Tom Soper on a treadmill in Glen Oaks Fitness-Wellness Center.
Glen Oaks athletics to salute Tom Soper at January 22 game
Tom Soper is a legendary figure at Glen Oaks Community College. Not only was he one of the first instructors when the college started in 1967, but he also coached one of the first athletic teams. On Saturday, January 22, the athletic department will pay special tribute to the former cross country coach and fitness/wellness program founder at approximately 2:50 p.m., between the women’s and men’s conference basketball game against Muskegon Community College. Soper served 32 years at Glen Oaks when he retired in 1999 as Acting Dean of Instruction. Over the years the Sturgis resident taught English Composition, Journalism, Art Appreciation, coached running and initiated the Fitness/Wellness classes at Glen Oaks. Since then he has continued to work part-time in the Fitness-Wellness Center. Soper, a longtime runner, held a second major in PE in college. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, and his master of arts at Notre Dame. He performed graduate work at both the University of Iowa and Indiana University.

Soper is being recognized by the college for his pioneering efforts in sports at Glen Oaks. “Tom Soper is one of the founding fathers of Glen Oaks and his influence on the college and athletics is immense. I, like so many others who worked alongside Tom, admire him for his great leadership as well as his many accomplishments. He positively influenced all those around him and he helped make Glen Oaks a viable institution,” said Steve Proefrock, Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach.

Soper was coach of the first cross country team, 1967-1968, as the college was being built outside Centreville and classes were held at the old White Pigeon High School. “Ken Schuler and I were the first coaches. The cross country team had six members and we trained at a nearby gravel pit and on country roads. We never had a home meet. The team had to train in bad conditions,” recalled Soper. Glen Oaks hired a new cross country coach in 1968, but in the 1970’s cross country ceased. Soper and others then formed the Viking Striders running club to keep the sport alive. The club was composed of students and community residents. Later Cross Country was reinstated at Glen Oaks as an intercollegiate sport.

“That first team had a lot to prove. They wanted so badly to see the sport succeed,” explained Soper. Several from the first team are still in the area: Mike Miller became a teacher and coach at Bronson and Sturgis Schools, Brian Fieberkorn went into skilled trades with Burr Oak Tool, and Steve Reed became a successful area businessman. Other team members were Mike Hunjo, Rick Traverse, and John Jackey. In the 1980’s, Glen Oaks students dominated road races in the area and several went on to Division I colleges. Chuck Cline went to Western Michigan University, Dan Jones went to Adams State in Colorado, and Abby Soper (Tom’s daughter) went to Western Michigan University.

The Fitness/Wellness Center at Glen Oaks was the result of a 1986 sabbatical Soper performed at Southeastern Louisiana University to study exercise physiology and employee health assistance programs. Upon his return to Glen Oaks, Soper established the Fitness/Wellness courses. Another achievement was the annual Fall Fitness Festival. The weeklong program was capped the last week in September by a 5K run. Speakers during the week included doctors talking about the value of exercise, hospital nutritionists discussing proper diet for runners, and someone from Gazelle Sports about buying proper running shoes. Other familiar events like the Halloween Hustle, Turkey Trot and Santa Shuffle began at that time. “The 1980’s were a time of running at Glen Oaks. When local high school cross country teams compete here at Glen Oaks they are using the same course we ran on back then,” said Soper. For several years the Muscular Dystrophy Association held an 8K run each spring cosponsored by GOCC and over 300 runners took part.

Soper continues to stay in shape, however he doesn’t run as much as earlier in his career. He actually enjoyed the later years of running more than the earlier. A highlight was taking fourth place in the Chicago Marathon Master’s category in 1983 (40 to 55 age group). Soper continued to compete in senior competition specializing in the 10K races and won the Sports Med Run at South Bend twice and second place a couple of times. In 1988, Soper took second in the Men’s Senior Race at Columbus, Ohio. “I’m pretty much done with marathons. The competition and training is pretty keen at that level, but I try to stay fit,” Soper said.

