Sandusky wins Sanilac academic games at SC4

Sandusky High School was the overall winner at the 34th annual Raymond T. Dunbar Jr. Sanilac County Academic Games Saturday, Feb. 8, on St. Clair County Community College’s Port Huron campus.

First- and second-place winners in specific academic areas were:

  • Language arts
    • First: Croswell-Lexington High School
    • Second: Carsonville-Port Sanilac High School
  • Math
    • First: Deckerville High School
    • Second: Sandusky High School
  • Science
    • First: Marlette High School
    • Second: Sandusky High School
  • Social studies
    • First: Sandusky High School
    • Second: Deckerville High School

Students representing seven school districts in Sanilac County challenged each other in the four academic areas. Questions were written by SC4 professors, who also judged the competition.

The games are coordinated by the Sanilac Intermediate School District, Sanilac County Talent Development Consortium and SC4.

Longtime SC4 Professor James Jones honored with national AACC award

St. Clair County Community College Professor of Criminal Justice James Jones has been awarded the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 2020 Dale P. Parnell Faculty Distinction Recognition for his work in making a difference in the classroom.

As a Faculty Distinction recipient, Jones will be recognized on the AACC Faculty Wall of Distinction, on the AACC website and at AACC’s 100th Annual Convention in March, where he will be honored with a private reception.

“Jim has devoted his life to giving back to others, and we are thrilled to congratulate him on this prestigious award,” said SC4 President Dr. Deborah A. Snyder. “His dedication to the success of SC4’s criminal justice program is admirable as is his devotion to ensuring that his students gain hands-on knowledge and experience with criminal situations and scenarios.”

Jones has been teaching at SC4 since 1997 both as an adjunct instructor and a full-time professor. In addition to his full-time teaching, he also serves as a part-time police officer with the Marine City Police Department. Jones previously served as a full-time officer for the Port Huron Police Department for 28 years.

At SC4, he organizes off-campus learning experiences for students, including visits to the city of Detroit to shadow the Detroit Police Department on ride-alongs. He also is actively engaged in other college activities as well, including leading and serving on event, recruitment and curriculum committees.

According to Snyder, Jones is known for going out of his way to ensure that his students succeed and complete their goals.

SC4 launches new online store

St. Clair County Community College is pleased to launch its new online store at, just in time for the holidays.

From name-brand apparel, business accessories and drinkware to totes, jewelry and much more, SC4’s new online store provides more options and is sure to help Skippers and friends alike show their college pride.

Those interested in buying merchandise in person can visit the SC4 College Bookstore at 323B Erie St., or visit the Bookstore online for additional promotions.

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SC4 among first community colleges nationwide to launch Esports athletic offering

St. Clair County Community College is again building upon its strong reputation in collegiate sports with the launch of an Esports athletic offering. The college is among the first 50 of 520 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) member institutions nationwide to field a team, according to a recent article by The Esports Observer.

NJCAA announced last month a plan to create NJCAA Esports, a new association that will “provide two-year colleges with governance, competition and official national championships while also providing guidance and positive development for two-year colleges to build and operate esports programs.”

SC4’s Esports team will compete in this association beginning in January 2020, with competitions played in the college’s Fine Arts Building and theatre. Games played will include Rocket League (PC), FIFA 20 (PS4) and Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo Switch).

“The Esports industry is growing at a rapid pace,” said SC4 Athletics Director Dale Vos. “Fielding a team allows SC4 to lead the way in providing innovative and in-demand opportunities for current and future students as well as our broader community.”

Esports brings collegiate sports teams at SC4 to 14, joining teams in cross country, basketball, bowling, baseball, softball, volleyball, golf, soccer and wrestling.

Those interested in joining the Esports team should contact the Athletics Department at or 810-989-5670. Those interested in coaching Esports at SC4 can apply for the position online or contact the Department of Human Resources at 810-989-5534.

First-generation college student and SC4 alumnus pursuing passion with Detroit Lions

Pursuing a college education — one that didn’t break the bank — was a must for first-generation college student Brendan Buffa when he graduated from St. Clair High School in 2012.

