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Kasheena Collins, Biology Student

Kasheena CollinsKasheena Collins will need four years instead of the typical two to earn her associate's degree. She heard "you can't" or "you won't" from people back in her old New York neighborhood when she would tell them that she was going to attend college and become a veterinarian. She has overcome family adversity thrown her way, which threatened to derail her intentions of staying on the right track. Despite all of this, there is a drive in Collins to not just succeed, but to succeed on a grand scale.

"When I lived back in New York, I didn't attend [high school] class every day and I didn't focus one hundred percent. When I got to Pennsylvania, I told myself that my priority is to stay in school, to go to these classes every day, Monday through Friday, and show people that I can be better," says Collins. "And still, people looked at me as if to say 'Kasheena isn't going anywhere. She's probably going to drop out'. I'm the only one in my whole family who actually earned a high school diploma rather than a GED."

Collins has had a lifelong desire to study the biological sciences that will put her on the path to veterinary medicine, but when others put down her efforts to get ahead, she would find herself starting projects and not finishing them. When she enrolled at Northampton, she was looking for a college that would connect with her not just academically, but also on a more personal and emotional level. She has since become president of the science club, has received a SMART scholarship, holds an on-campus work-study position at the First Impressions boutique, and is involved in a number of student-led initiatives.

"I won't lie. It wasn't easy at first," says Collins, who resides in on-campus housing. "NCC has built me from the ground up. It's been fun, but it's been a lot of learning and a lot of learning experiences. But I know it's going to help me in the future."

Collins now makes an effort to talk to other students around campus about the importance of getting involved both inside and outside of the classroom. She also relies on the student/mentor relationships she's developed with her professors.

"Dr. Sharon Lee-Bond actually pushed me at getting this far and applying for a scholarship," Collins recalls. "I would have never gone to apply on my own. I thought I would never get picked. I go to my professors if I need help with anything, and I was really excited that she recognized the effort I was making."

Collins plans to transfer to a four-year college, has dreams of one day attending graduate school, and wants to work with large animals in whatever setting her career would allow her to do so - zoos, safaris, and animal sanctuaries anywhere in the world would be ideal for the career she envisions for herself. The first priority on her list, however, is graduating from NCC.

"I've learned one thing I keep telling myself," says Collins. "Don't let anybody tell you that you can't do it, because you can. Only you know what you're capable of."

Eder Florian, Chemistry Student

Two teachers - Dieruff High School chemistry teacher Paul McHugh and NCC chemistry professor William Magilton - made all the difference in the world to Eder Florian.

When Florian was struggling with his coursework in his junior year of high school, McHugh gave him the book that he, himself, has used during his college years. At the time, Florian - who hails from Guatemala and who came to the U.S. in 2002 - understood only about 25 percent of what McHugh was explaining to the class. "Read this book, and you'll succeed," he told Florian.

"I finished his class with an A," recalls Florian. ""I translated something he wrote at the front of the book: 'Success is not based on what you have in life, but how you got there'. That inspired a little spark inside of me."

The rest of Florian's family over time came to the U.S. while he worked, giving his siblings the opportunity to get an education while he earned money to support them. When he started at NCC in 2011, the spark that never died inside of him became a flame under Magilton's guidance.

"Professor Magilton spun my head about 360 degrees and made me see that everything revolves around chemistry. He became the person to go to, to prove if what you want is real," said Florian. ""You must prove it to him throughout the entire course. From the minute you walk into his classes, you work. There is no slacking. He wants to see results and he wants to see you succeed."

Florian's younger sister passed through Magilton's classroom as a Chemical Engineering major, and another is just starting as a Biotechnology major. Seeing three of her five children getting a college education is a blessing for Florian's mother, but what makes the entire family even more grateful is that NCC has become like a home for them.

"We actually moved closer to the college because we wanted to be here more," explained Florian, who has been using the additional time on campus to help other students who are struggling with their coursework. "I used to wonder, what is it that students do all day at school? I tutor people because of how Professor Magilton has inspired me. I work two chapters ahead so I can help others, because I don't want them to struggle the way that I did."

