By KIT B. FASSLER
Student Kenneth Lee will emphasize diversity when he delivers his commencement address during the Pima Community College 2015 graduation ceremony on May 21.
The college will award certificates and associate degrees to 3,732 graduation candidates at the Tucson Convention Center Arena. The ceremony begins at 7 p.m.
Lee, who was selected from numerous applicants, will speak about the value of multicultural diversity.
“The theme just fits in my life,” he said. “I’ve traveled a lot. I met different people from different cultures. They spoke different languages. Meeting them widened my world. It made me appreciate and understand humanity.”
Lee will graduate with an associate of applied science degree to be a clinical research coordinator.
Clinical research is a branch of health care science that determines the safety and effectiveness of medications, medical devices, diagnostic products and treatment regimens intended for human use.
Pima’s clinical research coordinator program trains students to manage clinical research trials involving human subjects while preparing to take the Association of Clinical Research Professionals certification exam.
Lee credits his passion to learn for his success in finishing the program. He looks forward to helping improve lives for those who suffer from incurable diseases.
“I want to live in a better place different from before,” he said. “What if we find the cure for Ebola? That will really make a difference to our world.”
Lee was born in Baltimore, Md., and has one older brother, Steven. His father served in the military as a helicopter pilot and his mother was a stay-at-home mom.
At one point, the family moved to Iran for his father’s job. His dad later re-enlisted with the military, and worked as an Army helicopter flight instructor.
The family moved to Copperas, Ga., and finally settled in Tucson. Lee graduated from Canyon del Oro High School in 1990.
During high school, he fell in love with the French language. After graduation, he attended Grand Canyon University seeking a double major in French and German.
“I ended up leaving GCU to go to Western Catholic University in Angers, France,” he said. “In Angers, I received a diploma for French Language Arts and a translator’s certificate from the government of France.”
Lee has lived in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver and Wisconsin while working as an instructor with Berlitz Languages International. His final assignment with Berlitz was managing multiple language schools in southern California.
“I returned to Tucson for family reasons,” he said. “I was bored and thought of studying math, a subject I had been terrible in. I found Pima, registered for a course, was totally impressed and never looked back.”
Lee thought nursing would be a good fit, but switched to the clinical research coordinator program when he learned there are possibilities to help people on a global scale.
Lee likes to talk about his parents, and calls them his role models for finding a career that serves humanity in a special way.
“My parents are both from the same small town in New Bern, N.C.,” he said. “They were from simple southern backgrounds. They didn’t have degrees until later in life.”
Lee’s father earned a master’s degree and his mother became a dental hygienist. From a very early age, both parents stressed the importance of cultural diversity.
From raising their kids in Iran to sending them to school abroad and throughout West Africa, his parents emphasized to their children that we are all of value in our big world.
“Ken loves to read and study,” said his father, Curtis Lee. “I found him to be compassionate and respectful to others.”
Tobin Bryant, a friend and a classmate, had known Ken Lee for more than a year.
“Ken has been really a good friend,” Bryant said. “Things happen in my family that sometimes I’m absent. Ken will help me catch up with my schoolwork.”
As Lee prepares his commencement speech, he seeks to provide suggestions that deliver hope.
“In today’s violent world, we need to see our differences as our strength,” he said. “I hope to give some really concrete guidelines on how we can improve all the lives around us, here in Tucson and in our great world as well.”
Lee plans to travel to his favorite international city, Paris, the day after graduation.
When he gets back, he’ll apply for a job in virology.
After one year of work in the field, he’ll take the national exam to be certified.
“Fortunately, the CRC program allows Pima graduates to work in many diverse fields,” he said.
“I also plan on using my degree and language experience to take what I’ve learned to local and global levels.”
By SHANA ROSE
Many students have noticed the DC Jumbie Latin Caribbean food truck making stops at Pima Community College campuses, if not for the flavorful smell of sandwiches grilling and sweet plantains roasting, then maybe for the signature big yellow truck.
Truck owner Daniel Figueroa has been in business since March 2013, but has always had a passion for food and cooking.
“I grew up in both Chicago, Illinois and Miami, Florida,” Figueroa said. “Food has always been a big part of my life, as my parents both loved to cook. It is what brings our family together.”
All sandwiches on Figueroa’s menu have their own unique and individual tastes, and are also paired with a side of fried sweet plantains.
The Cuban sandwich is stuffed with slow roasted pork and ham, melted Swiss cheese, topped with dill pickles and drizzled with mayo and mustard.
Customers ordering the Monster barbecue sandwich get the trio of slow-roasted pork, ham and grilled chicken. The sandwich is smothered with Figueroa’s smoky barbecue sauce.
The newest sandwich on the DC Jumbie menu, and my favorite, is the Tropipeño Jack sandwich. It gives you the choice of grilled pork or chicken, layered with sautéed peppers, onions and jalapeños, topped with pepper jack cheese.
All sandwiches cost $7, which is reasonable for an 8-inch grilled sub sandwich with a side of fried sweet plantains.
Figueroa’s wife and family are from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, which inspired the Caribbean pop in his meals.
“I was exposed to and grew up with many different flavors, allowing DC Jumbie to come to life,” Figueroa said.
By NICK MEYERS
This semester, Pima Community College rolled out a new Information Technology help desk to assist Pima students facing software troubles.
The Tech Corner, located in the Downtown Campus Learning Commons, helps students with issues on their personal computers ranging from software to web assignments to phone apps.
Chris Williams, a PCC IT specialist, has a bachelor’s degree in computer networking and often staffs the table during the Tech Corner’s hours.
“I enjoy helping students out,” Williams said. “I worked for Sunnyside school district and I enjoyed helping students and staff, but I needed to do more.”
Tech Corner is a pilot program to determine how beneficial free IT help is for students who may be experiencing trouble that impacts their education. This semester, Tech Corner has helped over 150 students.
Geselle Coe, the learning center coordinator at Downtown Campus, helped put the Tech Corner in action.
“Our mission is to eliminate technological barriers so that we can increase student success and learning outcomes,” she said.
Williams says the need for free IT help arose when his former supervisor, Kevin Milton, realized that some students were dropping or unable to complete courses due to technical difficulties.
“Students were talking about dropping classes because they couldn’t get technology to work and they really had nowhere to go,” Williams said. “So we wanted to set them up with something where they could go get some help and stay in school.”
The Tech Corner now serves roughly 10 students per week, but Williams says the low number comes from a lack of advertising, especially at other Pima campuses.
Williams says his repairs go far beyond the technical aspect, and that many students leave feeling a lot of stress relief once they are no longer having technology trouble with their computers.
