Fall 2019 Community Connection
December 5, 2019
This issue features a variety of stories about Central Community College's partnerships with industries, businesses and other organizations. Read about how these partnerships benefit workers, their employers and their communities. You'll also find stories on other subjects such as the new women soccer's team and an EMT with an inspiring tale to tell.
Welcome ... from Cheri Beda, CCC’s Alumni Director
Dear CCC Alumni,
Nominating an individual for the Outstanding Alumni Award is, well, outstanding on your part. Submitting a nomination can take some time but it’s well worth it.
The award has been in place for many years and is the highest honor Central Community College bestows upon an individual to celebrate their personal lives, professional achievements and community service.
When I’m out in our communities, I always run into someone who has attended CCC and wants to share a story about their educational experience. Our alumni are CCC’s voice in the community.
Nominations are open all year. Each campus selects an alum from the nominations corresponding to that campus. What better way to celebrate outstanding achievements than nominating a graduate for the Outstanding Alumni Award?
Dr. Jerry Wallace joined Central Community College in May as president of the Hastings Campus. He succeeded Bill Hitesman, who retired after 17 years of leading the campus.
While replacing someone who previously held the office is never easy, Wallace is pleased with the transition.
“Things are going great,” said Wallace. “I really enjoy working closely with the faculty, staff and students at CCC. The transition has also been eased by the support I receive from Dr. (Matt) Gotschall (college president), the campus presidents and other leaders within the college.”
Some of Wallace’s highlights during his first few months include conducting all-campus meetings where faculty and staff volunteer projects are recognized and participating in the Ram Run, “Pizza with the President” in the residence halls and the campus-hosted SkillsUSA leadership conference and the Construction Career Day.
One of the things that Wallace has come to understand is that CCC is a friendly environment where people are open to new ideas and working together.
“It is very easy to contact someone and exchange ideas, collaborate or even launch a new project,” said Wallace. “I think CCC will only get better and stand out as a leader among the community colleges in the State of Nebraska.”
A Muskegon, Mich. native, Wallace came to CCC after serving as the dean of workforce, technical and community education at New River Community and Technical College in Beckley, W.Va. He previously held positions at higher education institutions in Texas, West Virginia and Michigan.
Being new to the Tri-Cities area has given Wallace an opportunity to try some of the local favorites, such as Eileen’s Cookies, which quickly became a daily thing. He even shared some with his family back home and they, too, became fans of Eileen’s Cookies. However, after noticing the scales inch up a tad, Wallace has cut back on his cookie consumption. His family, though, still wants more.
“Everyone in my family back home constantly reminds me to bring more when I go back for the holidays,” said Wallace. “I can’t wait to meet Eileen in person.”
Story by Scott Miller; photo courtesy of Jerry Wallace
Grand Island and five other Nebraska communities – Gothenburg, Norfolk, Red Cloud, Schuyler and Wood River – are now part of a national effort to prioritize programs and policies that will improve the well-being of children. Except for Norfolk, the selected communities are located within Central Community College’s 25-county service area.
The effort involves the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation working with the National League of Cities (NLC) as part of the City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation initiative.
The foundation will use NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF Institute) Early Learning Communities Action Guide and Progress Rating Tool with local Nebraska leaders to assess their progress and continue to develop action plans. This initiative will also include in-person and virtual opportunities for learning from peer cities and national experts.
In Grand Island, the initiative will build on efforts already being made by H3C, which stands for the Hall County Community Collaborative. The organization’s diverse membership consists of people who work with kids from birth to 20 years old, such as educators, social workers, juvenile workers and representatives from businesses, nonprofit organizations and the health department.
As part of the initiative, two members from the H3C Early Childhood Education Subcommittee – Barbara Beck, an early childhood education instructor at Central Community College-Grand Island, and Celine Swan, youth and family services librarian at the Grand Island Public Library – have been selected to attend the Early Childhood Success Summit in November in San Antonio, Texas. They had the opportunity to share what is happening in Grand Island and to learn about what other cities are doing to build an equitable early care and education system.
Beck and Swan are quick to point out they are only part of a larger group of people committed to improving early childhood education opportunities in Grand Island. This group includes Robin Dexter, assistant principal at Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS); Amy Richards, early childhood education coordinator at GIPS; Deb Ross, a lead agency chair for the Head Start Child and Family Development Program; Jennifer Worthington, GIPS chief of strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement. Former Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen signed off to be a partner and current Mayor Roger Steele is also supportive of the initiative.
“Ninety percent of a child’s brain forms before the age of 5, and yet 40 percent of children in Nebraska aren’t ready to succeed when they start kindergarten,” Beck said. “This initiative is designed to narrow the achievement gap, improve academic success and increase the graduation rate.”
“We want more children entering school ready to learn,” Swan said. “One of our first steps is to seek leaders in the community who want to address this issue. They could be elected officials, school board members, city council members, home child care providers and individuals from area child care centers and businesses.”
Both Beck and Swan said that an engaged community will lead to a Grand Island where all children can reach their potential in a safe and healthy environment.
Investing in early childhood learning also is an investment in economic development because it helps build a better workforce. “For every $1 invested in high-quality early care and education programs, there is a return of $7 to $10,” Beck said.
The City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation initiative is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and is part of the Bezos Family Foundation’s vision to create an Early Learning Nation by 2025. It builds on previous work within the National League of Cities’ YEF Institute to strengthen and build local early learning systems.
Other cities receiving technical assistance from NLC as part of this initiative include Brownsville, Tenn.; Hopewell, Va.; Milwaukee, Wis.; New Orleans, La.; Sacramento, Calif.; San Pablo, Calif.; Walla Walla, Wash.; and Waterbury Conn.
Story by Joni Ransom
Training couldn’t happen without trainers. Take a moment to meet three coordinators and trainers who work for Central Community College.
|Josh Brant teaches a tapping class to students enrolled in the Tyson Foods industrial
maintenance training program in Lexington.
Josh Brant may be new to his position as a trainer, but he’s not new to CCC. He first got to know the college as an Early College student while he was being home-schooled. He later enrolled at CCC and graduated from the Columbus Campus in May 2019 with a diploma in mechatronics.
