"The Human Condition" Exhibit at GCC's Library

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By Donald Lockwood

Students hanging the exhibit with Club Advisor and Professor Joe Z.

Starting today, February 13, 2020, the GCC Photo Club is having a photography show in the library called, “The Human Condition.” It is called the human condition because it is showing that humans only have a finite time on earth, and they should enjoy every second of it.

This is the artist statement by Joe Ziolkowski, GCC’s associate professor of photography and art:

“There is one inevitable result that happens to all humans the moment they are born. At some point they will inevitably die. The amount of time we spend on this planet called Earth is finite. We might realize this as we grow older, or we might realize it at a younger age, but at some mark in our personal history we step back and realize, there is only so much time left in a lifetime. It is up to us, and the other humans we share this planet with, to use that time wisely. The human species is capable of creating such amazing advancements in a variety of areas, and on the flip side we are also capable of creating such unbelievable atrocities. We evolve out of ignorance, and learn from that. But that action can also put us in a new ignorance of another topic. The cycle of education perpetuates ignorance in unfamiliar areas that we learn and evolve into creating a new state of consciousness and awareness.

The human condition is a topic for this show to inform the members of GCC Photo Club at SUNY Genesee Community College of this important topic. It helps them reflect on the time we are here and take precedence to make the most of the time we have. In classes and the clubs they participate in, students build relationships with their peers, hopefully bridging intercultural competency and long lasting relationships. 

Put aside the differences we might have, the polarizing topic of the day in politics, religion and economic status, all of which are part of the human condition. Let us look at the complexity of being human and the amazing feelings that are generated with the relationships we have with others, and the creativity that we are capable of generating and sharing.”

– Joe Ziolkowski

            The show put on by the Photo Club will be up in the library until March 19, 2020. I highly suggest seeing the exhibit. It is an amazing show developed by an exceptionally talented group of students this year. The group just had this show up in Rochester at the Anderson Art Gallery, 250 N. Goodman Street, Rochester 14607 adjacent to Colleen Buzzard’s Studio. She generously allowed the students to use one of the walls outside her studio. She has done this for the students in the past and always enjoys interacting with students.

The Human Condition Exhibit at the Anderson Gallery in Rochester,
now located in GCC’s Library

Photo provided by Zoe Ziolkowski

Photo Club students at the Anderson Gallery with Professor Joe Z (second from right).

Introducing Myself

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Hi, my name is Donald Lockwood and I am a student here at GCC and am doing an internship with the Marketing & Communications Office (MarCom). I am going to GCC for Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and Social Media. I am a sophomore and am working on my fourth semester.

I am a photographer and am also in the Photography Club where I am the secretary. I help with the Instagram account for the club. If you would like to follow, our Instagram is @gcc_photoclub. The professor that I have that advises the photography club, Joseph Ziolkowski, or Joe Z. as everyone calls him, is having a show at GCC right now in the Rosalie “Roz” Steiner Art Gallery and I will be doing a blog on his exhibit hopefully next week. I love to take photos of nature and the outdoors. One of my favorite places to take nature photos is at Letchworth State Park in Wyoming County. I grew up going there and have always loved it. I strongly suggest that if you are in the area and haven’t been, definitely take the drive and go. There are beautiful waterfalls and amazing hiking trails throughout the park. I also like to take nature shots when I’m driving. I almost always have my camera with me and when I don’t I always have my cell phone. I also like taking sports photos. I have taken many photos of the women’s and men’s soccer teams. I have friends that are on the Women’s Soccer team and they always think its cool when I get a good shot of them playing. I also have a friend on the Softball team and hope to make it to some games this spring to get some good shots of them playing.

Great day, but chilly at Letchworth State Park

If you would like to take a look at some of my favorite photos, I have an Instagram account and you can follow me @donald_lockwood_photos. I have some nature photos, sports photos, and a portrait of one of my friends. I would love to get into doing more pictures of just people, I just haven’t had the people to take photos of.  Interested? Message me on Instagram.

