Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lorain County Community College is closed Monday, January 16, as our country pauses to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King dedicated his life in service to others with the vision of a society that is just and equitable for all.

At LCCC, we honor Dr. King’s vision by delivering high quality and affordable education to all in our community. Through collaboration with community partners, we are working together to build a vibrant future for all.

 

Preparing the community for in-demand careers

For 60 years, Lorain County Community College has been the trusted place our community members and employers turn to as they prepare for the jobs of the future. We are the number one training location for Lorain County’s first responders. Half of Lorain County families have someone who has taken classes at LCCC or the University Partnership. And after graduation, they find career success right here in our region, as 90% of LCCC graduates live and work in Northeast Ohio.

This means that LCCC graduates are deeply embedded in our community. They’re firefighters, like Steven Acord. They’re nurses, like Jody Page, and police officers, like Mitch Lorig. And our students are training for jobs of the future in manufacturing, like Mason Moreck.

Clockwise from top left: Steven Acord, Jody Page, Mitch Morig, Mason Moreck
From top left: Steven Acord, Jody Page, Mason Moreck, Mitch Lorig.

When LCCC was founded in 1963 as Ohio’s first community college with a permanent campus, manufacturing education and training was one of the first focus areas. As time passed, manufacturing evolved, and LCCC’s collaboration with the industry deepened. Today, Ohio’s manufacturing sector is at yet another exciting tipping point. Intel’s new, leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing plant represents one of Ohio’s greatest economic opportunities. Its presence will drive unprecedented supply chain growth throughout the state, including Lorain County. It’s not just about one company coming to Ohio — it’s an entire industry embedding itself in Ohio, creating the Silicon Heartland, similar to when steel and auto first arrived on the shores of Lake Erie.

Long before Intel’s historic groundbreaking ceremony, LCCC was preparing for this moment. LCCC has been developing unique expertise in semiconductor and microelectronic manufacturing education and training for more than a decade. LCCC offers Ohio’s only associate of applied science and bachelor of applied science degrees in microelectronic manufacturing, preparing students for work in this growing semiconductor industry. Both programs have boasted 100% job placement rates for our graduates, in part because of innovative earn-and-learn paid internship opportunities built into the curriculum with more than 80 Northeast Ohio employers. And as Intel’s presence helps bring this Silicon Heartland to life, our graduates’ career opportunities will only grow.

As serendipitous as it all might seem, we are ready for this moment because LCCC, in collaboration with our community and industry leaders, has done what community colleges are uniquely designed to do — forecast future employer needs and respond swiftly to meet them. Community colleges were built for this moment. In 1947, the Truman Commission acted upon a vision to create locally responsive institutions of higher education to educate and train Americans for an industrialized economy. This, in turn, ensures that those within our community have the opportunity today to train for and excel in the jobs of tomorrow. That is why community colleges will be the center of the Silicon Heartland and other widespread technological innovations.

Through decades of thoughtful design, LCCC is an economic engine for our local community and a powerful resource to turn economic disruption into opportunity. For our community, that means that LCCC has formed close relationships with local employers to ensure our programs are preparing students for the in-demand jobs of our region. Employers need talent now, and many students are able to participate in earn-and-learn models while earning their degrees. This design provides an immediate response to employer talent needs and allows students to gain real-world experience in their field of study. This model is beneficial for students of all ages, from working adults to dual enrollment high school students.

Mason Moreck understands this. When he was just 12 years old, Mason began taking classes at LCCC through College Credit Plus. Now a junior at Avon High School, Mason is on track to earn a bachelor of applied science degree in microelectronic manufacturing at the same time he graduates high school next year. And he’s earning on-the-job training through a paid earn-and-learn internship with Core Technologies. Learn more about Mason.

Mason Moreck
Mason Moreck

Through LCCC’s College Credit Plus, students like Mason are earning college credit before they graduate high school. In fact, 45% of Lorain County high school students earn, on average, 20 college credits through LCCC’s College Credit Plus. That adds up to $6 million in savings for local families. When high school students continue their education, LCCC remains top of mind, as 68% of Lorain County high school graduates begin their education at LCCC.

