Rochelle Hill – Native Americans at G.C.C. Blog Series Prt III


This blog is a continuation of the Native Americans at G.C.C. blog series. The purpose of this blog series is to share what I learn about Native American culture as I talk to some Native American students at G.C.C.

Rochelle Hill is a business administration major who, like JoVanni, is part of the Seneca Nation. 


Rochelle and I spoke in the library about her experiences growing up as a Native American and her opinions on where Native Americans stand today. She is intelligent, kind, and open minded, yet passionate about historical events and has a deep desire to see her fellow brethren and family thrive.


Q. Where are you from?

A. The Cattaraugus Indian Reservation. Most Native Americans will agree that the term Indian is pretty offensive. Personally, I don’t understand why we still use it.

Q. How do you feel about America’s history and how do you find your place in America today? 

A. My co-worker put it quite bluntly once. He said “If you think about it, your ancestors kind of took one for the team and now you get all these benefits”. Of  course I was offended…people think that just because you’re Native American you get all this free stuff. The government only gives us all these benefits because they feel guilty and like they owe us something. 

I wish they’d teach middle school and high school students about the truth. Teach them that we used to cover this whole land and now we just have these small reservations. 

Q. Have there been any great strides for Native Americans that you can look up to?

A. Definitely. Hearing that a Native Am. woman is working in a hospital delivering babies of her own kind reminds me that we’re making it and that we all don’t have to be stuck on the res. A common goal for us is not to be stuck there. That’s become the stereotype. Native American’s being thought of as alcoholics who can’t keep their kids. A res is all trailers and it seems like no one ever leaves. 

I’m proud of myself for being here at school, and living off the res. I’m trying to get a job and make something of myself.

Q. I didn’t know about all of the stereotypes. I think it’s because I grew up in New York City. Do you think most Native Americans live on reservations?

A. Most of my family lives on one reservation, and some live on another. I don’t want to live on a res, I want to make it out. Yes, there is free housing, electricity and water but I think that’s the reason why most people don’t leave. It’s that mentality of being spoiled, and being comfortable with having things handed to you because the government feels an obligation.

Q. Do you feel reservations should be expanded?

A. Part of me says yes, but the other part says “Why are there still reservations?” Why are we so separate? It’s 2016 and we’re so segregated. Some think it’s a good thing to remain separate and hold onto our power and sovereignty. But we still need the government for help. We can’t do everything on our own. We are not free standing. Some Natives will mark “no” on government forms that ask if you are an American Citizen, but then you have to send in documents that were never provided to us, so some of us mark “yes” just to make it easier. That separation of nationality isn’t fully there. 

Q. If you were in the White House what changes would you make?

A. That’s difficult to think about. I’ve never thought about that. I’d want to see Native Americans become more united with American life. The reservations can stay as a choice. Native Americans should have communities but they shouldn’t be as isolated as they are now. 

Q. When was the first time that you learned about Native American history?

A. It was in high school but it wasn’t from my teachers, it was from my dad. The genocide of Native Americans was not taught in my high school or my friends school. We learned about the Holocaust and about things that happened in other places but not about what happened here. One day my father sat me down and asked me what I was learning in high school and when he saw that I wasn’t learning about it, he sat me down and said “You should know that being a Native American means this”. And he told me.

Q. Wow! Did you go to a high school on the reservation? Did you have Native American teachers? 

A. There is no education on the reservation. We go to a high school off the reservation. There was one Native American teacher. He taught the Seneca Nation language course, and it was an elective. The only people who took it were like Native American students, probably because we felt obligated. No one is mandated to learn about Native American history. You can feel or believe how you want about it, but we shouldn’t wait until secondary school to teach the truth.

Q. What is life on the res like?

A. Crime, someone stealing your car. Drugs, trailers, everything you think of. I don’t think anyone strives to live on the res, people want to leave,  it’s not a place people want to visit. Girls have children young and then get them taken away, and a lot of young people don’t graduate high school. That’s become the norm. I don’t like that. 

