FCC' 56th Commencement was held on Thursday, May 22. Approximately 350 of the 1,058 graduates filled the Field House, celebrating their achievements with family, friends and college faculty and staff.
This year's graduates hailed from Maryland, Alabama, Georgia, California, Connecticut New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, Illinois, Kentucky and Massachusetts. They ranged in age from 18 to 70.
Logan Oglesby (Culinary Arts) and Marisa Shields (Social Work) delivered commencement addresses. Both speakers are Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members and were chosen to represent FCC on the USA Today/Academic All-American Team.
Celebrating Student, Staff and Alumni Success
This October, hundreds of regional artists converged on Frederick, Md., to participate in Artomatic@Frederick, a biennial event that transforms community spaces into galleries of artistic expression. A group of FCC students, faculty and staff shared their creative talents with the local community and displayed their original artwork. Click here to see more videos, that tell the story of what they learned.
Alumna Volunteers for National Service Organization
More than 80 percent of FCC students transfer to four year colleges or universities after graduation, but in August 2013 Alex Huseman ('13) took a different path: She decided to volunteer with AmeriCorps in Charlotte, N.C.
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As part of a team of 16 volunteers, Alex helps construct homes for families who would not otherwise have access to housing. By the end of December, she'll have finished four houses and participated in a project known as "The Blitz," where volunteers build a house from start-to-finish in 30 hours. Already, she's become an expert in putting up frames and roof trusses.
"I have a wicked sunburn right now because of it!" Alex says.
She credits FCC for helping to cultivate her sense of civic engagement. During her time on campus, Alex was an active member of both the Honors College and Student Government Association, and she advises current Cougars to branch out beyond the classroom.
"I got myself involved in things I didn't necessarily know I'd like," she says. "But I found my niche."
AmeriCorps is a nonprofit organization funded by the Corporation for National Community Service, a federal agency that promotes public service. Each year, more than 80,000 Americans participate in AmeriCorps by volunteering at schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups. In addition to serving the community, AmeriCorps also helps its members by providing them with work skills, money for education, and job opportunities.
It started as a 2012 New Year's Eve challenge from his wife, who dared Frederick Community College Biology professor Charlie Cottingham to reconnect with his love of biking – a love that h ad waned as time went by. Cottingham, who'd turn 60 in 2013, thought first of his students. He was always telling them that people, no matter their age, could learn new skills or grow the ones they had. And so, Cottingham turned to his wife and said, "Yes."
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At first, that "Yes" meant that Cottingham would bike to work once a week, peddling a 38-mile round trip to Frederick from his home in Burkittsville, Md. But today that "Yes" means Cottingham's route will soon get much bigger: On Sept. 21, he'll join about 150 other riders on ClimateRide NYC-DC, a 300-mile journey from New York City to Washington, D.C., meant to inspire awareness of environmental sustainability, renewable energy, and bicycles.
Along the way, Cottingham, will use social media to include his FCC students in the ride and impart lessons that intersect directly with subjects he teaches in the classroom.
"Students in my classes will be calculating carbon emissions for my travel to New York by train and comparing that to travel by car and bike. They will also calculate my calorie use," Cottingham said. "I'm hoping these activities will cause them to reflect on their use of energy for transportation."
While Cottingham does not expect students to follow his model of biking to work, he does hope that they may consider car-pooling to campus with friends once a week. He also wants to inspire physical fitness.
"I think when students calculate how many calories I burn in a day, they might be more likely to consider biking for fun and fitness," he added.
For Cottingham, there were many reasons to say "Yes" to his wife's dare. But among the greatest was his concern about apathy toward changes to the planet's climate. As a biology professor, Cottingham said he wants students to understand how changes in climate affect the "loss of species and entire ecosystems," as well as the connections between rising carbon emissions and environmental damage.
He also wants students to embrace small, but powerful steps toward improving planetary health.
"Ultimately the health of the planet depends on people caring enough to change their behavior and then demanding changes down the line," Cottingham said. "People need to understand that they are part of nature and not separate from it, that they benefit from healthy ecosystems and are potentially harmed by unhealthy ones."
Rebecca Cool (Digital Media Design)
This summer Rebecca Cool won a design challenge from the Frederick Keys, whose jerseys featured her original design during an Aug. 23 game to benefit “Art in the Park.”
Rebecca, 39, returned to FCC when she needed to reinvent herself after a few career setbacks. In this interview, she discusses her path back to college, what future Cougars should know, and the thrill of throwing out her first pitch at Harry Grove Stadium.
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What led you to FCC? I worked for a model home merchandising company in Ellicott City for ten years and became a lead designer. But, when we went through the recession, the company I worked for had to close. I moved to Frederick to be closer to my family and worked for a small boutique, which also closed. At that point, I said ‘I have to redesign myself.’ FCC has a great graphic design department and is very affordable, and this was the direction I wanted to go in.
