JAMESTOWN - Through teamwork and a strong desire to further their education to become better employees, six staff members of The Resource Center became the second graduating class of TRC's Corporate College.
A ceremony was held recently at Jamestown Community College to honor those graduates for their accomplishment. The event was attended by staff from TRC and JCC, as well as the graduates' family and friends.
TRC Corporate College is a collaboration between The Resource Center and JCC that gives TRC employees the opportunity to enhance their personal and professional lives. Begun in fall 2010, TRC Corporate College promotes educational opportunities that can benefit employees and, ultimately, The Resource Center through enhanced employee skills. Participants attend classes on their own time during JCC's spring and fall semesters and summer sessions.
TRC Executive Director Paul Cesana, Gwen Syper, Peggy Stingel, Robin Kestler, Susanne Allenbrand, Debra Berdine and JCC President Cory L. Duckworth. Absent from photo: Mary Peters.
Prior to enrollment, participants take placement tests to determine math, reading and writing levels. The class topics chosen are pertinent to The Resource Center's mission. TRC is an employee-centered company with a long history of encouraging employees to move forward within the organization and to further their education with the goal of receiving a degree.
The first TRC Corporate College class graduated in fall 2012.
The members of the second graduating class were Susanne Allenbrand, licensed practical nurse; Debra Berdine, residence manager; Robin Kestler, activity leader; Mary Peters, residence manager; Peggy Stingel, direct support professional; and Gwen Syper, accounts payable clerk.
During the graduation ceremony, JCC President Cory Duckworth congratulated the six employees on completing their coursework.
"I hope you feel a sense of great accomplishment in what you've achieved," Dr. Duckworth told the graduates, sharing a quote from American philosopher and educator John Dewey: "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself."
Dr. Duckworth noted that the Corporate College concept is designed to be closely connected and intertwined with the community. "I am just really quite impressed with the Corporate College that's been arranged with The Resource Center," he said. "I congratulate The Resource Center for the energy and effort you put into this."
Sharing that his mother had worked for an organization that supported students with disabilities in learning the food service industry, he told the graduates that he has a deep appreciation for people who work with individuals with special needs.
"I think what you do is really fabulous," he said. "Everyone needs to have someone who cares about them. You're the ones who do that."
In his remarks, TRC Executive Director Paul Cesana noted that undertaking Corporate College required a significant commitment from the graduates, given the fact they had to work in classes around their work and family lives. Corporate College, he added, is "an exemplary model of how continuing education can promote continued personal growth and advancement opportunities at work."
"I'm sure we'll appreciate the fruits of your commitment and extra learning," he said.
Marilyn Zagora, JCC's vice president and dean of academic affairs, told the graduates they had "taken a giant step toward applying your potential."
"You are to be applauded for taking the risk of trying new things," she said.
Dr. Zagora added that the partnership between JCC and TRC represents the concepts of innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurial spirit.
"The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become."
James Chimenti, a JCC business professor who is one of the Corporate College instructors, congratulated the graduates on their accomplishment and thanked them for always being well prepared, eager to learn, and doing the work.
"That makes my job easy," he said. "You folks really put in the time and the effort."
Chimenti added that by serving on TRC's board of directors for 21 years, he has a good appreciation of the commitment of agency and its workforce to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
"It makes me grateful that there are people like you to do that," he said.
Delana Rupp, assistant director of JCC's Center for Continuing Education, thanked the Corporate College instructors for their contribution to the program's success. She also thanked TRC's administration and the graduates for their commitment to Corporate College.
Rather than give individual speeches upon receiving their certificates, the graduates had Kestler read a prepared speech on behalf of the group. Her comments reflected the teamwork that the graduates relied upon to make it through the two-year curriculum.
"As we stand here before you today, we are all proud to have been able to be a part of TRC Corporate College. The opportunity to attend credit classes at JCC has been a privilege," Kestler said.
After thanking The Resource Center's administration and staff training department, as well as JCC and their professors, Kestler quoted Nelson Mandela: "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world."
Area companies interested in developing a Corporate College program for their employees should contact Rupp at 338-1333.