Affordable tuition and easy transfer options make LCCC a top choice for high school students, as well as adults returning to school. Through LCCC’s University Partnership, students have the opportunity to choose to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ohio colleges without ever leaving the LCCC campus. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the University Partnership delivers more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degrees from 15 Ohio colleges. These degree programs are offered on the LCCC campus and save students an average of 70% on the cost of a bachelor’s degree. It is no wonder the LCCC University Partnership has become a popular higher education choice for Lorain County residents. Since 2000, Lorain County has experienced a 77% increase in bachelor’s degree holders – with 89% of those earning credits from LCCC.

The momentum created by LCCC and the University Partnership helps propel our community. As we move to the future, LCCC is prepared to address the changing workforce needs. Due to LCCC’s adaptability and foresight, the college was recently profiled as one of five exemplary community colleges in a forthcoming publication: America’s Hidden Economic Engines: How Community Colleges Can Drive Shared Prosperity.

Community Colleges, and LCCC specifically, are ready for the future. This community, along with all Ohio, is on the cusp of greatness. We will remain steady down our path, delivering accessible academic programs in ways that quickly translate into in-demand careers. But we will also continue to take hold of opportunities to carve out a new path, launching programs that fill gaps in our community. LCCC prepares our economy for the future, and as I look toward that future, I know the best is yet to come.

 

Our Community Turns to LCCC

In these times of monumental change, our community turns to Lorain County Community College to light a path to the future.

As LCCC and University Partnership classes begin today, the campus is alive with the hope and purpose of all students – those starting their first college classes, those returning after some time away, those retraining for new careers, and so many more.

One thing they all have in common is that they turned to LCCC to help them reach their career goals. With customized academic support and our culture of care, LCCC is committed to helping each student find success, whether they are pursuing a certificate, associate degree or applied bachelor’s from LCCC, or a bachelor’s or master’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership.

Here is a video I shared with students to welcome them on the first day of a new academic year.

For nearly 60 years, LCCC continues to be the trusted place our community members and employers turn to as they prepare for the future. In fact, one in four Lorain County residents have taken classes at LCCC. And after graduation, they find career success right here in our region, as 90% of LCCC graduates live and work in Northeast Ohio. Our graduates find local careers by design, as LCCC partners with more than 700 local employers to ensure students graduate ready to get to work on day one.

One example of this employer and program connection is the new Bachelor of Applied Science in Smart Industrial Automated Systems Engineering Technology. This new applied bachelor’s degree was developed in direct response to employer needs. As the first students in this program begin classes today, they know they will graduate ready for the workforce due to Earn and Learn paid internship opportunities built into the curriculum. Many other programs utilize this successful Earn and Learn model, including the applied bachelor’s degree program in microelectronic manufacturing, also called MEMS.

These innovative applied bachelor’s degrees in MEMS and Smart Manufacturing build upon the success of LCCC’s University Partnership. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the University Partnership delivers more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degrees from 15 Ohio colleges, as well as the two applied bachelor’s degrees from LCCC. The programs are all offered on the LCCC campus and save students an average of 70% on the cost of their education. It is no wonder that the LCCC University Partnership has become a popular higher education choice for Lorain County residents. Since 2000, Lorain County has experienced a 77% increase in bachelor’s degree holders – with 89% of those earning credits from LCCC.

The impact of LCCC’s Earn and Learn programs is so well known that when University Hospitals noticed an unmet need for licensed practical nurses (LPN), they turned to LCCC to develop a solution. The result is a new Earn and Learn program that allows current UH employees working as patient care nursing assistants (PCNA) to earn their LPN credential from LCCC. Students remain full-time employees at the hospital – earning full pay and benefits – while they complete the one-year LPN program, tuition-free. Upon graduation, they will be hired as LPNs at the hospital. Talk about a win-win for students and the community! And once they earn their LPN, the education and career opportunities continue with the LPN to RN bridge program and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from LCCC’s University Partnership.

A group of 16 students
The first students in the new University Hospitals/LCCC LPN Earn and Learn program begin classes this semester.

