President's Newsletter

Frederick Community College
May 2020
A Message From the President

As we near the end of an unprecedented spring semester, we again thank our entire College community for their continued support and perseverance through this challenging time.
What shines through the darkness and uncertainty of the last two months is the incredible strength and support that our community has exhibited. It has been inspiring to hear the numerous stories of how our students, employees, and community members have pulled together for the betterment of the community. Even the smallest acts can have a lasting impact.
During these challenging times we are especially grateful for all of the individuals who work to keep our community safe and strong. As we prepare to proudly recognize another class of FCC graduates, we acknowledge the significant roles that our graduates and alumni continue to play in our community, state, and country, long after their time at FCC has ended.
This e-news features six of our talented alumni and highlights the unique paths their lives have taken since attending FCC. Everyone has a story, and for many, FCC is just the beginning.
We plan to continue highlighting additional alumni in future e-news editions, so if you know of anyone who you think should be featured, or if you would like to be featured yourself, please email Christy Eichelberger at [email protected].
We are proud of our alumni and the remarkable achievements they have made, and continue to make, as members of the FCC family. We are thankful that they have chosen to share their stories with us, and hopeful that they may inspire others to pursue dreams of their own.

Best wishes,

Elizabeth Burmaster
President, Frederick Community College

Student Success Fund Provides Relief for Students in Need

The FCC Foundation maintains a Student Success Fund for currently enrolled students who are in need of emergency assistance with food and other needs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many FCC students have reported loss of employment and distress about their increasingly limited ability to pay for food, health expenses, childcare, rent, and other daily living expenses including tuition and educational materials. Through the Student Success Fund, the FCC Foundation is working to provide immediate aid to students experiencing such need.
“Applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” said FCC Foundation Executive Director Deborah Powell. “During this time, we are focusing our efforts on helping students who have been paying for tuition on their own, without financial assistance or loan eligibility, and have now lost employment as a result of the COVID-19 situation.”
The FCC Foundation has been awarded $8,000 in grants through the United Way COVID-19 Emergency Response and Community Fund, including a $5,000 grant generously funded by the Delaplaine Foundation, and a $3,000 grant from United Way. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown, the FCC Foundation has approved 16 awards for tuition assistance for out-of-work students, textbook/software awards, and housing support.
“We anticipate the number of applications to increase in the coming weeks, as students' rent, utilities, and other bills are due,” said Powell. “Increased requests for food, and other needs and supplies are also anticipated to be greater.”
Students can self-apply here. For more information, contact Michael Thornton, FCC scholarship program manager, at [email protected].
To make a gift to the Student Success Fund, click here.

Alumni Spotlight- Noah Beach

Noah Beach graduated from Oakdale High School in 2014. He had been a dual enrollment student, taking FCC classes taught at his high school and earning college credits before graduating. Following his high school graduation, Noah became a volunteer firefighter, and also began attending FCC full-time.

Noah began at FCC as a general studies student, but later decided to switch to a career program and began studying HVAC. He completed the HVAC program at FCC but soon realized that it was not the field for him. Considering the classes he had taken as a general studies major, Noah recalled an emergency management elective he had enjoyed. In the winter of 2016, he returned to FCC and started the emergency management track. Noah graduated from FCC with an Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Management in December 2018.
What have you been doing since you graduated from FCC?
Shortly before I graduated from FCC I began applying for, and was accepted into, FEMA Corps. After I graduated I went on to spend 10 months on a FEMA Corps team that was paired with a FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) that helped with disaster response. I also spent a month helping with recovery efforts from flooding in Oklahoma.
After FEMA Corps I took a job with the Environmental and Historical Preservation cadre of FEMA.
What did you gain from your time at FCC, and what do you enjoy most about working in the emergency management field?
Having my emergency management degree from FCC gave me a lot of experience when I was in FEMA Corps that others didn’t have. It was definitely a benefit. What I enjoy most about working in the field of public safety/emergency management is the difference you can make in a person's life at, what is most likely, the worst moment of it. In this field, you aren't just a bystander. It’s a good path if you want to be able to travel, and if you want to be able to help people not just in your community, but throughout your country.

