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Campus club lets veterans help other veterans

Campus club lets veterans help other veterans

Selah Hadi, president of the Student Veterans Organization, works at the Veterans Center. (Micheal Romero/Aztec Press)


When Pima Community College student Selah Hadi wrote his name on a sign-in sheet for the Student Veterans Organization, it wasn’t clear to him that he was actually signing up to become president of the club.

“There was a staple that went through the word ‘president,’ so a lot of us didn’t know we were signing up to run,” he said.

When Student Services Coordinator Jorge Camarillo pointed out that nobody had volunteered for other positions in the club, Hadi stuck with the mix-up and successfully ran for president.

“He’s new, so he’s learning, but he’s a dependable, good student-veteran,” Camarillo said. “It’s a big responsibility becoming president of the Student Veterans Organization but he’s done a really good job in the timeframe.”

The SVO meets every first and third Friday of the month in the Veterans Center at Downtown Campus.

In his role as president, Hadi oversees meetings and their agendas while the club prepares for events like the Veterans Day Celebration on Nov. 11.

In conjunction with Pima’s Small Business Development Center, SVO helped put on the seventh annual Veterans Conference on Dec. 2. The conference was designed to help veterans attain small business loans.

Hadi worked construction and attended community college in Illinois before joining the Army.

He spent almost eight years in the military, from August 2006 until March 2013. He worked in the communications field as a satellite operator, setting up satellite dishes for ground-to-space transmissions.

At the beginning of his tenure, Hadi was stationed in Germany. He was given time off for both American and German holidays, allowing him extra opportunities to see other parts of Europe.

“I’ve been to pretty much every European country except for Italy,” he said. “And I’ve never made my way to Norway.”

While growing up in Iroquois County, Illinois, Hadi was part of an early version of Teen Court.

The program, which allows minors to be judged by their peers after they plead guilty to offenses, sparked his interest in law.

“I learned a lot from that,” he said. “And, that’s when I found out my passion was law and politics.”

Hadi is majoring in political science and minoring in criminal justice administration, with plans to transfer to the University of Arizona to study law.

He wants to become an international attorney in order to travel the world once again. “I love traveling and I love law, so when you put them together: international attorney,” he said.

As a long-term goal, Hadi plans to run for Congress. “I’m pretty ambitious,” he said.

Fellow SVO member and treasurer Kyle Hughes also plans to pursue law and public service.

“Like Selah, I would like to serve as a public official,” Hughes said. “If it’s city, if it’s county or anywhere else, I’d like to be a public servant and make sure things work.”

Hughes admires what Hadi accomplishes as a work-study student veteran and a single father.

“He has a big heart and has big ambition,” Hughes said. “He wants to learn, so he’ll hear you out.”

Hadi left the Army and moved to Tucson in order to stay close to his children. He began taking classes at Pima in Fall 2014 after issues with veteran benefits were resolved with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He participates in a work-study program at the Veterans Center, operating the front desk to help those who come into the center with anything they might need.

In the bigger picture, he and other work-study participants make sure veterans are qualified to use all of their benefits.

Their main goal is enabling veterans to attain higher education at Pima through certifications or transfers to a four-year university. They also help veterans who want to enter the work force after Pima.

“We do anything we can do to provide the necessities veterans might need,” Hadi said.

Hadi plans to remain SVO president until he graduates next May.

He’s proud of everything he has accomplished with the opportunities that were laid out for him. “I got to do what I wanted to do and then go back to college, which was always my plan,” he said.

Pima honors winter-spring athletics

Pima honors winter-spring athletics


Pima Community College honored the athletics program May 25 with a two-hour reception.

The evening started with Edgar Soto, Executive Director of Athletics, quickly acknowledging the successful sports season.

“One of the greatest years in Pima sports history,” Soto said.

The Lawrence R. Toledo Leadership Award 2016 recipients were announced next. The award not only recognizes student/athletes excellence in academics and athletics, but it also honors the man it is named after, PCC’s first athletic director.

The four recipients of this year’s award were Kristin Baldwin, Jamie Holliday, Kelsey Montano, and Deontay Townsend. The four have finished their Pima experiences and are continuing on to the next collegiate level.

The award was presented by Ann Toledo-Oyama, Toledo’s wife of 25 years, and their daughter Suzanna Minegishi.

One of the highlights was when Montano received her award and her daughter, on stage, jumped up and down in excitement.

A 7-minute video picture montage followed the award presentation. The video showed action photos that paid tribute to the athletes and coaches that made this past season so memorable.

After the video, the coaches took turns speaking. Each used the time to thank all those that have helped to make Pima athletics successful. The highlight was hearing the impressive list of accomplishments from the past season. Each sport had reasons to be proud and athletes to honor.

One common theme from each coach was the credit and thanks they gave to Soto.

“Edgar you are the glue. We hit bumps in our season, I am sure all coaches do. Our first phone call is to Edgar and he smooths out all the bumps for us,” softball head coach Armando Quiroz said. “We really appreciate you. Thank you very much, Edgar.”

Many of the coaches spoke of how Pima has the best collection of coaches that they have ever been around. Another credit they gave to Soto.

One of the benefits of having such a talented group of coaches is that they motivate each other.

“I aspire to be great because every coach here at Pima does such a great job,” women’s basketball head coach Todd Holthaus said. “Because of our competitive nature, you don’t want to be the one that let everyone down.”

Lawrence R. Toledo recipients

Pima Community College honored four athletes with the Lawrence R. Toledo Leadership Award on May 25.

