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GOLF: Hong ties for first

GOLF: Hong ties for first


The Pima Community College golf teams took a swing in two opening invitational’s held in Mesa and Scottsdale.

Feb. 5-6: Mesa Invitational

The women’s team finished in second overall, with Desiree Hong tieing for first in.

The men’s team finished 10 strokes behind and placed sixth overall.

Feb. 13-14: Scottsdale


The Scottsdale Invitational saw Women’s golf take second place, for the second time in a row with.

Hong tied for second in individual standings. Sophomore Samantha Hacker took seventh.




Feb. 20-21: Scottsdale Community College Invitational, Sun City, 11 a.m. start time both days


Feb. 27-28: Estella Mountain Community College Invitational, Goodyear, 10 a.m. start time both days

Education by the numbers

Education by the numbers

Compiled by Dale Villeburn Old Coyote


$4.80 *

Amount of return in future income for every $1 spent on community college education.


$35,580 **

Median annual earnings for jobs requiring a high school diploma.


$58,240 **

Median annual earnings for jobs requiring an associate degree.

$68,190 **

Median annual earnings for jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree.


11% **

Unemployment rate for those with less than a high school diploma.


7.5% **

Unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma.


7% **

Unemployment rate for those with some college, no degree.


5.4% **

Unemployment rate for those with an associate degree.


4% **

Unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree.


39.1 ***

Percentage of first-time college students enrolled in a community college who earn a credential from a two- or four-year institution within six years.


$5,400 ****

Average increase in annual pay someone with an associate degree can expect over a drop-out.



* AAAC Where Value Meets Values: The Economic Impact of Community Colleges

** U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

*** National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Shapiro & Dundar, 2014

**** Bailey & Belfield, 2015



Afrikana performance set for Feb. 21

The Barbea Williams Performing Company will perform Feb. 21 at the East Campus center courtyard from 11-11:45 a.m. as part of Black History Month activities.

The “Brotha Sistah H.O.O.D. – Honoring Our Own Darkness” performance will include an arts in education component and audience participation.

For more information, call the Student Life Center, 206-7617

-By Dale Villeburn Old Coyote


Apply for graduation by Feb. 22 deadline

All Pima Community College students who will finish a degree or certificate this semester are urged to apply for graduation.

Application deadline is Feb. 22. There is no cost to apply.

Students can visit the Service Center at any campus to check the status of their degree plan, to create an educational plan or for more information.

-By Melina Casillas


Northwest hosting Mardi Gras activity

Instructor Joanne Taylor and her sociology class will collaborate with Northwest Campus Student Life to present an informational activity about Mardi Gras on Feb. 28 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in NWC’s Student Life Center.

The activity will share how different countries and cultures celebrate Mardi Gras, and will include a charity collection.

For more information, call the Student Life Center at 206-2121.

-By Elise Stahl  


Submit SandScript entries by March 3

PCC’s award-winning literary magazine, SandScript, is accepting submissions from students for the 2017 edition. Deadline is March 3.

Students may submit visual art, poetry, prose or a combination of all three. Each entry requires a separate form.

Guidelines are specific and must be carefully followed. No previously published work will be accepted and hard copies will not be returned.

For more information, email For complete submission criteria, visit or

-By Robyn Zelickson

AZTEC CALENDAR: Feb. 16-March 1

AZTEC CALENDAR: Feb. 16-March 1


Feb. 16, 21: Black History Month: Movie Series, West Campus Student Life Center, A-G20,

8 a.m.–5 p.m. “The Color Purple,” “Selma,” “Glory,” “13th” and “Barry,” light snacks provided. Details: 206-4500

Feb. 20: Presidents’ Day display, Northwest Campus Student Life Center, D-201, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Stop by to learn about America’s presidential history through a display. Details: 206-2121

Feb. 21: Chili Dog Fundraiser, East Campus, 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m. $4 chili dog meals, $3 hot dog meals, $2 chili dogs, $1 for single items. Details: 206-7616

Feb. 23–March 5: “In the Heights,” West Campus Proscenium Theatre. Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. $18, discounts available. Box office: 206-6986

Feb. 28: Mardi Gras activity, Northwest Campus Student Life Center, D-201, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Student Life will collaborate with Joanne Taylor’s sociology class to share the history and origin of the Mardi Gras holiday. Details: 206-2121



Feb 16: Softball vs. Colorado Northwestern CC, West Campus, doubleheader 1 p.m., 3 p.m.

Feb 18: Softball vs. Central Arizona College, West Campus, doubleheader noon, 2 p.m.

Feb 18: Baseball vs. Mesa CC, West Campus, doubleheader noon, 2:30 p.m.

