Sunday, November 16, 2014

Getting to Know: Student Success Coach Jennifer Lawrence

Germanna Community College has launched a Student Success Coach Program. The coaches stay with students from enrollment through graduation, giving them the help they need to succeed in college and in life.
GCC Student Success Coach Jennifer Lawrence
GCC Student Success Coach Jennifer Lawrence

We’ll meet each of the coaches in a series of Q&A profile—Jennifer Lawrence works with students at the Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania.
  • Where are you from?


I'm from Varina, Virginia.  I live in Spotsylvania County near the Fredericksburg Area Campus.

  • Where did you go to high school and college and what degrees do you have?

I graduated from Varina High School.  I also graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor in psychology, the College of William and Mary with a master in higher education administration, and Virginia Commonwealth University with a master in rehabilitation counseling.

  • How long have you worked at Germanna?

I have worked at Germanna for two and a half months.

  • What do you like about working at Germanna? About being a Student Success Coach?

I enjoy working with students from diverse backgrounds.  I look forward to meeting with students to learn about their strengths and assist them with planning for their futures.
 As a student success coach, I hope to continue to empower students to make decisions that will have a positive impact in their lives and to prepare themselves for things that lie ahead.

  • What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?

I hope that students will begin to use their emails as an additional resource to learn about important information and events.

  • What’s your advice for Germanna students?

The college has supportive faculty and staff that really want to see you succeed and are willing to help you reach your goals.  Take advantage of the various resources that you have at your fingertips.  Make the best out of this experience and learn as much as you can.

  • For students graduating from high school and thinking about college?

College is a great place to learn more about your individuality, focus on your academic interests, discover and work toward your career goals, and improve your social awareness.

  • For older students thinking about returning to college?

Reflection about the accomplishments that you have made can be uplifting.  Making goals to set standards for your future can improve your self-awareness of things that you would like to accomplish.

  • What misconception does the public have about community colleges and community college students?

I have heard some feedback that community college is not as “rigorous” as a four-year college or university. However, community college is a “real” college that encourages in-depth learning of different subjects and provides strong support for that learning.

  • Are you married and do you have children?

I'm married and have one child.

  • Fun fact about you?

My favorite theme park is the Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla.

  • What’s your favorite book?

One of my favorite books is “A Hand to Guide Me” by Denzel Washington.

My favorite poem is “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

  • Your favorite movie?
My favorite movie is “The Sound of Music.”

  • Your favorite TV show?

My favorite TV show is “Law and Order.”
  • Your favorite sport and team?


I do not have a favorite sport or team.  I do enjoy watching basketball.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dr. Sam delves into his 'Dreams of Wolves' Saturday at 2 p.m. at The Griffin


Is there a gene for compassion? Or is it learned–developed by a series of experiences as we grow up?
It seems likely that both nature and nurture come into play.
David Sam's new book is semi-autobiographical poetry
David Sam’s new book is semi-autobiographical poetry
Germanna Community College President David Sam’s “Memories in Clay, Dreams of Wolves” is an honest and powerful book that provides a compelling window into the development of the heart and mind of a man who has devoted his life to helping those unlucky through no fault of their own.
“Die when I may,” Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend, “I want it said of me by those who know me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower when I thought a flower would grow.”
“Memories in Clay, Dreams of Wolves” gathers poetry about a boyhood and adult life lived in conversation with nature. Sam describes a life shaped by his youth in Pennsylvania and Michigan and his journey by thumb through the Pacific Northwest.
“The are semi-autobiographical–which means I allow myself to lie if it makes for a better poem,” Sam quips.
Profits from the sale of the book go to the Germanna Community College Educational Foundation.
 Sam has a reading and signing set for 2 p.m.-4 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 15 at The Griffin Book Shop and Coffee Bar at 723 Caroline St. in downtown Fredericksburg. The book is available on Amazon.com, at The Griffin and at the Germanna Book Store.
BIO
Sam was born and spent his childhood in McKeesport, Penn., a coal and steel suburb of Pittsburgh. His home at the end of 36th Street abutted a woods, and the games he played on that street and the time he spent in those woods all influenced his poetry as well as his sense of the holistic ecology of all things. His neighborhood was filled with immigrants and children of immigrants, and his grandparents themselves came from Poland and Syria.
In 1961, the family moved with his father’s factory to Belleville, Mich., a far suburb of Detroit. Small town life near a lake and the rural farm fields and woods within a short walk along the railroad tracks often appear in the imagery and biography of his verse.
A first-generation college student and graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Michigan State University, Sam has taught creative writing, English literature, and composition at EMU, Marygrove College, Oakland Community College, and Pensacola State College. He was partner/manager of Gondolier Music & Electronics from 1972-1985 in Belleville before moving into higher education as an administrator.
He and his his wife Linda live in Culpeper, still within sight of the eastern mountain chain. They have two children, Michelle and Ryan, and three grandchildren.

