Pennocks Bridge campus welcomes college president

By Meredith Haas

Special to The Communitarian

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Dr. L. Joy Gates Black addresses students and faculty members while visiting the Pennocks Bridge campus. Photo by Meredith Haas
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Dr. L. Joy Gates Black and Kevin Ballisty, director of the Pennocks Bridge campus, speak on issues brought up in the discussion. Photo by Meredith Haas

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President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black visited Pennocks Bridge campus on Oct. 30 to hold an open discussion among students and faculty members.

Having visited Pennocks Bridge campus for the college’s 50th Anniversary, Gates Black’s interest radiated with the attention she provided to the campus director, Kevin Ballisty, as they walked through the halls to Room B137.

Gates Black situated herself at the front of the room as Ballisty introduced her to the audience she came to know in the next hour.

“For you who have been here the longest, I hope that you share the things you feel you truly appreciate about this campus,” Ballisty said to the audience. “Also things you want to see change would be great for not only us, but the college as a whole.”

With this introduction, Gates Black took the stage as everyone got situated into their seats. The room was filled with quiet students and faculty members, all preparing themselves for the discussion to begin.

“I joined the college in June of 2017, and it has been a wonderful journey for me,” Gates Black said. “I have enjoyed meeting so many students, and I listen to every single one of their suggestions.”

Gates Black opened a discussion by informing the audience that her door is always open and she is always listening. She explained that her approach to working with people does not come from a textbook, but from her life experience.

Whether it was in her hometown of Texas, when she moved to New England, or when she was introduced to DCCC while in California, Gates Black said she always took note of her experiences and the wisdom that came with them.

“My parents were not wealthy, but I was an honors student,” Gates Black said. “My parents could not afford to send me to college so I went into the Air Force. I know what it is like when you need a little bit of direction and that is why I always found a kinship when I got to the community college experience.”

This kinship carries heavily in all that Gates Black does. She described her admiration for the aspiration and drive that is so common among community college students.

“The students that go here want an education, no matter what the end plan is,” Gates Black said. “They have a pathway, and that is really appealing to me.”

Gates Black described this as a commonality among community colleges, recognizing the determination students at both DCCC and her past jobs have.

“When I saw this opportunity to come to DCCC it really interested me,” Gates Black said. “I did my dissertation research at Brenmar College, and so coming back here was like coming home to me.”

Gates Black recognized how many smiles she often sees around campus and attributed them to every student’s determination and purpose.

After speaking with students and faculty members about various topics surrounding DCCC, Gates Black acknowledged the potential of the campus and wrapped up the discussion.

“This is a wonderful campus, not perfect, but all who are here are committed,” Gates Black said. “Thank you all for being here today and I am glad you came out.”


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New provost appreciates community support

By Dean Galiffa

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“Hi, I’m Kelley Simone, it’s so great to meet you!” says the principle of Upper Darby High School, extending her hot-pink acrylic nails out for a firm handshake to DCCC’s new provost, Dr. Monica Parrish Trent.

“Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” Trent responds.

Both are attending the Sponsoring School Districts Appreciation Dinner on Oct. 24, 2018.

The Marple campus cafeteria has been transformed to a formal dinner setting; guests in suits carry cups of soft drinks from a soda fountain, various horderves are arranged for snacking, and a meat-carving station is being prepared in the corner.

After being appointed in April 2018, Trent became provost, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs, and chief academic officer in June.

Trent is responsible for the overall curriculum and instruction, which means she oversees all faculty and students at the college.

As vice president of academic and Student Affairs, Trent also has campus-wide responsibilities. She supervises institutional effectiveness and research, enabling faculty members to be responsible for the college.

While at the appreciation dinner, Simone tells Trent of a new schoolboard decision.

“We voted on the amount of credits a student needs in order to take dual enrollment classes,” Simone says.

Simone explains that it was a unanimous vote of 9 to 0. Before, a student needed at least 26 credits. This prompts Trent to ask how many students attend the high school.

“We oversee 3,800 students.” Simone replies, to Trent’s surprise. “There are a lot of students, and many of them are dual enrollment students.”

After a short while, Trent excuses herself to her respective dinner table. Many follow suit as social hour draws to a close and dinner is about to begin.

“Good evening, thank you all so much for coming,” says President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black, looking out into the audience. “I want to thank all of you for your partnership with Delaware County Community College.”

Next to her a large projection screen reads “Sponsoring Districts and Dual Enrollment.”

“Since last year, we had a number of retirements in our senior leadership here at Delaware County Community College,” Gates Black says. “I thought I would introduce some of the faces that you may come into contact with.”

As each name is called, a college official waves from the crowded tables, followed by applause.

“I’d like to introduce Monica Parrish Trent,” Gates Black says. “Monica is our new provost and vice president for Academic and Student Affairs.”