The ability to seamlessly advance from one credential to the next is a vital component of all LCCC and University Partnership programs, including our Aspire GED and adult diploma programs. Luis Hernandez is a first-generation college student from Lorain who turned to LCCC to help him earn his GED in 2019. He continued his education, first at the LCCC Lorain Learning Center near him home, and now on our main campus. In this academic year, Luis will earn an associate degree and two certificates, with plans to continue his education for a bachelor’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership. Of all these achievements, what I find most inspiring about Luis is his passion for advocating for students in his role as president of Student Senate.

Student with LCCC President Marcia Ballinger
From GED to the University Partnership – Luis Hernandez is making an impact!

Another student committed to serving is Brittany Kramer. After more than a decade working for the same company, Brittany found herself laid off and in need of additional training and education. She turned to LCCC for the affordability and flexible schedule she needs as a mom. At LCCC, she has exceled in her classes and found a home where she can grow her leadership skills. She’s earned three associate degrees and is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership. What’s more, she holds leadership roles with Student Senate and Phi Theta Kappa honor society and was named one of the top community college students in Ohio for 2022!

LCCC President Dr. Ballinger with Brittany Kramer.
It’s always inspiring catching up with student leader Brittany Kramer.

 

As this new academic year begins, the possibilities are endless but LCCC remains steadfast: always here, always ready. So, when individuals like Luis and Brittany turn to LCCC they can do so confidently, knowing their community college will help them build a fulfilling future, for themselves and our region.

 

The best time of the year is here – commencement season! I love seeing our graduates celebrate their moment as they cross the commencement stage and soar to their futures.

I was thrilled to lead the 58th annual Commencement exercises for the Lorain County Community College and University Partnership Class of 2022. This was our first in-person graduation ceremony since 2019, and it was wonderful to see our field house filled with graduates and their supporters.The Class of 2022 included 1,773 graduates earning 2,193 associate degrees and certificates – and four of those students earned an applied bachelor’s degree from LCCC in microelectronic manufacturing. An additional 351 graduates earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees through LCCC’s University Partnership. That’s a grand total of 2,554 degrees and credentials earned by 2,124 graduates, and I am incredibly proud of each and every one.

This graduating class holds a special place in my heart as this year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of LCCC’s University Partnership. This program launched in 1996 as an innovative solution to the fact that Lorain County was falling behind in bachelor’s degree attainment. What began with five partner colleges and universities offering 12 degrees has grown to now include 14 partners and more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Students who complete degrees through the University Partnership save an average of $74,000.

And that all adds up to big strides for our region. Since 2000, Lorain County has experienced a 77% increase in bachelor’s degree holders – one of two counties in Northeast Ohio with the highest increase in baccalaureate attainment. And we continue to enhance the University Partnership, most recently through an expanded strategic alliance with Case Western Reserve University to continue to fuel Ohio’s emerging semiconductor economy.

Helping our students get a jump-start on their higher education goals are our dual enrollment programs. This year, 127 high school students earned a degree or certificate at the same time they completed high school through Early College High School, College Credit Plus or Career Technical Education programs. This includes Sierra Mobley, who earned both an associate of arts and an associate of science at the same time she completed Lorain County Early College High School on the LCCC campus. In everything we do at LCCC, it’s all about helping our graduates and our region soar. To celebrate the class of 2022 and recognize the 25th anniversary of the University Partnership, we dedicated a breathtaking public art display called SOAR, Success and Opportunity, Advancing the Region. The display spans 200 feet and features 2,022 sculpted birds in perpetual motion, soaring in the air. When you stand near the display, you feel the sensation of being in a flock of birds that has just taken to flight.

It’s my hope that our graduates and our community see this display and are reminded of their own potential to take flight and achieve the lives and careers of their dreams. And I hope they know their community college is here for them along the way.

Learn more about the 2022 Commencement and our graduates.

Creating career-ready graduates

April is Community College Month, a time to celebrate the broad impact of our nation’s community colleges.

Lorain County Community College.

It’s right there, our middle name: community.

LCCC’s history of serving the community stretches back to 1963 when the need was recognized for a local college to create higher education access and a bridge to gainful employment. Over the past 59 years, LCCC has helped Lorain County adapt and thrive through prosperity and challenging times. Through nimble academic programs and meaningful connections with local industry, the college has helped our community remain competitive today and prepared for the innovation of tomorrow.