“A lot of courses are requiring technological projects,” Coe said. “Students may get frustrated at times with their online assignments, and here is a one stop place where they can come by and sit down and get their questions answered.”
One student even brought her home desktop in for help.
“We set it up on one of the stations here and helped her out,” Williams said. “We do a little bit of everything.”
If the program succeeds, Pima will institute Tech Corners at all campuses and fund full-time positions for the job. In the meantime, 13 employees at Downtown Campus provide service to all PCC students.
Coe said the student reviews in an online survey are encouragingly positive.
“So far, we’ve had really positive responses,” she said. “We get a lot of students who feel more confident in their online classes as well. Before we had a lot of apprehension, but now they know if they run into any problems they can come to the Tech Corner.”
In online feedback surveys, students reported a consistent 80 percent satisfaction rate with the service they received. Student comments contained positive reviews expressing appreciation for the IT help and reduced levels of stress.
The Tech Corner is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday. You can reach them by phone at 206-7094 or at DCemail@example.com.
“I just love helping people,” Williams said. “I like to see somebody go away happy, because now their stuff works.”
By DANYELLE KHMARA
When you pull into Summit View Estates, the area dubbed “Dogpatch,” you pass a sign that reads “No dumping.” It’s riddled with bullet holes. Going down the dirt road, there’s scattered, run-down trailers, piles of worn-out tires, trash bags and miles of desert.
Not far in, there’s a small clearing that contains a five-gallon bucket and a small black trough full of murky water. There’s also two huge make-shift dog bowls brimming with dog food.
Marjorie McKellips pulls out a flowery umbrella and offers to share the little shade it provides. “I love everybody, can’t give me a reason not to,” she says.
McKellips, along with founder Nancy Maddry, runs Angels for Animals, a grass-roots organizations that looks out for the animals in Dogpatch.
McKellips says that the food and water in the clearing are one of two feeding stations.
“Our feeding stations, of course, go to hell in a hand-basket between dogs and people,” she says. “You can see, there’s trash everywhere.”
This time of year, Angels volunteers try to come out three or four times a week, when they have enough help.
McKellips points at the black trough and says, after a couple of weeks, she’s surprised it’s still there.
“Somebody’s going to steal it,” she says. “They always steal it.”
The dogs that run the area keep under any shade they can find during the heat of the day. Some of the dogs have been dumped there and others are owned by residents in the area.
McKellips says many owners don’t maintain proper fencing, and the dogs are allowed to roam free.
Most of these dogs are not neutered, spayed or vaccinated. McKellips says that’s what Angels for Animals is all about.
Dumping dead animals is also very common at Dogpatch. McKellips and the other volunteers at Angels routinely look for bodies.
“We drive through here with our windows open, air conditioning off and our noses peeled. You will smell death, trust me,” McKellips says. “Once you smell it, you never forget it.”
They also look for garbage bags and boxes.
“If there’s bags of garbage, we go check and see if it’s garbage—or is it a body?” she says.
A few hundred yards down the road, there’s a dead dog, clearly visible. Its body is stiff, its head at an odd angle, mouth open. Flies surround it. A strip of neon flagging-tape is tied around an extended leg and another is on the tree above.
If Angels finds a body away from the road, they try to move it to the road to be picked up. They use the flagging-tape to help Pima Animal Care Center find the dead animals.
McKellips said she called PACC about this dog two weeks ago.
Jose Chavez, enforcement operations manager at PACC, says they do not do a regular patrol of the area but that PACC responds to more than 100 calls from Summit each year pertaining to dead and stray dogs, dog bites and animal welfare.
Chavez didn’t know anything about that particular dog, but he says that PACC makes a point of picking up reported dead animals as soon as possible.
Farther up the road, there’s a grave marker—a crude cement headstone with a man’s name. A faded, yellow construction vest is slung over it. McKellips says the area used to be full of trash and discarded furniture.
On the other side of the road, McKellips points out a fresh death.
“He wasn’t there Sunday, but he’s there today,” she says.
The dog’s body is bloated and covered in flies. Angels volunteer Zach O’Hern was alerted to it by the smell while driving along the road that morning.
O’Hern and his wife, Sam, started working with Angels about a month ago.
They are two of eight volunteers currently working the Dogpatch. McKellips says they’re blessed to have that many.
“People come and go,” she says. “It’s an ugly place. We go through volunteers faster than some people change their underwear.”
McKellips has been working with Angels for five and a half years.
The first time she came out to Dogpatch, she came across bags full of dead roosters from a cockfighting pit, which Angels eventually helped get shut down.
Angels volunteers talk with Summit residents in their yards and homes. They offer them help getting their animals spayed, neutered, vaccinated and licensed.
Edgar Giron is a Summit resident. Two dogs run around his yard. Someone throws a deflated soccer ball to one of them. It just jumps back and stares at the ball.
“Most of the dogs around here don’t know what it means to play,” McKellips says.
There is another dog under Giron’s house with a litter of puppies she birthed that morning.
McKellips tells Giron she’s set up an appointment to spay and neuter the grown dogs and that there will be a foster home for the mother and her puppies soon. She asks if he still has enough dog food.
Giron and his cousin work in the front yard. They have witnessed people dumping dogs. Recently, Giron saw a man in a truck on the road behind his house.
“He opened the truck and started taking dogs out,” Giron says. “A lot of dogs, there was like nine of them.”
Sometimes at night, he sees the headlights of cars stop down the road where there are no houses. The next day he’ll see more stray dogs. Giron and his cousin have also found dead horses.
Giron says people dump dogs because they have more than they can take care of or because their female dogs had puppies.
Angels only takes a dog out of Dogpatch if it is badly injured, sick or too young to survive on its own. They’ve had to take three litters of puppies out in the last week.
O’Hern and his wife found and rescued most of those puppies.
“For us, every time we pull dogs, it’s not so much sad as it is satisfying and motivating,” he says. “It’s something bigger than yourself. These animals, they literally have no one. And if they did, they trusted someone and someone just threw them away.”
McKellips says they never intended on being a rescue operation. “It just became apparent there was no choice.”
It is not usually certain how the dead dogs that Angels finds in Dogpatch died.
“We have no way of knowing,” McKellips says. “If there’s enough of it left to really take a good look at the body, we try to make sure. Are their legs bound? Is there a gunshot wound? Is there anything visible that we can call the Animal Cruelty Taskforce on?”
There often is.
Many of the dead animals may not be a product of animal cruelty but rather a lack of means and understanding, says Mike Duffy, ACT officer and co-chair at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. When an animal gets sick and dies on a property, the residents of Summit don’t understand what to do with it.