Soper and wife Lucy Zimmerman have four grown children. Professor Zimmerman just retired from Glen Oaks after 30 years in the classroom. Soper said his hope upon hearing the Glen Oaks Athletic Department wanted to honor him on January 22nd “is that some of the former students and runners I’ve helped come back to say hello. This is as much an honor for them and the way they paved the way for future GOCC athletes as it is for me.”

Photo of Professor Janell Lederman
Eighteen recognized for service to Glen Oaks Community College
Eighteen individuals were honored December 10 for their service to Glen Oaks Community College. The full and part-time faculty and staff employees had a combined 190 years of service to the college. Janell Lederman, Professor of Nursing, led the list of honorees with 25 years service. Dr. Gary Wheeler, President, thanked all those being recognized and all those present for their years of loyal service to Glen Oaks students. “We all know that each student is important and each student needs every chance to succeed,” said Dr. Wheeler.

Professor Lederman teaches courses such as Fundamentals of Nursing, Medical-Surgical Nursing, and many others. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Eastern Mennonite University and a Master’s of Administration Degree at Western Michigan University. The professor has worked as a registered nurse at hospitals in New York, New
Mexico and Sturgis, Michigan. William Lederman, her husband, is also a Professor of Nursing at Glen Oaks.

Annie Webster, Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Student and Community Services, completed the 20 year mark. Honored for 15 years service were Candy Bohacz, Human Resources Coordinator; Lori Cupp, Part-time Faculty; Robert Wathen, Professor of History/Political Science; and Phyllis Youga, Part-time Faculty. Those serving ten years were William Furr, Professor of Business; Dewayne Gest, Part-time Faculty; Barb Murk, Executive Assistant to the Director of Financial Aid; and Michael Northrop, Professor of Art. Receiving honors for five years service were Leanne Barnell, Assistant Director for Financial Aid; Cheryl Engle, Part-time Faculty; Holly Gibson, Part-time Faculty; Nancy Haylett, Professor of Nursing; Nick Milliman, Director of Building and Grounds; Jill Toner, Instructor of Mathematics; and Sherri Wheeler, Part-time Faculty.

Steve Ryno taunting pie thrower because of missed pie.
Glen Oaks students aim for payback!
With classes ending for the Fall Semester at Glen Oaks Community College, students had the opportunity to take out their frustration about final exams on several of the faculty. During the noon hour on Wednesday, Dec. 15, students could purchase a shaving cream pie for $1 (for Christmas charity) and smack a faculty member in the face. Students lined up on the Concourse for the chance to get in on the “payback” for a tough math or science test. Shown receiving a pie across the face is Science instructor Sarah Simmons.
Sarah Simmons getting pie to face in GOCC concourse.
Also on the receiving end of the fundraiser were Mathematics instructor Jill Toner, Science instructor Dr. Ren Hartung, Psychology instructor Chad Worthington, and Biology instructor Jeffery Hucko.
Classes for the semester end December 17. Students are now enrolling for the Winter 2011 Semester. Due to the Christmas-New Year break there is no registration December 18 to January 3.
Medical Assistant Club showing off donations for local family in need.
Club aims to make holiday happier for deserving family
The Medical Assistant Club at Glen Oaks Community College is donating toys, food and household items to a local family in need this holiday season. The MA Club made a commitment to help support a tradition started by Glen Oaks employees several years ago by adopting-a-family of a student at Christmas. The club also donated $200 from a holiday flower sale to be used for additional gifts. The MA Club held a Skate-A-Thon at Skate Galaxy in Three Rivers on November 21st to receive gifts and donations. Holding some of the gifts for the local family are (left to right) MA Program Chairperson and Allied Health Instructor Brenda Luczek, MA student Cassandra Farnham, Single Parent Coordinator and Student Success Program Specialist Karen Webber, MA Program Executive Assistant Julie Ianni, MA student Malina Burgess
Steve Proefrock standing at podium with other coaches.
Glen Oaks Foundation reminds donors how much scholarships benefit students
Students representing the arts, allied health fields and student athletics were front and center at the 2010 Annual Donor Appreciation Luncheon hosted by the Glen Oaks Community College Foundation on November 12. GOCC Foundation Luncheon visitors were surrounded by art exhibits explained by Professor of Art Michael Northrop, several Viking men’s basketball players and coaches introduced by GOCC Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach Steve Proefrock, and an informative program about the Allied Health program by Medical Assisting Program Chair and Allied Health Instructor Brenda Luczek.
Guests at tables look on to Brenda Luczek presenting.
The 80 visitors were reminded by Dr. Gary Wheeler, President of Glen Oaks, that the college was one of the 50 Fastest Growing Small Colleges in America the past couple of years. “Students at Glen Oaks are engaged and involved with active student organizations like the Science Club, Phi Theta Kappa (a nationally-ranked, five-star academic achievement group), Medical Assistant Club, Student Government, and much more,” said Dr. Wheeler, reminding the audience that 75 percent of GOCC students receive some kind of financial assistance for college. He said grant programs like Upward Bound, a new Student Support Services (SSS) now being unveiled, and Achieving the Dream (ATD) will help the college measure and achieve success as more students complete college. Exciting new career opportunities are being tapped as Energy Auditors, Commercial Truck Driving, Allied Health careers, Electronics Technology, and partnerships for possible future Veterinary Technology program.

