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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Victor teen to share vaping nightmare

Photo shows teenager Giovanni Marino in a hospital bed.
Giovanni Marino, 19, of Victor, spent several days in a hospital intensive care unit because of vaping-related lung illnesses.

A  Victor teenager who nearly lost his life from vaping-related illnesses will visit Finger Lakes Community College on Thursday, Nov. 21 to share his experiences as part of the Great American Smokeout.

Giovanni Marino, 19, will give a free, public talk from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Lecture Hall 2775 on the second floor of the main campus at 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, Canandaigua. The event is part of FLCC’s efforts to promote the Great American Smokeout, a national movement by the American Cancer Society to encourage smoking cessation.

Earlier this fall, Giovanni spent over a week at Thompson Hospital, including several days in the intensive care unit. Months of vaping that began recreationally shortly after he began his freshman year at the University of West Virginia had severely damaged his lungs.

He said doctors told him he developed pneumonia as well as a syndrome that made his lungs look like “shattered glass.”

“Essentially, it was a culmination of everything – the doctors think my lungs were weakened by the nicotine and they also think there was a potential of me having inhaled cyanide,” he said.

The cyanide and other noxious chemicals could have been contained in the vape cartridges – also called “carts” – that Giovanni was buying illegally from the black market.  

This event has been organized to coincide with the Great American Smokeout, a national cessation movement by the American Cancer Society. It embodies FLCC’s value of vitality as a means to bring awareness to a serious public health threat.

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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Veterans Day event spotlights ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip

Ella Sickles, a high school student from Midlakes, is shown hugging a fellow participant on the Soaring Valor trip.
Midlakes high school student Ella Sickles was among the Soaring Valor trip participants.

Josiane Amidon never got to ask her great-grandfathers about their military service in World War II. Her knowledge of the war has come from her high school teachers, her parents, and movies.

A recent trip provided insight none of those sources could offer. Josiane, a high school senior, went to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La. with a veteran who endured the war. She was among a group of over 100 Midlakes students, veterans and caretakers to make the expenses-paid trip with the Soaring Valor program.

“It opened my mind a lot more to what it was like to not only be in the war but also to be living during that time period with everything that was going on all over the world,” said Josiane.  “My veteran, Frank, told me that so many people he knew also went to war. It was on everyone’s mind; they wanted to support their country.”

Several of Josiane’s classmates and veterans who made the trip will share reflections at the annual Veterans Day ceremony at Finger Lakes Community College. The free, public event will be held in the Student Center Auditorium at the FLCC main campus, 3325 Marvin Sands Drive, Canandaigua, at 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early for parking; handicap spots are available in the lot closest to the main entrance.

“These students and their veteran travel companions have just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and we’re honored they will join our ceremony to share their experiences,” said Jennie Erdle, director of student life at FLCC. “This is truly a wonderful opportunity to bring our communities together and recognize our veterans.”

The Soaring Valor trip was made possible through a charitable effort by the Gary Sinise Foundation and American Airlines. Sinise played the role of Lt. Dan in the popular “Forrest Gump” movie. The actor started the foundation after meeting an American serviceman severely injured during a bomb blast in Iraq.

This event highlights one of FLCC’s primary values, interconnectedness: It brings together community members with diverse life perspectives for a common goal – to celebrate those who served.

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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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FLCC secures $1.14M to expand undergrad biotech research

Finger Lakes Community College will receive $1.14 million in National Science Foundation funding to take part in a national effort to strengthen biotechnology education and encourage more youth to pursue careers in the field.

FLCC is the home base for the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI), which promotes the teaching of science through research. The National Science Foundation has previously awarded FLCC $5.8 million to develop and share its approach with community colleges across the country.

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

In this recent award, the National Science Foundation has granted $7.5 million to Austin Community College in Texas to lead the project. ACC will create the InnovATEBIO National Biotechnology Education Center to consolidate several biotech education projects into a national network. This network will share best practices and expand undergraduate research in biotechnology.

As a collaborator in the project, FLCC will provide training in the use of research to teach biotechnology concepts and skills.

“This latest grant is a testament to FLCC’s role as a national leader in the expansion of research opportunities for undergraduate students,” said FLCC President Robert Nye. “I congratulate our faculty and staff, led by Professor James Hewlett.”

CCURI supports Objective 4 by providing opportunities for applied learning in scientific research.

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FLCC pilots holography as a learning tool

Finger Lakes Community College is part of a small group of institutions working with Case Western Reserve University to pilot an emerging technology called mixed reality and evaluate its ability to help students learn human anatomy.

Student wearing visor
Finger Lakes Community College student Jacob Vivlamore of Canandaigua uses the HoloLens visor and HoloAnatomy software to view a hologram in his anatomy and physiology class. (Photo illustration by William Pealer)

Last fall, students in FLCC anatomy and physiology classes began using Microsoft HoloLens with the HoloAnatomy program that Case Western Reserve developed to view three-dimensional images of human organs individually or as part of body systems.

The university’s software allows the HoloLens to project a holographic image that everyone wearing the visors – students and their instructor – can see. The instructor can rotate the image, zoom in on a particular section or zoom out to show the entire class how systems function and interconnect.

FLCC joined the project after Christine Parker, associate professor of biology, learned about the HoloLens technology and the program for teaching anatomy, which Case Western Reserve was working to develop as part of the university’s Health Education Campus project with Cleveland Clinic.

The FLCC Forward strategic plan calls on the college to explore new ideas in technology, leadership, learning and professional development to foster greater student engagement.

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