Public can watch FLCC ceremony honoring exceptional alumni, benefactors

Finger Lakes Community College will honor exceptional alumni and benefactors with an online event held in lieu of an annual awards ceremony.

The 2020 FLCC Alumni Association and Foundation Awards ceremony, typically held the night before commencement, was postponed due to the pandemic. With large gatherings still prohibited, the ceremony is online on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 6 p.m.  The public is invited to join at this link.

The honorees are as follows:

Benefactor Award: Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation

Since 2012, Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation’s First in Family Scholarship has been awarded annually to an FLCC student, enabling first-generation college students to graduate debt-free. The 2020 recipient is Katelyn Roland of Phelps, a Midlakes graduate, who is planning to study nursing.

 The late Max and Marian Farash

The late Max and Marian Farash:
Their foundation was honored with the Benefactor Award

Distinguished Alumni Award: Lester E. Mayers ’17

Mayers, a traveling poet, performer, and poetry instructor, is the author of published works, including two collections of poetry. He was the recipient of the 2019 Visionary Award from the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and the commencement speaker for the Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts’ Class of 2019 in New York City.

CCFL/FLCC Alumni Association Exceptional Service Award: Corinne M. Canough

Canough, director emeritus, led the Center for Advisement and Personal Development, established the college’s food cupboard, and created the faculty advisor training and compensation model for new student registration.

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Inspired by challenge, FLCC alumni create George Floyd Scholarship

PHoto of Althea Jones-Johnson
Althea Jones-Johnson ’18

As she sat at her table for the annual scholarship dinner awards ceremony at Finger Lakes Community College in September 2017, Althea Jones-Johnson made a promise to herself: One day she’d do what she could to help future students of color join the list of honorees.

“I was just so grateful,” she said. “I remember saying to myself that I want someone else to be able to experience that.”

Fast-forward to the present: Having recently embarked on a master’s degree program in higher education, Althea has partnered with fellow FLCC alumna and graduate student Samantha Maniscola to establish a new scholarship for African-American students.

The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship awards $1,000 to a deserving student in the memory of the Minneapolis man who was murdered by police during what should have been a routine misdemeanor arrest.

The scholarship is inspired by a desire to bring change and a challenge by North Central University President Scott Hagan who on June 4 announced the creation of the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship at his institution and called on every university president in the country to follow suit.

“I saw that this college had challenged other institutions to do the same things and I called Sam and said ‘We should do something like this for FLCC.’ And now, here we are.” Continue reading “Inspired by challenge, FLCC alumni create George Floyd Scholarship”

Alumnus reflects on solemn, historic post

Three officers near the casket of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
FLCC criminal justice alumnus Jacob Habecker is shown at the head of the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Standing at the head of the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jacob Habecker thought of little other than his assignment, to serve and protect.

That, and the silence: As a member of the federal police, he’d grown accustomed to the buzz of dispatchers and fellow officers on his radio. Standing under the portico at the top of the Supreme Court steps in a frozen salute, Jacob was struck by the quiet and the long, snaking line of mourners.

Over the course of two days last month, Jacob was among a select group of federal officers chosen to serve in the honor guard while Ginsburg lay in repose at the Supreme Court where she served from 1993 until her death on Sept. 18 at age 87.

“It’s a memory I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life. I’m very proud of it,” said Jacob, a Palmyra native and alumnus of the criminal justice program at Finger Lakes Community College.

Jacob and fellow honor guard members, clad in their navy blue uniforms and matching face coverings, alternated in 15-minute shifts at the head of the flag-covered casket while mourners paid respects on Sept. 23 and 24.

Jacob could tell when a dignitary had arrived because they were escorted to the front of the line. He was working when Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez came through.

Presidents were allowed a closer view. “I was there when Bill Clinton came, but in other room,” he said, later adding, “The honor guard appealed to me because it allowed me to witness history first-hand.” Continue reading “Alumnus reflects on solemn, historic post”

Masks aplenty thanks to efforts of FLCC mother, daughter

Photo of mom and daughter with face coverings on a porch
Kim Dey, left, and her daughter, Emily, are shown with some of the 1,000 face coverings they donated to FLCC recently. Both students, they’ve led a community effort to gather materials, sew and distribute over 30,000 since mid-March.

Shortly after the pandemic hit, Finger Lakes Community College student Kim Dey heard from a friend who works as a nurse at an area hospital and was worried about the shortage of masks.

“She said, ‘Kim, can you help?’” Kim remembered of that call in March.

