FLCC to Ph.D. Part 3: Studying Chernobyl

Woman in science lab
Cara Love ’05, shown at a University of Georgia lab, is earning a Ph.D. in ecology. / Photo by Beth Gavrilles

Cara Love was a homeschooler who needed a high school equivalency diploma as a bridge to college. While prepping for the state exam at Finger Lakes Community College, she found a place to begin exploring her fascination with human impacts on the natural world. Today she is studying the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on wolves.

Cara is among the  alumni who credit FLCC as the springboard for careers in research. In each case a person or program at the college was just what they needed at just the right moment.

Nationally, community colleges get attention for their agility in developing applied programs to meet local needs. Think of courses for wind turbine technicians at two-year schools in the Midwest and FLCC’s viticulture and wine technology degree.

Cover of The Laker magazine
Cara Love is one of several alumni featured in the newest edition of The Laker magazine. Click this image to read the electronic version.

It is not uncommon, however, for students who got their start at community college to pursue doctoral degrees. The National Student Clearinghouse reports that 11 percent of those who earned doctoral degrees in 2016-17 entered higher education at a community college. The proportion was highest in the health and clinical sciences in which 21.5 percent of all those who earned doctoral research degrees started at a two-year school.

Cara arrived at FLCC at age 17. Homeschooled in Naples, she quickly moved through her high school equivalency program into an eclectic mix of college classes: Wilderness Camping, Spanish, Cultural Anthropology, Business Mathematics, Foundation Drawing, Computing in the Information Age, and Biology of Man: Genetics, Evolution and Environment.

“I realized how much I loved the atmosphere at FLCC,” she said. “Some of the best teachers I’ve ever had were at FLCC. They took the time to inspire and encourage my curiosity about the world around me as well as explore my own interests and new topics.”

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FLCC to Ph.D. Part 2: This thing called math

About two years into his career teaching mathematics at FLCC, Charles Hoffman ’01 set in motion a chain of events that has advanced the development of cloaking technology.

All he did was answer a student’s question. That student, Ryan Vogt, had signed up for Charles’ class to fulfill a requirement for computer science. Ryan had hated math in high school.

Male student in front of NC State sign
Ryan Vogt ’13 is on track to earn his doctorate in mathematics from North Carolina State University this spring./Photo by Ken Martin

“He took the time to tell me a story about why math was important,” Ryan explained. “He spent a great amount of time with me.”

Ryan is now finishing up his Ph.D. in mathematics at North Carolina State University and has spent the last two summers working at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. His research has included solving problems in the development of binary electromagnetic cloaking, the science of manipulating the paths of light to make an object optically invisible.

Ryan is among the alumni who credit FLCC as the springboard for careers in research. In each case a person or program at the college was just what they needed at just the right moment.

Cover of The Laker magazine
Ryan’s story is one of several in the Winter/Spring edition of The Laker magazine. Click this image to read the electronic version.

Nationally, community colleges get attention for their agility in developing applied programs to meet local needs. Think of courses for wind turbine technicians at two-year schools in the Midwest and FLCC’s viticulture and wine technology degree.

It is not uncommon, however, for students who got their start at community college to pursue doctoral degrees. The National Student Clearinghouse reports that 11 percent of those who earned doctoral degrees in 2016-17 entered higher education at a community college. The proportion was highest in the health and clinical sciences in which 21.5 percent of all those who earned doctoral research degrees started at a two-year school.

Continue reading “FLCC to Ph.D. Part 2: This thing called math”

FLCC to Ph.D. Part 1: A professor’s story

The newest edition of The Laker magazine features four alumni who have earned or are about to earn Ph.D.s. Each talks about how their FLCC experience contributed to their decision to pursue academic research. We’ll share their stories over the next several days -and the full magazine will appear in your mailbox. (Not on the mailing list? Let us know.)

In the meantime, FLCC faculty have their own stories to tell.

Young woman talking to female professor
Linda Ross, Psy.D., professor of psychology, speaks with a prospective student at an FLCC open house in 2018.

Linda Ross was a high school dropout working as a seamstress when she decided she wanted more out of life. She embarked on an educational journey that ended with a doctorate in clinical psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In the audio file below, she shares her story with a colleague.

Tomorrow, Part 2: This thing called math

Alumni: Stay in touch
We love learning your stories and sharing them. Help us stay in touch by updating your contact information. Click here for an online form to record your address and any news.

