Alumni Success Stories
Cindy Allen • 1986
Cindy Allen has worked for Jackson Community College/Jackson College since 1980. She continued her education part-time as she worked, married and started a family. Today she is vice president of administration and human resources, and has long served over the cultural affairs and performing arts areas. In 2009, Allen was recognized with the JCC Outstanding Administrator Award. She is active in the community and volunteers her fundraising and event planning skills with many organizations.
Patricia Anderson • 1958
Patricia Anderson was a role model for teacher education students. She enrolled in college and completed her degree in 1953 to become a teacher. Anderson went on to teach elementary in the Jackson Public School district, teaching first- through sixth-grades. She team taught for a number of years with a fellow teacher and tried several different programs and methods to help improve the children’s educational experience.
Barbara Baird Pauli • 1978
Barbara Baird-Pauli knew from kindergarten that education would be her life. Jackson College helped her fulfill her dream. Baird-Pauli graduated from a smaller high school, Concord High School, and attended what was Jackson Community College from 1976-78.
Leland Bassett • 1964
Leland Bassett is leaving his mark on the world of communication management. Co-founder of the Detroit-based Bassett & Bassett, Inc., Communications Managers and Counselors, he has been a pioneer in the application of communication psychology and strategic planning for decades. Leland and Tina Bassett established the Vera Bassett Nursing Scholarship in honor of his mother, who was instrumental in the establishment of the College nursing program. Bassett is active in the Detroit community.
Michael Baughman • 1949
Michael Baughman has spent a lifetime representing and serving the people of Jackson County. He began practicing law in 1956 in Jackson. A committed alumnus, he was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1968 and served 30 years. An advocate for programs that enhanced student achievement and the performing arts, one of the Potter Center’s three theaters is named in his honor.
Brendon Beer • 1995
Brendon Beer is a Jackson native who continues to serve the legal needs of Jackson County. He is an attorney and partner with the firm of Abbott, Thomson, Mauldin, Parker & Beer, PLC. Beer is active in many legal associations, and volunteers for community groups including the Board of Directors for the United Way of Jackson County and the Ella sharp Museum of Art and History. He serves as a member and legal counsel for various nonprofit corporations.
Tim Booth • 1981
Tim Booth serves as director of guest services at Michigan International Speedway, helping visitors have a great experience. He received the 2009 Home Depot NMPA Humanitarian Award for his work coordinating the Spirit of America Blood Drive. The Spirit of America Blood Drive is a way to honor victims and heroes of the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy.
Larry Bullen • 1949
Larry Bullen has served on countless boards and agencies, receiving numerous recognitions – including the 2017 Jackson Citizen Patriot Citizen of the Year – a record that speaks for itself of his commitment for Jackson County. A Jackson-area attorney since 1956, he served as trustee of the Weatherwax Foundation. Bullen taught at Jackson Junior College and was active in the committees that resulted in the formation of Jackson Community College.
Ted Christoff • 1990
Ted Christoff is a Jackson businessman who gives back to his hometown community. He is a vice president at Christoff and Sons Floor Covering, Window Treatment and Carpet Cleaning, with his brother, Tom. He has served on the East Jackson School Board, Jackson Commercial Contractors Association, Chamber of Commerce Vice President, and leadership positions with the Boy Scouts.
Farris Coppage • 1964
Farris Coppage distinguished himself as a prolific educator and a man of courage and distinction. After graduating from Jackson Junior college and Eastern Michigan University, he spent more than 30 years as an educator in Albion Public Schools and then at Jackson High School. He has been active in the community, and was the 2015
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Service Award winner.
At Jackson College, Nicole Cossum-Ready found faculty and staff who encouraged her to dream bigger and fly higher. Today she has exceeded her own expectations.
Marsena Covington • 1979
Always on the go with her job at Eaton Corporation or busy with volunteer work, Marsena Covington is a hard person to pin down. She is the senior account manager for Defense Logistics Agency Account for Eaton Aerospace Corporation. Her 30 years of experience with Eaton where she has predominantly been in customer service focusing almost entirely on the U.S. military sector of the Department of Defense.
John Crist • 1966
John Crist is a man of humble heart with a history of service to the College and community. He has served the College’s Board of Trustees since 2006, and is currently the vice chairperson. Crist guided CP Federal Credit Union as president and chief executive officer for 20 years, and before that worked 29 years for Consumers Energy.
Dr. Wilbur L. Dungy • 1948
CDr. Wilbur L. Dungy was a strong proponent of quality education and leaves a lasting legacy for future generations. Dungy returned to Jackson in 1953 to teach biology and anatomy at Jackson College. Dungy was the first black professor at the College and gave freely of his time to help his students, regularly coming in early and staying late to individually tutor those who were struggling. With commitment and dedication for his students and an infectious passion for teaching, he taught at Jackson College for 16 years, ending his career at Jackson as Life Sciences Chair in 1969.
Arthur Ellis • 1952
Arthur E. Ellis was a committed public servant who dedicated himself to the people of Michigan. He served as superintendent of public instruction for the State Board of Education from 1996-2001, having served in an interim capacity since 1995. Ellis also served as president of Central Michigan University from 1985-’88, and from 1991-’95 served as director of the Michigan Department of Commerce.
Kelley Emerson • 2007
Kelley Emerson enrolled in college as an adult after graduating at the bottom of her high school class. Jackson College staff helped her realize that college could be a possibility, and Emerson went on to become one of the top community college students in the nation.
Angel Fonseca • 1992
Angel Fonseca loves to see students reach their goals. Jackson College helped her fall in love with learning, and now she’s sharing her passion with students. Fonseca first came to the College in 1992 after graduating from Western. She earned an associate degree in science, and had considered transfer but instead joined the work force.
Robert Freitag • 1937
Robert Freitag had a long history of using his expertise to serve his country. Freitag was a retired Navy Captain and engineer who was a development manager of the Saturn space launch vehicle and worked on other manned flight programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Attending college as a non-traditional, adult student, Joy Gebhardt at first was not sure what to expect. Jackson College put her questions to rest. She found courses that fit her busy schedule, and inspiring professors.
Alyssia Hall • 2016
Alyssia Hall sought a new path for herself and her children. After working as a certified nurse assistant to support her family, she knew in the back of her mind she wanted to go to college. She chose Jackson College and became a respiratory therapist. Today she works at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in a job she loves. Her decision has made all the different in the world for her family, she said.
John Hays • 2013
Each day, John Hays is actively involved in running Judicial Services Group, Ltd. of Jackson. He’s leading his staff in helping to support the justice system in Michigan. Hays found his important calling at Jackson College. He started taking classes as a dual enrolled high school student, then enrolled full time after high school, all together, from 2005-2013. He began studying business, but decided to follow another path and went into law enforcement. It was a good fit for him.
Matt Heins • 1987
Matt Heins valued his experience as a student at Jackson College, building relationships and contacts that lasted throughout his career in police work. Today, he is giving back to his alma mater as a trustee.
Emily Hoffman • 2010
Emily (Garcia) Hoffman has been a driving force in the Jackson Young Professionals organization, helping to make Jackson a great place to live, work and play. Since 2014, she’s worked with the family-owned Garcia Clinical Laboratory as an account executive with focus on infectious disease. She is the lead person who reports infectious disease for more than 30 states. In 2015, Jackson Magazine named her a 30 and Under Award recipient for her community involvement.
Philip Hoffman • 1972
Philip Hoffman had a wake-up call after not doing well in his first year at Jackson Community College. With the help of a counselor, he got serious about college and ended up graduating with honors.
Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett • 1934
Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett gave of her time and talents as a physician, community leader and humanitarian. Crockett (1914-1978) attended Jackson High School and graduated from Jackson Junior College in 1934. She began medical school at Howard University when she was 28 years old, when she was married to George W. Crockett Jr., later a Congressman, and also the mother of three children. She became Michigan’s first black woman specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.
Dr. Jon Lake • 1972
An early mentor shared with Jon Lake the importance of giving back to his community, and Lake’s never forgotten. He started his career as a physician’s assistant, working for 15 years before following his dream of becoming a doctor and enrolling in medical school. He’s practiced family medicine since 1999, and gives of his time to many local and state medical societies and community groups. In 2017 he received the Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award from Jackson College.
William Maher • 1941
William “Bill” Maher spent a lifetime committed to aviation, with more than 70 years as a pilot. He flew as a civilian pilot in World War II, was an alumnus of Jackson Junior College, and served as chair of the College Flight Center Advisory Board for more than 20 years. He also served two terms on the Jackson College Foundation Board of Directors and founded the William and Mary Lee Maher Aviation Scholarship.
James McDivitt • 1950
Jackson Junior College alumnus James McDivitt was a pioneer in the space program as an astronaut and program manager for NASA. McDivitt served in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter pilot in the Korean War. With many service decorations, he was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1962 and was command pilot for Gemini IV in 1965, and commanded the Apollo IX flight in 1969 in which the Lunar Module was tested for the first time in earth orbit. He retired from the Air Force in 1972 as brigadier general and went to work in the private sector.
Kirk Mercer • 1970
Each day, Kirk Mercer oversees the R.W. Mercer Co., founded by his father in 1961. A JCC alumnus, he oversees the multi-state general contracting firm, which has grown from five employees to more than 170 employees. Mercer has been active both professionally and in the community, serving the Petroleum Equipment Institute, Gilbarco Distributor Advisory Committee, Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s Renewable Fuels Commission and the Michigan Petroleum Association. He’s also served on the Liberty Township Planning Commission, Jackson Enterprise Group, Mason State Bank Board, and as a corporate ambassador of Michigan International Speedway.
Keegan Moore • 2014
Keegan Moore wasn’t sure about college or a career when she started at Jackson College. Working on campus helped her realize her potential, leading to a rewarding career.
Chad Noble • 1981
Chad Noble serves as president of the Henry Ford Allegiance Health Foundation. He has a passion for connecting with others about the important work of the health system and finds being part of something that helps others truly rewarding. A Jackson native, he attended Jackson Public Schools, graduated from Jackson Community College and Spring Arbor University.
Darrell Norris’s life was changed as a student at Jackson College. Today, he works to ensure that future students have that same opportunity!
Jessie Parsons enrolled at Jackson College to find a career she loved. An opportunity to work as a student consultant in information technology and a caring mentor made all the difference.
William Patterson • 1991
William Patterson is passionate about education. With more than 15 years of experience, Patterson currently serves as director of secondary education and federal programs with the Jackson Public Schools Administrative Office. He began as a teacher in 1998. In his current position, Patterson has primary responsibility for effectively directing, facilitating, coordinating and managing the successful short-term and long-term implementation of the Secondary Student Achievement programs for the school district.
Dr. Elizabeth Phillip • 2009
Dr. Elizabeth Phillip loves to help people as a chiropractor. Surprisingly, she wasn’t sure about going to college at first, but being recruited to play volleyball for the Jets helped set her on a new course. Today she and her husband, James, operate their joint practice, Phillip Family Chiropractic of Chelsea and Onsted.
George Potter • 1956
Retired local attorney George Potter served on the College’s Board of Trustees for 44 years. He stepped down from the board in 2006, having served longer than any community college trustee in the nation. Potter was just 25 years old when he was elected to the first-ever Board of Trustees of the new Jackson Community College in 1962. He served not only Jackson but community colleges across the nation during his service.
