Life pushed her down, she pushed back

Finger Lakes Community College student Gabrielle Young of Shortsville has received the 2020 Norman R. McConney Jr. Award, an honor that recognizes excellence among participants in the State University of New York Educational Opportunity Program.

Gabrielle Young

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras congratulated Young and other students from across New York in December.

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.

Young is majoring in childhood education with plans to become a K-5 teacher. She was a lead teacher at Our Children’s Place Child Care Center in Canandaigua from August 2019 to March 2020 and has volunteered at the Catholic Charities food pantry. She is currently working as a nanny, including managing virtual learning for the children in her care.

Lisa Thomas, director of the Educational Opportunity Program at FLCC, nominated Young for overcoming obstacles early in life.

“Gabrielle is such a wonderful young woman. She has such a positive and upbeat attitude regardless of what she has had to face in life,” Thomas wrote. “Coming from a broken home, Gabrielle has experienced a lot of trauma and dealt with anxiety and depression for years but has not let it define her. She wants to be a role model and lead by example, making sure that others know that they, too, can persevere no matter what challenges life may present.”

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FLCC to share in $1.9M grant to support rural students

Finger Lakes Community College is one of five community colleges from across the nation selected to share in a $1.9 million grant to design pilot programs to support rural students and drive economic growth.

The grant was awarded by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Education Design Lab. It will collaborate with FLCC over the next year to gather economic and labor data, brainstorm, and ultimately, design a pilot program to provide access and support to students.

The resulting project will address a specific area of need among learners and in the local economy. Focus areas are likely to include underserved populations in Wayne County, where FLCC has a campus center, and the healthcare and advanced manufacturing industries where demand continues to grow, said Todd Sloane, director of workforce and career solutions at FLCC.

Sloane is heading up FLCC’s team in the effort, called the BRIDGES initiative. BRIDGES is an acronym for Building Rural Innovation, Designing Educational Strategies. He is joined by colleagues Sim Covington Jr., chief diversity officer; Izy Grooms, associate professor of health science and human performance; Karen Fisher, associate director of assessment, planning and continuous improvement; Deb Corsner, director of the Newark Campus Center; and Katia Yagnik, bilingual admissions and financial aid counselor. Also joining the effort are Joseph Davis, employment and training programs supervisor for Yates County, and Jim VanKouwenberg, training and workforce development coordinator at Optimax Systems in Ontario, Wayne County.

The FLCC cohort will be joined every few months by representatives from Education Design Lab who will steer the process.

“We are really there to be facilitators to work with the institutions,” said Leslie Dougherty, education designer with Education Design Lab. FLCC was invited to apply for the selective grant. “We were looking for smart, excited community colleges that are already doing this work in some way, shape or form,” she added. Continue reading “FLCC to share in $1.9M grant to support rural students”

Culinary students offer ‘Julia’ cookbook

 

Man cooking in a restaurant kitchen
Francisco Olivera Hernandez of Newark prepares Cajun crab and quinoa cakes, featured on page 25 of the cookbook, “Julia Presents: Dinner for Four.”

Unable to offer the Dinner at Julia restaurant nights that have become a hallmark of the fall semester, Finger Lakes Community College culinary arts faculty and students found a way to share their most popular recipes with the public.

They’ve compiled a 98-page cookbook titled “Julia Presents: Dinner for Four” that includes instructions for dozens of entrees, appetizers and desserts interspersed with quotes from famous chefs and students in the class.

Copies are now available for $20 and can be ordered online at give.flcc.edu/juliacookbook or by calling (585) 785-1205. Proceeds will benefit the FLCC Food Cupboard.

“The book contains many of the recipes that we have done over the years in our student restaurant class, scaled to work at home,” said Jamie Rotter, assistant professor and coordinator of the culinary arts program.

Rotter and faculty colleague Patrick Rae came up with the idea to provide experiential learning following the decision to cancel Dinner and Julia, a series of Friday night gourmet dinners normally open to the public.

Instead, culinary students came together in small groups for cooking instruction at the nearby New York Kitchen. Rotter, Rae and hospitality instructor Paula Knight had them prepare Julia dishes while scaling them down to family-size servings for inclusion in the cookbook. The cookbook became part of the curriculum. Continue reading “Culinary students offer ‘Julia’ cookbook”

FLCC’s latest wine, Persevere, honors students

Wine label with a grape vine and the name Persevere
Viticulture and wine technology students chose this label, “Persevere,” in an annual contest meant to give their counterparts in the graphic design program real-life experience pitching their work to a potential client.

The name chosen for the wine that Finger Lakes Community College students will bottle next spring reflects the fortitude shown in a semester transformed by the pandemic.

Fine arts and graphic design major Aimée Hawkins of Canandaigua came up with the name “Persevere” and designed the label featuring a pen-and-ink drawing of an abundant grape vine.

The back of the label is adorned with a small quote written by Hawkins: “Savor the drive, the determination and the perseverance that led us down the path to creating this wine.”