Between his first and second stints at CCC came a variety of experiences, including working as a department manager at Wal-Mart, a Frito-Lay sales rep and as an intern at Cyclone Air in York. A gig as a part-time cashier at Menard’s turned into a full-time manager’s position while he was also taking 16 credit-hours of classes at CCC. He gained additional industry experience at Becton Dickinson.
Now he’s helping to set up the Tyson 700-hour industrial maintenance training program at the Lexington Center.
“I don’t have teaching experience so I’m learning on the fly,” he said. “There’s definitely a learning curve, but it’s been interesting and a lot of fun. We’re (Brant and the Tyson students) figuring it all out together.”
What he lacks in teaching experience, he makes up for with an understanding of nontraditional students.
“They often think the education route won’t work for them, but no one isn’t smart enough to learn,” he said. “To help them out, I try to make the lessons as hands-on as possible.”
Brant himself said he still has a lot to learn when it comes to this new training program. “It’s about finding out what works and what doesn’t and being willing to make the necessary changes,” he said.
|Elizabeth Smith takes a break during a leadership development
class in Grand Island.
Grand Island Campus
Even though Elizabeth Smith had worked in the human resources department at Principal Financial Group before joining the Central Community College staff almost nine years ago, she said she didn’t realize what leadership was until she started teaching it.
“There are so many facets to leadership and different philosophies and viewpoints and tools,” she said. “I’d be a better asset to a human resources department now, but my background at Principal made me aware of issues people might be facing in the workplace.”
That awareness is beneficial to her in her position at CCC where she teaches essential skills such as communications, customer service, team building, conflict resolution, email etiquette and, her personal favorite, generational differences.
“The topics depend on the group I’m teaching because every group is different,” she said.
Although the topics may differ from session to session, Smith’s goal remains constant, and that’s helping people become better employees. She has ample opportunity to do just that since her job takes her throughout CCC’s 25-county service area.
“I hope I can at least influence how people interact with other employees on a daily basis,” she said. “Improving those interactions can also mean increased productivity and a better work-life balance.”
One difficulty she encounters is getting students to realize it’s not necessarily the other person who’s the problem. “If I can hold up a mirror, they may see they need to do something different and take the opportunity to change their own behavior.”
Sometimes after students put their new skills into practice, they feel compelled to email Smith about their improved work situations. “Those are my favorite emails,” she said. “I know then that they took away something useful from my class.”
|Mike Sobota evaluates a student in a forklift certification class in Grand Island.|
Environmental Health and Safety
Mike Sobota is a farm boy who started driving tractors when he was 12 or 13 years old. That skill helped him later when he went to work at Appleton Electric in Columbus and this is how he was trained: “They told me to go out and practice and when I had it figured out, come in and we’ll give you something else to do.”
How times have changed! Today, he teaches students to drive forklifts rather than tractors, and industries have adopted more formal training standards than back in 1987 when Sobota joined the Appleton staff.
But things were already changing during Sobota’s 20-year career at Appleton. He ended up taking a lot of training at CCC where he now teaches many of the same subjects. He provides training on hazardous materials, forklifts, confined space and other topics at CCC’s locations in Columbus, Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney as well as onsite at area businesses and industries.
His job also gives him the opportunity to tour industrial facilities. “One of the neatest things about my job is being able to see industries I wouldn’t be able to see otherwise because non-employees aren’t allowed,” he said. “It’s a privilege to see their operations.”
At those facilities, he often sees the familiar faces of people he has trained and retrained. “Relationships are a big part of what we do,” he said. “It’s rewarding to get on a first-name basis with these people I see year after year.”
Story & photos by Joni Ransom
Gathered in the new training center are (left to right): Josh Brant, CCC industrial technology coordinator and trainer; Doug Pauley, CCC associate dean of training and development; and Jake Vetter, foreman for TL Sund Constructors n Lexington.
When the Dawson County Opportunity Center opened in January 2011 in a former Wal-Mart building, it provided a new home for Central Community College’s Lexington Center and several other organizations.
Those organizations – CCC, Dawson Area Development, Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce, Lexington Public Schools’ Early Learning Academy, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and Nebraska Department of Labor – used only the front part of the building. Behind them stretched a cavernous 4,000 square-feet of empty space, ready and waiting for some future purpose.
“The city always saw this space as a future opportunity to provide something new,” said Amy Hill, extended learning services regional director at CCC-Lexington.
Now, after eight years, the future has arrived and the purpose determined.
It began with Tyson Fresh Meats in Lexington deciding the best way to get the employees they needed was to develop a training program.
The company reached out to Doug Pauley, associate dean of training and development at CCC, who worked with the company to develop a 700-hour industrial maintenance training program.
Gathered in the new training center are (left to right): Josh Brant, CCC industrial
The next challenge was a lack of space to run the training program, and the solution was right across from Tyson’s plant on the other side of Highway 283.
As owner of the Dawson County Opportunity Center, the City of Lexington was approached about using the empty space for a training center. “Joe Pepplitsch, Lexington’s city manager, did a great job of bringing people together,” Pauley said.
“This project has given us the opportunity to continue our goals of educating and developing our local workforce,” Pepplitsch said. “It’s given us an opportunity to move forward in a significant way.”
The new center will occupy about 3,500 square-feet of the available space with the remaining 500 square-feet designated for a call center.
Several partners are making the center a reality. The city has invested about $300,000 into remodeling the facility. Tyson has committed $100,000 for equipment, an Aksarben grant provided $75,000 and a Nebraska Worker Training Grant is supplying $100,000 more. CCC has provided $100,000 for additional equipment such as speakers and computers.
The new center may not be quite finished yet, but the first Tyson class still began on June 1 with newly hired CCC trainer Josh Brant as the instructor.
The 12 students accepted into the Tyson 1+2 Industrial Maintenance Training Program have committed to attending school for a year and then working at Tyson for two years.
Students attend classes for four hours a day, four days a week, a schedule that will continue until they complete the program in April 2020. They are receiving training in electrical principles, mechanical systems, hydraulics, pneumatics, motor controls and programmable logic controllers as well as computer skills and basic mathematics. Thanks to an agreement with Lexington Public Schools, they’ll be able to learn welding in the LPS skills armory welding lab.