Janene Breneman, GOCC Foundation Executive Director, said 57 students were assisted in 2010-2011 with $72,000 in Glen Oaks Community College Foundation awards scholarships. Scholarships were given in business, health sciences, human services, art, technology, and athletics. “Through philanthropic efforts of the Foundation, students at Glen Oaks benefit from learning and enrichment opportunities that will in turn improve their quality of and standard of living. The generous gifts from donors make it possible for many students to attend college and reach their career goals,” said Breneman.

Breneman encouraged people to check the complete list of all the current scholarship funds and learn more about opportunities for giving to the Foundation by visiting Information is available on potential state and federal tax implications to giving to a 501 C 3 charitable organization.

Steve Proefrock introducing coaches and athletes and Brenda Luczek leading a program on allied health careers.

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Glen Oaks welcomes 34 members to scholastic honorary
Glen Oaks Community College honored 34 scholars with induction Friday, November 12 into Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community college students. The Alpha Delta Omega chapter of PTK is chartered at Glen Oaks. Students must maintain a 3.3 grade point average to become a member. Chad Worthington, instructor of Psychology, welcomed the induction group as their advisor and later addressed the group. Lucy Zimmerman, retired English professor, provided the Processional and Recessional piano music. Dawn Wood, PTK member, gave the Invocation.

Tina Rensi, President of the local PTK chapter, also welcomed the new inductees into the international honor society which promotes the academic achievement of two-year college students. Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 1.3 million members and 1,200 chapters located in fifty states, U.S. Territories, Canada and Germany.

Other officers are Vice President of Fund Raising Cindy Cummings, Vice President of Public Relations Candice Hicks, and Secretary Caitlin Courtney. New members paused at a ceremonial table to light a candle and sign the chapter register after receiving their certificate.

The new members are:

Melissa Battaglia.
Burr Oak:
Jean Milliman.
Jenny Bower, Timothy Brandys, Maria Lambert, Debra Overholt.
Matthew Avery, Michelle Jones, Kendall Stuckey.
Tricia Billingsley, Karen Lounsbury, Jason Newsome.
Keshia Greene
Tiffani Spealman.
David Abner, Jr., Vickie Blount, Ashley Bowman, Daniel Cummings, Shelby Dury, Robert Easterday, Tony Gunthorp, Naomi Harless, Steven Harmon, Dayna Hart, Jill Mast, Jodi Morell, Jessica Neff, Stacie Ogg, Alyssa Roach, Laura Smith.
Three Rivers:
Mallory Martin, Tiffany Miars.
Jessica Lambright
White Pigeon:
Julie Vosburg.
Glen Oaks Community College Spring/Summer Scholars Announced

Glen Oaks Community College announces its outstanding scholars for the Spring/Summer 2010 Semester. Dr. Ana Gaillat, Dean of the College, said students on the President’s Honor Roll achieved a grade point average of 3.75-4.0 and students on the Dean’s Honor Roll achieved a grade point average of 3.5-3.74. All students are listed alphabetically according to their cities of residence.