“I knew deep down I wanted to continue my education after high school, but the fear of taking on a massive amount of debt was very real to me,” Buffa said. “I was incredibly grateful to my parents, who said that if I did in fact decide to go to college, they’d help pay for my first year at St. Clair County Community College.”

According to Buffa, he found much more than an affordable education at SC4, including faculty members, clubs and experiences that helped him explore options and grow prior to committing to a four-year university. He also discovered a passion that has driven him ever since.

Buffa was approached by SC4 faculty members Gary Schmitz and John Lusk in his first semester to consider writing for the Erie Square Gazette, SC4’s student newspaper. He then spent the next three semesters at SC4 writing, editing and covering Skippers Athletics. The experience helped introduce him to athletes, connect him to campus and the community, and learn about people in a whole new way.

“SC4 taught me individualism,” Buffa said. “The idea that everybody is a person and has a story to tell. That was what made SC4 so unique and memorable. Everybody on campus — whether they were young students, middle-aged students, athletes, faculty, staff —everybody had a story to tell that was so fully unique.”

His campus involvement also made him aware of new career possibilities that could seamlessly merge his passions for writing and sports.

“I didn’t really know there were alternative career paths in athletics,” Buffa said. “My SC4 professors saw hope and drive in me. They challenged and molded me. Thanks to them, I became aware of a new career path and have since been in a full sprint to achieve my goals.”

Buffa transferred to Western Michigan University in fall 2014. With collegiate writing experience already under his belt, he started as a staff writer at the 100-year-old Western Herald before being promoted to assistant sports editor and then editor-in-chief in 2016. He also served as a member of the Student Media Group Board, which was the decision-making entity of the university’s media outlets, where he advocated to give his 60-member writing team experiences they wouldn’t have elsewhere.

“That time in my life was difficult, but it resulted in great success,” Buffa said. “Leading a paper, taking full-time classes and working another part-time job in the midst of it all was really hard to juggle. But SC4’s ability to mold my creativity, leadership and independence was a direct contribution to the success I found and helped others find as well.”

Buffa graduated from WMU in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and sports marketing. Upon graduation, he served as a promotions coordinator at 97.1 The Ticket in Southfield, Michigan, and as a digital content producer and assignment desk editor at WWMT Newschannel 3 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Grateful for all his past experiences — which also include a freelance gig for the Dallas Cowboys and covering the WMU Broncos’ undefeated season and Cotton Bowl game — Buffa remains laser-focused and is thrilled to be starting in a new role with the Detroit Lions as a new media web intern. There, he supports the new media team through backend website assistance, site photo and gallery production, media interview post-copy, article and video creation, and more.

“Working with the Detroit Lions has been the ultimate goal since 2013,” Buffa said. “It’s an opportunity I’ve only dreamed of.”

Ultimately, Buffa looks forward to expanding his roles and expertise in professional sports in the coming years and is more than ready to put in the hard work. An avid community college advocate, he’ll tell anyone who listens that his time at SC4 helped him get his start.

“SC4 is where it all started,” Buffa says. “It was the first time I was able to dip my feet into the water and experience things. It taught me so much about independence and autonomy, and about friendships and support. I found a community at SC4. I’m grateful to my professors to this day.”

He added, “If people want to further their education with college, community college should always and forever be the first consideration. It is wholly accessible to people from all walks of life. If you want to further yourself and are hindered by other commitments or still not sure where you want to direct your path in life, community college will give you the tools and experiences to do so.”

TRIO Student of the Month: Desi Kuntz

When I moved to St. Clair from New York City, I was looking for the next step to further my career. I am a musician first and foremost, but I needed stability — a solid job and schedule. I saw that SC4 offered several different engineering majors and I decided it was worth trying out a class or two to see if I liked it. It turns out I absolutely loved it.

Moving to St. Clair after living in NYC was jarring. I loved my new surroundings, but aside from a few family members, I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t know how to drive. I’ve fought with manic depression and anxiety since I was about 8 or 9 years old, and both were at an all-time high. I found some jobs within walking/biking distance and saved up money, and with driving lessons from my father and family chipping in, I got my first car. After that, it was all about forcing myself to explore the surrounding areas, where I stumbled across SC4 and met more people.