They also work four hours at the plant and are paid for all their time, whether it’s in the classroom at CCC or on the floor at Tyson.
Class members said they found out about it in a variety of ways: flyers around town, at the high school and through family members who work at the company. Here’s what else they had to say about the program:
- “It was an opportunity for me. I don’t have a lot of training or experience for a job otherwise.”
- “There’s nothing like hands-on learning.”
- “It’s a good program. I wouldn’t have qualified for a job at Tyson otherwise.”
- “America is a land of opportunity. Tyson does a good job of making that true.”
Lupita Medrano, human resources manager at Tyson, said the company has started similar programs in different places. “The program here has really taken off,” she said. “It’s had some growing pains but next year, it will be like a well-oiled machine.”
Mike Houck, maintenance training supervisor, is the primary person at Tyson involved with developing the program. “So far, so good,” he said. “We’ve made some changes, but for the most part, it’s going well.”
The training program reflects another investment by Tyson, amounting to about $110,000.
“The Tyson philosophy is to be invested in the community,” Medrano said. “We also invest in our own community, in the training and promoting of our employees.”
For example, Tyson has a tuition-reimbursement program for continuing education and training. They also have the Upward Academy for students who need to take GED, English as a second language or citizenship classes.
“This project has shown how important partnerships are and also that people don’t always have to go somewhere else for an education, that they can get those opportunities here,” Hill said.
This also will be true for people who aren’t employed by Tyson. The center will be open to other area businesses and industries that need to train their employees as well as to high school and nontraditional students.
“We’ll continue to develop partnerships with CCC,” Pepplitsch said. “The college is good at expanding these types of opportunities.”
Pauley is ready to do just that. “This center will provide opportunities to the Lexington area for years, thanks to everyone who made it happen.”
Story & photos by Joni Ransom
|Trevor Lee outside the building that houses Valley County Economic
Development ,the Ord Area Chamber of Commerce and CCC
A decade ago, the community of Ord looked at its declining population and decided to do something about it.
That something was economic development.
“Like a lot of the state, Ord was still reeling from the ag crisis of the ‘90s,” said local attorney Bob Stowell. “There was a lot of dread and doom, but challenge begets opportunities. We knew that to produce opportunity, we had to find a pathway.”
He already had a “bubble of an idea” for that pathway which involved increasing Central Community College’s role in the community. At the time, the college had a learning center open on a part-time basis at the Ord Township Library and Ord High School.
The pitch was made at a CCC Board of Governors meeting in Ord. “The community stood up and said they wanted the college to have a stronger presence in Valley County,” said Karin Rieger, associate dean of extended learning services (ELS) at CCC-Columbus.
CCC-Columbus didn’t need any additional encouragement to begin working with Greater Loup Valley Activities Inc. (GLVA) and Valley County Economic Development (VCED) to expand CCC’s services in Ord and the surrounding area.
One of the first considerations was a new location. As it turned out, Stowell had an empty building in downtown Ord that had originally housed a Ben Franklin store. When the store chain went out of business, it served as a community center and then as a Hamilton Telecommunications satellite office until the company closed it.
CCC was instrumental in improving the building’s infrastructure and upgrading its technology as well as hiring as its coordinator Ord resident Lu Lansman, who served in that role until 2013.
“She was such a good hire because she had a lot of connections,” Rieger said. “She gave us a positive start with her leadership. When we opened the Ord Learning Center in 2010, the response from the community was just tremendous.”
Over the nine years that have passed, CCC has settled into the building it shares with the VCED and Ord Area Chamber of Commerce. It’s an arrangement that benefits each organization.
|In the Ord Learning Center, Bob Stowell stands in a multipurpose room that used to be
part of the Ben Franklin store he once owned.
“We cross- promote our activities and answer each other’s phones,” said Kristina Foth, assistant director of the Ord Area Chamber of Commerce. “And we all bring different people into the building. Being in one location increases the public’s awareness of all of us.”
The good relationship shared by the three entities may be thanks to the fact that Trevor Lee, executive director of the VCED and chamber, and Crystal Ramm, regional ELS director for CCC, started work on the same day in 2013.
“I came into a really good situation,” Lee said of the VCED, which works with Ord and the other Valley County communities of Arcadia, Elyria and North Loup. “There’s not a lot of infighting with our village boards. We try to find ways to work together and capitalize on our assets. We’re all very different, but we all want quality of life for the residents of this area.”
Part of that quality of life depends on what Stowell calls “getting intentional about economic development.”
A good example is a sales tax Ord residents approved for economic development. Although the tax is only charged in Ord, the money it raises can be spent anywhere in Valley County. Lee said the first business loan from the sales tax was awarded in 2003. Since then, there have been 64 loans worth a total of about $5.5 million. Of the businesses that took out a loan, 83 percent are still open.
Kristina Foth sits at her desk where she does work essential to the functioning of the
The investment in business also has seen corresponding investments in revitalizing downtown Ord; improving such things as parks, including a $3.5 million aquatic center; and supporting civic activities such as scouting and sports teams. The city is now buying vacant buildings and fixing any problems they have to make them attractive to new businesses.
These investments are designed to enhance the lives of the residents of Valley County, whether they’re employed in agriculture, health care, manufacturing, government, recreation, retail or professional services such as accounting or law.
The diversity of the economy sets the stage for people who want to live and work in Valley County. It also depends on educating, training and retraining area residents which, of course, is what CCC, VCED and the chamber do. People come to the Ord Learning Center for such things as nursing assistant, medication aid, ACT prep and GED classes; business training; lunch-and-learns; Career Discovery Day; a leadership academy; and camps for kids.
A new opportunity is a community education program that is being developed by Janet Eppenbach, CCC community education coordinator and the fourth person who works in the building. Through the program, individuals can take personal enrichment classes.
“I wish they would have had this space when I was growing up,” said Foth, who took dual credit classes through CCC when she was a student at Ord High School. “This center opens up so many new doors for students, both traditional and nontraditional.”
“Ord does a fantastic job of saying there’s a place for you,” Ramm said. “It tells young people to go get your education and then we’d love you to come back here to live and work and grow.”
