Unity in Community

~ Rising as One ~

Rise Together

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”


The Unity in Community: Rising as One Festival highlights and honors the collaboration, passion and compassion that has served to raise up our community during this unprecedented time. Our ability and commitment to join together with a common purpose is a testament to who we are, who we have always been as a college community.

Unity is a celebration of individuality. It is a deep appreciation and respect for the unique gifts and talents in all of us. The journey of unity is the creation of one voice that speaks to harmony and fellowship…individuals coming together with a mission to rise as one.

Rockland Community College continues to rise, to inspire, to choose hope over despair, to build an environment where all are cherished.

“We are each other’s harvest, we are each other’s business, we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” 

~Gwendolyn Brooks
Poet, Author, Educator

We must embrace our roles as changemakers to be a beacon, that light in the darkness for our students and our colleagues. We must be vigilant in our mission and pursuit of excellence for those with whom we work, educate and mentor. Only together will we rise as one community, dedicated to providing purpose driven educational opportunities and empowering individuals to positively transform themselves and their communities.

This is our 2nd annual Unity in Community Festival. Most of the events are free and open to the public. Those that charge an admission fee are noted in the event descriptions.

Watch a message from Dr. Michael Baston
Watch a message from Dr. Sue Deer

2022 Unity in Community Events

Upcoming Events

2022 Unity in Community Event Recordings

United diversity and unity partnership as heart hands in a group of diverse people connected together shaped as a support symbol expressing the feeling of teamwork and togetherness.
United diversity and unity partnership as heart hands in a group of diverse people connected together shaped as a support symbol expressing the feeling of teamwork and togetherness.

2022 Unity in Community

Patty Maloney-Titland
Christopher Plummer
Rosemary Witte
Christina Schaudel

Student Representatives:
Charlie Sutherland
Felix Vazquez Ayala

2022 Cute Pet winners

Peter Fiore's dog Ringo
Barbara Murphy's dog Pippa
Stacy Casden's cat Roscoe

2022 Sleepy Pet winners

Amanda Feeney's dog Cosgrove
Mark Davidoff's dog Zeus
Richard Ahrens' cat Squirt

Healthy Habits Week

The early days of Spring are here and we are all looking forward to some sunshine and fun activities with friends! Being indoors for a long time, overeating, and missing out on outdoor activities, has made us restless and eager to get ourselves moving. Let us all celebrate our “Healthy Habits” as a way to encourage us to build/demonstrate healthy habits and get ready for the summer.

How do we honor this occasion? – This event is a “Make Your Own Holiday” winner from our festival in 2021. This year, we celebrate this day by sharing pictures and/or written descriptions of activities that make our bodies stronger and healthier. Our RCC community as well as the community around us is welcome to upload any recent images or written words of them engaging in any such activities. Some examples of snapshots are pictures of an individual exercising, preparing a healthy meal, before/after losing weight, any outdoor/indoor activity that gets you moving and so on. Participants are also welcome to type out their contributions if that is more convenient or comfortable.

Option 1: Please submit your pictures between April 23 and May 7 and include a caption describing the person/scene. All images will be made public shortly thereafter.

Option 2: Please submit your text between April 23 and May 7.

You are welcome to do just one or both options. RCC thanks you for your generosity of spirit and sharing of your selfless love and light!


Photo of me in AZ just prior to my very first viewing of Star Wars in 1977

It was the summer of 1977, my grandfather had just passed away and I lived with only my mother and my grandmother. We were in the process of moving and relocating from Utah to New York. Along the way, we stopped in Arizona to stay with my uncle while on route to the Empire State. During our stay in the dry desert, just outside of Phoenix, my mother and grandmother took me to see a film that people were just starting to talk about. Little did I (or anyone) know how much that seemingly innocuous trip to a local cinema in Arizona would change my life, and the lives of many others, forever.

The movie was Star Wars. That was the only title at that time, there was no subtitle, no expectations, no gluttony of action figures, or much of any merchandising to speak of yet. The film was only just released. However, the initial buzz was positive. It was supposed to a fun and exciting science fantasy film, so to pass the time as we dealt with the loss of my grandfather and our move to New York, I was taken to see it.

I cannot particularly recall my actual first viewing, as I was nearly two years of age, and since the sheer staggering amount of subsequent viewings would make a statistician flush with focus to prove their worth in racing to keep track of the nearly incalculable number. However, that single act of going to the cinema on one hot evening in Arizona made such a colossal impact on my young mind that it would help guide my consciousness for the rest of my life.

Star Wars, in all its wonder and amazement, became much more than a simple hobby for me. It was a universe in which I could instantly escape into with a single thought. It was a place of infinite possibilities, filled with excitement and danger, mystery and intrigue, but most of all…with love and comradery. The universe that George Lucas created was always much deeper and more significant that a summer film to occupy the minds of children. It certainly did that, but there was always a more resonate chamber in which that story existed. Star Wars instantly became a cultural and global phenomenon, loved and cherish the world over.

