Alumni Wall

Located in the main stairway of the Potter Center, the Alumni Wall highlights four outstanding Jackson College alumni. Wall honorees are selected for their accomplishments since graduation and their contributions to the community or field of work.

Bobby Thompkins

Class of 1964

  • Bobby Thompkins

    Class of 1964

    • A high school and college basketball standout, Thompkins is a graduate of Jackson Public Schools and member of the Jackson High Hall of Fame, he attended Jackson Community College from 1962-1964.
    • Worked as an assistant recreation director and director of Martin Luther King Center.
    • Earned his bachelor’s degree in education with majors in physical education and a minor in math from Spring Arbor College while playing basketball for the Cougars. He was also inducted into the Hall of Fame at Spring Arbor College, Men’s 1,000-Point Club, NAIA All-District Team, NAIA Top 20 scoring, MVP, and Trailblazer. He earned a master’s degree in administrative arts from Michigan State University.
    • Beginning as an intern, he went on to a 31-year career with Jackson Public Schools. He served as assistant principal, associate principal and principal at Jackson High, and associate principal and principal at the Middle School at Parkside.
    • He retired from Jackson Public Schools and served on the JPS school board for eight years.
    • Thompkins served as principal at Albion High School for a year and a half.
    • In 2016, he received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Service Award from Jackson College.
    • Active in the community, he has been a member of the NAACP and received a community service award from the NAACP. He has also been recognized by the Jackson Human Relations Commission and a service award from WIBM Radio.
    • He has four sons, Gary, Brian, Anthony, Parrish, a daughter, Kimberly, and a host of grandchildren.

    “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan – but never the goal.”

Tammy Newcomb

Class of 1988

  • Tammy Newcomb

    Class of 1988

    • Tammy Newcomb, Ph.D., attended Jackson Community College in 1986 as a bridge between University of Michigan and Michigan State University. She appreciated Ms. Warner for her interest in Tammy’s college success and personal growth. She looked forward to her biology classes probably more than any other class in her college career.
    • Tammy’s love for the environment began while growing up in the countryside, exploring the fields, wetlands and creeks around her house. In middle school, someone gave her a book on ecology, and she was fascinated. She started her college career studying pre-law and then pre-veterinary, but found a home in Fisheries and Wildlife at MSU. “The first time I stuck my head in the water to snorkel for a research project documenting smallmouth bass habitat use, I was hooked!”
    • She completed a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries & Wildlife Management from MSU in 1990, a Master of Science in Wildlife Management from West Virginia University in 1992, and her Ph.D. in Fisheries Management in 1998 from MSU.
    • Working for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources since 2002, she is currently the senior water policy advisor, a member of the executive team. She leads statewide issues for the department such as preventing Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, and coordination of cross-departmental issues related to the Great Lakes.
    • She has had many varied positions involving environmental policy, legislation, research and education, all focused on helping fish and wildlife and keeping our waterways safe.
    • From 2013-2021, she has served on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Environmental Advisory Board. She also serves on the Council of Great Lakes Governor’s Association, Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force, Michigan Sea Grant Advisory Board, and the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, Science Advisory Team, to name of few of her many activities.
    • In her free time, she trains and competes at Dressage shows with her horse Charlie.
    • She lives in Webberville, Michigan with her husband, Dr. Travis Brenden, child, Isabella, on a hobby farm, Mahogany Bay, where we have horses, chickens, turkeys and rabbits.

    “Always be the type of partner, friend, or colleague that you would want to have as a partner, friend, or colleague.”

Kyle Leighton

Class of 2009

  • Kyle Leighton

    Class of 2009

    • This Jackson native is a self-made entrepreneur, investor and executive. He holds an Associate of Arts from Jackson College and a bachelor’s degree from Siena Heights University.
    • Kyle began his career at Everlast Lighting in 2011 as a public relations representative. He mastered the lighting trade’s integrities, and his research – engineering reports and case studies – were published in trade magazines, international publications and college textbooks.
    • Taught as an adjunct instructor for Jackson College and helped develop the associate degree in energy systems management.
    • Recognized by the National Association of Electrical Distributes LEAD Conference in Chicago as he was named to tED Magazine’s list of emerging electrical industry leaders in the U.S.
    • In 2015, Kyle moved to New York City where he worked and consulted for businesses in New York, Boston and Moscow, Russia. While visiting a construction site, he decided to take all that he had learned and form his own engineering company, First Building Solutions.
    • Moved back to Michigan in late 2016, and later secured his first customer. Kyle invested his profits into real estate, laying the groundwork for Leighton Property Management.
    • Founded Tapestry Girls in 2019. With distribution in California, Pennsylvania, and Florida, Tapestry Girls currently sells its products directly to consumers as well as to wholesale customers such as Etsy, Society6, Redbubble, Amazon and Walmart.
    • He’s served the Jackson community by helping numerous young people develop their own successful businesses by securing commercial real estate and startup capital. He’s also served as a volunteer for the Habitat for Humanity and the Aware Shelter in Jackson.
    • Kyle, his wife Heather and young daughter Vera, currently live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The family shares their home with a sweet rescue dog.

Courtney McIntosh

Class of 2011

  • Courtney McIntosh

    Class of 2011

    • Courtney C. McIntosh is a Nursing Administrator at Henry Ford Allegiance Health, a 475-bed health system that has more than 400 physicians and 3,700 staff members.
    • After completing her Certification as a Nursing Assistant from the Jackson Area Career Center, she worked as a CNA for HFAH and Chelsea Hospital.
    • She graduated from Jackson College with her Associate Applied Science in Nursing. She earned her Bachelor of Science Nursing from Siena Heights University, and Master of Business Administration & Master of Science Nursing from Spring Arbor University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in both disciplines. She continued with her life-long learning by obtaining a certification as a Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN). She is actively pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Spring Arbor University.
    • In 2015, she began her career in nursing leadership as a supervisor in the Emergency Department, a Clinical Nurse Manager/Director of Nursing for Inpatient Behavioral Health in 2018, and currently serves as Nursing Administrator for the Behavioral Health Service Line, encompassing Inpatient (adult/geriatric), Outpatient Behavioral Health, Outpatient Therapists, Partial Hospital Day Program, Substance Use Disorders, Access Center (walk-in/ED), Neuropsychology, and Consult Liaison team.
    • Honored with the Dave McCormick Memorial Award-Allegiance Health and Sister Sharon McGuire Academic Excellence Award- Siena Heights University. She is a member of the Emergency Nurses Association.
    • Courtney is married to her husband, Darin and has two young children—Holland and Barrett.

Past Alumni Wall Honorees

  • Cindy Allen

    Cindy Allen

    Class of 1986

    • Cindy AllenCindy Allen has worked full-time since the age of 17, but continued her education on a part-time basis as she worked, married and started a family. She began working at Jackson Community College in 1980 under Lloyd Weldy in the performing arts area, starting a few months before the Music Hall opened. Cindy later went on to receive her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Siena Heights University and most recently, a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Siena Heights University.
    • While the performing arts is still Cindy’s passion, she is also responsible for public relations for JCC and oversees the marketing department, office of multi-cultural relations, auxiliary services at JCC and most recently, student housing.
    • Cindy is active in the community and volunteers her fundraising and event planning skills to many organizations, including the American Red Cross, the United Way, the JCC Foundation, Ella Sharp Museum, and is a board member for the Jackson Host Lions Club. Cindy was also recognized this year as JCC’s Outstanding Administrator.
    • She has been married to her husband Bill for 28 years, lives in the Western School District, has three great children, David 25, Tom 19 and Chelsey 17, and one granddaughter, Addison, who can do no wrong. Tom is currently in his second year at JCC, and Chelsey is a senior at Western High School.

    Cindy’s Mantra
    “Look for special opportunities to help individuals. Surprise them with kindness, bring a smile to their face and enjoy how wonderful it feels to give”

  • Patricia Anderson

    Patricia Anderson

    Class of 1958

    (In fondest memory of Pat Anderson, who passed away March 23, 2013)

    • Class of 1958
    • A retired schoolteacher, she taught first through sixth grades at Lincoln and Hunt Elementary for 20 years.
    • The first African-American to be named Teacher of the Year by Jackson Public Schools in 1982.
    • Served on countless boards and committees, and has worked to mentor young community leaders.
    • Volunteered for Toys for Tots, presently chairs the Friendly Visitor Program at Allegiance Health, and for 18 years has co-chaired the Blessing Shop at her church, The Church of Christ where she helps to feed and clothe those in need and helps with the free Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Shop for the community.
    • She and her husband, Charles, were named 1997 Citizens of the Year by the Jackson Citizen Patriot and were the first couple to receive this honor.
    • Received the Trailblazer Award from Spring Arbor University in 2003, the JCC Martin Luther King Medal of Service Award in 2007, and most recently, a Certificate of Recognition as a 2008 Governor’s Service Award nominee.
    • She and Charles are the proud parents of twin daughters, Kim Watts and Kumari Anderson, both of Carrollton, Texas. The light of Pat and Charles’ life are their two granddaughters Alex and Alana Watts.

    “My walk in life has been truly blessed because of God and the wonderful people he’s placed in my life.”

  • Karen Barnes

    Karen Barnes

    Class of 1985

    • Karen is the youngest daughter of Richard and Barbara Renner of Jackson. Growing up with the family business where everyone worked to accomplish their parent’s goals, she learned the value of hard work, ethics and the philosophy, “you’re never too old to learn”.
    • Karen graduated from JCC in 1985 with a degree in Marketing/Mid-Management.
    • She immediately hired into a retail management position with Gap, Inc. Enjoying a career with The Gap for sixteen years, Karen not only managed a store location, but also acted as a regional trainer and team leader for new store openings. Karen developed a new hire training program that was subsequently adopted corporate wide. She also assisted the Chief Operations Officer with developing a system of best practices for all stores. Most importantly, Karen identified, hired, trained and promoted many people to higher positions in the company during her career.
    • By 2000, Karen left Gap, Inc. to spend more time with her young children. It did not take long for her to realize she still needed a greater challenge, at which point she started a successful part time, home based business. In 2004, Karen re-entered the workforce in the financial services industry with Citi Group and learned about the home loan mortgage business.
    • 2006 Brought the fortunate opportunity to begin a wonderful career starting with A.G. Edwards. With the spirit of entrepreneurship, Karen accepted the challenge of becoming a financial advisor, once again learning new skills and maintaining the demanding educational standards the profession requires. As someone who truly loves working with people, Karen strives every day to help her clients smile and to enjoy and understand the roller coaster ride of the investment world. Today, Karen is a Partner in the same business now known as Meridian Wealth Management of Michigan
    • Passing forward the legacy of skills learned from her own parents, Karen hopes to demonstrate to her two children, Rachel and Parker, the passion for knowledge, the attitude to succeed, the ability to handle adversity and willingness to learn from those around you. These traits will open the promise of life’s opportunities.

    Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Goeth

    Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC (WFAFN). Wells Fargo Advisors is the trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC and WFAFN, Members SIPC, separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company. Meridian Wealth Management of Michigan is a separate entity from WFAFN.

