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.”

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.”

SC4 checked all the boxes for alumnus Don Caluya’s mission

Don Caluya has already come a long way. But he’s just getting started.

While many people dream of traveling, Caluya’s target destination is in the night sky, about 239,000 miles away. He wants to be one of the next people to fly to the Moon, and one of his earliest steps toward that goal was on the campus of St. Clair County Community College.

“As an immigrant from the Philippines, I didn’t believe I had any chance of attending college,” Caluya explained. “SC4 allowed me to break generational barriers which gave me the confidence to follow my educational and career aspirations. Once I became engulfed in college classes at SC4, I knew that I could do more with my life.”

Caluya graduated from Port Huron Northern High School in 2008, and initially wanted to be an architect.

“When choosing a college, I looked for an option that was cost-effective, but which also had a great history and reputation,” Caluya said. “SC4 checked all the boxes and I was able to accomplish my education goals.”

SC4 offered Caluya the opportunity to get started and prepare for the bigger things he had planned.

“I got the best education at a fraction of the cost,” he said. “SC4 has top-notch educators who love their jobs and are willing to go above and beyond to help their students. The staff made helping people their top priority. They assisted me with all of the steps, including admissions, financial aid, and registration.”

Caluya is also excited about the Challenger Learning Center at St. Clair County Community College that will open on SC4’s campus in early 2022.

“The Challenger project within SC4’s walls will be the pride of the community,” he said. “It’s the first of its kind in Port Huron and the only one in Michigan. SC4 students and the community will have the resources and tools to be prodigious!”

After SC4, Caluya joined the U.S. Air Force, where he had the chance to travel all over the world. He became the proud father of “the most beautiful little girl in the world.” After the Air Force, he attended The Ohio State University, graduating in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in aviation and air transportation. He’s currently pursuing his master’s in business administration at Lindenwood University while working for The Boeing Company and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

“Long term, I’d like to be a test pilot for NASA, SpaceX, or Boeing,” Caluya said. “But my ultimate goal is to become an astronaut.”

Caluya has fond memories of his time at SC4 and believes that community college is a great place to start for students regardless of their long-term plans.

“Community colleges like SC4 provide not just an excellent academic infrastructure, but they also provide students hope, encouragement, support, and pride,” he explained. “SC4 gave me, someone from a small town in the Philippines, a sense of confidence and self-worth. I’m thankful to those who helped me along the way… my dearest and sincerest thanks.”

“Everything worth having has a stable foundation that it’s built on,” Caluya continued. “For me, this foundation came from Port Huron and SC4. Even though my bachelor’s diploma says, ‘The Ohio State University,’ it should also say ‘St. Clair County Community College,’ because a quarter of my credits came from there.”

Caluya also noted that NASA and large aerospace companies have programs that target community college students. The NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program offers support to students looking to enter the field. “NASA never overlooks top talent,” he said, “and they know the worth of these local institutions.”

Whether your dreams are in the stars or a bit closer to home, SC4 can help you get there. Just ask Don Caluya, who’s already come a long way but is still looking up.

Time at SC4 prepared alumnus Lauren Tuckey for professional illustration career

For as long as she can remember, Lauren Tuckey has enjoyed drawing things. Now she’s enjoying seeing her work in print as the illustrator of her first children’s book.

After graduating from Yale High School in 2013, she chose to go to SC4 to save tuition costs and stay close to her family in Port Huron. While taking general education classes, Tuckey also took plenty of art classes on the side.

“In my art classes, I made many of my closest friends,” Tuckey said, “and was able to work on diverse art projects I wouldn’t have been able to do from home. I was featured in and worked on the annual Patterns book, too.”

She learned from her many talented art instructors, as well as other SC4 faculty, but has a special memory of one class that changed her approach to her art.

“Color and Design with Doug Frey was the most beneficial art class I took,” Tuckey explained. “He helped me step out of my comfort zone as an artist and explore techniques and styles that helped me sculpt the more well-rounded style I have now.”

After graduating from SC4, Tuckey had the chance to work with an author from North Carolina, Phil Routszong, to create illustrations for a children’s book titled Hobgoblin Humbug, which was published in October and is available for ordering through Amazon. She also stays busy illustrating custom portraits through her shop on Etsy.

Tuckey is a strong believer in the importance of community colleges.

