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Student vets left in the dust

Student vets left in the dust

By PABLO ESPINOSA

Pima Community College student veteran George Burdelte, who spent 10 years in the Navy and Army, depends on his veteran’s benefits to make ends meet. He is still waiting for this semester’s Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

The delay in payments left him with a negative bank account balance. His car has been repossessed and he is behind on his light bill.

“Maybe the people at the top don’t give a shit about veterans,” Burdelte said.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays college tuition directly to student veterans, and provides a monthly housing allowance known as a Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH.

PCC student veteran Luis Cuevas, a father of two who works 40 hours a week and attends school full time, is also waiting for his payment. He used a tax refund to stay afloat.

“I come here full time for the BAH,” Cuevas said. “Thank god for taxes or I don’t know what I would have done.”

Cuevas and Burdelte are among nearly 1,000 PCC student veterans who faced delays receiving payments through the GI Bill.

As of Feb. 23, approximately 200-250 student veterans had received benefit payments.

Problems persist almost six weeks into the semester, despite PCC passing a compliance audit from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA officials made a site visit Dec. 8-10, 2014 to verify the college’s compliance with federal regulations. The audit followed sanctions placed on PCC last April by the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. The sanctions were lifted in May.

As part of a new emphasis on veteran services, Pima created an administrative position: director of veterans and military affiliated services. Daniel Kester, a veteran himself, was hired and began work last October.

Kester partially blamed the federal audit for the current delays in processing benefits paperwork.

“We had an audit shortly after I got here,” he said. “On Dec. 8, that was kind of an all hands on deck situation.”

PCC student veteran Joseph Cole criticized the delay in benefits. “The system may pass its audit but what about the veterans? They don’t care about our side,” he said.

Every PCC student veteran using the Post-9/11 GI Bill must be certified.

All necessary paperwork and requirements must be completed, reviewed and approved before the veterans or the college can get paid.

Certification delays occurred when veteran services personnel at PCC’s district office were tasked with passing the audit.

Vacancies at the veteran services office also contributed to the delays.

The office has four full-time employee positions to work on three primary tasks: customer services, the audit and certifications.

“These guys get beat up every day and I get beat up every day by veterans who I don’t think realize that we’re really on their side,” Kester said.

One of the four positions is currently vacant. Kester said that left him with one full-time employee to answer an ongoing flood of emails and calls from veterans.

One employee worked full time on the audit, and the other was responsible for certifying all PCC Post-9/11 GI Bill student veterans.

Every student veteran is now assigned a student veteran counselor. Those campus counselors support the district office certification effort by collecting paperwork and entering information into the college’s records.

Although they cannot certify students themselves, the counselors do a large part of the work.

The process has also been delayed because many student veterans did not know they needed to see a counselor to initiate the certification process.

Kester said 80 percent of certifications are waiting on veterans to fulfill their side of the requirements.

“There is an email being sent out and there is also a notification on the veterans tab,” he said. However, the only email Kester produced was one asking veterans to check their veterans tab.

He insisted the need to see a student veteran counselor for certification is not a new requirement, only “old rules that should have been implemented.”

Cole, the PCC student veteran who criticized the delay in benefits, heard about the need to see a veteran counselor from a fellow student veteran, but only after the semester had started.

“A student services counselor says to take a class, then the vet counselor says to take a different class after it’s too late,” he said.

The deadline has passed for Cole to drop the class for a refund and the GI Bill won’t pay for it because it is outside of his program of study.

With all veterans having a designated counselor to make sure they have paperwork and requirements completed, why have such a high percentage of veterans not fulfilled their side of the certification process?

The most obvious answer may be that most veterans have not seen their counselor, but another answer may be the counselors themselves.

Despite their best intentions, the veteran counselors are newly appointed to veterans, with no training required.

Kester said student veterans can look forward to a much smoother process next semester.

The school has a new database system, VA Once, to deal with certifications. It allows PCC student veterans to make sure they have all documentation needed to be properly certified.

“This has really helped the school in terms of compliance and it’s going to really help the veterans,” Kester said.

He also plans to eventually send every student veteran counselor to VA Once training.

Yet another change will be adding one student service specialist who can complete certifications at every campus.

“That will multiply our efforts quite a bit,” he said.

In addition, a new MyPima veterans tab will inform students what information and documentation they still need to complete certification.

“Next semester, the certification process is going to run super sweet,” Kester said.

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Veterans from the five branches of the military are facing delays in receiving their GI Bill benefits. (Aztec Press photo illustration by Larry Gaurano)

 

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New ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot sparks gender controversy

New ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot sparks gender controversy

By DANYELLE KHMARA

Nerds everywhere are protesting the upcoming “Ghostbusters” reboot, starring—gasp—women!

Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) will direct the “Ghostbusters” remake, which is scheduled for release on July 22, 2016. The film will star comedians Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.

The news has spawned an onslaught of opinions, from advocates of female power to die-hard fans.

Feig told Rolling Stone that he loves the original “Ghostbusters” and has no desire to ruin that memory.

“Let’s just restart it because then we can have new dynamics,” he said. “I want the technology to be even cooler.”