The three organizations are committed to doing their part to ensure Valley County is a good place to live and work, or to just visit, no matter what a person’s age or circumstances.
“Economic development isn’t all about numbers,” Stowell said. “It’s about individuals, too.”
Story & photos by Joni Ransom
Sitting on the outskirts of Holdrege and on the edge of southwest Nebraska’s farming community is a Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) plant.
BD is a global company with five plants in Nebraska that bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the state. Its Holdrege plant has 620 employees who primarily make medical devices.
“Agriculture is always first,” Brian Deakin, BD human resources manager, said of Nebraska’s economy, “but Gov. (Pete) Ricketts wants a diversified economy that includes manufacturing, service and technology.”
Like many industries, though, BD is challenged by finding the workforce it needs. Making the problem worse is an expansion that involves hiring about 30 more people to make a new type of syringe.
BD draws its employees from about an hour’s drive away, including Cambridge, Cozad, Elm Creek, Kearney, Lexington and Oxford, and sometimes they lose an employee because of the commute.
So how does BD address its workforce issues?
One way is offer to train new employees and retrain existing ones. In this area, the company has the help of Central Community College.
“Central brings a well-rounded partner to the table,” Deakin said. “What I like about CCC is that I can go and talk to them, and they’ll help us figure out how to do whatever we’re trying to do. They’re also used to dealing with nontraditional students and are all about building up the workforce. It’s a match made in heaven.”
The two entities have worked together to cover a lot of different subjects over the years.
“We’ve had a long-term relationship that’s included onsite leadership and industrial classes in the past,” Diana Watson, regional director of extended learning services at CCC-Holdrege. “We’ve offered a variety of other onsite classes as needed, such as for the essential skills of showing up, being reliable and knowing how to work with other people.”
Individual employees also go to CCC-Holdrege to work toward their associate’s degree or to take general education or business classes.
“BD came to Nebraska 65 years ago because it’s in a central location,” Deakin said. “They also came here and stay here because of Nebraskans’ strong work ethic and their willingness to learn.”
Because of BD employees’ willingness to learn, the company started a registered State of Nebraska apprenticeship in manufacturing a year ago. Although these apprenticeships had existed for craftsmen, plumbers and electricians, it’s a new opportunity for manufacturers. BD was among the first to take advantage of that new opportunity, and 30 other companies have signed up in the short time it’s been available.
Through the program, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor, individuals can “earn while they learn,” Deakin said. “Because they’ll have a good full-time job, it’s perfect for someone who can’t afford to go to school otherwise. Over a three-year period, they’ll learn everything they need to be credentialed. They’re then obligated to work for two additional years for BD. This is all about removing as many barriers as possible so people can meet their goals.”
BD Human Resources Manager Brian Deakin
Also helping to tear down barriers is the Phelps County Development Corporation (PCDC), which offers the following incentive programs:
A $1,000 grant for new resident-renters who live outside Phelps County and move into the the county to work for a Phelps County employer.
A $5,000 down payment assistance grant for new residents who live outside of Phelps County and move into the county to work for a Phelps County employer. The employer may contribute as much as they like, and PCDC will match the employer amount, up to $2,500.
When it comes to high school students, tearing down barriers looks a little different. Much of it has to do with preconceived and outdated visions of manufacturing in the 21st century.
“It’s not at all what most people envision. They think working in a plant is dirty, noisy and smelly, but it’s not,” Deakin said. “BD employees work in an air-controlled environment that is high tech and pristine.”
It’s a misconception that BD and CCC representatives work to dispel when they staff booths at the South Central Nebraska Career Fair in Holdrege and other similar events.
“We’re a good option for high school students,” Deakin said. “They may not be an A student, but they’ve pushed themselves. They’ve set goals and achieved them. They’re not afraid of machines and they’re good at problem-solving and methodology. We’re looking for those attributes.”
Watson agreed. “Some students don’t want a degree in history. They want to work with their hands,” she said. “We’re here to help them with those career goals.”
Both BD and CCC are committed to the relationship they’ve built and that has eased the educational path for area residents, especially those who want to stay where they are.
It doesn’t matter whether Holdrege-area residents are business leaders, parents or both, “it kills us when children feel they need to leave the state to have a career or a good standard of living,” Deakin said. “We want them to see that there are great opportunities here, that they don’t have to move away.”
Story & photos by Joni Ransom
Partnerships are relationships.
At Central Community College-Hastings, long-term relationships between the diesel technology program and Nebraska Machinery Company (NMC) and Titan Machinery have benefited the students, companies and CCC.
The relationships come in the form of sponsorships. For students accepted into the program, the companies pay their tuition, fees and books. They also pay for the student’s tools, which can cost $7,000 to $8,000. In return, the student has an obligation to meet GPA requirements while attending CCC and then to work for the sponsoring company for two years after graduation.
|Dave McCarthy and Nick Haynes inside the diesel technology building at CCC-Hastings.
“This partnership is vital,” said Region Manager Dave McCarthy of Titan’s 15-year relationship with CCC. “What sets CCC apart is that they totally understand how important this relationship is. They turn out a good product.”
Ben Gano, director of talent and client strategy for NMC, agreed. “They seek input from industry so they can keep current with what’s happening in the field. This type of collaboration is valued and integral to our success.”
The reason this collaboration is essential to both Titan and NMC is because of a deep need for diesel technicians. When Gano makes his visits to high schools, he can tell those student there’s a 99 percent placement rate for diesel technicians.
“I thought I’d find people left and right,” he said of beginning his recruiting efforts for NMC five years ago. “It turns out a trained diesel technician with experience is a purple unicorn. They don’t exist. Getting the people we need isn’t about recruiting and headhunting. It’s a workforce development issue. We need to make our own employees.”
|Ben Gano and Chris Sayers outside the CCC-Hastings diesel technology building.
A good example is Chris Sayers, who attended and graduated from CCC on a NMC sponsorship, making him one of more than 225 students who have done the same during NMC’s 23-year partnership with CCC.
He has been employed by the company for 12 years, with eight of those years in Omaha where he worked in the NMC railway systems department modifying CAT equipment for railroad customers and traveling across the U.S. servicing the equipment for customers.