And what does Florian envision for his future career? Most chemists desire to work in a lab or for a well-known company. Florian sees only one path for his future: NCC chemistry professor.

"If I can inspire an entire classroom the way that Professor Magilton did for me...and if that person can then go out and impact someone else's future...I think that's how the world becomes a better place," said Florian. "I want to come back and find someone like myself, and I want to challenge them and show them what they can become if they put their heart, their head and their dreams together."

Carly EmesCarly Emes

Psychologist Sigmund Freud once famously quoted that "biology is destiny." In the case of biology major Carly Emes, the study of life is truly her calling.

"When I was a child, I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I lived two blocks from a pond, and every day I would go down to that pond and bring back buckets of mud, fish, and tadpoles, and dump everything on my porch," recalls Emes. "I loved trying to figure out the science behind everything. It was always an interest for me, and I can't remember a time when it wasn't."

As a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) major, Emes was eligible to apply for a SMaRT scholarship, which ultimately helped cover the bulk of her educational expenses during her time at NCC. Her mentor and advisor, Dr. Sharon Lee-Bond, and Student Success Specialist Robert Colletta, gave Emes the positive reinforcement that she needed to not only succeed in her major, but to go the extra mile and take advantage of rare opportunities made available to select students in her program.

"Last summer after I finished bio and had some chemistry under my belt, Dr. Lee-Bond forwarded me an email that gave me an opportunity for mammal and seed dispersal research at Wilkes University, which was a paid internship," Emes explains. "I was the only one who was outside of Wilkes who got the internship. I'm positive that Dr. Lee-Bond giving me the info, and me being a SMaRT Scholar, helped me get the internship."

Emes followed up that first internship with another, this time participating in a saw-whet owl study that ecology professor Karen Klein recommended her for. The field hours took place between 7pm and 1am every other night, providing Emes with plenty of opportunity to learn time management - a skill she credits everyone at NCC for providing her with.

"Reality slapped me in the face," laughs Emes when describing how she learned to balance and prioritize her schedule.  "I know now that you need to get your work done if you want to succeed.  I'm very lucky to have had the kind of teachers I've had here."

Emes - who calls enrolling at NCC the "best decision of my life" - is transferring to SUNY-ESF (College of Environmental Science & Forestry) in Syracuse, where she'll begin her studies in the fall of 2012. She'll forever credit NCC, however, for helping her further affirm her career choice.

"The decision to enroll here helped me figure out that I still want to become a wildlife scientist, and I experienced nothing but positive reinforcement," says Emes. "NCC is the best community college that I can ever imagine." 


NCC Students Receive Convocation Awards

By Myra Saturen
April 28, 2011
After a lyrical rendition of America the Beautiful by vocalist Meghan Keiper, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Jeff Focht, talked about the importance of the awards event.  "These students have worked extremely hard to achieve academic greatness," he said.  He also acknowledged the contributions of families, friends and professors to the awardees' accomplishments.  Calling the students' dedication and commitment impressive, he wished the awardees as much success in their future endeavors as they have attained at NCC. Zoe Gauthier

John Leiser, associate professor of biology, gave the convocation address.  He told the students that they inspire him and other faculty members.  "You put smiles on our faces," he said.  But their efforts do not end with the ceremony, he told the awardees.  He said that now the students have more homework to do - to live up to their awards by demonstrating their skills and knowledge and using these to inspire everyone they meet.     

Zoe Gauthier, a biological science major with a 4.0 GPA, received the prestigious Trustee Leadership Award, in addition to other awards.  In her speech, she recalled herself as a reserved and na´ve person before coming to NCC.  At the College, she became a confident, educated person, she said.  "NCC provided me with a positive environment in which to grow.  The College gave me opportunities to push beyond my self-imposed limits.  I learned to express myself, to learn leadership and responsibility." 

A leader and participant in many student activities, Gauthier urged students to take full advantage of all the opportunities offered by the College.  "The more I learned about NCC, the more involved I became," she said.  Saying that club participation gave her valuable experience in expressing her opinions openly, she said that "the only bad idea is the one untried."  She thanked numerous faculty and staff members individually.  She will continue her education next fall as a pre-medical student at Moravian College or West Chester University.

