Friday, April 18, 2014

Germanna students named to All-Virginia, All-USA academic squads

Germanna Community College students Dayana Pachon Ramos, Stefano Sarris, Jennifer Baggett and Christine Chester were honored this week at a luncheon at the Omni Richmond Hotel as members of the 2014 Phi Theta Kappa All-Virginia Academic Team.
VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois with Germanna PTK student honorees Jennifer Baggett, Christine Chester, Dayana Pachon Ramos and Stafano Sarris. Photo by Monique Lewis
VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois with Germanna PTK student honorees Jennifer Baggett, Christine Chester, Dayana Pachon Ramos and Stafano Sarris. Photo by Monique Lewis
Sarris has also been named  a Silver Scholar on Coca-Cola's 2014 All-USA Community College Academic TeamThe program is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and administered by the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.  His selection was based on the score he earned in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition, competing against a national field of 1,700.
 He'll receive a silver medallion and a check for $1,250 next week at the national PTK convention in Orlando.
Sarris will earn his associate's degree from GCC in May and transfer to Cornell University in the fall, where he will study environmental science.
At Germanna, he received an Atlantic Builders scholarship from CEO Adam Fried and the Germanna Educational Foundation.
Monique Lewis, a Germanna faculty member and PTK advisor, said Sarris "epitomizes the diverse student body found at GCC. Our students have unique stories and overcome great odds to become successful. His drive is awe inspiring."
Coca-Cpla All-USA Academic Team member Stefano Sarris, a Germanna student, is congratulated by GCC President David Sam. Photo by Monique Lewis.
Coca-Cola All-USA Academic Team member Stefano Sarris, a Germanna student, is congratulated by GCC President David Sam. Photo by Monique Lewis

Deconstruction Night a smashing success

t was a dissection of sorts.
A big-screen TV, a vintage computer, a laptop, a microwave, cell phones, prrinters, scanners, radios, motors, pumps, electrical swtiches, relays and other devices and gadgets were autopsied.
Germanna Prof. Mirela Fetea with a young deconstructor.
Germanna Prof. Mirela Fetea with a young deconstructor.
Profs. Mirela Fetea and Davyda Hammond held the event Wednesday night at the Science & Engineering Building and Information Commons on the Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania.
About 60 people age 3 – 70, in some cases entire families, participated.
"Activities like Deconstruction Night build communities of learners and camaraderie among faculty and students already in the program, their friends, families, and outside visitors of all ages eager to learn," Dr. Mirela said.
"We have a great group of dedicated and enthusiastic physics and engineering students at Germanna, excellent ambassadors to instill a deeper appreciation of what physics and engineering are all about, she said. "Many people think that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, in particular physics and engineering, are challenging. They are. But they are also fun, exciting, practical, and extremely relevant to our lives."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holocaust survivor's experience inspired art, books

In 1941, when he was 11, the Germans marched into his town of Lvov, Poland.
Holocaust survivor, author and artist Mark Strauss at GCC's Stafford Center
Holocaust survivor, author and artist Mark Strauss at GCC's Stafford Center
The soldiers were good-looking young men,” Holocaust survivor Mark Strauss told a history class taught by Marijayne Kruus at Germanna Community College’s Stafford Center at Aquia Wednesday afternoon.
Their shirt sleeves were rolled up, revealing tanned, muscular arms,  recalled Strauss, an 83-year-old artist and author who has taught at Georgetown University and Northern Virginia Community College and now lives near Woodstock, Va.
Their morale impressed the young Jewish boy.
“They were a happy bunch,” he said. “They were victorious. They were told they belonged to the master race—that they were better than anyone else.”
Soon the boy watched the happy, handsome Nazis stomp one of his neighbors to death.
He called their leader, Adolf Hitler, “the biggest racist in the world.”
Hitler’s “master race,” Strauss said, was “supposed to be blond, handsome and brave."
In Hitler’s mind, Jewish people, homosexuals, the mentally and physically disabled, “would pollute the master race,” Strauss told the students.
“Maybe Hitler was handsome,” he said sardonically. “I don’t know. I am not a woman.”
According to Kruus, Nazi Einsatzgruppen, “specialized mobile killing units, together with native Ukrainians, rounded up Polish Jews, shot them en-masse and buried them in graves they had been forced to dig.”
Strauss said that within a year’s time, most of the Jewish people in Lvov were murdered—about 100,000.
The Nazi SS, he said, “would go house to house, street by street, asking people, “Do you know any Jews who live here?”
If they were told a Jewish family lived in an apartment upstairs, he said, members of the fsmily would be shoved down the stairs into a waiting truck. “When the truck was full,” he said, “off to the execution place.”
There was no concentration camp in Lvov, he said.
“Where I come from, Jews were taken out of their houses and shot—simple as that.”
He said the Nazi special units were “trained to murder, to be insensitive to human suffering, to do the greatest brutality without feeling remorse.”
How did he survive?
“A lot of luck,” he said.
“I hid. When they came to town looking for Jews I hid. Once in a root cellar, shaking with fear. Once in a coal bin. I saw my grandparents being taken away.”
One day he was in the family apartment with his mother while his father was at his job as a roofer.
“The door breaks open--bang. And here they are. One takes me by the shoulders and rams me against the wall. Another takes my mom and hits her against a window sill.”
He said hired goons then tore the wallpaper off the wall in the apartment and cut the mattresses looking for money.
“The Germans [didn’t] do the robbing,” he said. “They’re the master race. They have flunkies do that for them.
“I’m on the floor, terribly scared. I don’t look at my mom. That comes from instinct we have not to see our parents in dire straits. Maybe she’s crying, bleeding, unconscious. I don't want to see it. I know I am in a pool of warm liquid. You can figure out yourself what that liquid is.”
Books were slammed about the apartment until a Nazi SS officer found a photo album.
Strauss’ father had been a Polish army officer during the Bolshevik War. The SS officer stopped cold when he found a picture of him in uniform.
“Looks at that. Looks at me. Some change. My mother also realizes something is going on in his mind. My mom started begging him for our lives. He looks at me and he beckons the others as if to say, ‘Let’s get out of here, leave these Jews alone.’ I’m saved.”
Why was he spared? Poland had a large community of Germans prior to World War II, he said. “They’re Polish citizens. Professional consideration. He probably had been in the Polish army and decided, ‘Let those people live.' ”
He said they then kept going “until their quota of Jews was in those trucks and those Jews were murdered.
“The Holocaust was mass murder, carefully planned,” Strauss said. “Nothing on the spur of the moment.”
He said the vast majority of the Jewish people in his town were killed.
One day he watched a Jewish man from the apartment house across the street being brutally beaten. “He was stomped to death on the sidewalk,” Strauss said.
Germanna students look Mark Strauss' art--some inspired by hie Holocaust experience.
Germanna students look at Mark Strauss' art--some of it inspired by his Holocaust experience.
The Jewish people of the town were herded into a ghetto, he said. His family was among 20 people living in one room.
“They can still come and take people,” he said. “But now they can kill Jews by cutting off their food and water.
“A little water dribbled through, so there is enough to drink, but not enough to flush toilets."
With no water for months, where do you relieve yourself? In the street? No, Strauss said. "It was unfriendly to Jews."
“What do you do?" he asked the students, than answered that people packed into apartments relieved themselves on balconies, trying not to smear themselves with human waste that had already mounted there over time. Modesty was a luxury none could afford.
It was dehumanizing.
“We lived in [excrement], literally. That’s how we lived.”
Today, he said, we know we statistics. We know people died. But we don’t understand how horrible things were.
Strauss was liberated by the Soviet army at the age of 14. He and his family followed the Soviets as they fought their way to Czechoslovakia, where they met American troops.
By the time he was 16, he was in the United States.
He has written four books, including two biographical novels that are available on
“I do not hate German people,” Strauss said. “I do not hate any people. I don’t love any people. If you tell me you’re Jewish, I will shake your hand, but that doesn’t mean you are loved by me. People are individuals.”
Kruus said she’s grateful to Strauss for sharing his experiences.
"I know that he has to re-live this very painful event every time he speaks of the Holocaust," she said. "However, because of his generosity of spirit and sense of forgiveness, his lessons are even more valuable to the impressionable young people in his audience than just a story of survival.  He and his indomitable spirit are a story of triumph of the human soul."

Register now for Summer and Fall. Here's how...


What courses should I take?

New students and those who have not been assigned academic advisors are being helped by the Counseling staff now. Returning students should seek assistance selecting courses from their academic advisors.  Contact information for your advisor can be found in your myGCC Student Center.  Please set up an appointment convenient for you.