Feb 21: Softball vs. Eastern Arizona College, West Campus, doubleheader 1 p.m., 3 p.m.

Feb 22: Women’s basketball vs. Central Arizona College, West Campus gym, 5:30 p.m.

Feb 22: Men’s basketball vs. Central Arizona College, West Campus gym, 7:30 p.m.

Feb 24: Baseball vs. White Rock Tritons, West Campus, doubleheader noon, 2:30 p.m.

Feb 25: Softball vs. Scottsdale CC, West Campus, doubleheader noon, 2p.m.

Feb 28: Women’s tennis vs. Mesa CC, West Campus tennis courts, 1:30 p.m.

Feb 28: Men’s tennis vs. Mesa CC, West Campus tennis courts, 1:30 p.m.

Feb 28: Women’s basketball vs. Arizona Western College, West Campus gym, 5:30 p.m.

Feb 28: Men’s basketball vs. Arizona Western College, West Campus gym, 7:30 p.m.



Feb. 12-18: Arizona Beer Week in the Old Pueblo, daily at varying locations, ages 21 and older, $45. Details:

Feb. 18: Cruise, BBQ & Blues Festival & Car Sow, Oro Valley Marketplace, 12155 N. Oracle Road, 10 a.m. – 3p.m., $5, discounts available for veterans and active duty military with military ID. Details: 

Feb. 16-April 19: Day for Night Exhibition at Tohono Chul, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, daily, members and children under 5 free, $8 adults, $6 seniors, $4 students and active military with ID, $2 children under 12. Details:

Feb. 23: Tucson Rodeo Parade, starts at Park Avenue-Ajo Way at 9 a.m. Grandstand seating $10 adults, $5 kids 13 and under. Street views free. Details: 294-1280,

Feb. 25: Jazz in the Desert VIII, Quail Creek Ballroom, 1090 N Eagle Hollow Rd., 1 p.m. matinee $10, 5 p.m. dinner show $35. Details:

Feb. 25-26: Spring Festival of the Arts, 12155 N. Oracle Road, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., free admission. Details:

Feb. 28: Mardi Gras – Carnival!, Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., 5p.m. – 2 a.m., Free. Details:



Feb 19: Atmosphere: Freshwater Fly Fishermen Tour, Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., 7 p.m. $25-$29. Details:

Feb 20: Adia Victoria, Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., 7 p.m. $10 in advance, $12 day of. Details:

Feb 24: Jimmy Eat World, Rialto Theatre, 7 p.m. $35-$45. Details:

Feb 24: Priests, 191 Toole, 191 E Toole Ave., 8 p.m. $12. Details:

Feb 25: Tucson Hip Hop Festival featuring Murs, 191 Toole, $10-$25. Details:

Feb 25: Attila, Rialto Theatre, 6 p.m. $19-$28. Details:



Theater releases 

Feb. 17

“Everybody Loves Somebody”

“The Great Wall”

“Fist Fight”

“A Cure for Wellness”


Feb. 24

“Get Out”


DVD releases

Feb. 21

“Bad Santa 2”

“Nocturnal Animals”

“Hacksaw Ridge”

Feb. 28

“Rules Don’t Apply”

“Doctor Strange”





Feb. 6: Capoeira History and Culture, East Campus courtyard, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Learn about the Brazilian Martial arts combining dance, music and movement. Free. Details: 206-4500


Feb. 7: American Red Cross Blood Drive, Northwest Campus A-207, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Both sign-ups and walk-ins will be available. Details: Student Life, 206-2121.


Feb. 8.: Black History Month presentation, Northwest Campus Student Life Center, D-201, 11-11:35 a.m. Bobby Burns will speak on the life and legacy of Shirley Chisholm. Details: Student Life, 206-2121.


Feb. 9: Healthy Relationship workshop, Northwest Campus Student Life Center, D-201, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Join a discussion facilitated by counselors to identify relationship boundaries and gain valuable resources. Details: Student Life, 206-2121.


Feb. 12: Annual Faculty Vocal Recital, West Campus Center for the Arts, 3 p.m., $8 Discounts available, Details: 206-6986


Feb. 13-14: Valentine’s Day card-making activity, Northwest Campus Student Life Center, D-201, Mon-Tue 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Make cards for friends, family or significant others. Details: Student Life, 206-2121.


Feb. 14: Love Fest, Downtown Campus, 9 a.m., Celebrate Valentine’s Day, Arizona Statehood and African American month, Details: Student Life 206-7258 


Feb 3: Track and Field, Aztec Indoor Invitational, West Campus, 10 a.m.

Feb 3: Baseball vs. El Paso CC, West Campus, doubleheader 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Feb 4: Softball vs. Glendale CC, West Campus, doubleheader noon and 2 p.m.

