April is Community College Month and Lorain County Community College is celebrating by sharing stories of students and graduates. Learn more at www.lorainccc.edu/ccmonth
Judge Robert White of the Elyria Municipal Court credits LCCC with an affordable start to his career
It was 40 years ago that Robert White came to Lorain County Community College after dropping out of The Ohio State University. There were many reasons White left, but cost led the way.
“My dad was an assembly line worker at Ford Motor Company and they went through a layoff process, so a lot of it was about cost,” White says. “I thought I should come back and go to work.”
White came home and began working in a factory but was laid off during the 1980s recession. He eventually got a job as a carpet installer and started attending LCCC part time in the evenings. He says the college’s accessibility and affordability was a blessing.
“I am so grateful to LCCC for being there so I could get back on track with my career,” White says.
That career path led White to transfer about 40 LCCC credits to Cleveland State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1987. Then White attended Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, earning his Juris Doctor degree in 1991.
White has since spent 26 years practicing law before federal, state and local courts and administrative agencies. And today he is Judge Robert C. White in the Elyria Municipal Court.
“I work hard and always have,” White says. “I earned all my degrees while working during the day and attending classes in the evenings and caring for my family.”
White didn’t know her at the time, but his wife, Anita, graduated from LCCC with an associate degree in nursing. She went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and is now a clinical nurse specialist serving veterans at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.
But the list of White family members who got their start at LCCC doesn’t end there. White’s oldest son went to LCCC before transferring to The University of Akron. Then he followed in his father’s footsteps and earned his law degree at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, too. White’s two younger children enrolled in LCCC’s College Credit Plus courses while attending Midview High School.
“It was a huge benefit to them heading into college with at least a year head start,” White says.
“They knew they could handle college classes before even stepping foot on a campus and now both enjoy very successful careers.”
White’s brother, Greg White – former county prosecutor, U.S. attorney and federal magistrate judge – also went to LCCC.
“So many of our family members attended LCCC,” White says. “We are all so very grateful for LCCC.”
Tuition rates bring many students to LCCC, but White says its accessibility can help retain students and keep them on track toward their degree, whether they earn one from LCCC or transfer to another institution.
“You can be to campus in 20 minutes and are likely to see some familiar faces,” he says. “And being able to be at home while younger students are in their first year, especially during that maturing process, makes LCCC a good option.”
The Greatest Asset
Aside from the semester White spent at OSU, he’s lived his entire life in Lorain County. White grew up in Oberlin, moved to Elyria while attending LCCC and stayed there for 10 years. He and his family moved to Carlisle Township in 1994 and have lived there since. White is committed to Lorain County and says the college is its greatest asset.
“LCCC makes education accessible to everyone,” White says. “The reputation that LCCC has is providing a quality education. I think it’s one of the best community colleges in the country.”
White isn’t sure where Lorain County would be – educationally, economically or culturally – without LCCC. And as someone with an affinity for manufacturing because of his and his dad’s history working assembly lines, White says the connection between local employers and LCCC has always been strong.
“LCCC is an economic engine,” White says. “It’s amazing what it’s done over the years in terms of the workforce. Employers rely on LCCC to ensure their employees have the right training.”
While some aspects of LCCC will never change, White admires the college for the ways in which it has changed and evolved – from the campus itself to the University Partnership program established in 1998.
“LCCC has an amazing reputation of providing quality education. That’s even more important when you consider the fact that you can go there and get a four-year degree without leaving campus,” he says.
White returned to that campus in March 2021 to administer the Oath of Office for LCCC District Board of Trustees member, Jessie Tower. He periodically visits for various community meetings, but this visit made White reflect on his time there and the college’s growth since then.
“The campus is twice as big since I attended, maybe more,” White says. “It’s changed, but it’s still such an asset for students – even more so today.”