SC4 expands mental health and wellness support for students through new 24/7 counseling partnership, basic needs pantry and more

St. Clair County Community College is expanding its mental health support network as an increasing number of college students nationwide are experiencing growing mental health and wellness needs.

In addition to available appointments with the SC4 Student Wellness team, students can now access telehealth sessions 24/7 with a licensed, diverse network of mental health counselors through BetterMynd.

The telehealth sessions are 50 minutes, private, confidential, and can take place on a laptop or smartphone. Five telehealth sessions are free and available for any active SC4 student, and five more additional sessions may be granted by contacting studentwellness@sc4.edu. (Continued services are available for an out-of-pocket fee.)

BetterMynd—which is not to be used for emergencies—also provides free self-help resources and group workshops to current students.

“We want to provide our students with the mental health and wellness resources they need to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle—and to succeed in an academic environment,” said Director of Student Wellness David Goetze. “The past few years have been very challenging for many of our students. BetterMynd will help enhance our offerings and provide students with even greater access and support.”

With more than “70 percent of community college students experiencing emotional distress, stress and/or anxiety due to a lack of basic needs,” SC4 also launched Skip’s Corner Pantry this past spring. Located on the first floor of SC4’s Welcome Center and open during College business hours, Skip’s Corner Pantry is stocked with food and hygiene products that are free to SC4 students.

“Our goal with Skip’s Corner Pantry is to provide students with items they need, whenever they need them,” said Executive Director of DEI, Student Recruitment, Advising and Admissions Jessica Brown. “We don’t require check-in and want to maintain a discreet environment so that students feel comfortable walking in and shopping.”

Additional support at SC4 is provided through many other offices such as Advising, Disability Services, TRIO, Veterans Services, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The DEI Office, for instance, recently began its STRIVE Mentorship Program to help prepare students of all backgrounds for future success by acquiring unique skill sets, learning leadership skills, and building relationships and confidence.

The on-campus SC4 Health Clinic, operated by the St. Clair County Health Department, continues to offer greater access and services to students as well. The clinic provides services for many common health issues and concerns including vaccinations, health screenings, consultations and presentations.

“The more we can do to support our students and their health and well-being needs, the greater opportunities they’ll have for future success,” Goetze said. “That’s our mission, and it’s why we do what we do here at the College each and every day.”

Students in need of immediate assistance are encouraged to call (810) 989-5552 (Director of Student Wellness), the St. Clair County Community Mental Health Mobile Crisis Response Unit at (810) 966-2575, 911 or the 24/7 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential support to people experiencing mental health-related distress, suicidal crisis, emotional distress or substance use crisis.

Lamere Fund awards $117,000 to record number of incoming and current SC4 students

The Alexander & Celestine Lamere Scholarship Fund will support a record number of students this fall with awards totaling $117,000.

The fund was established by Alexander “Pete” and Celestine Lamere to support Marine City High School graduates attending St. Clair County Community College. 

Visit the Community Foundation of St. Clair County news page for more information about this scholarship and its recipients.

Challenger Learning Center at SC4 announces two open Mission: Lunar Quest summer dates

Challenger Learning Center at St. Clair County Community College (SC4) will launch visitors to the moon with Mission: Lunar Quest at 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, and Saturday, Aug. 27. The open mission dates are each limited to the first 35 registrants, and seats on the mission are $25 per person.  

Challenger Learning Center at SC4 is the only Center of its kind in Michigan and one of 40 Challenger Learning Centers nationwide and around the world. It is a fully immersive, space-themed experience aimed at deepening understanding and appreciation of STEM careers and topics and building critical 21st-century skills. It offers unique learning and team-building opportunities for students, educators, corporations and community residents.

“We know that many people are looking for fun and unique things to do in the summer months with their families, friends, community groups, scout troops, office and sports teams, and more,” said Kristin Copenhaver, vice president of communication and special projects. “These open mission dates will offer greater access to exciting Challenger Learning Center experiences.”

Mission participants will launch to the moon in search of a long-term human habitat, and command and assist in Mission Control, or board the Spacecraft as an astronaut, serving on teams like biology, geology, weather, robotics, life support and more. They will help deploy a Lunar Exploration Rover to investigate areas of the lunar surface and make critical decisions to turn a potential catastrophe into NASA’s finest hour.