These days, Sayer’s closer to his hometown of Clarkson, working as a product support sales representative for NMC out of Norfolk. He covers the Columbus territory where he “lives out of his pickup and makes sure customers are happy.”
His favorite part of his CCC education was that it didn’t focus on just one product. “They taught me how to problem-solve, make a system from scratch, and communicate and work with vendors,” he said. “My education got me here. It put together all the pieces I needed.”
Someone who has started putting together the pieces he needs for his own future career is Nick Haynes. He’s a current diesel technology student who began working for Titan shortly after he graduated from Papillion-La Vista High School in May. That meant he brought some experience with him when he began diesel technology classes at CCC in August.
His relationship with Titan grew out of a career fair where he met McCarthy, but he had been “turning wrenches since 2014,” working on hot rods and other vehicles. He’ll continue to work at Titan during school breaks and in the summer, and he likes the interplay between work and school. “I’m learning what I don’t know at school and then I can go back and apply what I’ve learned in real life. It helps a lot,” he said.
Ensuring students become successful graduates is a responsibility taken seriously by both CCC and the companies. CCC provides regular feedback, and the companies communicate regularly with their sponsored students to make sure they’re doing well in their classes, and if not, to connect them with tutors or other college services that can help them.
“These companies are wonderful to work with,” said Jeff Bexten, diesel technology instructor. “Most students benefit, whether they’re sponsored or not. For example, they may do a cooperative internship at a dealer over the summer. They always come back with better questions.”
McCarthy agreed that paid internships play an important part in a student’s education. “It’s a way for them to get experience,” he said. “They can practice the skills they’ve learned in class and learn new things they can bring back to school.”
Another way Titan and NMC benefit CCC is that they actively recruit for the diesel technology program – at high schools, career days, SkillsUSA events and more.
Educating students and parents about manufacturing is important, said Mark Funkey, associate dean of skilled and technical sciences at the Hastings Campus. “Many parents think of manufacturing as a dirty environment, but when the least expensive machine in our AMDT (advanced manufacturing and design technology) lab is $45,000, we have to keep it clean of dust. That lab isn’t dank, dangerous or dingy and neither is the diesel technology lab.”
In other words, diesel technology is a solid career choice, and CCC, NMC and Titan are determined to spread the word.
“When we work collaboratively,” Gano said, “we can find solutions to our workforce development issues.”
Story & photos by Joni Ransom
In October 2018, a $1 million anonymous donation was given to Central Community College to meet the growing workforce demand for certified nursing assistants (CNA) and nurses at the Kearney Center and the Holdrege and Lexington centers. One of the main reasons the benefactor made the donation was to assist Kearney and surrounding communities in caring for an increasing elderly population in long-term and assisted-living facilities.
|Michaela Terry (left) checks a mannequin's heartbeat while CCC nursing instructor
Colleen Quadhamer listens in.
The $1 million is being allocated over five years with one year already in the books. Half of the money goes to pay for a full-time instructor, and $250,000 dollars is to be used for scholarships. The other $250,000 has been put into an endowment fund for future scholarships.
Dr. Kelly Christensen, dean of training and Kearney Center administrator, said the Long Term Care (LTC) Scholarship offering has also expanded and is available to students in the nursing assistant, medication aide, occupational therapy assistant and pharmacy technician programs.
“We want to remove as many barriers as possible to help our students get the education and training they need for long-term care careers,” said Christensen.
Not all of the barriers are financial according to Christensen, who said accessibility to an increased number of classes is now available due to a full-time instructor and more adjunct instructors for nursing at the Holdrege and Lexington centers.
“In the past, we would run out of available classes during the summer,” said Christensen. “It used to be back when we were in the old Kearney Center, that we would have a line of students waiting to sign up because it was first-come, first-served. But this year, we have so many opportunities that we’ve eliminated the need for lines.”
Perhaps the best news is that in the scholarship’s two terms of existence, enrollment in nursing programs has increased by 20 students from the prior terms.
|McKenzie Daily in the nursing lab at CCC-Kearney.|
The LTC Scholarship was prominently discussed at an information session at the Kearney Center in October. CCC administrators hosted several representatives from long-term care facilities to inform them about what the nursing students are being taught and the educational facilities they will learn in. The idea is to give potential employers a sketch of how CCC students are prepared when they enter the workforce.
“We really want to reach out to the employers and become more of a partner with them on this and learn more about their needs after they hear about and see the things we have available,” said Christensen.
The $1 million donation has also expanded opportunities for students who have received scholarships.
Michaela Terry is new to the nursing program at the Kearney Center as of this semester. However, she has seven years’ experience in long-term care, having worked in a nursing home and an assisted-living facility. Terry’s experience includes working as an aide and in the billing department. When Terry earns her nursing degree, she is considering working as a nurse in a long-term care facility or perhaps serving as an administrator. She may also go into pediatrics.
Terry said she almost didn’t apply for the LTC Scholarship because she thought she had missed the deadline; however, she is grateful that she applied because the scholarship has opened a few extra doors.
“I have three young boys, so a lot of my finances go toward my children,” said Terry. “With the scholarship, I was able to buy things that I may have put off, like a new stethoscope and some new scrubs for my clinical days because they have a certain dress code that you have to follow.”
McKenzie Daily earned her practical nursing diploma through the Kearney Center and is on track to graduate with her associate degree in nursing in May 2020. She then plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing and even a master’s degree so that she might be able to teach nursing at the college level. Daily is interested in working as an intensive care unit nurse. She has her CNA and currently works on the weekends at the Community Memorial Health Center, a skilled-nursing facility in Burwell.
In some ways, Daily believes the LTC scholarship is fueling her high aspirations in nursing.
“I think it does light a fire, knowing that there are more options and people who are willing to help,” said Daily. “The funds that I have received just really mean the world to me. I hope that I can give back just like they have.”
Story & photos by Scott Miller
On the job as an EMT
The intricate tattoo weaving around Casey Drummond’s left arm not only depicts her son’s heart rhythm, but also marks the culmination of her own profound journey from where she was to where she is.
Today she is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with Midwest Medical, a transport company based in Columbus where she was born and raised.
