Laker legacies: Family connections to FLCC

Photo showing 10 members of the Andrew family
All eight children of the Andrew family, shown with their parents, have attended FLCC. Back row, from left: Kathryn Smith, Hannah Smith, Abigail Copenhaver, Sarah Walton, Rebeccah Andrew, and Emma Swarthout. Front row, from left: George Andrew Jr., Colleen Andrew, George Andrew and William Andrew

The spring Laker magazine features families with multiple alumni

Before she started at FLCC, Emma (Andrew) Swarthout ’11 got help building her schedule from former students, including her older sister Rebeccah.

And her older sister Sarah.

And her older sisters Abbey, Hannah, and Kathryn.

Emma was the sixth of the Andrew kids, all homeschooled, to attend FLCC. Her brother George followed, and William, the youngest, is currently studying business administration.

Laker magazine cover showing 3 family photos over backdrop of a large tree
The spring Laker magazine focuses on families with multiple FLCC alumni. Read the digital edition online.

Their mother, Colleen Andrew, enrolled her first two daughters at FLCC, thinking an associate degree would be the best proof they were ready for a four-year college.

“It worked so well with the first couple of us that my mom was kind of like, ‘Why fix what’s not broken?’” said Abbey (Andrew) Copenhaver ’08.

The College keeps no records on the number of families in which parents and children, husbands and wives, or multiple siblings attend, though the connections have become increasingly apparent since the first classes began in 1968.

Some alumni marvel at the changes when the next generation attends. Tim Montondo ’88 came back nearly two decades later with his daughter, Rachel, a 2019 accounting graduate.
“It was amazing!” he said. “There was so much new that had been added. It was so cool to see. I had a hard time finding my way around to show her things.”

Sometimes the family tie is not just the College, but a program.
The late Betty Jean McAnn ’73 made a later-in-life decision to become a registered nurse, inspiring her daughter-in-law, Lisa McAnn ’93.

“I was in banking when we moved here from Oklahoma. Betty Jean was the one that encouraged me. She said I had the qualities to get the nursing degree, and she talked highly of Finger Lakes.”
Lisa is now an associate professor in the FLCC nursing department.
Betty Jean’s granddaughter, Alicia McBride, is a 2014 graduate of the program.

Ted Fafinski, a retired Farmington town supervisor, sent both his children to FLCC, and they married alumni. The College took on another dimension in his life when he taught as an adjunct for five years. His family’s connections to FLCC are among many that have grown along with the College.

“FLCC isn’t just a community college,” Ted said. “It’s part of the community.”

Signups begin for FLCC summer STEAM camps

Click the image above for a downloadable flyer.

Registration is now open for Finger Lakes Community College’s STEAM summer day camps for students who will enter grades 7 through 9 in the fall.

Camps are held at the college’s campus centers in Geneva, Newark and Victor and the FLCC Muller Field Station at the south end of Honeoye Lake.

The registration deadline is June 21 at  Here are the dates and descriptions for the camps:

July 8-12, STEAM in Motion, Victor Campus Center, 200 Victor Heights Parkway, off Route 251

Students will design mechanical parts, create electrical circuits, and learn about robotics to explore how science and technology can be used to create motion. Students will work on a variety of projects during the camp to implement what they have learned.

July 15-19, STEAM in H20, Geneva Campus Center, 63 Pulteney St.

Campers will explore local aquatic life and habitats and learn about the importance of environmental wellness in the Finger Lakes region. Students may get wet during interactive activities, lab experiments, field trips and water games.

July 22-26, STEAM in Space, Newark Campus Center, 1100 Technology Parkway, off Route 88

Campers will engage with space-related themes across science, technology, engineering, art, and math curriculums. A career component will be included to learn about jobs in space exploration.

Aug. 5-Aug. 9, STEAM in Nature, Muller Field Station, 6455 County Road 36, Canadice

Campers will learn about and observe local wildlife, go on canoe adventures through the swamp, and gain plant, insect, and bird identification skills. They will participate in gardening, nature journaling, and more. Amid hands-on learning, students will also engage in conversations about environmental issues, sustainability, and stewardship.

A limited number of need-based scholarships are available. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is May 17; notifications will be made on May 24. Email questions about the camps to

FLCC to receive $1M toward new horticulture facility

U.S. Charles Schumer

The federal appropriations bill signed by President Joe Biden on Saturday, March 9, included $1 million U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer secured for a new horticulture and greenhouse facility at Finger Lakes Community College.

The college’s plan to rebuild the greenhouse at its main campus is part of FLCC’s facilities master plan currently under development. The college and its sponsor, Ontario County, are reviewing a range of options for renovations and new construction to best position the college for the next decade. The plan is scheduled for adoption in May.

“The construction of modern horticulture buildings will be a top priority in the new facilities master plan. This appropriation will leverage a dollar-for-dollar state match, and combined with private donations, put us in an excellent position as our plans become more concrete,” FLCC President Robert Nye said. “We are grateful for Sen. Schumer’s support.”

Hands working with young plants
FLCC offers associate degrees and certificates in horticulture and viticulture and wine technology with a combined enrollment of more than 120 students as of fall 2023.

Draft plans call for the demolition of the existing greenhouse behind the science wing at the main campus and construction of a new facility in a better location to take advantage of sunlight. The greenhouse would have a hydroponic system and modern temperature and humidity controls to allow for different growing environments. The facility would also include labs and classrooms that could be shared with other organizations.

