September 2022 Central Connection

September 1, 2022

Keller receives regional leadership award

By Scott Miller
Senior Director of College Communications

Central Community College Board of Governors member Diane Keller has been named as the recipient of the 2022 Western Region Trustee Leadership Award by the Association of Community Colleges Trustees (ACCT). The award recognizes community college leaders for meeting the needs of their communities.

Keller will receive the award during the 53rd annual ACCT Leadership Congress in New York City in October. As a regional award recipient, she is one of five nominees for the ACCT’s prestigious M. Dale Ensign Trustee Leadership Award, which will also be presented at the leadership congress.

“It has been an honor to work for all community college students in Nebraska, but especially at CCC to make Nebraska the best place to live and do business,” said Keller.

Keller has been a member of the CCC Board of Governors since 2000 and served in numerous leadership positions, including two terms as chair. She recently retired following a 50-year career with Aurora-based Memorial Community Health Inc., the final 18 years as CEO. That experience was instrumental in advocating at the local, state and national level for the competence of two-year registered nursing programs.

“Diane Keller has been an outstanding board member and very knowledgeable about so many program areas including nursing, allied health, agriculture and business,” said CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall. “She has dedicated hundreds of hours to not only making CCC better, but the entire Nebraska community college system.”

Keller is an active proponent of CCC’s lead role in multiple statewide grants and initiatives including the Nebraska Math Readiness Project, National Science Foundation mechatronics grants, U.S. Department of Labor transportation grants, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services health occupations grants, and U.S. Department of Education veterans services grants. Each endeavor required CCC to work with local industry, students, community college peers and area high schools.

She has also supported initiatives in entrepreneurship, precision agriculture and student support services including TRIO, federal and state aid to students, the American Association of Community College’s (AACC) Equity Transfer Initiative and AACC’s Metallica Scholars Initiative.

“I was pleased and proud to nominate Diane for this well-deserved award,” said CCC Board of Governors Chair John Novotny. “She exemplifies what the award is all about. Diane has broken ground and paved paths for women and all that do public service and does it from the heart. I am so happy for her and all her accomplishments.”

Keller’s ACCT recognition follows her receiving the Nebraska Community College Association (NCCA) Governors Award in 2021. The NCCA Governors Award is given to a college board member for outstanding leadership, both at the institution and in the community, and support of two-year colleges. She twice served as president and vice president of the NCCA board and one term each as secretary and treasurer. Each term required involvement in the NCCA executive committee and full board meetings.

Keller lives on a farm near Harvard with her husband, Keith. They have two grown children.

Athletic department now includes esports

By Joni Ransom
Chief of Staff

This fall, Central Community College is joining in with two- and four-year colleges around the world and taking to the esports field.

“Esports is an umbrella term that applies to any competitive video game that’s played against another human,” said Lucas Lumbra (pictured), CCC’s esports head coach, who brings with him experience as an athlete, analyst and manager.

Some of these games are one-on-one competitions between two individuals while others are team-based contests with three to five players.

CCC is kicking off its esports program with two team-based games: Rocket League and Call of Duty.

Rocket League is soccer played with a twist: points are scored with a car. The game pits three players against three players.

Call of Duty is a first-person shooter game that is played between four-member teams.

The CCC esports teams are open to full-time male and female students, no matter if they attend classes on a campus, at a center or online, but they must meet GPA requirements.

Lumbra, who has been with the college since April, started to build the program by interacting with students at registration days over the summer.

“The focus was on making sure students know esports exists at CCC,” he said. “Next year, I’d like to expand my contacts to high school students and transfer students.”

So how does esports work? Pretty much like traditional sports, beginning with tryouts and then proceeding to weekly competitions. Esports also has the same invite, open and intramural divisions as traditional sports.

These similarities shouldn’t be surprising considering esports was officially sanctioned by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in 2019. NJCAA Esports now includes 81 member institutions that bring with them more than 600 teams, 150 coaches and administrators and 1,500 student-athletes.

Like traditional sports, esports players also can enter professional competition, which for esports has grown into a $1 billion global industry.

“These players dedicate a lot of time and effort to reach the highest level of competition,” Lumbra said.

One difference from traditional sports, though, is that esports can have a shelf life. Right now, the three biggest titles are League of Legends, Rocket League and Overwatch, but Valorant is growing in popularity.