  • Leland Bassett

    Leland Bassett

    Class of 1964

    • Leland K. Bassett’s Jackson roots go as deep as his love for his hometown. The fourth generation of a pioneer log cabin farm family, Bassett graduated from Jackson High School and attended JCC on his way to Michigan State University.
    • Bassett has pioneered the application of communication psychology [human communication sciences] and strategic planning to public relations, corporate communication and integrated strategic communication management for more than three decades.
    • Bassett introduced the nation’s first corporate Strategic Communication Management Department in the 1970s, designed and taught the nation’s first graduate strategic communication management curriculum [at MSU College of Communication Arts & Sciences] in the 1980s and co-founded the nation’s first commercial communication arts and sciences-based professional services firm in 1986, Detroit-based Bassett & Bassett, Incorporated, Communication Managers and Counselors, where he serves as Chairman & CEO.
    • Believing in generational responsibility, he is active in programs that nurture future generations. Leland and Tina Bassett established the JCC Vera Bassett Nursing Scholarship in honor of his mother, who was instrumental in the establishment of the JCC nursing program, and graduated nearly 800 nursing candidates. He was a founding member of the MSU CCAS Alumni Association, a past president, and recipient of its Outstanding Alumni Award.
    • He is past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit, where the Tina and Leland Bassett Lounge is named in their honor; and co-founder and general co-chair of the Music Hall Producers, its major individual donor group. He is also a founding co-chair of the Detroit Institute of Arts Associates, a major individual donor group.
    • Bassett maintains a family-gathering summer home on a Jackson County lake. He has been married to his “partner-in-everything” Tina for nearly 40 years, with two sons and a 5 year-old grandson. He is an active teacher, lecturer and mentor.

    Leland’s Mantra
    “Education is the foundation of civilization, and the essential ladder to the improvement of the human condition. JCC is the perfect opportunity for each of us to discover what we can do for ourselves, give to our community and leave for generations yet to come; a responsibility in which we all share.”

  • Jacquie Walker Beato

    Jacquie Walker Beato

    Class of 1973

    • Named Jackson County Rosequeen in 1971.
    • Attended JCC, graduating in 1973, and transferred to Michigan State University to complete her bachelor’s degree in advertising management in 1975.
    • Completed additional coursework at Columbia College.
    • Has been an anchorwoman for the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. new on WIVB-TV, the CBS affiliate in Buffalo, New York from 1983 to the present.
    • Has received numerous journalism awards and Emmy Award nominations, including the NYS Governor’s Award for Excellence in Communications.
    • Has been honored by many organizations for community service, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
    • In 2009, a college scholarship was named in her honor by the Buffalo branch of the American Association of University Women.
    • She and her sister, Patricia, contributed to the clock tower now on JCC’s campus, named in honor of their parents, Glen and Phyllis Walker.
    • Is married and has two sons, one in law school and another in college.

    Jacquie’s Mantra
    “I’ve made community service an integral part of my life by fo lowing the simple advice of Theodore Roosevelt: ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’”

  • Brendan Beer

    Brendan Beer

    Class of 1995

    • Born January 10, 1975, in Jackson, Michigan
    • Graduate, Napoleon High School, June of 1993
    • Graduate, Jackson Community College, Associate in Arts, with recognition, April of 1995. Graduate, Haworth College of Business, Western Michigan University, Bachelors of Business Administration, December of 1997. Graduate, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, January of 2003
    • Partner: Abbott, Thomson & Beer, PLC, in Jackson, Michigan
    • Member: Jackson County Bar Association (President, 2006-2007), State Bar of Michigan; American Bar Association
    • Member: Michigan Association of School Boards; Michigan Council of School Attorneys; National Council of School Attorneys
    • Admitted to practice: Michigan State Courts; United States District Court for Eastern District of Michigan; United States District Court for Western District of Michigan; United States Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit)
    • Board Member: United Way of Jackson County; Ella Sharp Museum
    • Married to Molly, November 14, 2003. Son, Jacob Conrad, born September 10, 2004. Daughter, Maggie Grace, born July 19, 2008.

    “All men are alike in their promises. It is only in their actions that they differ. Never allow yourself to become a person who makes empty promises or commitments.”

  • Charles Birney

    Charles Birney

    Class of 1954

    • Grew up in Jackson, Mich. and graduated from Jackson High School.
    • He went on to attend and graduate from Jackson Junior College in 1954, where he ran track and enjoyed playing ping-pong at the John George Hall.
    • He continued his educational journey at the University of Colorado (Boulder) where he earned a baccalaureate degree.
    • Charles served in the Army, where he had the opportunity to attend a very intense military school and study state-of-the-art radar technology.
    • Following his graduation from the University of Colorado, Charles returned to Jackson where he worked for the Republican Party until accepting a position with the City of Flint. Charles met his late wife, Helen Francis Murphy, during his career with the City of Flint and they were happily married until she passed away in 1995. Charles eventually retired from the City of Flint where he enjoyed a successful career as the Information Technology department leader.
    • Charles has a deep appreciation for the arts, especially opera.
    • He is also an avid golfer, and spent many years traveling with his late wife to various courses across the United States and continues to enjoy the game today.
    • Charles has a deep affection for Jackson College and credits his start at Jackson Junior College for his lifetime achievements.



    It isn’t a man’s father, mother or spouse,
    Whose judgment upon him must pass,
    The fellow whose verdict counts most in life,
    Is the man staring back from the glass.


  • George Brown

    George Brown

    Class of 1988

    • Currently a member of the City of Jackson Human Relations Commission, a trained mediator for the Southeastern Michigan Dispute Resolution Center, a freelance writer and a mentor for local youth.
    • Dedicated all of 2007 to work as an AmeriCorp VISTA volunteer with The League, a national school-based service learning organization where he planned and implemented service projects and fund raisers with local students to benefit the community.
    • Was the City Hall reporter for the Jackson Citizen Patriot and played an integral part in the newspaper’s 2002 project that chronicled African American history in Jackson and race relations throughout the city’s history.
    • Enjoyed almost 10 years as an on-air radio personality at radio outlets from Michigan to Colorado.
    • Attended Jackson Community College for two years and one year at Grand Valley State University where he majored in Journalism and Psychology and has earned certifications from the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts and the Southeastern Dispute Resolution Center among others. He has enjoyed a plethora of careers in music, retail sales, engineering, golf and travel.
    • Known as “the guy who can get things done,” George is dedicated to serving his community and to helping improve the lives of others.
    • Married to Libby Brown for 30 years and has one son, Brian R. Geening, and two dogs, Skeeter and Snoopy.

    “Information is a precious tool, oftentimes more valuable than currency and at other times more far-reaching than influence. Mine it in these allowed hallways and absorb it like a sponge from its distinguished messengers, and I promise you genuine growth and prosperity as a human being.”

  • Larry Bullen

    Larry Bullen

    Class of 1949

    • Born in Jackson in 1929 and attended local schools and graduated from Jackson High School in 1947.
    • Attended Jackson Junior College following high school and was active in student government. After graduating with his associate degree in 1949, Bullen earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1951, and in 1954, earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School.
    • After serving in the United States Army until 1956, Bullen joined the Jackson law firm of Rosenburg and Painter and was made partner in the firm of Rosenburg, Stanton, Bullen, and Nelson in 1960, and later Bullen, Moilanen, Klaasen & Swan, P.C.
    • Taught business law courses at Jackson Junior College from 1956 through 1960 and was an active participant in the committees that resulted in the formation of JCC.
    • Has been active member in the Jackson community throughout his life. He served on the Board of Managers of W. A. Foote Memorial Hospital from 1963 to 1968, and during the 1970s and early 1980s, he was the chairman of the Jackson Hospital Finance Authority and treasurer of the Board of Foote Hospital.
    • Is a past president of Family Service and Children’s Aid, has served on the Board of Directors of Hospice of Jackson, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, and the YWCA Trust Fund. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Jackson County Bar Association, where he served as president from 1982-1983. He is a trustee of the Weatherwax Foundation and supporter of charitable and educational projects. Bullen is a director emeritus and has also served as a director and treasurer of the JCC Foundation, and has assisted with innumerable JCC projects. He received the College’s Distinguished Service Award at the 1998 commencement ceremonies.
    • Bullen and his wife, Valerie, have four children; Charles D. Bullen of Scottsdale, Arizona, John L. Bullen of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Martha M. Bullen Muhich of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., and Thomas A. Bullen of Folsom, California. The couple has six grandchildren.

    Larry’s Mantra
    “Success in life should not be measured by what you accomplish for yourself, but rather by what you have done for others.” –Attributed to Danny Thomas, comedian and founder of St. Jude’s Hospital for Children”

  • Ted Christoff

    Ted Christoff

    Class of 1990

    • A Jackson native and graduate of East Jackson High School, Ted Christoff completed his Associate in Arts at Jackson Community College in 1990. He chose JCC for the value and because of the MACRAO Transfer Agreement.
    • Earned bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ferris State University.
    • Upon graduation, started work at Christoff and Sons as vice president. Christoff and Sons is a Floor Covering, Window Treatments, and Carpet Cleaning provider, started by Ted’s late father in 1979. He is currently still growing the business with his partner and brother, Tom.
    • Christoff and Sons was named Small Business of the Year by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.
    • The business started in a small 1,200-foot building and built new in 1995. It has added carpet cleaning, hardwood refinishing, area rugs, countertops and window treatments. It does commercial and residential. They have gone from two employees to more than 15, and about 10 regular subcontract installers.
    • Received the Chamber of Commerce Brick Award for renovations to business.
    • Business named Best of Jackson by Jackson Magazine readers for both floor covering and carpet cleaning.
    • Recently named Midwest Dealer of the Year from Mohawk Industries.
    • Has served on the East Jackson School Board, Jackson Commercial Contractors Association, Chamber of Commerce Vice President, and leadership positions with the Boy Scouts.
    • He is active with his church, New Covenant Living Church, as an usher, building committee and children’s ministries.
    • He’s been married to Pam for 24 years. They have three children: Brooke, 21, Preston, 17, and Parker, 15.


    “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me.”

  • Farris Coppage

    Farris Coppage

    Class of 1964

    • Born and raised in Arkansas, the son of two school teachers. Father was a principal in what was then a segregated school system.
    • After high school, came to Michigan in 1952 to work. He did return to Arkansas and was attending a historically Black college, but had to drop out because of finances. He married his college sweetheart, Barbara; they’ve been married more than 60 years.
    • The Coppages returned to Michigan in 1953, and Farris worked for 11 years at the Hotel Hayes in Jackson, and later at the University of Michigan Hospital.
    • After several years, he enrolled in what was Jackson Junior College, graduating in 1964. He particularly enjoyed Robert Whiting’s ornithology class, the study of birds.
    • He continued his studies at Eastern Michigan University, earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
    • Coppage started his career at Albion Public Schools for four years, and then came to Jackson High School as assistant principal. He retired after 27 years with Jackson Public Schools.
    • Active in the community, Coppage worked with the Jackson Civil Rights Commission and the Jackson Area Civil Rights Awareness Association. He served on the board of directors of the Irish Hills Girl Scouts and Love In the Name of Christ. He has served as a mediator with the Southeastern Dispute Resolution Services, and is a member of the NAACP, serving on the education committee and executive board.
    • He encourages today’s young people to get an education and learn how to get along with people of all colors and all ethnic backgrounds.
    • He is a member of the Lane Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, where he has served as Sunday school superintendent.
    • Six of his seven children have all attended Jackson (Community) College, and with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, four generations of his family have attended.
    • Received Jackson College’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Service in 2015 for his service to education and community.
  • Marsena Covington

    Marsena Covington

    Class of 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.
    • Marsena received her Associates degree in business from Jackson Community College in 1979. While attending JCC she was a work study student, in the book store and administration office.
    • Marsena is the US Military Lead Customer Service and PQM Manager for Eaton Corporation Aerospace Division. Her 30 years of experience with Eaton where she has predominantly been in customer service focusing almost entirely on the US military sector of the Dept of Defense. She currently acts as the liaison between 15 Eaton locations, and the Defense Logistics Agencies. Her experience includes government contracts, revenue generation through standardized processes, bidding/negotiating large proposals, and training personnel on how to do business with the Military. In her current corporate role she assures that customer support is provided to our Military War fighters getting them the right Eaton Aerospace Products, to the right place, at the right time, for their Aviation, Maritime and Land vehicles. She was one of 14 employees of Eaton’s 80,000 to receive the 2008 Game Changer award for implementing a process that generated over $10 Million in revenue, and has in addition, received several awards from the Defense Logistics Agency.
    • One of her greatest personal experiences was attending the 2009 Inauguration for President Obama in Washington, DC.
    • When she’s not working, Marsena enjoys spending time with family, her church, and traveling.