It’s a job she loves, but one she never envisioned for herself until she went with a girlfriend to an EMT informational meeting. As someone who was intrigued with the medical field, Drummond kept getting more excited as the meeting progressed.
She was ready to sign up, but she faced a few hurdles dating back to her teens when she was addicted to meth.
“I barely made it through high school,” she said. “I picked up my grades just enough to pass.”
Despite her tepid performance in high school, she went ahead and enrolled at Central Community College-Columbus but only lasted a semester before dropping out. Her failing grades from back then meant she wouldn’t qualify for a scholarship now that she wanted to return to CCC to take the EMT class.
That’s when Project HELP stepped in. Project HELP – which stands for Health Education Laddering Program – is designed to break down barriers for low-income Nebraskans seeking to improve their lives by entering a health care profession. Although Drummond had to pay for the class itself, Project HELP took care of such expenses as her books, stethoscope and eventually her license.
Drummond enjoyed the hands-on nature of the class because she hates being “PowerPointed to death,” but had to overcome a feeling of inadequacy because she wasn’t a certified nursing assistant like many of the other students. It helped when she became friends with one of her fellow students because they would practice scenarios at each other’s houses.
Casey and Dwayne Drummond on their wedding day
Dwayne with his son, Ian
“It meant everything to have her as a partner,” she said. “That class was the first time I ever even touched a blood pressure cuff.”
That may be true, but Drummond once served as a caregiver, and that touches on another part of her past.
At 21, she was still addicted to meth and was in a house that was raided. She was sent to a rehabilitation facility to get clean and it was there that she met Dwayne. They married and later had a son, Ian.
And then Dwayne got cancer.
“I was his caretaker,” she said. “To watch him suffer and then pass away, there’s nothing harder than that.”
Although Drummond had been clean since 2005, she said “it was really hard not to try to escape the pain (by returning to using drugs). Thank God for my son or I may not have made it.”
She said the same thing about two Project HELP staff members. Success Coach CoLynn Paprocki at the Columbus Campus informed her about the job she now holds while Career Coach Chris Miotke at the Grand Island Campus helped her write her resume and prepare for the interview.
The preparation with Project HELP resulted in a smooth job interview. “I told them I want to do this job, but I don’t have any experience. They said that was good, because they could train me the way they want me to work and not have to correct any bad habits.”
They were also understanding about her past drug use, which she had worried would prevent her from getting an EMT license because applicants must pass a background check. But her license was approved after she submitted her intake and discharge papers and a letter from a counselor.
When she was offered the job, she cried because “it just felt like an awesome achievement. I assumed I couldn’t do it, but I turned out to be stronger than I thought.”
She also gives credit to Project HELP. “I didn’t know how to do a lot of the things that are part of finding a job,” Drummond said. “Without their help, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this job.”
Her time on duty as an EMT may be spent transporting people or completing duties at the station, but her off-duty time revolves around her son, who she describes as an eight-year-old version of his father.
Her tattoo keeps Ian close when she’s on the job where she believes her past has given her the ability to understand and be compassionate with the people in her care. That feeling is best expressed in the tattoo next to the one of Ian’s heart rhythm: “Next to creating a life, the finest thing a woman can do is save one.”
Story by Joni Ransom; photos courtesy of Casey Drummond
Nebraska’s Worker Training Grant Program is designed to support the training and retraining of workers for high-quality, long-term jobs that enhance business productivity.
“The main focus is using this program as a tool for economic development,” said Victoria Daniels, grant development coordinator at Central Community College. “The grants are a great way for businesses to improve the skills of their employees.”
Applying for a grant requires detailed information such as the project name, description and purpose; the amount of funding being requested and the matching funding the employer will provide; a budget with a breakdown of how the funds will be used; the name of the training provider and how the training will be conducted; and the measurable outcomes from the training.
The breadth of the information required can seem overwhelming to employers, and that’s where CCC can help. The process begins with the training and development department, whose mission is to respond to the training needs of central Nebraska businesses.
“Training and development (T&D) does a nice job of tailoring training to meet business needs,” said CCC Grants Manager Jessica Rohan, “but sometimes they can’t swing the cost. They also may be too small to have the personnel to handle applications. It’s a service we can provide.”
The grants department works with T&D to develop the narrative for the grant and then helps the business complete and submit the application.
Grants can range from $100 or $200 for training in safety, leadership, communications or computers for a one- or two-person shop to big-ticket special projects for large companies or even multiple entities.
During the 2018-19 academic year, CCC assisted more than 50 businesses in writing Nebraska Department of Labor job training grants.
“Over 450 Nebraska workers were impacted by these training efforts last year,” Daniels said. “The CCC grants department, along with training and development, partnered with businesses and industries to supplement their training budget by an additional $1,133,845.00 in 2018-19.”
Training sessions during 2018-19 that were funded by Worker Training Grants with CCC as the training provider included teaching new IV procedures to licensed practical nurses at Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Hastings; providing industrial training to workers at Becton Dickinson locations throughout CCC’s 25-county service area; and training road workers from Werner Construction on Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) safety procedures for working at sand and gravel pits.
Rohan said the T&D department is flexible in meeting the needs of all businesses, big and small. This may include forming a consortium so a group of small businesses can send their employees to a class or hiring an outside trainer for specialized training the college doesn’t offer. “Their goal is to find whatever the company needs so it can be successful over the long term,” she said.
“T&D is greatly important,” Daniels said. “They are the connection between businesses and CCC’s programs and faculty members.”
Story & CCC-Hastings advanced manufacturing design technology lab photo by Joni Ransom
When it comes to donations to colleges and universities, most people immediately think of monetary donations. While it is true that Central Community College receives many generous cash donations, it also receives a number of requests to accept various donated items. However, it is not a simple case of bringing an item to CCC and leaving it on the doorstep, as it were. There is a process and in the end, it may be a case of “one man’s trash may NOT be another man’s treasure.”
To demonstrate how it works, we will look at the donation of a Case IH combine from a few years ago. The tractor sustained some minor damage and the company decided that it could not use or sell it. A call was made to the diesel technology program at the Hastings Campus and after the gift-in-kind forms were completed, CCC administrators determined that the tractor was of worth to the program in that it could be used for driver training, engine disassembly and assembly by students and for other educational purposes. Once approved by the vice president of administrative services, the combine officially became a donation.