Kim quickly organized a Facebook group, We Are In This Together – Sew Away Corona Upstate NY Palmyra/Macedon. It drew those who could sew, provide mask materials or support the effort with donations or connections. In the seven months since, the group of mostly Wayne County residents has made over 30,000 face coverings that have been donated to medical centers, police departments, schools, soup kitchens, Meals on Wheels, migrant farm workers and Native American communities.

FLCC is among the latest in a list of recipients that includes dozens more organizations, businesses and individuals as far away as Florida. Kim and her daughter, Emily, also an FLCC student, donated 1,000 face coverings to be handed out to students, faculty and staff.

“This donation is much appreciated and will be put to good use,” said Dawn Hess, director of environmental health and safety at FLCC. “We require face coverings in our buildings and sometimes our students simply forget or could use an extra.” Continue reading “Masks aplenty thanks to efforts of FLCC mother, daughter”

FLCC awarded $141K in National Science Foundation funds for research into mushroom sugars

Finger Lakes Community College has received $141,000 in National Science Foundation grants to study methods for extracting mushroom sugars with therapeutic properties in partnership with a Henrietta company.

FLCC faculty and students will collaborate with Empire Medicinals to find the most effective way to produce complex polysaccharides, or sugars, from mycelium, the fibrous root-like parts of mushrooms that are often below ground or in trees.

Faculty member in lab coat
James Hewlett, professor of biology, is the founder of the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative.

“This is a great opportunity for students to work with an industry partner and learn how to set up experiments,” said FLCC professor James Hewlett, coordinator of the college’s biotechnology program. “For the college, it could lead to more partnerships and long-term partnerships with industry.”  

Hewlett is also founder of the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI), a national effort to teach scientific principles and skills through research. CCURI promotes collaboration among community colleges on projects to expand the number of students who have an opportunity to engage in research early in their higher education experience. FLCC will work on the mycelium project with faculty and students from Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa.

Package of mushrooms
Empire Medicinals, grower of Leep Foods mushrooms, will work with FLCC on research with mushroom sugars.

The grants will enable FLCC to conduct experiments and pay four to five students as undergraduate researchers. In addition, FLCC scientists plan to learn from members of the Funguschain consortium in Europe, a global leader in developing products from mushroom byproducts.

Empire Medicinals cultivates organic mushrooms for the food and restaurant industry under the brand name Leep Foods. It currently grows the mushrooms on hardwood pellets, much as mushrooms in the wild derive nutrients from trees, explained Christopher Carter, co-founder of the company.

For this project, the company is hoping to use another growing medium: whey. Whey is a waste product of the dairy industry but rich in lactose, another kind of sugar. The goal is to grow the rootlike mushroom mycelium in the milk waste and turn it into a food additive.

“We want to show we can use this waste to create a food product, dry it into mycelial flour and use it in foods,” Carter said. The complex mushroom sugars are prebiotic, meaning they promote beneficial gut bacteria, and could be used to improve the health profile of a wide range of foods.

FLCC and MCCC researchers will conduct experiments to determine the most productive ways to grow and extract the sugars. For example, Hewlett said, they will try producing the sugars with different strains of mushrooms under varying temperatures and nutrient conditions.

“This is called ‘proof of concept,’” Hewlett explained. “A lot of startups do not have large budgets for research and development, so they partner with institutions.”

Sarad Parekh, who teaches Introduction to Biomanufacturing II as an adjunct instructor at FLCC, also works as a consultant with Empire Medicinals. He helped bring the company and the college together. Both Parekh and Carter see potential for biotechnology to grow in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region.

“There is an up-and-coming cluster of companies doing biomanufacturing in the Rochester area,” Carter said. Empire Medicinal’s focus on using biotechnology to innovate within the food industry makes sense in a region with major companies like Wegmans and LiDestri, he added. Involving local colleges is critical to build a biomanufacturing workforce. Major companies, Parekh said, “are very interested in getting students trained in this area.”

FLCC previously collaborated with Cheribundi to help the company learn whether storage conditions such as temperature and light could degrade the beneficial compounds in its tart cherry juice.

Students interested in learning more about FLCC’s biotechnology program or how to apply for a research position may contact Hewlett at James.Hewlett@flcc.edu.