VIDEO: Mindfulness

VIDEO: Mindfulness

Video by Kit B. Fassler


Bernie Sanders draws huge crowd in Tucson

Bernie Sanders draws huge crowd in Tucson

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a speech to more than 10,000 people in Tucson on Oct. 9.


Aztecs bounce back after loss

Aztecs bounce back after loss


The Pima Community College football team (5-2, 4-2 in ACCAC) snapped a two-game losing streak on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Scottsdale Community College.

Sophomores Wesley Payne and Donovan Moore made a difference on the ground as they each scored two rushing touchdowns in Pima’s 45-17 win on Saturday.

Moore scored two quarterback keeper touchdowns to help set the tone in the first half. Freshman Paul Davis had a 10-yard interception return to put the Aztecs up 14-0. Moore would score another rushing touchdown in the second quarter, putting Pima up 21-14 at halftime.

Payne scored on a 6-yard touchdown to make it 28-14. Scottsdale kicked a field goal on their next possession, but the Aztecs scored 17 unanswered points. Sophomore Eric Dedrick connected with quarterback and fellow sophomore, Kian Homme on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-17. Payne scored his second rushing touchdown with 1:46 left in the third quarter from two-yards out to make it 42-17

Slot receiver Moore was named Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 122 yards on 16 carries with two rushing touchdowns.  Moore who also served as the quarterback, went 8-15 with 108 passing yards.

Linebacker Payne was named Defensive Player of the Week after having 16 tackles (eight solo) and one tackle-for-loss.

Pima was unable to get its offense rolling against Arizona Western College at Kino North Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 3, resulting in an Aztec loss 20-10.

Down 7-0 entering the second quarter, the Aztecs scored on the first drive when freshman Nathan Farmer kicked a 21-yard field goal to cut the deficit. Later, the Aztecs capitalized on three Arizona Western penalties as they scored on a nine-play drive. With 2:08 remaining in the half, Sirgeo Hoffman ran into the end zone for Pima’s lone touchdown of the game.

On its first possession of the third quarter, the Aztecs had a punt miscue leading Arizona Western to score a touchdown two plays later to take a 17-10 lead.

The Aztecs had two drives that began deep in Arizona Western territory but were unable to take advantage in the possession. They recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff which put them on the Arizona Western 25-yard line; Homme threw an interception in the end zone.

After Darrell Clark had a 20-plus yard drive. Homme threw his second interception of the game.

With the loss, Pima dropped to 4-2 and is tied with Arizona Western in the conference standings.


Freshman running back Sirgeo Hoffman looks for the gap against New Mexico Military Institute. Photo Courtesy of PCC Athletics.

Pima gets ready for the playoffs

Pima gets ready for the playoffs

Men’s soccer:

The Pima Community College men’s soccer team (13-1-2, 13-1-2 in ACCAC) ended their final regular season home game at Kino Sports Complex with ease, shutting out Paradise Valley Community College 11-0.

Freshman Juan Pablo Segura pulled off a hat trick in the second half alone, while sophomores Jason Romero and Alejandro Gonzalez each had two goals of their own.

The Aztecs have a rough schedule ahead of them as both the men’s and women’s team hit the road for four straight games before the playoffs begin in the final week of October.

The Pima men’s soccer team dominated Scottsdale Community College in their fourth shutout win on the season, 7-0.

The Aztecs easily scored four goals in the first half with no response from host SCC. Only to continue to do so in the second half with three more goals and a scoreless Scottsdale team. Finishing the game with perfection.

The Aztecs are currently ranked No.3 in the division and will end the season with four straight away games before the playoffs begin. “The team feels good and confident but our league is very tough. Having 4 road games at the end makes it even tougher. Every game is a challenge and we can’t afford to look past anyone or play poorly,” says Coach David Cosgrove. “Overall we have had a good season and are excited about what we can do in the playoffs…”

Pima played an aggressive game on Thursday, Oct. 8 at home against Chandler-Gilbert.

Although the Aztecs took the lead early on and would eventually take home the win, the game was not easily won in a tenacious second half battle.

PCC was is perfect form for the first half, finishing up 3-0. But in the second Chandler-Gilbert was not going to go out without a fight, cutting the Aztecs lead 3-2.

But that would be the only goals the Aztecs would allow as they went on to score two more goals late in the second to solidify their win 5-2.

Freshman Lorenzo Rodriguez scored a goal in both the first and second half. Sophomores Ryan Bristow and Jason Romero each had a goal in the first and an impressive free kick in the second half from sophomore Alejandro Gonzalez. A good team win to say the least.

The PCC men’s soccer team took home a last minute victory against No. 10 ranked Phoenix College on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Gonzalez scored the first goal of the game in the first half, but early in the second Phoenix College would tie it up 1-1.

The game looked as though it would end until Rodriguez scored the game winning goal in the 83rd minute. Freshman Taylor Anderson assisted the win with a notable six saves on the game. The Aztecs remain undefeated at home this season.

Women’s soccer:

The Pima Community College women’s soccer team (13-1-2, 13-1-2 in ACCAC) defeated Paradise Valley Community College 3-2 on Tuesday, Oct. 13, in their last regular season home game. Finishing their season undefeated at home for the second year in a row.

Freshman Shania Pablo scored the game winning shot in the 85th minute to seal the victory. The Aztecs outshot Paradise Valley 13-9 and while freshman goalkeeper Daniela Sanchez had a notable seven saves for the night.

The Aztecs finally got back to what they do best, win.