“But they know there’s a place in the roadway, at the intersection of Country Club and the Old Vale Connection,” he says. “If they dump it there, somebody takes it away.”
Duffy says the residents of Summit generally don’t have the money to pay for trash collection or county landfill disposal fees, which would be viable ways to remove a dead animal. And they can’t call PACC to pick it up from their property because the dogs rarely have the legally required licensure and rabies vaccination.
Licensing fees vary from $8 to $100 depending on many factors, among them the dog’s age and if it’s fixed. Licensure needs to be renewed yearly, and late fees of $10 to $36 are applied for not complying.
The HSSA offers walk-in vaccinations for $13, though getting to the clinic may be hard for some Summit residents.
“They would be responsible for the fees and fines involved for having an animal that was not vaccinated and was not licensed,” Duffy says.
Failure to license is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $150 to $750, four months in jail, two years’ probation or any combination thereof. The fine is reduced to $75 if a license is obtained within 15 days of the complaint.
Duffy is not certain that PACC would actually cite residents for these violations. “I think the people think that would happen so it makes them that much more reluctant to get the government involved,” he says.
The HSSA has set up spay and neuter clinics in Summit as a way to educate residents. They also put literature about animal care in the schools, where they know many residents will see it. It’s unclear if these initiatives have helped.
Duffy says that putting food and water out, as Angels does, may actually be perpetuating the problem.
“The folks out there that don’t have money for dog food, they open the gate and let their dog go because they know they can go down the street to where that pile of food is and get something to eat there,” he says.
Members of ACT go to Summit on a regular basis, as well as members of the sheriff’s department and other organizations.
“Plus, the Pima County Animal Care Center has an office here that’s responsible to drive through there a couple times a week,” Duffy says.
Duffy says that because those other organizations patrol the area, the HSSA no longer goes there.
“The complaints continue to come in to us, but the thing is, we really don’t know how valid the complaints are because the people that are finding the animals out there aren’t that religious about filing police reports,” he says. “If there’s not a police report on file, it didn’t happen.”
Last year, Angels for Animals found two young dogs that were shot, but alive. The HSSA gave both the dogs amputations and found them homes.
McKellips heard from a Summit resident that one of the ranchers in the area had shot the dogs.
She says a lot of the residents are fearful of police, and some are even fearful of their neighbors.
“If you’ve got a neighbor who’s shooting dogs because they’re on their ranch, you’re not going to tell anybody if you’re being threatened with losing your life because you said something,” she says.
McKellips says everybody knows everybody around there and most of them have gotten to know Angels pretty well.
“They like us because we don’t turn anybody in,” she says. “We don’t make them talk to police.”
She also finds campsites in the area and on occasion, drugs.
“You’ll also find a lot of paraphernalia from drug drops,” she says. “We have come out here and found full drug drops that hadn’t been picked up yet. You back away rather quickly and calmly, and you just go away and leave it alone.”
Ranch cows and bulls also roam the land and die on it. Angels volunteers have come across sick and injured horses in need of help. They’ve found dead goats in the wash. Last year, they found a huge dead boar.
One night McKellips had to stay late because of what she found.
“There was a horse down there, well, pieces thereof,” she says. “So I had to wait for the Animal Cruelty Taskforce to get out here.”
She thinks the horse had been cut up because it was too heavy to move in one piece.
“I’m assuming,” she says. “I have learned in five years you can assume anything you want, you’re never going to freakin’ understand this.”
One time, just off of Swan Road, they found a dead dog glued to a board. It had been propped up, facing the road. Someone had put a burrito in its mouth.
“We’re hoping it was dead when it was done,” McKellips says. “God, I hope.”
By the time she got to it, most of the body had been eaten by animals.
McKellips says despite everything, there is goodness in Summit.
“There are some very, very nice people out here,” she says. “They just don’t have the means to do a lot of the things that they should do, so we help with that.”
Average family size in Summit is larger than the average for Pima County and the nation, but the average income is less than one-third, according to a report for the Pima County Health Department by an evaluation team through the University of Arizona.
Angels has brought vaccination clinics to Summit and performed the vaccinations themselves. It’s getting harder for them to do that though. McKellips say a lot of veterinarians and PACC do not accept those vaccines as viable.
State law requires the rabies vaccination to be given by a licensed veterinarian. When it comes to parvovirus and distemper vaccinations, if they are not properly stored and administered, they won’t provide the proper immunity.
McKellips says people need to have more pride in their community and join in the effort to stop the dumping.
“Tell their neighbors,” she says. “Tell everybody that they can about the problem in that area and that they want it to stop. Take down license plates if they see something. You’ve got to stop being afraid to tell the police when you see these things happening. It’s education, spay and neuter, and taking responsibility.”
Angels for Animals is always looking for donations, volunteers and fosters.
They have a running tab at Valley Animal Hospital, where they make regular payments. They also need gas cards.
People can send gas cards or donations of any kind to Angels for Animals Tucson, 1121 S Eli Dr., Tucson, AZ 85710.
For more information visit the webpage angelsforanimals.org, visit the Angels for Animals Tucson Facebook page or call 490-5492.
“I don’t think in my lifetime we’ll ever not have work out here, unfortunately,” McKellips says.
“This is hell work. This is ugly, dirty, disgusting, hell work. Why do we do it? Cause nobody else is going to do it.”
By TRAVIS BRAASCH
Alan Williams, a Tucson firefighter and filmmaker, has been working to bring the Tucson film industry together and help the community at the same time.
He is one of the founders of Picture Arizona, an organization whose goal is to grow the local film industry and to increase revenue for small business partners.
Williams became interested in movies in 1977 at the age of 11, after seeing the film “Star Wars.” It changed how he thought about movies and he soon wanted to make them himself.
“I was fascinated by the illusion of another world created through special effects,” he said.
Williams was born in Wisconsin but moved to Phoenix at an early age and spent most of his childhood in Tucson. He attended Scottsdale Community College and then the University of Arizona, where he majored in film.
After graduating from UA, Williams was encouraged to make his own film by a producer while working as a film consultant. He spent six months creating his first film, “On a Clear Day.”
Of the many projects Williams has worked on, from music videos to writing and directing movies, his favorite has been “The Human Condition,” a movie he not only wrote and directed, but also edited.
“Everything just clicked, everything went really, really well from beginning to end,” he said.
Not all productions are like this, Williams said. On other projects, anything can go wrong and often will.
In addition to working as a filmmaker, Williams is also a fire captain for the Rural Metro Fire Department and is a full-time father to three children ages 13, 14 and 21.
Having a meticulous schedule is key to having time for a full-time job, children and filmmaking.
“He can always find time to work,” his 21-year-old daughter Megan Williams said.
