April 2023 Central Connection

April 3, 2023

CCC earns Military Friendly School nod

By Scott Miller
College Communications Senior Director

Central Community College has achieved a top 10 gold level ranking for small colleges, earning it the 2023-24 Military Friendly School designation. Specifically, CCC finished sixth on the list of 95 small colleges nationwide.

“CCC’s military-connected students deserve the credit for this award,” said Barry Horner, CCC director of veterans and military services. “They attended classes, did the homework, took the tests and walked the stage in graduation regalia. The Veterans and Military Resource Center (VMRC) staff had the easy part, supporting the students on their journeys. Their success is what made CCC successful.”

Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,800 schools participated in the 2023-24 survey with 665 earning special awards for going above the standard.

Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer) and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

 CCC’s VMRCs provide support to active duty, reservist and National Guard members; veterans; and their family members. In addition to military education benefits, the VMRC assists with transferring military credit; scholarships; career planning; registration and direct access to state and national veterans; and military benefits, resources and programs.

“We continue to once again be recognized for excellence in service to, and results achieved by, our veteran students,” said CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall. “It’s not an easy mission, but one we are proud to meet year after year.”

The 2023-24 Military Friendly Schools list will be published in the May and October issues of G.I. Jobs magazine and can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com.

AACC recognizes David as distinguished faculty

Michael David, a criminal justice instructor at Central Community College-Grand Island, has received the Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty designation from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

The AACC established the designation in honor of its former president and CEO as a way to recognize individuals who are making a difference for students, both inside and outside of the classroom.

The 41 recipients were honored during the AACC annual convention April 1-4 in Denver, Colo.

Since David joined the CCC staff in 2018, enrollment and graduation numbers have increased in the criminal justice program, resulting in an expansion from one to three full-time instructors.

“We have a great team providing a dynamic program to the students,” David said.

Accomplishments include receiving two CCC mini-grants, signing a 2+2 agreement with the University of Nebraska-Kearney, starting the Criminal Justice Student Association and SkillsUSA Forensic Team, participating in the Metallica scholarship program and opening an on-campus Crime House.

In the bio-tech lab at Central Community College-Hastings, Sara Medcalf and Haiwei Lu are propagating in vitro poplar plants and cutting leaves into segments for callus induction.

Bringing totipotency from textbook to lab

By Joni Ransom
Chief of Staff

A textbook illustration shows a carrot root section in a test tube with growth medium that “somehow” grows into a whole carrot.

This is how totipotency – the ability of a single cell to generate into an entire organism – is often discussed in the classroom.

“Totipotency is one of the most important conceptual terminologies discussed in biology courses,” said Haiwei Lu, biology instructor at Central Community College-Hastings, “but the textbook illustration does not offer students any direct experiences with the process of regeneration.”

She saw an opportunity to bring the textbook image to life in Gausman 115, also known as the bio-tech science lab. And as a former postdoctoral research associate at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, she knew where to obtain the in vitro stock poplar plants she needed to get started.

 “Plants are easier to regenerate than animals and humans and therefore serve as better materials for demonstrating the concept of totipotency,” Lu said.

Funding for the project came from a successful application for a CCC mini grant. The funding included a research assistant position, which has been filled by Sara Medcalf of Hastings. It was perfect timing since she completed her general education courses at CCC in December and is awaiting acceptance into the radiology technology program at Southeast Community College.

With samples, funding and personnel, the project got underway. The poplar hybrid clone INRA-717-184 (Populus tremula × Populus alba) is a model tree species widely used in scientific studies. It’s an appropriate choice for Nebraska where the Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) – a member of the genus Populus – is the state tree.

Medcalf and Lu are using these poplar plants to create in vitro materials that involve several regeneration stages. They start in vitro regeneration with leaf segments and then:

  • induce callus (disorganized cell masses) information,
  • induce shoot regeneration and elongation from callus, and
  • induce root formation from elongated shoots.

The resulting in vitro plant materials can be incorporated into classes and lab demonstrations for biology and agriculture students. They also can enrich the learning experience through research activities and additional lessons on such concepts as tissue culture and genetic engineering.

But what does this mean for the world outside of the science lab? Poplars can be modified to grow bigger, taller and faster for the timber industry. Others may be enhanced so they address vitamin deficiencies in human diets or adapted to work as a medicinal ingredient.

The two individuals overseeing the project at CCC-Hastings also cite personal benefits.