 

Podcast explores ‘Ontario County History and Culture’

Three people making a podcast
Valerie Knoblauch, executive director of Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, moderates a podcast with Fred and Nancy Goodnow, who have led the effort to restore the Cheshire Grange building, at the Finger Lakes TV podcasts studio at the Finger Lakes Community College main campus.

A diverse community group has created a local podcast to share efforts to support and promote local history and the arts.

“Ontario County History and Culture” was recorded in the Finger Lakes Television podcast studio at the Finger Lakes Community College main campus in Canandaigua.
FLTV Podcast logo

The first episode of the podcast was released on Feb. 23 with a new episode released weekly through April 12. Ontario County History and Culture is available through iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. It also can be accessed on the Finger Lakes Television website at ochc.fingerlakestv.org.

George Herren, retired Ontario County property tax services director and operations division manager, who serves on several community groups, approached the Ontario County Historical Society, Ontario County Arts Council and the Cheshire Community Action Team about co-sponsoring the podcast and all parties agreed.

“After learning that Finger Lakes TV was expanding into podcasting, I thought it would be a golden opportunity to share information about all the work that is done to preserve our local history and promote the arts,” he said. “A lot happens behind the scenes to make our county such a vibrant place to live and visit.”

Herren enlisted a wide range of moderators and guest presenters, including Preston Pierce, Ontario County historian; Fred and Nancy Goodnow; who are leading the effort to restore the former Cheshire Grange as a local theater and meeting hall; former Mayor Ellen Polimeni, and Sheriff Kevin Henderson.

Finger Lakes TV, the local public access cable station, offers the service for a fee to cover costs associated with recording, editing and uploading podcasts for distribution. The project also provided hands-on experience in podcast recording and editing for a Finger Lakes Community College student.

Finger Lakes TV is a community service funded by local municipalities and based at FLCC through an in-kind donation of space and administrative services. More information about Finger Lakes TV is available at fingerlakestv.org or by calling (585) 785-1623.

IC Tech alumni get nod in new book

Two alumni from the instrumentation and control technologies (IC Tech) program are featured in a new book that tells the story of Construction Robotics.

Book cover showing robot arm, hard hat
The cover of a new book about Construction Robotics.

“SAM: One Robot, a Dozen Engineers and the Race to Revolutionize the Way We Build” by Jonathan Waldman explains how Nate Podkaminer and his son-in-law, Scott Peters, developed a brick-laying robot. They call it a semi-automated mason, or SAM, for short.

Construction Robotics was the first company to work with FLCC to get status under the Start-Up New York business development program. Under the partnership, the company agreed to give FLCC’s IC Tech students internships, and if all went well, jobs.

IC Tech was launched in 2010 as an interdisciplinary technology program, coordinated by Sam Samanta, professor of physics. Sam assists each student in finding a co-op, or paid internship, with a local company that often turns into a full-time job.

Kerry Lipp ’13 enrolled in IC Tech after injuries ended his construction career. In the book he is credited with helping develop some of the custom equipment necessary for this first-of-its-kind machine. “Essentially, he put together all the crazy things Scott dreamed up,” the author writes.

Mike Oklevitch, a former Eastman Kodak chemical engineer, also enrolled in IC Tech for a career change and landed a co-op at Construction Robotics. The title of chapter 10 bears his nickname, Mortar Mike, for his work in developing a way to keep the mortar the robot uses at the right consistency to stick to the bricks.

To read a New York Times review of the book, click here.

 

New FLCC Return to Finish program forgives unpaid bills

Mortarboard that says: Mama did it for you
Message on one graduate’s cap during the 2019 FLCC commencement.

Students who left Finger Lakes Community College before graduating and have unpaid bills to the college can now return and get up to $1,200 of those charges canceled upon graduation.

The new program, called Return to Finish, is meant to help students who may have been unable to register for classes due to previous debt. The deadline to enroll in Return to Finish is Jan. 8, 2020.

“We know that many of our students face multiple challenges, from medical and family issues to emergency expenses. Sometimes these issues become overwhelming and lead them to withdraw from college,” said Matthew Stever, FLCC director of admissions. “This program allows students to come back with a way to manage their past debt.”

Data show that financial problems can cause students to withdraw from school. This new policy is one way to level the playing field for underrepresented students, a key element of the FLCC strategic plan.

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Sands Family Foundation’s $3 million gift largest in FLCC history

Drawing of building
A concept drawing of the Sands Center for Allied Health

The Sands Family Foundation will donate $3 million to Finger Lakes Community College to more than double its nursing program.

The gift, the largest in the college’s history, will cover nearly half the cost of an expanded wing at the main campus in Canandaigua to be called the Sands Center for Allied Health.

The expansion will enable the college to gradually double the number of students it accepts into its registered nursing (RN) associate degree program. Currently, FLCC has 80 openings for new students each fall.

Older woman posing with two grown sons
Mickey Sands, with her sons, Robert and Richard, in front of a portrait of her husband, Marvin Sands

“With a growing need for nurses in the Finger Lakes region, this generous gift from the Sands family will help FLCC fulfill a critical community workforce need,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “The Sands Center of Allied Health will put many more nursing students on a pathway to providing valuable health services to people right here in New York.”

FLCC will also launch a licensed practical nursing certificate program (LPN), which can be completed in one year. The college anticipates scaling up to as many as 56 LPN openings per year within three years.

Objective 3 of FLCC’s strategic plan calls on the college to meet the needs of high demand sectors in our region. This gift allows FLCC to more than double its nursing program to address the local shortage of health care workers.

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Students stage Steve Martin comedy

Picasso character pointing pencil at the chest of Einstein character
Daniel Jackson, right, cast as Picasso, challenges Juan España, who portrays Einstein, in the Finger Lakes Community College production of Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile.”

Picasso and Einstein walk into a bar …

This classic setup is the basis for comedian Steve Martin’s play “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” which Finger Lakes Community College students will stage on Nov. 15 and 16 at the main campus in Canandaigua.

This long-running off-Broadway absurdist comedy is set at a bar in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris in 1904, a year before Einstein publishes his theory of relativity and Picasso transitions into cubism. Einstein and Picasso have a lengthy discussion about genius and inspiration at the bar, which is named the Lapin Agile, French for nimble rabbit.

Performances will be held in the Student Center Auditorium, 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, on Friday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 16 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. General admission is $8; entry for students and seniors is $5. This show is recommended for mature audiences.

Headshot of Juan España
Juan España

Student Juan España II of Penn Yan, cast in the part of Einstein, said he particularly enjoys the moment when the two characters, who begin by squabbling, discover their kinship.

“Einstein doesn’t see art as smart, and Picasso doesn’t see science as beautiful,” he said. “They are both geniuses, but of two different kinds, and they have this moment of recognition.”

“The play is asking if there is a difference between genius and talent,” added Daniel Jackson, of Naples, who plays Picasso.

España said learning to research characters in his acting classes helped him with the conundrum of playing a historical figure at a point in his life when we was still an obscure patent office worker.

Theatre productions are great opportunities for students to apply what they have learned in class. The college’s strategic plan emphasizes the importance of applied learning, particularly as a way to experience FLCC values.

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Mom of seven among scholarship recipients

Demetrice Garcia is a mom to seven children, ranging in age from 20 to just seven months and she works part-time in the emergency department of a local hospital.

That’s plenty to juggle. For Garcia, there’s more: She’s also enrolled full-time as a biotechnology major at Finger Lakes Community College.

Professor Bryan Ingham posing with student Demetrice Garcia
Demetrice “Demi” Garcia of Newark is shown with FLCC mathematics professor Bryan Ingham. Ingham and his wife, Christine, started the scholarship that Garcia received for the current academic year.

Garcia says she wouldn’t be able to pursue her dream of earning a degree if it weren’t for the support she has received from her employer, family and friends. Her perseverance has been recognized at FLCC with another measure of relief: she was recently awarded the Fred and Mary Jennejahn Memorial Scholarship.

The $1,000 award was created by FLCC mathematics professor Bryan Ingham and his wife, Christine, in honor of his grandparents. Fred was a WWII veteran, Rotarian and volunteer firefighter, while his wife was a longtime middle school math teacher.

FLCC scholarships advance Objective 1 by fostering self-advocacy and improving retention by removing financial barriers.

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FLCC student honored by SUNY for excellence

Finger Lakes Community College student Khadija Muhammadi of Rochester has received the 2019 Norman R. McConney Jr. Award, an honor that recognizes excellence among participants in the State University of New York Educational Opportunity Program.

Woman wearing hijab
Khadija Muhammadi is a mathematics major at FLCC.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson congratulated Muhammadi and other students from across New York at a ceremony on Oct. 17 at the SUNY Global Center in Manhattan.

The award bears the name of the late Norman McConney, one of the architects of the statewide Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which provides financial assistance and support to those who face obstacles in achieving their educational and personal goals.

Muhammadi immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 2015 to live with two sisters while finishing high school in Irondequoit. Her parents and brother remain in her home country; she keeps in touch via Skype.

The Educational Opportunity Program supports Objective 2 by providing support to students from underserved populations.

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