In this era of rapid change, the ability to quickly adapt and create new training and credentials is one of LCCC’s most important attributes. By listening to local employers and keeping an eye on the pulse on the needs of our community, as well as nationwide trends, LCCC creates academic programming that leads to career-ready graduates with good paying jobs waiting for them upon graduation. As a result, more than 90% of LCCC graduates live and work in Northeast Ohio. All this builds a confidence in LCCC and our region that employers look for when making big decisions.

So, earlier this year when Intel announced it is bringing its most advanced chip manufacturing operation in the world to Ohio, I was thrilled but not surprised. LCCC and our entire state have been preparing for an opportunity like this for decades and we are ready to maximize the economic impact Intel will bring. A group of college and local leaders gathered to watch the live stream of the Intel announcement. Watch the video:

While some find themselves Googling the work that Intel does, at LCCC, words like “semiconductor” and “mechatronics” have been part of our vocabulary for nearly a decade. In fact, LCCC has been training students in the field of microelectronic manufacturing (MEMS) since 2013 when we became the first community college to offer an associate degree in MEMS. In 2018, LCCC made history again as the first community college to deliver an applied bachelor’s degree in MEMS.

Our MEMS program is delivered in a successful and replicable “earn and learn” format where students work while attending college. Not only does this model of learning give students opportunities to gain work experience while they are in school, making themselves more attractive to future employers, it allows students to earn a livable wage as they complete the program. This structure, combined with the low cost of community college tuition and time to degree of typically two years, drives the growth and diversity within our earn and learn programs. The MEMS program alone has increased from three students in 2013 to 150 in 2021. And these students are women, students of color, traditional college age, and adult learners.

LCCC’s MEMS students work on a microscopic scale while thinking big. Em Williams earned a prestigious NASA Ohio Space Grant Consortium Community College scholarship for her research on the future of automation in microelectronics. Williams will graduate in May with an associate degree in MEMS and will continue for the MEMS applied bachelor’s degree.

Em Williams holds a NASA patch inside the MEMS room
Em Williams

As automation continues to be at the forefront of manufacturing, LCCC is preparing a local workforce with a new applied bachelor’s degree currently in development. LCCC’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Smart Industrial Automated Systems Engineering Technology will focus on integrating, operating, modifying, and troubleshooting smart manufacturing systems based on “off-the-shelf” industrial equipment directly related to smart manufacturing.

These two applied bachelor’s degrees offered by LCCC complement the more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degrees from 14 Ohio colleges and universities in LCCC’s University Partnership. This year, we celebrate 25 years of the University Partnership providing affordable degrees to local people. By pairing LCCC’s low tuition rate with thoughtful transfer pathways, students in LCCC’s University Partnership save an average of $75,000 on their degrees.

That savings makes a real difference for students and their families. This can be particularly significant for high school dual enrollment students who follow a bachelor’s degree pathway through our MyUniversity program – a model that allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 20 while saving 80 percent on the cost of their education.

Whether students are earning a short-term certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s or master’s degree, they can confidently pursue their goals knowing their program will prepare them for a career right here in Northeast Ohio. After all, that’s why LCCC was created. It’s a mission we’ve fulfilled since 1963, serving our community, now and in the future.

Specializing in hope

February can be one of the bleakest months in Northeast Ohio. Fortunately, there is a bright spot this time of year with the annual DREAM conference, hosted by Achieving the Dream (ATD).

Recently, I joined more than 300 community college leaders for the ATD annual convening. Inside the virtual conference, I felt myself become energized through the stories and strategies shared – especially the messages shared by ATD President and CEO Dr. Karen Stout.

During her opening remarks, Dr. Stout unveiled ATD’s new vision statement, which centers on helping to create vibrant communities by advancing community colleges as hubs of equity and mobility in their communities. She went on to encourage each college to be a beacon of hope. As our communities and students continue to make their way make through the challenges of recent years, Dr. Stout urged us each to create hope on our campuses and beyond. It was a message that set the tone for the entire DREAM conference. And even now, long after the final plenary session has ended, I find myself returning to Dr. Stout’s message for inspiration.