G.I. Bill enrollment climbing at Germanna

Bob Dixon, Germanna Community College Veterans Support Counselor, announced Tuesday that GCC has moved up from sixth to fourth among the 23 Virginia Community College System schools in terms of number of students enrolled through the G.I. Bill.
GCC Veterans Support Counselor Bob Dixon thanks veteran students for their service at a Germanna Veterans Day luncheon.
GCC Veterans Support Counselor Bob Dixon thanks veteran students for their service at a Germanna Veterans Day luncheon.
The total of 575 constitutes about 7 percent of Germanna’s for credit enrollment and about 10 percent of its full time equivalent enrollment.
During a Veterans Day Luncheon at Germanna’s Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania, Dixon said GCC’s welcoming attitude toward vets is making a difference.  Noting that veterans making the transition to civilian life sometimes feel uncomfortable going back to school. Army vet Dixon said, “We have a good [veterans support services] team that extends to caring faculty and staff who are doing a great job of making veterans feel they belong.”
He said that as the U.S. winds down involvement in Afghanistan, the number of veterans returning to college will continue to climb.
Germanna President David A. Sam, (left), told veteran students he's proud of them and of the sacrifices made by vets in his own family. At right is GCC Veterans Support Conselor Bob Dixon.
Germanna President David A. Sam, (left), told veteran students he’s proud of them and of the sacrifices made by vets in his own family. At right is GCC Veterans Support Conselor Bob Dixon.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

GCC internship program making Javier Penzelina's dream a reality


Germanna internship program helping him find public service path

Since he was in the second grade, Javier Penzelina has had a dream.
Germanna Community College’s internship program is helping him make it a reality:
The 2008 Caroline High School graduate and resident of Ruther Glen knew he wanted to be involved in politics, but wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted to do or how to get his foot in the door..
Germanna's internship program has helped Javier Penzelina, pursue his dream of a career in public service
Germanna’s internship program has helped Javier Penzelina pursue his dream of a career in public service
Penzelina has been figuring it out with help from Cheri Ober, Germanna’s internship coordinator, who’s helped him land on Capitol Hill in the office of U.S. Rep Steny Hoyer and in Richmond on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s staff.
Working for Rep. Hoyer in Washington, he focused on issues of concern to fellow millenials.
In Richmond, he worked in constituent services.
With the governor’s office, “I was able to get a better understanding of how state politics work, “ Penzelina said.
In Washington, he said he was surprised  to see that politicians who seem to be bitter foes in the media are often friendly when they’re not in front of the cameras. Penzelina has been interested in politics since the second grade and “the 2008 presidential election confirmed my desire to pursue a career in government.”
As a result of his experience, he’s decided that “Ultimately, I’d like to run for public office.”
“Javier is focused and has a deep commitment to serve the American public,” Ober said. “I’m impressed with the sacrifices he has made to complete the two internships…  these opportunities gave him the fire to want to continue his education and succeed in a political career.”
Penzelina thanked Ober for her help and added that Caroline Maloney, his second-grade teacher at Ladysmith Elementary School, helped him see what was possible early in life.
“She encouraged me to reach for the highest level,” he said of Maloney. “She never placed a limit on how far I could go.”
“Cheri has been a great person in my corner,” Penzellna said.  He said she’s been working hard with him in an effort to land a White House internship.
Penzelina spent the early years of his life with his aunt and uncle in the northern part of the Bronx, in a neighborhood on 224th St.
“It was a diverse neighborhood and diversity was the pillar my upbringing was centered around,” he said. “When we moved to Virginia, we had to make the adjustment from a but city to a slower-paced rural area.”
Spending his formative years Virginia “has taught me more about myself,” he said,  “and it is why I want to give back in the best way I know how–public service.”
The interships forced Penzellna out of his comfort zone. He said he had to assert myself in intimidating situations, speaking up in meetings with high profile people.
He will graduate from Germanna in May and will study political science at UMW.
He said he’s glad he chose to start at GCC.
“The professors here do a really good job and they’re really friendly and cater to the needs of students here..”
“For me, Germanna made economic sense,” he said. “It cut my tuition in half. I’m debt free right now. When I graduate from UMW, I won’ t have the same debt as someone who went to a university for four years.”
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Germanna and I’m grateful for the internship opportunities,” he said. “I encourage other students to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

