March 30, 2006

Students overcome obstacles to be named two of Ohio's best community college students

At yesterday's All-Ohio Academic Team recognition ceremony at the Statehouse, 47 of the state's best community and technical college students were recognized for their academic performance, leadership, and community service. Two of Columbus State's best and brightest--Mary Beth Cligrow and David Kerr--were honored for their achievements.

Cligrow was one of ten students named to the First Team, earning a $1,000 cash scholarship, a medallion, certificate and pin. Kerr was one of 27 students named to the Third Team, earning a medallion, certificate and pin.

Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year college students, started the All-State Academic Team program in 1994, building upon the success of the All-USA Academic Team program, sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, USA Today , and the American Association of Community Colleges. The rankings for the All-Ohio Academic Team are determined by the scores received in the All-USA Academic Team judging.

Mary Beth Cligrow prepares for co-facilitating her group session at The House of Hope.

Mary Beth Cligrow

Mary Beth Cligrow, a mental health/chemical dependency/mental retardation major, came to Columbus State after looking at several colleges and programs. "The mental health/chemical dependency/mental retardation program is considered the finest in Ohio, and the classes transfer to several four-year institutions, where I can continue my education and fulfill my dream of becoming a chemical dependency counselor and social worker," says Cligrow.

According to her MH/CD/MR academic advisor, Dr. Frances James-Brown, "I have seen Mary Beth work quietly but effectively behind the scenes to assist those classmates in need of academic assistance. Whether it be a word of encouragement, a need for additional clarity and insight or some type of assistance, Mary Beth is always there for those peers in need."

Cligrow is the president and immediate past secretary of the Alpha Rho Epsilon Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. As a Phi Theta Kappa member, she has planned and implemented various events and fundraisers, served as a liaison to other student organizations, and served as the editor of the chapter's newsletter.

"Mary Beth is instrumental in increasing our interactions with the local community," says Dr. Charles Gallucci, advisor of Phi Theta Kappa and associate professor in Biological and Physical Sciences. "She has coordinated our Phi Theta Kappa chapter and the Student Ambassador program to become involved with the Ohio Youth Advocate Program."

"I first became a member of the planning committee of OYAP and then volunteered to aid in a school supply collection to benefit needy neighborhood children," Cligrow says. She worked with the Student Ambassadors to recruit volunteers to distribute OYAP Block Party posters and drop boxes for supplies. Through these efforts, enough supplies were collected to benefit 200 children.

Cligrow also has participated in Columbus State's version of the Phi Theta Kappa Leadership Development Studies. She works with the House of Hope Outpatient Program in co-facilitating groups, providing education on drugs and helping facilitate interaction among group members. Cligrow also helps individual clients develop goals, objectives, and treatment plans, and she provides referrals to community programs.

In addition to the All-Ohio Academic Team, her honors include being named to the National Dean's List and recently being named one of Columbus State's ten Outstanding Women Student Leaders.

Outside of Columbus State activities, Cligrow spends much of her free time with her 14-year-old-daughter Elizabeth and a 7-year-old daughter Kimberlie. When not with her children, she studies a variety of religions and their practices in order to grow spiritually and attends weekly Al-Anon meetings to share her experiences of being a child of alcohol and drug users.

As she continues to overcome her own issues resulting from childhood abuse, she leans on her friends, classmates, and teachers to help her deal with her past as she helps others with their current problems.

"What is amazing is I have achieved so much growth at Columbus State and at an economical price. So, I cannot only achieve my dreams, but save for my daughters dreams as well," says Cligrow.

David Kerr, Jr. spends some time at the Statehouse where he plans to glean information before becoming a political science major.
David Kerr

"Columbus State gave me the opportunity to grow and learn that it is acceptable to have comfort zones, but to learn to explore outside of those zones," says David Kerr. "The college took me in and taught me to be a leader. While Columbus State helped me build confidence, the school also taught me how to overcome challenges and empowered me to choose my own path of excellence."

"Along with his academic successes, David has demonstrated leadership skills through his involvement with Phi Theta Kappa and as a Student Ambassador," says Dana Ogrodowski, instructor in Communication Skills. "He is enthusiastic about both organizations, because he values student connection with instructors, staff, and his peers. David's personal philosophy and goals are driven by his commitment to his college community."