Hope.

It seems like a simple thing. It’s a dream, a wish; the feeling that something better is yet to come.

Hope is the spark that ignites us to strive for more. It calls from inside us, pushing us to take a risk and put ourselves out there. It’s the quiet resolve that the result will be worth the effort. Hope is essential for our future, but these dark times may have dimmed the hope inside many.

Fortunately, there are places that specialize in hope: community colleges.

At LCCC, our mission directly aligns with ATD’s vision statement. Our hope for a vibrant future for all has developed into a strategic plan to ensure that everyone in our region has equitable access to the education they need to build a successful future for themselves, their families and all of Lorain County. We know that education can be the golden ticket to a better tomorrow. But before a student ever makes it to their first class, they must first have hope that they can succeed. Once there is hope, a plan can be developed to help each student reach their goals. Whether it is an associate degree or certificate from LCCC or a bachelor’s or master’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership, we can help our students and our community build and spread hope.

Brandon Woodall is an LCCC culinary student who turned his dream into action. Named a 2022 DREAM Scholar by ATD, Brandon is inspiring people across the country with his story of hope and determination. Long before he was named a DREAM Scholar, Brandon was a kid growing up with two loves: basketball and cooking with his Aunt Valerie. His basketball dreams nearly came true – he briefly attended two different colleges and played on their basketball teams, but a lack of funding and support services caused him to drop out each time. He worked a variety of jobs to make ends meet, but cooking remained his passion. In 2018, he opened his own catering and private chef business, named Valerie’s Kitchen and Catering, in honor of his aunt. When the pandemic caused his plans to change, his aunt encouraged him to enroll in LCCC’s culinary arts program. Brandon was nervous but filled with hope.

Now in his second year at LCCC, Brandon’s hard work is paying off. He is excelling in the culinary program and making a name for himself in Lorain County and beyond as he wows clients with his food and inspires them with his enthusiasm for his craft. When Brandon earns an associate degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management – Culinary Arts later this year, he will be the first in his family to graduate from college. Learn more about Brandon.

During the ATD DREAM conference, Brandon shared an autobiographical poem. Part of his poem includes:

I am from building an empire from the ground up so that my children and grandchildren can break generational curses.
I am from being scared to death to enter culinary school because of fear of failure.
I am from Chef Adam and Chef Brad, my culinary instructors who saw potential in me.

His poem continues,

I am no longer from the doubt and negativity generated by people who think you can’t do it.
I am Chef B and I am here to build my dynasty.

(Read Brandon’s full poem below.)

And what a dynasty it will be. With the help of LCCC, Brandon is creating a foundation for a successful future. Through LCCC’s customized support services, Brandon and all LCCC students receive customized academic support and access to holistic wrap around services through the LCCC Advocacy and Resource Center. These supports, as well as every action we take at LCCC, are deliberately designed with equity in mind.

It’s my core belief that every student’s dream matters, and LCCC is committed to helping every student achieve their dreams, no matter their circumstances. Through our work with Achieving the Dream, we continue to make strides in equity in access, experience and completion for all students. LCCC first joined ATD in 2011 and with their guidance and our own strategic planning, LCCC has risen to a leader in student success. In fact, LCCC has held ATD Leader College status since 2015, and been a Leader College of Distinction since 2019. In 2020, LCCC received the ATD Leah Meyer Austin Award for student success. With a laser focus, LCCC is strategically addressing equity in all aspects of LCCC’s work. LCCC’s Equity by Design Team actively seeks to advance equity and inclusion for all students, and a multi-pronged approach to community outreach ensures everyone in our region has the opportunity to access higher education.

The result of these measures is an increase in students’ persistence and an overall increase in completion rates, especially among minority, low-income and under-represented groups. Over the past decade, graduation attainment for LCCC’s Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx students has nearly quadrupled. Additional progress includes an increase in the completion of gateway math and English courses, with the largest increase among low-income students; increased persistence from year to year, with the largest increase among Black/African American students; and increased completion rates among all students, with the largest increase among first-generation college students.