Feb 4: Baseball vs. El Paso CC, West Campus, doubleheader 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Feb 4: Track and Field, Aztec Indoor Invitational, West Campus, 10 a.m.

Feb 8: Women’s basketball vs. South Mountain CC, West Campus, 5:30 p.m.

Feb 8: Men’s basketball vs. South Mountain CC, West Campus, 7:30 p.m.

Feb 11: Baseball vs. Scottsdale CC, West Campus, doubleheader noon and 2:30 p.m.

Feb 11: Softball vs. Yavapai College, West Campus, doubleheader 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.



Theater releases

Feb. 3


“The Space Between Us”

Feb. 10

“John Wick: Chapter 2”

“Fifty Shades Darker”

“The LEGO Batman Movie”

DVD releases 

Feb. 7


Feb. 14


“The Edge of Seventeen”



Jan. 28- Feb 12, Tucson Gem & Mineral show, TCC and various locations


Jan 24 – Feb 04 Tucson Senior Olympic Festival, 5085 S. Cherry Avenue


Jan 24- May 28 Light Beyond the Bulb at Flandrau,1601 E University Blvd, Adults $14,

Children 4 -17 $10, Senior/Military/College Students (ID): $10, kids under 3 free.




Feb. 03 Rebelution, Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St., 7 p.m. $25


Feb 04 Cash’d Out, 191 Toole, 191 E. Toole Ave.

Feb 08, Young the Giant, Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St., 7 p.m. $27.50 – $35.50


Feb 11, Adam Ant, Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St., 7 p.m. $32 – $130


Feb 14, Luis Coronel, Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St., 7 p.m. $46 – 205


Hospitality boasts strong career outlook

Hospitality boasts strong career outlook


 Alejandra Aldeoa has been in the restaurant industry since she was 14 years old, working her way up from dishwasher to hostess.

She currently works at the Omni Tucson National Hotel Resort. When she first hired in, she had no idea what she wanted as a career, until her manager recommended the hospitality program at Pima Community College.

 Now she is completing her last semester at Pima before she transfers to Northern Arizona University to finish her bachelor’s degree.

 Her job offers lots of hands-on experience, so she’s only participated in one internship so far, for Co-op Work. She does want to participate in the Walt Disney internship.

“I’m waiting ‘til I have a semester of NAU under my belt,” she said.

After Aldeoa finishes her degree she wants to work with her dad, a restaurant entrepreneur. “My dad owns a few restaurants,” she said. 

One is Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ in Tucson. After he retires, Aldeoa wants to take over for him.

Pima Community College student Alejandro Aldeoa grates cheese for tamales during a culinary class at Northwest Campus.
(Brittney Young/Aztec Press)

The hospitality program at Pima offers three options: hotel and restaurant management, culinary arts and travel/tourism.

 Armando Trujillo, director of the hotel and restaurant management program at PCC and NAU, said culinary arts is the most popular program but hotel and restaurant management offers the most opportunities.

 Students could potentially earn $100,000 a year with a career in hotel and restaurant management, he said. Very few chefs ever make that.

 “The one that has the greatest chance for earnings is management,” Trujillo said.

 Pima partners with NAU so that students who want to continue working on a four-year degree can make a seamless transition. Students who have gone on to NAU can continue taking classes at Pima so they don’t have to leave Tucson.

 “Typically, the Pima to NAU program can be $25,000 total,” Trujillo said.

 That represents about half the cost of studying for the same degree at a university for four years.

 Starting in Fall 2017, Pima students in the hotel and restaurant management program will be able to transfer up to 75 credits to NAU. Right now, they can transfer up to 64.

 Students will be able to take five semesters at a community college and three at a university. They’ll earn a hybrid business degree, because the program emphasis is on hotel and restaurant management rather than just one or the other.

Graduates have even been hired in banks because of the customer service skills they acquire in the program, Trujillo said.

Trujillo teaches a culinary class as part of the hotel and restaurant management program.

 “The idea of this class is to teach our students what a commercial kitchen looks like,” he said.

 Along with Aldeoa, students in the class included Kate Hailey and Nicola Ghaemmaghami.

 Hailey went to the University of Arizona for a year before deciding it wasn’t for her. She became interested in the restaurant industry while still in high school because one of her teachers owned a catering company.

 Ghaemmaghami works the front desk at Homewood Suites by Hilton. She began the program at Pima a semester before she started her job.

 Class size is generally small, with no more than 20 students.

The program schedules classes to accommodate working students, as most hold some sort of job in the restaurant or hotel industry. Many classes meet once a week so students don’t have to rearrange their work schedules to attend school.