“Colleges like SC4 are a great asset to students who want to save some money while still gaining a valuable education, experience, and great memories,” she said. “I’m thankful for everything SC4 equipped me with as I move forward as a professional illustrator.”

Photo: SC4 alumnus Lauren Tuckey (right) with author Phil Routszong and their book Hobgoblin Humbug.

Lessons learned at SC4 impact daily life for Meteorologist Colton Cichoracki

Colton Cichoracki is living his dream. He’s a meteorologist with ABC12 News (WJRT-TV) in Flint. He’s had the same drive and aspiration to be a meteorologist his entire life. While there were other stops along the way to Cichoracki’s success, it started at St. Clair County Community College almost a decade ago.

“I was a Blue Water Middle College Academy student from Memphis,” Cichoracki explained.

“I was in the very first cohort of the program in the fall of 2011, so I was entering into something that hadn’t been done before, and I’m glad I did. It was a fantastic experience and I’m a huge advocate of the middle college concept.”

Looking back, Cichoracki recalls how each of his professors cared about him as an individual.

“I never had a bad professor. In fact, I liked many of them so much that I took multiple classes from them,” he recalled. “I took two political science classes with Ethan Flick and two English classes with Chris Hilton. I remember taking Patricia Frank’s history class where we re-enacted military battles in the courtyards on campus! The impact that SC4’s professors had on me is something I carry with me today.”

Cichoracki earned his Associate in Arts degree from SC4 in 2014 and then transferred to Central Michigan University, where he majored in meteorology (with a minor in mathematics) and graduated in 2017. He started his career at KQ2 News in St. Joseph, Missouri, before moving back to Michigan to his current job in Flint.

He credits SC4 with helping him get off to a great start.

“Community college got me where I wanted to be,” Cichoracki said. “They serve such a critical role in the community, helping people grow academically and professionally. I tell everyone who’s graduating from high school to go to a community college first. You can get a lot of your general education classes done at a much lower price, and it’ll give you the experience of how to succeed in college before moving on to a university.”

The wide range of students, particularly in their ages, is another pleasant memory for Cichoracki.

“When I was at SC4, I was often the youngest person in my class,” he said. “But there were other students in their seventies in the class as well. They were doing the same thing I was, though, working to better themselves. Their age or background didn’t matter. SC4 gave us the means to succeed and make something of ourselves.”

Cichoracki also recommends community college for students who aren’t quite sure what direction they’re headed yet.

“Go to a community college, take some classes in a field you might be interested in, and see if it’s what you want to do,” he suggested. “At CMU, I saw so many people change their majors again and again, spending so much money each time to start over. You don’t need to do that. Community colleges can help you figure out what you want to do, and you’ll be much better off for it.”

Watch Colton in a recent weather broadcast on ABC12 News (WJRT-TV) below or check out his professional Facebook page:

Bank senior vice president Gary Schlinkert’s success began at SC4

Gary Schlinkert is a big advocate of community colleges. The Marysville High School graduate attended St. Clair County Community College from 1973 to 1975.

“Both my folks and I felt that two years at SC4 would be best – and a lot cheaper,” said Schlinkert, who is senior vice president of West Shore Bank in Ludington, Michigan. “I learned a lot and enjoyed my time there. I was involved in Student Government as a representative of Phi Theta Kappa, played sports and got to know other students, many of whom I am still in contact with to this day.”

According to Schlinkert, he also was inspired by SC4 faculty members to pursue new interests in economics and the stock market.

“I had several excellent professors while I was at SC4, particularly in the areas of economics, physics and mathematics,” he said. “Professor Tansky and Professor Falls were excellent instructors. I learned a lot from them. The fact that I remember their names after so many years is a testament to the impact they made on me as a young student.”

Schlinkert transferred from SC4 to Lawrence Technological University in 1975 to pursue a degree in architecture. However, he soon changed his path back to his interest of economics and finance, enrolling at the New York Institute of Finance. There he earned several certifications that prepared him for the licensing required to be a registered representative, insurance, options and commodity broker. 

Most of Schlinkert’s career has been spent as an executive in the financial sector. He was a licensed stockbroker for more than 30 years and was originally involved in bringing stock brokerage services to community banking customers at what is now a large regional bank. In his current position at West Shore Bank, he oversees wealth management, deposit operations, human resources, compliance and internal audit.