Challenger Center was founded in 1986 in the aftermath of the Challenger shuttle tragedy. The families of the crew came together and created Challenger Center to carry on the spirit of their loved ones and continue the Challenger crew’s educational mission. Challenger Center, with its network of Challenger Learning Centers and digital programs, has reached more than 5.5 million students and learners worldwide.

Register for the July 30 and Aug. 27 missions at stclair.nbsstore.net/community-missions or contact us with questions at experiencecenter@sc4.edu or (810) 989-5789.

To schedule a full group mission at another time, visit challenger.sc4.edu/schedule-a-visit/.

Registration open for SC4’s Golf Classic to benefit student-athletes

The St. Clair County Community College Athletic Department will host the SC4 Golf Classic on Friday, July 22, at Marysville Golf Course. Participants will enjoy 18 holes of golf with friends to support student-athletes.

This year’s event is sponsored by Joe Mericka in honor of his sister Georgette “Gigi” Mericka. As both a community and SC4 supporter, Gigi assisted in securing sponsorships and helped make the SC4 golf outing a success for many years.

“We are grateful for the ongoing community support of Skippers Athletics and our students,” said SC4 Athletic Director Dale Vos. “This event is a great opportunity for us to come together, have some fun and help our hard-working student athletes pursue a college degree.”

The four-person scramble is limited to the first 32 teams to register. The cost is $125 per golfer or $500 per team. Registration for golfers and additional sponsorship opportunities are available online at sc4.edu/thepier/golf.

Check in begins at 11:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. Dinner, awards and prizes will begin at 4:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Dale Vos at (810) 989-5671 or email dvos@sc4.edu.

SC4 College Housing to host Open House June 16

St. Clair County Community College is hosting an Open House for students interested in learning more about living in SC4’s housing facility. The event welcomes current high school seniors and their parents, student athletes, international students and all other students considering attending SC4.

SC4’s College Housing facility, referred to as “The Dock,” is located in downtown Port Huron at 514 Huron Avenue. Join us from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 16, at the Open House event to tour the facility, ask questions and learn more about housing and campus.

SC4’s residence hall offers fully furnished units and provides up to 80 students with easy access to campus and downtown Port Huron.

Living in housing offers students an affordable, safe option that provides countless benefits including, access to campus for academic support, free gym access, campus events, clubs and organizations, the local area’s entertainment, dining, recreation activities and potential employment opportunities.

Rooms are double-occupancy suite-style and include an XL extended-length twin bed, furniture, private bathroom, high-speed Wi-Fi Internet, heating and air conditioning. Shared spaces include a communal kitchen, student lounge, laundry facilities and parking. Limited single occupancy and triple occupancy rooms arrangements also are available.

SC4 is the first community college in southeastern Michigan to offer student housing. Statewide, only seven of the 28 community colleges have on-campus housing available. It’s a great way for students to have a full college experience.

More information about housing can be found at sc4.edu/housing.

Successful boutique law firm owner thankful for SC4 start

Successful law firm owner, venture capitalist, community volunteer and advocate, and St. Clair County Community College (SC4) alumnus Gerry Mason has made his mark in Michigan. 

Mason owns a boutique law firm and practices law throughout Michigan, often in joint ventures with significant law firms. He is also active in the areas of private equity investment, small business, venture capital, renewable energy and technology. He’s worked as a City of Detroit Recorder’s Court Law Clerk, as a Macomb County Law Clerk for the Hon. Pat M. Donofrio, and served as a Special Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford, Roscommon and Macomb Counties. 

He’s a member of St. Clair Rotary Club (Past President); Salvation Army Advisory Board Vice Chairman; St. Clair Police Foundation Vice Chairman; State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly Vice Chairman; State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners Member; American Battery Technology Company Advisory Board Member; Voise Inc. Advisory Board Member—and much more.

His many accomplishments are the result of hard work, commitment and dedication to his goals and community. They also help highlight the critical role community colleges like SC4 can play in the educational journey of Michigan residents.

When Mason graduated from St. Clair High School in 1986, he initially enrolled at Michigan Technological University to be a geological engineer.

“I was not ready for a big university,” Mason said. “My dad thought that I should be an attorney and do political science as an undergraduate degree. My friends were at SC4 so I could get a ride. My mom took me to SC4 and enrolled me. Everyone at SC4 was warm and helpful. I loved it. It was college.”

While at SC4 from 1986-1988, Mason participated in student government. He also fully engaged in the classroom and benefitted from great professors and mentors.