President’s List:

Athens – Tracy Thompson
Bronson – Melissa Battaglia, Kristin Pierson, Elizabeth Stoner
Centreville – Jenny Bower, Nicole Cole, George Grostick, Joanna Hill, Debra Overholt
Coldwater – Theresa Broadwater, Stephanie Marasigan
Colon – Malina Burgess, Michelle Jones, Stephanie Shane
Constantine – Karen Bailey, Justine Cullifer, Kevin Hughes, Diane Reed, Joseph Young
Kalamazoo – Lydia Leonard
Leonidas – Derick Eichorn
Marcellus – Michelle Cornwell, Jonathon Hemenway
Mendon – Nicole Cullitan, Gail Huff, Tracy Patnoude
Nottawa – Helen Rosario
Portage – Mary Wolfe
Sturgis – Cynthia Cummings, Jonathon Currier, Sue Dearduff, James Deroshia, Shelby Dury, Robert Easterday, Cortney Edgington, Elizabeth Farthing, Katherene Franks, Tony Gunthorp, Bret Hamlin, Lynn Harter, Jill Hobson, Chelsea Hodgson, Daniel Jackson, Janice Kretschman, Helen Laforce, John Laporte, Steven Lindsey, Amber Marchand, Randy Miller, Jodi Morrell, Ginger Ott, Theresa Outman, Angela Petri, Carly Roach, Celeste Salvador-Gonzalez, Renata Schram, Michelle Singleton, Jennifer Sprague, Emily Strickland, Anna Welch, Jamie Whitmoor-Pryer, Chad Wyer, Angela Yoder, Miao Zhong
Three Rivers – Lucille Babcock, Timothy Barnes, Richard Bovee, Jason Chrisman, Cheryl Cooper, Abigail Evans, Michael Gidley, Cindy Lacey, Elizabeth Martinez, Taylor Moberley, Brandon Morris, Susan Polzin, Grace Quigley, Megan Root, Donald Ryan, Leanna Tokarski, John Weatherwax
Vandalia – Samantha Chandler
White Pigeon – Kimberly Culp, Baretta Duty, Eugene Regan, Michael Smith, Elizabeth Stuart

Goshen, Indiana – Jodi Chupp
Howe, Indiana – Kathleen Becze, Tammaria Williams
LaGrange, Indiana – Tracia Billingsley, Karen Lounsbury
Mongo, Indiana – Pamela Moreno
Orland, Indiana – Dawn McClanahan
Shipshewana, Indiana – Randy Makimoto

Dean’s List:

Bronson – Jean Milliman, Stacy Swift
Burr Oak – Kelli Gunthorp, Cheyenne McDougall
Centreville – Leah Clementz, Shelly Lehman, Sarah Schwartz, Adam Stark
Coldwater – Cynthia Bailey
Colon – Lindsay Stauffer, Jessica Wilder
Constantine – Roxanne Barbre, Brian Fries, Hillary Lowery, David Miars, Michael Schroeder, Brandy Shoup, Ronda Sitek
Kentwood – Faith Saigeon
Leonidas – Kareen Bauman
Marcellus – Elizabeth Clark
Mendon – Catherine Drewer, Emily Mast, Leticia Rubio, Louis Zagon
Portage – Heather Stack
Sherwood – Marie Decker-Fredenburg
Sturgis – Shannon Betcke, Sally Clark, Tabetha Crooks, Daniel Cummings, Meghan Dobberteen, Anna Kasuboski, Robert Lawrence, Cathleen Luck, Stacy Minor, Brandy Myers, Kelly Roach, Michelle Scarberry, Courtney Schrock, Sarah Schwartz, James Sienkowski, Laura Smith, Aaron Sommerfield, Victoria Strayer, Leslie Varner, Amy Weber, Billie Wells, Lee Zimmerman
Three Rivers – Shawn Arndt, Rebecca Barker, Cindra Burnside, Terri Graham, Jennifer Hartung, Tiffani Hittler, Jaquielin Hoffman, Benjamin Jacobs, Tod King, Monica Mayer, Kathryn McIntyre, Jessica Meister, Bradley Selent, Chad Simon, Terence Sult, Valerie Turner, Kimberly Willmont, Kari Winkelman
White Pigeon – Jamie Durlin, Andrea Eckler, Jesse Millar, Kayla Miller, Cynthia Mostaccio-Lammon, Katie Nihart, Julie Park, Sheri Yoder