“Established games change over time, and new games are always coming up,” Lumbra said. “They all tend to become more complex. The trick is to maintain balance so that the game is interesting to play but also interesting to watch.”

Here at CCC, the esports journey will get its official start in mid-September with tryouts to identify interested students and determine the top performers for each title.

CCC teams will find dedicated space for practice on each campus. Lumbra is seeking people who can monitor these dedicated spaces as well as individuals interested in serving as assistant coaches.

In the future, Lumbra hopes to offer more titles, support intramural teams and organize camps for middle and high school students.

He sees a bright future for the program at CCC because “esports is a great a way to bring people together, have them interact on another level and make new friends.”

Center check-in: First day of fall classes

After Anna Russell of Holdrege posted photos on Facebook of her sons for their first day of school in August, she realized she should do the same for herself.

Russell, who attends Central Community College-Holdrege, had put her education on hold after the birth of her oldest son. As a single parent, she tried to juggle a newborn, full-time job and school.

“Before I knew it eight years had passed,” she said. “In that time, I had gotten married and had two more boys. I wanted to show my kids that nothing is too big to handle and that anything is possible.”

After some discussion with her adviser, she returned to CCC as a part-time student in 2020.

She’s on track to graduate in May 2023 with an associate of applied science degree in accounting and a certificate in ag finance.

“When I started back into classes, I wanted my accounting degree. I wanted to work with numbers. Be in the tax world,” she said. “Now, after losing my father-in-law to cancer, it’s become my passion to work with the agricultural community.”

Russell said her father-in-law had loved running the family farm, which her husband plans to take over someday.

“I want to not only walk that path with him but work hand in hand with other farmers in the community,” she said, although she doesn’t yet know whether that service will come in the banking, tax world or insurance world. “My path is still being decided.”

CCC won’t be the final stop on Russell’s educational path. This was a bit of a surprise to her since she really hadn’t planned to go any further. But now, after more discussion with her adviser, she plans to transfer to Bellevue University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business leadership and management.

She has some advice for individuals wavering in their decision about whether to go back to school. “Do it! It’s never too late. Take that leap and know you are capable of anything.”

CCC-Hastings gets free trees, offers tree workshops

Central Community College-Hastings is focused on trees.

Ten free trees from the Nebraska Forest Service (NFS) and Nebraska Statewide Arboretum (NSA) will find a home on the campus in September. This is the third consecutive year the campus has received this grant.

Three fall workshops also will deal with trees. Two are specialized. One is a meeting on Sept. 15 for NSA curators from across the state who want to see the campus’ tree projects. The other is an Arborist Safety Training Institute on Oct. 17 for tree care safety specialists.

The Mid-Nebraska Tree and Landscape Workshop on Oct. 18 is open to any interested individual. Presenters from the NFS, Kansas Forest Service, Great Plains Nursery, NSA, CCC-Hastings and UNL Extension will speak on tree selection, establishment, health and diseases; multipurpose landscapes; plant identification; drought-tolerant lawns; and other topics. The day will conclude with a tree planting demonstration and celebration. The cost is $35, which includes lunch.

CCC at a glance: dental hygiene

Location: Central Community College-Hastings.

Year started: 1977.

Total number of graduates to date: 396.

Program options: Associate of applied science degree.

Program accreditation: American Dental Association.

Special admission requirements: 3.0 GPA on prerequisite courses, 40 hours of observation in a dental facility, Hepatitis B vaccine, current CPR card, and drug and background checks.

Requirement to work in a dental office or clinic: passing the national and regional board exams to become a Registered Dental Hygienist.

The team: Dr. Wanda Cloet, program director; Ashley Herringer and Patty Kirkegaard, full-time instructors; Kim Danehey-Nibbe, clinic assistant; and Vanessa Crookshank, Lyndsey Elley, Susie Medcalf, Abby Rennau, Deb Schardt and Lisa Seaman, part-time instructors.

Program partners: Veterans Administration, Head Start, elementary schools, nursing homes and clinics with dentists, dental hygienists, social workers, certified nursing assistants and school nurses.

Dental Hygiene Clinic: provides adults and children with preventive care such as cleaning, x-rays, fluorides and sealants.

Special activity: working at the Give Kids a Smile event at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).