Neither of my parents went to college, and I didn’t really know how to “do” the whole college thing. When I went to college for the first time at 18, I didn’t take it seriously. This time I knew I wanted to be focused on my goals and learn as much as I could. I heard through a friend who was already in TRIO that it would benefit me greatly if I could get in, so I applied.

TRIO helped me outline my goals and plan out the steps I needed to graduate within a realistic timeframe. They helped take out the guesswork and treated me like a real human being, not just another faceless student with a number. I also appreciated that TRIO checked in with my teachers to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to and remind the teachers that I may need some help.

I’m so grateful for the professors I have had for inspiring me to do my best, my advisors for looking out for my academic and personal well-being, the truly gifted students who were willing to lend their help and give advice while expecting nothing in return, the best physics tutor ever (Callahan), and the work-study opportunity in the Fine Arts Department with Celeste Skalnek and Debbie Sta Cruz.

I would definitely recommend the TRIO program to other students, but only to those who won’t squander the opportunity. There are only so many people that can be in the program, and I made sure that if I’m taking what could be another student’s spot that I would use it to my fullest. TRIO will help you, but you have to help yourself first and allow yourself to be helped.

My number one goal right now is to enjoy the process. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the goal that life passes by, and I want to savor every moment. I try to be honest, humble and sincere, and I hope to inspire others to try their best and remain focused. It always comes back to my favorite quote from Sir Isaac Newton: “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

Students, local businesses benefit from a graphic design program that goes far beyond the classroom

For the last three years, local businesses from Port Huron to Lexington, Michigan, have been building their brands with the help of students from St. Clair County Community College’s Graphic Design program. The students are enrolled in Graphic Design I and II courses led by Adjunct Instructor Chris Krolczyk, who has helped make practical application and work with real clients a staple of the curriculum.

The projects began in earnest when the City of Port Huron reached out to Krolczyk’s classes for help designing an “Explore Port Huron” map of retailers, restaurants, coffee shops and other hot spots around the city. Then when Cedar Sub and Salad — a Middle Eastern restaurant in downtown Port Huron — was getting ready to open, they came to Krolczyk for help. This presented a perfect opportunity for students to think bigger.

“The owner was in the process of gutting an old Subway restaurant and told me ‘I have a name, but I don’t have a logo, brand or anything.’ So we started executing that, with each student creating their own design and ultimately settling on one,” Krolczyk said. “Not only did the class get to develop the business’ brand identity, but we were asked to help design the interior of the restaurant, too. It was a great experience.”

Graphic Design Class Presents to Client02Last year, his classes worked with Water Tower Sports Pub in Lexington to create a new logo, social media ads and two menus. This year, they started working with Chef Shell’s, a well-known restaurant and catering company that has been serving Port Huron for the last 20 years.

“Everyone we’ve worked with has been very supportive and excited about partnering with the college,” Krolczyk said. “They realize it’s a benefit to their business and our students.”

With Chef Shell’s, the classes are working on different projects throughout the year, designing a new house menu, catering menu and labels for the company’s spices and sauces. The first step was all about establishing the art direction. Once that is set, everything else can fall into place.

Graphic Design Presentation 02“These projects are all about practical application, working with real-world clients, going through the procedures and attacking every aspect from concept through production,” Krolczyk said. “It gives our students, whether they are moving on to a four-year institution or elsewhere, the ability to enter the workplace with real-world experience and real work to put in their portfolios, which is more important than anything else when you’re trying to build your career.”

The classes were given the current menu, logo and color scheme, and each student was asked to develop their unique interpretation. In late October, students presented their concepts to the business owners, who narrowed it to two designs. The classes brought those concepts together to finalize the art direction and design full layouts for the six- to eight-page menu.

Photography Chef Shells01While the focus was on graphic design work, the project also allowed for collaboration with other classes. Students in Adjunct Instructor Mark Rummel’s Digital Imaging and Photography class spent an evening snapping shots of carefully crafted meals to be featured in the menu. And students from Professor Gary Schmitz’s English course were brought in later to proofread and copy edit the nearly finished product.

“It gives our students the chance to experience the whole creative process, working with photographers and editors, and really understanding what it’s like to work collaboratively and be part of a team,” Krolczyk said. “It also helps them realize the constant revision involved in the process and how to take constructive criticism.”

With menu designs from each student in hand, Chef Shell’s faced a tough decision. They ultimately decided on work from two students: a full menu and a layout for a breakfast and beverage insert.

“It’s really been an exciting experience. The students were so engaged and they all presented wonderful ideas,” said co-owner Michelle “Chef Shell” Wrubel. “It was a huge blessing for us. We had been talking about menu design, so the timing was perfect, and the product that we’ve seen has been above and beyond our expectations.”

As the fall semester comes to a close, students are making final adjustments and preparing the menus for print in an important stage that complements the Graphic Design program’s Production Processes course. Next semester, students will work with Chef Shell’s on labels for seasonings and sauces, along with a variety of smaller projects.

Business owners across the community are recognizing the benefits of working with the aspiring graphic designers at SC4. In a small program at a small college, the advantages for students are immeasurable.

“Client-driven opportunities, internships, national competitions and award scholarships are all integral parts of the Associate of Arts in Graphic Design program at SC4,” said Professor of Fine Arts Sarah Flatter. “Collaboration with the community, along with college and classroom collaboration, give students confidence and exposure. The contributions made by instructors Chris Krolczyk, Mark Rummel and Professor Gary Schmitz exemplify what makes our classrooms — and our college — such a fantastic place for students.”

As Krolczyk explains, many of his former students have received full-time job offers right out of the program, while others have gone on to four-year institutions with a leg up on their peers because of the real-world experience these projects provide.

IMG_7935“Being a full-time designer, when I’m working on a project I’m constantly thinking ‘My students should be learning this,’” Krolczyk said. “I want to bring things into the classroom that you’re going to encounter in the workplace, from tasks to critiques to hard deadlines. Fictitious projects can be fun, but when you can base a class on real work with real clients — especially when you’re doing it in your own community — I think it benefits everyone involved.”

Learn more about graphic design at SC4 and find out how to apply in time for the winter 2019 semester. If you are a local business or government agency in need of design work, please contact Professor Sarah Flatter at or 810-989-5617.

42 students to graduate from SC4’s practical nursing program Thursday

On Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m., 42 St. Clair County Community College students from throughout the region will celebrate their graduation from the practical nursing program during a commencement ceremony held in the college’s Fine Arts Theatre. Thursday’s commencement marks the college’s 57th graduating class since the LPN program began in 1960.

“This is a very special moment for our students and for the college as a whole,” said Patti Tibble, director of nursing at SC4. “These graduates have worked so hard to get to this point. Whether they continue their education or go straight into the workforce, I’m proud to honor their accomplishments and excited to follow their journeys as health care professionals.”

A full list of 2018 graduates, including honors and hometowns, is listed below. Those interested in learning more about SC4’s nursing programs can visit

Name Honors City
Stefany Conrad Algonac
Stephen Gottler Cum Laude Algonac
Elizabeth June Algonac
Ciara Lane Cum Laude Algonac
Amanda Whitenack Algonac
Jazmyne Armstrong Magna Cum Laude Almont
Drita Nuculovic Attica
Amanda Mielke Cum Laude Avoca
Kandice Williams Clarkston
Katie Gabriel Magna Cum Laude Clay Township
Michael Hinkley Clay Township
Brittany Whaley Dryden
Ashley Siwak Cum Laude Emmett Township
Alexandria Carson Cum Laude Fort Gratiot
Jessica Green Kimball Township
Michelle Hearn Cum Laude Kimball Township
Tessa Jenkins Cum Laude Kimball Township
Melissa Massman Cum Laude Lexington
Amy Sikorski Cum Laude Lexon Township
Karina Driver Cum Laude Macomb
Nikki Leonard Marine City
Frances LoGrasso Cum Laude Marine City
Brianna LoGrasso Cum Laude Marine City
Ashley Porter Marysville
Sarah Hill Cum Laude Memphis
Connie Long Magna Cum Laude Memphis
Falecia Trendy Cum Laude Mussey Township
Joli Christian-Bates Magna Cum Laude New Baltimore
Rosmery Frady Magna Cum Laude North Street
Falon Dupree Magna Cum Laude Port Huron
Katie Carroll Cum Laude Port Huron
Nichole Congdon Cum Laude Port Huron
Latonya Harmon Cum Laude Port Huron
Kaelin Phillips Cum Laude Port Huron
Michelle Ringer Port Huron
Edna Selimovic Cum Laude Port Huron
Ashley Withun Cum Laude Port Huron
Christina Larue Cum Laude Port Sanilac
Catharine Loss Ruth
Ashley Wojciechowski St. Clair
Jordan Loding Sterling Heights
Alyssa Gerrick Cum Laude Yale