Williams often works during downtime at Rural Metro and finds that he is most creative at 4 a.m. A lot of writing for his projects is done during the early morning hours.
He also involves his family, including his children, in the filmmaking process, taking them to important meetings and having them help on set.
“It is very exciting to see your dad as the ‘big time boss’ talking to important people and running the whole production,” Megan Williams said.
“During high school I was paid to photograph his sets, which was a great opportunity,” she added.
Williams has filmed all of his productions in Tucson, rather than traveling to New Mexico or Los Angeles as so many filmmakers do.
“Tucson has not been burned by the film industry,” he said.
Residents of Tucson are much more willing to be involved in a film and allow filming on their property, he said. In LA, filmmakers must have a permit to film in their own backyard.
Williams sees other benefits as well. Someone filming in Tucson streets is much less likely to get into trouble, because of the lax permit laws, he said.
Despite the positives for filmmakers to come to Tucson, there has not been a large film industry since the heyday of Old Tucson Studios. The movie set just west of town was used to film many popular westerns in the 1950s.
Tucson does not offer tax incentives like LA does, which seems to keep many filmmakers away.
Williams has worked for about 20 years to bring together Tucson filmmakers, but has faced frustration many times over.
The local filmmakers, while smaller in numbers than in LA, are very competitive rather than cooperating and pooling resources, he said.
But Williams and Picture Arizona are looking to bring the scene together.
The filmmakers who belong to Picture Arizona have decided that Tucson has a lot to offer but has often been passed over by the film industry.
By partnering with Tucson businesses, they hope to cut production costs by utilizing local services. At the same time, partners see an increase in their own revenue so that everyone involved can benefit.
For example, a local restaurant could provide the crew of a local film with food at a discount during production. The film cuts costs and the restaurant has a steady stream of business.
Those involved with Picture Arizona say there are many Tucsonans who have money that could be invested in their productions.
By investing with Picture Arizona, the investors know the money is going straight back to the community through the local business partners and through using local resources to film.
Williams and the rest of Picture Arizona firmly believe they are on the right path to help Tucson’s film industry, as well as the rest of the local economy, with their plans.
“I stayed in Tucson because I believe it has the ability to become a film mecca,” Williams said.
For more information about Alan Williams or Picture Arizona, visit picarizona.com or call Picture Arizona at 549-1084.
By ADRIANNA BARRIENTEZ
The Pima Community College softball team (46-14) closed out its 2015 season on May 2 at Phoenix College.
The Aztecs fought hard in three games against Phoenix College but didn’t finish victorious.
Pima could not stop the Phoenix College offense in their 11-1 loss.
Sophomore Keona Hunter hit a triple in the previous at-bat.
Sophomore Alexis Alfonso finished the season with a 27-7 record.
In the second game, the Aztecs struck first but could not finish in the later innings.
Freshman Araceli Peralta scored a run off an error in the first inning and Alfonso had a solo home run in to give Pima the lead.
Alfonso went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Frehsman Kalynn Martinez was 1 for 2.
The Aztecs didn’t close the game out with the win.
Pima moved into the championship round after shutting out Phoenix College 7-0.
Alfonso pitched a complete-game giving up five hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
In the 4th inning Olivas hit an RBI double to score Fabing.
Sophomore Brianna Quiroz followed with a sacrifice-fly RBI to plate Alfonso.
Sophmore Jackie Hernandez and Fabing had back-to-back RBI hits to make it 4-0.
This was Pima’s first year playing in Division II. They went from 29-30 in 2014 to 46-14 in 2015.
Pima softball team played the first day of the Region I, Division II Tournament at Phoenix College May 1.
Peralta led off the inning with a single.Hernandez hit an RBI double to plate.
Alfonso’s three-run blast to right field won the game.
Pima responded when Fabing hit a three-run homer to tie the game. After Fabing’s homer Pima was up 8-3.
Alfonso went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Hernandez was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs scored while Martinez was 3 for 5 with two runs.
Freshman Odalis Orduno went five innings giving up two runs on four hits with two strikeouts and one walk.
The Aztecs took a split against Arizona Western College at home April 25.
The Aztecs didn’t start well offensively as they lost the first game 6-1.
Fabing began the second inning and later scored on a double-play ball hit by freshman Sierra Cuestas to put Pima up.
Fabing was 1 for 1 with a run scored and two walks. Martinez went 1 for 3 with two doubles.
Alfonso pitched four innings giving up six runs on four hits with four walks.
Freshman Alexis Ayala threw the final two innings giving up one hit with one strikeout.
The Aztecs defeated Arizona Western in the second game 15-7 in six innings.
The Aztecs came right back with one run in the bottom half of the fourth to cut the lead.
In the fifth inning, sophomore Alyssa Montoya plated pinch runner freshman Morgan Engelhardt on a bunt single RBI.
Sophomore Keona Hunter and Hernandez hit back-to-back RBI singles to put Pima up 8-7.
Fabing’s grand slam would make it 12-7. Martinez went 5 for 5 with four runs scored and an RBI.
Hunter finished 4 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Sophomore Ariana Murrieta hit a two-run RBI single in the 3rd inning and finished 2 for 4.
Hernandez was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and Montoya went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Ayala pitched two and one-third innings giving up three runs on three hits with one strikeout and one walk.
The Aztecs lost at Eastern Arizona College on Tuesday.
Alfonso got the win after giving up one run on five hits with three strikeouts and one walk. Pima won the first game 7-1.
Alfonso and Freshman Araceli Peralta each had RBI singles in the inning.
Peralta finished 2 for 4 with an RBI while Alfonso went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Freshman Christine Olivas contributed with RBIs and runs scored.
In the second game the Aztecs won with a blowout. Fabing hit a grand slam in the 4th inning.
Quiroz hit a two-run RBI single in the inning.
Ayala finished 2 for 2 with two RBIs while teammate Hernandez went 3 for 4 with an RBI, a run scored and a triple.
Ayala pitched four innings giving up one run on five hits with two strikeouts.
Orduno closed out the final inning and got three outs on four pitches.
Pima went from 29-30 in 2014 to 46-15.Peralta said, “All the 5:30 a.m. workouts to the long practices and the nights of team bonding were the best times of my life.”
By TANISHA KNUTZEN
The automotive technology lab at Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus is a world apart from the traditional classes offered at Pima.
The non-traditional learning environment is an ideal setting for students who are looking for something to take them outside of the confined walls of a normal classroom and into a place of partial freedom and full exploration.
Numerous cars and equipment have been donated by dealerships, colleges, manufacturers and individuals, to ensure that students have maximum hands-on opportunities.
