Thursday, February 28, 2013

Around the World through Movies: War Dance

Sponsored by the Multicultural Enrichment Council, JSRCC's "Around the World through Movies" recently presented War Dance. Attendees included JSRCC students, staff, faculty and guests from the Richmond community.

Lily Mirjahangiri led a pre-movie discussion that highlighted Uganda’s history, geography, and political structure. The audience also learned about Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a terrorist group that has been rebelling against the Ugandan government for the past two decades.
Set against the backdrop of Uganda's twenty year civil war during which over 30,000 children have been abducted by the LRA rebel army, War Dance tells the story of schoolchildren Dominic, Rose, Nancy as they take a historic journey to compete in their country's national music and dance festival.  The film's creative team observes the three youngsters as they prepare for the event, and gain their confidence enough to discuss the horrors they have experienced and express their individual fears, hopes, and dreams.

The movie was followed by a post-movie discussion led by two JSRCC Students, Milika Nabajja and Sarah Nabikolo, two sisters from Uganda who moved to Richmond, Virginia in summer 2011. Moved by the striking and authentic story of the movie, the audience had many questions for Milika and Sarah to learn more about ways they could contribute to better the lives of children in Uganda.
“Our sincere thanks go to Ms. Laurie Weinberg, MEC’s Chair, who connected us with Sara and Milika to lead the post-movie discussion. They did a fantastic job taking many questions from our audience. We are thrilled to see a promising turn out from our college and the community, and we stay motivated and energized to plan the future movie events,” said Lily Mirjahangiri, Around the World through Movies subcommittee Chair.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Great start and Great Finish

Reynolds is a smart place to start and finish.  From left, JSRCC alumni Frannie Muldowney, Elizabeth Muldowney, and Leslie Gallagher

So, have you decided on a major?  That can feel like a loaded question for many college-bound graduates. The Virginia Wizard helps high school students narrow down a career path and field of study – but, it’s still a gutsy call to make at 18. 

It’s one of the reasons Reynolds has students from four-year schools enrolling in associate degree programs.  Faced with the financial realities of post-graduate life, the college’s occupational focus can be a powerful draw, as Leslie Gallagher (then, Muldowney) and her identical twin Elizabeth discovered.  “We had both graduated and were waiting tables, sharing an apartment.  We just decided it was time to learn something practical, something we could make a living on.”  Both English majors, Leslie had graduated from Virginia Tech and Elizabeth from VCU.  This time, as Reynolds students, the sisters would head in different directions. 

Leslie is now a nurse practitioner specializing in abdominal transplant surgeries.  For the medical field, “Reynolds really prepared me for what I needed to move on.  I took a lot of science courses and had excellent instructors. Plus, I could keep working.  I was waiting tables to pay my tuition and the rate was great.”

Leslie encourages her nursing colleagues to consider Reynolds.  “There’s a big push for magnet status at the hospitals. You have RNs who have worked for years, but they need classes like biology and chemistry now.  Financially, it’s smart to go to Reynolds; it’s flexible and you can keep working.”  

For Elizabeth, Reynolds let her dip her toe in a subject she found intriguing. “I had taken a constitutional law class at VCU and liked it.  I was contemplating law school, but that’s a big endeavor.”  After completing her Paralegal Studies AAS at Reynolds, Elizabeth plunged deeper.  Already holding a bachelor’s degree, “I went straight from J. Sarge to law school.  While I was at Reynolds, we had an externship program that was so helpful.  I worked at the Attorney General’s office and gained a lot of practical experience.  At my law firm now we have three J. Sarge grads who work for us, and one is thinking about law school.”     

There’s a third Muldowney who also found her way to Reynolds, years after graduating from James Madison University as a math major:  Frannie Muldowney, sister-in-law to Elizabeth and Leslie.  Staying at home after a career in finance, Frannie’s decision to study respiratory therapy was grounded in personal experience. “When my youngest daughter was diagnosed with asthma, I just soaked up the information from her doctors. And, I’d always been interested in medicine, so it was the right time.” 

Frannie’s pre-requisite classes from JMU transferred easily. “Reynolds had the only Respiratory Therapy AAS program in town, and I was working in my field even before graduating.” Frannie can do and teach; she has worked as an adjunct instructor in the Respiratory Therapy lab at the Downtown Campus.

The sisters agree that, when it comes to college, the first time around may not be the last – which can be a good thing.  Explains Frannie, “It’s difficult to ask high school kids what they’re going to major in.  At that age, it’s just hard to know.  I went back at 40 and loved it, because I knew what I wanted to do.” 

Phi Theta Kappa inducts 112 JSR students

J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College’s Chapters of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society held their annual spring induction ceremony on Saturday, February 23, 2013, in the Lipman Auditorium of the Massey Library Technology Center at the Parham Road Campus.

Students who have completed 12 transferable credit hours and have a 3.3 cumulative GPA at the college are invited to join PTK every fall and spring semester. 

Alpha Iota Beta Chapter President Tiffany Plumber opened the festivities and JSRCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. David Loope welcomed the audience.  One hundred and twelve new members were inducted, many of whom participated in the ceremony.

Regent University Professor of Business and Leadership Studies Dr. Corne Bekker delivered a motivational speech as the key note speaker, emphasizing the students’ opportunities and responsibilities as leaders.

“Leadership ultimately is about dreams,” exclaimed Bekker. “I would encourage you to dream. I challenge you not to dream with your eyes closed, but with your eyes open. When we open our eyes and dream, we open our lives.”

In closing Bekker stated, “Capture your heart, but at the same time open your eyes and dream. Nothing is impossible if you open your eyes and dream.”

