488 students on fall 2023 dean’s list

Finger Lakes Community College announces the dean’s list for the fall 2023 semester. A total of 488 students earned this honor. Students on the list come from across New York state, seven other states, and eight other countries.

To be eligible for the FLCC fall dean’s list, full-time students enrolled in a degree or certificate program must earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and have completed 12 or more credit hours. Part-time students are included in the spring dean’s list.

Below are the students listed first by New York counties and towns. Students from New York City’s five boroughs are listed under New York City. Students from other states and countries are listed at the bottom.

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Nursing grads have 95 percent pass rate on national exam

Ninety-five percent of FLCC nursing graduates passed the national exam for registered nurses in 2023, a rate that surpasses state averages for associate and bachelor’s degree holders.

Of the 59 FLCC graduates who took the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), 56 passed, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. FLCC offers an associate degree in nursing, which can be completed with two years of full-time study.

FLCC’s pass rate for 2023 was above the statewide average of 88 percent for associate degree graduates and the 90 percent pass rate for bachelor’s degree graduates. It also represents a slight increase from FLCC’s 93 percent pass rate for exams taken in 2022.

Professor watching nursing simulation
Nursing instructor Tiffani Leyden monitors a nursing simulation exercise from behind a one-way mirror in the renovated Finger Lakes Community College nursing wing. Leyden, who also recorded the session, later debriefed with students about their response to the symptoms a computerized manikin presented during the exercise.

“This exceptional accomplishment is a testament to the dedication, hard work, and unwavering commitment of our department members who have tirelessly supported and nurtured our students,” said Heather Reece-Tillack, chair of the FLCC Nursing Department. “It is also a collective effort and a reflection of the collaborative spirit that defines our institution and the strong bond between faculty, staff and students.”

FLCC has recently updated its curriculum to focus on clinical judgment, a key component of the exam. The Nursing Department has also incorporated more elements to reinforce learning, such as recorded lectures students can revisit, online quizzes and discussions, professional tutors, and a study and test-taking coach.

The College expanded its nursing facilities by opening the Sands Family Center for Allied Health in 2022. In January 2023, FLCC began accepting new students twice each year. Previously, aspiring nurses could only enroll in August of each year.

Prof teams with TV station to make holiday brighter for retiree

Jonathan S. Weissman is a full professor at Finger Lakes Community College and coordinator of the Networking and Cybersecurity degree program. He also works as a principal lecturer at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Media across the region often contact him to help explain reports of hacking and cybercrimes. He recently teamed up with WHTM-TV Channel 27 News in Harrisburg, Pa., to examine the case of a man whose phone and bank account were both hacked. The man, a retiree, lost $12,000, and it looked as though he might not be able to get it back.

Not long after, the bank  reimbursed the man, and the TV reporter credits Weissman’s expertise.

“The guy is thrilled – going to have a wonderful Christmas now. I’m sure you saying their security was inadequate sealed the deal. Hard to go against that,” he wrote to Weissman.

You can see Channel 27’s initial report and the follow-up in the videos below and learn more about Weissman on LinkedIn.



FLCC students select wine label winner for 2023 vintages

Female soccer player posing
Laura Lopez, who is also a fullback for the FLCC Lakers women’s soccer team, was the winner of the annual wine label design contest.

Bottle of white wine with Fresca Leyenda labelFinger Lakes Community College students in the viticulture and wine technology program selected a wine label designed by Laura Lopez, a graphic design student from Colombia, for their 2023 varieties.

Lopez offered an abstract brand design she called Fresca Leyenda, Spanish for Fresh Legend, that is filled with symbolism.

“When I found out that my design had been selected, I experienced a mix of surprise and overwhelming happiness, validation that all the hard work, effort invested, and time spent had been rewarded,” she said.

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FLCC to receive $1M for distance learning and healthcare initiative

Finger Lakes Community College will receive a federal grant to equip schools in Ontario, Wayne, Seneca and Yates counties with videoconferencing equipment that can be used for college classes, telemedicine and mental health and substance abuse prevention and counseling.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the $968,805 award on Dec. 6 as part of its Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program. This project builds on the college’s expertise in online learning, and more recent work to extend the college’s reach in rural areas in cooperation with libraries, workforce offices and other sites.

“FLCC is committed to overcoming barriers to education, including lack of broadband access and transportation,” said Brie Chupalio, FLCC Chief Advancement Officer. “This project connects remote locations with meaningful options for healthcare, education and training.”

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A wartime refuge

woman standing in front of FLCC Geneva Campus Cneter
Zhanna Zalizniak

A Ukrainian mother studies at FLCC while she waits for a clearer path forward

Zhanna Zalizniak is like many non-traditional college students.