 Sarah Guerrerro is in her last semester of the NAU program and said it “was really nice and convenient to stay in Tucson.”

 The small class sizes helped create lifetime friendships. “It felt like it mattered,” Guerrerro said.

“This program allows the flexibility to work full time and go to school full time,” NAU student Scott Salerno said.

 NAU student Blake Tobias added, “We’ve been able to connect, so we have options to move around.”

 The program is designed for graduates to move into management positions within five years of completing their degree.

Some may even begin to teach students interested in the industry. “If they have their degree they’re qualified to teach,” Trujillo said.


Instructor Armando Trujillo and student Kate Hailey prepare tamales in Trujillo’s PCC culinary class as part of the Northwest Campus hotel and restaurant management program. (Brittney Young/Aztec Press)

State budget harms community colleges

State budget harms community colleges

Brittney Young


The more time spent looking at Gov. Doug Ducey’s educational funding budget, the more it sucks.

Kindergarten through 12th grade spending isn’t the only thing that has been reworked in the governor’s new plan to redefine educational spending.

Community colleges have endured the most in Arizona’s “redefined” state funding.

Rather than rework the numbers in the budget under the guise of changing it, the budget simply cut funding for state community colleges.

Pima Community College students know that better than anyone, as tuition rates have increased in part due to lack of state funding.

The school received nearly $6.5 million from the state in fiscal year 2015, according to the PCC budget report. State funding listed in the 2016 budget report was a big fat $0.

Last year, tuition cost $75.50 per unit for in-state students. This year it cost $78.50. PCC cut tuition rates for out-of-state students, in hopes it would encourage those students to come to our community college.

The 10 Phoenix-area schools in the Maricopa Community Colleges system are also no longer receiving any funding. They and PCC are the largest community colleges in the state.

It won’t stop there either, as plans are being made to cut funding from other community colleges statewide in the future.

The state has already moved to cut funding from Central Arizona College in Pinal County, but CAC was saved by legislation that protected its funding.

The immediate problem these schools face is the hardship the funding cuts create for their students. PCC has had an expenditure limitation in which it needs to reduce costs by $5 million.

Suggestions for ways to do this include tuition increases, department and campus consolidation, hiring freezes, elimination of certain positions and leasing equipment rather than purchasing it.

Another issue that has been created by the state is how dependent PCC has become on federal aid for its students.

The Pell Grant is pretty much the only aid a community college student can receive that isn’t a loan. It’s no wonder admission rates have decreased when no one can afford to attend.

As a nation, more emphasis has been put on community colleges as a starting place for higher education, but in Arizona it seems to be penalized.

At least this doesn’t seem to be a growing trend throughout the country. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam began the Tennessee Promise program, which focuses on ways to make community colleges essentially tuition-free for graduating high school seniors.

Arizona continues to be the anomaly that baffles educators and students alike.

Brittney Young is a financial aid student and appreciates the opportunity of starting at a community college rather than a university.

Dedicated students endure long commutes

Dedicated students endure long commutes


Whether it’s from the north, west, south or east, many Pima Community College students make long commutes to attend classes.

Mia Rodriguez, 22, drives from Sahuarita to Desert Vista Campus.

“It gets tiring after a while,” Rodriguez said. “I will move up there soon, hopefully.”

Rodriguez has been driving for years because living with her parents is cheaper.

“Although I waste a lot of gas driving to Tucson, it is better than paying rent with people you don’t want to live with,” she said.

Tyler Miller, 20, drives with Chelsea Madrigal, 19, from Oro Valley to Downtown Campus. They take turns driving Monday through Thursday.

“Driving with somebody isn’t so bad,” Miller said. “Chelsea and I are always jamming out to oldies.”

Paola Garcia , 23, comes to Desert Vista Campus all the way from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. She hasn’t moved to Tucson because she can’t afford to pay for an apartment. She said she will try to get a job in Tucson, and then move up.

“I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. to get ready,” she said. “I know that driving up every day will all be worth it after I graduate.”

Garcia, a straight-A student, drives in daily although she only has classes Mondays through Thursdays. She sometimes even goes on the weekends to get ahead in her class work and studies.

“Being the first person from my family to go to college is a privilege,” she said. “Not everyone gets to go to college.”


Paola Garcia, 23, of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, passes the interstate-19 checkpoint to get to the classes at Desert Vista Campus. She wakes up every day at 5 a.m. to get ready for school. (Arlaeth Ramirez/Aztec Press)

THE WORD: What's the nation's greatest challenge?

THE WORD: What’s the nation’s greatest challenge?

Photos and interviews by Bryan Orozco at West Campus



“I’d say the economy for sure. I think our future president has some good ideas, but I’m not sure he knows how to work them out.”