Saturday, Oct. 11 the Aztecs played away against hosts Scottsdale Community College, resulting in a 4-1 victory for No. 2 ranked Pima women’s team. Sophomores Prescilla Gonzalez and Devyn Hunley each scored two goals.

For the second game in a row PCC would finish the game in another tie, this time at home against Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

The two women’s teams battled it out all night, neither side managing to score a goal. Ending the game scoreless 0-0. Pima did manage to double the attempts with 16, compared to Chandler Gilberts 8 attempts.

The Aztecs women’s soccer seven-game winning streak finally came to an end against Phoenix College on Tuesday, Sept. 29, but fortunately resulting in a tie, not a loss.

It seemed as though Pima was going to go home with a loss but thanks to sophomore Maria Mata the Aztecs scored late in the second half with an assist from Gonzalez, tying the score 1-1.

After two 10-minute overtimes neither Pima nor Phoenix College managed to score, resulting in a tie for the No.2 ranked Pima Aztecs.


Freshman Lorenzo Rodriguez defends the ball against Phoenix College. Photo Courtesy of PCC Athletics

Beto Hoyos/Aztec Press

Pop Cycle reclaims sustainable art

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Located in the heart of historic Fourth Avenue stands a shop dedicated to local art made from recycled and reclaimed materials. Pop Cycle offers everything from reclaimed, ecofriendly wallets to Tucson-themed wooden trays, and much more in between.

Pop Cycle opened its doors to the public in September 2008, but the owners have been actively creating works for over ten years prior to their storefront. The boutique works closely with three main artists. Two of the owners, DeeDee Koenen and Shannon Riggs, run DDco Design and contribute great pieces to the shop.

Another artist that contributes clothing and accessories to the shop is Jennifer Radler of Monster Booty Threads. Most of the wood work that Koenen and Riggs create is made right in the back of the store. Store manager Libby Tobey explained that the store is all about sustainability and the type of art work found at Pop Cycle.

“Something has to be sustainable on each element, and it has to be hand made,” Tobey said. Vintage and sustainable clothing can also be found at Pop Cycle. So if you are looking to update your vintage western wardrobe, look no further.

The name of the store came from combining the artists’ enthusiasm for pop culture and working with recycled and reclaimed materials. Put a few of those words together and you get “Pop Cycle.” This shop is full of local art but definitely appeals to a wide range of customers.

“We have a lot of locals that shop with us, but then a lot of tourists come in because we have a lot of Tucson inspired items,” Tobey said. The store puts together a couple of art shows every year to showcase different local artists. The next local artist show will be on Oct. 17 at Pop-Cycle, which is located at 422 N 4th Ave., from 7 to 9 p.m. “The local artist show is going to be Star Wars themed but everyone is going to be doing their own take on it, so that’ll be fun,” Tobey said.

On Nov. 6, they will hold an art auction with the All Souls Procession to benefit Many Mouths One Stomach. Customers are invited to call the store starting Nov. 1 at 622-3297 to place bids or for more info. “A lot of our artists donate pieces that go up for auction and will be on display in our store for the week of day of the dead,” Tobey said.

New customers come in all the time and its usually people who are looking to get inspired. “A lot of people in this do-it-yourself age come in just to get inspired by what we have,” Tobey said.

Others come to the store because they appreciate the ingenuity of the art, or because they like to support local artists. “Local art is the number one thing, and its all handcrafted, and finding handcrafted Tucson magnets that are all local and aren’t made in China or somewhere else is rare,” Tobey said.

The artists that work at Pop Cycle have a keen eye for spotting the potential art in something very ordinary. Its that type of creativity that can bring a community together and allow us to explore the meaning of art and beauty in a way than we previously might have not done.


Beto Hoyos/Aztec Press

Adorning the breezeway of the shop is the signature sign made from a reclaimed toy horse. (Beto Hoyos/Aztec Press)



Films! Beer! Art! And a taste of the circus!

Films! Beer! Art! And a taste of the circus!

 Compiled by Travis Braasch

Summer may be winding down but there’s no shortage of fun in Tucson. When it’s time to take a break from all the books and studying, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor events this coming month to take your mind off all of the stresses of school and work. From music and beer festivals to art exhibits and even theater, Tucson always has something for everyone.

Born & Brewed Local Beer Festival: Sept. 18-19

Club Congress, 311 E Congress St., is hosting the fourth anniversary local beer festival from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday celebrates all things locally brewed with a competition for this year’s Beer Cup, along with live music provided by LeeAnne Savage & The Curveball Cowboys. Saturday will have an open beer garden from 1 to 5 p.m., locally made food, music and other entertainment. The event is 21 and over and tickets are available for $30 at the Club Congress Hotel and online at

Tohono Chul El Dia de los Muertos Art Exhibition:
Aug. 28-Nov. 8

Tohono Chul is hosting an art exhibition in honor of El Dia de los Muertos at the Tohono Chul Main Gallery, 7366 N Paseo del Norte, from Aug 28 to Nov. 08. The large gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with other exhibitions throughout the month. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $3 for children and children under 5 are free. Tickets can be purchased at the Tohono Chul Main Gallery. For more information contact the gallery at 520-742-6500.

Arizona Underground Film
Festival: Sept. 8-26

The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St., is hosting the 8th annual Arizona Underground Film Festival. There will be several cult films screened over the course of the month, with tickets available for $8 per screening or $45 for an all access pass for the length of the festival. Tickets are available online at or at the box office of the Screening Room.

Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio Exhibition: May 02- Sept. 26

The Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio, 711 S Sixth Ave., is celebrating 40 years with an exhibition featuring work by local artists in blown glass, hand built and painted glass. Admission is free to this exhibitio and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 11a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit or call 884-7404.

The National Circus and
Acrobats of the People’s
Republic of China “Peking Dreams”: Sept. 24

The National Circus and Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China will be performing an amazing combination of acrobatics and Peking Opera at Fox Theatre, 17 W Congress St, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $21 to $49 and are available at the Fox Theatre box office or at

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Strike leaves students stranded

Strike leaves students stranded


For anyone who has boarded a Sun Tran bus from the downtown Ronstadt Transit Center, the busy station has never looked so different. Whole sections of benches sit empty. The typical rhythm of rides every 15 minutes has turned into an irregular beat, with limited routes running once an hour.

The Sun Tran bus strike has been one of the largest impacts on the community of Tucson this summer and continues into the school semester. With thousands of people depending on public transportation to fulfill medical, school and job responsibilities, the people of Tucson are reaching the breaking point.

Pima Community College students fall into this effected demographic and the college has already been impacted by the strike.

In an email on Aug. 25, PCC revealed that the college will extend their deadline to register for classes to Sept. 8, as a result of the limited bus schedule.

Chancellor Lee Lambert wrote, “The bus strike presents a difficult situation for many of our students, and we all-faculty, staff, and administrators-need to be prepared to work with students individually to help them get through this.”

The original 43 routes the bus used to make is down to 9, with route 9 being added on Aug. 26 due to outside help from Phoenix and the return of some of Sun Tran’s employees. The hours in which service is available has dwindled down to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Student Max Dozier used to ride the bus to West Campus every day to pursue his associate of science. With the limited routes and times, the strike has altered his entire schedule.

“I now have to spend almost an hour each way riding my bike to school compared to a 25 minute bus ride,” he said. “I get so hot and sweaty and tired on the way to class I have to bring a change of clothes to change into so I don’t smell up the classroom.”

Dozier says the union has garnered hate from riders and says it’s time for the city to step in.

“People have lost their jobs, haven’t been able to get to school or work. Tucson does rely on the Sun Tran, and in the end it is the city’s fault for not holding our transit system up to higher standards.”

On Aug. 6, bus drivers, mechanics and fuel operators began a work stoppage when Sun Tran and the union could not reach an agreement on new employee contracts. Members of the Teamsters Local Union 104, were adamant in their requests for at least a 75 cent raise for first year employees, $1 raises for the second and third year workers and raise opportunities for long term employees.

According to the Teamsters, Sun Tran’s purposed 50 cent raises for new workers and no raises for current employees in the near future wasn’t enough to make up for unworkable conditions.

Strikers and supporters alike cite mold on buses and violence as proof that their work environment must change.

Dawn Sherman is the Special Projects Coordinator for the Teamsters. As far as she is concerned, the situation on Tucson’s buses is not safe for anyone.

“I’m a mom with seven children,” she said. “I wouldn’t let any child in Pima Community College ride the bus. If I called their parents and let them know what was going on they would be outraged as well. Coming from a mom standpoint, you can’t ride a moldy bus. Coming from a teamsters standpoint it is unsafe, unhealthy, it is causing tremendous ill within our drivers and passengers.”

According to Union 104, 22 assaults have been committed on bus drivers within the last 13 months and Sun Tran has known about the mold issue since 2010 and are yet to make an attempt to correct it.

Jason Reardon rides the bus every day to the East and Downtown Campuses. As a fulltime student and employee, the strike has caused him to change his routine. He believes that drivers who are experiencing harassment most likely brought it onto their selves.

“They wouldn’t be assaulted if they didn’t talk shit. I’ve seen that plenty of times, the bus driver thinks they have a free pass to talk to people however they want. Some bus drivers will just talk shitto people regardless of their situation. If they are a street person, they will talk to them like they are trash. That’s why things happen to them.”

The strike has lasted over 20 days now, and all sides have yet to reach an agreed upon negotiation. Union members met with Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and City Manager Michael Ortega on Aug. 24 to further discuss possible solutions to the strike. In a media release from the mayor’s office, complications of the law were cited as far as the city’s role in mediation. Because Sun Tran employees are not city employees, the city is unable to intervene and the mayor has asked both sides to find an end.

Reardon just hopes the city will step in soon to do something for people whose jobs, grades and financial aid are on the line.

“The city can hire their own bus drivers, make their own buses, go get some old school buses and just help the people out. If I lose my grants or get kicked out of school because I can’t get to school, that’s not fair.”
Limited bus routes will continue indefinitely and for Pima students the impact will continue.

GPg01-Bus 01

Mold on the bus and physical assaults on drivers are two contributing factors for the bus strike. Teamsters and employees rally at the Rondstadt Transit Center on Aug. 21 to protest for better wages, hours and benefits. (Jamie Verwys/Aztec Press)

Pima welcomes Bécalos students

Pima welcomes Bécalos students

On Sept. 2, students from universities all over Mexico will arrive in Tucson as part of the SEP-Bécalos-Santander Universidades International Program.

Program coordinators are prepared to receive 58 students coming in from Chihuahua to Mexico City and many places in between. It’s Pima Community College’s second year participating in the program, which focuses on strengthening global academic experiences and partnerships.

The students will be here for one semester on a full scholarship. Among other things, the coordinators have arranged housing, fun outings and volunteer opportunities.