These improvements are the result of deliberate policy changes, holistic support and reaching students earlier in their academic career to ensure all people in our area build the hope of a better future. For students in grades 7-12, LCCC’s dual enrollment programs allow students to gain college experience – for free and often in their home schools. In fact, 45% of Lorain County high school students earn LCCC college credit by the time they graduate. That amounts to a savings of nearly $5 million for local families.

That early touch point to college builds momentum for high school students – many who are the first in their family to pursue higher education. In fact, 81 percent of Lorain County high school graduates who earn LCCC dual enrollment credit continue in higher education – compared the national average of 66 percent.

These are remarkable gains, but there is always more work ahead. My hope for the future is that more students will turn to their community college to help turn their hopes into a plan for success – just like Brandon.

 

 

I am from
By Brandon Woodall, Sr.

I am Brandon Woodall Sr.
I am from where most people don’t make it out.
From empty abandoned houses in the neighborhood and broken glass on the street.
I am from the unforgiving city of Cleveland, Ohio.
72nd and St. Clair street to be exact.
I am from the number one bus on the RTA, standing up and holding on tight as the bus sways.
I am from long walks to Save A lot in the snow and selling brownies and chili dogs to have lunch money in my pockets.

I am from grandma’s and grandad’s house which was filled with aromas from burning charcoal outside to the smell of the well seasoned chicken wings inside.
I am from the caramelization of nutmeg and brown sugar on top of my Aunt Val’s yams.
I am from loud smacks on the table when an Ace beats a King in spades.
I am from the loud cheer in the kitchen when the Browns score.

I am from building an empire from the ground up so that my children and grandchildren can break generational curses.
I am from sleepless nights due to preparation for events.
I am from being scared to death to enter culinary school because of fear of failure.

I am from Chef Adam and Chef Brad, my culinary instructors who saw potential in me.
I am from Lorain County Community College where they gave me an opportunity to be a Sous Chef for many events getting me ready for the real world.
I was appointed to be a part of the first ever Traveling Culinary team tasked with assisting a 4 star restaurant with its grand opening.
I am 1 of 4 students from Lorain County Community College picked to publish some of my recipes in the Ohio Farm Bureau Magazine which gave me exposure throughout Ohio.

I am no longer from the doubt and negativity generated by people who think you can’t do it.

In the next 5 years I see myself being a private chef and expanding my catering craft.
People around the world will come to eat my lamb and rice with brown sauce, my seafood boil with juicy king crab, my mouth watering Cajun corn, and my famous soul food that is stellar beyond its years.

I am Chef B and I am here to build my dynasty.

Cultivating Community, Opportunity and Unity

As thousands of Lorain County Community College and University Partnership students begin classes today, I welcome them to our LCCC family. Our students continue to look forward, building a brighter future for themselves and our community. When I think of our resilient students, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Throughout the pandemic, our students continue to look boldly forward. In the face of struggle, they’ve chosen hope. And their community college is here to help them achieve their goals. We do this by cultivating community, opportunity and unity, here on campus and throughout our region. It all happens through a lens of equity that meets students where they are, wraps them in our Culture of Care, and results in academic and career success.

Community

One recent graduate who found career success is David Copsey. Following his calling to serve his community in the healthcare field, David came to LCCC with a plan to study nursing. However, once he shadowed a respiratory therapist, he knew he’d found his true purpose and enrolled in Bowling Green State University’s respiratory care program through LCCC’s University Partnership.

Once the pandemic hit in March 2020, David felt even more solidified that he was in the right place, despite the hardships of the field.

“Other people’s instincts were to leave when the pandemic hit, but for me this job is truly a calling,” David said.

David graduated in December 2020 – a peak of the pandemic – and immediately accepted a position with the Cleveland Clinic. It’s a rigorous job and he felt well prepared by his degree program.

“It’s hard sometimes. There are a lot of times I’m crying; there are a lot of times I’m frustrated,” David said. “But I still wouldn’t change it for the world because I’m constantly helping people every single day, which I love to do.”

Learn more about David.