Full-time instructor David Stephenson and his fellow instructors emphasize practicing skills through physical learning.
“In a typical classroom, you would have a lecture hall, where a teacher writes on a blackboard,” Stephenson said. “If you have a lab, you might go to the lab portion of it and have students gathered around one vehicle, touching it one at a time. All of this is independent instruction.”
Students from many different backgrounds, ages and lifestyles pursue the self-paced curriculum.
“Our curriculum appeals to the widest possible audience, but the level of instruction is consistent from student to student,” said Bryan Goldkuhl, another full-time instructor.
Hands-on work especially appeals to students who are auditory or tactile learners, Goldkuhl added.
The program offers flexibility for students who have a hectic life schedule outside of the school walls, by making a variety of instructional times available throughout the week.
Jimmy Pham, a first-semester student, enjoys being outside of a traditional classroom and in an environment where he has more opportunity to actively learn and practice his newly acquired skills.
“I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else,” Pham said. “You’re working while listening. It’s not very class-like.”
Pham is currently working towards earning his mechanic certification. He plans to return to his hometown in Vietnam, where he will use his skills and certification to open his own shop.
“Cars are something I like, and this is something I can see myself doing,” Pham said. “The car industry is booming in Vietnam and that’s where I plan on going.”
Students have an opportunity to earn either a technical certificate or credit toward an Associate of Applied Science degree.
“We train students on all the necessary skills to gain an entry-level position, and also prep them for taking their mechanic and technician certification,” Stephenson said.
PCC’s program is accredited by the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation/ Automotive Service Excellence, which requires an intensive on-site inspection every five years.
During the inspection, accreditors examine equipment, curriculum and the skills students are learning.
This type of accreditation requires instructors to consistently change and update their curriculum to match the newest skills and knowledge being produced in the technology and automobile world.
Upon completion of the program, graduates have a high success rate for earning an entry-level mechanic position at major dealerships and automotive shops, according to program statistics.
If being outside of a normal classroom, having a self-paced curriculum and being free to roam in an independent learning environment doesn’t appeal to students, perhaps the availability of one-on-one instruction will.
Instructors are available to answer even the simplest of questions.
“I like that I can ask questions, even if it’s something that has an obvious answer,” Pham said. “There’s always someone to help, someone to point something out to me or show me what to do.”
By ALYSSA RAMER
Pima Community College’s drama department will perform “Spamalot” at the Proscenium Theatre.
The show will play from Feb. 26-March 8.
“Spamalot” is a play based on “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” a Michael White Film from 1975.
It includes “slapstick buffoonery,” according to PCC Musical Director Todd Poelstra.
It was performed on Broadway and was nominated for 14 Tony awards. “Spamalot” achieved “Best Musical” in 2005 among other awards, and was on Broadway until the beginning of 2009.
In a press release, Poelstra said that it is “a silly and highly irreverent parody of the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the round table.”
“This production borrows lines and jokes freely from the original film and fans will be intrigued by the trademark silliness and humor to be expected,” he said.
In an interview, Poelstra said the characters realize they are performing in front of an audience, which adds to the humor of the show.
“Last year we did ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ which has some humor in it,” Poelstra said.
“It’s a fairly serious musical dealing with family and interactions of outside pressure, so we wanted to go completely opposite of that,” he added. “We want to step back into a little tap dancing and a lot of fun.”
“Spamalot” does not have many roles for women, so he worked around it, reassigning some of these roles to the women in the cast.
“There is only one as-written good role for women. We changed it to an extent; a lot of the normal roles that are played by men are played by women,” he said. “All of the Ni knights and French taunters and minstrels are all women.”
Poelstra has helped to direct and produce musicals at PCC for the last 11 to 12 years.
He directed musicals at Canyon Del Oro High School in prior years, when he was a PCC student, and continued to direct there for 19 years.
Carol Carder has been the marketing and public relations director for the Center for the Arts for 10 years.
She has helped organize the show’s opening night, which includes a preshow session called “SPAMBOREE” that it will include “spam-tastings.”
The event will also feature a photo booth called the “Selfie Shoot and Share,” where audience members will be able to take photos with props from the show.
The “SPAMBOREE!” will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 26, and is included in the ticket price.
PCC clubs can sell refreshments at the “SPAMBOREE!” and any group interested should contact Carder as soon as possible at 206-3062.
“Spamalot” is about two hours with an intermission.
Tickets will cost $16 for students and non-students will pay $18. With groups of 10 or more, seniors or military, tickets will be $15.
The Molly Starr Scholarship Endowment Benefit will be at 7:30 p.m. on March 4.
Ticket prices will be more expensive and the extra money will go towards scholarship funds awarded to theatre students.
The Proscenium Theatre is located at the Center for the Arts at West Campus. For more information, call 206-6986.
By JAMIE VERWYS
College students in Arizona might be facing future tuition increases in light of Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed budget cuts to schools statewide.
Under Gov. Ducey’s plans, community colleges in Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties are facing budget cuts upwards of $9 million.
Pima Community College officials have been working to develop strategies to respond to impending cuts from the state and declining enrollment numbers, which both contribute to the school’s budget.
“That’s a pressure that’s not healthy for the institution,” said Chancellor Lee Lambert in a phone interview with Aztec Press.
On Jan. 16, the governor unveiled his strategies to close the state deficit in the proposed executive budget. While the budget is still just a starting point for further negotiations with the state legislature, Lambert wrote in an email to college employees, “There is no question we are facing the certain prospect of far less state funding.”
Lambert said funding provided by the state could drop from an expected $6.1 million to $3 million next year.
Four-year state colleges, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, are also preparing for the chopping block.
In total, the executive budget will make a $75 million reduction to universities and $8.8 million to community colleges statewide, according to the proposal.
In his summary, Ducey concluded that as far as community colleges are concerned, “the general fund plays a very minor role in total funding” and “the relationship must be reexamined and adjusted to ensure long-term fiscal stability.”
Lambert said this could affect classes offered at the college.
“So that’s a direct, immediate impact on students,” he said. “Depending on some of the other decisions we have to make, would it impact how many courses and sections of courses are offered?”
Pima receives its primary funding through three main sources: state aid, property taxes and tuition and fees.
Funds from property taxes and tuition are largely affected by the college’s enrollment numbers, which have dropped approximately 9 percent from last year, according to Lambert.
Declines in enrollment were presented to Pima faculty on Jan. 16. Enrollment has dropped by approximately 10,000 to 15,000 students since 2011.
“That’s the equivalent of losing an entire campus,” Lambert said.
When the number of students is reduced, tuition and school fees bring in less money.