    “Success is to achieve your goal and to be happy afterwards.”

  • James Crane

    James Crane

    Class of 1948

    • Professor Emeritus James Crane is a near Jackson native whose family moved to Jackson when he was seven years old. He attended Bloomfield school, West Intermediate, and graduated from Jackson High School, class of 1945. After serving as a Private in the Army Air Force he came home to Jackson and enrolled at Jackson Junior College while working at his Dad’s (Wescrane) service station. After a semester of graduate study he returned to Jackson and married his first wife (a JJC alumnae) Jeanette Forgie. Jim taught at East Intermediate for four years while he finished his degree, and looked for the college job he dearly wanted.
    • Professor Crane’s long and distinguished career as teacher, painter, print media cartoonist-illustrator-designer, and writer has been documented over the years in work shown in local galleries and published in features and reviews in the St. Petersburg Times, motive magazine, Art Voices South, and other periodicals. He recently had a 50 year-plus retrospective of his work in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of his joining the faculty of Eckerd College. Prof. Crane has contributed strongly to the cultural life of the Tampa Bay community as teacher, founding member and trustee of the Arts Center, and member of the first city Arts Commission.
    • Professor Crane writes, “Since communicating with you I have realized how important JCC was to me. The low tuition made it possible to stretch my GI bill® into a BA at Albion and a semester of graduate study at the University of Iowa. Beyond that my teachers like Francis Henry, Ed Sussel, Sarah Lineburg Barbara Faussel and Miss Inglebright were among the best I had in two collages and three universities! They took hold of me when I was young and very green. They became my models and standard for what a good teacher is and does. It is not too much to say that even though none taught art, they helped me lay a foundation for my whole career. My highest ambition was to join them on the faculty of JCC. My shame is that I never told them and I hadn’t realized just how important they were to me. I wish that I could let the young teachers there know that there are diamonds in the rough in their classes – students they will validate and who will go on and someday make them proud of the good work
      they did.”

    James’s Mantra
    “Since communicating with you I have realized how important JCC was to me.”

  • John Crist

    John Crist headshotJohn Crist

    Class of 1966

    • Alumnus of Jackson Community College, graduating in 1966.
    • Earned bachelor’s degree in business and accounting from Ferris State University.
    • Worked 29 years for Consumers Energy in various accounting and benefits roles.
    • Has served as president and chief executive officer at CP Federal Credit Union for 17 years.
    • Has served on the Jackson College Board of Trustees since 2006.
    • Serves on the Jackson College Foundation Board of Directors.
    • Serves on boards for both the Jackson Enterprise Group and Allegiance Hospice.
    • Past campaign chair and president of the board of United Way.
    • Served on school board for Western Schools for 11 years.
    • Served on the March of Dimes District Office board in Lansing.
    • Recipient of 2015 Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award.
    • Married to Jan; they have four children and seven grandchildren.
  • Kelly Crum

    Kelly CrumKelly Crum

    Class of 1990

    • Graduated from Jackson High School in 1987.
    • Attended Jackson Community College from 1987-’90. It was close to home and she valued the support of her family nearby.
    • Transferred to what was Spring Arbor College to complete her bachelor’s degree in sociology because she loved working with people.
    • Kelly’s first job was working with youth at Starr Commonwealth School in Albion, and found a passion for working with youth.
    • After Starr, she provided trainings to school staff and others on substance abuse through a four-county Substance Abuse Prevention Agency, and later went to work as a health educator through a grant-funded program to deter teen pregnancy rates.
    • Served as coach and advisor for cheerleading at Jackson High.
    • Worked as a school-based health educator at Jackson’s Northeast Elementary prior to coming to work for Jackson College in 2013.
    • Joined Jackson College as the assistant director of multicultural affairs. She helps to oversee students groups the Men of Merit and Sisters of Strength, helps coordinate the Student Multicultural Center in Bert Walker Hall, and assists in administering programs for the College’s diverse student population and overall student success efforts. She is currently the Chief Diversity Officer/Director, Diversity, Equity, And Belonging at Jackson College.
    • In addition to her work, she serves as secretary of the John George Home Board of Directors and serves on the Jackson Parks and Recreation Board of Directors. In the past, she has served on the Jackson YMCA board and the Jackson Asthma Coalition Board.
    • In 2014 she was recognized by the Jackson Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., with Special Recognition of the Year honors.
    • In 2015 she received the Sisters in Ministry Mrs. Elnora V. Moorman Dignity and Determination Award.
    • She serves on the Jackson College Alumni Advisory Council.
    • She credits helpful, caring mentors throughout her life with helping her achieve success, starting with her parents, and her late teacher, Patricia Anderson, and husband, Charles Anderson.
    • Kelly is married to husband, Derrick. She has two adult sons and five grandchildren.
    • Established the Derrick and Kelly Crum Scholarship Fund with the Jackson College Foundation.


    Surround yourself with people who will inspire, motivate and lift you up.

  • Jonathan Curtis

    Jonathan Curtis

    Class of 2010

    • Graduated from Jackson College in 2011. He chose Jackson College because he wanted to stay close to home, save money and continue his basketball career.
    • Jonathan graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
    • Currently practices at Manchester Family Chiropractic Center, located on McCain Road in Jackson, as an associate with Dr. Scott Manchester, another Jackson College alumnus.
    • Practice focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal disorders, with an emphasis on treatment through manual adjustment of the spine and extremities. He seeks to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients as well as to educate them on how they can account for their own health via exercise, ergonomics, diet and other therapies.
    • He loves what he does because he loves to help people. He tries to improve the quality of life of every patient that he encounters, whether that’s helping a mother with neck pain, an athlete with injuries, or a farmer whose worked long hours in the fields. What he really does is help people get back to what they love doing.
    • Jackson College prepared him with classes that stimulated critical thinking and problem solving skills. One of the professors who made a lasting impact was “Doc Ott,” chemistry professor Mark Ott. His chemistry classes demanded critical thinking, and the hours spent problem solving were significant down the road for Jonathan. When he transferred to Eastern Michigan University to continue his undergraduate education, he was a step ahead of other students in his understanding and implementation of chemistry principles.
    • Diana Agy was another professor who had a lasting impact on Curtis’s educational career. Her nontraditional approach encouraged creativity, and her way of combining subjects together was also valuable later on. The integration of seemingly different aspects of knowledge into writing was crucial for Curtis in relating intricate, complex scientific principals into everyday situations everyone can understand.
    • Serves as a Chamber Ambassador for the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. The group volunteers to make sure the Chamber runs as efficiently as possible, and helps with ribbon cutting, JAXPO and many other highlights in Jackson.
    • Jonathan coaches a basketball team throughout the spring and summer comprised of high school kids in the Jackson area. Curtis says he is a “basketball nut” and enjoys being able to be a part of the game and helping kids on and off the court.
  • Thomas Draper

    Thomas Draper

    Class of 1966

    • My parents, Howard and Helen Draper, were great role models. They were firm, supportive, showed great common sense, but most of all were very loving.
    • The most important decision in my life was marrying my wife, Jeanne. She has been a wonderful partner in so many ways.
    • My friends have been a very positive influence in my life and a lot of fun. My first sales position was at the Office Supply House owned by the Rumohr family. I was very shy and unsure of myself as a young college graduate, but they believed in me and gave me my start in a sales career. The strong foundation I built there enabled me to move on and become a stockbroker.
    • In the community, I’ve served on the Board of Directors of the Country Club of Jackson, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church vestry, Dahlem Environmental Center, and the Ella Sharp Museum.

    No is just the beginning. Persevere!

  • Jenny Engle

    Jenny Engle PortraitJenny Engle

    Class of 2011

    • Originally from Findlay, Ohio, she graduated from Findlay High School. She relocated to Adrian, Michigan after high school when she married her husband, Jed.
    • Fulfilling a promise she had made to herself and to set an example to her children, she decided to go back to college after having a family. She enrolled in the Jackson College – Siena Heights University accelerated business degree program available in Adrian in 2009. She graduated from Jackson College in 2011 and completed her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 2012. She went on to complete a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Siena Heights University in 2015.
    • Jenny greatly enjoyed the “cohort” aspect of her classes. With the accelerated degree program, students stay together throughout their courses, offering opportunity for connection, support and friendship.
    • She began working in Development for SHU while finishing her degree. Spent two years as director of Alumni Relations for Siena Heights University.
    • Went to work for the Lenawee Community Foundation as the Vice President of Development, leaving the post in 2018.
    • Today she volunteers with several community groups, including the Adrian Public Schools, Boys and Girls Clubs of Lenawee, Goodwill Industries of Southeast Michigan, Promedica Bixby and Herrick Hospital Foundation and Hickman Cancer Center.
    • Jenny is a 16-year breast cancer survivor. Her experience showed her the importance of pursuing her dreams and goals, because life is short.
    • She helps to promote Siena Heights University’s women’s basketball Pink games to benefit breast cancer awareness and research, and she participates in Relay for Life.
    • She coached Varsity gymnastics for 10 years at Adrian High School.
    • In her spare time, she enjoys to bake and to golf.
    • Member of St. Mary’s of Good Counsel Church in Adrian.

  • Thomas Evanson

    Thomas Evanson

    Class of 1967

    • Graduated from Michigan Center High School in 1965 and Jackson Community College with an Associate Degree in 1967. Graduated from University of Michigan with a BBA in 1969 and MBA in 1970.
    • Civic participation includes Board Membership with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Big Brother Jackson Y-Center, Ella Sharp Museum, Jackson Symphony Orchestra, Allegiance Health and the First United Methodist Church. Was a John George Student Loan Fund Trustee and a volunteer coach for Western School District.
    • Married to Nancy Jackson Evanson (JCC-1968/U of M-1970) and has two children, Theresa and Carl.
    • Giving Philosophy: “Share, because it could be you in need.”
    • Foundation for success includes parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and Nancy’s support and partnership through life.

    “Good things happen to those who do good deeds.”

  • Ellen Ewing
    • Ellen Ewing was raised in Jackson and graduated from St. Mary High School in 1962, then continued her studies at Jackson Junior College, earning her Associate in Arts in 1964.
    • Ellen is named after her grandmother, who was a teacher. Her grandmother was a great influence in her life and sparked her love of education. Ewing followed her footsteps into the teaching profession.
    • She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University in 1973 and began teaching at Litchfield Community Schools, teaching elementary school, fifth and sixth grades. In 1980, she was hired as the principal at Litchfield Elementary. She was also the gifted and talented coordinator for Hillsdale County.
    • In 1982, she earned her Master of Arts degree from Eastern Michigan University. With a passion for education, she has taken numerous educational leadership courses, almost 60 hours, beyond her master’s degree.
    • Ewing became a building administrator in Saline, Michigan in 1985. She was promoted to assistant superintendent in 1988, and in 1993, superintendent for Saline Area Schools. Although she missed being in the classroom, she felt her calling as an administrator was to make the job of the easier and help classes run smoothly. She is thankful for the resources that were available in Saline.
    • She retired in July of 2001. In her honor, the Foundation for Saline Area Schools created the “Ellen Ewing Endowment Fund.” Also in 2001, the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce created the “Ellen A. Ewing Roast,” a community event that lasted until 2014. Ellen is a member of the Saline Chamber of Commerce.
    • The Saline Board of Education in 2004 named the high school’s theater in her honor, the “Ellen A. Ewing Performing Arts Center.”
    • In 2005, she gave the commencement address for the first class to graduate from the new Saline High School.
    • In 2017, she was inducted into the Foundation for Saline Area School Hall of Fame Class.
    • Ellen resides at Lake LeAnn in Hillsdale County. She and husband, Michael, have been married 55 years. They have two children, Stephen Ewing of Jackson and Michelle Willenbrink of St. Louis, who are both married with two children each.
    • Enjoying her retirement and some free time, Ellen plays bridge and golfs twice a week.
  • Charles J. Falahee Jr.

