SC4 campus culture and interaction helped alumnus Christian Jones grow and thrive

Driving through the neighborhood he serves as Executive Director of the Franklin Avenue Mission on the east side of Flint, Rev. Christian Jones sees the immediate realities of loss of jobs and lack of food that happened when the city lost its auto industry employers over the past few decades.

“There are families – men, women, and children – living in absolute, destitute poverty,” Jones said. “Homes are abandoned, burned out, and in some cases even lack running water. If the water is running, there’s little motivation for owners to renovate the pipes to mitigate the lead exposure of their tenants. Most of the schools have been boarded up and abandoned, too.”

The Franklin Avenue Mission serves this community through three key areas: The Franklin Avenue Diner, which served warm, well-balanced meals twice a week during the pandemic (a total of nearly 40,000 so far); the Clothes Closet and Personals Closet, which provide clothing and hygienic products to those who can’t afford them; and the new Luke Clinic will open this fall, providing free mobile prenatal and antenatal health services to mothers trapped in poverty.

Jones’ faith led him to devote his time and energy to the underserved and often forgotten residents of Flint. But his journey began over a decade ago on the campus of St. Clair County Community College.

“I started at SC4 in 2010,” Jones explained. “My father is a criminal justice professor at the college, which played a key factor in my decision to start there. It unquestionably made the most economic sense, and it allowed me to complete my associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees for a fraction of the cost of many of my friends.”

Jones has many great memories of his time at SC4 that go well beyond saving money, though.

“Being a student at SC4 was probably the most important and formative two years of my life,” he said. “It’s where I matured from being a high school kid into becoming an adult member of the community. I met my wife as a student at SC4. Some of the closest friends I’ve ever had were introduced to me as a student and through student activities.”

“I had some anxiety at first as I wrestled with the fact than most of my lifelong friends immediately dove into the idealized university model,” he continued. “But when I realized that many of my new SC4 classmates were experiencing the same anxiety, it created such a beautiful environment that it allowed me to form some of the closest friendships I’ve ever had. It drew us together; we organically became family, and supported each other’s dreams, goals, and aspirations in a way I’d never experienced before, and rarely since.”

Jones spent much of his time at SC4 in the Fine Arts Building, participating in The SC4 Players and the student drama club, WSGR radio, and the music club. He also spent many hours in the piano practice rooms, both playing music and using them for studying.

“I think I was labeled as ‘general studies,’ or something like that,” Jones laughed. “But I primarily loaded my schedule with English, theater, and (SC4 Professor) Scott Fernandez.”

He has fond memories for many of the instructors and staff members in the FAB, whether he had them as a teacher or not.

“Stewart Reed, David Korff, Holly Pennington, Lisa Sturtridge, Karen Jezewski, Al Matthews, Paul Miller, Gary Schmitz, Ethan Flick.” Jones paused as he listed some of those who influenced him as a student. “And Alfred Gay, who happened to be an elder at my church growing up. They all passionately fought for and supported the growth of everyone who stepped foot inside that building and their classrooms.”

One instructor was particularly important to Jones, though: Tom Kephart, who taught acting, improvisation, and oral interpretation courses and was the artistic director for The SC4 Players during Jones’ time at SC4.

“He was single-handedly the most important instructor I had across all of my collegiate studies,” Jones explained. “He graciously led by example, taking interpretive risks, showing genuine vulnerability, and giving unwavering support for his students as he challenged us to do the same. He instilled more confidence, empathy, and appreciation for the human experience in his students than any other class I took elsewhere.”

Jones graduated from SC4 in 2012 and was the commencement speaker that year. He transferred to Oakland University, where he finished his Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2014, then moved on to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where he received his Master of Divinity degree in 2019.

“When I was placed in Flint after graduating from Concordia Seminary, my wife Krysti and I decided that if we wanted to make an impact here, we were going to stay for the long haul,” Jones said. “Some pastors talk about becoming mega-preacher millionaires, which is foolishness and is not Christianity. As a pastor, I cherish the times when families invite me into their realities to weep, to pray, and to sing songs with them. There is no greater privilege I’ve ever had than to simply be called someone’s pastor.”

Jones has even bigger plans for the Franklin Avenue Mission, including an early childhood education center, a low-income laundromat, and eventually expansion into Flint’s north side. They’re ambitious and service-centered goals, that all began when he graduated from St. Clair High School and walked onto the SC4 campus in Port Huron.

“I wouldn’t be who I am today if dedicated teachers hadn’t put forth their very best personal efforts to see their students grow into game-changers in their communities,” Jones said.

For more information about the Franklin Avenue Mission, visit their website at franklinavemission.com.

Juneteenth Celebration ‘Free-ish’ planned for June 17

SC4’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion invites the community to attend a virtual Juneteenth Celebration ‘Free-ish’ from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, June 17, hosted by AAmos Consulting Group.

This event features speakers discussing the history behind Juneteenth, bridging the gap between the African and Black Community and the Current State of Black America.

Juneteenth is a nationwide celebration of the end of slavery. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Texas and read the Emancipation Proclamation, announcing all enslaved people were free. This was more than two and a half years after it was issued on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.

To reserve your spot, register for the webinar using this link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

For questions related to SC4’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, email dei@sc4.edu.

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at SC4

Sign up now to receive a free COVID-19 vaccination this Friday, April 30, at the SC4 Fieldhouse. All individuals at least 18 years of age can register by completing the online form at: https://communityclinicscheduler.as.me/?calendarID=5424751

This opportunity is open to everyone. Appointments are available between 9 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. on a first-come first-served basis. Participants must bring a driver’s license or other form of identification to their appointment. After receiving a vaccination, a second dose appointment will be scheduled.

Walk-up opportunities may be possible based upon appointment availability. Please contact the health department at (810) 987-5300 with questions. Additional vaccination information can be found on the St. Clair County Health Department website at https://www.stclaircounty.org/offices/health/.

Registration for SC4 fall classes is open — We’re here for you.

Registration for fall classes at St. Clair County Community College is open, meaning it’s time for you to schedule the classes you need to get your degree, transfer to a four-year college or start on your path to a new career.

Fall semester begins on Monday, Aug. 23. And through May 21, there’s no deposit required to register for fall classes!

The world changed this year because of the pandemic, and many students are finding it hard to decide what to do this fall. We understand that, and we’re here for you.

You’ll notice that many of our classes are back on-campus this fall, while we also have many online options available. We’ll continue to be cautious, of course, but we believe that a return to something closer to normal is possible.

So how do I register?

If you’re a current student at SC4, or you have already gone through the steps for enrollment, you can register online through your student Portal or on the SC4 mobile app.

Not sure which classes you need to take? Have questions about degree and certificate programs, class selection or other concerns? New college students and those transferring from other schools can set up a phone or virtual advising appointment by visiting sc4.edu/advising.

If you’re not quite ready to register and want to get an idea of what’s out there, you can also browse available classes for the fall semester by visiting sc4.edu/schedule.

Not a student yet? Or maybe you haven’t even applied? There’s still time. Visit sc4.edu/starthere and fill out your free application today.

When you start here, it’s a smart decision that will help you go anywhere. SC4 students benefit from affordable tuition, flexibility, a high-quality education, a vibrant campus community, and faculty and staff dedicated to maximizing student success.

If you have other questions related to registration, email enrollment@sc4.edu.

SC4’s Lambda Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa receive awards

The national Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) recognized SC4’s Lambda Mu Chapter with the Distinguished College Project Award during PTK Catalyst 2021, the Society’s annual convention, which was broadcast live from Orlando, Florida, from April 8-10.

Only 51 of PTK’s chapters worldwide received the Distinguished College Project Award this year. The purpose of the College Project is to establish or strengthen a supportive relationship between the chapter and college administration. Lambda Mu’s project, “Tips for Success in Online Learning,” compiled online learning advice offered by SC4 faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The advice was edited into 30 “tips” and shared online.

Successful completion of the College Project is one of the criteria needed to be a Five-Star Chapter, a status the Lambda Mu Chapter maintained for the 2020-2021 academic year. Lambda Mu is also a REACH Chapter, which signifies a membership acceptance rate of over fifteen percent.

Additionally, the Blue Water Alumni Association (BWAA) was recognized as a Five-Star Alumni Association for 2020-2021. BWAA is the PTK alumni chapter for the St. Clair County area.

The Lambda Mu Chapter was also honored with the following awards at the PTK Michigan Regional Convention 2021, held virtually March 24 to 26:

  • Distinguished Chapter Officer Team – 3rd Runner Up: Tara Brown, Lisa Green, Lillian Nelson, Rachel Schmaltz
  • Honors in Action Theme 4 Award: Expressions of Truth – 1st Runner Up
  • College Project Award – 1st Runner Up
  • Angela Heiden, SC4 PTK Advisor, was honored for thirteen years of service

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in the United States and internationally. More than three million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.

If you’d like to be a part of an award-winning chapter, both the Lambda Mu Chapter and the Blue Water Alumni Association are currently looking for new members and officers for the 2021-2022 academic year. Contact PTK Advisor Angela Heiden at aheiden@sc4.edu for details.

Naima Turner’s winding road to success included a stop at SC4

Naima Turner arrived in Michigan in August 2009. She had an eight-day-old newborn and three other children aged ten, nine and two and was facing a new life as a single mother after separating from her husband. She had no income, no car, no furniture, and her only support system was her mother.

Turner had one thing going for her, though, and that was her certainty that she knew what she wanted to become, though she wasn’t quite sure how she would get there – yet. She was starting her life over again with nothing but love and determination.

She and her children stayed in her mother’s one room basement for three months until she got her own place in a trailer home. She had to ask for assistance from the Michigan Department of Human Services to survive. In order to get help from Michigan Works she needed to volunteer. So, she volunteered, cared for children, and started going to school full time at SC4, taking the prerequisite courses needed to get into the Associate Degree Nursing program.

Although Macomb Community College was closer, Turner’s aunt Crystal was already in the SC4 nursing program and recommended it to her niece. She told her that the instructors were outstanding, which Turner found out was absolutely true.

“Tami Turney, Kim Murphy, and Laurie Lamont were amazing!” Turner recalled. “They were personable, yet professional. Their compassion as nurses shone through in their roles as educators, as well. Their teaching styles were exactly what I needed to drive the subject home and help me remember. They used stories – and laughter – to help us recall difficult content and make it more applicable.”

Turner was so inspired by her SC4 instructors that she decided to follow in their footsteps and become a nursing instructor herself.

“Nursing is about so much more than just skills and knowledge,” she explained. “It’s also about the standards and characteristics that the profession requires and demands. I love being able to contribute to the development of extraordinary nurses who go out and serve our communities.”

Turner completed her ADN degree at SC4 in May 2013, then continued her education at Chamberlain University, getting her BSN and her MSN degrees there. For her MSN, she majored in nursing education. She’s currently completing her DNP degree at Chamberlain and expects to graduate this year.

She’s served for nearly eight years as a staff nurse in obstetrics, including labor and delivery, antepartum, and post-partum care; as a clinical instructor in OB and pediatrics; a didactic nursing instructor, and is currently the Director of Nursing for a program in California.

Her experience getting started at SC4 left a lasting impression of the value of a community college education.

“It’s priceless,” Turner said. “It’s vital for communities to accommodate adult learners, their schedules, and their lives, while enabling them to reach their goals and dreams. Community colleges aren’t as costly but are just as reliable and valuable when it comes to the education and experience gained. Students who choose community colleges receive a great educational experience and go on to do great things.”

Turner is certainly an example of that. Despite her difficulties when she moved to Michigan a decade ago, her current success is inspiring and shows the power of self-determination and hard work.

“It was extremely rough and difficult, but I persevered despite all the difficulties and barriers,” Turner said. “God is merciful, and he saw me through it all. If someone is determined to reach their goals, no circumstance or obstacle can deter or stop them. No matter where you are, where you’re destined to be and who you’re destined to become is a realty that only you can make come true.”

Jessica Brown completes Cornell University Diversity and Inclusion training

Jessica Brown, SC4’s Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, has been working diligently to develop a comprehensive and cross-functional emphasis on critical issues in relation to our campus community.

To build her skills in this area, Brown recently completed an eight-week certificate course from Cornell University on Diversity and Inclusion. “It was essential to dive deeper into my knowledge and recognize as an individual how critical it is to understand the multifaceted layers of DEI and what I must know to educate DEI in all communities,” said Brown.

Lessons learned during her training have increased her insight and exposure to key techniques, tools, resources, and theories that have expanded her knowledge about DEI to benefit the SC4 internal and external community.

The college created the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion last June to advance the college’s efforts in providing educational access and support for all.

Diversity is the presence of differences that may include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religious commitment, or political perspective. Equity is promoting justice, impartiality and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems. Inclusion is an outcome to ensure those that are diverse actually feel and/or are welcomed.  

In a short time, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has sponsored speaking engagements, professional development seminars, a book reading discussion series, a podcast series, and other events. Understanding the racial, economic, and social inequities that impact our students, faculty, staff, and community members are key to advancing DEI initiatives at the college.

“I learned to examine the true meaning of trust, fairness, and inclusivity, the tools to identify implicit biases, and actively listen to concerns that impact the institution’s success and productivity,” said Brown. “No one is an expert when it comes to DEI, and all of us must have a willingness to learn to be healthy citizens for ourselves, the future generation, and the community.”