Free College Day: Call for instructors and speakers

St. Clair County Community College will host its 17th annual Free College Day Saturday, March 16, 2019, and is seeking instructors and speakers for the event.

This college-wide community outreach program offers a day of free, hour-long classes between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for learners of all ages. Last year, community members filled close to 2,000 seats in 107 classes.

Faculty and staff members, as well as community members interested in teaching classes that highlight their area of expertise, are welcome to sign up to teach. Please contact Debbie Sta Cruz at (810) 989-5760 or with questions or to sign up today.

SC4 students come together for special performance to open free Thursday concert Dec. 6

On Thursday, Dec. 6, Dr. Kazimierz Brzozowski will take the stage in the St. Clair County Community College Fine Arts Theatre for two performances as part of the free Thursday Concert Series. But before the renowned classical pianist touches the keys, three SC4 students will perform classic holiday songs for the first — and maybe only — time together as The Temp Trio.

Three Students Musicians03Desi Kuntz (double bass), Kristen Osko (alto saxophone) and Tim Ries (piano) took different paths to SC4, and they will likely go their separate ways when their time at the college is done. However, after meeting as work-study employees for SC4’s college and cultural relations department earlier this year, their impressive talents and shared passion for music brought them together as an ensemble for this special performance.

Born and raised in New York City, Kuntz, 25, attributes his eclectic musical interests to his surroundings growing up in a large, diverse city. Playing with groups all over New York since the age of 12, he has backed vocalists, played solo and done session work as an electric and upright bass player. He moved to Michigan in 2016 to be closer to family and study mechatronics and electrical engineering at SC4. “I’m always excited to play any chance I get,” Kuntz says. “You never know what new connections you’ll make, and this group is a great example of that.” In the fall, he plans to transfer to Wayne State University and enroll in their electrical engineering technology program.

Osko, 21, has been playing alto sax for 15 years, focusing on the instrument as a high school student at Landmark Academy in Kimball, Michigan. Her grandfather, a lifelong musician and her biggest musical influence, taught her guitar as a child and continued to nurture her artistic development throughout his life. Most recently, Osko has started learning the violin. “Music is like a universal language to me and a way to bring your community together,” Osko says. “It’s always been part of my life, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” She plans to transfer to Oakland University in 2019 after completing degrees in liberal arts and general education at SC4, with the goal of becoming a music professor.

For Ries, 18, and his eight siblings, musicianship is a family tradition. His mom is an accomplished opera singer who has performed around the world, and his father was the lead singer in a rock band. “Everyone in my family sings except me, so that’s why I picked up the piano,” he says. Playing the piano has always been a hobby and personal passion, and he has spent the last 10 years honing his skills through private lessons and continued practice. “It’s definitely nice to fall back on music to relax after a long day in class or at work, so connecting with Desi and Kristen as coworkers and being able to play together has been really special,” Ries says. He has recently started showcasing his talents on campus and in the community, performing classical music at local venues and events. He is studying criminal justice at SC4 with the goal of working in federal law enforcement.

Watch The Temp Trio give their take on classic holiday tunes before Brzozowski’s performance on Thursday Dec. 6 as part of SC4’s Free Thursday Concert Series. The concert is free and open to the public, with shows at noon and 7 p.m.