New Connections Center Offers Support to Marion Technical College Students

Written by on September 3, 2021

(Marion) With fanfare and applause, Marion Technical College proudly cut the ribbon for the new Connections Center sponsored by Marion-based Wyandot Snacks. This new space in Bryson Hall offers a one-stop location for students facing stressful issues outside the classroom to find resources and assistance. Wyandot Snacks generously supports the Connections Center and Marion Tech students working to achieve their next goals.

“Many of our students find the biggest barriers to graduation outside the classroom,” said Dr. Ryan McCall, President of Marion Tech. “The new Connections Center provides a one-stop pathway to find help overcoming obstacles with childcare, transportation and food insecurity.”

Primrose Igonor, Marion Tech’s Belonging and Equity Coordinator, will also serve as the new Director of the Connections Center. Natalie Longmeier, a Student Resource Navigator with Marion Matters, has an office inside the Connections Center. Students can turn to her for help finding employment, housing, and child care as well as referrals to community resources. Part-time and full-time students and their families also have access to counseling and other resources through the Student Assistance Program. The Connections Center also offers a food pantry. Wyandot regularly donates snacks to Marion Tech students.

“We are excited to help MTC students achieve the skills and training necessary to build meaningful careers,” said Robert Sarlls, President and CEO of Wyandot Snacks. “Ensuring their success not only requires access to the important life services the Center provides, but also the proper nourishment to get them through each day. Hunger is not an option. We are proud to play a role in MTC’s effort.”

In addition to the support from Wyandot Snacks, Marion Tech received funding from the Rotary Club of Marion to assist with the physical renovations of the space as well as from OhioHealth to help acquire needed resources for our students.

“It is truly heartwarming to see how so many people are willing to help our students,” said Dr. McCall.

The Connections Center is also funded through a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The Strengthening Institutions Program Grant was awarded to allow Marion Tech to better service low-income students. Over five years, the grant will invest $2.2 million in serving Marion Tech students over five years.

The grant also funded a new Experiential Learning Coordinator. Danielle Lambrite Smith works find more internships and co-ops to help students get hands-on experience in a field before graduation. As a part of her role as director, Igonor will meet with students to make them feel welcomed and valued. Brandy Page, academic advisor and retention coordinator at MTC, has worked closely with the Buckeye Food Alliance in preparation for the opening of our Marion Campus Food Pantry by hiring and training student workers to staff the pantry and facilitating the inventory and organization of food items.

“Our goal is to help students reach their goal and complete their certificate or degree,” said Craig Sohl, director of the Title III grant at Marion Tech. “The new Connections Center will help them get to graduation and new career opportunities and keep challenges from derailing their futures.”

In addition to serving thousands of Marion Tech students, the whole region benefits from this new resource.

“Marion is America’s Workforce Development Capital,” said Gus Comstock, Director of Marion CAN-DO. “Clearing the path for local adults to gain new skills and compete for in-demand jobs help local employers and our community. We all win.”

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