Having an internship with MarCom I hope will help prepare me with what I would like to do in the future. I hope to one day either work for or run my own business to do freelance social media for small businesses in the area that are just starting off that don’t really have the money yet to pay a big name agency to run their social media and website, or can’t yet hire staff to do this important work. Now-a-days, you can’t really run a business without having a social media account, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media. Working with MarCom will get me website and social media experience, as well as writing blogs and press releases that will help me get a marketing and communication position after I graduate this spring.

Thank you for reading over my blog and look out for more soon.  

Excel House: a project by GCC alumna Yuki Sasao

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By Pinn Duong

Let me start off by bragging a little about the off-campus house I’m renting and living in. It is a newly renovated and furnished house near downtown, close to conveniences and grocery stores and near Batavia’s bus line with affordable rent. The house was bought and renovated by a GCC alumna, Yuki Sasao. After graduating from GCC in 2014 with an Associate Degree in General Studies and Business Administration, Yuki, who was then an international student from Fukuoka, Japan, went on to obtain her Bachelor in Accounting from SUNY Oswego and is currently working as a CPA at Deloitte in Portland, Oregon.

So what’s the big deal about an alumna buying a house and leasing it to the younger students, you ask? Yuki doesn’t treat her student renters just as tenants, but also as her mentees. Yuki aims to provide support and counseling in academic, career development and cultural differences. This past November, Yuki strongly advised us to attend the Boston Career Forum and offered to pay for our two-night hotel stay so we can confidently dip our foot in the job hunting and professional networking event. Boston Career Forum is the world’s largest job fair for Japanese-English Bilinguals. Even though I didn’t join, two of my housemates who are Japanese international students learned some business dress-up, networking etiquette and even scored a few interviews with recruiters during the event. During finals’ week, Yuki sent us care packages overflowing with warmth (candles, socks) and sweetness (sugar canes, chocolates, gummy bears, …) to aid us through the stressful time. Yuki often holds International Student Workshops during school breaks (Spring Break, Winter Break) to discuss her experiences navigating the US job market and the struggles uniquely encountered by international students that she admittedly learned the hard ways.

Specifically with her newly bought house in Batavia, Yuki intends to create a homey living environment for her student tenants, instead of just a house to stay in. “I’d be really sad if you guys just sit in your own room all day and not hang out together in the common space,” Yuki shared as she was putting up floral wall stickers in the living room. As a handy and crafty person, Yuki loves home decor and possesses a wide range of household repair and maintenance skills which she learned through volunteering for Habitat for Humanity during undergraduate years. During this Christmas break, Yuki visited Batavia to further renovate the house with wall stickers, decorative lightings and repaint several rooms in the house. I picked up a little knowledge in painting and drilling while helping her out, too. 

Room painting during Christmas break!

At first, I thought Yuki bought a house in Batavia because she will be retiring here or will have some personal future plans with it. But I slowly realized the house and its affordable rent was set up solely as part of the support network that she hopes to provide for the younger international students at GCC, in addition to her mini career workshops and guidance. The house is also her way of helping us, foreign students, to connect and immerse in the local Batavia community. She refers to the house as Excel House Project, with hopes that her students will excel in their academic or career paths with her support. Excel House Project is her way of giving back to the Batavians and GCC community for helping her when she first set foot in America.

Chicago, Batavia, and the Future

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Dennis Austin

“What is a Batavia, NY”? were among the many questions, family members, friends, and colleagues had asked me as I began to prepare for the move from the glamorous city of Chicago to a region where there were more cows than people.

For most of my life Chicago was home. The people, the culture, the food, the music, and other key characteristics that define our great city, was an everyday experience I had come to know since I was born. For goodness sakes, I was born in 1993, a year the Chicago Bulls accomplished their first three-peat. If Basketball was our religion, Michael Jordan would be God himself. I had made good memories here, met interesting people, and lived a steady life.

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan

So why leave?

When people from this region would find out about my Chicago origins, I was always asked by default “Why Leave?” “Why Batavia?”