The next step in the process was sending the donation paperwork to the CCC Foundation.
“Our executive team looked at all of the forms and recommendations and determined that the donation fit all of the criteria,” said Dean Moors, CCC Foundation executive director. “Once the executive team approved the donation, an official letter was sent to the Case IH confirming the cash value of the combine for tax purposes and thanking the company for its generosity.”
The process of making a donation is described as moderately selective and many donation requests are denied. Some examples in recent years include used cars, wheelchairs and medical beds, to name a few. The deciding factor in most of the rejected items is that they are incompatible with modern technology or not what students would use when they get into the workforce. A potential donation could also be denied simply because CCC has an adequate number of a particular item and does not have a need for or the available space to accept it.
Some of the other accepted donations in recent years include scrap metal for the welding technology program and resin, used by the advanced manufacturing design technology program for making the ever-popular spatulas at the Hastings Campus.
Story & photo by Scott Miller
The inaugural Raiders women’s soccer team includes (left to right) Bailey Keller of Columbus, Katia Garcia of Lexington, Kaylee Grieser of Kearney, Isa Cisneros of Lincoln, Madison Hurst of Lincoln and Courtney Aldrich of Columbus.
The inaugural season of the Central Community College women’s soccer team is underway, and with a below .500 record, it is safe to say that there have been a few ups and downs. Nevertheless, head coach Jamie Bennett is pleased with the progress.
“I think it’s going well,” said Bennett. “Obviously, we’ve lost a few more games than we wanted to, but putting everything into perspective given what we have, I think the girls are doing a great job.”
|As the Voice of the Raiders, Keith Manak (left) is the announcer for home soccer games.
He speaks with Jamie Bennett, head women’s soccer coach, before one of those games.
The Raiders opened the season with three wins before in-state rival Northeast Community College handed CCC its first loss in program history.
Speaking of Northeast, CCC women’s soccer was able to pick up one of the Hawks’ players from 2018, Lexi Kucera, the only sophomore on the squad. That acquisition was a big win for the Raiders.
“Lexi is originally from Columbus and played for me at Columbus High School,” said Bennett. “She transferred in when this program started. To have somebody like her who’s played at the college level, she is a great mentor for the ladies.”
Region IX play has been particularly difficult for CCC as it is going up against more established teams and in some cases, long road trips. Even so, Bennett tells his young players that they can improve by controlling the things they can control.
Raiders competing against the Saint Mary JV team included
“We know we’re the underdogs in every Region IX game going forward,” said Bennett. “We just want to go out there, put on a good show and do the best we can. If we do that, hopefully we can get an upset or two.”
Regardless of the wins and losses, Bennett is pleased with the work ethic that he sees in both games and practice.
“When I recruited them, I told each player that this is going to be a challenging and tough year,” said Bennett. “However, as they watch film, get back to practice and digest the game before, they realize that they have improved throughout the season.”
Another plus is that Bennett is receiving weekly inquiries from soccer players, both locally and internationally.
“I’ve got about seven or eight athletes that I’ve spoken to who are interested in attending CCC,” said Bennett. “They see the challenge and the work ahead, but they want to be a part of building the program and getting it turned around.”
If nothing more, Bennett reminds his players that being on the first CCC women’s soccer team literally means that they are making history.
Story & photos by Scott Miller
Over the years, a number of funds have been established at the Central Community College Foundation to support students and programs.
Some are restricted while others are endowed. Endowed funds are invested with money awarded coming from the investment earnings only. The principal remains intact to continue providing scholarships for students and support for programs in the future.
Restricted funds are paid out annually until all donations have been expended.
For more information or to set up a fund, contact Dean Moors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-460-2153.
Featured below are some of the funds available.
Athletic Booster Club Fund: Established to support athletics on the Columbus Campus.
CCC DACA Scholarship: Set up for each campus and college-wide for DACA-eligible students. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of six hours per semester.
Center for Science and Technology Fund: Supports science program scholarships and technology for this new center on the Columbus Campus.
Central Honors Institute (CHI) Scholarship: Funds provide scholarships to students attending the camp on the Columbus Campus.
Certified Nursing Assistant and Elderly Care Fund: An anonymous $1 million donation funds a full-time instructor at the Kearney Center and awards scholarships to nursing assistants, medication aides, nurses and occupational therapy assistants who want to work in elderly care facilities.
Charlotte Smith Construction Scholarship: Established by the family of Charlotte Smith in her memory and awarded to a student in the construction technology program at the Hastings Campus.
Columbus Middle School Scholarship: Funds match Columbus Middle School scholarships for eighth graders taking dual credit courses at CCC while attending a Columbus high school.
Dr. Deb Brennan Scholarship: Awarded in honor of Dr. Brennan’s more than 30 years of dedicated service to CCC.
Dr. Lynn and Joan Black Scholarship: Awarded to nontraditional, second-year students on the Grand Island Campus with a minimum of a 2.75 GPA.
General Scholarship: Established to build smaller donations into a larger scholarship fund.
Heavy Equipment Operator Technician Program Fund: Established to provide scholarships to students in the heavy equipment operator technician program at the Hastings Campus and to provide support to the program.
Jennifer A. Hoagland Memorial Scholarship: Established in memory of Jennifer Hoagland by family and friends and awarded to a student in the business division at the Hastings Campus.
Kearney Center Fund: Benefits the Kearney Center and may be used for scholarships and/or program support.
Linda Bowden Scholarship: Awarded to a student in either the nursing or occupational therapy assistant programs on the Grand Island Campus. Recipient must be a second-year student.
Ron Sealey Scholarship: Established by the family of Ron Sealey in his memory and awarded to a student in the auto body program at the Hastings Campus who can use it for tuition, books and equipment.
Vicki Harvey Scholarship: Endowed scholarship for a student on the Grand Island Campus.
Women’s Veteran Scholarship: Established for a female veteran of any branch of the U.S. Armed Services with or without VA Educational Assistance. Must provide a copy of DD 214, reflecting an honorable discharge. Must be enrolled at least half-time, maintain satisfactory academic progress and pursue a degree or diploma.
