Genesee Student Finalist in National Essay Contest

Genesee Community College is pleased to announce student Leah Reino was a finalist in the Community College Week NISOD Student Essay Contest. The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and Community College Week magazine together sponsored an essay writing contest for community college students based on their most rewarding learning experience with faculty, staff or administrator at their college. There were over 1,300 entries, and Leah’s essay, Professor Weston and the Last Crusade, was one of nine finalists who were recognized.

Leah has been a full time student since fall of 2007, when she was 15 years old. She was home-schooled through middle school and then completed her high school requirements through Genesee in the spring of 2008. She is now working on her associate's degree with plans to graduate in the fall of 2010. She is currently studying Biotechnology and plans to someday earn a doctorate degree in science.

Leah first learned of the essay contest through a posting at the Arcade campus center where she takes most of her classes. Professor Michael Weston also mentioned the contest to Leah and she found it fitting to write about his impact on her as a student. Michael Weston is a history instructor at the Arcade Campus Center and has had a huge impact on how Leah has developed and how she sees the world.

“His classes helped me adapt to college life and becoming an adult, and also formed my opinions about current events and the global situation,” Leah said. “In my opinion, these things are essential for any scientist. In order to conduct relevant research or contribute to the scientific community in any way, you have to understand the world around you. Not just in the scientific sense, but also in the political, economic, and social sense.”

Mr. Weston's classes have established this groundwork for Leah in a way that is invaluable. Because of him, she is now fascinated by history, politics, and the economy, subjects she previously found dull and irrelevant to her scientific studies. Leah has taken four classes with Mr. Weston in the five semesters she has been enrolled at Genesee. Weston’s classes are engaged with thought-provoking debates about current events and he shows his classes how complex the world is. Always questioning the issues presented, he offers alternative viewpoints to his students in order to show them an unbiased view of the current topic at hand.

Leah’s essay, Professor Weston and the Last Crusade starts out as a movie trailer-like description of the events happening in Weston’s class. He is often compared to Indiana Jones and his classes like an entertaining movie, where students are his audience. She goes on to tell of the effects he has had on her academically and personally and describes him as “…a crusader against the forces of ignorance and complacency in the world.”

In the future, Leah plans on transferring to a university where she can focus on her love of science, possibly studying medical research, biomedical/genetic engineering, forensics or astrophysics. As an alternative, Leah is also interested in global studies and political science, with thanks to Mr. Weston. She also would like to publish a book sometime in her life.

“Because my fields of interest are so grounded in reality, my favorite genre of writing is science fiction and fantasy,” Leah noted. “They provide an escape for me from the toils of everyday life. I would love to become a science fiction or fantasy author sometime in the future.”

Leah also has plans to someday ‘retire’ to teach in an academic setting at a college, due in large part to Professor Weston. “He has inspired me; I would want to inspire my own students.”

Leah resides on a family farm in Farmersville, NY and lives with her mother and father, David and Gail Reino, and with her brother David Benjamin, who has also started his education at Genesee at 15 years of age. Leah’s father, David, is an emergency room doctor in Jamestown, NY, and has been her mentor and inspired her interest in science at a very young age. Leah is an avid horseback rider and competes at fairs and shows throughout Wyoming, Cattaraugus, and Allegheny counties. She also enjoys reading extensively in many genres, from fantasy to historical fiction to science magazines. She is an active member in Genesee's chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, Alpha Iota Upsilon chapter as the chapter Webmaster.

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Editors Note: A photo link of President Stuart Steiner (left), Leah Reino (middle) and Professor Michael Weston (right) is available at the following internet link: