February 2024 Central Connection

February 1, 2024

Zeckser receives Hastings Campus award

Jackie Zeckser of Hastings has received the 40th Annual Outstanding Service Award at Central Community College-Hastings.

The award is presented annually to a Hastings Campus employee who demonstrates exemplary service to the college.

Zeckser first worked as a part-time early childhood education instructor at CCC before moving into the full-time position in 2011.

Nominators cited her work ethic, pleasant personality and incomparable professionalism and dedication.

She’s known to arrive early and stay late on workdays and come in on her days off for special events. She also uses her own money to provide supplies for student activities in her classroom.

“She does an exceptional job of both communicating with the public and enhancing the image of Central Community College,” one nominator said

Zeckser was still employed at Head Start in Hastings when she took the part-time position at CCC-Hastings. She worked there for almost 25 years, starting as a van driver and then doing a variety of jobs that included teacher’s assistant, lead teacher, home visitor and coordinator for the Infant/Toddler Quality Care Initiative.

She is a graduate of Hastings High School who earned an associate of applied science degree in early childhood education from CCC, a bachelor’s degree in human services administration from Bellevue University and a master's degree in early childhood education from Concordia University.

Zeckser is a member of Head Start executive board, Adams County UNL Extension advisory board and her church board.

She has two sons and eight grandchildren.

League Excellence Award goes to nine individuals

Nine Central Community College employees have received the 2023-24 League Excellence Award from The League for Innovation in the Community College.

The honorees, who were nominated by College President Dr. Matt Gotschall, are (pictured row by row, left to right): Michelle Bentz, Luz Colon-Rodriguez, Kim Danehey-Nibbe, Kyle Finecy, Barry Horner, Marcie Kemnitz, Matt McCann, Scott Miller and Mike Sobota.

Michelle Bentz

Michelle Bentz, sociology instructor at the Columbus Campus, is a faculty leader for Early College statewide recruitment efforts with high schools and advising and a strong advocate for international students, making sure they understand the process for online learning. She was an early adopter of e-textbooks and open educational resources to reduce cost and increase access for all students.

Luz Colon-Rodriguez

Luz Colon-Rodriguez, student counseling and prevention education services director, led efforts for CCC to be recognized as an exemplary member of the Nebraska Collegiate Prevention Alliance (NECPA), earning a bronze-level designation for CCC. She has joined the NECPA State Advisory Board and has presented workshops at the Siembra Nebraska Conference and at the Nebraska Hispanic Latino Youth Summit.

Kimberly Danehey-Nibbe

Kimberly Danehey-Nibbe, clinic assistant for the dental hygiene program at CCC-Hastings, has moved the patient charts from paper to digital format and updated the patient software to include the latest coding for treatments performed by the dental hygiene students. She also regularly assists in researching needed supplies, including those involving infection control.

Kyle Finecy

Kyle Finecy, an automotive technology instructor at CCC-Hastings, has taken the lead on bringing NC3 (National Coalition of Certification Centers) membership to CCC, which allows students to earn over 20 NC3 industry certifications. He regularly attends NC3 and Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Train-the-Trainer events and is an active member of CCC’s Faculty-lead Assessment of Student Learning committee.

Barry Horner

Barry Horner, director of veteran and military services, has continued to expand involvement of veteran students and their families at CCC and grow support for veterans and their organizations across the state. He coordinates the Nebraska State Fair's recognition of veterans and has received the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award. Under his leadership, CCC has continued to receive national recognition for its service to the military community.

Marcie Kemnitz

Grand Island Campus President Dr. Marcie Kemnitz has shown innovation and leadership in every position she's held at CCC. She has supported national accreditations for the allied health and nursing programs; assisted with federal and local grants; and overseen the addition of the Center for Health and Technology and the renovation and expansion of business, information technology, welding, criminal justice and student service facilities. She also is a Higher Learning Commission reviewer.

Matt McCann

Matt McCann, heavy equipment program director and instructor, was instrumental in establishing the only heavy equipment operator program in Nebraska and getting scholarship and equipment support from state associations and companies. As truck driving program supervisor, he helped create unique and flexible CDL training to meet federal regulatory changes and new bus driver certification requirements. He also introduced simulation software and devices for recruiting and teaching students.

Scott Miller

Scott Miller, college communications senior director, has increased CCC's visibility through local, state and national media outlets and digital and social media platforms. The college has been featured by the Guinness Book of World Records and the World Wildlife Fund. Interviews of CCC employees and students have appeared in manufacturing publications and chamber and community college outlets.