There was a poster released back in the 1980s that read: “Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from watching Star Wars.” It was meant to be a fun novelty item, but there was some truth in that for me (and for many people of the often-overlooked Generation X). My love of Star Wars was partially responsible for my pursuit of acting as a vocation.

As I ventured into that world in my reality, I was engaged more deeply in the cinema, music, filmmaking, scriptwriting, literature, and theatre. Eventually I was turned on to Shakespeare and the then the art of Theatrical Stage Combat (a field in which I earned a rigorous teacher certification). The twists and turns in my intellectual pursuits and curiosities ultimately lead me to do what Yoda, as he lay dying, requested of Luke Skywalker, just before becoming one with the Force: “Pass on what you have learned.” Before I knew it, that is exactly what I was doing and what I continue to do.

In the years since coming to RCC and co-founding the Rockland Shakespeare Company a quarter century ago, I have created and taught many courses at the college. However, with the creation of the Star Wars: Movies to Modern Myth and the Theatrical Stage Combat: Lightsaber courses, I have come full-circle and revisited the source…or the Force behind my path to education and mentoring young actors.

Once established, both courses have become two of the most popular in the Visual and Performing Arts department. They continually attract a large and diverse group of students, looking to experience something special and learn about this unique universe and the impact it has had (and continues to have) on our popular culture, our society, and on our world.

I am proud and honored to have been able to continually mentor a wide range of students from every background imaginable as we come together, joined by a common bond…a global community, that feels like a family, built upon a foundation of that ultimate love and comradery that George Lucas has given the world in the form of the Star Wars universe.

Christopher Plummer
Director – Cultural Arts Theatre – Rockland Community College
Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director – Rockland Shakespeare Company
Certified Teacher/Advanced Actor-Combatant – Society of American Fight Directors

Society of American Fight Directors – Certified Teacher – Christopher Plummer and the students of the inaugural Theatrical Stage Combat course in the Visual and Performing Arts Department.

Jeanette Geller
While working in the St. Lucian government service which included working with Prime Ministers from other islands and members of the International Monitory Fund (IMF), I was introduced to RCC by my sister as part of her leadership with the Partners of the America’s program of which Rockland is St. Lucia’s partner (I was president of the board for a while). With this, I started as a student in the then Automated Office Technologies (now Office Technologies) program in September of 1985.

Graduated in ’87 and transferred to Mercy College to continue in business while I continued to work at RCC as a student worker managing a computer lab and assisting students in what was then Building A, oh the old days. After a few years, completed my MBA at St. Thomas Aquinas six months earlier than schedule.

After completing my degree with Mercy, December 1989, was assigned my first class as an adjunct in the Office Technologies Department in Spring 1990 while still managing the lab and assisting students in the program.

Later moved to HR as a Paraprofessional and then to IT as a Computer Support Technician to be later promoted to the position as the first Local Area Network (LAN) Administrator; all of this while I continued to adjunct with the Business Department and taking classes with the newly formed Computer Networking Department, created and headed by Nicole Hanaburgh. After receiving my degree as one of the first graduates, I was recruited by Morton Leifer and Nicole to adjunct for that department and later recommended for a full time position under the program, “Grow Your Own.”

During my lengthy tenure as department chair, I oversaw Computer Studies, Computer Assisted Design, and Cyber Security and during that time worked on the requirements to be the first New York State community college to receive the distinction of being named by that the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) as having the courseware that met the 4011 training cyber training standards “for Information Security Professionals, Senior System Managers, System Administrators, System Certifiers, and Risk Analysts responsible for the security oversight or management of critical networks.”  The program’s most recent recognition is as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense 2-Year (CAE) as recognized by the NSA and DHS and I am the Director and Principal Investigator of the cyber center. RCC is the second NYS Community College to receive that recognition and I am very proud to be associated with this honor.

Teaching our cyber and computer students continues to be my passion and plan to continue as long as I can.

Elyse Fuller
In the Spring and Summer of 2020, many of us were home due to physical closures of our schools and workplaces. We wanted to remain safe, but our social nature left us yearning to commune and commiserate with others during these exceptional and confusing times.

Many of us took to the outdoors. Public green spaces kept open were extremely popular. Hikers’ lots in our local Harriman State Park were overflowing. Whether walking around our neighborhoods or visiting a park, the outdoors were always open to us, giving our gregarious selves an outlet.

While these trips into nature may have been new for many, a growing body of research supports that visiting green spaces has positive biological impacts on us. Markers of physiological stress include heightened activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and higher levels of the hormone cortisol (Wheelock et al., 2016).  These levels tend to decline in individuals when in green spaces (Park et al., 2007; Thompson et al., 2016).

Needless to say, many of us experienced heightened stress in the Spring and Summer of 2020 and beyond.  Gathering in green spaces made sense not only because we could meet with others at a distance but doing so could help our health even if many were oblivious to that benefit.