Other award recipients include:

Victor Beltran: Hites Family Foundation Higher Education Endowment Scholarship
Betty Druckenmiller: Lehigh and Northampton Associate for Young Children Award
Kristie Curry: Drs. Edward and Arnold R. Cook Award for Academic Excellence
David R. David: Klein Tools Award
Stephanie Edwards: Mathematics Award
Sarah Evans: Liberal Arts Award
Erica Ellison: Northampton County Bar Association Award
Ryan Foust: Funeral Service Education Student of the Year Award
Zoe Gauthier: Addison Wesley-Benjamin Award; Outstanding Academic Achievement in Chemistry Award
Lianne Henderson: The Wiley Award for Excellence in Psychology Award
Jennifer Jaman: Marketing Insight Award
Nicole January: Addison Wesley-Benjamin Award
Jason Jones: Klein Tools Award
Melissa Kowalski:  Bethlehem Jr. Women's Club Nursing Award: From Nazareth
Jennifer Krumline: Pennsylvania Funeral Director's Award
Chris Lutz:  Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter, American Institute of Architecture Award
Samantha Malone: Marconi Award for Radio/TV
Erpidia Mercado: Monroe County Association for the Education of Young Children Award
Kellie Meyers: Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter, American Institute of Architecture Award
Justin Ott:  Electrical Contractors of the Lehigh Valley Award; Klein Tools Award
Jacqueline Raia: Institute of Management Accounting Award
Tammi Robinson: Criminal Justice Club Academic Achievement Award, Hites Family Foundation Higher Education Endowment Scholarship
Kimberly Salamone: Hites Family Foundation Higher Education Endowment Scholarship
Debbie Schaffner: Just Born Business Award
Rebecca Tomino: Purdon Memorial Award for Excellence in the Arts
Vanessa Williams: Excellence in Psychology Award

The ceremony concluded with closing remarks by NCC President Arthur Scott and the singing of the NCC song "Oh Northampton," composed by Professor Mario Acerra and sung by Meghan Keiper.  

Computer Information Technology Students Have Got Skills
December 10, 2010

Two Northampton Community College (NCC) students, Mike Eckhart (SMaRT Scholar) of Nazareth and Barry Fedon of Northampton, competed in the prestigious Internet networking competition "Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders 2010 for the United States and Canada" on December 8. The students placed first in Pennsylvania during the state competitions and were then able to move on to the national competition.

NetRiders tests students' computer networking and information technology skills through a series of online exams and simulation activities. Echart and Fedon competed as a team and came in eighth out of 47 teams. For finishing in the top ten, the duo won Cisco routers.

The competition was open to college and university students currently enrolled in a Cisco Networking Academy CCNA Discovery or Exploration courses.

New SMaRT Scholars Get a Jump-Start at NCC Retreat
by Cynthia Tintorri
August 16, 2010

The newest crop of SMaRT (Science, Math and Related Technologies) Scholars got a jump on the academic year with a team-building retreat and orientation held at Northampton Community College's Main Campus on Monday, August 16. Problem-solving was involved in the agenda, but it wasn't all work -- activities with balls, picture books, marbles and K'Nex ensured that the students not only revved up their brains, but had fun doing it.

This unique group of 20 scholarship recipients has come to NCC to study in fields such as biology, math, physics, electronics, computer science and security, and computer-aided design. They are doing so with funding from a National Science Foundation grant the College received in 2008.

Teams of SMaRT Scholars used K'Nex to create fractals.The two-day retreat and orientation, which includes a day at NCC-Monroe,  gives the scholars a chance to get to know some of the faculty and staff members they'll be working with for the next two years, and to learn about the many resources available to them, including tutoring, mentoring, field trips, speakers and internships. Second-year SMaRT Scholars also gave the new group an idea of what to expect from the program.

The 2010 SMaRT Scholars are Barry Batz, Anthony Di Mascio, Jesus Diaz, Carly Emes, Tyler Evans, Adrian Garcia,  Kelly Handley, Stormie Jones, Jared McCollian, Taylor Mitchell, Caitlyn Nakata, Emily Nuyen, Jose Padilla, Brian Skrapits, Joshua Smith, Maria Tan, and Zachary Yentsch.