Property tax itself does not rely on enrollment numbers, but becomes complicated by expenditure limitations.
“We receive ‘X’ amount of dollars from property tax, but we can extend only up to a certain amount and that’s in part to our enrollment levels,” Lambert said.
“You can have $100 million coming in, but if enrollment doesn’t justify you spending it for certain categories, it gets complicated. We can spend the $100 million, it’s that we won’t be able if our enrollment isn’t an adequate level.”
David Bea, PCC’s Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, outlined potential financial issues in a special Board of Governors meeting held on Nov. 19, 2014.
“Given the steady drop in our enrollment and the uncertain state financial outlook, it makes sense for the college to start taking a close look at its expenditures and revenues,” Bea said.
Pima is developing an enrollment management plan to try and examine key issues inside the college and out within the community. Lambert attributes the decline in enrollment to a “combination of factors.”
“Growth in Pima County has been fairly flat; it’s not like new people are moving here in droves,” he said. “Also, I think the college, when it made its mission change a few years back, hurt itself tremendously.”
Plans include improvements to online classes, better customer service and a better understanding of student needs.
Ducey’s budget plans are still in negotiation stages and hearings within the Senate and House will run from Jan. 27-Feb. 18.
As far as tuition increases, Lambert states it’s too early to say.
“As you have seen, historically tuition and fees have gone up for Pima. You have to keep them in a large context,” he said. “We are one of the lowest fee and tuition institutions in the state.
“Every college is probably going to be raising tuition, so we will certainly be looking to keep that very modest if we have to do it.”
Lambert notes that what happens before the state’s negotiations of the budget is crucial to the outcome and students can make an impact if they begin now. He suggested students make phone calls and emails to their state legislators.
“You’re the ones who are directly impacted. When I go, I could be seen as the self-interested person, but when you go, you’re going because you’re trying to better your lives. That’s a big difference,” he said.
Anyone interested in learning more about local legislation and impacting state policies may sign up for La Pima, Legislative Advocates for Pima Community College. The site uses geocoding to link you to your legislators’ contact information and connects members with their representatives as well as volunteer opportunities.
For more information, go to pima.edu/administrative-services/state-government.
To download a PDF of the proposed Executive Budget, visit azgovernor.gov/home.
By KIT B. FASSLER
Many musicians begin learning their art at a young age, but Pima Community College vocal instructor Jonathan Ng first joined a church choir when he was a high school senior.
“Before joining the choir, I had no musical training whatsoever,” Ng said. “I learned how to play piano and how to sing starting my first year of college.”
Ng grew up in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, a name given to the city of Hong Kong and its surrounding region. The SAR was defined in a 1984 agreement signed between Britain and China as part of preparations for the Hong Kong handover in 1997.
He is the youngest of eight siblings. Although his parents only finished elementary education, they worked very hard to provide for their family.
“My parents were vegetable vendors on the streets of Hong Kong SAR,” Ng said. “I am very proud of how they valued work and how they provided for all of us.”
Ng, a first-generation college graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the Institute of Education in Hong Kong.
His determination to further his education led him to the United States in 1992. He didn’t speak English nor did he have money to study abroad.
“I kept my head up and plowed through,” he said. “My parents are hard workers and I probably inherited that part of their character.”
Ng was granted scholarships to support his studies. He earned a master’s in conducting and church music from Westminster Choir College at Rider University in Princeton, N.J.
He received his doctorate from Indiana University. He majored in conducting, with minors in vocal performance and pedagogy, music history and literature.
As a professional lyric tenor, Ng has performed in oratorios and operas throughout the United States, Europe and Hong Kong.
One career highlight was conducting at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
“I made my Carnegie Hall debut conducting Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria,’ accompanied by the New England Symphonic Ensemble,” he said.
“The impact of a conductor is extremely huge,” he added.
“The conductor has a profound influence on the players, the singers and the whole musical presentation.”
Ng’s mentor was the late Thomas Dunn, an Indiana University professor who previously served as artistic director for the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston.
“He was a first-class musician and I miss him so much,” Ng said.
Ng started as an adjunct music instructor at Pima in 2011 and began teaching full time in 2014.
Among his other duties, he directs PCC’s Choral and College Singers.
He is also the founder and conductor of the Arizona Choral Society, and served as director of music at Catalina United Methodist Church for 11 years.
When he started teaching at Pima, Ng fell in love with the college and its students. He is amazed that PCC students are engaged, willing to learn and have passion to pursue their dreams despite financial hardships.
“I have been in their shoes,” he said. “My role is to inspire my students to succeed.”
Chad Stephens, a tuba student, has taken voice lessons under Ng.
“He helps you as a singer to find your unique own voice,” Stephens said. “He gets the best out of you.”
Ng believes that people need passion to choose music as a career. He likes to remind his students to improve and to always practice their instruments.
“Being a musician is a difficult career but it is also very rewarding,” he said. “Music is a very important element in people’s lives.”
Ng is preparing for a Feb. 8 concert, titled “Amore,” that will feature love songs from popular musicals and operas.
His vocal repertoire will include “Maria” from West Side Story, “On the Street Where You Live,” from My Fair Lady, the Italian love song “La Serenata” and spirituals. Suzanne Eanes will be the accompanist.
The concert will take place on Sunday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. in the PCC Center for the Arts Recital Hall on West Campus.
Tickets are $8, with discounts available.
For further information, call the box office at 206-6986 or visit pima.edu/cfa.
Ng looks forward to bringing excitement and joy to his audience.
“Between conducting and performing, it can be a challenge,” Ng said. “My strategy is always to prepare and plan ahead.”
By DANYELLE KHMARA
Students come from all over the world to attend Pima Community College, and the International Student Services Office caters to the needs those students.
“We have applicants who email us, call us from every country across the world,” Student Services Coordinator David Arellano says.
He says the ISSO supports and advises international students coming into Pima. Primarily, the international students that have a student visa—the F1 visa. That enables them to come here temporarily and return to their country of birth when they’re done with their studies.
“The U.S. looks at it as—we’re gonna help people come in, get an education, a trade, a skill and return home and be successful in their home country,” Arellano says.
International students meet with the ISSO throughout their time at PCC for advising on various issues such as academics and employment opportunities that may be available to them.
The three countries where the largest number of PCC international students hail from are China, Mexico and South Korea.
“Nationally, you’re going to see China as being number one for international students,” Arellano says. “In their culture, they think really highly of a U.S. education.”
He adds that employers in China are choosing applicants with a U.S. education over a Chinese education.
Arellano says the ISSO can also offer assistance to undocumented students.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” Arellano says. “They would follow the same admissions policy as a domestic student would.”