Many aspects of our society are built upon our collective appreciation of nature and the environment. Locally, organizations like Keep Rockland Beautiful, Inc. bring together people who are diverse in age, cultural background, income, profession, political views, religion, and so much more. People who may not otherwise meet join together for dozens of KRB-organized litter cleanups. Perhaps some want to protect wildlife while others are interested in community service.   Regardless of people’s reasons, the environment is at the root of their communal efforts.

Best known for its mission of protecting birds, National Audubon Society, Inc. does attract a fair number of birders.  However, many join forces to support Audubon’s broader efforts of habitat conservation, environmental education, and environmental advocacy.

The health of the environment is something that impacts all of us. Though many have returned to their physical schools and workplaces, and those Harriman State Park hikers’ lots are emptier these days, those who enjoyed time together in green spaces will carry memories of them and of how those experiences in nature made them feel. Hopefully, these types of unions are not just a blip.  Hopefully, we will continue to come together in similar or other ways from a desire to contribute to environmental efforts, drawn by nature.

References Cited

Audubon. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2022, from https://www.audubon.org/
Keep Rockland Beautiful. (1970, April 4). Retrieved April 7, 2022, from https://keeprocklandbeautiful.org/

Park, Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Hirano, H., Kagawa, T., Sato, M., & Miyazaki, Y. (2007). Physiological Effects of Shinrin-yoku (Taking in the Atmosphere of the Forest)—Using Salivary Cortisol and Cerebral Activity as Indicators. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 26(2), 123–128. https://doi.org/10.2114/jpa2.26.123

Ward Thompson, Aspinall, P., Roe, J., Robertson, L., & Miller, D. (2016). Mitigating Stress and Supporting Health in Deprived Urban Communities: The Importance of Green Space and the Social Environment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(4), 440–440. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13040440

Wheelock, Harnett, N. G., Wood, K. H., Orem, T. R., Granger, D. A., Mrug, S., & Knight, D. C.(2016). Prefrontal Cortex Activity Is Associated with Biobehavioral Components of the Stress Response. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10, 583–583.


Dr. Nolan’s poem below is one of two poems featured as a part of Writing Off the Walls 2022, an exhibit at Studio Theater in Exile & Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art (HVMOCA). The poems are featured along with the very artworks that inspired them.

For more information visit: Studio Theater in Exile’s website

Someone Great Is Gone, 2013

No machinery can or will rescue
any of us from the law of being.

For centuries we have pretended that
by echoing those grey wings on the wind
grinding the black earth into our palms, and
dipping blue confections to our pink tongues,
we are truly living.
But, by proclaiming that
there can only be one of anything,
we are gradually tearing at the
seams of a sheath, well worn.

It would do us well to remember that
while the fringes may be tattered and torn
the main core is always serviceable.

Because while all our ancestors loom large
in the shadows of grief
Brown, Yellow, Red…
We must remember that
someone great was and is ever-present—
In the untouched landscape
In the interior web of oneness
In the infinite expanse beyond that

disposable jacket—
that great white hide.

Winner of the Earth Day 2022 Poetry Contest
Milen Paulose for her poem, “Then Stands a Mother”
Major: Liberal Arts: Humanities and Social Science (Honors Student)

Then Stands a Mother

From nothingness there was a big bang

And then stands a mother
Holding a crying child
There are wails in the air as the child cries, unaware
The mother stands alone and passersby watch her
She does not cry as heaven passes them by and crashes into her
Forming her

The child sleeps
But the mother writhes
Her roots grow deeper
Until they have pierced her very heart
But she sings a soft lullaby and thank the cruel heavens for the roots
Entrenching her

The child cries unaware
But the mother still stands
She is strong now
Her branches extend toward the cruel heavens that formed her
She smiles through the agony of the growth and smiles at the branches
Shielding them

And the child grows
And the mother watches
He climbs the branches, higher and higher
He reaches to touch the heavens and the mother beholds, proud
She lifts her hands and the child steps on them
Hoisting himself

He breaks a branch
And the mother winces
Unseeing, he laughs and plays as innocence dictates
She amends and amends and amends
Branches grow stronger and it’s safe again
Shielding him

He grows older
And so does she
Curiosity seizes him and he digs deeper
He digs past soil and cuts past roots
Silent rivers flow from the mother’s eyes
Cleansing him

He is older now
And she is feeble
He does not play or sleep in his mother’s lap or admire her gardens
But she sings, soft lullabies in the night he so loves
Singing as the sun scorches her back
Delighting him

He sees a little too late
The many scars his mother tried to hide
The many pains
The eroding mountains she carried on her back
The stained rivers she cried
Protecting him

He is healthy now and much older
She is dying and both of them know
She looks up at the heavens and cruelly they pour
Once life-giving rain showers now as poison
In her dying breath she hugs her son
Preserving him

And once again there is nothingness.