How do I register for my classes?

he Welcome Center has dedicated computer stations at most locations with instructions on how to register.  This will help you get comfortable navigating your myGCC account so that in the future you can register online when it is convenient for you. Welcome Center staff at the Fredericksburg and Locust Grove campuses ,as well as the Daniel Technology Center, are ready to assist you. You may also find the Quick Guide to myGCC helpful.

When you register for classes, please note the new location abbreviations listed by county.

When is payment due?

Summer course payment is due upon registration. The Office of Financial Aid is still welcoming applications for summer aid and a new summer payment plan is now available.  Summer aid should be in place before you register for classes. For those students interested in the payment plan, please click here: Payment Plan.
Payment for Fall classes is due by July 17, 2014.  Students who filed the 2014-15 FAFSA should register now and verify their financial aid award before the July payment deadline to confirm that aid will cover tuition expenses.  Fall payment plan information will be available soon. Students with an outstanding tuition balance on July 17th will be dropped from their classes for non-payment.

Alison Gauch Hieber
Dean of Enrollment Services


Monday, April 7, 2014

GCCEF Scholarship Monte Carlo Night wins big for students

A record $150,000 was raised at the 20th Annual Germanna Community College Educational Foundation Scholarship Monte Carlo Night Saturday night at GCC’s Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper.
Guests arrive at GCC Daniel Center
 for Scholarship Monte Carlo Night.

The event has raised over $1 million over time for scholarships for local students.
Germanna President David A. Sam welcomed a crowd of over 250, saying, “Because of your generosity, our students are already winners.”

All proceeds go to the Germanna Guarantee Program, which helps students with financial need make up gaps left by financial aid in order to allow them to continue their educations.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kids learn about 3D printing, engineering, teamwork thanks to GCCEF

A group of middle school-aged Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia members learned a little bit about engineering and a lot about the importance of teamwork this week at Germanna Community College’s Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper.

Funding by the Germanna Community College Educational Foundation allowed 20 Boys & Girls Club members from Orange and Madison counties to spend their spring break designing, building and racing electric toy cars using parts created on the spot with a 3D printer.

Girl power: The winning engineering team of Brittany
Beaudet, Hannah Smith, Sara Sabine and Jerica Cropp.
At a time when a national effort is underway to interest girls in STEM (science, technology,engineering and math) careers, the winning team was all female. In a display of STEM girl power, it consisted of Brittany Beaudet and Hannah Smith of Orange and Sara Sabine and Jerica Cropp of Madison County.

Ben Sherman, a Daniel Center-based Business and Career Coordinator for Germanna’s Center for Workforce and Community Education, asked the Boys & Girls Club members what they learned.

“Make it better than the first time,” one volunteered.

“That’s the engineer’s point of view,” Sherman responded.

“Teamwork pays off,” a second chimed in.

“That’s the key,” Sherman shot back. “Bill Gates from Microsoft didn’t do it all by himself. He had teams that worked together.

“Apple,” he said. “The iPhone wasn’t created by one person. They had a team.”

“When you get back home you can brag to your friends, ‘I spent my spring break at college,’ ” Liaison to the President of Germanna Bruce L. Davis told the group before handing out workforce training certificates. “Hopefully, you’ll come back. Germanna is a great place to learn. And as you get older and start to think about a career, we can help you.”

Francis Delaney of Somerset and Gail Marshall of Rapidan contributed to a GCCEF fund that paid for the Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia’s week of training.

The Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia covers Greene, Madison, Orange and Albemarle counties.

After the ceremony, Davis said the GCCEF wants to continue to offer similar programs for kids with the primary goal to “start planting the idea of college in kids’ minds beginning at around eighth grade.”

“We’re trying to prepare them not just for college but to have life skills --and have fun doing it,” Sherman said. “It’s important to make it fun.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Winning Nursing Bowl team is 'RN-ed and Dangerous'

Congratulations to the ‘RN-ed and Dangerous’ team, winner of today’s Germanna Community College Nursing Bowl, posing here with GCC Dean of Nursing Patti Lisk at the Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper. Left to right are Jennifer Fortin, Kaitlyn Badal, Rebecca Weigeshoff, Spencer Stone, Lisk and Sara Schott. The event was a test of nursing knowledge under pressure, before an audience of about 300 nursing students, faculty and staff.