Dulce Clark

Major: Pre-medical


“Probably unity between the people.”

Charles Perkins

Major: Electrical engineering


“Financial aid. We have to wait almost a month after school has started.”

Keanna Curtis

Major: Fashion


“The economy and President Trump. I think that will be the most challenging task.”

Angel Sandoval

Major: Metrology engineering



“Oh dang. I really don’t know.”

Steve Beltran

Major: Education



Editor’s note: Each quote is from social critic Christopher Hitchens. Dec. 15 marks the fifth anniversary of his death.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec 21

“Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing.”

Well, you can’t argue with that.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan 19)

“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.”

No one is the boss of you but you, Capricorn. Take the bull by the horns. Call your own shots.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

“How ya doin’?” I always think, What kind of a question is that?, and I always reply, “A bit early to tell.”

Ain’t that the damn truth!

Pisces (Feb.19-March 20)

“Beware what you wish for, unless you have the grace to hope that your luck can be shared.”

Wisdom. Take it. Use it.

Aries (March 21-April 19)

“There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”

Aries, if you will simply accept that there really, truly is nothing else you’ll find that you make the most of all you have now.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

“I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn’t ever have to rely on the press for my information.”

Don’t believe everything you read, Taurus.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

“There can be no progress without head-on confrontation.”

Progress and force dead-weight knuckle-draggers to progress with you.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)

“You have to choose your future regrets.”

Choose wisely, Cancer, choose wisely.

Leo (July 23- Aug. 22)

“Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.”

Leo, don’t buy all the BS that folks try to sell you. Call them on it, demand the facts.

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sept. 22)

“Cheap booze is a false economy.”

Think on it, Virgo. Drink on it. Then wake up and think on it again.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

“Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”

That’s right Libra. You may have a story to tell but that doesn’t mean the rest of us want to read about it.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

“There either is a god or there is not; there is a ‘design’ or not.”

Come on Scorpio, drop that baggage. Use some common sense and allow yourself to continue along evolution’s path for you.

UA men’s basketball in need of spark

UA men’s basketball in need of spark


The University of Arizona men’s basketball team stands as one of Tucson’s top sport programs. It’s often a topic of discussion in Tucson, including at Pima Community College.

UA constantly provides top-ranked teams drawn from talented recruiting classes. However, the beginning of the 2016-17 season has been hard for the Wildcats.

The team has had to deal with losing 10 players from the 2015-16 season and is in the process of finding its identity.

The Wildcats did bring back talented scorer Allonzo Trier for his sophomore season after he flirted with an early move to the NBA.

Unfortunately, questions surrounding Trier’s eligibility kept him on the sideline through the first six games. Details surrounding his ineligibility remain a mystery, with UA staffers refusing to comment.

The Wildcats also watched Ray Smith end his basketball career in an exhibition game when he suffered a third ACL tear.

UA is currently weathering a storm of injuries and controversies that will force the team to respond either positively or negatively. Count on it enhancing chemistry and unity.

With UA head coach Sean Miller at the helm, expect UA to allow talents such as promising freshman Lauri Markkanen and senior veteran community college transfer Kadeem Allen to showcase their capabilities with extended responsibilities.

Experiencing this much adversity early on is good. When hard times approach again later in the season, the players will be familiar with them.

The predominantly young group will be forced to play team ball to win rather than relying on a proven scorer or player. That gives new and younger players an opportunity to prove themselves.

The Wildcats opened the season 5-2, including a last-second victory over No. 13 Michigan State. UA also dropped two games early on, to undefeated Butler and Gonzaga teams.

One obstacle is inability to stretch defenses with elite 3-point shooting. UA lacks a sufficient perimeter threat.

This will make it more and more difficult as tougher opponents come. Opposing teams will continue to clog the interior and welcome the outside shot.

In games against their toughest opponents, Michigan State, Butler and Gonzaga, UA shot a mere 27 percent from 3-point range.

Players did shoot at more than 50 percent against CSU Bakersfield, Santa Clara and Texas Southern, teams that had a combined record of 12-14.

The Wildcats have demonstrated they’re capability of playing well during difficult circumstances, though they have not beaten a top-ranked opponent. Michigan State, the lone ranked team they’ve beaten, is no longer in the top 25.

With a difficult conference schedule approaching, UA seeks to get back on track. Can you imagine the ceiling for this team if it’s healthy and if Trier returns to the mix? Yes, those are big “ifs.”

The Wildcats obviously are far from a finished product. Their experiences of hardship in the first month of the season will only benefit them come March. Of course, the return of their most hyped player would help too.