Hawkins said the quote seemed fitting for FLCC students this semester, as they’ve pursued their studies with mostly virtual instruction while juggling other demands and challenges caused by COVID-19. Perseverance also happens to be one of FLCC’s four values, shown on a large banner display in the main entrance.

Hawkins and her classmates designed labels for a graphic design course taught by Liz Brownell of Victor, professor of graphic design. In what has become an annual tradition, the labels were revealed during an event – held virtually this year rather than at the college’s Viticulture and Wine Center in Geneva.

Student designers took turns sharing their concepts, touching on themes, color palettes, font choices, as well as the computer programs they used to create the labels.

“I felt it was really important to maintain a clean crisp feel while conveying the unique nature that this vintage represents,” Hawkins said during her presentation.

Students of Paul Brock, associate professor of viticulture and wine technology, took part in the event and voted on the labels. Students Leah Herring of Rush, Leanne Camuto of Dansville and Faith Webster of Palmyra were also finalists in the contest. Continue reading “FLCC’s latest wine, Persevere, honors students”

New director and goals at FLCC Muller Field Station

Woman bending over a shallow sandbox
Alexandria Esposito of Springwater, conservation outreach education coordinator at FLCC, uses a field guide to verify footprints in a trap pit at the Muller Field Station in Canadice, Ontario County.

Finger Lakes Community College has named a new director for the Muller Field Station, a research and education facility at the south end of Honeoye Lake, and begun making plans to further enhance facilities and programming.

Head and shoulders image of John Van Niel
Professor John Van Niel

John Van Niel of Seneca Falls, professor of environmental conservation and coordinator of the fish and wildlife technology degree, began his duties on Sept. 1. He succeeded Professor Emeritus Bruce Gilman of Middlesex, author of “Ontario County Flora,” also known for his research into water quality trends in Canandaigua and Honeoye lakes. Gilman retired after 40 years of teaching in 2018 but stayed on as part-time director of the station through this past summer.

The late Florence Muller donated the 48-acre property to FLCC in 1999 in memory of her husband, Emil, a Swiss immigrant who sought to preserve the biodiversity of the Honeoye valley. Since then, funding from the Emil Muller Foundation and Florence M. Muller Foundation has supported education, research and improvements to property.

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What do fishers eat? There’s only one way to know for sure

Fisher facing forward
A fisher is a carnivorous mammal related to a weasel. Photo courtesy of John Van Niel

A professor and his students collect data on the stomach contents of this secretive mammal for the state Department of Environmental Conservation

A scalpel in her right hand, Chloe Bliss begins cutting into the brownish-pink organ she holds in her left.

This is part of her job as a work-study student at Finger Lakes Community College. Her boss is Professor John Van Niel, coordinator of the college’s fish and wildlife technology program. The work entails studying the stomach contents of fishers, a carnivorous north American mammal related to the weasel.

These solitary animals are fairly small, weighing up to 14 pounds, and have long bushy tails. Trapping for fishers is allowed in the fall in most of New York state, largely in the Adirondacks, Hudson Valley and North Country, with a brief season in the Southern Tier.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) dropped off 500 frozen fisher stomachs at FLCC last year as part of an effort to gather data on New York’s fisher population. Fur trappers provided the carcasses so the DEC could study the teeth (to determine age), uteruses of females (to see how many kits they had) and the stomachs (to find out what they really eat).

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FLCC’s ‘Black Death’ course offers pandemic perspective

Man weariong a suit, standing in the grass
FLCC History Prof. Robert Brown is shown in Yorkshire, England, in 2009 while working on an exhumation project to research the Spanish flu. He is standing near the grave of one of its victims, Sir Mark Sykes. Brown took part a PBS documentary titled “Secrets of the Dead” while he was a research associate at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, part of the University College London.

History Professor Robert Brown has taught the same course at Finger Lakes Community College for the past several years, but never has it been so relevant.

Called “The Black Death and Beyond: How Disease Has Changed History,” the course examines the evolutionary struggle between man and microbe and the myriad ways disease has shaped history.

“It offers useful and timely insight for navigating the challenges of COVID by presenting a host of historical scenarios in which the human population was unexpectedly assailed by an unknown or little understood pathogen,” said Brown, who resides in Victor.

The class will be offered again in the spring semester, which begins Jan. 25.

Brown earned his doctorate in history at Syracuse University. One of his main research interests – and a focus of the Black Death course – is the flu pandemic of 1918 that claimed an estimated 60 million lives. He has been featured in articles and television documentaries, including the PBS’s, “Secrets of the Dead: Killer Flu.” Continue reading “FLCC’s ‘Black Death’ course offers pandemic perspective”

From FLCC to ESPN: Nikole DeBell ’11

Woman holding a trophy in front of an ESPN banner
Nikole DeBell ’11 participated in “Jimmy V Day” at ESPN. By supporting the V Foundation for Cancer Research, she was given the opportunity to take a photo with an ESPY trophy.

On the job one day, Nikole DeBell ’11 accompanied ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Lauren “Elle” Duncan with a camera and a mini basketball hoop. Elle dunked hoops over the heads of unsuspecting people and Nikole captured it on camera for a segment on the Saturday show.