Outpouring of support to help #FLCC students with food insecurity

Area food pantries answered a call to help FLCC students dealing with food insecurity – in a big way.
To prepare for the start of the fall semester, Student Corporation leaders recently reached out to local pantries. Just a few days later, Student Affairs staff were busy sorting more than three college van loads of food and necessities, everything from peanut butter and green beans to shampoo.
“To state that these organizations showed up to help FLCC and this initiative in spades is stating it mildly,” said Student Life Director Jennie Erdle, who spent Aug. 11 collecting and delivering the donations to the main campus.
The Salvation Army of Geneva and Twin Cities of Manchester each donated hundreds of items. A third organization, the Canandaigua-based Community Churches in Action, donated 28 pre-packaged bags filled with snacks, canned goods, free milk coupons and more.
Teresa Daddis, student services counselor, joined Jennie to sort and inventory the donations, which will be offered to students who participate in the free drive-in chicken barbecue at the main campus on Sept. 9 from noon to 5 p.m.
To learn more about emergency student support services, click here.
To make a monetary donation to the FLCC food cupboard or other emergency student support services, visit this link: https://give.flcc.edu/page.aspx?pid=298.

FLCC trains 100 high school teachers in online learning

Finger Lakes Community College has provided free training in online teaching to about 100 educators from 20 school districts in Ontario, Seneca, and Wayne counties as well as Monroe and Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.

With the switch to remote learning in the spring and local districts’ plans for remote and hybrid learning this fall, FLCC began planning training for high school faculty who teach FLCC courses in their home districts via the Gemini program. Gemini allows high schoolers to earn college credit before high school graduation, thereby reducing the total time and expense of college.

FLCC’s training in course design and best practices for remote learning was then expanded to include other teachers.

“FLCC’s willingness to provide training sessions on best practices in remote learning is evidence of the strong partnership they share with area districts, such as Seneca Falls. Working with an institution that has experience in connecting with students virtually, sharing pedagogical practices and planning techniques is a huge benefit to teachers who are moving forward quickly to provide the best instruction possible for K-12 students,” the Seneca Falls Central School District said in a statement following the trainings. “These training sessions not only helped individual educators progress, but strengthened our existing collaborative efforts in educating the whole child and achieving at a high level regardless of the instructional model.”

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FLCC reading event supports racial justice

Finger Lakes Community College will host a silent reading event in support of racial justice on the birthday of Ida B. Wells, a black journalist and activist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

FLCC Pages for Peace will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 16 in the Arboretum and Serenity Garden on the grounds of the main campus at 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, Canandaigua.

Attendees are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing. Restrooms will not be available due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells

The event will begin with brief opening remarks by organizers and FLCC Student Corp. President Erik DiPasquale.

Then, attendees will quietly read books, poems and other works about racism and the African-American experience written by and about people of color.

“Our plan is to sit quietly and read,” said Maureen Maas-Feary of Rochester, a professor of humanities at FLCC. “Those who would rather not attend are encouraged to join us by reading a book, poem or other work from the comfort and safety of home.” Continue reading “FLCC reading event supports racial justice”

FLCC, Empire State College announce cybersecurity transfer agreement

A screen shot of the online ceremony to mark the new transfer agreement.

Finger Lakes Community College and SUNY Empire State College today announced a new agreement allowing guaranteed admission of graduates from FLCC who have earned an associate degree in networking and cybersecurity to SUNY Empire’s new bachelor of science in security studies program. SUNY Empire’s bachelor of science in security studies will help prepare qualified professionals to meet the national and global security challenges of the 21st century in high demand areas such as homeland security, emergency management, disaster relief, and law enforcement.

The agreement was celebrated with a online signing ceremony that included FLCC and Empire faculty and staff as well as SUNY administrators.

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Double your donation: SUNY offers $50,000 match on emergency funds

The SUNY Impact Foundation recently announced it will match every donation the FLCC Foundation receives for student emergency funding by June 30 up to $50,000.

FLCC began its COVID-19 Emergency Response campaign in April to help students through the financial crises that came with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Logo for SUNY Impact FoundationTo date, the combined support of alumni, faculty, staff, and community members has raised over $25,000. If the campaign gets to $50,000, the FLCC Foundation will be able to max out this challenge grant to make a total of $100,000 available for student emergency needs.

FLCC’s student emergency funds include the food cupboard and emergency loans, as well as specially designated funding for students facing crises as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the last academic year, 54 students borrowed over $26,000 in FLCC Foundation emergency loans and 171 students used the Food Cupboard at least once. In addition, FLCC students have received a combined total of over $8,000 in emergency grants and COVID-19 response funds thus far.

The Foundation welcomes both new and repeat donors in the final days of this campaign.

Click here by June 30 and your gift will be doubled!

The intent of the SUNY Impact Fund’s emergency program is to help students experiencing temporary set‐backs such as: medical emergencies, job loss, housing changes or threats of eviction, backup transportation, backup child care and computer repair.