The college has been exploring options and funding sources for several years to rebuild the greenhouse, which opened in 1979. The FLCC Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks private sector support for the college, has received donations totaling $1.8 million. This amount also qualifies for a state match. Over $1.7 million of the Foundation funding is an estate gift from the late Adrienne O’Brien, a longtime friend of the college and supporter of the viticulture program.

FLCC offers associate degrees and certificates in horticulture and viticulture and wine technology with a combined enrollment of more than 120 students as of fall 2023.

Following approval of the FLCC facilities master plan in May, the college and county would hire an architect to develop concept plans. No timeline for construction has been established.

Thompson Health covers tuition for nursing students

Head and shoulders photo Nichelle Camp
Nichelle Camp

UR Medicine Thompson Health has created a new scholarship for second-year nursing students to cover a full year of tuition in exchange for an agreement to work in its hospital.

FLCC full-time tuition is $5,280 per year. The first recipient is Nichelle Camp of Newark, who will graduate in May.

“I have completed two clinical rotations at Thompson and fell in love with the facility as a student,” Nichelle said. “I am honored to be a recipient of the new scholarship. I am grateful for the foundation FLCC has given me, and I am looking forward to the opportunity that is ahead as I start my job in Thompson’s post-anesthesia care unit this summer.”

“Nichelle is an extremely hard working, motivated student. She is engaged in scholarship and strives for excellence in all she does,” added Tina Hamilton, assistant professor of nursing. “She is currently president of the Class of May 2024 and attentive to the needs of her peers. She is a worthy recipient of the Thompson Health scholarship.”

Students must complete a competitive application process and attend an interview with Thompson’s nursing leadership. The application is included with more than 100 other awards that incoming and current students can apply for at

Those who are chosen agree to work for the health system for two years upon graduation and passing the NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Examination. Thompson will grant up to 10 scholarships per year.

“We are thrilled to be able to welcome Nichelle to Thompson and look forward to the many FLCC-trained nurses who will follow in her footsteps,” said Hazel Robertshaw, Thompson Health vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. “The best part is that this new initiative builds on a longstanding partnership between our health system and the College, ensuring a strong pipeline of future nurses for many years to come.”

Graduates of the FLCC associate in nursing program had a 95 percent pass rate on the national nursing licensure exam in 2023. This is above the statewide averages of 88 percent for associate degree graduates and 90 percent for bachelor’s degree graduates.

New funds to help nursing students stay on track

Head and shoulders image
Mary Porcari Brady

The Mary Porcari Brady Fund has made a third $20,000 gift to the FLCC Foundation to help nursing students who are facing unexpected expenses that could force them to leave school.

The first gifts in 2022 and 2023 helped a total of 26 nursing students cover costs such as tuition, textbooks, car repairs, and rent.

Denise Ferrell of Canandaigua is enrolled in the accelerated program for license practical nurses looking to advance in her career to registered nursing. Ferrell has to work to support herself while keeping up with her coursework. She took advantage of the Mary Porcari Brady Fund to cover school expenses and some unforeseen financial challenges.

“The impact of the fund on my academic journey cannot be overstated,” she said. “It has not only relieved the anxieties associated with financial constraints but has also played a crucial role in ensuring that I could dedicate myself fully to my educational pursuits during a pivotal time in the semester.”

The FLCC Foundation, a nonprofit that raises private-sector support for College students and programs, holds the funds while the Nursing Department faculty administer the program.

“The Mary Porcari Brady Fund provides nursing students with a safety net so that when unexpected financial challenges arise, they can continue on with their classes,” said Brie Chupalio, FLCC chief advancement officer. “We are beyond grateful to the Porcari family for their continued commitment to the College and the future nurses of our region.”

Mary Porcari Brady obtained her nursing degree after the loss of her youngest child, Mary Elizabeth, to a rare genetic disorder. During her career, she worked as a registered nurse at Park Ridge Hospital for over 20 years, then at Cortland Hospital while she obtained a second degree at SUNY Cortland. She finished her career at Oswego Hospital. After her passing in 2001, her surviving children pooled resources to create the fund in her memory.

FLCC began accepting applications this week for a new licensed practical nursing (LPN) program. The Mary Porcari Brady funds will also be available to this new group of students. Information about the Mary Porcari Brady Fund is available online at

FLCC begins taking applications for new LPN program

The state Education Department has approved the new licensed practical nursing program at Finger Lakes Community College, clearing the way for the College to begin accepting student applications.

The 12-month certificate program begins on Sept. 3 and consists of eight courses spread over two semesters and two six-week summer sessions. Students will visit long-term care facilities, regional hospitals, and community clinics.

At the end of the program, students will study independently with a nurse in the type of setting where they hope to work upon passing the national licensure examination. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for LPNs to grow 5 percent by 2032. LPNs earned a median annual salary of $54,620 in 2022.

FLCC currently has an associate in nursing program to prepare students for the national exam for registered nursing, RN. The new LPN program is an addition made possible by the renovation and expansion of the College’s nursing facilities, completed in 2022. Now known as the Sands Family Center for Allied Health, the wing features simulation labs set up to match hospital rooms with the same equipment that students will encounter in the workplace.

Like the RN program, the LPN program will have a selective admissions process. Details are available on the website at

Students accepted into the 36-credit LPN program will be eligible for federal and state student aid programs. FLCC also offers scholarships and emergency funding to help students cover school and living expenses.

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.

Continue reading “488 students on fall 2023 dean’s list”

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.

Continue reading “FLCC students select wine label winner for 2023 vintages”