2018: A year of “remember when” moments

We all have those “remember when” moments … those instances that years later you look back to as a turning point; an event or action that happened and made all the difference. Sometimes, it’s the smallest moments that make the largest impact. And at times, it’s big moments that mean big changes.

As the calendar nears the end of 2018, I find myself reflecting on the past year. And what a year it has been. The past 12 months at Lorain County Community College have been filled with many moments – big and small – that will stand test of time.  As the president of your community college, these moments are personal for me but also are wide-reaching in their positive impact for our region.

These are the “remember when” moments from 2018 that I will be talking about for years to come.

Remember when … A record number of students earned their degrees at LCCC?

Our May 2018 commencement ceremony celebrated the largest graduating class in the college’s history – 2,018 graduates in the year 2018! As anyone who has started something big can attest, who you were when you started the journey may not be who you are at the end. That was true for so many of our graduates, including Trecia Cintron, who earned an associate degree through LCCC’s Early College High School.

“Five years ago, I never would have seen myself graduating with more than 70 college credits,” Trecia said. “And now, here I am soaring above and beyond my own goals.”

Students rang bells to celebrate their graduation in May 2018. What a moment!

Remember when … the future of higher education in our community was changed when the first classes started in LCCC’s new bachelor of applied science in Microelectronic Manufacturing (MEMS)?

In October 2018, Jared Dumont walked into the Richard Desich Business and Entrepreneurship Center for the first class in LCCC’s newly approved applied bachelor’s degree in MEMS.  Jared and his classmates are the first in the state to receive bachelor’s level education in MEMS at a community college. The applied bachelor’s degree meets a specific need in the region and melds seamlessly with the associate degree MEMS program. Jared, who has already landed a job in the field by completing the MEMS associate degree, will graduate with even more experience and be prepared to advance to higher level jobs in the field. What’s more, the full applied bachelor’s degree can be completed at little cost to the students, due to LCCC’s low tuition and paid internships built included in the curriculum.

This MEMS applied bachelor’s program is going to produce big results for our region, and I can’t wait to continue to develop more specialized applied bachelor’s degree programs for our community.

Jared Dumont holds a Printed Circuit Board he created in in the MEMS program.

Remember when … a family member’s graduation inspired generations?

In late November, I arrived in my office to find a hand-written note from Christine Halvorsen. In her note, Christine wrote to me that she graduated from LCCC’s University Partnership program in June 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in technical and applied studies from Ohio University. She commented that just a few years ago, she had been faced with a restructuring at her employer and wasn’t sure where to go. Over the years, Christine had completed some LCCC classes, but stopped out to focus on her family. More than a decade later, she found herself in need of a bachelor’s degree to keep her job.

It was during that time that she attended the graduation of her niece, Halle Branscum, who earned an associate degree from LCCC in 2016. That day also happened to be my first commencement speech after being named president of LCCC. I shared with the graduates my own story of earning a master’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership, and I urged them to continue to reach for their dreams. Hearing those words, Christine told me, helped spur her to take the plunge toward her own education. With the support of her son and Halle, Christine registered for classes and started toward her future the next week!

Christine went on to earn an associate degree in 2017 – where I had the pleasure of shaking her hand as she crossed the stage. She continued to earn a bachelor’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership and Ohio University. And, she’s now working on her MBA. Christine’s note means so much to me, and her story is a testament to what can be achieved when you truly believe in yourself.

Christine celebrate graduation with her son and niece.
Christine after her 2017 LCCC graduation with her niece, Halle Branscum, and son, Stephen Seiber.

Remember when … new students took a chance on themselves?

Starting something new can be challenging. At LCCC, our faculty and staff are dedicated to making the transition to college as seamless as possible for everyone. To the nearly 5,000 students who took their first class at LCCC during 2018, I’m proud of you! And we are here for you, so that years from now, you can look back on 2018 as your “remember when” moment of taking your first class that led to a brighter future.

Remember when … LCCC’s commitment to student success was nationally recognized?

On April 30, 2018, I shook hands with Dr. Walter Bumphus, President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, on stage at the AACC national conference. Honestly, the moment is a bit of a blur in my memory. I had just heard Lorain County Community College announced as the winner of the 2018 Excellence in Student Success award, and somehow my feet carried me to the stage to accept this amazing honor on behalf of LCCC.

Student success is at the heart of every program, every initiative and every support service we provide as the community’s college. I was honored to accept the award on behalf of every student – past, present and future – who has ever trusted their higher education to LCCC. The national recognition has driven our campus to dive even deeper into our commitment to be a student-ready college, supporting our students in the ways they need it most.

Dr. Ballinger accepts the AACC award on stage.
Accepting LCCC’s award from AACC President and CEO Dr. Walter Bumphus.

Remember when … let 2019 fill in the blank.

Sometimes, it’s only clear years later what those “remember when” moments were.

It can take time for life to unfold and reveal what those “remember when” moments were. As we all journey into 2019, I wish you many “remember when” moments that will positively direct your life for years to come.