Zhanna, of Geneva, balances a full-time course load in web and mobile development with her life as a wife to Alex and mother of 8-year-old Tanya.

The difference is that she doesn’t know if she’ll use her degree here in the U.S. or back in her native Ukraine, which she fled at the start of the Russian invasion.

Zhanna and her family, which includes her mother-in-law, Katya, spent the first few months of the war in Poland. A friend in Geneva invited them to stay through the humanitarian parole program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in May 2022. They did not have work authorization until 8 months after their arrival, so Zhanna enrolled in Erica Reid’s advanced English as a Second Language class at the Geneva Campus Center.

She had a good grasp of English grammar and vocabulary. The class helped with conversation and getting acclimated.

“Erica’s classes helped me better understand American culture and how things worked in the U.S. This was a very important part for me,” Zhanna said.

While her husband found a job, she decided to continue her education to make the best use of this uncertain time in her life. “It’s a good opportunity for me while I am here to try something new,” she explained.

‘Nobody knows’

How long Zhanna and her family live in Geneva depends on many factors beyond her control, including Homeland Security policy.

“Now they want us all to be to switch to TPS, temporary protected status, and this is going to be for two years, so it’s all very uncertain. Nobody knows what will happen,” she said.

Temporary Protected Status gives those whose home countries are unsafe the right to live and work in the U.S. temporarily. Over the summer, Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary for homeland security, announced that this status would continue for Ukrainians through at least April 2025.

Today, her attention is split among her FLCC homework, Tanya’s school activities, and news from home.

“I get news all day, every day. I never expected full-scale war in my country. It’s kind of crazy,” she said.

Each passing day puts Ukraine further away. “If I can go home tomorrow, of course I would pack and leave,” she said, but her daughter’s experience is very different from her own. Tanya was just learning to read and write Ukrainian before the war, so her skills in English reading and writing skills will soon eclipse those in her native language.

“She likes it here. She hardly remembers how school was back in Ukraine,” Zhanna said. “We don’t have enough time – for her to be engaged in Ukrainian school also,” especially with the time difference. Kyiv, where they lived before the war, is six hours ahead of New York.

Scattered community

Zhanna and her family feel welcome in Geneva though it’s different from Kyiv, where the family could walk to shops or take public transportation.

Other Ukrainians have passed through Geneva, with some taking advantage of FLCC’s programming. “I started seeing them as soon as the war broke out,” said instructor Erica Reid. Before the war, her students had generally been a mix of those escaping economic hardship or spouses of academics visiting the Cornell AgriTech research facility.

Since February 2022, she has had a dozen Ukrainian students.

“I am currently working with seven students from Ukraine. Six of them arrived about a month ago or less,” she added. They are spread across the region, including Canandaigua, Honeoye and Victor.

Some have since moved to wherever they could find work, one family went as far as Texas. That has made it challenging for Ukrainians to build community.

“Everybody is helping each other in every way, but we are all new and strangers here, and we don’t have much resources,” said Zhanna.

Where to go in the U.S., whether to resettle or resolve to return home – these decisions will be different for every Ukrainian.

“If you want to wait, wait for how long? At first we thought maybe a couple of months and then this year, and this year. It’s all different for everyone. Nobody knows what you should do. If you ask me what would my advice be, I couldn’t advise anybody.”

Ontario County leaders approve additional $1.2 million for FLCC in 2024 budget

The Ontario County Board of Supervisors approved a $1.2 million increase for Finger Lakes Community College’s annual budget on Thursday night to support the college’s continued enhancements to student achievement, workforce development, and the next generation of healthcare professionals in the region.

The $1.2 million is in addition to the $3.8 million sponsor contribution the board approved in August. This 32 percent increase in funding for FLCC was included in the 2024 Ontario County budget the board approved last night.

The infusion of new funds follows discussions between college and county leaders on the best way to advance the initiatives in the college’s new five-year strategic plan.

“FLCC has a strong tradition of providing superior educational opportunities to the students in our community and throughout the region,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Campbell of West Bloomfield. “Ontario County is thrilled to have collaborated with the college to come up with this new enhanced funding agreement to ensure that FLCC can continue to innovate and provide impactful educational services to the students of our community moving forward.”

FLCC President Robert Nye said the extra funding will provide immediate benefit to students through academic programming and support services.

“We truly appreciate county leaders’ partnership as we work to fill critical workforce needs in Ontario County and beyond,” he said.