Recent graduates on new adventures:

  • Ally Kort (graduated in 2020, pictured above) is a first-year student at the Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health at A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Mo. Her mother, Jill Stertz Kort, is a 1993 CCC dental hygiene graduate.
  • Amanda Katen (2015) is a first-year student at the University of Texas-Houston dental school.
  • Tomas Trejo (2016) is a first-year student at the UNMC pharmacy school.
  • Katie Mills (2018) starts her teaching career in the dental hygiene program at the University of Missouri-Kansas.

Celebrating uniqueness

Individuals who visited the UNITY project Aug. 18-24 at Central Community College-Grand Island draped yarn around poles that described their identity, education, interests and more. The resulting art piece showed the uniqueness and interconnectedness of everyone who participated. The project was sponsored by the Multicultural Resource Center with help from the maintenance staff who painted and set up the poles. (Photo by Joan McCarthy)

Award honors achievements

Allison Durkop of Creston has been named a 2022 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar.

The award comes with a $1,000 scholarship for the Central Community College-Columbus elementary education major.

The Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program helps new Phi Theta Kappa members defray educational expenses while they’re enrolled in associate degree programs.

Recipients were selected for their scholastic achievement, community service, and leadership potential. More than 1,300 applications were received.

The $207,000 awarded through the program is funded with $200,000 from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. The remainder comes from donations to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation.

The funds provided by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation aid college completion and give students the opportunity to engage in PTK programs and develop their leadership skills.

Durkop, a Humphrey Public Schools graduate, is vice president of service for the CCC-Columbus Chi Sigma PTK chapter.

Student, graduate place at nationals

A Central Community College early college student and graduate placed in the top 10 at the recent SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Atlanta, Ga.

Blake Ramaekers, who participates in CCC’s early college program through Columbus High School, and fellow CHS student Fisher Cyza took second place in the high school mechatronics competition.

Ramaekers is a senior at Columbus High School and plans to study mechatronics or electrical technology in college.

Thomas Harling, a graduate of CCC-Hastings, took eighth place in the cabinetmaking category.

Harling graduated from CCC in May with plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to earn an agriculture education degree and then become a skilled and technical sciences educator.

The SkillsUSA championship is the nation’s largest workforce development event for middle school, high school and college and postsecondary students enrolled in career and technical education programs.

More than 12,000 students, teachers, education leaders and representatives from 650 national corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions participated in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

Central Community College employees celebrating their 25th service anniversaries are (from left) Kim Garretson, Sheila Hansen, Lori Hodtwalker and Kathy Marble.

Employees celebrate 25 years of service

Four individuals have completed 25 years of employment at Central Community College. They are:

Kim Garretson

Kim Garretson of Columbus began work at the Columbus Campus on July 21, 1997, as the facilities management director, the position he still holds today.

Prior to joining the CCC staff, he was head of maintenance at Scotus Catholic High School for three-and-a-half years and then at Lakeview High School for seven years. He also worked in construction, building and remodeling houses, two activities he still enjoys and engages in today.

Garretson is a graduate of Columbus High School and has taken classes at CCC.

His community activities include the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lawn and Landscape Committee, Columbus City Tree Board and Greenspace Advisory Group. He also is an 18-gallon blood donor.

He and his wife, Pennie, have two daughters and five grandchildren.

Sheila Hansen

The first job at Central Community College-Grand Island for Sheila Hansen of Grand Island was as a work-study in the grants department.

Two years later on July 2, 1997, she was hired for a full-time position as a technician in the computer department. Just as the name of the department has changed to information technology services, her title has changed to networking and cabling specialist. She said when she started her job, she provided hardware support to employees and students but now works more on the network.

Prior to CCC, Hansen worked at 3D Ammunition, the bullet factory in Doniphan.

She from Doniphan High School and earned an associate of applied science degree in electronics from CCC.

Her partner, Dave Welch, is retired. She has two sons and two grandchildren.

Lori Hodtwalker

Lori Hodtwalker of Monroe started work at the Columbus Campus on Aug. 22, 1997, as a records coordinator. In 2001, she accepted her current position as a business administration instructor.

One of her most recent joys of working at CCC has been the addition of men’s and women’s soccer. The addition has brought many more international students into her classroom, enriching the experience for her and their fellow students.

She previously worked for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletics department, doing fundraising and marketing.