Trent stands up from her seat and waves to the audience with a smile.

From an early age, Trent says she had an interest in literature and writing. She attended George Mason University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English.

After an internship at USA Today, Trent returned to her alma mater for her Master of Arts in English. While there, she followed the Teaching and Learning track and eventually began teaching as an adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College for course credits.

Following graduation, Trent applied for a position at Brookdale Community College, where she became a tenured assistant professor of English.

Having spent six years at Brookdale, Trent began her career at Montgomery College in 2000, where she was a professor in the English department and a member of the counseling and advising cadre at the Rockville campus.

In 2012, Trent became the associate instructional dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the college’s Takoma Park campus.

Two years later, Trent was appointed college-wide dean of the ELAP, Linguistics and Communication Studies division. She oversaw more than 150 faculty and staff in three academic departments, as well as the Germantown Writing, Reading and Language Center.

In May 2016, Trent earned her Doctorate of Philosophy in Community College Leadership from the Darden College of Education at Old Dominion University in Virginia, where she also received a doctoral student fellowship.

While attending the American Association of Community Colleges Conference in 2017, Trent met Glenn DuBois, the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, at a restaurant by complete chance.

Trent told DuBois she was interested in becoming the provost of a college. He suggested she start applying to colleges that fit her criteria.

Not long after, Trent began her application process. She liked Delaware County Community College because of its multiple campuses, metropolitan region, and overall dedication student success.

Trent was attracted to the provost position at the college because it oversaw both student and academic affairs, including Achieving the Dream, a “national effort aimed at helping community college students succeed,” according to the college’s website. Trent was the director of the Achieving the Dream initiative at Montgomery College.

Now, Trent is looking forward to presenting revisions in the college’s initiatives that stem from Achieving the Dream, including changes in developmental math and reading courses.

Trent says she understands how busy the personal lives of students can be, but wants them to be aware of the resources the college offers.

“I would love for students to really exercise every option,” Trent says. “We have wrap-around support with our tutoring services, counseling and advising, clubs, and initiatives.”

As for faculty, Trent says an opportunity for improving student life and overall curriculum is the Middle States Commission of Higher Education Self-Study Institute.

“One of the things faculty are really beginning to work on is looking…at the ways we communicate and honor our mission,” Trent says. “[The self-study] is when we do a deep-dive into how we do that across seven standards.”

A way to accomplish the college’s mission is to recognize the support of sponsoring school districts through an annual dinner.

When reflecting on why she has chosen to remain at community colleges throughout her career, Trent offers the personal experience of her sister, who attended community college.

“My sister didn’t subscribe to being a traditionalist in the classroom,” Trent says. “The community college mission is very important to me. It is an opportunity for people from different walks of life who have had a different background…to get an education and access everything society has available to them.”

Contact Dean Galiffa at

Students raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention

By Dean Galiffa



On Oct. 3, members of the Social Work Club sold soft pretzels and apple cider to raise awareness of suicide prevention and mental health.

All proceeds were donated to To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.

To Write Love On Her Arms began when founder Jamie Tworkowski met Renee Yohe in March 2006. After learning about her struggle with addiction, self-injury, and depression, he spent five days with her before she entered a treatment center and sold T-shirts to help cover the cost.

When Yohe entered treatment, Tworkowski wrote about his experience and posted the story on MySpace, naming it “To Write Love On Her Arms.”

Social Work Club President Chelsea Diehl explained why she and other members decided to donate to To Write Love On Her Arms.

“We know some of the people [involved with] To Write Love On Her Arms, which is why we chose that organization,” Diehl said. “We’re also handing out pamphlets for other resources and hotlines.”

Diehl also mentioned the numerous resources available on and around campus, including the Career and Counseling Center.

The center offers a number of services, including personal counseling. Students seeking an appointment can visit the center at Marple Campus in Room 1325 in the Academic Building. For branch campus information, students should visit

Contact Dean Galiffa at

Social Work Club President Chelsea Diehl sells a pretzel to Lanica Robinson, an early childhood education major in support of mental health awareness.
Pamphlets of information on mental health awareness and suicide prevention resources are available for students and faculty.
(Left to right) Emily Evans, secretary of the Social Work Club; Sam Chiaffa, vice president; and Chelsea Diehl, president, sell pretzels and apple cider to Danny Sommo, theatre major.
Shane McLaughlin, a liberal arts major, shows his support for To Write Love On Her Arms by purchasing a soft pretzel.
Soft pretzels and apple cider are sold to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. All proceeds are donated to To Write Love On Her Arms.