Q. It sounds like growing up in the hood. Are there any programs in place to help motivate people to do better?

A. Community groups help. They talk to people individually, and then they bring groups of people together to talk. But people have to want to try. 

Q. What is your major and career goals? 

A. My major is business administration and I want to do something along the lines of real estate or car sales. 

Q. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

A. California, with mountains and the sunshine. But I’d want to take my family with me, I don’t want to leave them on the res. 

Q. Would you be encouraged if you saw a population of Native Americans who did not live on a reservation?

A. Definitely. It would remind me that we’re making it. We’re doing more with ourselves, we’re progressing.

Q. Any parting words?

A. Regardless of what’s happened based on the action of others, and regardless of your nationality, it’s fine to go out and make something of yourself. Just because it is happening to others,  it doesn’t have to be you too. That’s why I’m here.


JoVanni Klimowicz – Native Americans at G.C.C. Blog Series Part II


This blog is a continuation of the Native Americans at G.C.C. blog series. The purpose of this blog series is to share what I learn about Native American culture as I talk to some Native American students at G.C.C.

JoVanni Klimowicz is a lacrosse player from the Seneca Nation of Indians.


He comes from the Irving Res and he says there is a lot of land out there. As a child he enjoyed playing in the woods and pond by his house. He went to Lakeshore  and Gowanda Highschool.

When I asked Jo about his culture, and experience on the reservation, he said that he and many others prefer the title Native as opposed to Native American. He said that the elders in his town will pass down anything they can to the next generation. This includes history, how to make wooden lacrosse stick and any wisdom they’ve to share. JoVanni explained that the elders lived in a different society than the one he and his generation are growing up in. The times were tougher financially and they didn’t have as many gadgets and technology as we do now.

When I asked Jo about his perspective on American history, he surprised m by simply saying, “They could have handled it better.” He  said that he wishes the colonist would have kept their distance once they noticed that they were carrying diseases that were harmful to the natives and they should have made more negotiations instead of forcibly taking land.

While I was listening to JoVanni speak about history I couldn’t help but notice that he was not angry at all. I could tell that he was a very calm and reasonable kind of guy.

JoVanni told me about an educational event he was apart of in high school called Close Up. Native students from all over the United States, from different Native American Nations, came together and pretended to be an official Native American council. They each spoke about problems and issues they noticed on their own reservations, and listened to others as they learned what life is like for Natives from different places. They were had an opportunity to say what changes they would make to their reservations to help solve some of the problems they saw. JoVanni says that there are a lot of drugs and alcohol on his reservation, but there are also programs that exist to encourage people to live a better life. The Seneca Nation distributes money it receives to it’s citizens, but JoVanni said it is not enough to live off of and people who try to do so are not financially progressive. During the Close Up program, JoVanni had the opportunity to meet with the president of the Seneca Nation in Washington, D.C. I could tell he enjoyed the experience because he spoke about it with passion.

I learned a lot about JoVanni, and it was cool to learn something about Native American Culture too. I firmly believe that we should be a nation that is more conscious of our Native American host. To put it simply, they were here first and we’re the new guys.

Next Up: A talk with Rochelle Dion Hill!  Stay tuned! 🙂

Native Americans at G.C.C. Blog Series Pt. I


Background for this short blog series:

While surfing the web some time ago, I came across a page that announced a new book on the history of Batavia, NY. Since it was available for free online reading, I began reading the first chapter titled, “Pre 1801 – Before There Was a Batavia”. I learned that six main Native American tribes inhabited much of the land we now call New York State. The names of these six tribes were the Mohawks, Onongagas, Oneidas, Senecas, Cayuagas and the Tuscaroras. Together they made up “The Haudensaunee” (people of the long house) or “The Iroquios Confederacy”.