International studies gain high priority

International studies gain high priority


 Pima Community College has implemented a variety of programs in recent years that place an increasing emphasis on international students.

Future engineers from Mexico utilize the Becalos program, while students from countries as diverse as Germany and Korea come to learn English as a second language. Americans are joining the action through new study-abroad courses in China.

PCC’s mission for international students is to help them with community engagement, diversity, inclusion and global education.

The college’s international education department began a transformation in 2014 by intensifying efforts to recruit new students.

PCC’s priority is to provide global engagement and international education that develops local classrooms across the world.

International students pay the highest rate of tuition, and PCC uses that money to provide a variety of benefits.

Employees have worked to build relationships with the Mexican government, Pima County and private entities.

Those relationships helped PCC win two grants totaling $180,000, including $62,000 from a Mexican nonprofit organization.

The grants have provided scholarships for U.S. students who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend college.

PCC had the second highest tuition rate for international students in 2015, according to the Institute of International Education.

In hopes of attracting more international students, PCC’s governing board voted in March to decrease international tuition by $52 from $352 per credit hour to $300.

Even at the new cost of $3,600 for a 12-credit semester, Pima finds itself the second most expensive option in the country for international students. Only Florida Gateway College costs more, at $4,698.84 per semester.

Daisy Rodriguez-Pitel works as the associate director for global engagement within the Center for International Education and Global Engagement. She sees what international students go through on a day-to-day basis.

“My primary role is to create, develop and enhance the international student experience,” Rodriguez-Pitel said. “I also work closely with our domestic student population to interconnect both student populations.”

Rodriguez-Pitel assists with planning co-curricular experiences for international students that include orientations, conversation partners and cultural excursions in Tucson.

PCC also hosts special programs for international students.

Program coordinator Yvonne Perez works closely with Vice President for International Development Ricardo Castro-Salazar and other members of Pima’s international team.

“I want all, not just international students, to know that the programs we offer in our office are available to all students,” she said.

A new initiative called Tea Time lets students meet once a month to participate in conversations about varied societal topics.

“It is a great opportunity for both local and international students to exchange ideas, share their culture and initiate friendships that can last a lifetime,” Perez said.

Global Peers is another program that helps Pima international students.

“PEERS stand for Positive Engaging Educational Resource and Support, which explains the role of Global Peers,” Rodriguez-Pitel said.

Bécalos-Santander is one of Pima’s most popular programs. PCC is one of six U.S. colleges that participate.

The Bécalos program is for post-secondary students from Mexico. They come to colleges in the U.S. to practice English as a second language and to enroll in various other courses.

This fall, PCC added a program for American students to study abroad through a partnership with Zhuhai City College in China. Six Pima students enrolled in courses to learn Chinese.

“We are also working with PCC faculty who are interested in providing study abroad opportunities this upcoming summer session,” Perez said.

Rodriguez-Pitel said the college will continue expanding outreach programs.

“We plan to establish more opportunities for PCC students and faculty to study and/or teach abroad,” she said.

Jonathan Lerma and Irving Gonzalez listen attentively to instructor Nancy Hamadou during an English as a Second Language class. Lerma and Gonzalez are part of the Bécalos program at Pima Community College. Katelynn Roberts/ Aztec Press

Jonathan Lerma and Irving Gonzalez listen attentively to instructor Nancy Hamadou during an English as a Second Language class. Lerma and Gonzalez are part of the Bécalos program at Pima Community College.
Katelynn Roberts/ Aztec Press

PCC students exploring China

PCC students exploring China


Thanks to a new relationship with Zhuhai City Polytechnic College in China, studying abroad has become more accessible for Pima Community College students.

Leandra Bailey is one of the six Pima students in the program’s inaugural semester.

“It was an exciting idea to be able to be part of the first round of international Pima students who would be paving the way for others to have this same opportunity,” she said via email.

pg09-china-sceneBailey considered the cost of studying abroad with Pima compared to more expensive options available through the University of Arizona.

“I have always had the desire to live and study in a foreign country,” she said. “I immediately jumped at the opportunity.”

Bailey wanted more than just backpacking through Europe. She wanted to experience an unfamiliar country, including the culture and its people. For her, traveling to China provided that opportunity.

Learning Mandarin has been difficult but Bailey welcomes the challenge.

“Traveling to a country that speaks a foreign language really pushes you to interact with the community, rather than just act as a tourist abroad,” she said.

The excitement of being in China began the moment she arrived.

“I was amazed by every single aspect of what I was experiencing,” she said. “There were new sights, new smells, and I suddenly couldn’t understand anything anyone was saying to me.”

Bailey lives in a dorm and enrolled in a program that allows her to take Mandarin Chinese courses while also serving as a conversation partner with local Chinese students.