    Charles Falahee portraitCharles J. Falahee Jr.

    Class of 1972

    • Graduated from Lumen Christi High School in 1970 and continued his studies at Jackson Community College from 1970-72.
    • He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1974, then attended Wayne State University Law School, earning his juris doctorate in 1977.
    • After passing the Michigan State Bar Exam in 1977, he worked in private practice through 1988.
    • Was first appointed district judge in Jackson County in 1988 and was re-elected four times. He was chief judge of the District Court for 14 years.
    • He retired in 2007 and currently works for the City of Jackson as an administrative law judge in their Administrative Hearings Bureau.
    • Reached out to community as a district judge, including the Court to Schools & Schools to Court program, “Peace Buddies” grievance resolution program in grade schools, serving as a career day speaker, public speaker to many groups and guest reader to many grade school classes.
    • Member of the State Bar of Michigan, Jackson County Bar Association, Michigan District Judges Association, Michigan Corrections Officers Training Council and Legal Services Advisory Board.
    • Active in the community, he’s been involved with Civitan Club of Jackson, Lumen Christi High School Policy Board, Michigan Corrections Officers Training Council, Legal Services Advisory Board, Jackson Community Food Pantry volunteer, Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringer, Southwest Little League as coach, umpire and umpire coordinator for 20 years.
    • Married to Pamela, they have three children and seven grandchildren.
    • Interests include walking, biking, kayaking, golfing (he’s golfed in all 50 states) and traveling. Hobbies also include baseball card collecting and stamp collecting.

  • Patti Fenchuk

    Patti Fenchuk

    Class of 1968

    • Attended JCC after high school, graduating in 1968.
    • Transferred to Central Michigan University, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in education in 1970.
    • Completed additional coursework at Virginia Commonwealth University.
    • Was a teacher for several years in Chesterfield County Public Schools, Virginia.
    • Is a founding parent of the Millwood School in Midlothian, Virginia. She is also a philanthropist, supporting the East West Foundation.
    • Has traveled extensively and is married with two children.

    Patti’s Mantra
    “Man’s mind, stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions. – Oliver Wendell Homes”

  • Casey Fitzgibbons

    Casey Fitzgibbons

    Class of 2002

    • Casey Fitzgibbons graduated from JCC in December 2002 with her Associate Degree in Nursing. Prior to that, she attended Spring Arbor University and graduated from Ross Medical Center with a medical assistant degree. She is a 1995 graduate of Western High School.
    • Casey began working at the University of Michigan Medical Center in 1997 where she started as a medical assistant in the outpatient clinics. In 1999 she went to work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as a surgical tech. After graduating from JCC Casey became a registered nurse in that same unit, which is also known as Holden. In the NICU she takes care of very sick babies and preemies. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a family take home their infant. She truly feels like she has one of the best jobs in the world!
    • Casey has been married to her husband, Jason, for 12 years. They have two beautiful daughters, Julie, 7, and Katie, 6. The girls attend St. Johns Elementary in Jackson, and both love to play soccer and have currently started taking Tae Kwon Do at the YMCA.
    • In her spare time, Casey and her husband have become marathon runners. They ran their first half marathon this last April 2010 followed by their first full marathon in October in Detroit. In January they ran the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World theme parks, where they ran a half marathon one day and a full marathon the next. It was an awesome experience that they shared with two of their friends. Casey and Jason currently have many runs planned for the next year including running at Disneyland in the fall. They believe running is a great way to clear your mind and stay healthy.

    Casey’s Mantra
    “A marathon begins with a single step… A lifestyle change begins with a vision and a single step.”
    – Jeff Galloway

  • Emily Garcia

    Emily Garcia

    Class of 2010

    • Born and raised in Jackson, Mich., Emily graduated from Jackson High School in 2008.
    • Attended what was Jackson Community College from 2009-2010, then continued her education at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Graduated Summa Cum Laude and with Honors from Ball State in 2013 with a degree in general studies and minor in special education early intervention.
    • In high school, Emily was honored with the Rose Award from disAbility Connections for her service to those with disabilities.
    • Was active on Ball State’s campus and involved in various activities, clubs, and professional organizations. In college, Emily became heavily involved in Ball State’s Student Council for Exceptional Children, and served a two-year term as secretary.
    • Emily had the opportunity to study abroad in the populous Province of Hunan, China.
    • While in high school and on summer breaks from Ball State, Emily worked in all areas at Garcia Clinical Laboratory. Emily joined an experienced staff, many of whom have been with the company for 15-plus years.
    • In 2014 Emily accepted a full-time position with Garcia Clinical Laboratory as an account executive, focusing on infectious disease. She is the lead person who reports infectious disease for over 30 states.
    • 2015 Jackson Magazine 30 and under award recipient, recognized for her dedication and professional involvement in the Jackson community.
    • Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Baker College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Business Administration.
    • She is a driving force in the Jackson Young Professionals, which has tripled membership over the past year. Emily is currently secretary and involved in various committees.
    • 2015 graduate of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Jackson program.
    • Enjoys spending time with friends and family, as well as traveling and skiing.


    “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a different way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey

  • Marlene Grayson

    Marlene Grayson

    Class of 1967

    • Merlene (Tina) Grayson grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and was a graduate of Cass Technical High School where she excelled in math and science. She relocated to Jackson with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Graham and Victoria Allen, and three younger siblings in 1962 when she was 18 years old. During that time she became a student at the former Jackson Junior College, where she ultimately earned two associate degrees, one in general studies and another in applied sciences, while also working two part-time jobs to fund her education. It was at the Junior College that she met her future husband Henry N. Grayson.
    • With degree in hand, Merlene was accepted into a six-month internship program at the original W.A. Foote Memorial Hospital, in Jackson. Upon successfully passing the radiography registry in 1966, she became the first black registered radiographer in Jackson County and was the only person of color with that distinction until 1995.
    • Today, Merlene remains the only African-American registered radiographer employed at Allegiance Hospital. After 45 years in the field, working with the adults and children at the hospital continues to be her passion.
    • Merlene and her husband have raised two successful adult children, Alan (Anne) Grayson and Catherine (Avis) Roper. She has four beautiful grandchildren, Miles and Kendall Grayson, and Grayson and Sydney Roper, who are the joys of her life!
    • In addition to spending as much time as possible with her beautiful grandchildren, she loves to travel and spend time with her husband and children.

    Marlene’s Mantra
    “Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.”
    – Jesse Jackson

  • Leonard Griehs

    Leonard Griehs

    Class of 1967

    JCC is proud to call Len Griehs an alumnus. A Jackson High School graduate, Len received his Associate in Arts from JCC in 1967 and went on to receive his bachelors in business education from Eastern Michigan University. After a brief teaching career in Jackson, Len left to join Gerber Products Company as an auditor and later moved into corporate finance as Manager of Investor Relations and Pension Fund Investments. In 1990, Len was recruited to join Campbell Soup Company where he was promoted to Vice President in 1966.

    Len is a member of the Senior Financial Leadership Team where he advises the company on equity markets and directs the company’s strategy on investor issues. In addition, he manages Campbell’s relationships and communication with investors and their listed stock exchanges. In 2003, Len was one of four people in the company to receive Campbell’s Influence with Honor leadership award, which is presented annually by the CEO. In addition, Len chairs and serves on numerous professional boards. In 2006, he was the recipient of Investor Relations Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

    One might ask, what was Len’s life like when he attended JCC that prepared him so well for this successful, professional career? Len worked at the local Burger Chef to pay for his own tuition, and later delivered mail after school and during the summer for the Jackson Post Office. He and some of his classmates, Tom Resor and Dick Krieger, started the Omega Delta Phi fraternity. An early sign that he was “numbers-bound” is the fact that he was the treasurer for the sophomore class of ’67. For fun, Len played rhythm guitar in his band The Beach Resorts, and even cut a record. So his memories of JCC are wide-ranging and deep.

    Len lives with his wife Gretchen and two sons in the greater Philadelphia area, and is a strong supporter of the Community College concept. He has shared his story with many young people in his community who attend a community college because they cannot afford a more prestigious school. “I challenge them and tell them that there is no need to relegate themselves to a secondary status because of that. We can, and do, stack up well against any Harvard or University of Chicago graduate in the marketplace.”

    “I have traveled the globe in my career with two great Fortune 500 companies. I feel great that the values shaped in the Midwest have helped me to maintain a balance in my work and personal life.”

  • Alyssia Hall

    Alyssia Hall

    Class of 2014

    • Alyssia Hall graduated from Western High School in 2005. She became a certified nurse assistant, but in the back of her mind always wanted to go to college.
    • She decided to enroll at Jackson College for fulfillment of her personal goals and for her children.
    • Jackson College was one of a few colleges in Michigan that offered a respiratory care program. At the time of her enrollment, it was the only one without a waiting list.
    • She found Professor Ann Flint to be an exceptional teacher and motivator and now considers her one of her closest mentors.
    • Enrolling at Jackson College opened doors for her that she said wouldn’t have been opened otherwise.
    • Hall completed her Associate in Applied Science degree in respiratory care in 2014 and was offered a job right away in her field from Sparrow Health System.
    • Today she is a respiratory therapist at Henry Ford Allegiance Specialty Hospital, where every day she gives exceptional care to members of our community.
    • She is also a preceptor at Henry Ford Allegiance, where she educates students and staff.
    • Hall serves as part of the respiratory care advisory committee at Jackson College.
    • She initiated a proposal that opened the door for respiratory therapists to be hired at the Jackson County Medical Care Facility. They currently have two therapists.
    • In her spare time, Alyssia enjoys reading and walking at the park.
    • She has a son, Brion, and a daughter, Alaijah.
  • Elmer Hitt

    Elmer Hitt

    Class of 1997

    • Elmer Hitt was born and raised in Pleasant Lake, the youngest of nine children. Today he resides in Jackson, Sandstone Township.
    • He attended Northwest Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade and graduated in 1995.
    • Elmer was always involved in sports and participated in football, wrestling, and baseball all four years in high school. While in high school, he took an interest in law enforcement after attending a career fair.
    • In January 1996, he was hired by the Jackson Police Department as a police cadet and began attending Jackson Community College. Originally, the excitement of the job drew him in, but as he got into the field and progressed, he found that a sense of pride and the ability to help others, often in their most trying times, kept him going.
    • He attended and graduated from the Mid-Michigan Police Academy at Lansing Community College in 1997. After he completed the Police Academy, he was promoted to the rank of police officer for the City of Jackson.
    • Elmer graduated from Baker College in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
    • He worked his way up through the ranks and was hired as the Director of Police and Fire Services in 2017.
    • His work is never boring; everyday seems to bring a new adventure. “I have always appreciated, as well, having firsthand knowledge of what is going on in the community. Police officers get to see and experience many things throughout their career than many people do not experience in their lifetime.”
    • In addition, his honors include completion in 2006 of the Jackson Leadership Academy, and in 2008 completion of the Michigan State University School of Staff and Command.
    • In the community, he serves on the Board of Trustees for the John George Home. He is the most recent past president of the board.
    • Elmer is married to wife, Dawn, with one son and two daughters.
    • In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors and spending time with family.
  • Elizabeth Hoppe