“For a lot of the students, this is their first time traveling out of the city they’re from,” said Yvonne Perez, last year’s program coordinator.

“For them, it’s exploring a whole different world,” Perez said. “This opened their minds to different possibilities. After just one semester, they started thinking of bigger possibilities for themselves.”

“Many of last year’s students left feeling inspired to make new plans for grad school—plans they might not have had before,” Perez said.

“The experience holds a lot of firsts for many of the students, such as air-travel, living on their own, learning to cook, budgeting money and just being self-sufficient in general,” said Daisy Rodriguez-Pitel, associate director of International Student Services.

The program is much broader this year. Pima has expanded the program, from just the West Campus to include Downtown Campus, which will be hosting almost half of the students.
The classes will also be more integrated. Last year students focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This year they have a broader range of classes to choose from such as computers, logistics, education and marketing.

The program is currently looking for volunteers to have weekly conversations with the students.

The international students have different levels of English comprehension, and one of the ways Pima helps their English skills advance is by pairing each student with a conversation partner.
Other volunteers, called PCC Peers, will be helping the arriving students get settled in and assisting in making the semester a successful experience for the duration of their stay. Last year, Peers went with the international students to the Grand Canyon, bowling, the zoo and Mount Lemmon.

Imelda Cortez, one of the program coordinators, said one of her favorite things is interacting with the students.

“There’s nothing like seeing a student’s face when they see something new,” she said. “That, to me, is priceless.”

Everyone working on the project is really committed to the students, and many of last year’s coordinators and Peers stayed in touch with the students, Rodriguez-Pitel said.

“I feel like so many different connections were made,” she said. “It was a really powerful experience.”


Mold on the bus and physical assaults on drivers are two contributing factors for the bus strike. Teamsters and employees rally at the Rondstadt Transit Center on Aug. 21 to protest for better wages, hours and benefits. (Danyelle Khmara/Aztec Press)

Pima student breaks AZ Town Hall tradition

Pima student breaks AZ Town Hall tradition


The Arizona Town Hall has been around for six decades without student involvement. That doesn’t happen anymore. One day that changed when Pima Community College student Celeste Nunez received a phone call from Tara Jackson, Arizona Town Hall president.

“Do you remember what we talked about having no student in the Executive Board,” Jackson asked. “Would you like to do it? We really would like to start with you.”
On June 12, the Arizona Town Hall board of directors welcomed Nunez and new members to the organization at an event in Phoenix.

Arizona Town Hall is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing people together to discuss the critical issues facing our state so that they can go out and impact their communities. The town hall is governed by a board of directors, representing a composite of leadership with diverse occupations and interests from Arizona’s different counties.

Nunez was a town hall student participant in November 2014, representing PCC. From that time on, she kept her connections with the organization.

“I think I got that position because of my initiative and interpersonal skills,” she said. “I felt that interacting with Phi Theta Kappa members at PCC helped me gain confidence.”
Nunez now sits in the executive committee. She is part of the decision-making process when there are important topics of strategic planning that need to be done.

“To be honest, the Arizona Town Hall board of directors are normal people who want to make a difference,” she said. “Everyone treated me well, just like any other colleague.”

Nunez paused for a moment and felt emotional after being asked about her journey. She grappled with her feelings and childhood memories.

Nunez was born in Tucson. Her parents moved to Texas when she was only two then the whole family moved to Cabrera, Sonora, Mexico.

There were five siblings. Her mother was a stay at home mom and her father was a rancher. Her parents always encouraged the children to pursue a career so they wouldn’t have to struggle to survive.

Nunez was always an honor student in elementary school but everything changed when she was in high school. She was only 13 when her mother and younger sister died in a car crash.

“My siblings and I were in the fatal accident in 2004,” she said. “My mother died and my 11-year-old sister, Melissa, died as well,” she said.

Nunez recalled that she became depressed and struggled to get herself out of bed. When she was awake, she didn’t want to stay in an empty house, so she stayed with a friend.

Nunez’ father remarried and the girls decided to stay home. Her father couldn’t afford to send her to college. She needed to do something and start fresh.

“I was 18, and I thought of going back to Tucson to start a new life,” she said. “I saved money, borrowed my father’s truck and rented an apartment in Tucson.”

Nunez experienced culture shock. She could barely keep up in English conversations with someone. When she attended Pima Medical Institute, she said she would read materials five times.

“I found my strength by studying hard in math,” she said. “One day, my class received the result of an exam. They got 80 points and made high fives. But when I received mine, I just sat down and kept quiet.”

“’Hey, class, listen up,’ my instructor said. ‘Celeste scored 100 points.’”

Nunez realized that there are a lot of scholarships in college but the only way to get them is to prepare your resume.

“You just can’t apply without volunteer experiences,” she said. “You need to take some leadership experiences, too.”

When Nunez joined Phi Theta Kappa, there was an opportunity to become a leader. She moved forward into that role and one thing led to another.

Nunez is a certified clinical medical assistant and works full time in a clinic as a Vaccine for Children Coordinator. Doriene Hargrove is a good friend and they have worked together in the past.

“She is very positive and brings a lot of laughter at work,” Hargrove said. “That’s why she has achieved so much.”

Nunez is pursuing her associate degree in science, with an honors component at PCC. She plans to transfer to a four-year college with a major in public health.

Nunez’ brothers and sister now live in Tucson. The eldest brother, Misael Nunez, is attending the University of Arizona majoring in psychology and minoring in Japanese language.