Alumni Spotlight- Niccole Rolls

Niccole Rolls first started taking classes at FCC in 1988 as a dual enrollment student while attending Middletown High School. She earned her Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration in 1994. She soon started a photography and visual arts company with her husband, who is an artist.

In the mid-2000s, Niccole transitioned into a new career in fundraising. She soon decided she wanted to progress into non-profit management so she earned her Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Maryland University College, now University of Maryland Global Campus. In late 2019, she joined the Frederick Rescue Mission as the Partnership Development Director. The Mission is a downtown Frederick non-profit that provides residential programs for individuals experiencing homelessness and recovery programs for men suffering from chemical addictions. She also recently completed a four-year term as a councilperson in Waynesboro, PA, where she currently lives.
Why did you choose to enroll at FCC?
I have always believed education was the key to my future. I grew up in a family that had very little. After my father died when I was young, I watched my mother work hard at two and three jobs simultaneously, in order to support my brother and me. It was always a struggle. FCC gave me an opportunity to try college. I could dip my toe in the water and see if I was smart enough to succeed in school beyond high school. I was also paying my own way through school and FCC was affordable, which allowed me to explore different areas of study before settling on a business major. I also have to thank the Plamondon Companies for having a tuition reimbursement program for students who worked in their restaurants for 15 hours a week and maintained a B average. That is how I paid for my A.A.
What did you gain from your time at FCC? Are there any lessons or skills you learned while at FCC that you use in your professional life today?
At FCC, I gained confidence. I proved to myself that I was smart enough to succeed in college, and I learned how to manage my time. I also learned that I could do hard things if I broke down the assignments and took it one step at a time. I use these skills each and every day in my personal and professional life.
Why do you think it is important that Frederick has a strong community college like FCC?
FCC is an essential part of our community because it provides an opportunity to explore professions and areas of interest at a very economical price. I believe we have an epidemic of student loan debt in this country that will be felt for generations. FCC offers options for a first-class education at a price point that is much more affordable than a traditional four-year school.
Your husband is now a student at FCC. Tell us about that.
I am excited to attend another FCC graduation ceremony in the next year as my husband completes his Associate of Arts degree in Culinary Arts from the Hospitality, Culinary & Tourism Institute (HCTI). When he had a career left turn, we were excited to find a program close to home that would let him explore a new field. This time I will get to sit in the audience with our children and grandchildren cheering him on, and reinforcing the idea of always learning to a new generation. I can add “you are never too old” to the list of reasons FCC is important to our family.


Alumni Spotlight- Dan Williamson

After graduating from Governor Thomas Johnson High School in 2007, Dan Williamson enrolled at FCC. He took classes in chemistry, pre-calculus, English, and psychology, earning credits before transferring to the University of Maryland. He graduated from UMD in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
Dan then started working in the legal department of a large banking company and soon made the decision to go to law school. He attended the University of Baltimore, enrolling in its evening program while still working full time.
Dan graduated with his law degree in 2017, passed the Maryland State Bar, and started working as an attorney for his family’s law practice, Williamson Law Group, based in Frederick. 
Why did you decide to enroll at FCC after you graduated from high school?
I knew I eventually wanted to go to the University of Maryland. Looking at the financials, it didn’t make sense to me to go to UMD for all four years when I could get the same credits and a good education at FCC. I could also live at home, so I knew I would save money on room and board, as well as tuition.
What did you enjoy about your time at FCC?
FCC was a great bridge for me from high school to a large university. I loved all my professors. They were great educators and great resources. The curriculum was strong, and professors provided insightful feedback on our work. We had a lot of collaborative assignments, which was a great way to learn. FCC also gave me the opportunity to do a study abroad experience in London, which was really unique. That helped broaden my horizons and taught me to be more self-accountable. 
What do you think community colleges in general offer students?
Community colleges offer a lot to all different types of students. You have the students who enroll right after high school, when it’s such a critical time in their lives to make a decision about education. A good community college like FCC can really spur them on and help them find what they want to pursue as a major or career. They are also a critical place for adult students who want to broaden their education for work, or fulfillment in their life. I’m thankful FCC is such a supportive place.

Two FCC Men's Soccer Players Commit to NCAA DI Universities

FCC Men’s Soccer Team Captain PJ Allen (Defender/Roanoke, VA/Northside HS) and Vagner Marques-Rodriguez (Forward/Falls Church, VA/Falls Church HS) will continue their academic and athletic careers next fall at NCAA Division I schools. Allen has committed to Eastern Illinois University under first-year Head Coach Ronnie Bouemboue. Marques-Rodriguez will play for the Retrievers of UMBC this fall under Hall of Fame Coach Pete Caringi Jr.
This is the first year under FFC Men’s Soccer Coach John LaRocca's tenure that multiple players have committed to Division I schools. Congratulations to these outstanding athletes.
Allen's Accolades
2019 MD JUCO - 2nd Team
2019 Region XX DI - Honorable Mention
2018 Region XX DI - Honorable Mention
Marquez-Rodriguez’s Accolades
2019 MD JUCO – 1st Team
2019 Region XX DI – 1st Team
2018 MD JUCO – 2nd Team
2018 Region XX DI – 2nd Team

25th Annual FCC Scholarship Golf Tournament Rescheduled

The 25th Annual FCC Scholarship Golf Tournament has been rescheduled for Monday, September 14, 2020.
The FCC Foundation and the Athletics Department will host the 25th Annual Golf Tournament at Maryland National Golf Club, in Middletown. Proceeds go toward scholarships for FCC students and student-athletes.
All golfers receive breakfast, lunch, use of the practice facilities, and 18 holes of golf. Lunch will be served after the tournament, followed by a raffle drawing and individual and team prizes awarded to the first and second place teams.
For information about registration and sponsorship, click here. A printable flyer is available here.

Virtual Campus Tour

We may be temporarily closed to visitors, but you can still enjoy the views of our beautiful campus. View the virtual tour here.

FCC Students and Employees Sew and Donate Protective Masks

A group of FCC students and employees recently made and donated protective masks for Citizens Nursing Home and Frederick Health, as part of an outreach organized by the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek.

The FCC volunteers included student Pam Rifenberg, vice president of the Student Government Association; and employees Whitney Jones, academic testing assistant; Elizabeth Newdom, adjunct English professor; Carla Milan, internship & apprenticeship coordinator; Cynthia Pace, coordinator for Emergency Management; Deborah Powell, executive director for the Office of Institutional Advancement and the FCC Foundation; and Anne Scholl-Fiedler, coordinator of Career Services.

Alumni Spotlight- Timothy Diethrich

Timothy Diethrich took classes at FCC for two years as an open campus high school student. Taking cost into consideration, and the fact that he had multiple friends who had enjoyed their experiences at FCC, Timothy decided to begin attending as a full-time student after he graduated from high school. Knowing that he ultimately wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Timothy completed his Associate of Arts degree in General Studies at FCC with a course load tailored to STEM classes. He was also a member of the FCC Honors College.
After graduating from FCC, Timothy transferred to Hood College and went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he conducts lab research in the study of inorganic magnetic materials chemistry.
Are there any lessons or skills you learned while at FCC that you use in your professional life today?
FCC was my first exposure to college classes, exams, and presentations. I learned so much from my professors, the honors program, and all the volunteer and career fair opportunities. I still use my networking skills, hard work ethic, and my ability to work well with others, all of which I cultivated at FCC.
What do you enjoy about your work now?
I enjoy the fact that I am intellectually stimulated on a daily basis. I am constantly having to work with both myself and others to try and overcome obstacles in my research. Every single day is different in the lab; some days I am on my feet all day synthesizing new materials, some days I’m analyzing data, some days I’m traveling across the US to national labs, and some days it’s a mixture of the three.
Why do you think it is important that Frederick has a strong community college like FCC?
A strong community college is essential for a city to thrive. Some can’t afford a four-year university, some aren’t sure if college is for them, some want a very specific degree and don’t want to attend a four-year university to get it, and some want to take their time and get their degree over the span of 10 years. FCC is a fantastic option for all of these people (and many more) to pursue their scholastic dream.