    Elizabeth Hoppe

    Class of 1984

    • A 1982 graduate of Northwest High School, she received a presidential scholarship to attend Jackson College for two years. She graduated with her associate degree in 1984.
    • Hoppe was a third generation student at Jackson College. Her grandmother earned her licensed practical nurse certificate, her father attended, and her brother also attended. Jackson College allowed her to get a great start on her educational trajectory, helping to develop study skills, develop and mature in a safe and supportive learning environment.
    • She continued her studies at Ferris State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree and doctor of optometry degree. She completed her residency through the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, and then completed her master’s degree in public health at Yale University, and later her doctorate degree in public health from the University of Michigan.
    • Hoppe began her career as an optometrist in New Haven, Conn. With the Community Health Care Plan, then went to the Southern California College of Optometry and then the New England Eye Institute.
    • Helping future optometrists and clinicians, she has held a variety of teaching positions at colleges since 1988. She has participated in the education of nearly 3,000 eye doctors throughout her career as an educator and administrator; “I know that the impact continues for their families and for their patients, and ultimately the visual well-being and ocular health of our country!”
    • She currently serves as the Founding Dean of the College of Optometry at Western University of Health Sciences, where she has served since 2007. “WesternU” is a private graduate health professions university with nine colleges and 21 degree programs.
    • In addition to teaching, she has served on multiple committees and task forces. She has also written many papers and given numerous presentations relating to the field of optometry and health.
    • In 2014, she received a Certificate of Appreciation from the American Optometric Association as a 25-Year Member. Hoppe has received dozens of honors and recognitions over the years.
    • Hoppe was a contestant on “Jeopardy!” in 1998.
    • She is married to Jack Barton, and they have a son, Ross Barton, a college freshman this year.

    There are plenty of people out there who are going to say “no” to you.  You have to say “yes” to yourself!

  • Jon Lake

    Jon Lake

    Class of 1972

    • An alumnus of what was then Jackson Community College, Dr. Lake attended from 1970-72. “I chose JCC because my friends went there and it was close. It was a great way to get the first two years of education completed and continue to work.”
    • He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Albion College, then attended Mercy College to become a physician’s assistant.
    • Worked as a physician’s assistant for 15 years.
    • Having always wanted to become a doctor, at age 39 he went back to school at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine to complete his medical degree. He completed his residency in family medicine at the University of Michigan in 1999.
    • Practiced at Townsend Family Practice Clinic and currently works as medical director at Independent Hospitalist Physicians, and for the Henry Ford Allegiance Hyperbaric
    • He served as chief of medical staff at W.A. Foote Memorial Hospital.
    • Member of Jackson County Medical Society, Michigan State Medical Society, American Academy of Family Physicians, and Michigan State Medical Society.
    • Serves on boards for Project Access and the Country Club of Jackson.
    • Past chair of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, Jackson Public Schools Board, United Way of Jackson Board, Allegiance Health System Board, and chair of credentials for the Jackson Health Network.
    • Recipient of 2017 Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award from Jackson College.
    • Married to Donna; they have two daughters, Erica and Michelle is married to husband, Jordan. They have one grandchild.
    • He and Donna named a scholarship in loving memory of their mothers, Lois Ethridge and Wanda Lake. The Lois Ethridge and Wanda Lake Scholarship seeks to provide educational funding for a nursing student who shares the same passion for providing top-quality care to their patients as their mothers once did.



  • Robert LaZebnik

    Robert LaZebnik

    Class of 1945

    • Born in Jackson, Michigan to Edith and Sam LaZebnik, immigrants from Russia.
    • He attended Jackson Public Schools, Jackson College in 1945, and several other colleges. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Theatre from Mexico City College in 1950.
    • He began working at his father’s junkyard, Sam’s Iron & Metal, as a truck driver at age 13.
    • In 1959, he incorporated LaZebnik Investment Co. and built three office buildings. Calling himself a “serial entrepreneur,” he has had numerous ventures over the years, including incorporating The Commercial Exchange in 1968, where he continues to serve as president. Just a few of his many ventures include purchase of the Airmaster Fan Co. out of bankruptcy in 1975 and purchase of the former Clark Equipment Plant in Michigan Center in 1987. In 1989, he incorporated RHL Investment Corporation.
    • With a love of sports cars and racing, he incorporated CE Racing in 1970. He drove racecars for a number of years starting in 1968.
    • A longtime patron of the arts, he’s produced and directed stage plays at Jackson College’s Potter Center and numerous other locales over the years, including the Detroit Opera House, the Ann Arbor Civic Theater, Jet Theater in West Bloomfield, and the American Jewish Theater in New York City.
    • In 2008, he produced “Family of the Arts” weekend at Jackson College with workshops on film production, creative writing, composing, acting, screen and stage playwriting and more. Proceeds benefitted the Sam & Edith LaZebnik Scholarship for the Arts at Jackson College.
    • In 2013, he was recognized with the Reynolds Field Outstanding Service Award for bringing his appreciation of art and history to the aviation field. He donated a bronze status of a World War II bomber pilot and an original and unique representation of a World War I era Fokker aircraft.
    • LaZebnik continues to support the arts, and in 2018 commissioned an 8-foot concrete sculpture of a ladies’ boot donated to Ella Sharp Museum in honor of Miller Shoe Parlor’s 100th
    • He has traveled the U.S., Mexico, Asia, Europe and South America.
    • He is married to wife, Laurie, and they have four children, five grandchildren and two Old English sheepdogs

    “Use the gifts you were born with: be original, follow your instincts, and question everything.”

  • Carly Lee

    Carly Lee

    Class of 2017

    • Carly Lee graduated from Jackson College in August 2017 with an Associate in Applied Science degree in graphic design.
    • Carly attended Lumen Christi Catholic High School where she graduated cum laude.
    • During her junior and senior years of high school, Carly was dual enrolled at Jackson College where she finished the equivalent of her freshman year of college.
    • After high school, Carly full time at Jackson College and became a member of Phi Theta Kappa.
    • While working toward her associate degree, Carly began attending college at Siena Heights University.
    • In May 2017, Carly graduated summa cum laude from Siena Heights University with a bachelor’s degree in professional communications.
    • During the summer of 2017, Carly interned in the Jackson College marketing department where she fulfilled her requirements toward a graphic design degree.
    • Carly is now employed full time in the marketing department of Commonwealth Associates, Inc., where she works on proposals for clients and uses her graphic design skills to create advertisements and newsletters.
    • Carly is currently a member of the Jackson College Alumni Advisory Council and continues to use her graphic design skills learned to provide advertisements for many local businesses in the Jackson area.
    • In her free time, Carly enjoys spending time with her husband, Skylar, and their adorable Shih-Tzu, Sophie. Carly and Skylar are preparing to build their dream home in 2019!


    “Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. “ – Swami Sivananda

  • Charles Maat

    Chuck Maat portraitCharles Maat

    Class of 2012

    • Born and raised in Holland, Mich., and graduated from Holland Christian School in 1976.
    • Worked as a paramedic 6½ years, graduating from Grand Valley State University.
    • Worked in facilities design and construction management for 30 years, involving animal and human drug development, clinical trials and human drug manufacturing.
    • Moved to Jackson County, Grass Lake, in 2005 for work.
    • With a desire to get back into healthcare, he enrolled at Jackson College in 2009, graduating three years later with an Associate of Applied Science in Respiratory Care and an Associate of Applied Science in Health Management.
    • Continued his studies at Siena Heights University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a baccalaureate degree in health administration in 2013.
    • Started work at Jackson College as an adjunct instructor in 2013, became EKG Technician Program lead faculty in 2015 and nursing coordinator in 2016.
    • Active on campus, Maat serves on numerous committees: Jackson College Respiratory Care Advisory Council, Jackson College Alumni Advisory Council, Jackson College Security Liaison, and Jackson College I.T. Liaison.
    • Maat enjoys working on campus, helping programs and, most of all, having interaction with students and seeing them succeed and reach their goals.
    • Honors include completion in 2016 of the Jackson College Leadership Academy, and in 2018, AQIP Accreditation Committee appointee.
    • He is married to wife Michelle, with four adult sons and nine grandchildren.
    • In his free time, he enjoys home projects and construction and is a big

  • William Maher

    William Maher

    Class of 2012

    (In fondest memory of Mr. Maher, who passed away Aug. 5, 2011)

    • William Maher was an alumnus of Jackson Junior College’s Civilian Pilots Training Program, 1941.
    • He flew for the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) in World War II, flying the “hump” through the Himalayas from India to China to supply equipment and fuel to the Flying Tigers, the 14th Air Force and the Chinese Army.
    • Served as chair of the JCC Flight Center Advisory Board for more than 20 years.
    • Served two terms on the JCC Foundation Board of Directors.
    • Raised funds for an original sculpture to be placed in the Aviation Heritage Park at the Jackson County Airport — Reynolds Field to commemorate Jackson Junior College’s Civilian Pilot Training program and honor World War II pilots.
    • Flew as corporate pilot and helped organize Zantop Flying Service, one of the largest freight carriers in the country.
    • Became president of Air Package, Inc., a successful flying operation at Reynolds Field, from 1954-’59.
    • Served as a flight instructor training other pilots.
    • Was involved with Reynolds Field for 51 years as a student, instructor, owner and operator of aircraft and as owner and lessor of hangar facilities.
    • Has accumulated flying time in excess of 10,000 hours in the air.

    William’s Mantra
    “A commitment to education will better the College and benefit the community for years to come.”

  • Kirk Mercer

    Kirk Mercer

    Class of 1970

    • Attended Jackson Community College, 1969-1970.
    • Took over the company founded by his father. R. W. Mercer Co., in 1961. Serves as chief operating officer of the multi-state general contracting firm, which has grown from five employees to over 170 employees operating out of seven branches primarily serving a three-state territory in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
    • Served as past president of the national Petroleum Equipment Institute, and chairman of the Gilbarco Distributor Advisory Committee.
    • Appointed as a member of Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Renewable Fuels Commission and is also an active member of the Michigan Petroleum Association.
    • He has served the community as a past member of the Hanover-Horton Board of Education.
    • Served as co-chair of the Cascades Humane Society Building Fund.
    • Served as board member of the Jackson Enterprise Group.
    • Served as corporate ambassador of Michigan International Speedway.
    • Served as board member of the Country Club of Jackson.
    • Served as member of the Liberty Township Planning Commission.
    • Current secretary of the Mason State Bank Board.
    • Resides in Jackson with his wife, Marty, attorney-at-law, and has three children, Nikki Johnson, Andy Mercer and Jaimie Mercer, who also reside in the Jackson area.
    • Interests include golf, motorcycling and antique cars.
  • Chad Noble

    Chad Noble

    Class of 1981

    • Born at W. A. Foote Memorial Hospital. Attended Jackson Public Schools and graduated from Jackson Community College and Spring Arbor University. He can’t imagine living anywhere else. “I’ve been privileged to spend my entire life with the people of this community. Jackson is a wonderful place to live, it’s close to larger cities, and is comfortable to come home to after traveling.”
    • Attended college at his mother’s insistence. Appreciates her unconditional love, common sense and unfailing confidence in his ability.
    • Director of Corporate Accounts Management and Governmental Affairs for Allegiance Health and enjoys his work. “The hospital in every community serves an important role. Although I’m not in direct patient care, I am honored to represent those who are. Being part of something larger than myself that truly helps others is very rewarding.” Duties include communication with area businesses and elected officials who provide revenue to Allegiance Health. Meets the needs of employers and elected officials and enables them to use and support Allegiance Health.
    • Has been married to wife Vicki since 1988 and has two sons, Corey and David. When he’s not working, Chad enjoys reading, camping, traveling and quiet time at home. “I have a job I love, a wife who loves me and two healthy children.Life is good!”