“SC4 had excellent professors who cared about their students,” he said. “Harley Smith was great. He taught political science but never showed his views or any bias. He was always totally objective. Virginia Pillsbury taught German, but really she was teaching life. Haddock Snyder taught physics. Professor Snyder had tons of energy and made science fun. Calculus Professor Joe Delisa and I used to eat lunch together. I made friends with other professors like Bob Tansky. Great people.”

Mason transferred from SC4 to the University of Michigan on the advice of SC4 Professor Pillsbury. “All of my credits transferred, saving me $22,000 at that time,” Mason said.

He enrolled in the U-M College of Literature, Science and Art, majoring in political science and minoring in German, Russian and natural science. While there, Mason studied China under Professor Kenneth Lieberthal and spent a semester in the former Soviet Union. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1991 and then went on to enroll in law school at the Detroit College of Law, which became Michigan State University College of Law.

At MSU, Mason served as President of Student Government and Executive Lt. Governor of the American Bar Association, and graduated as Class President. According to Mason, law school challenged him in new ways.

“Law school was hard, fast and intense,” said Mason, who earned a juris doctorate in 1998. “You drank from a fire hose. A law degree teaches you how to think, and organize your oral and written arguments. I felt ready to take it on, though, thanks to the foundation I received at SC4, which made college fun, challenging and attainable.”

The college football, blues music and exercise fan has been putting his well-crafted thoughts to use and taking action ever since—and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

“I’d like to do more by way of venture capital/private equity collaborations as well as continue charity and community work,” Mason said. “I really want to give back to the practice of law, and I will continue to be an advocate for community colleges like SC4. SC4 gave me a great start to life that I could build upon. Academia can be elitist and exclusive. SC4 offers every student the opportunity to be more than they are and all that they hoped to be by laying the foundation for future opportunities.”

New study shows SC4’s economic impact on students, taxpayers and society

More 2022 Commencement images

St. Clair County Community College (SC4) provides enormous economic value to St. Clair County and the surrounding area, generating more than $137 million in total economic impact.

The figure is among key findings of a newly released study by the nationally recognized economic research firm Emsi Burning Glass, which uses labor market statistics to measure the social as well as the economic impact of the community college in the region.

The study shows a high rate of return on investment for students, taxpayers and society. 

Students enjoy a 14.5 percent rate of return on their educational investment at SC4. For every $1 students invest, they’ll receive $3.80 in higher future earnings than their non-degree holding peers.

Taxpayers receive a high rate of return on their investment as well. State and local funding of $18.9 million in the study year generated $35.6 million in total benefits through added public sector revenue and savings derived through improved alumni salaries and lifestyles. This means for every tax dollar spent educating students attending SC4, taxpayers receive an average of $2.00 in return over the course of the students’ working lives—an annual rate of return of 4.3 percent.

Society invested $48.4 million in SC4 in FY 2020-21. This includes the college’s expenditures, student expenses, and student opportunity costs. In return, the state of Michigan will receive an estimated present value of $417 million in added state revenue over the course of the students’ working lives.

Michigan will also benefit from an estimated $9.5 million in present value social savings related to reduced crime, lower welfare and unemployment, and increased health and well-being across the state. Every dollar society invests in SC4 yields an average of $8.80 in benefits to society.

“The college naturally helps students achieve their individual potential and develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to have fulfilling and prosperous careers,” the report states. “However, SC4 impacts St. Clair County beyond influencing the lives of students. The college’s program offerings supply employers with workers to make their businesses more productive. The college, its day-to-day operations, its construction activities, and the expenditures of its students support the county economy through the output and employment generated by county vendors. The benefits created by the college extend as far as the state treasury in terms of the increased tax receipts and decreased public sector costs generated by students across the state.”

The study showed that in FY 2020-21, operations, construction and student spending of SC4, together with the enhanced productivity of its alumni, generated $137.7 million in added income for the St. Clair County economy— equal to approximately 2.3 percent of the total gross regional product (GRP) of St. Clair County. 2,041 jobs exist in the county because of the economic impact of SC4.

SC4 students, both drawn to and retained in the area because of the college, added $855,200 to the regional economy. The impact of SC4 alumni, including thousands employed in St. Clair County, amounted to $112.9 million in added income for the St. Clair County economy.

