Serving the Underserved

Serving the underserved is essentially a key mission of community colleges. In many instances, community colleges such as MCCC take students who would not be successful elsewhere, shapes, and molds them to compete globally.
In the past two weeks MCCC has continued the tradition of serving the underserved with the Learning Bank Commencement and the Upward Bound completion ceremony. The Learning Bank provides many individuals with the opportunity to complete their GED, which, is a credential of economic value. My own father earned a GED at the age of 42. Upward Bound is another service program that focuses on first generation college students. While in high school, these students are given the opportunity to receive the appropriate training that prepares them for success in college and in life. I was part of an Upward Bound bridge program in my freshman year in college.
If MCCC did not serve these underserved students, then who would? While we cannot be all things to all people, we can certainly be something to the underserved population of Monroe County. Like anyone else, they deserve the opportunity to have their lives enriched – that is our mission.

The Power of Positive Thinking

What has been on my mind the last several days? Simply put, having a positive attitude about life –the power of positive thinking. It is part of my DNA, my upbringing, and my spirituality. I always have a positive attitude about everything significant! If I did not, I would not have survived the Washington DC public school system; I would not have made it through high school; I would not have made it in the inner city of Baltimore after leaving home at 19; I would not have survived the rats in the Baltimore ghettoes; I would not have completed my bachelor’s degree in less than three years; I would not have survived being homeless after I moved to Mississippi to pursue a Ph.D. degree; and I would not be where I am today. That is my story, a positive one. That is how I live my life and that is how I do my work.

All of us could stand a little more positive thinking. I cannot imagine any coach, or for that matter, players on any sports team going into a game thinking they are going to lose. In terms of more recent international events, I cannot imagine that the U.S. soccer team ever conceived of losing to the great soccer nation of Ghana, who had knocked them out of the last two World Cups. The USA won because they believed they could and would win, and they did, even though they were outplayed.
I have always said that as an educator, the most important responsibility that I have is to get students to dream big dreams, keep hope alive, and believe first and foremost in themselves – that is the educator’s greatest responsibility – inspiring and motivating students. Inspiring and motivating his/her team is also the coach’s/leader’s greatest responsibility. In order for the leader to be successful at motivating the team, each team member must have that internal confidence/belief. That is what makes organizations successful and moves them from good to great.

MCCC family, we must remain positive in these challenging times. We must believe that we can be and will be successful in our recruitment, retention, fund raising, and millage efforts. We must ALL have a positive attitude.

The Entrepreneurial Educator

The word “entrepreneur” is a French word, which means undertaker — a person who undertakes a venture for the purpose of earning a profit. The very first organized “school” of economists, the French Physiocrats, coined this term, perhaps because they believed that profiteers were essentially non-productive or sterile individuals who benefited at the expense of others.
That said, we know today that entrepreneurs are not sterile, and are largely responsible for income generation in the global economy. Entrepreneurs are the innovators and creators who make the world go round.
Educators are those individuals who impart knowledge to others. I have always believed that education and entrepreneurship are the two E’s that lead to economic development and growth. The two are not mutually exclusive. The best type of educator is one who is creative, risk-preferred, innovative, nimble, agile, and quick. However, education, by its very nature, tends to be methodical, regimented, risk-averse, calculated, and slow. So, educators do not tend to be very entrepreneurial in nature.
Would it not be great if we could marry these two E’s? That would mean educators who continually and constantly think out-of-the-box. Yes, creative, innovative and agile educators who are willing to take risks to provide better education to those individuals thirsting for knowledge. Individuals who constantly ask questions that lead to answers about how we make something happen, not why we cannot make it happen.
If we do not fit that description of an entrepreneurial educator, then that is what we should aspire to be.

In Remembrance …

This week, as we celebrate Memorial Day, let’s remember those who have lost loved ones and commiserate with them.  Below is a list of those who have lost loved ones over the last year here at MCCC.  The losses cover the gamut: some have lost twin brothers, children, fathers, mothers, sisters, in-laws, and grandchildren. While time helps, it cannot heal the wounds – I know. I myself have lost two of my beloved aunts in the last few months.  Please join me expressing our deepest and sincerest condolences to all our MCCC family members as we remember their loved ones this week.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

 

Loved One

Employee/Family

Relationship

Mike Nedry

Dr. Patrick Nedry

Twin Brother

Charles Berns

Randy and Lisa Berns

Father

Ardis Nicole “Nikki” Torres Peters

Lynn Goldsmith (Retiree)  and Javier BaRa

Daughter

Abigail Rose

JoEllen Locher

Granddaughter

Irene Simons

Barry and Kelly Kinsey

Mother-in-law

Michael J. Tansey

Joe and Maegen Verkennes

Father-in-law

Nolan Lajiness

Kellie Lajiness (Dance Adjunct)

Son

Joan VanSlambrouck

Jeff  and Gail Vanslambrouck

Mother

Jaqueline/Herbert

Penny and Dan Dunn

Mother/Father

Joanna Borck

Annette Russell

Grandmother

Frank Breeding

Kellie Kull/Rhonda Iacoangeli

Father/Uncle

Jacqueline Beaubien

Tom and Deb Ryder

Grandmother-in-law

Rosetta June Brooks

Bill and Lorna Myers

Mother-in-Law

Kathy Soss (English Adjunct)

Jim Soss

Wife

Jacob Wahr

Dr. Philip Wahr

Father

Lillian Madeline Gerweck

Ann Gerweck

Mother-in-law

John Gilbert

Linda Cruz-Gilbert (English Adjunct)

Husband

 