“It was a really fun day and I got paid for that,” said Nikole. “Then to see what I produced on TV was really cool.”

That was a few years ago, when Nikole worked as an associate producer at ESPN. In May 2019, she transitioned into her current role as ESPN Next training and development coordinator. The position has her charged with training new production assistants, planning out yearly curriculum, running a peer mentor program and planning networking activities.

Like most everything else, her job has been affected by the pandemic.

Cover of Laker magazine showing five people plue the text "Stories of resolve and resilience"
This story is one of several in the Fall 2020 edition of The Laker magazine. Click this image to read the electronic version.

“My role has changed pretty drastically due to COVID,” she said. “One of my main responsibilities is training new people, and we aren’t currently hiring new people.

So, the development side of my job has really come in to play. I’ve had to come up with creative ways to virtually develop and advance the people we have in our program now, which has been challenging and fun.”

Nikole has been with ESPN for four years. It’s a dream job – and fitting, considering her background.

The daughter of an NFL official and gym teacher, she was a three-sport athlete at Dansville High School: soccer, basketball, and softball.

Continue reading “From FLCC to ESPN: Nikole DeBell ’11”

FLCC’s longest serving professor retires

Dr. Kennedy in academic regalia at a podium
The Rev. Dr. Edward Kennedy

Ed Kennedy retired in late summer from teaching psychology, but that’s not what he says he’s been doing for the last 51 years.

“I was more of a history teacher of the self,” Ed explained. “I have always been interested in helping students look at their thinking and why they think the way they do.”

For example, he would challenge them to think of a memory — perhaps from first grade — and ask themselves how that memory played out in their thinking.

With 100 semesters of teaching eight or nine classes, Ed estimates he has taught roughly 20,000 students, enough to make any dinner out or trip to Wal-Mart a reunion: “People come up and say, ‘I have never forgotten what you taught me.’”

He started teaching as an adjunct instructor in 1969 under founding president Roy Satre. “I had the privilege of serving under all of the presidents, and every president I served under was the right person at the right time,” he said.

Cover of Laker magazine showing five people plue the text "Stories of resolve and resilience"
This story is one of several in the Fall edition of The Laker magazine. Click this image to read the electronic version.

Having turned 85 this year, Ed had made the decision to retire before the pandemic. He is not putting his feet up, though. He would like to return to the ministry, when churches resume more in-person gatherings. The Rev. Kennedy served as pastor of the Rushville Congregational Church for 49 years, having stepped down during his late wife’s illness several years ago.

His dual vocation made him a natural choice for the many invocations and benedictions during commencement, nursing advancement and other solemn occasions.

He leaves with gratitude for his fellow faculty, the professional staff and leaders on the board of trustees and at the county. “There is not one thing I ever disliked in the College,” he said. “I’ve been blessed for 50 years. I have never regretted a day that I walked into the building at FLCC.”

 

From the cover: SUMMONED TO THE STORM

Woman in full PPE
Jennifer Emmons ’11 spent 12 weeks treating COVID-19 patients. She has found much support from family,friends and community members and has focused on reopening Hospeace House, the Naples comfort care home she oversees.

Before leaving for a 12-week post to help at a New Jersey hospital hit hard by COVID-19, nurse Jennifer Emmons ’11 finalized her own funeral arrangements.

“I had to have a talk with my children to let them know what was in place, where the life insurance is,” she said. “My kids weren’t going to have to wonder about anything. Working in death and dying, I know how important that is.”

Jennifer has been the executive director of the Naples end-of-life comfort home, Hospeace House, since 2017. When the pandemic took hold, the Finger Lakes Community College nursing alumna felt summoned to the storm.

She watched the early reports from the New York City epicenter, where hospitals approached capacity and supplies and staff were sorely needed.

“Being a hospice nurse I think what bothered me the most was that we kept hearing that people were dying alone,” said Jennifer. “I knew that I had skills that were needed.”

Cover of Laker magazine showing five people plue the text "Stories of resolve and resilience"
This story is one of several in the Fall/Winter edition of The Laker magazine. Click this image to read the electronic version.

With the support of the Hospeace board of directors, Jennifer took an unpaid leave of absence to serve at the Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, New Jersey, about 20 miles from Manhattan.

Her assignment was at times administrative but always in the trenches. Many hospital staff had fallen ill in the early weeks, and the crush of patients was so great, a 100-bed medical tent went up in a parking lot.

“You had to remain calm when you were the furthest thing from calm,” she said. “There wasn’t enough of anything — staff, equipment, beds. Some of those basic human needs were being overlooked because we just didn’t have enough hands on deck.”

Every long, chaotic shift was followed by a methodical routine of carefully removing her armor — gloves, gown, shield, and mask — before returning to the hotel she called home during her stay.

On the worst nights, when doubt and hopelessness crept in, Jennifer remembered something one of her FLCC instructors told her in a class years ago: “Never forget why you became a nurse.”

Those words, from the now retired Emily Kuryla, became a mantra.

Continue reading “From the cover: SUMMONED TO THE STORM”