    “God has placed people and opportunities in my path in order that I might grow.”

  • William Patterson

    William Patterson

    Class of 1991

    • Graduated from Lumen Christi High School in 1989
    • Earned an associate degree in science from JCC in 1991 while working part-time in the circulation department at the Jackson Citizen Patriot
    • Graduated from Eastern Michigan University majoring in history and African-American Studies with a minor in mathematics. Certified to teach history and mathematics. Worked at the Ann Arbor News as an assistant district manager in the circulation department
    • Student taught at the Middle School at Parkside and was hired for a mathematics position
    • Completed a masters degree in education at Spring Arbor University
    • Hired as assistant principal at Hunt Elementary in November, 2000
    • Assigned as the building principal at Wilson Elementary in September, 2001
    • Assigned as the associate principal at the Middle School at Parkside in June, 2003. Was appointed to principal for instruction in August 2008
    • Currently awaiting acceptance into the K-12 educational administration doctoral program at Michigan State University
    • Married to Terri Patterson, with children Danielle, 18, Kobe, 11, and Taylor, 2

    William’s Mantra
    “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. We are in charge of our attitudes, thus, in control of our lives. The best way for me to be successful in life… is to create it!”

  • Earl Poleski

    Earl Poleski

    Class of 1976

    • Earl Poleski’s family has lived in Jackson since 1973. He entered Jackson Community College in fall 1974.
    • He wasn’t sure what he wanted to be when he entered JCC, and found he enjoyed the work of accounting after taking a class with Clay Hallett. He continued his studies in accounting and economics at Albion College after graduation from JCC.
    • He graduated from Albion College in 1978 and went on to receive his master’s degree in taxation science from Walsh College in 1986.
    • He has worked as a certified public accountant since 1981 and has practiced in industry and public accounting. Currently, he is a member of the Lally Group, PC, an accounting firm in Jackson.
    • Earl has always enjoyed accounting for its logic and discipline. Those attributes serve well in the legislative world also.
    • Currently serves as state representative, representing the 64th District in the Michigan House of Representatives. He represents the City of Jackson and townships of Napoleon, Summit, Parma, Sandstone, Spring Arbor, Pulaski and Hanover.
    • He serves as a member of the Committees on Appropriations and Financial Liability Reform. He also serves as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Judiciary, as well as vice chair of Department of Health and Human Services, and General Government. In addition, Poleski is a member of the Appropriations Subcommittees on the Department of Corrections, Natural Resources and School Aid.
    • While being a state representative takes up all of his time, he also serves on the Jackson Symphony Orchestra board and is a member of First United Methodist Church, where he sings in two groups. He has led several mission trips around the country with Jackson youth, teaching values such as service, hard work, honesty and responsibility.
    • Earl has been married to his high school sweetheart, Candy, since 1978. Together, they have two grown sons.
  • George Potter

    George Potter

    Class of 1956

    George E. Potter is a local attorney and Jackson Junior College alumnus who served on the College’s Board of Trustees for 44 years — including 24 years as chair — before stepping down in 2006. He served longer than any community college trustee in the nation. Today Potter is a Trustee Emeritus with Jackson College and Director Emeritus with the Jackson College Foundation.

    His passion for community colleges is evident in his record. Potter led a movement in 1969 to consolidate the Michigan community college presidents’ and trustees’ organizations, a successful effort that led to Potter in 1970 becoming the first trustee elected president of the Michigan Community College Association. In 1972, he was instrumental in the formation of the Council of Community College Trustees within the American Association of Community Colleges. He immediately urged the Council to merge with the Association of Community College Trustees, and the merger occurred shortly thereafter. Potter was elected president of the Association of Community College Trustees in 1976. He has written several articles and spoken in more than two dozen states to community college trustees and presidents. He authored “Trusteeship-A Handbook for Community College and Technical Institute Trustees,” which became the standard manual for governing at two-year institutions.

    Included among his many honors are the 2007 Distinguished Service Award from Jackson College, the Association of Community College Trustees M. Dale Ensign Community Award in 1974 as the nation’s most outstanding trustee and the American Association of Community Colleges’ first Trustee Leadership Award in 1984. He also received the Jackson Jaycees Outstanding Young Man Award in 1967. He is a graduate of Jackson Junior College, completed his bachelor’s degree at Albion College, and his law degree from the University of Michigan.

  • Philicia Richmond

    Philicia Richmond PortraitPhilicia Richmond

    Class of 2009

    • Graduated from St. Louis High School in St. Louis, Michigan.
    • After working in the restaurant industry for years, Philicia decided that wasn’t what she wanted to do with her life. As a single mother of two, she knew the only way she would be able to provide for her family and herself was to go back to college. With encouragement from her sister, who was a nurse, she enrolled at Jackson College.
    • Unsure of college at first, she is thankful for the opportunities that Jackson College offered her. She worked in the President’s Office, had opportunities to speak at different functions, and was even featured on a billboard.
    • Graduated from Jackson College nursing program in 2009, went to work as a registered nurse at what was Allegiance Health.
    • Continuing her studies, she completed her bachelor’s degree at
    Spring Arbor University and then her master’s degree at Michigan
    State University.
    • Today she is a nurse practitioner in behavioral health at Henry Ford Allegiance Health.
    • She is a member of the Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
    • She has two children, sons Anthony and Xavier, and four grandchildren. Her sons are proud of her accomplishments, and her youngest son has decided to follow her into the nursing field.
    • In her spare time, Philicia volunteers for the Aware Shelter. She helps families get adopted at Christmastime and hopes to soon complete a training session so she can work more with women and children.
    • Philicia enjoys traveling and recalls an amazing time going to South Africa where she rode and fed elephants.
    • She enjoys yoga, listening to much, reading, watching the sky and being outside. She is involved with Bible studies at her church.

  • David Riggs

    David Riggs

    Class of 1983

    • JCC graduate, class of 1983, A.S in pre-engineering from Jackson Community College.
    • Earned Chemical Engineering degree at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan
    • Licensed professional engineer (PE) for the State of Michigan
    • Began his career with Dow Chemical, holding various positions in process engineering, plant management and international capital project management.
    • Was Vice President with the Anderson Development Company in Adrian, Michigan
    • Is currently President of Chemir Analytical Services, Ypsilanti, Michigan
    • Serves on the Board of the Michigan Chemistry Council as well as the Lenawee County Education Foundation
    • Married to Melissa, who recently retired from a 17 year CPA career with Price Waterhouse Coopers in Toledo, OH and and have 2 daughters, Kaleigh and Ashlin

    Words to Live By:

    1. “Hardworking, Handy and a Good Provider”
    2. “Often Wrong, but Never in Doubt”
    3. Family, Friends, Spartans!

  • Jane Robinson

    Jane Robinson

    Class of 1976

    As a Jackson native I am proud to call this community home.   When I enrolled in Jackson College I was  a single mom just hired by the Department of Corrections as a Corrections Officer.  I began taking one evening class every semester just as I was assigned to the Cotton Correctional Facility.  Knowing that I was pursuing my education gave me hope and the assurance that I could be promoted and have new opportunities in this new career.  As soon as I completed my Jackson College Associate degree that promotion was offered and I began work as an Assistant Unit Resident Supervisor within the prison.

    What I really discovered at Jackson College was that I loved learning and the classroom environment.  I continued on with my education and within weeks of graduating with a bachelor’s degree I transferred to the “field” as a Michigan Department of Corrections felony probation/parole officer.  The skills I learned in writing and communication were vital not only to these positions but to the jobs I later enjoyed as an Arts Director, Fundraiser and Executive Director.  The benefits of my education have since continued on long after I donned my cap and gown at Jackson College.

    It still amazes me how the single step of signing up for one evening class at Jackson College has altered my life in immeasurable ways.   Both my mother and father died during that first semester but I know that they would be so proud knowing I persevered and reached my goals and dreams.

    I continue to love living in Jackson, serving my community through my work at the Reading Writing Connection, being involved with the local art scene and having life-long friends and family nearby. My husband Steve moved to Jackson almost thirty years ago and calls Jackson home too.  We enjoy time with our family, golfing, gardening and taking our newly adopted dog, Grizzly, for walks on the Falling Waters Trail.


  • Amy Sayles

    Amy Sayles

    Class of 1976

    • The most important aspect for me, whatever I am doing, is being a part of innovating for opportunity.
    • After graduating from JCC in 1976, Amy Sayles moved to Houston with her husband Steve and completed her bachelor’s at the University of Houston. When they returned to Jackson a few years later they purchased a century old home on W. Michigan Avenue near downtown Jackson that they have completely renovated.
    • “Both my family and Steve’s are from Jackson. Our families were always involved in some aspect of making their community a better place to live and work,? says Amy. “We love being close to downtown and we love both the history and the possibilities that old spaces present, so we’ve always looked for ways to preserve their history while pushing them toward the future.”
    • The couple also has a passion for art. Steve and Amy founded ART 634 when Steve opened an art studio in the Armory Court building in 1998. They invited other artists to open studios and create a collaborative environment for artists from every discipline. Expanding on their original idea in 2001 Steve and Amy had a vision for the vacant ACME building just next door to ART 634. It was their hope that both artists and the community would create a destination spot where art would be celebrated and supported.
    • Amy’s professional experience includes work as an Experience Designer at Westwinds Community Church and most recently, Marketing Officer at the Jackson District Library. Amy currently works for Allegiance Health as the coordinator of the Community Partner program. “The Allegiance Health Community Partner program builds a bridge between our locally owned health system and those we serve. It’s a unique opportunity for the community to have a voice in their health system. I’m very excited about the possibilities this program provides in creating an excellent customer experience at Allegiance Health because we’re hearing directly from them what would make their experience great.?
    • Amy’s husband Steve is an artist and owns Studio Z. The couple has two daughters. Their oldest daughter Annie is a media planner at ? Time Warner Co. in Chicago, and their youngest Samantha, is a floral designer for J. Alexander’s in Jackson

    Amy’s Mantra
    “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
    – Theodor Seuss Geisel, “Dr. Seuss”

  • Valerie Schuette

    Valerie Schuette

    Class of 2000

    • Valerie L. Schuette serves as the vice president of human resources at CP Federal Credit Union and an adjunct professor at Jackson Community College.
    • She earned her Associate in Arts from Jackson Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Siena Heights University, and her Master of Science in Administration, with a concentration in Human Resources Administration, from Central Michigan University. Valerie holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation and also earned her Certified Human Resources Specialist credential from Michigan State University.
    • Prior to working for CPFCU, Valerie worked at Jackson Community College for nearly 15 years, last holding the position of executive director of human resources & workforce development. She has provided training on the topics of succession planning & knowledge transfer, writing job descriptions, exempt vs. non-exempt classification and interest-based bargaining. She currently teaches the SHRM Learning System to prepare human resources professionals to take the national PHR and SPHR certification exams.
    • Valerie is in her third year as co-president of the South Central Human Resource Management Association and is a past president of the Michigan Community College Human Resources Association. She has served on the Child Care Network and Girl Scouts Board of Directors, as well as the United Way Family Vision Council. Valerie and her husband, Matt, have two daughters, Cadence and Carmen.

