Genesee Community College Students Present The Unseen World Around Us Two Health Enhancement Service Learning Sessions

How clean is clean? That’s the question Genesee Community College microbiology students will be asking and answering on Tuesday, December 12, in part one of a special service learning presentation to fellow students and the public. The presentation, which takes place from 12:30-2:00 pm in Student Union Room S103, will emphasize what Jane Weston, associate professor of Biology terms “respiratory etiquette” as well as highlight other health concerns.

“The primary goal of this project is to give students and the general public information about how to protect themselves from harmful diseases and bacteria, and to help them understand how to avoid infecting others,” Weston said, indicating the timeliness of the program is perfect as the community heads into the cold and flu season.

Thirteen students in her Microbiology and Human Disease class will present different topics during the session. One group will be demonstrating the potential danger of transmission from places such as spas and tattoo parlors; another will be discussing the importance of hand washing. A third group, which includes a student who works for the water department, is explaining the unseen threats in our food and water, especially in light of the recent E. coli scare. The final group will discuss the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and outline the benefits of the new HPV vaccine, the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer and other diseases in females.

The second, follow-up session entitled Sexually Transmitted Diseases 101 is scheduled for Thursday, December 14, at 1:00 pm in Room B307. Presented by AIDS Community Services of Western New York, Inc. (ACS), the discussion will include information about a number of sexually transmitted diseases and give students an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how to protect themselves. ACS is a not-for-profit community based organization located in Buffalo, NY committed to ending the AIDS epidemic and minimizing its effects in western New York. The presentation comes shortly after National Aids Day, which was December 1, and the very day that Weston’s students will be introduced to the topic in class.

The presentations are part of Genesee Community College’s academic service learning program, or C.A.R.E., an acronym for Commitment Action Reflection Education, which actively promotes excellence in teaching and learning through the integration of academic study with community service. Under the guidance of the CARE committee, numerous collaborative programs across many different academic disciplines are continually being explored, planned and implemented to encourage civic engagement, promote personal growth and foster social responsibility.

“The mission of the service learning program is to make sure that learning doesn’t occur in isolation and that our students’ learning outcomes are connected to the world around them,” Christine Belongia, assistant professor of Teacher Education and also a member of the CARE committee said. “We strive to create learning opportunities outside the classroom and make them useful to our community. On a multitude of levels, The Unseen World Around Us hits the nail on the head for service learning.”

The Microbiology students, who have taken the initiative to research and present these topics in addition to their regular studies, will use a variety of methods to relay the information to the audience. Several groups have taken samples of various surfaces around the College, as well as providing graphics and models for the topics they will be discussing. They hope to raise awareness about the potential harm of seemingly benign areas and to encourage respect for your own body and for others.

“This is a wonderful way for these students to apply what they learn to real life,” Weston said. “It will also help sharpen their communication skills, which is essential since many of them are pre-nursing students and will need to communicate this type of information to their patients in the future.”

Both sessions are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided by Phi Theta Kappa and the Student Health Awareness and Advocacy Group.

For more information about the upcoming sessions The Unseen World Around Us, contact Jane Weston, Associate Professor of Biology at (585) 343-0055 x6379 or
For further information about Genesee’s CARE program click on:

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Editor’s note: Several photographs with related photo captions of Genesee Community College microbiology students studying microscopic germs and bacteria in preparation for their Unseen World Around Us program are available at the following Internet addresses.
Students in Genesee Community College’s Microbiology and Human Disease class with associate professor Jane Weston gather together before starting their lab in preparation for the upcoming Unseen World Around Us program. Standing left to right in the front row are Jennifer Rider, Danielle Bohn, Margaret Johnson, Charlene Bowen, Marianna Tkach, Jack Murray, Dr. Weston. And in the back row: Kelly Hauser, Jennifer Rawls, Mary Reiner, Robin Basinait, Michelle Wheatley, Marian Barnes.
Standing left, Margaret Johnson, Corfu, and Jennifer Rider, Lyndonville, (right) discuss their bacterial cultures with their Genesee Community College Professor of Microbiology and Human Disease, Jane Weston.
Two students, Michelle Wheatley, Le Roy (left) and Marian Barnes, Wyoming (right) work in their Microbiology lab at Genesee Community College.
Mary Reiner of Hamlin works in her Microbiology lab at Genesee Community College.