Schlinkert, who lives in Manistee, is in the process of transferring credits to SC4 to earn his Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees for summer 2020 graduation through the reverse transfer option. He maintained ties to SC4 through his son, Craig, who served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy, graduated from SC4 with his associate degree, and went on to Rutgers University and its National Transit Institute for Procurement. Schlinkert also has two daughters who received their bachelor’s degree, one from Oakland University (Jaime Greene) and the other from Alma College (Carly Schlinkert). Jaime also has her MA in Human Services. His grandson (Andrew Chambers) is currently enrolled at Macomb Community College.

Schlinkert plans on retiring in a few years after a long and successful career. He said he is proud of his family and of all others who choose to pursue higher education, especially at a community college. 

“The cost of a college education at a private or state university has become prohibitive,” he said. “The opportunity for a student to take their core classes at a fraction of the cost at a community college should resonate as this next generation of college-aged student prepares for their next step.”

“Not every job requires a four-year degree in order to be successful either,” he continued. “In addition to preparing for a four-year degree, community colleges also offer technology and certification programs to train future employees for good paying jobs.”

Schlinkert also serves on his bank’s scholarship committee, which gives multiple scholarships every year to qualified and need-based area students going to West Shore Community College. He recently helped establish an internship program at the bank to identify current and future West Shore students who have the potential to succeed in the world of finance.

Former television news director prefers ‘paying it forward’

Simple beginnings don’t always make headline news, but one former television news director thinks it’s newsworthy that he got his start at St. Clair County Community College.

A 1966 graduate of SC4, Jim Collins interviewed people like former vice president Hubert Humphrey, reported on the great gasoline shortage of the 1970s and investigated deadly PCB’s in cattle feed.

“I was fulfilling a dream, exploring new areas, cultures and certainly opportunities,” he said. “It all started with a couple of years at SC4.”

Collins grew up in Emmett, the oldest of three children. He graduated from St. Stephen High School in 1964 and then decided to attend Port Huron Junior College, which a few years later became St. Clair County Community College.

“When it came time to attend college, (SC4) was the readily available and affordable option,” he said. “I was working to pay the bills on the night shift at a shop in Capac. My parents helped with some tuition, housing and meals and plenty of encouragement. Starting at a four-year school would have been wasted on me, not to mention totally out of reach financially. I wasn’t ready for it.”

Collins received his associate degree in spring of 1966 with plans to attend Michigan State University. He graduated from MSU with a Bachelor of Arts in television and radio in 1968. He was in East Lansing during “the height of the Vietnam War and a career path seemed difficult at best, but I was not drafted.”

He got his first job at a radio station in western Michigan and continued on to Wisconsin and Minnesota to pursue his career in radio news. Collins was working in Duluth, Minn., when he made the switch to television, which expanded the type of people he was able to interview.

“I considered myself fortunate to meet and talk one-on-one with people like Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and others of note,” he said. “But it was often more interesting telling the stories of ordinary folks who were doing extraordinary things.”

They moved back to Michigan, with Collins working at WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, first as a reporter and then as the station’s assignment manager. He became a news director in Chattanooga, Tenn., and later Greensboro, N.C., for their CBS affiliate before finishing his career as the city of Greensboro’s communications manager.

“I feel very strongly that our society needs reporters asking hard questions, shining light into the dark spaces of lies, deceit and deception,” he said. “Finding people to ask those questions should not be limited to only those wealthy enough to attend a four-year institution. There are other means to achieve organized thought, writing and presentation skills.”

Collins supports giving today’s young people the opportunity to attend college.

“I recognize that people offering scholarships are often characterized as ‘paying it back’” he said. “I prefer ‘paying it forward’; leaving something for the future, and SC4 can certainly be a great place to start. I chose to support student scholarships at SC4, because I know it can mean something for a student to be able to open the door to an education.”


Three teams and 12 individuals are inducted in the Skippers Athletics Hall of Fame

Three teams and 12 individuals were inducted into the Skippers Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday, Feb. 22, at the SC4 Fieldhouse. It is the fourth class bringing the total of membership to forty-two individuals and 14 teams.

The three teams entering the Hall of Fame are the 1994 men’s golf team, coached by Ross Green; the 1994 baseball team, coached by Rick Smith; and the 1996-1997 women’s basketball team, coached by Chris Huss.