STEM careers not only for boys, Girl Scouts learn at GCC


Mirela Fetea, Ph.D., (right) answers questions from area Girl Scouts who participated in hands-on science workshops at Germanna Saturday.With her (background, l-r, are Trudy Witt, Ph.D. Prof. of Biology, GCC student Zilmara Montecinos Bonnet, Izabela Sikora, education technician wih the Tri-City Soil and Water Conservation Board,  JoAnn Schrass, Ph. D., Biology professor.)
Mirela Fetea, Ph.D., (right) answers questions from area Girl Scouts who participated in hands-on science workshops at Germanna Saturday.With her (background, l-r, are Trudy Witt, Ph.D. Prof. of Biology, GCC student Zilmara Montecinos Bonnet, Izabela Sikora, education technician wih the Tri-City Soil and Water Conservation Board, JoAnn Schrass, Ph. D., Biology professor.)
Fifty Girl Scouts from Fredericksburg and Stafford and Spotsylvania counties deconstructed electronic devices including computers, printers, smart phones and televisions and learned about physics and ecology during the first Girl Scout Science Day Saturday at Germanna Community College's Fredericksburg Campus in Spotsylvania.
Isabella Grasso of Girl Scout Troop 5214 takes part in a "Deconstruction" workshop during Girl Scout Science Day at Germanna Community College's Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania Saturday. participated in hands-on science workshops led by Germanna Community College faculty at the Fredericksburg Area Campus on Saturday, (Photos by Robert A. Martin)
Isabella Grasso of Girl Scout Troop 5214 takes part in a "Deconstruction" workshop during Girl Scout Science Day at Germanna Community College's Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania Saturday. participated in hands-on science workshops led by Germanna Community College faculty at the Fredericksburg Area Campus on Saturday, (Photos by Robert A. Martin)
During a panel discussion about women in science, Dr. Mirela Fetea, who teaches physics at Germanna, told the Girl Scouts not to worry about stereotyping that implies girls aren't suited to STEM careers.
"Just pursue your dreams," Fetea told the Girl Scouts. "If you want to stay home and raise your children, that's ok. But there's nothing wrong with chasing your dreams, whatever they are. Even if you are told you cannot do it. Show people you can."
Dr. Trudy Witt, who teaches biology at GCC, told the Girl Scouts not to be concerned about being pigeon-holed as a "nerd."
"I always remind people that nerds make more money," she said with a grin.
"It was pretty fun," 12-year-old Evelyn Pailthorpe of Stafford Troop 3546 said of the day.
"We're really excited about having the opportunity to get elementary school-aged girls thinking about careers in science," Witt said.
Germanna Biology Prof. Trudy Witt with local scouts
during Girl Scout Science Day at GCC.

Getting to Know: Student Success Coach Matt Fitzgerald

Germanna Community College has launched a Student Success Coach Program. The coaches stay with students from enrollment through graduation, giving them the help they need to succeed in college and in life.

We’ll meet each of the coaches in a series of Q&A profile—Matt Fitzgerald works with students at the Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania.


  •  Where are you from?   
   I'm from Stafford and am in the process of moving to the Fredericksburg area.
Matt Fitzgerald



  • ·     Where did you go to high school and college?


     I attended Colonial Forge and Mountain View High School. I then came to Germanna and graduated with an associate’s degree in General Studies. I also transferred to the University of Mary Washington and finished there with a B.S. in Psychology.


  • ·     How long have you worked at Germanna?


    Two years.


  • ·     What do you like about working at Germanna? About being a Student Success Coach?


        I enjoy working with the other faculty and staff. Everyone is focused on the students and their success. Being a Success Coach, I am able to work with students one on one and be a part of their college experience.

  • ·     What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?


     Reaching the students. Emails and calls do not always bring responses. Most of the time I find them in class and then I set up a time to meet up later.

  • ·     What’s your advice for Germanna students?


     Read the directions and ask questions. If you are ever doubtful or unsure, you need to ask questions. College is a place and time in your life where you hold all of the control. You have the choice of being successful or not.

  • ·     For students graduating from high school and thinking about college?


    What do you want for your future? What do you need to do in the present to get there? College may or may not be in your plans, but be sure of what path will lead you to the life you want.

  • ·     For older students thinking about returning to college?


       You are an inspiration. You have lived life and are now returning to school. Having an age-diverse college is beneficial to everyone. For the younger students, this is a great way to further develop their social skills: interacting with actual adults. It is also an opportunity for those students that are older to become a mentor in the classroom.

  • ·     What misconception does the public have about community colleges and community college students?


      Community college is always considered to be “Plan B”. The last resort effort to go to school, or where everyone goes who is kicked out of their University.

·     Are you married and do you have children?
     I will be getting married this Spring, and no children at this time.


  • ·     Fun fact about you?


    I have been playing drums for 15 years and I have tattoos!


  • ·     What’s your favorite book?


    “Stuff Christians Like” – by Jon Acuff


  • ·     Your favorite movie?


     “Kill Bill” (1&2), “Star Wars” (all), “Edward Scissorhands,” “Ironman.”


  • ·     Your favorite TV show?


     “Chopped,” “Fast & Loud,” “American Pickers,” “Duck Dynasty.”