According to Arellano, the main reason international students choose PCC is because they have family or friends already here in Tucson or because they plan on transferring to the University of Arizona.
“The UA is a big draw,” Arellano says. “We’re lucky that they’re just down the road.”
He adds that the UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University all have great international programs. Arellano says it’s easy for international students to transfer to the UA or another university.
Arellano suggests that international students also choose colleges in Arizona because the California colleges are well known throughout the world yet more expensive and harder to get into, and Arizona is right next door.
Arellano says it’s also common for the ISSO to issues visas strictly for students to go through PCC’s English as a Second Language program.
“Whether it be just because they wanted to learn English or their job required it back home,” Arellano says.
He adds that some students opt to do ESL to get a good grasp on English and then transfer to an academic program.
“We see higher math levels and lower reading and writing levels,” Arellano says.
International students are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language, one of the main English proficiency tests used throughout the world, before they enter an academic program.
There are some requirements international students must meet in order to get the F-1 visa, explains Arellano. They need to prove they’ve completed high school or their country’s equivalent, and they need to show how they are going to support themselves while they’re here.
“The school works on a cost of attendance budget, and you have to prove that you have that money,” he says. “Whether it be through family or friends, sponsor, government sponsor.”
He explains that Homeland Security wants to see that they’re not going to become a public charge or nuisance on tax-payer-funded benefits here in the United States.
“You can be accepted by a school and still not get a visa,” Arellano says. He explains the primary reason for being denied is not having enough proof of intent to return to their home country once they’re done with their studies.
Arellano says there are cultural immersion benefits from having international students at PCC, for the international students and for U.S. citizens who get to learn from them about their culture.
There’s also an International Student Club at PCC.
“It’s a resource and somewhere for international students who come to Pima to make friends, make connections, network, get resources and just be part of the college experience or student life here at Pima,” Arellano says.
Last semester, the majority of the club’s members were in Arizona through the SEP-Bécalos-Santander Universidades partnership program, which brought 49 students to Pima from technical universities in Mexico.
Rose Bolz, the club advisor, says that the club meets once a week and that anybody can join.
Last semester the club went on a two-day road trip with 43 students to California. They went to the Bowers Museum in Santa Anna, Disneyland, Downtown Hollywood and the beach.
Bolz says they became great friends. “The trip brought them closer together,” she says.
Arellano says he thinks there are great benefits to international education.
“Sometimes we just don’t realize how much it benefits people here in the U.S.—culturally,” he says.
“Knowing about someone else and how they lived, what they’re doing there and what’s going on in their home country is enlightening to us.”
The ISSO is at the PCC West Campus Student Service Center. For de call (520) 206-6732 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By SHANA ROSE
It’s the beginning of the spring 2015 semester. It’s a new year, new classes, new friends and for the freshmen, a new experience.
Know what else is new? Pima Community College’s cafeterias.
The cafeterias on each PCC campus looks emptier than before. The back kitchen and grill have been removed and all hot items have been temporarily taken off the menu.
Students might also notice the sandwiches, wraps and salads on shelves come from a hometown company, Eegee’s.
Another change takes place outside, where local food trucks are available to serve students and faculty.
These changes have been brought to you by Follett Higher Education Group, Pima’s new food service provider. The company also manages the college’s bookstore operations.
Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration David Bea said in a press release that Pima chose Follett because of the “company’s creative approach to serving their customers and their interest in working with local food companies.”
Sodexo, Pima’s previous food service provider, has been serving students and faculty for several years, and concluded its contract on Dec. 18, 2014.
Former Sodexo employee Matthew Smith, 36, had been with the company at Pima for six years and was one of many laid off during the transition.
“We had some idea that it might be coming,” Smith said. “Pretty much each of the last three semesters, Pima and Sodexo had been basically re-negotiating their contract on a semester-by-semester basis.”
Sodexo’s prices have been slightly increasing as a result of student enrollment declining since 2011, according to Pima’s enrollment trend report.
“The pizza went up about 15 cents per slice,” Smith said. “The lasagna and pasta went up almost $1. I’ve had students complain to me about that. They noticed the price change.”
Pima student, Derek Christo, 23, was one of many customers when the cafeteria reopened for spring semester.
“I didn’t notice a price change,” Christo said. “But they made the pizza slices bigger and give bigger portions on the fries. They seemed to try to give you more for how much you paid for.”
Follett was able to re-hire and keep some familiar faces at Pima, Smith being one.
Bea also expressed his gratitude towards Sodexo in the press release.
“On behalf of the college, I would like to thank them for their dedication and hard work,” Bea said. “Our hope is that Follett will be able to find employment for those Sodexo employees who would like to remain at the college.”
Comic book conventions, or comicons, are havens for those celebrating their “nerd” side, giving people of all ages a chance to dress as favorite characters.
This past December, the Phoenix Comic-con held its first Fan Fest to focus on those who enjoy cosplay.
All kinds of cosplayers filled aisles in the colossal University of Phoenix stadium, ranging from an 8-foot-tall transformer to a toddler in a red diaper carrying a plastic Spartan sword.
Visitors had opportunities to purchase prints and take photos with their favorite characters. The festival also featured panels on all manner of popular series, anime and fictitious flying broomstick sports that may or may not involve wizards.
Artists brought their “A” game, dragging stuffed portfolio cases full of prints for people to buy. Buttons, magnets, customized beanies, anime figurines and rare video games were also on sale.
The next Phoenix Comicon and Fan Fest will take place May 28-31.
-By Alex Fruechtenicht
By CALEB FOSTER
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (15-5, 7-6 in ACCAC) has gone 3-3 so far in the new year. The Aztecs found themselves in four tight games recently, with all the contests being decided by just a few points one way or the other.
The Aztecs came up short against No. 5 Phoenix College in their road game on Jan 24. The 77-73 loss marked their second in a row.
Sophomore Matt O’Boyle was unable to be effective in the first half but helped the Aztecs push for a comeback in the second half.
Sophomore Murphy Gershman had 22 points and 16 rebounds in his 12th double-double game of the season, sophomores Bryan Cervantes and Ezini Ugbisien both finished with 13 points on the night.
The Aztecs fell to Chandler-Gilbert 81-79 on Jan 21. The closely contested game saw eight lead changes as both teams fought hard.
Key mistakes by the Aztecs and big plays for Chandler-Gilbert set the tempo for the game and ended up being the difference.
O’Boyle, who led the team with 23 points, came just shy of hitting a game winning buzzer beater. Gershman had another double-double on the night, 22 points and 12 rebounds. Cervantes added 14 points on the night.
The Aztecs almost faced another overtime contest against Scottsdale Community College on Jan. 17 in Scottsdale.