“What I admire from my sister is she never gives up,” Misael Nunez said. “My sister is dependable and responsible. She sets her goal and keeps trying to achieve it.”

For Nunez, everything she does is possible because of her belief that every accomplishment starts with the desire to try one’s best.

“I’ve taken a chance on myself, instead of being scared of overthinking of what’s going to happen,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many times you try. Don’t be afraid to fail. Keep trying until you succeed.”


Nursing student Celeste Nunez poses on the stairs leading to Student Services on West Campus. Nunez has played a critical role in bringing students to Arizona Town Hall. (Kit Fassler/Aztec Press)

Local mining prospects, loss and gain

Local mining prospects, loss and gain


Sparking controversy, two proposed copper mines in Arizona National Forest have different meanings to different people in the state.

Both the Rosemont and Oak Flat mine proposals are entrenched in the promise of economic prosperity and environmental degradation from the opposing sides.

One undisputable fact, from both views, is that a section of the federally protected land would be lost forever.

Rosemont Copper Project

In the Santa Rita Mountains, approximately 30 miles southeast of Tucson, Rosemont Copper, owned by the Toronto based Hudbay Minerals, awaits permits to begin the Rosemont Copper Project in the Coronado National Forest.

Rosemont Copper Project expects to pull out around 230 million pounds of copper annually for 20 years.

The 4,415 acres that will be affected are mostly grasslands, woodlands and riparian areas, at an estimated quarter of a million trees. Also, in the affected territory are a number of protected species and wildlife corridors where animals such as jaguars and mountain lions roam.

The Coronado National Forest is frequented for outdoor activities such as hiking and birding. There are also a number of prehistoric sites with artifacts and human remains.
There are water sources too, like Cienega Creek, that functions as a groundwater basin for Tucson.

Groundwater accounts for about 22.8 percent of water supplies, according to Tucson Water’s long range water plan.

The Rosemont project has a groundwater protection plan which includes spill and leak detection systems, overflow protection and management of stormwater runoff. Not all protection plans work.

On Aug. 5, approximately three million gallons of brassy-orange water containing lead, arsenic and other heavy metals was accidentally released from an old gold mine into a tributary of the Colorado. The water diluted when it reached Lake Powell, and officials say the Colorado River is now in the clear.

The Colorado River water accounts for 53.2 percent of local water supplies, according to Tucson Water’s long range water plan. Colorado state health officials claim that 230 old mines continue to contaminate Colorado rivers and streams.

The mining companies leave huge pits and piles of refuse called tailings, which are often contaminated with many toxic substances, said Nancy Freeman, executive director for the Ground Water Awareness League. She’s spoken at many public hearings in opposition to Rosemont Copper.

“You’re digging a hole in the ground, so all the water in the region congregates to that one area,” she said. “So all the outlying area will be dried up, die, and there will be no more ponds, pools and streams for the wildlife.”

When mine operations are finished, the hole will slowly fill with water, creating a pit lake, which would cause a permanent reduction in ground water, according to Rosemont’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The Rosemont Mine Plan of Operation stated that trails and designated campgrounds would remain open to the public. The plan is to return the land disturbed by mining to cattle grazing and outdoor recreation.

According to the FEIS, “Impacts related to the pit and tailings and waste rock facilities would be permanent.”
Rosemont expects that reclamation efforts will revegetate the other areas of the mining project, but the timeline for that process or the likelihood that the land would return to its current state is unknown.

In a water conservation fact sheet put out by Rosemont Copper, they wrote that they will use an average of 5,000 acre feet of water a year for its operations, or approximately 125,000 acre feet over its operating lifetime.

That’s over 1.6 billion gallons a year for 25 years, enough water for 25,200 people a year.

According to the City of Tucson’s water plan, there is enough water to meet the needs of the growing community, “but only if we use all of our available water resources and aggressively seek and obtain new ones.”

Rosemont’s permitting process is advancing, said Patrick Merrin, Hudbay’s vice president of the Arizona business unit, during a May interview with the AZ Mining Review.

“We’re not making predictions on it because we don’t control it, but it’s moving ahead,” he said.

In January 2013, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued Rosemont Copper a required air-quality permit which was later overturned by Judge Crane McClennen.

“There was not substantial evidence to support the action of the ADEQ, and the action of the ADEQ was contrary to law, was arbitrary and capricious, and was an abuse of discretion,” McClennen said.

Many attempts by a reporter for the Aztec Press to reach representatives of Rosemont Copper and Hudbay Minerals were unsuccessful.

Rosemont estimates they will have 456 full-time employees and generate 512 to 1,260 indirect jobs for the duration of the mine. In a 2009 study, Rosemont predicted it would generate $30 billion over the 25-year life of the mine.

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Operations at Mission Mine. The tailing piles are in the background. (Aztec Press photos by Danyelle Khmara)

Oak Flat

Resolution Copper Project is another controversial proposed mine. It is in an area known as Oak Flat, in the Tonto National Forest, an hour east of Phoenix.

Oak Flat is well known for its places to camp, hike, bird-watch and rock climb. It has an abundance of wildlife. Some of the local Apache people say it has a history of importance and consider it a sacred site for them.

Tucked inside a defense bill that got signed into law at the end of 2014, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act traded 2,400 acres of federally-owned, public land for 5,300 acres owned by Resolution Copper.

Rio Tinto, a British-Australian-based mining company that is the majority owner of Resolution Copper, expects the mine to become the largest copper producer in North America and one of the largest in the world, wrote General Manager of Communications Jennifer Russo in an email.