Returning 2009 SMaRT Scholars are Victor Beltran, Matthew Boucon, Josiah Carlisle, Randy Chase, Thomas Deboer, Dohl DiFebo, Micheal Eckhart, Ryan Fuller, Zoe Gauthier, Lisa Nam, Zachary Richard, Leanne Rios, Joseph Smith, Brandon Stempo, Niko Voletto, and Ryan Yurvati.


Pursuing Your Passion in a Biology Careerundefined
By Myra Saturen
March 11, 2010

"Follow your heart," said Cindy Adams, Project Director of the CBJTC Petri Project and an adjunct instructor at NCC, at a panel discussion on careers in biology on March 11.  The biology field encompasses so many occupations, that you are sure to find your niche.  

Other participants on the panel included:
Brittany Galski - NCC/ESU grad, accepted into physical therapy doctoral program
Joshua Kaminski- NCC grad, senior at Moravian College, biology major with a pre-med emphasis
Dr. Thomas Polanski - Clinical supervising dentist at the NCC Litwak Dental Clinic
Dr. Charles Achenbach -Professor of Biology and NCC pre-professional program advisor (e.g., pre-med/dental/pharm/etc)
Dr. Kelly Austin - biology adjunct professor; ESU graduate, and Ph.D. in environmental science and forestry from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF;

The event was coordinated by Sharon Lee-Bond, associate professor of biology, and presented by NCC SMaRT Scholars. 

Advice to students included:

  • Be flexible.  With countless variations on the biology career theme, there are many different opportunities.  It may be that special course or experience that changes your mind, as happened with several panelists.  For example, Kaminksi began at NCC with the goal of becoming an engineer, but decided that medicine was truly his love after taking some biology courses.  As a student at Pennsylvania State University, Adams considered career options in nutrition, biology and food science.  A graduate student teaching assistantship clinched matters for her.  "This is me," her experience told her about education.  
  • "Make your next step wisely," Achenbach said, rather than planning 16 years out.  "Identify, as best you can, what what's truest to your heart."  He recommends taking a chance on that class that is tugging at your curiosity.  "Things fall in place, the closer you get."    
  • Shadow professionals.  Galski shadowed doctors, physician assistants and physical therapists before focusing on physical therapy as her niche.  "Following people in the field helps you decide," she said. 
  • Volunteer.  Galski volunteered at St. Luke's Hospital.
  • Participate in career-oriented activities.  At both NCC and at Moravian College, Kaminski took part in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and biology and pre-health professional clubs.
  • Visit websites of baccalaureate and professional schools you are interested in to gain knowledge of pre-requisites. 
  • Explore transferring close to home.  Colleges in a region, such as Eastern Pennsylvania, accept transfer courses from each other's institutions most readily. 
  • Go to NCC's website to explore articulation agreements, which make transfer smooth.  
  • Keep your GPA up.  Good grades make you more attractive as a transfer student.
  • Keep going.  The higher your degree, the higher your earnings.    
  • If you want to become a dentist, study mechanical drafting, helpful in understanding 3 dimensions. 
  • If you aim for a health care career, take extra writing courses.  Clear communication is essential.
  • For those going into private health practice, business courses are helpful.

Some specific careers mentioned during the discussion included:

  • Respiratory therapist
  • Dentist or dental hygienist
  • Park ranger
  • Physical therapist
  • Researcher
  • Physician
  • Nurse
  • Physician assistant
  • Nutritionist
  • Biotechnician
  • Forester

And of course, there are many, many more. 

Wanted: Problem-Solvers   
By Myra Saturen
March 04, 2010

undefinedIf you've ever hit a tennis ball, worn Dockers stain-resistant pants, or scanned the NCC webpage, engineers made it happen. 

"Engineering is the practical application of math and science to meet the needs of humanity," said Sharon Jones, professor of civil and environmental  engineering/engineering studies at Lafayette College.  She spoke about engineering careers to NCC SMaRT Scholars, and engineering, physics, math and general studies majors at NCC on March 4.