Although Medcalf is going into the health care field, “the techniques I’m learning are transferable. Knowing about medium preparation is something that I can take with me,” she said.

“I have done research for a long time, since I was an undergraduate and I enjoy the lab environment,” said Lu, who also expressed appreciation for Central Community College. “It is allowing me to integrate all that I am doing into our classes.”

Caption for the photo of the poplar plants: The plant on the left has not undergone in vitro regeneration. The reddish roots on the one on the right shows that it has undergone this process and been engineered with red pigment encoding genes.)

News briefs

‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’

The beloved Peanuts characters will take centerstage when Central Community College-Columbus presents John Gordon’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Based on the Charles Schulz comic strip, the musical explores life’s great questions as the Peanuts gang plays baseball, struggles with homework, sing songs, swoons over crushes, and celebrates the joys of friendship.

Theater instructor Stephanie Tschetter is the director and vocal music instructor Jeff Kitson is the music director. Curtain times are at 7 p.m. April 13-15 and at 2 p.m. on April 16 in the Fine Arts Theater.

Tickets are $15 for general admission and $5 for students.

Students receive DeBord scholarship

Nate Mehling of Scottsbluff and Brock Poppe of Ogallala, students in the heavy equipment operator technical program at Central Community College-Hastings, have each received a $1,000 Jim DeBord Scholarship.

Ron and Tammy DeBord established the scholarship in 2020 in honor of Ron’s father, Jim, who worked in the heavy equipment field for more than three decades. Jim and Ron attended this year’s scholarship presentation along with Jim’s grandson, Nolan.

Both Mehling and Poppe will graduate in May. Mehling plans to return to Scottsbluff to work while Poppe plans to relocate to Lincoln to work in land clearing or excavation.

Emde retires

Laura Emde of Grand Island has retired as a student accounts technician at Central Community College-Grand Island.

She began working at CCC’s downtown location in October 1974 on a part-time basis while still a student at Grand Island Senior High School, attending classes in the morning and working in the afternoon. She went full-time in May 1975, the day after she graduated from GISH.

She first worked in purchasing and then also in accounting and as a receptionist. When CCC-Grand Island moved to its current location, she worked in accounts and then in accounts payable. In 1995, she transferred from the administrative office to the Grand Island Campus to work in student accounts.

Emde holds diplomas in general office, word processing and fundamental business from CCC as well as a management development certificate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Business Administration. Serving on CCC’s Internal Audit Committee also led her to earn a Certificate of Continuing Professional Development from the Institute of Internal Auditors Inc.

While at the college, she has served on the College Student Accounts Committee since 1995, the Grand Island Emergency Response Team since 2013 and the Grand Island Safety Committee since 2016. As an ERT member, she completed the National Incident Management System introductory training course.

She is a member of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church where she’s a member of the Ladies and Altar guilds. Past community involvement includes the March of Dimes, Make a Wish and Jaycees. She also completed Leadership Tomorrow and was a member of Leadership Tomorrow II.

Emde has four children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren with two more on the way. Her husband, Larry, died in 2020 from lung cancer.

Employee news

Administrative Office

Marni Danhauer has been promoted from grants manager to dean of community and workforce education.

Lauren Slaughter has resigned as equity and compliance manager.

Columbus Campus

Financial aid director Lisa Gdowski has earned the FAAC designation from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ accredited Certified Financial Aid Administrator (CFAA) Program.

She earned the designation after passing a comprehensive knowledge exam and affirming her commitment to the standards of ethical behavior that are a hallmark of the financial aid profession.

The CFAA Program began in 2019 as an industry effort to validate the skills and knowledge of financial aid professionals at postsecondary institutions nationwide.

Grand Island Campus

Taylor Brase, early childhood education program director, has graduated from the Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy (PLA).

The six-month PLA program was launched in 2018 by First Five Nebraska, a statewide, nonpartisan organization. Through the program, participants worked with specialists in public policy, data analysis and strategic partnerships to learn how to engage with policymakers and promote grassroots advocacy in their own communities.

Mary Rose has resigned as a nursing instructor.

Hastings Campus

Mason Ramirez has joined the staff as a custodian.

Resignations have been submitted by Aaron Thiessen, groundskeeping supervisor, and Holden Zubrod, custodian.

Kearney Center

Lauren Ramirez-Wenburg has been promoted from part-time learning center manager to full-time student services specialist.