Alumni Spotlight- Kait Borromeo

Kait Borromeo began attending FCC directly out of high school. She chose FCC because it was a convenient and local option, and because she wasn’t initially sure what field of study she wanted to pursue. FCC provided a flexible and affordable way for her to take time deciding what she wanted to study. Kait settled on culinary arts and graduated from FCC in 2019 with an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts and Supervision. She has been employed as a pastry chef assistant at Volt Restaurant in downtown Frederick.
Are there any lessons or skills you learned while at FCC that you use in your professional life today?
When I first declared culinary arts as my major, I had no idea what to expect. I was anxious and nervous, but excited. Having the opportunity to learn at the FCC Monroe campus was a different world. Not only did the classes I took in the Hospitality, Culinary & Tourism Institute (HCTI) program give me the foundation I needed to understand essential concepts and techniques, but it also pushed me to think critically and keep me on my toes. From time management to efficient planning to creative liberty, the program has helped me evolve into a confident chef. The HCTI staff always made sure to do their part in properly preparing their students to work in a commercial kitchen.
What do you enjoy about your work now?
I enjoy getting to go to work every day and just being able to create. I get to live my passion every day and that’s helping to bring a plate of dessert to life. Also, ever since starting out at Volt over a year ago, I have learned so many tricks of the trade. It has allowed me to think outside the box a little more. It has taught me to work smarter, not harder.
Why do you think it is important that Frederick has a strong community college like FCC?
I believe it is important that Frederick has a strong community college like FCC because individuals from all walks of life want an education, and a quality one at that. No matter what purpose or goal a student has in enrolling at a community college, the school should meet that criteria the way people would expect from a four-year university.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your time at FCC?
The years I spent in the HCTI program were the most transformative school years of my life. Not only did the program make me feel secure in my passion for culinary arts, but it connected me with people who shared that passion. I never would have felt so comfortable with classmates if it weren’t for working side-by-side in the kitchen and creating that bond within such a small batch of students. That same connection applies to the instructors as well. They not only were a source of guidance as a student, but as friends and constant supporters even after graduating from the program. I’d also like to say a special thanks to Elizabeth DeRose. Without her constant push and determination in helping not just me, but every student in the HCTI program, I would not have had the opportunity that I do now to work at a restaurant with such prestige.

Alumni Spotlight- Gabriella Punturiero

Gabriella Punturiero earned an Associate of Arts degree in Digital Media Design from FCC in 2018. She had been a dual enrollment student while attending Urbana High School and enjoyed the FCC community and professors so much that she decided to continue attending FCC for college. In addition, Gabriella was interested in studying digital media design and knew FCC had a good transfer program that she wanted to take advantage of.
After completing her associate degree, Gabriella transferred to Towson University and received a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Media and Film. After interning on the show Maryland Farm and Harvest, which airs on Maryland Public Television, and interning with a local Baltimore photographer for a year, Gabriella began working for a video production office for a large corporation. She still lives in the Frederick area.
What did you enjoy most about FCC?
I enjoyed many things about FCC. The classes and the variety of subjects FCC offers gave me a well-rounded education. The professors pushed me to be successful and if I had questions they were willing to help me figure it out so I would be successful. FCC also provided me with real world experience. During my last semester I was able to intern with Frederick City Hall’s Audio Visual Department.
What do you enjoy about your work now?
I love my job now, and I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for my education. I enjoy my work because I have the ability to be creative, apply my skill set, and collaborate with others to make the best product.
Why do you think it is important that Frederick has a strong community college like FCC?
I think it is extremely important that Frederick has a strong community college like FCC because the people you meet in your classes you may see outside of the classroom, and if you decide to pursue an undergrad degree they might attend the same school as you and it is really important to have those connections.
Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience at FCC?
After graduating from FCC I felt like I had gained a lot of knowledge and a variety of skills relating to producing, camera work, and video editing. When I went to Towson I was more than prepared thanks to FCC, and because of the transfer program I was able to take advanced undergraduate classes at Towson quicker and expand my knowledge of film and media. FCC definitely prepared me for my undergrad and the industry. I would recommend FCC to anyone who is trying to further their education.