Discussion with Dr. Randa Jundi-Samman on March 25

In recognition of Women’s History Month, SC4’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is hosting a 90-minute fireside chat session with Dr. Randa Jundi-Samman on the topic “History of Women and Their Role in Society- Have We Removed the Barriers?”

This event is 10 a.m. Thursday, March 25, via Zoom. To reserve your spot and receive the Zoom link, please RSVP to dei@sc4.edu.

Jessica Brown will serve as moderator. SC4 faculty, staff, and students, as well as community members, are welcome to attend.

Dr. Randa Jundi-Samman was born and raised in Damascus, Syria, and came to the United States at age 22. Dr. Jundi-Samman received her D.D.S. degree from Damascus University Dental School in 1990 and D.M.D. degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1993. She is the co-owner and one of the dentists at Huron Dental in Port Huron. She is a strong believer in the Blue Water Area and has been involved with many groups, including the Blue Water YMCA, the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, the Port Huron Schools Endowment Fund, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Development Alliance. She is married to Bashar Samman, M.D., a cardiologist in Port Huron, and they have two adult children, Shaker, a writer, and Layla, a law student.

SC4 was the perfect way to transition from high school to college for alumnus Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis makes a difference in people’s lives everyday as a pharmacist at Meijer. That commitment to work to help others was supported by the examples he saw while a student at St. Clair County Community College.

“Janice Fritz and Joe Gibbons both sparked my interest in science and were instrumental in my acceptance to, and success in, pharmacy school,” Davis said. “I remember the passion that Dr. Fritz had for teaching and the excitement she would bring to her lectures. Anatomy and Physiology was my favorite course I took in my entire collegiate career.”

“I also fondly remember spending hours with Professor Gibbons in the chemistry lab discussing not just the course material but also life experiences,” he continued. “These professors were more than teachers to me; they were sources of inspiration as well as friendly faces I could confide in. They deserve so much recognition for the incredible work they do.”

Davis, a 2009 graduate of Marysville High School, chose SC4 for several reasons, including its convenient location close to his home and the overall cost of community college tuition.

“Going to SC4 allowed me to work full time while also enrolling in classes full time,” Davis explained. “I was able to build my schedule around everything else I had going on in my life. I got a great education for a fraction of the cost of attending a university right out of high school. I completed the majority of my prerequisite courses without having to take any student loans.”

Class size and individual attention also factored into Davis’s decision to attend SC4.

“I believe the opportunity to receive that attention from my professors was something that furthered my education beyond what a university could offer,” he said. “I spent more one-on-one time with my teachers at SC4 than I did during the rest of my undergrad and pharmacy school classes combined.”

Davis transferred to Wayne State University in 2012 and completed his bachelor’s degree and then completed his Doctorate in Pharmacy degree in 2017. He currently works at Meijer Pharmacy.

“My profession allows me to work closely with patients and make a positive impact on their lives,” Davis said. “I am an easily-accessible resource for anyone in the community to seek out advice. That brings me great career satisfaction that I can’t imagine getting in any other way.”

Davis highly recommends community college as a starting point for any student starting their college journey.

“Community colleges allow people from all walks of life the chance to improve their lives through education and experience,” Davis said. “Many barriers that exist at universities can be overcome by institutions like SC4. Students with families, full-time jobs, or other financial burdens can find an education at SC4.”

“SC4 is the perfect way to transition from high school to college,” he continued. “Community colleges offer the same prerequisite courses that universities do, but at a fraction of the cost and with a much better opportunity to receive individual attention from educators.”

Registration open for summer 2021 classes at SC4

Registration for summer classes at St. Clair County Community College is now open, providing a great opportunity for students of all backgrounds to earn valuable credits at a fraction of the cost of a four-year institution.

SC4 students continuing their education, guest students from other institutions, qualified Future for Frontliners students and MiReconnect prospects and community members looking to take courses for personal enrichment are encouraged to browse the full list of available summer courses online at sc4.edu/schedule.

Many courses that qualify for the Michigan Transfer Agreement are available, covering a range of subjects.

Classes are available in accounting, business, computer information systems, English, history, math, music, psychology, sociology, welding and more.

Additionally, students looking to complete health science prerequisites such as human anatomy and physiology, and medical terminology can benefit from summer courses.

Many summer classes are offered online. Courses also are offered in varied lengths for students to create flexible schedules.

Summer semester begins Monday, May 17. Students not currently enrolled can start the application process at sc4.edu/admissions/starthere. Current students can register online through their student portal or on the SC4 mobile app.

To speak with an admissions representative about options, or for details on how to get started, call (810) 989-5571.