There are four main fields in engineering, Jones said.  Chemical engineers design new consumer products, rubber and petroleum, for example.  Civil engineers make buildings more environmentally friendly and work on many other areas of infrastructure, while electrical engineers work on our ever-improved cellphones, as one instance among many.  Mechanical engineers devise motors, robots and artificial knees and hips.  Alternatively, some engineers maintain and manage operations, sell products or cost systems.  Growing fields, such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, rely on engineers. 

Jones encouraged students to pursue engineering as a useful and rewarding career and invited them to consider transferring, after earning their associate degrees, to Lafayette College, in Easton.  One-quarter of Lafayette's 2,400 students major in one of the four major branches of engineering, which includes a combined engineering/computer program.  While most receive bachelor of science degrees in one of the areas listed above, some earn bachelor of arts degrees in the field. The bachelor of arts degree is designed for those more interested in marketing and management.  Lafayette also offers a dual major in engineering and international studies to prepare graduates to manage global projects.  Financial aid is available for transfer students, and Lafayette actively seeks transferees.  An open house at Lafayette College will be held on March 26.  

It is not unusual for engineers to begin their educations at community colleges.  According to the National Academies' newsletter InFocus, 20% of people with engineering degrees started their academic careers by earning at least 10 credits at community colleges and 40% of graduates who received bachelor's or master's degrees in engineering in 2000 had attended a community college.  Bachelor degree-holders earn an average starting salary of $65,000. 

Some of the companies where NCC engineering graduates are employed include Minerals Technology, Laboratory Testing, F.L. Smidth, and Avogadro Environmental Corporation.  A NCC graduate who transferred as a junior to Lafayette College now works at Merck and Company. 

"Engineers improve the quality of life, making it safer and easier," Jones said. 

A Special Group K'NEX at NCC

By Heidi Butler
August 14, 2008


Call them smart. Call them scholars. Call them SMaRT Scholars. SMaRT Scholars are the newest species of scholarship recipients at Northampton Community College.

What characteristics do they share? They are smart. They gravitate to science, math, engineering or technology, and they might not have been able to pursue those interests - so vital to the nation's future - without financial aid.

Enter the National Science Foundation. A $545,091 grant from the National Science Foundation will make it possible for 54 SMaRT Scholars to enroll at Northampton Community College over the next four years.

The first twenty began their studies this month, starting with a two-day orientation program that gave them the opportunity to get to know the faculty members they'll be working with over the next two years, to tour some of the College's laboratory facilities, to meet with scientists, entrepreneurs and industry representatives, and to learn about the many resources that will be available to them including tutoring, mentoring, field trips, speakers and internships.

Team-building activities began the first morning with group problem-solving exercises and a K'NEX building contest. Even though classes in the sciences are demanding, "being part of a cohort will help you get through," Karen Parker told the students. The associate professor of electronics technology also predicted that the bonds the students establish with each other now will help them later when they are working.

"You are part of a very special group," said Carolyn Bortz, dean of allied health and sciences. "You've put a stake in the ground to make a viable career for yourself. It's going to be a great experience."

A study conducted by the National Science Foundation in 2006 showed that 44% of new scientists and engineers attended a community college at some point in their lives. Foundation officials expect community colleges to provide a significant source of brainpower in fields deemed critical to the nation's future.

The 2008 SMaRT Scholars pictured above and their fields of interest are Jessica Baran (chemical technology), Lauren Brown (computer science), Iyoka Burkett (biological science), Janette Burkholder (math/physics), Nicholas Check (electromechanical), Kenneth Cooper, Jr., (electronics technology), Thomas George, Jr. (chemistry), Anthony Gomez (biological science), Samuel Guman (biotechnology), Arthur Harris (engineering), Sean Hicks (biological science), Rachel Hillegas (biological science), Jennifer Juska, (biological science), Ethan Keys (electronics technology), Steven McConnell (computer information systems), Kurt Paukovits (engineering), Jonathan Romano (biological science), Haillie Sabino, (biological science), and Douglas Williams (computer science).