Her work is more mentoring than teaching, and is conducted in a casual environment.

“I help them better their English skills, and they help me with learning about the language and culture,” she said.

Bailey is pursuing an associate of science degree at Pima and plans on transferring to the University of Arizona to study astronomy and planetary science.

“I think that being a student abroad is an invaluable experience, regardless of your career path,” she said. “I would encourage anyone to take the opportunity to study abroad.”

Haven Scheiderer is also enrolled in the Pima program.

“It is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was in high school,” she said, also via email. “I applied for this program because I’ve always been interested in Eastern Asian Culture.”

Scheiderer wants to push herself of her comfort zone and improve her social skills and said an exchange program was a great way to do that.

She hasn’t experienced much culture shock. “I have found that the people aren’t much different from me,” she said.

Scheiderer maintains a busy schedule with school events, cultural activities, class, studying and working as a conversation partner.

“I enjoy keeping busy,” she said. “It has allowed me to focus on why I came here and not get homesick.”

As a conversation partner, Scheiderer has learned ways to help Chinese students learn English.

“We started off trying to just sit in a circle and talk about different topics but they were both bored by that and nervous to speak in front of others,” she said.

Instead, they play games. “It gets them involved and it is fun for both parties,” Scheiderer said.

Scheiderer receives good grades but learning the language hasn’t been easy. She knows it will take a long time to become fluent.

“I might know the words in my head but saying them is another story,” she said.

Scheiderer is happy about her decision to study abroad.

“I can’t speak for other countries but studying abroad in China is very special,” she said. “I think China is an amazing place to visit. Everyone should get the opportunity to go abroad at some point in their life because it’s eye opening and an experience of a lifetime.”

Bécalos program changes students lives

Bécalos program changes students lives


Jonathan Lerma, 19, has settled into apartment-style housing for his semester at Pima Community College but misses family aspects of his home in Durango, Mexico.

“I can only eat frozen food so much,” he said. “I really miss home-cooked food.”

Lerma’s friend Irving Gonzalez, 20, of Chihuahua, Mexico, also cited meals as a challenging adjustment.

“The biggest difference between our housing here and our homes in Mexico is the food,” he said.

Lerma and Gonzalez enrolled at PCC through Bécalos, a program that provides Mexican students with scholarships to study abroad.

PCC welcomed 69 Bécalos students in August as part of an ongoing initiative.

In addition to scholarship funds, Bécalos pays for part of the students’ living expenses. The students are expected to raise money and reciprocate for future students.

Marlenne Trejo, chancellor at Technological University of Saltillo, said Bécalos students are usually the first ones in their families to go to college.

“Some of these students haven’t traveled anywhere,” she said. “For them to come to a whole different country, that is just amazing to them.”

Lerma has noticed differences between the U.S. and his home country.

“The streets of Tucson have a lot less holes than in Mexico,” he said. “The cars here stop for pedestrians. In Mexico, you have to wait until you’re clear and run for it.”

Pima helps the new arrivals integrate into clubs and activities to become a part of the community.

Emmanuel Cabrera, 21, of Pachuca, Mexico has met many different people and participates in lots of different activities.

“The Bécalos program is a good way to link students from Mexico with international programs that let students study and learn about diverse cultures,” he said.

Another Bécalos student is Jacobo Quiñones, 21, of Pachuca, Hidalgo Mexico.

“Bécalos changes your perspective on things,” Quiñones said. “It helps university students to improve all the skills and knowledge in a completely different country and we also get to share the culture with the different international students.”

Jesus Torres, 20, of Saltillo, Coahuila, is grateful he was selected.

“Going back to Mexico and being able to say I came to the United States to study will be the best, because not everyone gets chosen to study in a different country,” he said. “I can’t explain how grateful I am.”

Ricardo Castro-Salazar, vice president for international development, enjoys watching the students expand their horizons.

“The impact Bécalos has on these students is rewarding to us,” he said.

Some students don’t have money to buy a suitcase or a jacket to bring into the U.S., said Vicky Garza, president of a mobility program.

“This program has changed their lives and I see the happiness it brings these students,” she said. “It’s an experience they’ll never forget.”

Gonzalez echoed Garza’s comments.

“Sure I miss home, but I am learning a lot from my time here in the U.S,” he said. “I hope to take the knowledge that I’ve gained back home to Chihuahua.”

Jesus Torres, right, joins a Bible study meeting conducted by Brandon Hodge of the LaFe organization. (Arlaeth Ramirez/Aztec Press)

Jesus Torres, right, joins a Bible study meeting conducted by Brandon Hodge of the LaFe organization. (Arlaeth Ramirez/Aztec Press)

Vet office clears audit backlog

Vet office clears audit backlog


When Pima Community College appointed Hector Acosta as acting director of military and veteran services in June, he set his sights on one goal: repairing service for the sake of the students.