Best FCC memories: After I got to FCC and started taking classes, I realized what a gem the college truly is. I was very impressed by the teachers and the intimacy of the classes. Students were very engaged, and teachers really wanted to see their students succeed. That’s what kept me coming back.
Do you remember your reaction when you found out Keys’ players would wear your jersey design? My initial thought was, ‘I can’t believe this.’ I had a great honor bestowed on me. I’m a huge fan of Frederick and of the Keys.
What was it like to throw out one of the first pitches? I practiced that a pitch a lot before the game, so I didn’t make a fool of myself. It went well!
How have you spent your time since graduating? I just finished up the 32 page-brochure for 2013 Artomatic Frederick – I had the great pleasure of working with Frederick Marketing guru Pattee Brown, who just opened her own restaurant. When I started FCC, my dream was to be firmly planted in the center of the art culture in Frederick, and I’m starting to realize it.
Advice to future students: I have a nephew who is about to enter FCC, and I tell him all the time to network, network, network! I’d also want new students to know that their teachers are not only their best resources during school, but also after their time at FCC ends. The college truly cares about your success.
When Andrew Huber took his first computer programming course at FCC, he didn't know anything about writing code. But today the Walkersville-native describes himself as a "code monkey." After graduating from FCC in May 2013 with an associate degree in computer science, Andrew began an internship at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. In this short Q &A, he talks about his path to FCC, memorable lessons learned here, and what it's like to intern at NASA.
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What led you to FCC?
I was attracted to FCC for various reasons. The obvious one was cost. I've heard a lot of stories of family and friends who had gone to four year schools and accumulated a lot of debt. Also, I wanted to be close to home to get myself comfortable with the college life. FCC was extremely mentally stimulating, and I learned quite a lot.
Did you learn anything that surprised you?&
At FCC, I was introduced to the whole concept of computer programming. Before I started taking classes, I thought you had to be really good at math – and I wasn't. I learned that wasn't true. I love to program. I'm a code monkey! Tell us what led you to your internship at NASA's Goddard Space Center:&
I have a mild version of Aspberger's syndrome. Services for Students with Disabilities contacted me in Fall 2012 about applying for this government workforce recruitment program, where the government looks for college students with disabilities. I applied, and NASA contacted me in March. I was thrilled.
What's an average day like?
I'm working with the advanced manufacturing branch at Goddard. No day is typical. I have different duties in systems analysis and planning for software because you have to do a lot of planning before you write code. I'm also working on investigating protocols that have query capability.
Best part of the job?
The people I work with are really great people. This was what I liked about FCC, too. The people I worked with there weren't straight-laced, but they weren't afraid to be themselves. It's the same for the people I'm working with now. They're extremely passionate about their work, but we have fun.
How did FCC set you up to succeed?
FCC gave me the foundation to succeed, which is important. FCC really taught me general programming concepts – what I need to look for and how I could design these concepts. I didn't know anything about writing code when I started.
Going to FCC was a wise choice for another reason: the smaller class size. I was able to have one-on-one time with my instructors and wasn't treated like a number. The small class size and really good instructors was what really helped me out.
You won't find too many selfies on Frederick Community College alumna Liz Michel's Twitter handles or Facebook page.
But you will find dozens of posts – all with the same message for young people victimized by bullying: Don't lose hope.
Followers are listening. Since May, an anti-bullying YouTube video, made by Michels has received 864 unique hits, some from as far away as the United Kingdom. She has more than 500 combined followers on two Twitter handles, and is adding followers daily to her anti-bullying Facebook fan page.
"Social media can connect people who are being bullied to the right tools that can help them," said Michels, who lives in Middletown and works in early childhood education. "It is also a big target for bullying, and I want to turn that negative into a positive."
In addition to posting inspirational messages and sharing bullying-prevention resources, Michels uses private messaging to console children and teens who are bullied. She also shares her personal story of surviving bullying as a high school student, and regaining her confidence as a Frederick Community College student, where a supportive network of faculty and staff helped her learn how to empower others.
In May, Michels made her 11-minute YouTube video "You Are Beautiful in Every Single Way" after speaking with two mothers whose daughters took their own lives after being bullied.
She is now using her personal social media platforms solely for anti-bullying advocacy work, and to offer friendship and support to those who are bullied.
So far, the response has been overwhelming. According to Michels, Twitter suspended one of her accounts a few weeks ago, after she received too many direct messages. She has since restored the account.
"Social media can be looked down upon. But I want it to be looked up upon," Michels said, before adding, "I want to be the reminder who says: You have a chance. You have hope.