The total $5 million in funding for FLCC represented in the 2024 county budget is for operations. The county also contributes $500,000 annually in capital improvements that is matched by the state.

The vote Thursday also follows the release of a report on the economic impact of the college on the seven-county region.

Lightcast, a provider of labor market analytics, found that FLCC adds $197.9 million in income annually to the regional economy. The college and Ontario County jointly sponsored the $20,000 study to understand the ripple effect of college operations and the return on the investment for students and taxpayers.

The study found that, on average, students make $4.90 in higher future earnings for every dollar they invest in their education. Taxpayers get a return of $2.40 for every dollar they invest in the college.

“Research has consistently shown the benefits of education for individuals and society in terms of greater earnings, improved health and other positive outcomes, but it has been fascinating to see how that translates to dollars and cents for a single institution,” Nye added. “The bottom line is the college creates more tax revenue than it gets.”

For the study, the Finger Lakes region is defined as Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, and Yates counties. Lightcast examined data for the 2020-21 fiscal year, drawing on academic and financial reports from FLCC, industry and employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau, outputs of Lightcast’s modeling, and a variety of published materials relating education to social behavior. The full report is available at flcc.edu/about.

“Most people in our community think of FLCC as an institution of higher learning. While that is absolutely accurate, many don’t realize the incredible economic impact FLCC has on our county and our region. Ontario County was pleased to partner with the college to undertake the financial impact study conducted by Lightcast to provide quantification of the significant positive economic impact FLCC has on Ontario County. The overall impact FLCC has to our economy is both unsurprising and incredibly impressive,” said Ontario County Administrator Chris DeBolt.

The FLCC Board of Trustees adopted a new five-year strategic plan in August to focus on three areas: student success, opportunity and innovation, and community and industry engagement.

Economic Impact: Operations

To break down the overall economic impact, Lightcast considered FLCC’s payroll, purchasing and construction activity. The college employed 476 full-time and part-time faculty and staff with a payroll of $33.7 million in 2020-21, much of it spent on groceries, mortgage payments and other household expenses. FLCC spent another $14.1 million on day-to-day expenses related to facilities, supplies, and professional services.

Lightcast then calculated a net impact by simulating a scenario in which funds spent on the college are instead spent on consumer goods and savings. The net impact is $35.4 million in added income.

In addition, the net impact of FLCC’s construction spending to maintain and improve facilities was $1.7 million for one year.

Lightcast also estimated the impact of student spending by looking at two populations: 1) the approximately 10 percent of FLCC students who come from outside the region, and 2) an estimate of in-region students who would have otherwise left the area for other educational opportunities if not for FLCC. These two groups added $5 million to the economy with spending on groceries, housing and other living expenses.

Over the years, students have studied at FLCC and entered or re-entered the workforce with newly acquired knowledge and skills. Today, thousands of these former students are employed in the region. The net impact of former students currently employed in the regional workforce amounted to $155.8 million in added income for the year.

Adding the impacts of FLCC operations, student spending and the added income of alumni, Lightcast arrived at annual revenue generation of $197.9 million.

Economic impact: Investment returns

The company then looked at the return on investment for students and taxpayers. FLCC students paid $13.6 million in 2020-21 to cover tuition, fees, supplies, and interest on student loans. They also gave up $11.8 million they would have earned had they been working instead of attending college.

In return for their investment, this group of students will receive a cumulative present value of $123.6 million in increased earnings over their working lives. This translates to a return of $4.90 in higher future earnings for every dollar students invest in their education. This means students’ average annual rate of return is 17.5 percent.

Taxpayers provided FLCC with $24.3 million in state and local funding. In return, they get back additional tax revenue stemming from students’ higher lifetime earnings and increased business output, amounting to $51.7 million.

A reduced demand for government-funded services in New York will add another $6.7 million in benefits to taxpayers. For every dollar of public money invested in FLCC, taxpayers will receive $2.40 in return, over the course of students’ working lives. The average annual rate of return for taxpayers is 4.8 percent.


Alumnus brings space flight down to Earth

The cover story of the fall Laker magazine features Seth Lambert ’18, who used his game design skills to help people understand NASA’s Artemis missions
Laker magazine cover showing a man in front of a NASA rocket
Seth Lambert, a visualization developer for a NASA contractor, visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the Orion spacecraft roll out of the vehicle assembly building in March 2022, several months before the agency launched it on a flyby of the moon. Seth built the Artemis Real-time Orbit Website (AROW) so people could track Orion’s fight.

The email said Seth Lambert ’18 had just six hours to apply for an internship with a NASA contractor.