“My No. 1 priority was fixing the audit issues and perceptions that were in the community,” Acosta said. “All the expertise was there but there was no leadership.”

Student veterans previously had issues receiving their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, in part because just four staff members were available to handle customer service, audit issues and certifications.

There are now 12 employees in the Veterans Services office. They include a support specialist, four student services coordinators, five campus veterans advisors and two student services specialists.

With a self imposed deadline of Aug 1, and extra help from Desert Vista Campus Vice President Ted Roush, Acosta and the 12 employees finished an audit of backlogged files of former students.

The process was completed in time for an upcoming audit by the Department of Veteran Affairs Education Compliance office.

The audit, which may happen at any time, will check for compliance in certification, documentation and distribution of services to veterans.

“Of all the errors they found last time, they’re coming to see that we fixed them,” Acosta said.

Acosta was brought in after the resignation of his predecessor Daniel Kester on April 7.

Kester resigned when the plan he put in place failed to yield desired results. He said the remaining 1,500 files could not be completed in time for the Veterans Affairs visit and charged there was little institutional support for veterans at the college.

Using Kester’s compliance action plan, Veterans Services employees finished auditing the backlogged files by the end of August.

Acosta said the success comes down to the hard work by those in the Veterans Center.

“From my perspective, the main issue was bringing the team together,” Acosta said. “Now, we have young people in charge at the campuses and we have a coordinator responsible for the Vet Center, which has an increasing number of vets coming in for support.”

Acosta attributes the increase in the number of veterans to the work of the Student Veterans Organization.

“Now that the SVO is up, even more exposure gets out to the other campuses,” he said. “The Veteran Center was averaging 20-30 vets a month and we’re at over 140 per week now.”

Military and Veteran Services Coordinator Jorge Camarillo makes it a priority to ensure that veterans know help is available if they need it.

“I travel to all the campuses and make sure the SVO is visible,” Camarillo said. “Because it’s about the student, that’s why I come to work, to find what I can do to help students succeed.”

Camarillo also helps make sure veterans see the appropriate advisor at each campus to ensure they get the proper benefits or know that the Veterans Center exists.

The Veterans Center at Downtown Campus has a full computer commons available with free printing and a conference room. It doubles as a quiet space for veterans.

The center also houses office space for advisor Anna Brown and for Camarillo.

“It’s like a one-stop shop,” Camarillo said. “When a veteran comes, they have an advisor that can take care of their benefits.”

Camarillo said the Veterans Center was in the process of hiring tutors for math and writing to help maximize the help that can be provided.

“We want them to get a certificate or a degree” Camarillo said. “We also work with UA and NAU to provide a bridge to get them into four-year schools.”

Camarillo successfully organized a barbecue honoring Veterans Day that featured guest speakers, representatives for Martha McSally and representatives for various colleges and programs.

Student Veterans Organization President Selah Hadi said the situation for veterans is better overall, noting it shows in the graduation rate for veterans at Pima.

“We have one of the highest graduation rates for a junior college in the entire United States,” Hadi said. “We are at about 35 percent now and the average is 33 percent, which is great.”

Looking forward, Acosta feels there is still work to be done. He plans to do all that he can to help the college and its student veterans.

“There are still complaints because we’re not perfect,” he said. “But for the most part, the veterans who need it are getting support.

Veterans and students gather at Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus on Nov. 10 for a Veterans Day celebration and barbecue. The celebration included a speech by instructor Gregory Ivan Redhouse. Representatives for U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake and U.S. Sen. John McCain also spoke.      Micheal Romero / Aztec Press

Veterans and students gather at Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus on Nov. 10 for a Veterans Day celebration and barbecue. The celebration included a speech by instructor Gregory Ivan Redhouse. Representatives for U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake and U.S. Sen. John McCain also spoke.
Micheal Romero / Aztec Press

From left, Student Veteran Organization President Selah Hadi, Student Services Coordinator Jorge Camarillo, Advisor Anna Brown and Acting Director of Military and Veteran Services Hector Acosta gather at the Veteran Center at Downtown Campus after a successful celebration for Veterans Day on Nov. 10. Micheal Romero / Aztec Press

From left, Student Veteran Organization President Selah Hadi, Student Services Coordinator Jorge Camarillo, Advisor Anna Brown and Acting Director of Military and Veteran Services Hector Acosta gather at the Veteran Center at Downtown Campus after a successful celebration for Veterans Day on Nov. 10.
Micheal Romero / Aztec Press