Central Community College loves to hear from its graduates, like the following students who related their CCC experiences at Share Your Story at www.cccneb.edu/alumni.
Amy Licking of Tucson, Ariz., earned an associate of applied science degree in human services from the Grand Island Campus in 2017.
She continued her education at Doane University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in human services. She’s currently is employed as a probation officer and is working toward a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Arizona.
“My life had been rough from the start,” said Licking, who became addicted to drugs and alcohol when she was a teenager. “My life had become unmanageable and I’d wish I could undo many things in my life.”
She decided to change her life and entered treatment. After a long road to recovery, she took the next step.
“Though I didn’t know if I could do it, I went back to school,” she said. “CCC changed my life.”
She credited the instructors in the human service department for giving her hope she could earn her degree.
“Janice Hill and Joyce Meinke were my biggest cheerleaders,” she said. “I will never forget all the support and help I received from them. They fought hard for me when sometimes I couldn’t for myself. They built my confidence up that had once been depleted.”
When Licking graduated with honors, she had finally learned to believe in herself as much as her instructors did. She said they work hard for all their students, helping them not only to learn the material but also to feel valued as people.
“CCC was an amazing place to kick off my education,” she said. “It taught me to not only value people and friendships but to work hard and never give up on my dreams. Going to CCC taught me that life is hard but you will get out of it what you put into it.”
She encourages current and prospective CCC students to keep working toward their goals. “Follow your heart and work hard,” she said.
Liliana Mfikou Rios
Liliana Mfikou Rios of Kearney graduated from CCC in 2019 with an associate of applied science degree with an emphasis in accounting. She then transferred to the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
While at CCC, she attended classes at the Kearney Center.
“I had three fantastic years embracing college life,” she said. “My time in college enriched my life in many ways. It provided me with the necessary tools to improve my skills, taught me valuable knowledge about this diverse world and people and concepts.”
She added that she believes education will help her be more successful in life and that it has already taught her how to think and become a more fully developed person.
“My favorite professor encourages her classes to perform well academically, but she’s concerned with more than just grades,” she said. “She cares about each of her students as people. She has given me advice on several occasions and has impacted me probably more than she knows.”
Mfikou Rios said when she first arrived at college, she was overwhelmed by the number of assignments and work, but over the three years, she learned how to manage her time and break down projects into smaller tasks.
To current and prospective students, she has this advice: “The only difference between who you are and what you want to be in future is what you do. It is your clear vision toward your goal that assures you of your success.”
Jerry Clinch is a new attorney at Andrew Hoffman Law P.C. where he provides legal services for families and small businesses in Central City. He attended CCC where he earned an associate of arts degree before continuing his education at Bellevue University. He later earned his J.D. from Stetson University College of Law in Florida. He lives with his family in Hordville.
Michaela Frederick, a full-time culinary arts student, and her father, Kenn, have opened up Blue Rock Coffee Co. in Doniphan. She does all the baking, including special pastries, muffins, biscotti, cupcakes and pies.
Dallas Zimbelman has been promoted to loan officer and branch manager of Archer Credit Union in Archer. She has been with Archer Credit Union since 2014. She will graduate from CCC in December with an associate of applied science degree in business administration.
Lyla Faye Bennett, 79
Grand Island, June 23, 2019
Haley N. (Shroyer) Bohlen, 31
Fairfield, Oct. 7, 2019
Kristina Cepel, 38
Holdrege, June 20, 2019
Tonja Jasinki, 42
Lincoln, June 22, 2019
Linda Kay Jelken, 73
Kearney, Oct. 6, 2019
Randy Kirby, 61
Hastings, Sept. 23, 2019
David Langenberg, 58
Hastings, June 27, 2019
Bonita “Bonnie” Lebo, 68
Grundy Center, Iowa, June 14, 2019
Calvin Carroll Lepp, 92
Central City, Oct. 10, 2019
Dale Luedtke, 95
Columbus, Oct. 9, 2019
Reva Jo Muhle, 52
Columbus, June 27, 2019
Kenneth Piel, 72
Arvada, Colo., Aug. 10, 2019
Judith “Judy” (Schmidt) Resh, 79
Shelton, Oct. 8, 2019
Wyatt Socha, 21
Lincoln, July 6, 2019
Joseph “Joey” Sullivan, 24
Columbus, June 22, 2019
Anna L. Wehnes, 61
Inland, Oct. 1, 2019
Kyle Clark (current student) and Julia Marie Polly
Tyler John Dierberger (2015) and Taylor Dawn Nealon
Sierra Jo Dittmer (2015) and Blane Konwinski
Macey Nowark (2015) and Alex Hitchler
Central Community College and RJG have partnered to bring injection molding training to Nebraska. CCC will embed RJG education into their curriculum when the new 4,000-square-foot training lab is completed in early 2020.
RJG’s award-winning courses have trained countless injection molding professionals in a real world, hands-on capacity to improve their careers and lives.
“We are very excited to open up this opportunity to CCC students,” said Gary Chastain, consulting and training director at RJG. “Learning new skills through hands-on training is invaluable; especially today as fewer students choose manufacturing-based careers. We hope to instill a love of the trade and provide new opportunities to future molders.”
“CCC is looking forward to building on this partnership and giving our students training which will help them obtain high paying careers serving industry in our region and beyond,” said Doug Pauley, associate dean of training and development at CCC-Columbus.
This effort has included donations of machines from Becton Dickinson, Molex, Arburg and Toyo; molds and materials from Majors Plastics; and two mold temperature controllers from Advanced Engineering. Novatec is looking at donating specialized equipment.
Ben Wilshusen, CCC’s new director of plastic injection molding, said the first meeting of the Business Industry Leadership Team in September drew 25 people from across the U.S. The data gathered will be used to write course work for the plastics technology certificate that will start off the program.
Story by Scott Miller; photo by Ben Wilshusen
The Community Connection is designed and edited by Joni Ransom, communications assistant to the college president. Also contributing to the publication are these CCC staff members:
- Scott Miller, college public relations and marketing director
- Ben Wilshusen, director of plastic injection molding at the Columbus Campus