Chicago skyline at night

For me, it was simple. I had grown tiresome of the fast-paced lifestyle that had encumbered my ability to be more flexible as it pertained to seeking opportunity. There was also the reality of friends moving across the country for academic and professional reasons, collapsing my social circle at home. Working in a hospital call-center, albeit with zealous colleagues whom I heap nothing but praise on to this day (except for one individual), was not something I envisioned for myself when younger. If anything, compared to previous years spent travelling across the country campaigning for politicians, this was a rather tedious tenure. While there were several enjoyable conversations with patients and physicians alike, I was beginning to grow weary of my long-term prospects and thus sought an opportunity to change course. In late summer 2017, I began a vigorous search for community colleges with on-campus accommodation housing and respectable tuition fees. At the end of this search were two colleges, GCC being one of them. On November 3, 2017, by way of a 12-hour Amtrak journey I made my way from the city Michael Jordan made famous to Rochester, N.Y. Assisted by my former advisor Lourdes Abaunza, I would register for Spring 2019 classes, spurring a new relationship with this community.

I remember my first day arriving on a cold and wet January vividly. Upon exiting my ride-share, I was introduced to the harsh Western New York weather with heaps of rain pouring down upon my face and luggage. I hurriedly grabbed my bags and began a brief sprint to a room beneath the safety office at College Village. I would be given my keys and a packet for new residents, including an itinerary of weekend activities. Escorted by a tall and lanky Resident Assistant known as Matt, I would find myself standing in the middle of my new home, miles away from the comfortable settings that had become familiar to me. The experience was foreign to me. The absence of 24/7 buses and trains with sprawling downtown buildings that made the city glow, was foreign to me. However, I soon became accustomed with my new surroundings. Learning about the region and inhabitants served as a history lesson. People I saw as strangers would become friends, some of them lifelong.


Getting acclimated to a classroom setting was an entirely different set of challenges. I recall my first class. Math 091 taught by Professor Mark Siena. I remember arriving 25 minutes before class began at 7:45 am.  Awaken by the sound of my alarm at 6:30 am, I began to get ready for my first day of school in nearly five years since dropping out of high school. As the semester persisted, I would eventually find my place academically and socially. While there was hesitation to return, I did the following fall. It has not been easy being in Batavia. My race and sexual orientation as a gay man has proved to be an issue for some people.  However, my brash and abrasive attitude gave it back in kind. Regardless of those struggles, there is some virtue during my time here. It is a theme I have kept coming back to recently.

Resilience has been a major theme in my life. I was born and grew up in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Left with a single mother at home who herself combated the issues of education and poverty as a child, me and my other siblings did not have the proverbial “silver spoon” by any stretch of one’s imagination. What we were given in place of the materialistic possessions not affordable to us, was education. My mother did not have the privilege of finishing her education, thus, she worked hard to ensure we would be the generation of our family to break the glass ceiling of the issues that afflicted my mother’s generation. When I left high school, she was obviously disappointed. I was always seen as the “one with potential” and for that to occur was an emotional hardship for the both of us. However, as life would continue for me, I would find myself in the company of high-profile politicians, working on their campaigns. Meeting President Obama was a turning point in my life as I began to realize the potential I truly had. How to revive and sustain it? Well, I set out to try. In 2016, I obtained my GED and the following year returned to work. It was during this time I began to be honest with myself and future ambitions.

When I was six-years old, my first Presidential Election was George Bush vs Al Gore and while not old enough to properly comprehend the events of that evening it left a small child on Chicago’s south-side awestruck. That feeling never left and would manifest itself over the course of my life. I wanted to be a politician. Which office would I hope to occupy? Senator does sound tempting. However, in order to attain that level of power and prestige, one must obtain an education. A conscious choice I made when arriving at Genesee Community College. Since being here I have been active in various clubs and organizations, winning numerous awards for academic and extracurricular achievement. At present I am working on a lengthy thesis paper, a project that I have come to appreciate for its rigor and challenge.

As for what is next upon departing Batavia? I go back home and then to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, studying Political Science. I will not lie. I am hopeful for the future, but somewhat demurred that as this process continues, I will not get any younger. Comical, I know, however it does present a concern of how long I wish to be in academia. Time will tell. For now, I am excited at the prospects of what my new institution will offer.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus

As I prepare to graduate, I would like to take this time to thank the various professors, faculty and friends for imparting on me wisdom, advice, and friendship through the good times and rather questionable times. More importantly, I am thankful for the opportunity to understand the culture and way of living in this community. I have always believed that getting outside your comfort zone presents an opportunity to grow, and I feel that I have. My advice to those who are younger: Do not be afraid to take risks. The outside world can be intimidating, however, never turn down an opportunity to grow. Whether that process occurs through incidents of failure and frustration, learn to appreciate the journey.