Peggy Jacobs

Grandfather

Bryan Smith

Mark Hall

Nephew

Robert Boggs

Bonnie Boggs

Father

Alice Ross (Retiree)

 

 

 

Dan Schwab (retiree)

Mother

Shirley Meyer

Mike Meyer

Mother

Karen (retiree)

Lexie Bopp

 

James Welniak

Bonnie Welniak (retiree)

Husband

Alberta Brinson (retiree)

 

 

Roberta Kerste

Dean Kerste

Mother

Evelyn Killion

Amber Smith

Mother

Walter Szuma

Darlene Szuma

Husband

James Vallade

Jim Vallade

Father

Andy Burke (professor emeritus)

Tina Burke

Husband

Toma Paolino

Tony Paolino

Son

Successful Inaugural “Elevator Pitch” Competition

Our inaugural “Elevator Pitch” Competition made the front page of the Evening News today. As a former Business College Dean and entrepreneur, I have created entrepreneurship programs/ organized business plan competitions at three different institutions. Each one of those programs benefited students as well as the community. It is important to note that the concept of entrepreneurship is not limited to business; entrepreneurship is about creativity and innovation in any field. I hold fast to the belief that entrepreneurship and education are the keys to economic growth (they are not mutually exclusive).

Last night, we held our first “Elevator Pitch” competition. As we discussed the idea of implementing this concept, I insisted that we make it happen sooner rather than later. Education is slow in implementation while entrepreneurship must be quick and nimble, so we made it happen. The success exceeded my expectations. Each contestant was given two minutes to pitch their idea to the judges, with an additional three minutes to answer questions.

There were nine contestants, who included high school students, MCCC students, and community members. The ideas ranged from life-saving medical devices to alcohol infused cakes. First place went to Eric Alexius whose idea is software to organize sheet music for bands and choirs. Second place went to Lawrence White who is creating a system to allow easy referral from customers for banks and mortgage companies by adding a personal artistic touch. Third place went to Alexis Stock, whose idea is alcohol infused cupcakes. The winners were awarded scholarships and cash prizes ranging from $350 to $1,500.

At the forefront of organizing the event were Barry Kinsey, Paul Knollman, Josh Myers, and Joe Verkennes. Special thanks to our blue-ribbon panel of judges: Doug Chaffin, President of MB& T Bank, Tim Lake, President of the Monroe County Business Development Corporation, Marge Kreps, MCCC Board member, and Paul Knollman, MCCC, Dean of Business.

The competition was highly successful and definitely enriched the lives of the competitors (not only the winners) and their families – that is our mission. We need more events of this nature that draw the community to this place of intellectual excellence. Please join me in congratulating the winners and thanking the judges and organizers. It is important to continue encouraging EVERYONE so we all have a mindset of how we get things done, not why we cannot get things done. Let us continue to find ways of enriching lives as we take the entire Monroe County Community to the next level.

Commencement: I appreciate ALL of You!

Last week, I experienced my first Commencement at MCCC. It went off without a hitch. All I had to do was show up and read a prepared script – I was able to do that. Our first president, Dr. Ron Campbell was his usual eloquent self as he delivered the address, our alumnus from the first graduating class, Kathy King Zibbell was great, and our Alumnus of the year, radio personality, Paul W. Smith personalized his brief speech when he spoke of the loss of his brother. As one who has lost a brother, I felt his pain and could commiserate.

 The Commencement would not have been possible without the many individuals who worked tirelessly for months to bring it to fruition. This includes the V.P. for Instruction, Dr. Yackee, who wrote my script, Tracey Vogt and her team in the Registrar’s Office, the Maintenance Staff who set up, the faculty who taught the students, the various other departments/staff who supported in a variety of ways.

 I want to express my appreciation to all of you. MCCC is a very good institution, and through our collaborative efforts, we can make it a great institution. Please keep up the good work and let me know of any concerns you may have. Together, we can we can lift our entire community to the next level. Once again, obrigado, xie xie, arrigato, asante, dya-koo-yu, danka, gracie, spasibo, gracias, merci, damawo, midawasi, thank you, I sure do appreciate y’all!

 

What’s on My Mind? Sorrow and Joy — Cherish the Joyous Moments

As human beings, we all experience a variety of emotions, some sad, some happy, some indifferent. The Deep sadness comes when we lose a loved one: last week one of our own experienced that loss – the loss of a grandchild. Since I arrived just over nine months ago, the MCCC family has lost many loved ones. Some have lost their children, some have lost parents, and others have lost other relatives and friends. I personally have lost two of my aunts during this period. Yes, loss brings sadness. We mourn with all those who have lost loved ones send our prayers and thoughts out to them in their time of sorrow. However, we must not dwell on the sorrow.

Beyond the sadness, there is still hope and there are times of joy. Joy comes from the birth of a new baby, for example. The MCCC family has experienced several new births in these few months. Yes, life springs eternal where there is hope, and with that comes joy. I recall three recent personal joyous events involving children (I love them): our future. I was moderating a panel discussion when the two-year-old of a student walked in (with his mother, of course). When he saw me, he came directly to me and stretched out his arms for the pick-up, without blinking an eye, I scooped him up and held him throughout most of the program (we know each other). It was a joyous moment for me. Just last week I stopped by a kindergarten class at Custer Elementary to surprise the 5-year-old of our work study student; the child was so excited to see me that we interrupted class as I picked her up and hugged her several times. It was a joyous moment. Then there is my own 12-year-old who is visiting for a couple of weeks. Every moment with him is a joyous moment.

When tragedies come, no one should begrudge us our tears and sorrow. When the joyous moments come, we should hold on to them and cherish them; they help us get through those melancholic times. Let us hope and pray for more joyous moments.