It was 2019, more than a year after he transferred from FLCC to Rochester Institute of Technology. As part of his bachelor’s program, he had applied for more than 100 other internships with no luck. The contractor, Universities Space Research Association, needed to fill this post quickly.

Soon Seth was headed to Johnson Space Center in Houston for an eight-month internship that led to a full-time job working as a contractor for the Orion program on the Artemis missions.

Artemis consists of a series of progressively more complex flights designed to take humans back to the moon and beyond. The first flight, Artemis I, sent an uncrewed craft in orbit around the moon.

Seth used skills developed at FLCC and RIT to create AROW, short for Artemis Real-time Orbit Website. When the Orion spacecraft blasted off Nov. 16, 2022, the AROW website allowed people to track its progress in relation to the Earth, moon and sun.

AROW, he explained, “listens to an enormous amount of data coming down from space and uses that to create a very literal visualization of what’s going on, so this is as if you were traveling through space alongside Orion. The goal was to make something that wasn’t just for internal use but that could communicate the mission to everybody.”

With Orion’s successful flight and splashdown in the Pacific on Dec. 11, Seth’s attention turned to the next phase, Artemis II, a lunar flyby with a human crew in late 2024.

“Artemis II is a slightly different mission,” he added. “It’s going to be much shorter, and the flight plan is also quite different, so there’s a lot of work necessary to bring the software up to date for the new mission. We’re adding new features and working on other exciting ways for people to visualize and track future missions.”

Family connection

Seth’s grandfather, Hubert “Norris” Lambert, was a contractor for the space agency during the shuttle program.

“I unfortunately never met him, but I grew up hearing stories about when he worked at NASA and that was always something that sounded so fantastic.”

Seth, too, is a contractor. His internship involved designing a kiosk application for conventions and museums to familiarize users with the Orion spacecraft. He then developed a Twitter bot that could take telemetry data from a spacecraft and generate text for a tweet.

When his internship ended, NASA contractor MORI Associates hired him full-time. He has continued the work as an employee of Logical Innovations and Barrios Technology. Still, Seth is part of a larger NASA culture of exploration.

“I’ve only worked at Johnson Space Center and in pretty narrow fields, but my experience of NASA has been that it’s a terrific community of learning,” he said. “One of the things that I really appreciated as an intern was just how willing everybody was to talk about what they’re working on and to hear about what you’re working on. There’s just this kind of communal excitement around the work being done.”

Learning to be curious

Both of Seth’s degrees are in game design, a field he selected after finishing high school in Seattle. His family moved east when his mom, Lori Vail, became a humanities instructor at FLCC. He applied to RIT first but couldn’t swing it financially, then learned about FLCC’s transfer arrangement with RIT.

“I really didn’t know what to expect going into it. I had very, very limited experience with any kind of programming in high school. I quickly found I enjoyed the FLCC coursework and was able to do well.”

He credits his success in part to Dave Ghidiu, assistant professor in computing sciences.

“I really appreciated his style of teaching. He encouraged all of us to foster a sense

of creativity and curiosity. If we didn’t know what a button did, press it.”

His advice to students today borrows from his FLCC experience.

“So many times I’ve learned something just by getting curious and reading a Wikipedia page. Then that led to some creative thought or some technical thought that has helped me in my work or in my personal projects. If you find yourself wondering what something does or how it works, pursue it because there may be an opportunity to use that knowledge later.”

That, and check your email often, because as Seth put it, “Life can change so fast.”

Get into the spirit of the upcoming eclipse with these videos

Man and woman on TV set
Episode 1 in the series focuses on eclipse safety.

Kellie Gauvin, professor of biology, made a series of short videos with Dan Schneiderman, eclipse partnerships coordinator for the Rochester Museum and Science Center, about various facets of the upcoming total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, 2024.

The videos were recorded in the FLCC TV studio for broadcast on the Finger Lakes TV network: Spectrum cable channel 1304, Roku, 24/7 web stream at fingerlakestv.org/live and the Cablecast app for Apple and Android.

Click here to watch the full series.

The videos are all under 10 minutes and great to watch with children.

Episode 1 deals with eclipse safety.

Episode 2 focuses on viewing methods besides eclipse glasses.

Episodes 3 and 4 are about the science of eclipses.

Episode 5 deals with how eclipses are regarded in history and culture.

Faculty explore what constitutes a reasonable search

To mark Constitution Day (Sept. 17), James Valenti, J.D., associate professor of social science, and Eric Duchess, Ph.D., associate professor of social science, made a video to highlight how the U.S. Constitution goes to great lengths to defend the rights of citizens. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. The discussion included all kinds of searches including whether the government can gather your DNA.