Philicia Richmond • 2009
Philicia Richmond marvels at the chain of events that led her to attend Jackson College and become a registered nurse and then a family nurse practitioner. Richmond graduated from the nursing program in December 2009, and currently works as a nurse practitioner in Behavioral Health at Henry Ford Allegiance Health.
Heather Ruttkofsky • 2001
Heather Ruttkofsky never saw herself as a “college person.” Today, she is a professional sonographer who teaches Jackson College students about the field she loves, and most importantly, how to help people. After working in a salsa factory for $5 an hour, she returned to college, studying emergency medical services and later sonography. She went to work as a sonographer and was hired by Jackson College as a clinical instructor. Today she is vascular sonography program coordinator and loves the opportunity to help today’s students achieve their goals.
Valerie Schuette • 2000
Valerie Schuette got her start as a student at Jackson College, went to work for the College for a number of years, and today continues to serve the Jackson College Foundation Board of Directors. Today she works as chief operations officer at CP Federal Credit Union, and she previously worked as vice president of human resources and branch operations. In addition to serving on the foundation board, she has served on the Child Care Network and Girl Scouts Board of Directors, as well as the United Way Family Vision Council.
Kendra Suddeth Henry • 1996
Kendra Suddeth Henry sees the challenges that stress can put on children each day in her job as a school social worker, and she is glad to be there to help. Henry is a 1996 graduate of JCC who went on to Spring Arbor University to earn her bachelor’s degree in family life education, and later enrolled at Michigan State University to earn her master’s degree in social work.
Working one year in a factory was enough to convince Charles Thomas to find something more, so he enrolled at Jackson Community College.
Brian Walker • 1982
Brian Walker serves as president and chief executive officer of Herman Miller, Inc., overseeing the company’s global efforts to invent solutions that help create great places to work, to learn and to heal. Active in business and community, Walker serves on the boards of The Right Place, Briggs & Stratton Corp., and advisory board, The Stephen A. Wynn Institute. Walker received the 2005 MCCA Outstanding Alumnus Award and the 2006 Jackson College Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award.
Dr. Pearl Lee Walker McNeil • 1935
Dr. Pearl Lee Walker McNeil (1915-2014) was a pioneering ecumenist and award-winning educator. Her life encompassed many careers: social scientist, college administrator and professor, humanitarian, ecumenist and homemaker. Service to others was a hallmark of her life, via volunteerism in the local, national and international communities.
Carlene Walz Lefere • 1970
Carlene Walz Lefere is a Jackson County native who served as a District Judge for 12 years. Prior to that, she served as a practicing attorney in Jackson. Active in the community, Lefere is an emeritus trustee for the Jackson Community Foundation, College and Career Access board, and a member of the Jackson County Legal Services Advisory Board.
Robert Whiting • 1930
Robert “Bob” Whiting was known around Jackson as the “bird man.” A student in the second class ever to enter JJC in 1929, he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in geology and biology. After teaching high school in the 1930s and serving in the Army, he returned to Jackson and started teaching at Jackson Junior College. He began the local Audubon Society, and has been active in both the state and national Audubon Society. He taught ornithology and geology classes at JJC.
Mara Wierzbicki • 2012
Mara Wierzbicki was an active student on campus, playing volleyball for two years, working on campus and mentoring peers as a Writing Fellow. She completed her Master of Arts in Education from the University of Michigan in 2017, and she currently teaches second grade at Northwest Early Elementary School. While at JC, Wierzbicki was selected for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society All-Michigan Academy Team. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago.
Woodrow Wilson Jr. • 1967
During his nearly 40 years at Jackson Community College, Woodrow Wilson Jr. helped to guide many in their educational and professional endeavors. Wilson started as a student at JCC, graduating in 1967, then returned to work for the college from 1972-2011 in a variety of positions. He retired from the teaching faculty in 2011. He was honored with the 2012 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Service Award. In his retirement, he has established a student scholarship and support of the Woodrow Wilson Multicultural Center on Central Campus.