Opportunity

I’m so proud David is following his passion to serve others; and I’m honored that his community college was able help him reach his goals. This represents the root of who we are as an organization. LCCC was created in 1963 to deliver quality educational opportunities for everyone. And in 1996, our community supported the addition of our University Partnership program, offering affordable bachelor’s and master’s degrees right here on the Elyria campus. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the LCCC’s University Partnership, I’m inspired by David and all the University Partnership graduates making a difference, and humbled by the community that made this program possible.

Since the creation of the University Partnership, nearly 7,000 people have seized this wonderful opportunity and earned their degree. What began as a partnership with five colleges and universities delivering 12 bachelor’s and master’s degrees has expanded to 14 partner colleges delivering more than 100 degrees. And because we know that high tuition costs are often a barrier to educational attainment, affordability remains central: the average University Partnership student saves $74,000 on the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Instead of racking up debt, LCCC and University Partnership students build relevant, job-ready skills that meet the needs of local employers. In fact, 90% of LCCC graduates find work here in Northeast Ohio.

Unity

Low cost, quality education that leads to high wage jobs; that’s one key to building strong communities, a strong economy and brighter future for us all. Another key lies in the knowledge that we can achieve more together than we can separately. As we convene for the first day of classes, we celebrate the unity that’s created when people from all walks of life come together to pursue their dreams.

To inspire students on this topic, we hosted an event in College Center on January 18 commemorating the life’s work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and featuring former NFL player, Shawn Harper. Shawn’s story of overcoming the odds and surmounting negativity was a wonderful message for our students as they begin their spring semester, likely facing challenging circumstances on a personal or emotional level.

To further mark this occasion and our commitment to social justice, today we unveiled the launch of a Unity Quilt. Students, faculty and the community can participate by creating a personalized square that represent their views on unity, service and community. Alone, each square tells just one story, but when woven together, a beautiful new collective emerges.

Like the quilt, each student starting class today has their own experience that becomes an integral part of the overall fabric of our campus and our community. My hope for this semester is that students continue boldly in pursuit of their dreams – and their community college will be here to help them by providing opportunity, connection to community and unity for all.

With warm regards this holiday season

As the holidays approach, I find myself reflecting on what truly matters.

Over the past year, I have seen our community come together as we navigate the future together. At Lorain County Community College, this includes our students, faculty and staff, as well as our collaborations with many public and private partners. Thank you for all you do to make our community a caring and vibrant place to live.

In the coming year, I encourage to you continue to care for one another and to live each day with gratitude and joy.

With warm regards,

Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D.
President
Lorain County Community College

Remembering 20 years since 9/11

For those of us old enough to remember, it’s a day frozen in time. September 11, 2001.
It’s one of those days that leaves a mark on your soul. You remember what you were doing, where you were and who you were with at the time the news broke that our country was under attack. For all of us, the day was marked with fear, shock and sadness and forever changed the way we view the world.

It’s now been 20 years since terrorists overtook four commercial flights, crashing the planes in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Two decades have passed since 2,977 innocent people lost their lives that day, yet the memories of that day never get easier. On that day we held our collective breath, worrying, wondering what would happen next.

And yet, in the midst of the tragedy, there was still a spark of the American spirit. That spark grew into a flickering flame and soon a raging fire as our country came together to heal, to hope and to move forward in the face of tragedy. When the chips were stacked against us, Americans across the nation came together with resolve and hope for our future. In the days, weeks and months that followed, we were one people: Americans. And we did what Americans do: we helped each other.

In the heartbreaking video footage of the chaos in New York City, we saw the terrified faces of people running away from the rubble – running for their lives, hoping to see their family and friends again. And we saw the brave faces of the first responders, those remarkable men and women who ran toward the collapsing buildings; those who knew the risk and went anyway. Among the 2,977 people who died that day were 441 New York City first responders. They died doing their job, but so much more. They died for the cause of helping others – they died heroes and our country remains indebted to them.

A popular quote from Mister Rogers reminds people in time of crisis to “look for the helpers” – the people who run toward tragedy to aid others. When I see the videos of the police officers, firefighters, paramedics and medical professionals who answered the call on 9/11, I think of the students I see here at Lorain County Community College in our first responder and health care programs, as well as the LCCC alumni who now serve our local communities. LCCC is the number one location in Lorain County for first responder training, and it’s a responsibility we take seriously. The students in classes this year are working toward their goal helping others, even when it may not be easy or convenient for them. The legacy of those lost on 9/11 lives on with those working and training in these vital fields.