LaGrange, Indiana – Kevin Caudill, Jason Newsome, Cassandra Randol
Middlebury, Indiana – Jessica Kuhns
Shipshewana, Indiana – Patrick Long

Photo of Diana DeGraaf
Glen Oaks Board greets new Trustee

The Glen Oaks Community College Board of Trustees greeted Three Rivers businesswoman Diana M. DeGraaf on Wednesday, Nov. 10 as the newest member of the organization. DeGraaf was unanimously elected by the Board to complete the term of Dr. Paul Schubert who recently resigned and moved to be closer to family in the Detroit area. David Allen said he nominated DeGraaf because, ”She has a vital interest in education and I has made continuing education a part of her life.” DeGraaf is President Three Rivers printing company DeGraafx, Inc. and was recognized as a 2008 Top Woman Owned Business leader in the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

DeGraaf’s education includes the University of Notre Dame Executive Education Program at Mendoza College of Business, Printing Management/Marketing Program at Western Michigan University/Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Small Business Management Program with the Stryker Center, Kalamazoo College, Printing Management classes at KVCC, Business Diploma from Patricia Stevens Career College, Milwaukee, and Business Diploma from Decatur High School, Decatur, Michigan. Community and professional involvement includes past President of the Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce, past Vice-Chairperson of the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority, past member St. Joseph and Kalamazoo County Workforce Development Board, Three Rivers Health Board of Trustee, Three Rivers Rotary Club, St. Joseph County United Way Board of Directors, St. Joseph County Republican Party Executive Committee, and volunteer coach in boys youth basketball. DeGraaf has been married 35 years to Everett DeGraaf, a Central Engineering Manager at Parker Aerospace, and they have two grown children.

Following the election of DeGraaf, the Board voted on leadership positions for the coming year. Pat Haas was elected Chairperson, David Allen was elected Vice Chairperson, Bruce Gosling is Treasurer and MCCA Representative, James Moshier is Secretary, Ruth Perry is Alternate MCCA Representative.

In other action, the Board accepted an annual audit report by Vicki VanDenBerg, CPA, Plante & Moran, PLLC. The 2010 Auditor’s Report said Glen Oaks Community College was in compliance and accordance with all financial statements. The favorable Plante & Moran report said GOCC was consistent with peer group colleges. VanDenBerg noted Federal Pell Grant funds at Glen Oaks had nearly doubled in the last couple of years, and “That is consistent with what we are seeing at other community colleges due to the large increases in enrollment.” She said it was noteworthy that the largest percentages of Glen Oaks operating expenses last year followed the college’s mission of student services, instructional support, and instruction. “Yet, despite big enrollment increases, Glen Oaks kept expenses relatively low,” concluded VanDenBerg.

Marilyn Wieschowsk, CPA, Chief Operations Officer, gave the October 2010 Treasurer’s Report for the College. Total revenues are $3.2 million or 27 percent of the annual budget. The revenue rate, as a percentage of the budget, was approximately seven percent lower than last year’s revenue at the same time. Expenses year-to-date were $3.3 million or 29 percent of the annual budget. Wieschowski said revenues were down slightly in property tax revenue, state funds revenue and tuition, but higher in fees, interest, and miscellaneous revenue sources. Expenses were lower in most categories, though travel and professional development spending increased by $10,000 due largely to costs for the Achieving the Dream program.

The Board also:

  • Approved a Conflict of Interest Policy at Glen Oaks Community College requiring completion each year by those in leadership positions. The form discloses any potential Conflict of Interest and is required for college accreditation and non-profit status.
  • Voted not to meet in February 2011 due to a conflicting Achieving the Dream conference.
  • Greeted Jennifer Buikema as the new Director of Student Support Services, a TRIO grant program at Glen Oaks Community College. Buikema comes from Grand Rapids Community College where she served as Academic Counselor to the Upward Bound Program. The former English and Developmental Reading teacher earned her Bachelor Degree at Hope College and Master’s Degree at Western Michigan University.
  • Received communications from Dr. Gary Wheeler, President, explaining that Glen Oaks Community College was compared in an IPEDs Federal Report to 77 similar institutions. The report showed GOCC remains a bargain in tuition and fees compared to these colleges. “When you look at the last four years of fairly steady tuition and fee increases, Glen Oaks is still $459 less per student overall than the peer group,” said Dr. Wheeler.
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Benefactor adds to his Ernest R. Graham Upward Bound Scholarship
A retired Chicago electrician living in Three Rivers is making an impact on education one student at a time. Ernest R. Graham established the Ernest R. Graham Upward Bound scholarship with a generous donation to the Glen Oaks Community College Foundation in 2009. Two local students have benefitted thus far from Mr. Graham’s gift. Shayla Jourdan of Sturgis was the 2009-2010 recipient and Luther Jordan of Three Rivers was the 2010-2011 recipient.

Now, in the early weeks of the fall 2010 semester, Mr. Graham has made another donation to the Glen Oaks Foundation to supplement his initial amount. The money will enhance the yearly award amount given to students attending Glen Oaks. Janene Breneman, Executive Director of the GOCC Foundation, said Mr. Graham was raised with the stern understanding from his parents that it’s essential to get an education. “Mr. Graham worked as an electrician in the Chicago area until his retirement in 1982. He was the first African American to hold the position for the city,” said Breneman. Mr. Graham is involved in community projects and is a member of the Carver Center and a longtime member of the NAACP. He was named a Life Time Member of the Three Rivers Lions Club where he has served since 1991.

Mr. Graham’s most recent college scholarship recipient, Luther Baldwin, is planning a degree in business. One of ten children, Baldwin is determined to get his Bachelors degree. He has been involved in several community activities: handing out backpacks full of school supplies at the Back to School Celebration at Three Rivers High School, volunteering for the NAACP Annual Banquet, and participating in Reading with TRIO. Baldwin believes the Upward Bound program centered at Glen Oaks Community College helped him in so many ways by pushing him to work harder and encouraging him to be more driven so he would do better in classes. He attributes attending college to the Upward Bound Program through the exposure he had to experiencing college campus life and seeing new things that allowed him to realize how much is out there. “The Upward Bound Program pushed me to new limits and allowed me to see things I would not have otherwise,” wrote Baldwin in his scholarship application essay.

The complete list of the Glen Oaks Community College Foundation Scholarships can be found on the college website at . The application selection process will begin again in April 2011; if students are interested in applying they may access the requirements on the website or by contacting the Financial Aid Office at 269-294-4260. To learn more on how you can establish a scholarship or gifting opportunities the Executive Director recommends you call the Foundation office at 269-294-4384.

Toy donation gains entrance to Skate-A-Thon
The Medical Assistant Club at Glen Oaks Community College will host a Skate-A-Thon from
2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 21 at Skate Galaxy, 57550 N. Main St., Three Rivers. The
fundraising event is open to the public and the cost of admission is a toy, food or household item (not to
exceed $5). All proceeds from this community outreach project are for a Christmas Adopt-a-Family that
Glen Oaks has selected. Skate rental at the GOCC Skate-A-Thon is $1 for regular skates and $2 for speed
skates. Skate Galaxy’s telephone number is (269) 279-2710.