Commencement Ceremony Rescheduled for August 13, 2020

We recognize that the coronavirus pandemic has created challenges, but celebrating Commencement is too important a life milestone to miss. Therefore, the 62nd Frederick Community College Commencement Ceremony, originally planned for May 21, 2020, has been rescheduled so that our graduates can feel the excitement of celebrating with their fellow students and loved ones.
The rescheduled Commencement Ceremony will take place Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.
The Commencement Ceremony is a highlight of the college experience, and we look forward to seeing our students walking and wearing their caps and gowns, as everyone celebrates their success and accomplishments.
The 2020 graduating class consists of more than 900 students, ranging in age from
19 to 63 years old. The most popular degrees this year are General Studies, Business Administration, Information Technology, and Nursing.
Following the ceremony, there will be a reception for graduates, family, friends, and the community in the Cougar Grille.
The rescheduling of the Commencement ceremony does not affect students graduating, receiving degrees and certificates, and transferring to other institutions.

FCC Students Earn Scholarships for Business Plans

FCC students recently presented their ideas and business plans remotely via Skype to a panel of judges. They were hoping for an opportunity to launch their dreams and earn one of three College scholarships as part of the seventh FCC Business Plan Contest supported by M&T Bank.
Students Jenny DiSandro and Cyra Golwalla took the top scholarship prize of $2,500 for their plan for Root 355, a 100-seat restaurant serving locally sourced vegetarian and vegan options. The restaurant would offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner items such as waffle sliders, banana bread, French toast, roasted Brussels sprouts, Asian kale salads, and more.
Student Chahat Dutta earned a second place scholarship of $1,500 for Calories Count, a restaurant that would operate in the fast-casual niche. The restaurant would target individuals for breakfast and families for lunch and dinner. The eatery and its nutritious fare would compete against fast food and traditional sit-down options, and offer home delivery service.
Earning third place and a $1,000 scholarship was student Rebekah Sprague for Laughing Reaper. Sprague’s plan was to expand an existing business in the cosplay market that features anime and game themed items. It would expand to offer t-shirt and hat printing. The company would utilize its current business experience to grow into new markets.
The students may use their scholarships from M&T Bank to cover expenses at FCC, or to further their studies at another college or university.
“All of you have faced many challenges over the past weeks,” FCC President Elizabeth Burmaster told the students. “I applaud you for persevering and working on your business plans and not giving up on your dreams, despite obstacles. Flexibility is often a hallmark in the marketplace, and in life. I know you’ve worked hard on your plans and made adjustments.”
The annual contest was open to any current FCC student enrolled in a credit or noncredit course. Individual students or teams had an opportunity to develop a business plan to expand or create a new venture. The judges reviewed 13 written applications and narrowed the field to the three finalists. The students were evaluated on their written plans (60 percent) and oral presentations (40 percent).
Judges were Whitney Dahlberg, a local artist, columnist, and former owner of The Muse; James Gorman, vice president with M&T Bank; Jon Holmes, CPA, principal with LSWG Certified Public Accountants, and current director on the FCC Foundation Board; Steve Schmidt, founder of Frederick Air Inc., and Dave Schmidt who runs the company’s daily operations. Steve is a former director of the FCC Foundation Board, and Dave a current member.
“We are grateful to James Gorman and M&T Bank for believing in the power of higher education and providing this unique scholarship opportunity for our students,” noted President Burmaster. “Each year, its support brings together our College and business community and rewards a group of hardworking students for their creative business ideas.”
President Burmaster also thanked the FCC Business Plan Contest planning team that included Larry Devan, Doree Lynn Miles, Dr. Karen Wilson, and Deborah Powell. Contest mentors and advisors were Charles “Rick” Dillon, Norman Endlich, Bruce LeFleur, and Thomas Mazerski. Endlich also served as event moderator.

Application Period Open for FCC Foundation Fall Semester Scholarships

The application window for fall semester scholarships from the FCC Foundation opened on April 1, 2020. Information about specific scholarships can be found on the Foundation website here. Students can apply until June 30.

Registration for summer and fall classes is open. 
Browse courses here >>


7932 Opossumtown Pike
Frederick, MD 21702

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