The individual inductees were women’s basketball player Taleesha Hardy; baseball players Dana Duskocy; Darby Parsons and Tyler Shantz; golfer Brian Bowman; softball player Marisa (Jensen) Pierce; men’s basketball players Mike Branaugh and Jeremy Denha; and volleyball player Morgan (Iloncaie) Fagerstrom. One athlete was inducted for two sports; Troy Dean played baseball and golf.

In addition to the players, two coaches were inducted, Ross Green coached golf and was the athletic director; and Rick Smith played baseball and returned to the college as a baseball coach.

The Skippers Athletics Hall of Fame is located in the SC4 Fieldhouse. To learn more about it and read their profiles, visit

SC4 alumnus living dreams thanks to good education

If there’s one thing St. Clair County Community College alumnus Jim Earley has learned as a lifelong educator and administrator, it’s the importance of a good education if you want to make dreams come true.

“My educational and career path provided the opportunity to live my dream—a dream of service and making a difference to help ensure the communities in which I lived were in a much better place,” he said.

Earley was the first in his family to go to college and found his start at SC4 after graduating from Port Huron High School in 1971.

“By the end of my high school sophomore year, I knew St. Clair County Community College was for me,” he said. “SC4 offered an exceptional opportunity to learn and grow while still being able to live at home and work. I was the first member of my family to attend college. I needed to work in order to pay for my educational expenses. Otherwise, college was not an option.”

While attending SC4, Earley worked at St. Joseph Catholic School in Port Huron teaching grade K-8 gym classes, supervising the lunch periods and coaching basketball. He earned his Associate of Science in 1973.

“My goal was achieved after two years of classes—an associate degree and no student debt,” he said. “My educational experience at SC4 was a springboard to five college degrees, including a Ph. D. I could not have achieved my goals without SC4 and the opportunity it provided.”

After SC4, Earley went on to Ferris State University to earn his Bachelor of Science in education with a major in chemistry.

Earley began officially teaching science and coaching basketball at Port Huron High School from 1975-80. He then relocated to Kofa High School, Yuma, Ariz., where he taught chemistry/physics and coached basketball and tennis from 1980-85.

He returned to Port Huron High School in 1985, teaching chemistry and science along with coaching basketball and tennis until 1996. At that time, Earley took on administrative roles as principal of Memphis High School (1996-97) and Imlay City High School (1998-2000) as well as Imlay City assistant superintendent of schools (2000-10).

He earned his master’s degree in educational administration from Northern Arizona University in 1985, an educational specialist degree from Oakland University in 1997 and a doctorate in philosophy from Oakland in 2009.

Earley has participated in basketball, baseball, softball, tennis and golf in the Port Huron area for 60 years. He officially retired on June 30, 2010, and now spends the winters in Florida. He is currently a member of the Port Huron Golf Club and Moorings Country Club in Naples, Fla.

“St. Clair County Community College provided an opportunity to pull myself out of a middle-class working household to the point where anything was possible,” he said. “My American dream was fully alive. The first steps were the hardest and toughest, and SC4 helped me to grow and prosper while opening my eyes to what was possible. The journey was not without failure as obstacles were navigated and circumvented. SC4 is the best value on the market!”



Creative director credits SC4 for helping develop his creative passion

Like many high school graduates, Jeffrey DeLange was not quite sure of his career path when he graduated from Algonac High School and enrolled at St. Clair County Community College in 1989.

“I was interested in being creative but did not really have a career path,” he said.

At SC4, DeLange took classes from a number of professors who helped him understand his interests and prepare for his next steps.

“My graphic design and fine arts professors helped in the development of my creative passion,” he said. “They also helped me with two years of portfolio preparation.”

DeLange earned an associate degree from SC4 and transferred to the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit in 1991. He graduated from CCS in 1995 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in industrial design.

Since graduating from CCS, DeLange has served in a wide array of creative roles, including senior industrial designer, creative director and an adjunct faculty design instructor. He currently serves as creative director for the George P. Johnson Co. where he helps power brand experiences.

“I have helped steer the ship on many creative challenges throughout my career that include tradeshow, event and auto show experiences,” DeLange said. “I have led several creative projects that have taken me to international locations to understand the brand, strategy, product and marketing objectives for large electronics and automotive companies. I am extremely passionate about design and innovation, and foster working in team environments.”

Having achieved great success in the creative space, DeLange clearly has found his calling—something he credits in large part to SC4.

“For any student interested in pursuing the next level of education but are truly not sure what or where that education will lead them, I would highly recommend community college to help build a better understanding of education and professional goals,” he said.