As I remember that awful day and the week and months that followed the attacks, I’m reminded of the many other helpers who emerged during that time to help our nation cope. I think of the teachers and educators who comforted their students during a time when we all were grappling to understand the unfolding events. This also includes counselors, social workers and all those who make it their life’s work to improve life for others. These continue to be much needed roles in our community, and LCCC will continue to fulfill our mission by delivering the highest quality education that leads to well-prepared professionals that lift us all up.

Even with the passage of 20 years the memories of that day remain painful. There were many things the terrorists robbed us of in an instant. However, they were unable to take from us the basic qualities that make us Americans: resolve, resiliency and hope for a better future. As we face new challenges, I know our country will continue to grow and become better; just as we did in the days and months following 9/11. And I know our local communities are in good hands with the first responders, teachers, counselors and more who now stand ready to help us all, whatever each day may bring.

Lorain County Community College held a 9/11 remembrance event on Sept. 10, which included the unveiling of a Remembrance Display. The display includes blue flags in the shape of a star to represent the 2,977 people who tragically lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. At the center of the star are four lights, representing each of the four planes. Using augmented reality on smart devices, visitors of the display can project a semi-translucent image of the Twin Towers, which appear to rise more than 50 feet above the ground.

Translucence Twin Towers rise above a field with grass and blue flags
Augmented reality projects the image of the Twin Towers above the LCCC 9/11 Remembrance Display.
Blue flags in the foreground, Dr. Ballinger in red at podium, large american flag on building
9/11 Remembrance Display, from the ground
Aerial shot of flags arranged in a star
Aerial view of the 9/11 Remembrance Display
Police officers at 9/11 memorial event
Members of the Elyria Police Department
Dr. Ballinger speaks, wearing a red blazer, with American flag in background
I was honored to address the campus and community on this solemn occasion.

Welcoming Students to a New Academic Year

There is a level of excitement that accompanies the start of each fall semester. It is a time of hope, a time of possibilities. But it also offers a time for reflection. A time to consider where we are in life and where we hope to go. A time to think about the lessons we have learned and how to apply them in ways that allow us to move forward in positive and constructive ways.

I’ve heard people say that you must go through the darkness to grow into the light. That the challenging times are what make us stronger, more resilient, and more able to tackle whatever life throws our way. And from what I am seeing from our students, they are more than ready for their next chapter. And we are ready to help them be successful.

Our students have grit – proven by the fact that more than 11,000 Lorain County Community College and University Partnership are returning to campus this week to pursue their dreams. LCCC students don’t sit back and wait for things to change; they push forward to reach their goals, and we are here to support them on their journey to success.

Jamie Morrow struggled for years to finish her degree and reached her goal with support from LCCC’s Advocacy and Resource Center. After completing her associate degree, she set her sights on earning a bachelor’s degree and is currently enrolled in LCCC’s University Partnership program with Hiram College.  When asked about the lessons she hopes to instill in her children she said, “I hope they realize that no matter what mistakes you make, no matter how impossible a situation may seem, anything’s possible.”

Jamie Morrow wearing a black shirt
Jamie Morrow

Pablo Oquendo II was born with OCA2 (oculocutaneous albinism) with visual and hearing disabilities – as well as a fierce determination to achieve his goals. He earned at an associate of arts degree at the same time he graduated from Lorain High School in 2021 through LCCC’s College Credit Plus program. Along the way, he received support from his instructors at Lorain High and at LCCC, and also from LCCC’s Accessibility Services.

Pablo Oquendo II
Pablo Oquendo II

Like Jamie and Pablo, the LCCC students starting classes this semester are ready to work hard – and we are ready to support them. Our culture of care remains paramount to who we are as an institution and this past year has reaffirmed our deep commitment to meeting our students where they are.

So as we begin this fall semester, please join me in congratulating our students for their bravery, their dedication, and their willingness to step into the spotlight and focus on their education.

This is my video message I shared earlier today with LCCC students to welcome them to the new semester: