On the Record: A celebration fit for a King


WCC Jazz Faculty band members (from left) Duane Wells, Steve Somers and Julius Tompkins perform in front of an image of Martin Luther King Jr., during the college’s observance of MLK Day. Photo by Lynn Monson

Martin Luther King Jr. remembered, honored

Every year on the third Monday of January, people from all walks of life come together to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the man who sacrificed so much, including his own life, to lead the movement toward ending racial segregation in the U.S. and ensuring freedom for all.

This year was no different.

On Thursday, Jan. 14, Washtenaw Community College students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered on the second floor of the Student Center building to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day a few days early.

The day’s festivities kicked off with a high-energy musical performance by the WCC Jazz Faculty Band, along with a rendition of the college’s 50th anniversary song, “Opening Doors” by the WCC Chamber Singers.

Taking the stage to share her thoughts on what Dr. King’s remarkable contributions mean in today’s society was WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca.

“I think that Dr. King would be very proud of this celebration and of the work we do here at Washtenaw Community College. He would be proud of the diversity that weaves throughout the fabric of our college,” Bellanca said. “This diversity is what gives our students a sound, rich and nuanced education, which propels them to reach their educational hopes and dreams.”

Next was a poignant spoken word piece titled, “I Believe” performed by Corzetta Tillman, a former WCC student and soon-to-be graduate of Eastern Michigan University.

WCC faculty member Dr. Thornton Perkins, who teaches history, then delivered the keynote address and took the audience on a trip through Civil Rights history, including a personal anecdote about a trip to the South to visit relatives. It was there where his grandfather had to explain to him why blacks couldn’t swim in public swimming pools that were signed “Whites Only.”

“MLK Day is an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and how much closer we are to Dr. King’s dream,” he said.

Read the rest of my story in the January/February issue of On the Record here.

On the Record: Neighbors working together

WCC:EMU nursing program

From left: Melina Roberts, WCC/EMU Collaborative Program Coordinator; Mary burns, WCC Nursing Department Chair; Valerie Greaves, Dean of WCC’s health Services; Michael Williams, Director of EMU’s School of Nursing; and Sandra hines, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies at EMU’s School of Nursing. Photo by Lynn Monson

New collaborative program helps WCC, EMU meet the community’s demand for bachelor-degreed nurses

As if Washtenaw Community College and Eastern Michigan University weren’t close enough – they’re separated by just a two-mile stretch of Huron River Drive – a a new collaboration is bringing the two schools even closer.

To address the growing demand for bachelor’s degree-prepared nurses, WCC and EMU are offering a collaborative nursing program. After completing five semesters at WCC, students will be able to seamlessly transfer to EMU and graduate with a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN). Students selected for this new collaborative program must first apply to EMU’s School of Nursing.

“Many times, the biggest hold up for students to get a BSN is the simple fact that there aren’t enough available seats for all the qualified candidates,” said Valerie Greaves, dean of WCC’s Health Services. “Typically, EMU receives more than 300 applications a year for its nursing program, but they can only take approximately 80 of those applicants, so now WCC will be taking 24-36 of the additional qualified applicants. This collaborative relationship addresses a need in the community by allowing more students to complete their bachelors of science in nursing.”

According to a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine, it’s recommended that the nursing profession move toward a proportion of 80 percent of all registered nurses earning bachelor’s degrees by 2020.

The goal is for WCC to accept around 24-36 students per year in an effort to push more EMU students through the nursing program, so they can graduate and begin working in the field sooner. Greaves called it a “win-win for everyone.”

Read the rest of my story in the January/February issue of On the Record here.

On the Record: WCC students win big at state competition—again!

Radiography students

WCC radiography students (standing, from left) Mechelle Rhodes, Aaron Amin, brittany Tomlin and Ashley Zavala were recognized for their achievements at a recent board of Trustees meeting. Photo by Warren Nelson

Standing out in a large crowd isn’t easy to do, but the students at Washtenaw Community College managed to do just that and more recently at the Michigan Society of Radiologic Technology’s “Student Bee” competition in Traverse City.

With Aaron Amin earning first place and Brittany Tomlin coming in at third, it’s clear that WCC’s group of second-year radiography students came focused and well prepared. This win marks the fourth consecutive year that WCC students took home first place.

Amin and Tomlin competed against 75 other students from several colleges across Michigan, including Lansing Community College, St. Clair County Community College, and Northern Michigan University. They answered a series of questions related to the field of radiologic sciences, which included anatomy and physiology, radiographic positioning, radiography physics, radiobiology and protection, digital radiography, and patient care.

“These students met throughout the summer under the supervision of Radiography Faculty Member William Nelson to prepare and practice. Their lives are very busy, but they went above and beyond, so it’s great to see them succeed,” said WCC’s Radiography Program Director Connie Foster. “This accomplishment perks them up and lets them realize how much they’ve learned. It’s a great milestone for them.”

Read the rest of my story in the January/February issue of On the Record here.

On the Record: Below Zero


Caitlin Dudzik descends an observation tube installed through sea ice and into the liquid ocean. Courtesy photos

WCC staff member embarks on icy research adventure in Antarctica

Adventure is nothing new for Caitlin Dudzik, clerical support staff member at Washtenaw Community College’s Counseling and Career Planning Center.

The 27-year-old currently resides in icy Antarctica, serving as air transportation specialist at McMurdo Station (a research center). Specifically, Dudzik works cargo logistics, ensuring that all researchers’ equipment is packaged correctly and arrives safe and sound at its destination.

After learning last October that she was one of the lucky few to be selected by Pacific Architects and Engineers, Inc. for the position, Dudzik had only seven days to prepare for the four-month-long journey.

“I’m nervous about the unknown, but more excited about being able to meet people and researchers from all over the world,” Dudzik said on the eve (Oct. 14) of boarding an airplane to the coldest, driest, windiest continent in the world. She is experiencing Antarctica’s summer season, which consists of 24 hours of sunlight. The temperature will range anywhere from -10 degrees on a typical day to 30 degrees on a “hot” day.

This isn’t the first time Dudzik has followed her adventurous side. Two years ago, she spent seven months volunteering with the U.S. Fish and Wildfire Service on Johnston Atoll, an island located approximately 800 miles southwest of Hawaii.

There, Dudzik lived in a tent without any electricity, so she relied on non-perishable foods and resorted to bathing and doing laundry in the ocean. Despite being chased out of the water by sharks on several occasions, the experience only fueled her sense of adventure.

“I lived with four other people and we were the only research team on the island. There were times when I jokingly said to them, ‘Guys, I can’t handle you right now’ and they understood because everyone needed their space,” Dudzik said. “At one point, I broke my toe and had to walk around on that because there was no doctor. There were definitely some crazy times, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Read the rest of my story in the January/February issue of On the Record here.


On the Record: Streaming live from WCC

Orchard Radio with Benjamin Demory and Mary Ciaravino

WCC Instructor/Orchard Radio Station Manager Mary Helen Ciaravino points out a playlist schedule to WCC Broadcasting Arts student Benjamin Demory. Photo by Jessica Bibbee

Student-driven radio station offers real-life, hands-on experience

Tucked away on the second floor of Washtenaw Community College’s Technical and Industrial building is a soundproof room with tight quarters, but everyone there manages just fine. It’s where Orchard Radio operates.

Founded in 1998, the internet radio station streams live at orchardradio.com through a phone, computer or any device with internet access because unlike traditional radio, internet radio doesn’t rely on airways. The station is driven by students, about 20 per semester, who are enrolled in WCC’s Broadcast Arts program. Streaming a variety of music genres, including rock, hip hop, pop and gospel, its audience reaches listeners around the world from Germany to Sweden to England. Needless to say, Orchard Radio is one of WCC’s best-kept secrets.

Initially, it was the affordable tuition that attracted Benjamin Demory, a native of Plainwell, Michigan, to WCC’s Broadcast Arts program, which he describes as “unbeatable.” However, the state-of-the-art equipment is what kept him interested.

“The studio is simple but sophisticated. If you have any audio idea or dream, it can be realized in that room,” Demory said. “Being on air is unlike anything I’ve experienced yet.”

When students enroll in WCC’s Broadcast Arts program, they have two options: They can earn an associate of arts degree with a concentration in radio, or they can transfer to a four-year university, where they can earn a bachelor’s degree. Regardless of what path they choose, students gain hands-on experience, while learning how to write, produce and edit a variety of recorded and live productions.

Orchard Radio is an important element within the program because students have the opportunity to hone their craft in a real-world setting. All students are required to participate in Orchard Radio for one semester at some point during the program.

“The improvements that students experience and demonstrate from the first time they open the microphone to their final shows are transformative and amazing,” said WCC Faculty Member Dena Blair, who is in charge of the Broadcast Arts program. “They gain the adeptness and confidence needed to work in the industry. By doing a weekly radio show, they get to practice their hands-on artistry live in an educational environment, in which they can grow.”

Read the rest of my story in the January/February issue of On the Record here.

On the Record: WCC Veterans Center has new name but mission is the same


From left: Longtime WCC supporters Tim and Laurie Wadhams, student veteran Alberto Acosta, U.S. representative Debbie Dingell, and WCC President Dr. Rose b. bellanca cut the ribbon at the renaming of the Wadhams Veterans Photo by Kimberly A. Borecki-Troiano Center. Photo by Kimberly A. Borecki-Troiano

For many, sacrifice is seen as the ultimate gift. What better way for Washtenaw Community College to say thanks to our veterans than with a day full of festivities and a special, ribbon-cutting ceremony to top it all off?

To commemorate Veterans Day last November, WCC did just that.

The day began with a sunrise flag raising ceremony, followed by a breakfast and luncheon for WCC faculty and staff veterans and a luncheon for student veterans at Garrett’s – the college’s student-run restaurant. Additionally, 2,000 mini-U.S. flags lined the walkways across campus.

One of the day’s many highlights was the unveiling of the newly-named Veterans Center, honoring Tim and Laurie Wadhams for their ongoing financial support of WCC, particularly student veterans. The center is now the Wadhams Veterans Center.

The Wadhams’ donation represents the largest gift the WCC Foundation has received and the gift to the Wadhams Veterans Center was the largest given to specifically support veterans.

“Laurie and I are very proud that WCC has named the Veterans Center in our honor,” Tim Wadhams said. “The College has created a best-in-class resource, with a proactive, passionate staff, to insure that our veterans and military families have effective access to the many programs and opportunities that are available to further their education. We are grateful that we are in a position to help those who have served and sacrificed for this great country of ours to pursue their dreams.”

Read the rest of my story for the January/February issue of On the Record here.


On the Record: Under the radar, but sports play a role on campus

WCC Sports

Washtenaw Community College student athletes for the Winter 2016 semester include, from left, bryce Moon (basketball), Veronica boissoneau (soccer), Laura Turnbull (dance team) and Jarret Clemons (volleyball). Photo by Lynn Monson

Sports could be the last thing that comes to mind when you think about all that a community college has to offer.

But for about 300 Washtenaw Community College students, the college’s program offers a variety of sports geared to almost everyone’s skill level.

“The more you can get students involved in something outside the classroom, the better the retention rate is because they feel like they’re a part of something special,” said WCC Sports Coordinator Matt Lucas.

With an emphasis on fun and fitness, the college offers a wide selection of club, intramural and drop-in sports, including ice hockey, volleyball, soccer, bowling, tennis, basketball, and kickball. In the spring, baseball, tennis, bowling, and softball are among the sports offered. Most of the facilities for these sports are located on campus with the exception of hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s volleyball.

Club sports typically require tryouts and are for students interested in competing against other college teams, including Henry Ford Community College, Muskegon Community College and Bowling Green State University, among others. Some travel is involved, as well as practice time, at the club level.

Intramural sports, on the other hand, are for students and employees who want to compete against their peers without a big time commitment, according to the WCC Sports website. Drop-in sports are the least competitive and serve as a way for students and employees to compete in a fun, casual environment.

Read the rest of my story in the January/February issue of On the Record here.