Hodtwalker is a graduate of Monroe High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from UNL and a master’s degree in business administration from Wayne State College.

She is a member of Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus.

She and her husband, Bill, have a daughter and two grandchildren.

Kathy Marble

Kathy Marble of Hastings began work at Central Community College on Aug. 4, 1997, as the cooperative education coordinator at the Grand Island Campus. She also worked with the campus’ mentoring program and taught college survival classes.

She transferred to the Hastings Campus in 1999 to teach human services. In 2012, she accepted her current position as a sociology instructor.

Her previous work experience includes retail and then banking. Just prior to joining the CCC staff, she served as director of the Hastings Literacy Program and as a family services provider at Head Start in Hastings, which then covered Adams, Nuckolls, Clay, and Webster counties.

She is a Kenesaw High School graduate who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Kearney and a doctorate in education from Concordia University in Portland, Ore.

She and her husband, Ken, have two children and two granddaughters.

Kluck retires after 40-year college career

Ron Kluck of Schuyler has retired as dean of extended learning services (ELS) at Central Community College.

He retired on the 40th anniversary of the day he joined the CCC staff on Aug. 2, 1982, as regional coordinator in what was the forerunner of the ELS office. He oversaw the college’s 35 educational centers in the Columbus area, which offered course packets, community education programming and workshops.

In 1994, he was appointed to associate dean of ELS on the Columbus Campus and then to the college-wide position of dean in 2000.

“Technology had a bigger and bigger role to play,” Kluck said of his years at CCC. “Community education classes subsided in the smaller towns. The college started doing satellite classes, and ELS provided the student support for them. As online courses became more popular in 2005 or 2006, we started to scale down the packet courses and eventually dropped them.”

Prior to joining the CCC staff, he taught high school speech and English for three years in St. Edward and for three years in Schuyler.

He is a graduate of Schuyler Central High School. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Wayne State College and a master’s degree in vocational education from the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

Kluck’s community activities include being an active member of the Knights of Columbus in Schuyler, serving on a number of committees at Divine Mercy Parish in Schuyler and coaching baseball for about 10 years, from Little League through legion teams. He also serves as business manager for the Crawdads baseball team in Schuyler.

While at the college, he was a member of LERN, an association that provides support to providers of continuing education and customized training. He also was active in the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), the Missouri Valley Adult Education Associaton and, until it disbanded in the early 2000s, the Adult and Continuing Education Association of Nebraska (ACEAN). He served in most of ACEAN’s board positions, including president, and was the recipient of its Rookie of the Year, Outstanding Adult Educator and Distinguished Service awards. He also was named CCC-Columbus’ Employee of the Year in 1993.

He and his wife, Carol, have three children and 11 grandchildren.

Employee news

Administrative Office

Marketing director Amanda Groff was installed as a member of the Doniphan-Trumbull Board of Education at its Aug. 8 meeting. She will finish out the open position left by the resignation of Chris Vincent. The term runs through December, but Groff is also running for the board in the November election.

Columbus Campus

Two individuals have shifted into new positions: Kristin Hoesing, from admissions director to speech instructor, and Jenny Wurdeman, from events coordinator to student services administrative assistant.

John McKinney has been promoted from adult education coordinator at the Cargill Center in Schuyler to associate dean of skilled and technical sciences.

Individuals joining the staff on a full-time basis are Augustine Sanchez, director of residence life and student engagement; Kasi Stoltz, head women’s basketball coach; and Lucas Wieser, apprenticeship coordinator.

Grand Island Campus

New full-time employees include Cristina Castillo, assessment technician; Becca Dobry, area director of financial aid, a collegewide position; Kelsey Meharg, admissions technician; Paulina Ortega Madrid, apprenticeship coordinator, and Diane Smith,  nursing assistant and medication aide trainer.

Michelle Lubken has shifted positions from associate dean of students to disability services director at the Hastings Campus.

Hastings Campus

Bethany Brunson and Joshua Matthiessen have joined the staff as custodians.

Custodians Jan Miller and Vicki Verbeck have resigned and Jan Richter has retired.

Julie Mullen has been promoted from academic transfer specialist to collegewide director of the Success Coach Program.

Kearney Center

Ashley Weets has been promoted from student and enrollment services director to associate dean of students at the Grand Island Campus.