The 5,300 acres which Resolution Copper exchanged for Oak Flat is valuable and highly sought conservation, recreation and cultural lands throughout Arizona with an abundance of forests, wells, wetlands, animals, archaeological sites, a fishery and a significant rock climbing resource, according to Russo.

“Resolution Copper will consult with Indian Tribes, the town of Superior and the public to prepare a plan to protect any cultural, archeological or historical resources,” Russo said.

Opponents to the mine refute claims that part of Oak Flat will be preserved and say that the land received in the exchange is not valuable in any way.

The land for which Oak Flat would be traded is not significant, wrote Freeman in a 2009 letter to the Senators of Public Lands and Forests subcommittee.

“They are useless, over-grazed ranches that were sold to the mining company at fire sale prices (one of them actually was burned out),” she wrote.

Roger Featherstone with Arizona Mining Reform Coalition, a Tucson-based group that has been fighting the proposal for nearly a decade, said the plots are just small properties scattered around the state.

“Most of them are just flat-out, completely undesirable,” he said. “The only reason Rio Tinto gave them away is because they’re of no value to the company anymore. You can’t say, by any stretch of the imagination, that the land that we would receive is equal to the land of Oak Flat.”

Featherstone’s other concern pertains to water contamination.


On Aug. 29, Jasmine Bennett, David Johnson and Sarah Johnson hold signs outside of a margarita party fundraiser for Congressional Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, who voted for the Oak Flat land exchange.



The Santa Rita Mountains from inside the Rosemont Copper claim boundary.

“As soon as you start drilling those tunnels and blasting the rock, you’re going to fracture the water table,” he said. “First thing you’re going to see happening is all the water on the surface will dry up, and then of course most of the trees and the plants would die. Then the ground itself would begin to sink and the end result would be a crater.”

The proposed site for the tailings is an area that drains into the town of Queen Creek, which has a water quality that is already impaired, according to the Mining Reform Coalition.

The planned loading facility, in which Resolution Copper would pipe the copper concentrate, is about a mile upstream from the town of Superior’s water wells, according to Featherstone.

“And should anything spill at that location, there would be a real possibility of water contamination to the town’s drinking water wells,” he said.

Featherstone said there are a number of local people in favor of the mine because of the prospect of jobs.

Resolution Copper hired a third-party, Elliott D. Pollack & Company, to do an economic impact study, according to Russo. The study found the project would generate over $61.4 billion in economic value over the 64 year life of the mine.

“The economic equivalent of hosting two Super Bowls every single year for more than 60 years,” Russo said.

The study estimated Resolution Copper would employ approximately 3,000 during construction of the project, 1,400 during operations and create an additional 2,300 indirect jobs.

According to another report, prepared by Power Consulting, Inc. for the San Carlos Apache Tribe, there were a number of flaws in the Pollack & Company report, such as exaggerated economic impacts and a unilateral view toward positive impacts while ignoring unstable factors inherent in the mining industry, such as the fluctuating price of copper.

The report also noted that, historically, mining jobs have not reduced unemployment due to an influx of people who relocate for the mining jobs. Also, because of technological advances, more highly skilled workers are hired to operate the mine from remote locations.

All of the mining and the high value of copper removed from the area did not trigger ongoing economic vitality for the area, according to the Power report.

“According to Rio Tinto, the entire economic future of the western world depends on this mine, but in reality, look at what 100 years of mining has done to the towns of Superior and Globe and Miami,” Featherstone said. “Those towns are devastated, and they’ve never prospered even when the mines prospered.”

A look at an active mine

Asarco Mission Mine, dating back to 1959, is about 19 miles south of Tucson. The fourth largest mine in the state, it has 700 employees and a projected life of 15 to 17 more years.
Trucks drive up and down the roads on the mining operations, spraying water to keep the dust down.

“Our biggest environmental problem here is blowing dust,” tour guide Bill Obenchain said.

In October 2010, Asarco settled with the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality regarding alleged violations of Pima County’s air quality rules related to Mission Mine tailings dust. They agreed to pay a $100,000 civil penalty and to fund three supplemental environmental projects totaling $350,000.

Mission has four reclaimed tailings and eight still in operation. In the reclamation process, the tailing piles are covered, seeds are planted and native plants are installed.

“All of this property will be reclaimed,” Obenchain said. “This all gets monitored to see if Mother Nature behaves as directed. There’s no discussion as to what they’re going to do if she doesn’t.”

Mission has an open mine pit 2.5 by 2 miles wide and 1,600 feet deep. The pit will never be filled in.

“In some cases, these pits get reused as landfills,” Obenchain said.

The pit could become a toxic lake, according to Freeman. “This is amazing to think that this is what’s going to happen up at Rosemont and Oak Flats.”

The resistance

There are a number of non-profit, grassroots organizations fighting to stop foreign, multi-billion dollar companies from putting mines in Arizona National Forest.

A small protest was held on Aug. 29 outside of a margarita-party fundraiser for Arizona Congressional Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, who voted for the Oak Flat land exchange.

About a dozen people, attempting to find what little reprieve there was from the afternoon sun, held signs that read “Ask Anne about Oak Flat” and “Repeal the Land Exchange.”

The truth of what these mines will mean for Arizona remains to be seen. There will undoubtedly be pollution to some degree and financial gain to some degree. The question may be do all the promises of prosperity make it worth the loss, and how likely are those promises to come true.

Laura Medina from the Apache-Stronghold, a non-profit that has been occupying Oak Flat, stood with the protestors.

“Oak Flat is sacred land, for me as a land defender and as an indigenous person,” she said. “I’m here to protect the identity of the Apache people, the future of the Apache people, my brother and sister as Apache people. It’s my duty as their big sister to ensure they have a future as well.”

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Asarco’s open-pit Mission Mine has been extracting copper since 1959. Reclaiming of the surrounding area is underway, but the pit will remain.

SDCC cosplay explosion

SDCC cosplay explosion


Comic book conventions, or as they are more commonly known, Comic-Cons, have taken over nerd culture by storm these past few years.

While San Diego Comic-Con is one of, if not the, biggest convention based on comic book super heroes and all things nerd, many smaller Comic-Cons have sprouted up all over the country.
Even Tucson has it’s own Comic-Con from November 6 to 8.

San Diego Comic-Con, however, had an attendance of over 130,000 people.

However, Comic-Con covers more than just comics.

Between comics, video games, anime, manga, television and movies, there is something for everyone at Comic-Con.

Famous authors, actors and directors also attend the convention, including Laura Martin, Humberto Ramos and Kazuki Takahashi.

There are also panels held for seemingly every fandom out there, including Once Upon A Time, Doctor Who and Marvel films.

There is also all kinds of San Diego Comic-Con exclusive swag for attendees to purchase, such as Funko Pop! figures.

Needless to say, even if you are a little bit of a fan of something nerdy, you should head out to the nearest Comic-Con that you can attend.
It truly is an unforgettable experience.


The Hulkbuster and Hulk duke it out in Lego form in the center of the San Diego Convention Center for all to see. (Aztec Press photos by Larry Gaurano)

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Captain America salutes his fans outside the convention center.

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Harley Quinn and The Joker do a masquerade cosplay.

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Above: People of all ages gather at ComiCon to meet up with friends.

FOOTBALL: Aztecs win in landslide

FOOTBALL: Aztecs win in landslide

Pima Community College’s football team is looking to improve on a rough 2014 season, and so far they are off to a good start.

In its second game of the season on Aug. 29, Pima Community College’s football team (2-0, 0-0 in ACCAC) erupted early, taking a 47-14 lead at halftime against Phoenix College.

The first half of play saw a pick-6 from freshman Timmy Hernandez, followed by a safety and a 103-yard kick return from sophomore Landry Payne.

The Aztecs scored another touchdown in the second half to win 54-14. Freshman quarterback Antonio Hinojosa threw 350 yards and scored two touchdowns as Pima piled on more than 500 yards of offense.

On Aug. 21, Pima’s football team dominated its first game by beating Tucson Prep Academy, 83-2.

After suffering through a dismal 2014 season, the football team is vowing to leave their woes in the past and move forward.

In 2014, after winning their first game of the season by piling up more than 500 yards of offense, the Aztecs lost seven straight and finished 3-8.

“If you have a losing streak like that, you take bits and pieces and you learn from it,” sophomore wide receiver Donovan Moore said. “You hit them early so they don’t happen late in the season, especially with a team as young as we are.”

A new year means a new beginning and with a healthy group of players, including 40 returning students along with several key incoming signees. There is hope at Pima for a quick turnaround.
Coming into the season, quarterback Kian Homme was considered the favorite to start, and had competition to lead the team onto the field. In 2014, Homme had an eye-popping season by passing for 2,223 yards and 15 touchdowns before being slowed by injuries.

Whoever does start for the Aztecs this season will need to earn the trust of his fellow teammates, namely Moore, who had eight touchdowns in 2014.

Incoming freshmen will look to the veterans to provide leadership in the backfield. Head coach Jim Monaco believes that his starting defensive backs are on track to earn a scholarship to a four-year university.

Following a preseason scrimmage against the semi-pro team Soul Patrol in mid-August, everything has begun to take shape for their first upcoming regular season game.
Before the season even began, Monaco was hit with a two-game suspension.

A player was involved in a fight at the end of last season that caused him to be suspended from the team. Instead of serving the suspension, he was kicked off the team. With no player to serve the suspension, Monaco was forced to sit out his team’s first two games.

The Aztecs will play their first road game of 2015 on Sept. 5, when they travel to Thatcher to play Eastern Arizona College.


Sophomore Landry Payne is protected by teammates early in his first half 103-yd. kickoff return with 6:35 left in the second quarter against Phoenix college on Aug. 29. The play put the Aztecs up 40-14 marking the 16th unanswered point leading up to the 54-14 victory. (Aztec Press photos by Nick Meyers)

Step up for writing success

Step up for writing success


Pima Community College is offering a summer writing boot camp to help students increase their academic performance and prepare for fall classes.

The program, called “Step Up,” is an intensive three-week writing course being offered at Pima’s East Campus from July 20-Aug. 3. It runs Mon.-Thurs., from 9 a.m.-noon each day.

The course will feature interactive instruction on student success skills and writing. A light breakfast will be provided each day.

The goal is to provide students who may need a little extra help or a refresher course the assistance they require.

“We are focused on developmental education students who are most at risk of dropping out,” said PCC instructor Carmen Amavizca. “The workshop will increase student performance, college readiness, retention, and persistence among this diverse group.”

Amavizca said these students often get placed in the wrong course because they have been out of school for an extended period.

“It will provide this group of students with brush up skills and enable them to score into a higher course level,” she said. “For those developmental students who have always struggled in school, it will allow them to begin the fall semester with more confidence to have greater success.”

Space is limited in the class, with more than half the spots already filled. To register, email