Established in 1918, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Socienty serves to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students and provide opportunities for individual growth and development through honors, leadership and service programming.  Reynolds has two chapters at the college.  The Alpha Iota Beta chapter represents members enrolled in programs at the Parham Road Campus and the Alpha Gamma Omicron chapter represents members enrolled in programs at the Goochland and Downtown campuses.  JSRCC has inducted 4,604 members since 1982.

View photos from the event:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Just over 100 enthusiastic faculty, staff, family members and supporters laced up their bowling shoes and hit the lanes on February 16th to raise money for the JSRCC Classified Council Scholarship.  The 10th Annual Scholarship Bowl raised over $1,800 this year and has netted more than $11,800 for student scholarships since the inception of the annual event.

Congratulations to Bob LeRosen who won the high score award, and to the “Great Expectations” team who rolled the best overall team score. Team “The Fighting Canines” came in 2nd place, followed by team “Here We Go Again.”  Other award winners included Mary Jo Washko (“Most Spirited”) and Melissa Gay (“Low Score”). 
The JSRCC Classified Council consists of representatives nominated at large among all classified personnel employed full-time by Reynolds and provides an organized body responsible for speaking on behalf of the entire body of full-time classified staff. For more information about giving online to the JSRCC Classified Council Scholarship please call 523-5181.

Kim Phillips, JSRCC Classified Council President noted, "This year was the 10th annual Scholarship Bowl and it was a major success.  As usual, the turnout of supporters ready to bowl on an early Saturday morning was amazing.  We had a total of 23 teams who helped us raise a total of $1,800 that we will be able to apply towards scholarship.  Thank you to our JSRCC family for your continued support."
Click here for additional Scholarship Bowl photos

Chef Eric Breckoff’s Valentine’s Day Cooking Demonstration

JSRCC Chef Eric Breckoff visited Channel 6's Virginia This Morning on February 14th to demonstrate how to create a tasty Valentine's Day dinner.  Rather than making reservations or serving the traditional steak and red wine dinner at home, Chef Breckoff whipped up a tasty dish featuring seared Scallops in a Papaya Sauce with Black Rice and Braised Bok Choy.  Want to give it a try?  The video, recipe and instructions are included at this link:

Lenzen shares dreams of teaching at General Assembly

Whitney Lenzen — J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
Whitney Lenzen
Teaching is a career that always stared at me dead in the face, yet I opted to look in the other direction. The first time I even thought about the idea of teaching was during my senior year of high school in 2004. My English teacher helped me learn to think in a completely different manner. He used alternative methods of teaching and honestly made learning fun. After that I could only dream of how gratifying it would be to impact young lives in such an enormous, yet subtle, way.

Before I achieve my career goals I need to finish school. I currently attend J. Sargeant Reynolds Community Collegein Richmond, Virginia and I am working towards obtaining my associate’s degree. After I obtain my associate’s degree I would like to transfer to the University of Richmond’s Adult Program of Continuing Studies, where I would major in psychology with a concentration in elementary education and obtain my teaching license. Once I have my bachelor’s degree and find a steady job and/or career, I hope that I will have the opportunity to continue with my education until I earn my master’s degree, and possibly even my doctorate.

In addition to taking classes at J. Sarg, I have had various opportunities to work in the Office of Student Accommodations per work-study as well as the Academic Support Center as an English, biology, and Spanish tutor.  Also, I am an honorary member of Phi Theta Kappa, which is an academic fraternity for two-year colleges, and I have served as the Leader of the Fellowship Committee for the Alpha Iota Beta Chapter, as well as the Public Relations Secretary for the Alpha Gamma Omicron Chapter. Actively participating in this organization provides numerous opportunities for community service, leadership, and being able to surround myself with individuals with similar academic and life goals.

With that said, the most important aspect of my life is taking care of my son, who is almost three-years old, as well as spending time with my husband and other members of my family. In order to provide for my son with not only his basic needs, but also other opportunities in life, I must continue to go to school and get my degree(s). As of this moment my husband and I are both in school and have had work-study positions. We live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to pay our bills each month. Whenever we have “extra” money, we use it to buy clothing, diapers, and other items for our son. Our current financial situation is what drives me to get the best grades I can, work as much as possible, and help others when they are in need of assistance. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of our current financial situation, I choose to focus on the positive aspects that obtaining my degree(s) will bring to our family life. With that said,  I must rely on the Federal Pell Grant, Commonwealth Grant, Work-Study, and any other scholarships or grants I am able to secure, in order to put the most effort towards my academics rather than working at a minimum-wage job that does not have opportunities for career or personal advancement.

After meeting with many of Virginia’s Delegates, such as R. Lee Ware, Jr., John Cox, and Joseph Morrissey; along with my fellow students and faculty in the VCCS, I finally feel as if my voice is being heard and my actions have purpose. Realizing that one’s actions have purpose is a sentiment that cannot be taught nor given; but will come in each individuals’ own time.  To conclude my story, I would like to thank the entire faculty and students incorporated with the VCCS; J. Sarg; the faculty and staff that work in the Capitol Building for Virginia; and all of the political representatives who represent the people and Commonwealth of Virginia at large.

In conclusion, Governor Bob McDonnell and the House of Delegates’ 2015 Budget for Virginia’s Community Colleges will impact me, my family, my future, and Virginians in insurmountable ways. I am extremely honored to  not only be  a student  in the Virginia Community College System, particularly with regards to  J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College; but I am also proud to be a  resident in the historical , honorable  Commonwealth of Virginia.