I learned a valuable lesson from two mentors of mine who passed away a few years ago. Life is a like a train station, we all arrive and depart from stops—those stops being certain chapters in our lives. So, enjoy those “stops” along the way and more importantly, appreciate the people you encounter as you venture toward greater opportunities that await you.

Thanks to the many people who left an invaluable mark on me during my time at GCC.

As conductors on Chicago trains say “Doors Closing. Next stop is…”

CTA Train station in Downtown Chicago



Dennis Austin is a graduating Sophomore from Genesee Community College. He will enroll at the University of Illinois’ Champaign-Urbana campus in January.

GCC Internship Program: Inside Look

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By: Ta’tiana Lee

My first internship is literally changing my life! I am an intern with the Marketing & Communications department at Genesee Community College, also called MarCom, and already have experience gained in areas that I never thought would be within my reach. I have documented and created event calendars throughout the local community. In doing this I found great free sites to advertise publicly and the structure and manner of creating an event. I got the opportunity to work under a trained photographer while practicing photography myself. At this moment, I knew that I would enjoy being a part of MarCom at GCC.

The hours are flexible and my portfolio will definitely look a lot better because of the opportunities provided by MarCom. I have two days minimum in an office setting and one day minimum working from home. New opportunities come often and they are things to brag about. For instance, I arrived on one of my office days to a professional videographer hired by the school. I was able to witness the beginning process of videography. I was even able to sit in and brainstorm with the team for that project, which included my supervisor and the videographer himself. Not only was I able to sit in and bear witness but I actually felt as if I had a voice. That opportunity will forever stay with me because it became motivational in a way. It reminds me that this can be my life and that I can have a career!

I am also a student at Genesee Community College and MarCom is very understanding when it comes to education. If I have a test or need the day to study, they will not only assent but they would help me find the time to make up the hours that I’ve missed. My goal was to gain experience in an office like setting and in the business world and MarCom has made it possible for me to do exactly that plus more. I can’t wait to blog an update with even more experiences gained by completing my internship with the Marketing & Communications department at GCC.

Here is a picture taken by me at Discover the Stars

This was the first event that I had attended for GCC’s Internship Program. This was also where I was able to learn from and work under a Professional Photographer. It was filled with students and donors, which made the moments I’d captured even more special.

Here is a picture I captured at an event for student athletes

At this event I got to practice taking in motion shots. This event was the same day as Discover the Stars.

Here is a picture taken by me at the Homecoming Weekend Car Cruise

This picture was taken at a car show at Genesee Community College. I love cars so this event was also a lot of fun.

Seeking a Challenge

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By Dennis Austin

As a GCC Honor’s Program student, I approached Professor(s) Garth Swanson and Anne Wood last semester with a goal in mind: complete a thesis project with a 100-page count. Suffice to say, I was met with concerned reaction. Thesis projects of this size and stature are not normally undertaken by community college students.  Initially, I was discouraged in approaching this project, and advised to seek a more specific topic with a shorter page length.

 I said no.

 I’m glad I did.

Throughout my tenure here at Genesee Community College, I have searched high and low for opportunities to expand and build upon my intellectual capabilities, which undoubtedly will serve me will in later stages of life. I had gotten used to the usual essay outlines which my professors feverishly assigned me. In essence, writing an essay became too simple of a task. The routine became boring, predictable, and mundane. There is no intention of disrespect toward my professors. One in particular remarked to me that their reason for being a light course load was their concern that many students would be unable to keep if they increased the rigor.

