The beginning of the fall semester is my favorite time of year – as we welcome more than 11,000 students to campus, the halls are buzzing with anticipation of the year to come. To me, the start of a new semester represents a season of opportunity and growth. Our students come to us from all walks of life, and that diversity shines through all over campus. Our campus community comes to life as the semester kicks off, and I am so proud of how hard our faculty and staff work every single day to ensure we are meeting the needs of such a diverse student body.
Collectively, our faculty and staff create an environment where all are welcome. Inclusivity has always been one of Lorain County Community College’s points of pride, and our mission of “empowering individuals to succeed through quality education” stems from the belief that everyone deserves to have access to education.
While this concept is firmly embedded institutionally, I recently learned of two students who were deeply affected by certain LCCC employees who went above and beyond to ensure students can achieve their educational dreams.
The first story I would like to share is about a young man named Ignacio but he prefers to be called “Nacho.” Nacho was working with Lauren Beiler, a part-time advisor in Enrollment Services, who learned that he was walking quite a distance every day to and work and would be walking to LCCC this fall semester. Realizing that this lack of transportation could become a barrier to Nacho’s success, Lauren connected him with Espy Correa, a student success coach, and shared with her his dilemma. Espy immediately thought of a solution – that evening she went home and loaded up a bike that she had been planning to sell at a garage sale. Instead, she brought the bike to campus to present to Nacho. A week later, Nacho returned to campus and Espy surprised him with her thoughtful gift – she became a game changer for Nacho, removing a barrier with her own generosity.
I believe that LCCC is a game changer for our students like Dorisa Johnson. She credits Dina Ferrer – the coordinator for our Lorain Learning Center, as her game changer. During high school, Dorisa had a rough time facing financial hardship and spending most of her time caring for her ill father, who later passed away. As would be expected, this experience had a profound impact on Dorisa, and she decided that she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. As she tried to figure out her path, Dorisa connected with Lorain County’s Employment Network, OhioMeansJobs, and the Lorain County Urban League. Through these organizations she was introduced to LCCC and Dina, who helped Dorisa enroll in her first college course and the GED program simultaneously. The staff and teachers motivated her to complete her GED and immediately enroll in additional LCCC courses.
Dina became Dorisa’s mentor, hiring her as a student worker and helping her navigate an educational pathway to reach her goals. She has now earned 49 college credits toward an associate’s degree in Medical Assisting and maintains a 3.1 G.P.A. When talking about Dina, Dorisa often mentions that she is like family and says, “She made me feel special, successful, and appreciated.”
I am so proud of our faculty and staff who are game changers for our students on a daily basis. There are countless more stories like these I could share because this is the nature of what we do here at LCCC. First and foremost, we make sure all of our students know that their dream matters. For those who are afraid to dream, we are here to help them see the possibilities.
Poet Langston Hughes wrote eloquently about the importance of dreams. I take his words to heart:
“Hold onto dreams
For if dreams die
Life is like a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.”