Empowering Women, Creating Leaders

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I’m reminded of the wonderful contributions women have made to the creation of Lorain County Community College and the success of our college and community. The advocacy efforts of Lorain County’s League of Women Voters in 1963 led to your community college receiving the charter for the first permanent community college campus in the state of Ohio. It was this early group of women, along with local business and community leaders, who saw the potential for education to improve our community, create leaders, and empower women.

Earlier this week I was honored to be the guest speaker for our local WIMODAUGHSIS (Wives, Daughters and Sisters of Master Masons) chapter. I was invited by Jane Norton, one of the College’s longest supporters and champions, and I was delighted to engage with this wonderful group of dedicated women in a conversation about the state of higher education in our county. Similar to the League of Women Voters, WIMODAUGHSIS has a rich history of supporting local causes that foster equality and provide assistance to those in need and I was impressed at how deeply this group truly cares about advancing women.

A room full of women sit at tables to listen to Jane Norton speak at the front of the room.
It was inspiring and appropriate to connect with Jane Norton, WIMODAUGHSIS Chapter President Sharon Herzer, and the WIMODAUGHSIS members during Women’s History Month.

Over the past five decades, more than 100,000 women have earned college credits and advanced in their lives thanks to their education from LCCC. While the numbers are grand, it’s the woman behind each number that I believe is so important. Women like Patty Rone, Kristin Hohman, and Char Wray.

I met Patty two years ago when she was a Licensed Practical Nurse working in home health care and wanted to get ahead in her career and in life by earning her RN degree. Her determination, perseverance, dedication, and commitment to overcoming barriers have inspired me beyond words. Equally inspiring is Kelly Gruscinski, who works in our Office of Accessibility Services, and partnered with Patty to help her cross the finish line this past December to complete her degree. I was thrilled when Patty called to share her news that she passed her NCLEX exam in February and is now employed as an RN as Mercy Health Center.

A photo of Patty Rone and LCCC President Marcia Ballinger.
Patty Rone and me after she passed the NCLEX exam.

Kristin serves as Editor-in-Chief of our Collegian student newspaper. I’ve gotten to know her throughout the past year as she and I each assumed our respective new roles. Earlier this month she interviewed me about my views on Women’s History Month, and I decided to turn the question around and ask her about who has inspired her at LCCC. She immediately lit up and told me about an experience during her first semester here when she connected with faculty member Tammy Bosley, who teaches Communications. After a hiatus from attending a university several years earlier, Kristin wasn’t sure how she might fit in at LCCC. The tremendous support that Kristin felt from Tammy that first semester and the continued mentoring have demonstrated to her that women supporting women has made a meaningful difference in her career decision.

A blond woman sits to the left of LCCC President Marcia Ballinger in the president's office.
Kristin and I enjoyed interviewing each other about Women’s History Month.

We are fortunate to have many women in teaching and leadership positions at the College, as well as several women serving on our Foundation and District Boards. Char Wray, a member of our Foundation’s Board of Directors and a member of our Health Careers Advisory Committee, was named President of University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center in 2015. As the first woman to be appointed to this role, Char is truly a role model for women in our community. And wouldn’t you know – Char got her start right here at LCCC where she earned her associate of applied science degree in nursing. She continued her education through our University Partnership, earning her bachelor of science in nursing from The University of Akron and enabling her to advance her career.

A photo of Char Wray.
Char Wray got her start here at LCCC.

Patty, Kelly, Kristin, Tammy and Char embody what this month is all about – empowering women to succeed in life and positively impact our society.

One of my personal goals as president is to ensure we are doing our part to create leaders – within our College, our community and our students, and I welcome your ideas on how we can continue supporting those facing challenges in their lives – regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, or ethnicity. Every student’s dream matters and it is our responsibility to continue creating equal opportunity for all.