Not entirely unpredictable but unfortunate. Education, to me, should be an opportunity for students to dive deep into a subject of their choice and familiarity, with no restrictions applied. Many days and nights pondering what the next academic challenge could be. As a six-year old, my first Presidential Election was Bush V. Gore. While not of an age to properly perceive the events of that campaign, I was enthralled by the pomp and circumstance of that evening. Getting older led to more political awareness which eventually I found across the “pond.” Inspired by the events of Brexit and previous political developments in the country, compelled me to choose Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as the basis for my project. While already familiar with her Premiership, I wanted to examine how her government’s economic policy and theory, led to what I deem as an unraveling of the British working-class.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Currently in my research, I am reviewing her flagship policy known as the MFTS (Medium Term Financial Strategy), in which her decision to raise interest rates, eliminate credit controls, and how the concentration of Britain’s money supply range, led to unsavory conditions for lower-income individuals and families. For example, 1981 saw a peak of unemployment at 3 million, which was the highest number recorded since the Great Depression. During the period of 1979 to 1980, industrial production fell by 6.4%, with downturn in manufacturing output and capacity, at 20%.

As the project continues throughout the semester, it is with great intention to (hopefully) provide updates on newer findings and to offer further explanation of how her policies were applied in working-class Britain.

Professor Swanson remarked to me that this is the first project of its kind for our Honors Program. While there have been other creative projects in the past, nothing of this nature has been done before. To our knowledge, there has been no other student at this institution, past or present, who conducted and penned a project of this magnitude.

Why 100 pages? To admit, there is some braggadocio involved, however I feel that for the first time since arriving on campus that there exists a subject within familiar realms which require a discipline and focus arguably unlike any other form of study I have taken here or anywhere. Not just due to page requirement or quantity of work involved. It is due to the fact that I am asked to go beyond my comfort zone in search of not just finishing the project, but in search of my own potential, henceforth the insistence that I adhere to this project—from start until finish. I have been given the support, encouragement and occasional sternness from my professors, since this project began. They know what I am capable of and as such, are holding me to a high standard.

As I prepare to graduate from GCC, I hope this project in some way can inspire one student to go outside of their familiar realm and seek an opportunity to truly challenge themselves. Not for the prospect of failing, but for the virtue of expanding one’s creativity. This has been a journey and while the final page has not yet been penned, this has been an experience that I will appreciate many years from now.

Mental Health on Campus

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By Dennis Austin

College marks an important period in a student’s life. As students begin to transition into adulthood, college is a playground of sorts, a place where experimentation, deep thought, and pondering on what lies ahead are all on the menu. Some students define their college experience through partying, sexual exploration, intense academic rigor, or a combination of sorts. However, for many students they are not in the least concerned with these activities as their energy is more focused on getting themselves out of bed, dealing with an anxiety attack or flirting with the idea of suicide.

Over the past few years mental health has become a hallmark on college campuses across the world. More attention and resources have now been dedicated in assisting students who struggle with their internal demons, which for many, is a case of life and death. Here at Genesee Community College, there is a noticeable sense of despair which afflicts much of the student body. I myself have seen people in my own social circle openly admit to cutting themselves, failed suicide attempts, amongst many other tragic stories. One student in particular had cut themselves multiple times in their abdomen, an event which required an overnight hospital stay.

Earlier this month at the behest of GCC President James Sunser, me and College Village Resident Assistant Randy Bumbury, visited Monroe Community College and advocated for more resources on campus to deal with this crisis. In a room filled with State legislators across various regions we plead our case as to why this issue requires urgent action. Jeanie Burdick is a fine counselor here at GCC and has performed her job well, but she is only one individual. Given that our estimated student population is well over 1,000 (more if our campus centers and distance learning students are calculated), there is simply not enough resources available to address the needs of students.

To be blunt, we need money. Monetary backing would ensure we could afford more than one full-time, qualified counselor as well as expanding our services at the Counseling Center. Thus, GCC could provide more options for students to better manage their health outside of what currently exists, such as Therapy Assist Online, a useful tool students can use, but doesn’t completely solve the problem. The issue we have is not a lack of motivation or skill. That much among faculty is present. We just don’t have the “cache” if you will, to go beyond our constraints and truly make a difference.

Dennis Austin is a graduating sophomore, majoring in Liberal Arts & Sciences. He is graduating this semester and will be attending the University of Illinois in January.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or dial 911. If you need to make an appointment with our Counseling Center, please contact Jeanie Burdick at jlburdick@genesee.edu or call (585)-343-0055 ext. 6219. The Counseling Center is open weekdays, Monday-Friday, from 9 AM to 4:30 PM.