While at Columbus State, Kerr has been very active in Phi Theta Kappa. He has served as the Ohio Region officer and Columbus District representative for Phi Theta Kappa, representing 11 community college chapters in Ohio. As vice president of leadership, he coordinated chapter efforts for campus and community activities, and as president tripled the number of members in one year. As a result, the chapter became the first in Ohio to receive the Pinnacle Platinum Award.

For his leadership in Phi Theta Kappa, Kerr has been recognized locally and nationally. He received the Leadership Award, the Order of Athena-Regional (as the most distinguished chapter officer demonstrating hallmark qualities and enthusiasm in support of Columbus State's chapter), and the Honors Scholar Award-National (for completing the 38th annual International Honors Conference investigating "Popular Culture, Shaping and Reflecting Who We Are").

He serves as a senior ambassador in the Student Ambassador program, overseeing campus involvement of the junior ambassadors, coordinating Student Ambassador activities, and conducting presentations at new student orientations and freshman seminar classes. For his efforts, he earned the Leadership Award for continued service to the Student Ambassador program.

Kerr has also helped instructors with teaching experiments for the Fantastic Friday Science Program and has participated in Welcome Back activities at the start of each quarter.

According to Barbara Allen, Strategic Enrollment Management advisor, "He is definitely the type of student leader that has a real impact on this campus, whether it is with his peers, students, faculty, or staff." Allen continues, "He has worked closely with faculty, staff and students alike to improve service to students through the Welcome Team program, as well as our Student Assistance Center.

"One of my first professors, Angelo Frole in Business Management, would challenge students to the edge of their opinion making them back up their theories and stand behind what they think," says Kerr. "He taught me that it is acceptable to be wrong sometimes as long as the outcome is one of enlightenment. The true learning experience is debating issues and opening the mind to see all sides of an issue."

Because of lessons learned in Frole's class, Kerr changed his major to Associate of Arts with plans to continue his education, earn a master's degree, and become a high school teacher of integrated social studies.


CougarWeb gets new look, feel

Just in time for spring quarter, CougarWeb will be getting a new look for students and employees. While the look of CougarWeb will be slightly different and have color-coded sections--blue for students, dark tan for faculty, and maroon for employees--CougarWeb will still function in much the same way as it currently does.

With the new CougarWeb, students will be able access and change their password, discover their user ID, look at financial aid information, discover their account balance by quarter, search for courses, and register and pay online. Students can also check their academic profile including grades by quarter and grand point average by term, view their transcript, make transcript requests, apply for graduation, and check their student profile.

Employee and faculty functions will include viewing individual leave plan summaries, compensation and additional and contract compensation, and degree audit. Faculty also will be able to enter grades and check class rosters.

The new CougarWeb is scheduled to go live the week of April 10.

The new look for CougarWeb coming the week of April 10:


The new look for CougarWeb for employees:



Strategic Directions Conversations to continue

Knowledge Resources and Planning's Strategic Directions efforts will continue this spring through a series of Strategic Thinking Conversations.

One of the first "conversations" to occur is a Synthesis Survey, taking place online March 30-April 14. The Synthesis Survey is a compilation of responses from the past Strategic Directions surveys asking participants to select statements that are of greatest importance to sustain Columbus State now and in the future. There is also space for additional suggestions and comments on statements listed.

Everyone's input is sought. The Synthesis Survey is available at

A second, campus-wide conversation will take place May 5 during In-Service Day. There will be two sessions--one in the morning and one in the afternoon--hosted by Knowledge Resources and Planning. All employees are encouraged to participate and discuss the value created and how Columbus State can differentiate itself and achieve advantages over its competitors.

Throughout Spring Quarter, additional conversations will be held with students and the Instructional and Instructional Support Councils of Shared Governance on how Columbus State can differentiate itself among its competitors. Conversations also will take place with career and technology advisory boards to discuss trends impacting our community and how Columbus State can build on its strengths to continue to serve central Ohio.

If you have any questions about the survey or upcoming activities, contact Sunday Zidonis, coordinator in Knowledge Resources and Planning, at ext. 5987.


New Voices to present "Pee Wee Leaguers"

New Voices, a drama club at Columbus State, will present "Pee Wee Leaguers," a new play by Donnie Wahlenmaier. Performances will be held March 31 and April 1 at 8 p.m. in Nestor Hall Auditorium.

Admission is free, but due to mature language and themes, the play is not recommended for children.