All that I learned about Native American people came from public education history classes. I listened to my teachers in primary school tell the “Thanksgiving” and “Pocahontas” version of how America came to be, but in high school and college and I learned about the wars. In Foner’s textbook, Give Me Liberty An American History vol 2, I read horrible reports of how Native Americans were driven out of their lands, mistreated and taken advantage of. I remember feeling enraged when I read about the Wounded Knee Massacre, when U.S. soldiers opened fire on a group of men, women, and children; killing 150 people, mostly women and children.

After reading a bit on the the history of Batavia and searching online for nearby Indian reservations. I became very interested in Native American culture. I suddenly realized that I’ve learned virtually nothing about how present day Native Americans cope with history, or what social justice has happened since historical times to restore some sense of dignity to this strong group of people who often go unnoticed.

I don’t know what it feels like to be a Native American. But I do know what it feels like to be an African American who, one day had to learn, that her ancestors were made to be slaves and were treated brutally for 400 years. It’s a tough thing to grow up knowing. But I also know the victorious tales of social change (i.e. emancipation, Brown vs The Board of Ed., the Civil Right movement) that lead to where we are today; a country that an African American person can be the president of. In a nut shell, some of my ethnic heritage is filled with pain and suffering, but I’ve been taught so much more, that I don’t feel like I have to let it define me. And now, I want to share with you in this learning experience on how some of our Native Americans students are grappling history and finding their place in America today.

My next blog will be of an interview with my Native American friend, and lacrosse superstar JoVanni Klimowicz.

Please stay tuned, and as always, feedback is appreciated. Share this blog if it interest you. Thank you for reading part one of this short blog series titled “Native Americans at G.C.C.”.



This blog will be about me and my weaknesses so please do not feel as if I am directing this at you or anyone else.

When is the last time you picked up the phone and called someone just to say hi or to check in on them? Now think about the last time you called them for a favor…

Think about the friends you made a few months ago, or maybe even a year ago. How is your relationship with that person now? Is it where you want it to be? What can you do to get it there? Have you already tried? Do you need to stop trying?

These are some of the thoughts that come to my mind when I think about how I relate to the people around me. Because I am a college student who is dependent on financial aid and work study funds (which is really just financial aid you work for), I tend to ask people around me for help…even though it kills  me. I’m the type of person who hates asking for help, even from family members. But if I never asked people around me for help, I’d constantly be in need, and life would be a lot harder. Can you relate to what I’m talking about?

How do I show gratitude to those who help me, when I don’t have much money. If I had money, it would be so easy to “pay them back” for what they’ve done for me. But then again, if I had money, would I have asked for help in the first place…?

Humility is this weird quality that we all aspire to have…(I think most of us). But the life events that come to humble us, don’t always “feel” good. At least not in my life because I have to put my own personal (defensive even) pride aside and become open to rejection to ask for help. The last thing I want is for someone to think of me as a beggar, or as someone who’s always needy. It is so important to me to become independent and self sufficient, words can not express how important this is for me. But even in my endeavors to reach that goal, I have to ask for help every now and again. Humility… If I could personify this word and give it a monologue, it’d say:

“I want to help myself, but I need you to help me. I want to give back to you but I don’t have anything of equal measure. I lower myself and esteem you, for you are kind. I need to grow in so many ways and give more of myself than I have been. I know I can show gratitude greater than words…I need to put in the effort it takes to show you I mean it when I say thank you.”

Humility rubs you, and dulls spikes of pride down. It makes you a real person, gives you wisdom, and motivates you to work at whatever you need to.

I know that the very least I can do to show gratitude to those who help me, is to say thank you and help who I can next. But how would I feel, if someone gave the very least to me? Most of the people in my life, go far and beyond the very least. They go out of their way and make me feel like it’s their privilege to bless me. When I evaluate myself, I don’t think I’m like that right now…but I want to be.

I know this blog is different, and it’s not related to events at school. But isn’t it something we can all relate to as human beings?



The Fashion Show


The G.C.C. Fashion show was this past Saturday and it was amazing! Out of the two GCC Fashion Show’s I’ve seen, this one was my favorite!

As Hanna Tischer’s video woman, I got a glimpse of the magic that goes on behind the stage. Everyone looked amazing and I was super impressed by the high level of professionalism carried out by my peers. It was more than an enjoyable experience.

Here are just a few some snap shots from the event. (Click to enlarge).



G.C.C. Digital Art Show


The Digital Art show displays the artwork of G.C.C. students who are enrolled in the Digital Art program. The pieces of artwork in the gallery are amazingly bold, aesthetically pleasing, and fantastically creative. Below are photographs of some of the students with their artwork. (Click to enlarge)

I encourage you to visit and view the work of our very own peers at the “Roz” Steiner Art Gallery. The exhibit opened today and will be up until May 18th. This Thursday (April 28th) the opening receptions will be from 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. By that time, the student animations will be projected for public viewing as well.


IMG_0544“The art show has challenged me in a creative way that I’ve never experienced before. I felt really proud of myself when I saw something I created on display.”

– Rashawn J. Mc Crea (photographed above) 



Pamela Swarts – Assistant Professor of Digital Art


Mary Jo Whitman – Art Gallery Coordinator

Balancing sleep – social life – and grades.


6D2ZXHave you ever heard someone say, 

The three most important things each college student needs is sleep, good grades, and a social life. But the bad news is they can only have two out of the three.” ?

Well I’m here to tell you that you can have all three, it’s not impossible! But the government might start tracking you once you’ve mastered the skills I’m going to teach you here. 😛

Before we dive right in, lets talk about priorities. How you rank each of these three from most important to least is entirely up to you. Some people may think that sleep is more important than grades, or that social life is the most important. Know what the order of these three are to you. I’m going to use myself as an example. Sleep > Study > Fun/Social Life. I think sleep is most important because without it I’m emotional and cranky. Studying becomes so much harder for me when I’m tired, and I don’t think my friends like it when I’m moody. My grades are the next most important for me, because I came to school to study, and if it were not for school I would not have the friends I have.

Mastering Sleep & Grades


Photo from


Falling asleep and waking up around the same time each day helps to get your body on a schedule. Some people are so good at this that they don’t need an alarm clock to wake them up. Sleeping helps your health, mood, and memory, which are three very important elements in the learning process. So you need sleep to stay alert in class, and to help you remember details for a test. I have definitely stayed up all night studying for an exam before, it’s not fun or recommended but I’ve have to do it. I’d stay awake until 3 or 4 am, dive into my bed for 3 hours of rest (and memory storage), and then study again for another hour before I took the test. That is my technique during tough times and it’s gotten me A’s, but that’s not the best way to study. At least not for me. Studying for an exam in chunks a week or before the test day is the best study method in my opinion. Cramming a lot into my brain is very stressful and if I’m tired it can be a very emotional experience. I find myself thinking, “Why am I in this field anyway? Who cares if I don’t do so well on this test. Would it really be that bad if I quit. I can’t do this!” But when I study for a test in chunks over a period of time, I feel safe enough to sleep and I don’t stress out on the test day.

Incorporating A Social Life


Photo taken by Ryan Crossett (


Clubs, community involvement, building relationships with roommates and classmates all have helped me keep a social life ( for the most part ). If your like me, and school and sleep are your top two choices, then it’s easy for you’re social life to get overlooked, but it doesn’t have to. I live on campus, so when I have some free time I go to programs. I spend time conversing with my room mates about our classwork or things we have in common. I call friends from back home when I feel super lonely. And I try to small talk with people who sit next to me in class. To build long term friendships and social commitments I’ve joined clubs and groups of my interest, and I participate when we go to events and such. I listen to people when they tell me their story, and after seeing the same faces on a regular basis, I get comfortable enough to open up and share about myself. That’s what works for me. Other’s have said that room mating with people who are in their same major has helped them build friendships too. Even if I had 7 or 8 classes, I would take a moment to say hello to the person studying next to me, or talk to my resident assistant about how my life is going. Perhaps I’d join a study group that way I could get my academic and social bar filled up at the same time. Having a social a life is possible when you are prioritizing sleep and grades.