    Valerie’s Mantra
    “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
    – Maria Robinson

  • Dick Shaink

    Dick Shaink

    Class of 1962

    • According to Dick, “Jackson Community College has had a tremendous influence on my success and happiness in so many ways: I met my wife Sally Lusk, earned my first college degree (Associate of Arts, Class of 1962), began my career in community college administration, and realized and strengthened my leadership philosophy.”

    Major accomplishments include:

    • Earning his Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from Michigan State University.
    • Serving as a business, management, and marketing instructor at Ingham Intermediate School District’s Capitol Area Career Center (full-time) and at Lansing Community College, Michigan State University and Ferris State University (part-time).
    • A background in business to include positions as an industrial salesman (St. Louis, MO) and as general manager, Meridian Mall (Okemos, MI).
    • A career in community college administration that began with positions as director, Job Training Institute, and executive director, Center for Small Business and Entrepreneurial Development at Jackson Community College.
    • Also held positions as dean, Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Kalamazoo, MI); vice president, Metropolitan Community College (Omaha, NE); campus president, Central Community College (Columbus, NE); and president and chief executive officer, C.S. Mott Community College (Flint, MI).
    • Recipient of the 2010 Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) 2010 Marie Y. Martin Chief Executive Officer Award, an honor recognizing the top community college president/CEO in North America.
    • Selected to participate in President Barack Obama’s 2011 White House Champions of Change Panel Discussion, which highlighted the success of those community colleges who are helping low-skilled adults succeed in college by focusing on career pathways and linking workforce programs with credit-bearing courses.
    • Accepted on behalf of Mott Community College the 2011 Aspen Institute Award for Community College Excellence which recognized MCC as one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation.
    • Served in leadership positions in national, state and community organizations.
    • Blessed with two sons, Rick and Brad; two daughters-in-law, Kathy and Paula; and four grandchildren, Marc, Megan, Peri and Bryce.

    Dick’s Mantra
    If, as Dale Carnegie said, “Success is getting what you want…and happiness is wanting what you get,” then I am indeed a happy man.

  • Colby Sharp

    Colby Sharp

    Class of 2001

    Colby Sharp is a father, a husband, and a teacher. He teaches third grade at Parma Elementary. He’s the co-founder of nErDcamp Michigan and the Nerdy Book Club. Colby is the recipient of the 2015 Michigan Reading Association Individual Literacy Award.

  • Tovah Sheldon

    Tovah Sheldon

    Class of 2000

    • Tovah was born and raised in Jackson, Mich., as part of a family of educators and philanthropists (parents, Jim & Lisa Scott; siblings, Sorah (Scott) Barnes, Joshua Scott).
    • She graduated from Lumen Christi High School in 1998. She attended Jackson Community College from 1998-2000 to earn her associate degree and fast-forward her track to becoming a teacher. She audited many classes before and after those years to explore the wealth of options JCC offered. The College was also close to home, and she valued the support of her family.
    • Tovah transferred to Grand Valley State University to complete her bachelor’s degree in education with a concentration in math and sciences. She returned to Jackson to find a teaching position, be near family and give back to a community that she loved.
    • Tovah’s first job was working as a fifth-grade teacher at Parma Elementary in Western School District.
    • After years in the Western School District, she became an educational consultant for Jackson County Intermediate School District and provided training to schools and others on curriculum, assessment, data and instruction. This service supported teachers and administrators to provide better education in Jackson County. During this time, Tovah also completed her master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Eastern Michigan University. She received the University’s high honor, the “Award of Excellence.”
    • To continue her education and work on her doctorate, Tovah took a position as a professor at Spring Arbor University, School of Education. During this time, she taught introductory, methods, and capstone courses for pre-service teachers and began her doctoral work at the Michigan State University College of Education in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education (CITE) Program. It was a joy to see the education cycle full circle and provided a valuable perspective on Jackson County’s, the state’s and the nation’s education system.
    • Near the completion of her doctorate, Tovah returned to Jackson County ISD to become the Director of Learning Services and Instruction, where she currently works and oversees the professional learning opportunities of Jackson County administrators, teachers and other educational staff. Beyond professional learning, she supports local school districts to ensure they can meet state and federal mandates as well as partners with community organizations to meet the needs of all students.
    • She also serves as a part of multiple service groups such as Cradle to Career and the Jackson Community Foundation.
    • Tovah credits family and a variety of mentors throughout her life with helping her achieve success, starting with her parents, a hand full of amazing teachers across her years in school, and her husband, whom she met while attending Jackson College in 1999.
    • Tovah is married to husband, Nicholas Sheldon. She has two children, Wilson (age 10) and Amari (age 6). They reside in Jackson County and are committed to serving and bettering the community of Jackson for life.
  • Dr. Fred Slete

    Dr. Fred Slete

    Class of 1978

    • Born in Indianapolis, Ind., he moved with his family to Jackson when he was 12 years old. He attended Western Schools, where he met his future wife in the seventh grade. They began dating at age 16, and have now been married 39 years.
    • Attended Jackson Community College from 1976-78, graduating with honors with an Associate in Arts, majors in chemistry and biology. After deciding at a young age that he wanted to be a dentist, he structured his educational choices around that goal. While at JCC, he was president of the Chemistry Club and was “Chemistry Student of the Year” in 1978.
    • After continuing his studies at Albion College for one year, he was admitted to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. He completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1983.
    • Slete began his private practice in family, restorative and esthetic dentistry in 1983. He has been practicing dentistry in downtown Jackson for more than 30 years.
    • In 1994, he received both the Michigan Dental Association Young Dentist Leadership Award and the American Dental Association National Golden Apple Award for the Young Dentist.
    • As a believer that a community’s professionals should be part of the overall success, vitality and growth of the community in which they work, he’s been active in many civic groups. He was a member of the Jackson Host Lions Club for more than 20 years and a founding member of the Jackson Citizens for Economic Growth. He also served on the Blackman Township LDFA Board for eight years.
    • In 2002, he received the Distinguished Service Award from Jackson Community College.
    • Slete is a past president of the Jackson College Foundation, with eight years as a foundation board member. He was also president of the former Jackson Community College Alumni Association.
    • In 2010, he was named an Outstanding Past Graduate of the Jackson Leadership Academy.
    • He is a Fellow of the International College of Dentists and the International Congress of Oral Implantology, and has received Mastership with the Academy of General Dentistry. A noted speaker, presenter, and author in his field, he has taught and lectured at The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry and Augusta University Dental College of Georgia. He has also published scientific research in a peer-reviewed international publication.
    • Slete and his wife, Susan, have two adult daughters, a son-in-law, and are proud grandparents.

    My “mantra” for life is from one of my dental mentors, Dr. Omer Reed;

    He said to me: “Along with the people you meet, and the books that you read….Who you are, is where you were when!”

    That is to say, your friends, family, and environment shape your mind, your personal drive, and values… and profoundly influence your likelihood to thrive or flounder. Don’t hang out with ducks if you want to soar like an eagle.

  • Lexava Smith

    Lexava Smith

    Class of 1981

    • Lexava L. Smith was born in Jackson, Mich., to Lillian & Charles M. White. She has six sisters and four brothers.
    • After attending five public schools due to integration, Lexava graduated from Parkside High School in June 1979.
    • She continued her studies at Jackson Community College from September 1979 to April 1981 and received an Associate in Applied Science degree (legal secretary). She received the Jackson Community College Presidential Award Scholarship and two other scholarships from local clubs.
    • She was employed by Jackson Public Schools from 1978 to 1981; Jackson-Hillsdale Community Mental Health, 1981; and the Jackson Housing Commission from 1982-1986.
    • She volunteered in the Waverly Community Schools Parent-Teacher Organizations; athletic fundraisers and marching band activities; member of the Waverly Community Schools Strategic Planning Diversity Committee; and as a member of the interview panel for the Waverly High School principal.
    • Lexava is currently employed and has worked for 32 years with the State of Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental Stewardship Division, Farmland & Open Space Preservation Program.
    • She currently chairs the MDARD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Workgroup, eight members who come together to bring awareness and education regarding diversity in the workplace and create a culture of inclusion. She has been a member of the group for 10 years, chair for four years.
    • She received the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Team Excellence Award in November 2017. She has received several years of service awards for 32 years with the State of Michigan.
    • Her commitment was recognized with the Good Government Teamwork Award in June 2018 for completion of Lean Process Improvement that implemented converting a paper file system to a paperless system and assisted in creating a database to improve customer service and response time for all requests.
    • She was a co-leader for Project L.E.A.D. – Leadership, Empowerment, Accomplishment and Development utilizing the Group Development Model (Why, Who, How, What).
    • Committed to continued professional development, she has received Certificates of Completion of the Fit Leadership Academy – David Chinsky; and Effective Executive Speaking – Dr. Glenn Pfau.
    • She has been married to husband, Jerome M. Smith, for 32 years and currently lives in Lansing. Their children are Jenelle S. Smith; Montel A. Smith (guardian angel; Montel died in a car crash in 2015); and Alexis M. Smith.
    • Lexava and her husband established the White-Smith Legacy Scholarship in honor of her family’s ties to Jackson College and in her son’s memory. Many of her brothers and sisters also attended Jackson Community College.
    • In her spare time, her hobbies include traveling, tennis, gardening and journaling.
  • Laura Stanton

    Laura Stanton

    Class of 1974

    • Attended what was Jackson Community College from 1972-74, then continued her studies at Eastern Michigan University to become a teacher.
    • Laura taught for 20 years with Jackson Public Schools. She completed her master’s degree in reading, and served as a reading and instructional specialist.
    • She retired from teaching in 1997, and in 1999, she and husband, David, finalized creation of the Stanton Foundation, dedicated to two very personal causes – education and adoption.
    • Forming a friendship with Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s who himself had been adopted and formed the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Laura helped coordinate an “Only in America” presentation at Hillsdale College. The event welcomed 400 Jackson County high school students to listen to people who had overcome challenges to become successful. Thomas delivered the keynote address.
    • She helped coordinate Wendy’s Charity Classic golf tournaments held annually at the Country Club of Jackson. Over 15 years, the event raised $2.5 million for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids programs.
    • An annual contributor to the LPGA Pro-Am, the Stanton Foundation has helped more than 200 children in foster care find their “forever family.”
    • Laura and her golden retriever, Biscuit, visited residents at Vista Grande Villa of Jackson for several years. She also coordinated visits with Lumen Christi High School students and animals at Faith Haven.
    • She has served as a Catholic lay minister, Eucharistic minister, lector and minister to the sick.
    • Laura has written a bilingual children’s book, “Animals/Animales,” which is donated to children in need throughout the country.
    • The Stanton Foundation started a scholarship at Jackson College benefitting non-adopted foster care children continuing their education.
    • Stanton Foundation also sponsors a Teacher of the Year Award in Hillsdale County.
    • She is the recipient of the 2016 Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award, presented by Jackson College.
  • Charles Thomas

    Charles Thomas

    Class of 1978


    • Physician Assistant license, State of Michigan,# 001269 August 2008
    • DEA  license for the State of Michigan


    • Jackson Community College 1963-1964
    • Gonzaga University, 1964-1968 B.S. in Medical Technology, MT(ASCP) Mercy College, 1978-1980 B.S. as a Physician Assistant Certified 1981


    • Physician Assistant  (retired)
    • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Microsurgery I Surgery of the hand
    • Michigan State University  Department of Surgery