  • ·     Your favorite sport and team?


   Football, Hokies. I also like to bowl.





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vision for permanent Germanna Center in Stafford taking shape



What role should Germanna Community College play in Stafford County 20 or 30 years from now?
That’s the question GCC President David A. Sam asked a gathering of business, educational and political leaders from Stafford at a “visioning” session Monday at Riverside Conference Center.
“I like to say that ‘community is our middle name,’ “ Sam told the group. “We want and need your input.”
The group was interested in expanding GCC’s Dual Enrollment program, which makes it possible for students to earn associate’s degrees while in high school, and securing criminal justice/national security training that would support nearby Quantico and government agencies.
Stafford Director of Economic Development Tim Baroody said the county expects Germanna to play a role in the development of its own vision for the Courthouse area.
Germanna Community College Dean Denise Guest talked with community members as GCC held a Stafford County Visioning Session at the Riverside Conference  Center Monday,  Photos by (Robert A. Martin)
Germanna Community College Dean Denise Guest talked with community members as GCC held a Stafford County Visioning Session at the Riverside Conference Center Monday, Photos by (Robert A. Martin)
“Stafford County is working to build exciting opportunities in the Courthouse area,” he said.
He said the county’s vision is a complex of retail, restaurant and office capacity in a village concept that’s pedestrian friendly.
Baroody said “building a sense of place” is important to the county’s vision for the Stafford Courthouse area.
“Germanna would love to be one of the anchors,” Sam said.
He said the kind of workforce development Germanna provides “is critical to economic development.”
GCC Vice President Jeanne Wesley said Germanna will be able to provide expanded  offerings in training in health care, IT, industry and construction, national security skills such as cybersecurity and customized training at a larger facility near Stafford Courthouse.
“We’re very excited about a larger space in Stafford,” she said. “What we have now is a very small space.”
Germanna opened its existing Stafford County Center at Aquia in 2009 with support from the county Economic Development Authority. Enrollment immediately exceeded the 1,000 capacity of the four-classroom facility.
Virginia Del. Michael T. Futile (D-2nd) - foreground, right) - and Mark J. Safferstone, Ph.D., executive director of the  University of Mary Washington's Stafford and  Dahlgren campuses, look over the list of suggestions make by attendees at a Germanna Community College Visioning Session at the Riverside Conference Center in Stafford County.
Virginia Del. Michael T. Futile (D-2nd) - foreground, right) - and Mark J. Safferstone, Ph.D., executive director of the University of Mary Washington's Stafford and Dahlgren campuses, look over the list of suggestions make by attendees at a Germanna Community College Visioning Session at the Riverside Conference Center in Stafford County.
GCC is working with the county toward opening a much larger, permanent center near Stafford Courthouse. The Germanna Educational Foundation is seeking private donations to help make that possible.
Sam said the new center in Stafford may look different than most campuses do today, with more labs and fewer classrooms and more emphasis on hybrid classes that combine online and face to face learning, but with greater emphasis on creating the type of sense of place of which Baroody spoke.
Deborah Brock, Germanna’s executive director of organizational planning and assessment, said Stafford can expect a 144 percent increase in population by 2040, with the number of young people of traditional school age doubling.
She said 36 percent of Stafford residents currently have bachelor’s degrees and that’s higher than the national rate of 29 percent. Still, she said, developing technology will create growing demand from county employers for workers with college degrees and credentials.
Dr. Jeanne Wesley , Germanna vice president, for workforce development,  reviews suggestions made Monday at the cpllege's Stafford Visioning Session at the Riverside Conference Center.
Dr. Jeanne Wesley , Germanna vice president, for workforce development, reviews suggestions made Monday at the cpllege's Stafford Visioning Session at the Riverside Conference Center.
She said demand for workers in the health care professions and support fields will grow, as will demand for skilled workers in construction and supporting trades. At the same time, she said, the nature of the federal government as an employer will be shifting if it continues to downsize. It’s currently the biggest employer for county residents.
Participants in Germanna’s Stafford Visioning Session included:
Bruce Davis – Former Germanna College Board and Educational Foundation Board Member
Dana Reinboldt – Stafford County School Board, Griffis-Widewater District
Kathy Baker – Stafford County Planning and Zoning
Jack Rowley – Germanna Educational Foundation Board
Bruce Benson – Stafford County School Superintendent
Michael Adams – JON Properties, LLC
Joseph Neubert – Stafford Ruritan Club Member
Meg Bohmke – Stafford County Board of Supervisors, Falmouth District
Marie Frederick – Community member
Mark Safferstone – UMW, executive director – Stafford and Dahlgren Campuses
Jim Brown – Community member
Tim Baroody – Stafford County, deputy county administrator
Jack Cavalier – Stafford County Board of Supervisors
Michael Futrell – House of Delegates, District 2