCC documentary will be held at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Hastings Museum. Tickets are available at the Hastings Campus president’s office and the Hastings Museum.

May 14

The CCC staff, faculty and alumni golf tournament will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at the Elks Country Club golf course near the Hastings Campus. Golfers may sign up as a team or play as a single.

A 5K glow run will be held in the evening to give former Rams and community members a chance to participate in an on-campus athletic event. The run begins at 7 p.m. in the Polk parking lot.

CCC alumni are invited to visit businesses in downtown Hastings from 8 to 11 p.m. Businesses hanging the CCC Alumni Weekend poster will offer discounts and a friendly atmosphere to all attendees.

May 15

The CCC-Hastings Furnas parking lot will be the site of two events.

The Hastings Campus Car Show will be held from noon to 5 p.m. and feature cars from all decades from the Hastings area. This event will include awards, free T-shirt and food for all participants.

A Taste of CCC will run from noon to 4 p.m. Tri-city vendors and food trucks will provide samples and food.

Signing up

Eight students participated in the inaugural skilled and technical sciences signing day April 21 at Central Community College-Columbus. They were (left to right, back row) Jacob Schneider of Kearney and Mark Murua of Columbus, mechatronics; Edith Zacarias of Schuyler, Jaxson Jones of Genoa and Lilly Reel of Albion, welding technology; (front row) Kaden Stenzel of Bellwood, welding technology; Jesus Catalan of Fremont, mechatronics; and Parker Litz of Monroe, welding technology. In addition, five students attended the inaugural signing day on April 21 at the Grand Island Campus and 88 students participated in the second signing day at the Hastings Campus. (Photo by Scott Miller)

In tribute

Elaine Gertsch

Elaine Gertsch, 86, of Monroe died April 13 at Cloverlodge Care Center in St. Edward.

Services were April 19 at Gass Haney Funeral Home with interment in Roselawn Memorial Cemetery.

She was born Sept. 28, 1934, in Columbus, to Herbert and Meta (Landwehr) Arndt. She graduated from Kramer High School in 1952, and on July 10, 1954, married Von Gertsch in Platte Center

She worked for the telephone company in Columbus as a switch-board operator before starting a 20-plus year career as a secretary at Central Community College-Columbus. She also was involved in the operation of Evergreen Tree Farm north of Monroe and was a member of Peace Lutheran Church.

Survivors include three daughters, Deb Donoghue of Monroe and Pam Gertsch and Yvonne Peace of Columbus; a son, Paul Gertsch of Corydon, Iowa; eight grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband; parents; and brother, Kenneth Arndt.

Memorials are suggested to the family’s choice.

Peg Radke

Peg A. (Lambe) Radke, 66, of Grand Island died April 23 at her home from COPD and bronchitis complications.

A memorial gathering will be held at a later date. Burial is in Grand Island Westlawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

She was born Oct. 20, 1954. She graduated from Central City High School and went on to earn a diploma from Mary Lanning School of Nursing in Hastings, a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a master’s degree in nursing from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.

She was employed as a nurse at hospitals in Lincoln and Fremont before moving to Grand Island where she worked in the medical unit at St. Francis Medical Center. In the mid-1990s, she began teaching part-time at Central Community College-Grand Island. She was promoted to a full-time position in 2000 and retired in 2020.

Survivors include her husband, Bob.

Livingston-Sondermann Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Employee news

Columbus Campus

Naa-Adjeley “D” Ablorh has joined the staff as a part-time chemistry instructor. She will move into a full-time position in August.

Athletic Director Mary Young has been elected to serve as the women’s senior administrator for the NJCAA Board of Regents. The board has 37 to 39 members from across the country. These volunteer positions consist of 24 regional representatives, one board chair, one women’s senior administrator, one men’s senior administrator, six presidential representatives and a maximum of six at-large representatives.

Grand Island Campus

Paramedicine instructor Fred Benzel has been named Instructor of the Year by the Nebraska Emergency Medical Services Association. He was nominated by a former student, Cheyenne Massey, who is now a full-time employee of the Aurora Fire Department. In addition to being a CCC instructor, Benzel works for the Grand Island Fire Department and is a volunteer firefighter for the St. Paul Fire Department.

Bryce Jensen has been hired the new media producer.

Hastings Campus

Meghan Horton has resigned as a counselor and prevention education coordinator. She has been replaced by Alyson Wolfe. Also new to the campus is custodian Amanda Layman.

Kearney Center

An article by chemistry instructor Yunteng He on his traffic light system was published on the Teaching Professor last November. He also has had a manuscript on ideas for promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teaching reform accepted by the Journal of College Science Teaching.

Rebecca Wisdom has joined the staff as a nursing instructor.