Meet the Peer Advocates!

Meet the current and past Connect2Complete Peer Advocates!

Fall 2012

Spring 2012 

  • Benjamin Willets
  • Briana Holland
  • Chloe Shauck
  • Katie Greear
  • Kelly Long
  • Kionna McIntosh
  • Lester White
  • Mary Santana
  • Melissa Berens
  • Rachel Smirz
  • Tamara Newton

(2nd Semester denotes Peer Advocates who have continued on to serve a second semester!)

Fall 2012

Benjamin Willets
Major: Psychology/Sustainable Agriculture
Contact Info:

Bio: Ben Willets was born and raised in Elyria, Ohio but currently resides in Henrietta Township. His hobbies include writing, gardening and food preservation. Ben is a 2012 graduate of the Cleveland State University Partnership program in Psychology, and is currently enrolled in LCCC's Sustainable Agriculture program while he prepares for graduate school.  Serving as University Partnership Representative of the LCCC Student Senate in the '11-'12 school year, Ben gained the knowledge of the campus resources to effectively advocate for students in need. He continues his work on behalf of the Student Body as Vice President of the Student Senate ('12-'13), and is happy to share his knowledge with all students who want to learn more about LCCC.

Ben, among the students you interact with in this role, what do you consider to be the biggest barriers to completing college?

The difficulties of managing work, school, social lives, family, etc.  Time management and prioritization can be difficult, if not impossible, for many students who struggle financially and must work full time to support themselves (and often others). Discouragement is also a major issue—the time sunk into academic foundations courses can feel wasted, and not worth the effort. Finally, something all college students face in uncertain economic times: the difficulty in choosing a career path you are suited for and believe you would enjoy, but which will also likely provide employment in the future.

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Cassandra Andrusyszyn
Major: Business Administration – Entrepreneurship
Contact Info
    Phone - (440) 309-9025

Bio: Cassandra is a single mother, longtime resident of the city of Lorain, and a student at Lorain County Community College. In 2006, she was awarded the Trustee Scholarship because of her lofty GPA in high school to attend LCCC. Working three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet while attending college full time, she made a difficult decision to stop attending college to work and get out of the financial hardship she was facing. After having her son, she feared that he would fall into the same poverty circle just like she had.

In 2010, Cassandra realized she needed to make a change in her life, so she enrolled back into college to finish her degree. “Getting my degree in May 2012 was just the beginning, it opened so many doors of opportunities for me,” Cassandra stated. Cassandra now has her Associates in Business Administration – Entrepreneurship, has a full time corporate office job with a GLIDE company-AMIDAC International, is a student entrepreneur with Blackstone LaunchPad, and a peer advocate for the C2C students at LCCC.

Cassandra serves as a Connect2Complete Peer Advocate for the developmental education RDST 021 College Reading 1 class where she helps students access college and community resources to help them succeed in their coursework. She also mentors individual students and gets them involved in the community for after school enrichment activities to help them reach their ultimate goal of graduation.

Cassandra, What have you found to be the most rewarding parts of your work as a Connect2Complete Peer Advocate?

"The most rewarding part of being a Connect2Complete Peer Advocate is helping and inspiring students to better their lives and to graduate. It is a great feeling knowing that I worked hard to get where I am and I enjoy helping other students get to where I am at today. I can relate to the C2C students because I was in there position once. If I had a peer advocate back in 2006, someone to talk to and weigh my options, I may not have dropped out of college. I can’t go back in time, but what I can do is be there for the students who need me, who have questions, and inspire them to be determined and let them know that I did, so can you."

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Chloe Shauck
Major: Business Administration
Contact Info:

Bio: Chloe Shauck is a 5th year Lorain County Community College student. She participated in the PSEO option her senior year in high school in Amherst, Ohio. She is majoring in Business Administration and will be graduating in the spring of 2013 from Kent State University through the University Partnership program offered at LCCC. Her volunteer experience includes Girl Scouts, LCCC Festival Marketing Team, Connect2Complete Peer Advocate, through work at Target and the LCCC SIFE Team, in which Chloe is the Vice President of Communication.

She has been working at Target for three years and in the Academic Support Center at LCCC for one year, she enjoys both of these jobs, even though it gets difficult trying to juggle school and work. She has participated in theatre from the second grade all the way up to her senior year in high school and also enjoys singing. Chloe feels that with her experiences she will be able to improve another student’s educational journey at LCCC.

Chloe, what advice do you have for community college that may be struggling with balancing their academic, work and personal lives? 

"My advice for community college students that are struggling with balancing their academic, work and personal lives is to take time to organize oneself. If there is a bit of structure of when to do what things, it makes it easier to complete all tasks in a timely and complete manner and to still be able to have fun and enjoy all the benefits college has to offer."

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Cristy Plas
Major: Clinical Psychology
Contact Info:

Bio: Cristy is from LaGrange Ohio and is currently participating in the LCCC partnership program with Cleveland State University. Cristy earned her associates degree in Psychology from LCCC and will graduate from Cleveland State with a bachelors in Psychology Spring of 2013. Cristy is active in the LCCC psychology club and is an applicant for PSI Beta. She is also involved with PSI CHI through Cleveland State and is a student participant in the APA (American Psychological Association). Cristy volunteers her time coaching Peewee soccer in LaGrange. She also volunteers her time at the Annual Police and Fire Benefit MX race which raises money for Make-A-Wish and the Akron Children’s burn Unit. She is also involved with SIFE. Cristy works at Smith Road Raceway in Medina. She enjoys raising and breeding English Mastiffs, cake decorating and photography. Cristy is a married mother of 2 small children ages 4 and 5. Cristy serves as a Connect2Complete Peer Advocate for 5 students at Lorain County Community College, she helps these students to access college and community resources to help them succeed in their coursework. This fall she will complete a service project along with her 5 students to help give back to our community.