Mike Sobota

Mike Sobota, an environmental health and safety coordinator and trainer, has taught hundreds of workshops for industry employees on confined spaces, forklifts, OSHA regulations, hazardous materials, arc flash and industry-level state recertifications.  He conducts training throughout CCC's service area that draw students from across the state and midwestern region.  His programming supports Nebraska Worker Training grants for local industry.

Employees begin retirement

Four individuals have retired from Central Community College. They're pictured (left to right) Dee Johnson and Nancy Straatmann in the top row and Regina Somer and Teresa West in the bottom row.

Dee Johnson

Dee Johnson of Columbus has retired as the library services director at CCC.

She began work at the Columbus Campus in October 1993 as a part-time employee in the print shop. In February 1994, she was promoted to a full-time position as the resource center assistant to Nell Burnham, associate dean of learning resources. When Burnham retired in 2000, Johnson became the learning resources director.

Prior to joining the CCC staff, she worked as a cosmetologist in Columbus for 15 years. She is a graduate of Humphrey St. Francis High School and holds an associate of arts degree from CCC and a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Bellevue University.

Johnson served on the board of the Northeast Library Association and has been active with the American Library Association, Nebraska Library Association and Nebraska Library Commission. She has been active with the ONE Library Consortium and has served as an adviser for students working toward the CCC library and information services certificate. She also is an active member of St. Bonaventure Catholic Church in Columbus.

She and her husband, Ray, have three children and nine grandchildren.

Regina Somer

Regina Somer of Grand Island has retired as admissions director at the Hastings Campus.

She previously worked in advertising sales at the Grand Island Independent and in public relations, human resources and physician recruitment and relations at St. Francis Medical Center before coming to CCC as a leadership trainer in the training and development division. She left to serve as campus director for Doane University before rejoining the CCC staff in 2018 as admissions director.

Somer is a graduate of Grand Island Northwest High School. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree in management from Doane University.

She is a member of Third City Community Church and a member of the CHI Health St. Francis Foundation Board. She is a Hall County Leadership graduate and served on its board. Past community involvement includes serving as a TeamMates mentor, on various Harvest of Harmony committees and as chair of the event in the 1990s and as a member of the Grand Island Rotary Club and Wood River Celebrate Arts Board Committee.

She and her husband, Doug, plan to split their time between Nebraska and Arizona. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Nancy Straatmann

Nancy Straatmann of Kearney has retired as student accounts director at the Grand Island Campus.

Prior to joining the CCC staff in 2008, she worked for 10 years as a bookkeeper for her parents’ business, Buzz’s Marine in Kearney, and as a senior accountant for 25 years at EMRG, an acquisitions and mergers business.

Straatmann is a graduate of Kearney High School. She earned a comprehensive bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in accounting from the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

She is a member of Family of Christ Lutheran Church and plans to help her husband, Randy, in their business, RNS Business Services. They have two daughters and five grandchildren.

Teresa West

Teresa West has retired as a human resources specialist and college wellness coordinator at CCC.

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

Prior to CCC, she was employed 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 married to Ray West and has two sons, a stepdaughter, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Employee news

Administrative Office

New employees include Stephanie Brubaker, information technology systems engineer; Marciano Davis, information technology specialist; and Tammie Williamson, human resources specialist.

Shifting positions are Jason Jensen, from information technology specialist to IT network engineer, and Dani Schwinn, from technology integration specialist to media arts instructor in Hastings.

Bradley Keasling has resigned as grants director. His replacement is Jessica Rohan, development director at the CCC Foundation.

Columbus Campus

Joining the staff are Navneet Kaur Katara, physics and mathematics instructor; and Bryan Salazar, diversity recruiting coordinator.

Grand Island Campus

New employees include Denise Kozel, electrical technology instructor, Raja Mendadala, information technology instructor and Andrea Sanchez, college-wide service center supervisor.

Amanda Rooker has shifted from nursing instructor to clinical nursing director in Kearney.

Sharon Strampher, nursing assistant and medication aide trainer, and Janel Walton, dean of student success and enrollment management, have resigned.

Hastings Campus

Joining the staff are Eron Baker, director of the hospitality management and culinary arts program; Olga Lopez Chojolan, custodian; and Mark Robb, industrial technology coordinator and trainer.

Valeria Denman has shifted positions from admissions recruiter to TRIO program coordinator.

Resigning from their positions are Maggie Esch, entrepreneurship director; Kevin Hunt, plumbing maintenance technician; and Alex Rodriguez, truck driver trainer.

Two employees received degrees from Doane University in December: Jason Davis, associate dean of community and workforce education, a doctorate in education, and Julie Mullen, area director of the success coach program, a master’s degree in higher education student affairs.