Radio talk show host urges students to vote

By Alexia Davis

(Left to right) Tarik S. Khan, Laura Coates, Bryan Monroe, Jean Strout, and Joe Madison pose for a picture after the “America In Crisis: Handling Election Angst” symposium. Photo by Alexia Davis

The Business, Computing and Social Science division hosted a symposium, “America In Crisis: Handling Election Angst,” at Marple Campus on Sept. 25. The discussion was moderated by Joe Madison, host of ‘The Joe Madison Show” on SiriusXM’s Urban View.

The panelists included Laura Coates, host of The Laura Coates Show on SiriusXM’s Urban View; Tarik Khan, a nurse practitioner with the Family Practice & Counseling Network; Bryan Monroe, Verizon chair and professor of journalism at Temple University; and Jean Strout, staff attorney at the Support Center for Child Advocates and an Equal Justice Works Fellow.

Keeley Mitchell, director of Paralegal Studies, said the event was organized because young people need to understand why voting is important.

“Whatever your beliefs, whatever your party, wherever you stand on the spectrum of things, go vote,” Keeley said. “Don’t let others be your voice.”

During the discussion Madison referenced information from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The AARP data shows that Americans over the age of 50 are the nation’s most powerful voting block.

“What this means is that the older people are making decisions for [the younger generation] about what policies are going to be put in place,” Strout said.

The panel discussed issues of concern for the upcoming election, including the Affordable Care Act, freedom of the press, student debt, immigration, homelessness, and the opioid crisis.

The panelists also addressed potential roadblocks for voters. One such issue was the belief that there is no point to voting because a single vote doesn’t really matter.

“That’s an excuse,” Coates said. “People can’t use it as a crutch to not engage.”

Another roadblock was related to logistical issues, or not physically being able to get to the poles. Monroe suggested other options for voters.

“Even if you’re home, you can get an absentee ballot and send it in,” Monroe said. Absentee ballots are mailed before an election by voters who cannot be at the polls.

Other resources for voters include early voting and free rides to the polling place from Uber and Lyft drivers.

Toward the end of the symposium, Madison and Monroe spoke to individuals who cannot cast a ballot for reasons, such as age or immigration status. The panelists explained that these persons can still affect the system by sharing information and getting others to vote.

Monroe told the audience that democracy is not “a spectator sport.”

“We cannot, we must not, be a nation of onlookers,” Madison warned.

To view a video of the symposium, click here.

Contact Alexia Davis at

The Student Writing Journal with Megan Trexler

By Alex Philippsen

The Student Writing Journal is an online publication that showcases work from students interested in the communications, arts, and humanities.

Megan Trexler is one of the professors who serve on the Editorial Board of the Student Writing Journal. She helped found this journal to give aspiring writers the opportunity to publicize their work for other students.

Recently, Trexler discussed this journal and its importance in more detail.

How long have you been a professor at DCCC?

I’m in my fourth year. I taught a couple of years part-time and then full-time. I’m teaching English and I teach reading as well.

Tell me more about the Student Writing Journal.

It’s entirely online and it’s a peer reviewed journal. It originally started for English 100 and English 112, then expanded to include all English courses, as well as any communication, arts, and hummanities courses.

Why did you help begin the Student Writing Journal?

I wanted to give students additional time than what they could do in the classroom. It allows them to extend their work when they’re writing.

What is the focus and/or goal for the Student Writing Journal?

For us, to be able to work with students. We wanted to showcase student work. Put students in connection with each other and be able to peer-review prior to publication. I also wanted to increase the readership.

What kind of work do you publish?

Our focus is on academic writing, which can take many forms. We welcome argumentative essays, persuasive text, research-based writing, critical analysis, and so on. We are hoping to include multimodal texts too, like videos. The text we receive might have a creative element, but we don’t accept fictional writing, poetry or drama.

How many students have submitted thus far?

It varies from year to year, but we had 18 texts last year. We’ve already had 19 texts submitted for Volume 4. The journal is growing but is a little complex in its process.

It originally started with six faculty members for editing, until it became student-to-student based. Now, it’s a mix of both with five student reviewers. They’ve done an excellent job [providing] thoughtful feedback.

What are some of the best works you’ve received from students?

There’s so much variety in the type of essay. We have students who are writing about critical thinking and current issues. The first three volumes are online…and the fourth volume isn’t due until March.

Why should students participate in this journal?

It’s a great experience. It can be challenging for students to sustain their work for one text. [This] can help reach their full potential, can help for students who look to transfer…graduate students too. Learning to take feedback and apply that into their writing is very important as well.

How can students receive more information about the journal?

They can go on our website…on the Campus Life Section, under Student Clubs and Activities, and under Student Publications. Then type in “Student Writing Journal” otherwise. We have flyers located in the Communication Arts and Humanities Office. They’ve been informed by classmates…[I’m] happy about students telling about it.

Is there anything else you wish to add?

I’d like to see it expand over time outside of humanities…but it takes time for that to happen.

Contact Alex Philippsen at