Michigan’s community colleges enroll nearly the same amount of students as Michigan’s public four-year colleges and universities. Historically, community colleges such as SC4 offer more affordable tuition, quality programs, enhanced personalized attention and support, flexible options and seamless transfer pathways.

SC4 alumni honor parents, support future generations with scholarships and grants

St. Clair County Community College (SC4) alumni Martha Foley and Dan Fredendall recently created the Therese A. Foley Student Assistance Fund and the Eileen M. and Lawrence D. Fredendall Scholarship Fund—as well as provided grants for the Challenger Learning Center at SC4 and other student support initiatives—to honor the lives and legacies of their parents.

“They were all such strong, selfless and caring role models,” said Martha, who met Dan at SC4 before they both transferred to Michigan State University. “They were committed to advancing the well-being of others within the Blue Water area. These scholarships and grants honor their work and ‘pay-it-forward’ commitment to others.”

Martha’s mother, Therese, was the youngest of 11 children from the east side of Detroit, who became a devoted mother of six, a registered nurse, and an environmental and public health activist, finishing her career as a clinical nursing instructor at SC4. Her father, Maurice was altruistic and driven, attended Assumption College in Windsor, Ontario after high school, served in the Navy during WWII, then finished his bachelor’s degree from Assumption after the war. After early jobs in the Fenton area, Maurice started working as a teacher. He taught middle school mathematics in Detroit and Port Huron schools for almost 35 years, served as supervisor of Fort Gratiot Township for eight years in the 1980s, and was active in the Society of St Vincent de Paul for decades.

Eileen Fredendall, born in Port Huron, was a committed mother of nine, a registered nurse and a community volunteer. Dan’s father, Lawrence, came to Port Huron from Iowa after high school. He served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and was the first in his family line to go to college. After marrying Eileen, he earned an associate degree from Port Huron Junior College (SC4) under the GI Bill while working full time. An entrepreneur, Lawrence owned or managed a variety of businesses and finished his career with Serve-All Appliance. He was most proud of his work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, including revitalizing the stores in the greater metro Detroit area, and was instrumental in launching the Blue Water Community Food Depot.

Their parents had similar backgrounds and experiences and, unbeknownst to Martha and Dan, they knew each other before Martha and Dan met. Both mothers attended three-year, hospital-based nursing degree programs as United States Cadet Nurse Corps, finishing just after WWII ended. Their fathers were both involved at their parish churches in community outreach and knew each other through their work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

“They all poured themselves out to others,” Dan said. “Whether that was in the hospital, the classroom, taking someone into their home, or in the community, they gave others the best of themselves, even when it may have been difficult. There was always someone else who needed more and they helped provide it.”

By creating these scholarships and grants through the SC4 Foundation held at the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, Martha and Dan are following in their parents’ footsteps and encouraging future generations to do the same. They both recognize that community college is an important bridge for many students to make the transition between high school graduation and success in a bachelor’s degree at the university level, particularly for a first-generation college student.

The Therese A. Foley Student Assistance Fund and the Eileen M. and Lawrence D. Fredendall Scholarship Fund will be awarded in perpetuity to SC4 students pursuing nursing or a STEM-related program. The grants will support access to missions at the Challenger Learning Center at SC4 as well as potential tuition assistance for disadvantaged students, Skip’s Corner Pantry support, ad hoc student assistance for one-time unanticipated events or housing support.

“We are beyond grateful to Martha and Dan for their generous support,” said Dr. Deborah A. Snyder, SC4 president. “It’s clear Martha and Dan’s parents were incredible individuals and role models for their families and communities. Thanks to their parents’ example, they are now doing the same for a whole new generation of students. The impact of their parents’ lives and work will continue to be felt for years to come.”

Community Foundation Vice President Jackie Hanton added, “Martha and Dan were thoughtful and impact-driven with their major gift. They were able to make a bigger impact on future students because they gifted stock. When appreciated stock is gifted, the donors do not have to pay capital gains tax. It is truly a win-win that will have lasting implications in the lives of so many future students.”

Dan and Martha recently visited SC4’s campus and reflected on their and Therese’s time there.

“That’s the first time we’ve been back to campus in a long time,” Martha said. “Back when Therese taught Nursing at the College, they learned by way of practicing on each other. She would be astonished and thrilled to see the technology and spaces in the Health Sciences Building. It’s an impressive facility.”

For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office at financialaid@sc4.edu or (810) 989-5530.