With 3.1 seconds left in the game O’Boyle drew a foul and hit one of his two free throws to give the Aztecs the 89-88 victory after a failed shot by Scottsdale.
O’Boyle ended the game with a team-high 26 points, aided by Gershman who scored 25 points and had 18 rebounds. Freshman Justice Martion finished the game with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Pima earned a hard fought 86-84 overtime victory against South Mountain Community College on Jan 14.
Gershman carried the Aztecs with his 33 point, double-double and his buzzer beating three-pointer in overtime to end the game.
The entire game was a battle with neither team gaining a double-digit lead. The teams went back and forth during the end of regulation, but behind a 10-2 run by Pima and two clutch free throws by Martion the Aztecs were able to force overtime.
Martion finished with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double and Cervantes added 12 points of his own.
The Aztecs defeated Central Arizona 89-87 on Jan. 10 at home. Pima entered the second half down two points and continued to trail for the first 13 minutes.
Pima went on 15-2 run to gain the lead late in the game; Ugbisien sealed the game for the Aztecs by grabbing the last rebound.
Gershman had a game-high 24 points to lead the Aztecs to victory. O’Boyle, Cervantes, Martion and freshman Andre Bearden all finished with double digit points.
A nine-point halftime deficit doomed the Aztecs against Arizona Western on Jan. 7. Pima began to come back in the second half, cutting Arizona Western’s lead down to one, but weren’t able to complete the comeback.
Martion led the Aztecs with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double on the night. Gershman finished with 16 points, trailed closely by Paige with 13.
PCC will face Tohono O’Odham CC on Jan. 28 at the West Campus after the Aztec Press goes to print. Coverage of the game will be included next issue.
Over the break, the team dominated in the Holiday Ball-Out Tournament en route to a 4-0 tournament record.
In their first game of the tournament, the Aztecs defeated Trinity Prep 71-33. O’Boyle led the team with 25 points followed by Cervantes who had 20.
The second game of the tournament was a much better match against San Diego Prep. Martion dropped 23 points to lead the Aztecs to a 68-62 victory. Freshman Dorian Paige finished the contest with 17 points.
Pima came alive offensively in the semifinals as they defeated South Shore Prep 132-80. Martion led the Aztecs with a double-double 32 points and 15 rebounds. Four other Pima players scored in double digits.
The Aztecs capped their win streak off with a 74-66 win against Balboa Prep in the championship game. Martion led PCC in points for the third game in a row with 19 points, Cervantes finished right behind him with 17.
By ANDREW PAXTON
Mark Hanna always regretted not going to college.
The newly elected member of Pima Community College’s governing board had a successful career as a manager at Costco in the ‘90s, but he felt like something was missing.
“I felt like I wasn’t able to converse with people who had their degrees, like I wasn’t on their level,” he recalls. “I knew something had to change.”
After 25 years with the company, Hanna retired from Costco and decided to enroll at Pima. He quickly got involved on campus, including with East Campus student government, and made lasting connections.
“Some of the students I worked with at Pima even helped me on my campaign,” he says.
He knew from the start he wanted to use his life experience to help educate children.
“I wanted to be a fifth grade teacher,” he says. “That seemed like a good age.”
Hanna says he fit in immediately at Pima and that the instructors would accommodate him in the classroom.
“Since I’m older, I have trouble memorizing things sometimes,” he says. “So they would let me have some extra time to study before a test.”
During his last semester before earning his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Arizona, Hanna had an eye-opening experience while working in an actual classroom.
“The lesson plans are so regimented, and I wasn’t able to bring my own experiences to the students,” he says. “That was really discouraging.”
Fearing that his time at college pursuing a second career might have been for naught, Hanna spoke with a UA adviser, who recommended he become a high school counselor.
Hanna had already been working with students at Catalina High Magnet School while studying at Pima.
After earning his master’s from UA, he got a job at Catalina as a career and college readiness counselor.
He worked with students who wanted to do better for themselves, but that most others had already written off.
“Everyone had given up on them even graduating high school,” he says. “No one thought they could go to college.”
Hanna used his experience to help match students with career paths they would most likely enjoy and be successful in. Many of his students would transition to Pima, and he knew how important the college was to the community.
“So when all the problems at Pima started coming out, I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to help?’” he says.
He began considering running for PCC’s governing board, and discussed the prospect with his wife, friends and advisers. They told him what to expect and what it would cost, monetarily and in terms of time and energy.
“The pros just outweighed the cons,” he says.
His first step was to collect signatures to get on the November ballot. This gave him his first contact with voters.
“Almost everyone I spoke with had a positive experience or feeling about Pima, and I could tell it was important to people,” he says.
Although it initially appeared he would run unopposed, Tucson Medical Center executive Michael Duran also entered the race. Hanna says having a contested election was beneficial by allowing voters to hear more about the candidates and the issues.
“Michael and I met up and decided to run a clean, positive campaign, and I’m proud that we both held up to that,” Hanna says. He added that he will consult with Duran in the future on issues where he may have more expertise.
Hanna says one reason he was elected was his grass-roots effort to engage voters. He knocked on thousands of doors and met with hundreds of constituents during the campaign.
“They were happy that I was taking the time to come out and talk to them, and many said that they were going to vote for me because of that,” he says.
On election night, Hanna was glued to the Pima County election website, refreshing the page every few minutes to get the latest results. The next day, while votes were still being counted, Duran called Hanna and conceded.
After he is officially sworn in on Jan. 14, Hanna says he is ready to start taking on the many challenges facing the college.
“Obviously, the first step is getting off probation,” he says. “But it can’t just be a Band-Aid; we need to make sure we are really taking care of all the issues.”
Hanna adds there are many other uncertainties regarding higher education in general, and Pima must do everything possible to remain relevant and competitive. That includes exploring more international options as well as improving classrooms and instructor training.
“We have to make sure we are offering useful classes that people actually need, and staying on the cutting edge or being as close to the edge as possible,” he says. “Higher education keeps changing all the time, faster than the technology in our cell phones, and we have to keep up.”
He also recognizes the importance of improving financial aid and other student services.
“The No. 1 factor that keeps people out of college is financial aid,” he says. “And I know from helping students at Catalina, the process is difficult at best.”
Pima’s student service employees do a great job, but the college needs to support them and empower them more, he says.
“Maybe there is more than one way we can do things to make it easier for them and the students.”
Hanna feels honored to be chosen as a trustee of the college, and recognizes the importance of his job.
“When someone goes to college, it increases the chances of their children going, and so on,” he says. “So you’re not just impacting one person’s life, but you could be changing an entire family’s future.”