    • Total Years of Service (commission and enlisted) 31 years and 6 months Enlisted United States Air Force 11 Sept to 3 Mar 1973, rank SSgt (E5) Honorable Discharge Mar 1973
    • USAF Commission 4 Mar 1973 to Sept 1977, rank Captain  (03)
    • Last  active duty assignment, Officer In Charge Chief Medical Technologist
    • Clinical laboratory Services, Barksdale, Air Force Base also Chief Coordinator and
    • Instructor of the Phase II Clinical Laboratory Specialist Course 1973 to 1977
    • Appointed in the Michigan Army National Guard Feb 1982 to Sept 1992 rank of Chief Warrant Officer (CW3)
    • Commissioned Michigan Army National Guard Aug 1992 to Apr 2004
    • Last Assignment, Senior Physician Assistant State Medical Command, Detroit, MI
    • Retired  LTC inactive reserve 30 Apr 2004


    • USAF Medical Lab Specialist Course phase I, 1968
    • USAF Medical Lab Specialist Course phase II, Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, Jan 1969 to Oct 1969
    • USAF School of Military Science Officer, Lackland, AFB San Antonio, TX Dec 1972 to Mar 1973
    • SAC Academic Instructor Orientation Course July 1973
    • USAF Manager and Negotiated Labor Management Jun 1973
    • AMEDD Officer Advance Course Phase I, 2001
    • AMEDD Officer Advance Course Phase II, 2002


    • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, 1972
    • Air Force Good Conduct Medal, 1971-74
    • Army Achievement Medal, 1995
    • Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, 5 devices, 1985-90-95-2002-04
    • National Defense Service Medal, 1968
    • Air Force Longevity Medal, 1 device, 1972-76
    • Army Service Ribbon, 1983
    • Armed Forces Reserve Medal, silver hourglass/Roman X devices 1998-2003
    • Legion of Merit, 1996-2003
    • Kuwait Liberation Medal. 2003
    • Michigan Broadsword Service Ribbon, 6 devices, 1985-88-90-94-98-2002
    • Michigan Army National Recruiting Ribbon, 1997


    • Staff Medical Technologist and Technical Aid Supervisor, E.W. Sparrow Hospital, Lansing, MI 1977 to 1978.
    • Physician Assistant, Department of Corrections for the State of Michigan, 1980 to 1982.
    • Physician Assistant,   Michigan State University, Department of Surgery, General surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery and surgery of the hand, 1982 to 2010.
    • Retired 19 August 2010


    • E.W. Sparrow Hospital, Lansing, MI Lansing Surgical Center, Lansing, MI


    • I have been a volunteer boys and girls basketball coach in the Lansing Capital Youth Sports Association for the past 25 years. I have coached  two  11 and 12 year old boys basketball national championship teams, 2000-01 and 2004-05.
    • I was inducted to my high schools, Willow Run High, Hall of Fame in 2006
    • I have spoke at numerous MSU medical career day events.
    • I have co-published a medical article in the National Hand Journal of Surgery.


    • American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants ( MAPA) Society of Army Physician Assistants (SAPA)


    • Played  basketball on the first Jackson Community College men’s regional championship team of the 1963-64 season.
    • Received a full 4 year basketball scholarship to Gonzaga University 1963 to 1967.
    • Player and coach of the base basketball teams at Fairchild AFB and Barksdale AFB, 1969 to1972 and 1973 to 1977


    • Sports, coaching, golf, cooking , sewing,  quilting, drawing, landscaping .
  • Amy Torres

    Amy Torres

    Class of 1973

    • Born and raised in Parma, MI, graduating from Western High School in 1971
    • Associate of Science cum laude, Jackson Community College, 1973
    • Bachelor of Landscape Architecture cum laude, Michigan State University, 1976
    • Completed two of four sessions in pursuit of Certified Economic Developer certification through the International Economic Development Council and the Economic Development Institute, Oklahoma University
    • Director of Economic Development at The Enterprise Group
    • Previous employment as Economic Development Project Manager for the City of Jackson involved staffing the City’s Historic District Commission
    • Assisted in running a family-owned manufacturer representative business, International Products & Services, serving the die casting industry in Mexico from 1988 through 2007.
    • Proud mother of Becca Bradley, 25, married to Andy, expecting their first baby in December, 2008 and to Sara Torres, 23, recently honored as one of the “30 Under 30,” featured by the Jackson Magazine.

    Enjoying life to its fullest is always maintaining the vision, and conscientiously making the choice that “the glass is half full.”

  • Carlene Walz

    Carlene Walz

    Class of 1970

    Carlene Walz returned to JCC in 1968 after interrupting her college career in 1955 to begin her family of four children. After receiving her BA from Michigan State University in 1970, she was accepted into the first day class at Cooley Law School as one of ten women students in a class 150. While only 90 from that first class graduated, all ten women who began the program successfully graduated.

    Carlene began her law career at the Legal Services office in Jackson. While raising her family of four during these years, she is thankful to her family for their support and for tolerating their busy mother at a time when many women were opting to stay home to raise their families. Her family’s support was especially meaningful for her when in 1990 she ran for and won the open seat in the District Court. Carlene served on the bench for 12 years, then retired in 2001. She currently works part time for the City of Jackson in the Administrative Hearings Bureau.

    Carlene learned early in life the importance of supporting the community where she lives and works. Her passion has been to make a difference for women and her colleagues through her community work, including the United Way board, the Jackson Speech and Hearing Clinic, Irish Hills Girl Scouts, Legal Services, and the women’s AWARE Shelter, where she was a founding mother. In addition to being an active member with the Business and Professional Women’s organization, Carlene is a trustee on the Jackson County Community Foundation Board.

    Carlene received the Susan B. Anthony Award honoring women volunteers in 1988 and the Athena Award in 1991. For Carlene, Philanthropy truly begins at home with service.

    “If you gain your livelihood and your rewards from the community, you must try to make it a better place by giving back. Philanthropy is not just money, but time and energy as well.”

  • Brian Walker

    Brian Walker

    Class of 1982

    Brian Walker’s exceptional accomplishments combined with his ongoing commitment to the community in which he grew up, earned him the Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005.

    Brian is President and CEO 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. He previously served as President of Herman Miller North America (2000) and Executive-Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Herman Miller, Inc. (1995) where he developed a strong team of finance professionals and an internationally respected finance organization.

    Brian was instrumental in the adoption of the Economic Value Added (EVA) financial and performance metric at Herman Miller, Inc. This has been used as the foundation for improving employee financial literacy and to further align employees’ interests with those of the external shareholders.

    Brian’s commitment to serving both his industry and the community is evident. Brian serves on the Board of Directors for Briggs & Stratton. He also serves on the board of The Right Place, Inc. of greater Grand Rapids, a regional, non-profit economic development organization dedicated to promoting area economic growth through high-quality employment, productivity, and technology. In June 2006, Brian assumed the position of Chairman of The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA). He is also a trustee on the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a private, not-for-profit public affairs research organization established in 1916 to provide nonpartisan analysis of state and local government organization and finance in Michigan.

    Before joining Herman Miller, Inc., Brian worked as a CPA for the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen. He holds an associates degree from Jackson Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University.

    Brian’s interests include biking, skiing, and the martial arts. Brian, his wife Colleen, and their three children reside in Holland, Michigan.

    “Never confuse what you do with who you are.”

  • Mara Wierzbicki

    Mara Wierzbicki

    Class of 2012

    • Mara Wierzbicki is the oldest daughter of Richard and Liz Wierzbicki and sister of Bryn Wierzbicki who is currently a Jackson College Jet and captain of the volleyball team.
    • Born in Jackson, Michigan, Mara graduated from Jackson High School in 2009. She played both soccer and volleyball in high school and was captain of the volleyball team her senior year when the Vikings set the school record for wins in a season.
    • Was very active on Jackson College’s campus. Played volleyball for two years, and was captain her sophomore year. She also worked in the Records Department and mentored peers through the Writing Fellow program.
    • As a Writing Fellow, she assisted in the renovation of the Cascades Museum in Jackson. Students researched, wrote labels and updated displays as well as archiving and cataloging primary source materials for the museum.
    • She was recognized for her academics when she was named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Michigan Academic Team. Students are selected based on academic achievement, community service involvement and leadership accomplishments. She graduated with an Associate of Arts and spoke at graduation as the class representative.
    • Mara transferred to Columbia College in Chicago where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing Communications and a focus in Public Relations.
    • While attending Columbia she studied abroad in Wuhan, China for three months. She studied the Chinese language, characters and culture as well as traveled to Beijing and Shanghai.
    • Currently, Mara is the Public Relations and Visitor Services Coordinator at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, MI. She is the Granddaughter of Lynne Loftis, former executive director of the museum. Loftis is the biggest inspiration in her life. She also bartends and waitresses at the Beach Bar & Restaurant. She loves Jackson and being involved with the community.
    • Mara spends her time with friends and family and enjoys traveling and good music among many other things.
  • Woodrow Wilson, Jr.

    Woodrow Wilson, Jr.

    Class of 1967

    • Woodrow Wilson Jr. first came to Jackson Community College as a student, graduating in 1967. He completed his bachelor’s degree in education from Olivet College in 1969, and later earned Master of Arts and Education Specialist degrees from Michigan State University.
    • Wilson worked at Starr Commonwealth for Boys and as a Head Start teacher, and returned to JCC in 1972. He began as a director of career development for persons with special needs, assisting disadvantaged and handicapped students. From 1978-’99, he was a counselor in Student Personnel Services. In 2000, he joined the teaching faculty as a history instructor. He retired from JCC in 2011.
    • Wilson was honored in 2012 with JCC’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Service Award. Throughout his years and various roles at JCC, Wilson helped to enroll and retain many students of color, and he also served as a mentor to many young professionals, especially those of color.
    • Over the years, Wilson has been active in several community organizations. He served on the board of Goodwill Industries, the Johnson Child Care and Development Center board in Albion, was a member of the Albion Scholarship Fund and Albion Black Alumni Scholarship Fund committees, and served on committees to help elect the Albion mayor. He has also served on the alumni board of Olivet College.
    • He is married to Shirley, and they have one son, Brandon. He enjoys reading, music, watching the History and Discovery channels, and attending Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Albion.
  • Dr. Lewis “Keith” Yohn

    Dr. Lewis “Keith” Yohn

    Class of 1953

    • When his family moved in 1949 because of his father’s job, Yohn chose to stay in Jackson because he wanted to graduate with his classmates. Compressing 10th, 11th and 12th grades into two years, he graduated summa cum laude in June, 1951. He worked nights and weekends at Loud & Jackson Dairy to support himself in high school.
    • While his family lacked the resources to send him to college, he said lady luck was looking out for him when the Jackson Women’s City Club gave him a two-year academic scholarship to Jackson Junior College.
    • Graduated from Jackson Junior College in 1953 with an Associate in Science degree.
    • Lacking resources and support to further his education, Yohn enrolled in the U.S. Navy during the “forgotten” Korean War from 1953-55.
    • After being released from the Navy, he returned to civilian life and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowling Green State University in 1957. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Master of Science in Complete Denture Prostheses degrees from the University of Michigan in 1963 and 1968, respectively.
    • He joined the University of Michigan as a clinical instructor in 1963. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1968 and to associate professor with tenure in 1975. He also maintained a part-time private practice.
    • Yohn truly loved teaching dental students how to make false teeth, partial dentures, fixed partial dentures, gold crowns, porcelain crowns, porcelain fused to metal crowns and implant supported restorations. He showed empathy, compassion and understanding for the University’s dental patients.
    • Conducted research studying movement of the lower jaw during chewing, including one study with 35 human subjects. He spent 35 years analyzing and transferring film of the study to digital medium to preserve it so future generations of anatomist, dentist and dental students can better understand how the human lower jaw moves. The Journal of the American Dental Association published an article on his research in June 2016.
    • He is married to Karlene, and they have three children and three grandchildren.