The Benefits of Being an Older College Student


I’m a 26 yr old sophomore and I have to be honest. When I applied to G.C.C. 2 years ago, I had my fears about being an older student on campus. Knowing I wanted to live in student housing, I worried about how my 18 year old room mates would feel about living with a 24 year old, and if I would be able to relate to my peers. Looking back to that time from where I am now makes me want to laugh and encourage my 24 yr old self. My room mates never felt weird about me because I was an older student, and I’ve made much more friends than an average college student should. Because of my maturity, I made a great RA and I have met a lot of people. Outside of the social aspect, there are some financial benefits for college students who are over 24.

Most college students under 24 are considered to be “dependent” by the federal government, which means they consider you financially reliant on your parents. Therefore when most college students apply for financial aid via FAFSA and TAP, they are required to enter their parents income as well as their own. The system then generates the EFC (estimated family contribution); this amount represents how much money they believe you and your family can contribute toward your education. The grants and loans they then award you is supposed to be the rest that you need to pay for school. The issue is that sometimes they expect your family to pay more than what they actually can, and assume that your parents are they type of parents who will help you pay for school. Not all of us are so fortunate.

What I’ve learned is that it’s easier to file as an independent student when you are over 23, even if you live at home. Once you’re labeled an independent student, you are only required to enter your financial information. This helps a lot once the system generates your EFC. It is going to be much lower that it would have been with your parents information, and thus your grant and scholarship money should increase.

Another benefit to being an older college student has to do with car insurance. This only applies to older students who will be buying their first car in college. When you’re older, car insurance companies don’t charge you as much as they do 18-20 year olds. How awesome is that!? You could pay as low as $80/ month for car insurance, when your younger peers are paying around $150/month.

The last perk I can mention for older students in college is an internal determination boost. When I attended BMCC at 18 years old, I had very low motivation to finish. I went to college because I thought it was the right thing to do. I didn’t have a post-college goal in mind to motivate me when I felt lazy about going to class. I withdrew from college two semesters in a row and accumulated loan debt. I entered the workforce, and found a career goal that I am now using school to reach for. I know what it feels like to be without a goal, and to quit. Now I have a goal and I’m on fire to finish. If you are thinking about going back to college and you are a little bit older, you probably can identify with feeling like where you are isn’t where you want to stay. That mature feeling coupled with a post-college goal is that determination boost, and it will drive you through college. Thank you for reading this blog about the benefits of being an older student. Until next time!





Avoiding Weight Gain at G.C.C.


This blog is for any student that wants to lose weight or avoid gaining weight at G.C.C.


Right now, I have my room mate Sumika with me, and the two of us fight so hard to lose weight and to eat healthy. We want to share some advice with you.

Sumika knows how hard it is to transition into America’s junkie food culture from Japan’s healthier lifestyle. So her number one tip is :

“Stay away from the vending machines” 

The snacks at the vending machines are too easily accessible and they have too many calories! – Sumika

My number one health tip is:

“Go to the Fitness Center”

I think it’s important to become active and to find a way to make it fun. Finding a way to sweat helps you to burn off fat. – Iesha

And if your stressed out go to the fitness center to refresh yourself. – Sumika

Our next health tip is:

“Cook Food at Home”

Cook real food at home. Avoid pre-made or pre-packaged foods. Cooking food yourself is better for your nutrition, and it’s good to know what’s in your food. This may be a good time to learn how to cook. Also, College Village occasionally has a cooking class program that you can join. – Iesha

If you want to get really fresh food or vegetables, go to Harringtons (which is right on the corner of Seven Springs Rd and Clinton St, a 20 minute walk from G.C.C.). ALDI is another great place to shop for produce and save money. And both of these places are better than Walmart’s produce.

Also if you want to eat something like Ramen, you should add vegetables or something real to it. It’s not really nutrious on it’s own. Cooking can also be a great way destress. I enjoy cooking and I think it’s fun.- Sumika

I agree! Ramen is really high in sodium. I’ve recently starting to throw away the salt packet, and adding my own seasonings to the Ramen. There are tons of ideas online. – Iesha

“Avoid eating two hours before going to bed”

If you ingest calories at that time, there is no way to burn them off before going to bed. Those calories will turn into fat and you will gain weight. – Sumika

I agree. For me this is hard if I have a busy day and I don’t have time to eat until late, but if that happens I will try to eat light and drink lots of water before I go to sleep. – Iesha

Work Out With Friends!!!

Yes! Working out with friends is much better than working out alone. It’s more fun and you have someone who can hold you accountable to your fitness goals! – Iesha

Working out by yourself is kind of boring, and your team mate will encourage you. Like, if your friend is working out really hard, then that can encourage you to work out hard.  – Sumika

Sumika and I are workout buddies and we’re also room mates. So if I am having a lazy day she will tell me, “Go to the gym” and vise-versa. Or if I don’t want to go, she will go anyway and then I feel bad and I’ll go. 🙂 – Iesha

That’s about it. These are those important tips we can give you. There always more, but you should defiantly start here, or make sure you’re doing these things.

See you guys next time! – Iesha

See you. – Sumika

The Creativity Conference: What it’s all about.


On April 13th G.C.C. will be hosting it’s 3rd annual Creativity Conference. The purpose of the conference is to teach people how to think outside the box, and be creative on purpose, diminishing all the mystery that causes blockage and stress. Attendees of this conference will build their creative thinking skills and learn problem solving techniques, which are two high priority core skills that 21st century employers desire.

No matter what you career goals are, each person needs to exercise creativity in some capacity. It’s as basic and essential as the need to read. Doctors spend much of their college life studying biology and math, but encountering unexpected problems during patient treatment is very common. The ability to think on your feet, be quick, creative, and successful goes a long way. I’m pretty sure you’ve observed your teachers think on their feet when something in their lesson plan doesn’t go as they expected. It’s a skill that can helps us in all areas of life.

The Creativity Conference will be fun. It’s held as close to April 15th as possible because that’s Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday. Leo will be making an appearance at the conference and there will be plenty of birthday cake to go around. 🙂 There is a full schedule of the conference here, with a description of workshops offered. One workshop I’d like to highlight is titled “Personal Reinvention”. This workshop is geared to help people discover the creative side and possibly their career path. I think it is important because many people feel no confidence in the area of creativity, even thought they posses many creative qualities.D06832DA-B8CC-4B72-84B3432C7E0F198C

The conference is from 8 am – 4 pm and will take place on the first floor of the T building. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be served. Most full day conferences like this can cost up to $300, but G.C.C. is charging students, faculty, and staff just $25. This cost is to cover food and materials used by participants. The cost for people who are apart the community but not members of G.C.C. is $99.

How to register: Email Elizabeth Downie at This is the preferred method of registration but if you have to, you can call her at 585-343-0055 ext. 6338 to register.

If you’re a student and $25 is a little too steep to pay, try finding a club that is also going to and connect with their adviser; ask if you can go with them as a club member and your cost should be covered.

If you have class during the conference time, and you’d like to attend most of the sessions and enjoy lunch you can still register. If you just want to peek in on the conference for one session, your allowed to come without registering, but please give Elizabeth a heads up ahead of time. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Lina LaMattina at 585-343-0055 ext 6319.

Until next time guys!