College produces stories to spotlight students

Banners all around the JCCC campus illustrate the friendly and productive environment that the campus has to offer. Photo by Andrew Shepherd

By Stephen Cook

The college will add new banners to the tree-lined walkway in front of the science building this spring, in an ongoing effort to promote student recognition and inspiration.

Banners all around the JCCC campus illustrate the friendly and productive environment that the campus has to offer.  Photo by Andrew Shepherd
Banners all around the JCCC campus illustrate the friendly and productive environment that the campus has to offer.
Photo by Andrew Shepherd

Examples of these banners can be seen around campus, hanging in the Carlsen Center and the foyer of the Student Center. The “Changing Lives Through Learning” banners are part of a student stories project, started around four years ago by Paul Kyle, Dean of Student Services/Success.
Kyle said the project was created as a way to make students feel more “connected” at the campus.

“[We] felt like the campus was a little sterile,” Kyle said. “We wanted to try and get people’s faces up there, and their story and their ideas and so it’s been multi-faceted, and one of them was the banners.”

The project also includes a series on the JCCC YouTube channel as well as the stories seen on the homepage of the college website. Between the different outlets, there have been a total of about 70 student stories.

The students are selected to be a part of the student stories project when they are referred by faculty or by their friends, according to Kyle. The college has been doing this for four years now, with two iterations of banners.
Jane Shipley, Program Director, Success Center, is one of two co-chairs that serve on the project committee with Kyle. Shipley said she hopes students have been able to enjoy the project.

“I hope it’s been positive for students, I know it’s been positive for faculty and staff,” Shipley said. “The one way that I have to gauge that is that students, most of them want their posters, most of them are really excited to be a part of it when they’re asked.”

Ada Martinez-Medina, who grew up in a household as the oldest of nine children with a single mother, was selected to be on one of the new banners after taking a strength finder test from the college.

Before coming to the college, Martinez-Medina had only finished the eighth grade. Previous circumstances had prevented her from graduating high school. Now Martinez-Medina has not only earned her GED through the college, but is currently working towards an associate in liberal arts. She is also married, works a full-time job and takes care of her children.

Martinez-Medina said being a part of the student stories project has meant a lot to her.

“Getting this all fulfilled [is] so rewarding,” Martinez-Medina said. “It feels like somebody just said, ‘Hey, we’re recognizing everything you went through.’”

It was one of her professors, Kit Gorrell Frankenfield, who suggested she be a part of the project. Martinez-Medina described Frankenfield is an “amazing professor.”

According to Martinez-Medina the college is here to help students and see them achieve their goals.

“They recognize their students,” Martinez-Medina said. “They really appreciate each and every student and the help is there, you just have to go look for it, they give you so many resources it’s unbelievable.”

Martinez-Medina’s story can be found on the JCCC website, along with many other stories produced by the college about students and staff.
Kyle said the stories he has heard from students are inspiring to him and hopes they inspire other students as well.

“It’s fascinating the stories that you’ll see and hear from students that, from their perspective, ‘no big deal,’” Kyle said, “But when you look at the scope of their story and some of them have really [overcame] lots of obstacles.”

Shipley said her favorite part of the process is getting to know the students.

“It’s like you get a little window into someone’s world,” Shipley said. “I think all of us, everyone of us, that have sat in on those interviews we feel the same way, we just come out so inspired around, what students do, what they do, what they overcome, what they’re capable of, their great spirit: spirit of hope.”

Contact Stephen Cook, copy editor, at



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