Cristy, what have you found to be the most rewarding parts of your work as a Connect2Complete Peer Advocate?

"Interacting with others to try and make a positive change in campus life."

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Elizabeth Springer
Major: Business Administration 
Contact Info:

Bio: Currently residing in Elyria, Ohio, Elizabeth Springer is attending her second year at LCCC. She will be pursuing her Bachelors of Business Administration through the Kent State University Partnership starting in the spring of 2013. She has previously served as Student Occupational Therapy Association President at Owen's Community College, has been actively involved in Relay for Life events, and volunteered at the Jerry Lewis's MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) camp. She will be working through the peer to peer model as a mentor in hopes of keeping students enrolled at LCCC and engaged in their educational goals. 

The most rewarding aspect of peer advocacy is passing along knowledge that empowers other students at the beginning of their educational journey. An obstacle a student may encounter is that they feel inadequate or lack the sense of belonging. Once that student's perception changes they will become limitless in their ability to obtain personal goals. “I would advise students to be present in the moment and to make sure your educational time is respected.” Community colleges must continue to encourage their students to identify with both the school and the community through service learning and civic engagement. This will result in competent, confident, and educated citizens that will choose to stay within the community.

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Laura Hite
Major: Social Work

Bio: Laura Hite has been a resident of Lorain County her whole life. She has been married to her husband Tim for 24 years. They have three sons, ages 18, 16, and 14. Laura is in her third year at Lorain County Community College, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in social work through the university partnership with Youngstown State University. This is her second time attending college, with a change in majors. Laura stays busy being a student, taking care of the house, making sure the kids get where they need to be, and volunteering. She works once a month at a food pantry and also a free lunch program at the Amherst Church of the Nazarene. Laura is also a volunteer for New Life Hospice. Recently, she became a volunteer for the Connect2Complete Peer Advocate Program at LCCC. This is a new endeavor for her and she will be working with a group of five students. She will help them access services and programs on campus as well as participating in community engagement activities and service learning activities. When she has spare time, Laura enjoys reading, walking, zip lining, and once a year she attends a bug festival and samples a variety of insects in different recipes. She also sings at church and helps with the youth group.

One thing that has surprised Laura is that it takes a little longer than she likes to get going in the Connect2Complete program. However, the participants and leadership in the program are always there to help and give ideas. She believes that one of the biggest barriers to completing college is simply not knowing about or utilizing the services and resources that are available. That’s why this program is so great. It allows students to work with someone who can point them to these resources while offering encouragement. One meaningful volunteer experience was painting for Habitat for Humanity. It was not on a house, but in a building they had purchased to use as a resale shop. She didn’t know they even had these shops. It was good to see so many people coming together for a common purpose. Contractors donate products to these stores, such as desks, chairs, sinks, toilets, etc. and they can then be purchased and used. Contractors who demolish homes and buildings will take the time to take out what can be used and donate them. It was a good example of how many people can work; doing different things that can help many other people later. Laura knows what it is like to work, have a family, volunteer, and have a full time class schedule. It can get pretty hectic, with nerves and emotions running wild. Her advice is to take one day, one hour at a time if needed. Look at the big picture. The busyness of the moment will achieve something greater that will outweigh all those other things. Understand that it is not forever (although it will seem like it sometimes). A semester is sixteen weeks. Most importantly, take care of yourself. You cannot be everything to everyone. Get proper nutrition, exercise, and enough sleep. Take time for yourself every day, even if it is only ten minutes. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself of what you have to be thankful for; fresh air, the sunshine, the ability to come to college. Life is good!

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Sarah McGervey
Major: Early Childhood Education
Contact Info:

Bio: Sarah McGervey lives in Avon Lake, Ohio. She is currently studying Early Childhood Education for her Associates of Applied Science Degree in Teacher Education and her goal is to go on to earn her Bachelor’s in Education. This is her fifth year here at Lorain County Community College. She has done volunteer work for Junior Achievement where she taught first and second grade economics sessions. She is the Executive Secretary of Student Senate here at LCCC and in that role she is able to reach out to students and share her knowledge of the tools and resources available to them. She also works part-time at Bob Evans in Westlake as the Children’s Night Coordinator, and hospitality coordinator. A few unique things about her; She loves musicals, her favorite one is Les Miserables. She is excited to be part of the Connect2Complete Program. She has had the opportunity of visiting with her SDEV 102 Classroom as well as telling a student about Blackstone LaunchPad and encouraging them to go there with their idea of opening up a game company.

Sarah, what have you found to be the most rewarding parts of your work as a Connect2Complete Peer Advocate?

"Being able to teach other students how to use the resources that are available to them."

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Stephen Sasak
Major: Police Science/Digital Forensics
Contact Info
    Phone - (440) 366-4774

Bio: Stephen currently resides in Avon Lake, where he graduated from ALHS as a Distinguished Scholar, the oldest of four siblings. As two of them are from the Marine Corps, one a reservist the other a “retired” Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine). Being from a military family, Stephen has lived from as far as California to Virginia.  As part of his LCCC experience (going on five years)  he has been a Diversity Incentive Award Mentor for two years, and this is his first year as a C2C Mentor. Stephen is currently a Student Senator, a representative of the LCCC student population to the administration and helps coordinate events for the student body to make their LCCC experience a pleasurable and most unforgettable one.

Stephen, what have you found to be the most rewarding parts of your work as a Connect2Complete Peer Advocate?

Hopes and dreams have allowed our community to rise above the hardest challenges, and if I can help, even a small bit, to allow someone else to rise above all the challenges life brings:  it’s worth it.  Worth it beyond anything.”

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