GCC touts commitment to Orleans County

Staff Reports Posted 21 April 2015 at 12:00 am

File photo – GCC’s Civil War Re-enactment returns April 24-26 for the final time. This photo shows re-enactors from the Confederate States of America firing on the Union soldiers during last year’s encampment and mock battle.

ALBION – The Genesee Community College Board of Trustees held its monthly meeting at its Albion campus last week, and the college highlighted several efforts in the county. The board also heard from students and staff about the college experience at the campus centers in Albion and Medina.

James J. Simon, Associate Dean of the two campus centers, reported that GCC served 712 Orleans County students over the last year, with 316 of these students participated in courses offered in Albion and Medina.

Each of the two campus centers has been developing informal academic specialties over the last several years, Simon said. Albion has specialized in Art, Business, Criminal Justice, Office Technology, and Spanish courses, while Medina has specialized in Human Services, Biology and Chemistry courses. The Medina Center has a multi-disciplinary science lab, he noted.

Both campus centers emphasize service to the community. Simon cited GCC’s driving courses, OSHA courses, field placements, service learning, GO-ART gallery (located at the Albion Center), Heritage Heroes awards, and Civil War encampments as examples of initiatives that have served numerous area residents.

The third annual Civil War Encampment at the Medina Campus Center is scheduled for April 24 – 26, 2015 featuring demonstrations, exhibits, reenactments, camps, workshops and the Victorian Cotillion with City Fiddle performing. (Visit https://civilwaratgcc.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/encampment-schedule_2015_final.pdf to see the schedule of events.)

Edward J. Grabowski is a GCC alum (class of 1973), GCC adjunct faculty member, former Shelby town justice, and local attorney. He commented on the impact of the Albion and Medina campus centers on area students.

“A lot of our faculty members have experience and knowledge from life, and GCC does a great job bringing real-world experience and the classroom experience together,” he told GCC trustees.

Grabowski also praised GCC’s use of instructional technology, noting that online courses and video-linked courses make higher education available to many students whose schedules prevent them from attending traditional classroom-based courses.

Two students who have completed several courses at the Albion and Medina centers described their experiences.

Christine A. Chennell of Albion, who is planning a career in Veterinary Technology, spoke about dropping out of college at a young age and coming back to GCC as an older student.

“Life happens. I found myself as a single parent, trying to support my child,” she said. “Now, it was 15 years after I dropped out of UB [The University at Buffalo], in my second marriage, out of a job, and I realized I liked helping people. I thought, why not a Human Services degree? But the idea really scared me. I didn’t think I could do it. I passed by the campus center a million times.”

She eventually decided to begin her studies on a part-time basis, and found out that she could excel in the classroom. She praised GCC faculty who, she said, gave her the knowledge and inspiration to excel.

“They are really awesome,” she said.

Keith McKinney also addressed the GCC trustees. After completing 27 ½ years of active duty in the U.S. Army, McKinney moved to Lyndonville with his wife and decided to pursue his dream of becoming a history or political science teacher.

The transition was challenging at first.

“I had spent years in the military and I was a very dedicated soldier, but walking into college I was scared to death,” he said. “I was older than many students and some of the instructors. But I felt welcomed by everyone.”

McKinney also praised the faculty.

“These are the best educators I have ever met in my life,” he said.

David Callard, chairman of the Orleans County Legislature, welcomed the Board of Trustees to the Albion Campus Center.

Callard told trustees that he and the Legislature appreciate GCC’s service to Orleans County residents and hope for even greater collaboration between the college and the county in the years ahead.

“Education is the greatest gift we can give,” he told trustees.

He said he intends to make transportation to and from Batavia via Routes 98 and 63 a priority project in the next year.