There are some who don’t take this “let’s just restart it” business so lightly. Like the barrage of men posting YouTube videos, alone in their basements, grieving over their soon-to-be-ruined childhoods.

Each video starts basically the same way: I’m not sexist but—.

This is usually followed by a rant, pointing out that women have just never fought ghosts. They also make demands, such as—give the fans what they want, and just let the “Ghostbusters” die.

Rolling Stone asked Feig what he thought about a Deadline article titled “Do We Want An Estrogen-Powered ‘Ghostbusters?’”

“I really cannot believe we’re still having this conversation,” Feig said. “When people accuse it of being a gimmick I go, ‘Why is a movie starring women considered a gimmick and a movie starring men is just a normal movie?’”

The Deadline article, written by self-proclaimed film chauvinist Mike Fleming Jr., says there is an economic upside to the double-X chromosome reboot:

“We are seeing a recognition that women will come to the movies if there is something in it for them, as evidenced by the ‘Twilight’ saga, ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Divergent,’ ‘The Other Woman’ and last weekend’s winner, ‘Lucy,’ with ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey.’”

Fleming follows his explanation of the women-going-to-movies phenomenon with a question: “Does that give them the right to take ‘Ghostbusters’ from knuckle-dragging Neanderthals like me who have little else going for us but our all-time top 10 or 20 favorite guy movies?”

Well, Fleming Jr., let me put your mind at ease. Feig will not be scouring your movie collection for your old “Ghostbusters”—not your illegal downloads, not your Blu-rays, not your DVDs and certainly not that old VHS copy under your pillow.

Fleming goes on to say he wanted to see the remake star a combination of Hollywood’s leading male comedians such as Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. He even points out that those were the stars of a 2012 movie, “The Watch.”

In “The Watch,” a band of men defend the world against other-worldly beings. There is slime, matching uniforms and weapons that blast neon light. Sound familiar? And yet, according to Fleming, it was a flop.

So, Junior, for your second piece of advice, may I suggest you take a class, at your local community college perhaps, on rhetorical argument.

In Summer 2014, it was announced on “The View” that the new Thor series would star a goddess of thunder.

In an article for the Huffington Post, Sara Roncero-Menendez wrote: “Not a Thor sidekick. Not simply a gender-swapped Thor-ess or Lady Thor. Just ‘Thor,’ a woman worthy of wielding the hammer in her own right.”

Roncero-Menendez touted the importance of diversity.

“It’s important for audiences of all ages to see people like them saving the world, including people who don’t happen to be white heterosexual males,” she said.

On comicsbeat.com, Brett Schenker pointed out that of the 24 million self-identified comic fans on Facebook in the United States, 46.7 percent are female.

The fact of the matter is, women have notoriously been underrepresented in Hollywood.

The top 100 grossing films of 2013 overwhelmingly starred males, according to a report by San Diego State University film professor Martha Lauzen.

“I would say that the film business is in a state of gender inertia,” Lauzen told the Los Angeles Times. “If you take a look at the numbers, you see basically we are in the same place we were about a decade ago.”

Kinda makes you wonder—what the hell, Hollywood? Strong women are in. As a culture, we are hungry for strong females. Women want to be strong, men want to be around them.

Chris Hardwick, the host of @midnight, falls on the side of the debate with people not afraid of the 21st century.

“Embrace this brave new world where women wear jumpsuits and fire neutrino wands,” he says.

Touché Chris, and cheers to a world where women everywhere go to theaters, star in movies and—fight ghosts.

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This cover shows “Ghostbusters” (also known “The New Ghostbusters”) Volume 5, which was released in Summer 2013. (© IDW Publishing Comics)

 

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One is never too old to learn

One is never too old to learn

By EMERY NICOLETTI

Tenny Tenka, 63, sits upright, knees together, back arched and not quite touching the chair, seemingly positioned in the very manner of a proper Chinese lady.

The Pima Community College student made her way to the United States from Indonesia in 2010 after the death of her husband, leaving behind her entire surviving family and relocating to a place she had never been before.

The first thing she did upon arrival was find a school to learn English.

“It was my passion,” she said,  beaming. “I took classes four days a week. I like to learn.”

Tenka would like to eventually master Spanish and French as well. Ultimately, she dreams of becoming a writer.

Her storied journey begins more than 100 years ago with her grandfather and parents on the southeast coast of China in Hokkien, known as Fujian Province. Her parents immigrated to Indonesia before she was born.

Many ethnic Chinese around the world, especially in Southeast Asia, trace their ancestry to Fujian.

Tenka lived through tumultuous times in Indonesia, including a series of uprisings in 1965-66 involving the 30 September Movement that killed more than 500,000 people. The secondary school she attended as a 15-year-old was seized.

Her husband died at age 61 after contracting what Americans refer to as black lung. He acquired the condition as a result of painting fenders on cars without protection or proper ventilation, and from working in an atmosphere filled with second-hand smoke.

After his death, Tenka emigrated to the U.S. through the applied efforts of her younger sister. Her sister arrived 30 years ago, and now lives in Sahuarita.

Tenka left behind three sons. Martin, 36, and Ricky, 33, moved to Australia a half-decade ago. Her youngest son, Renaldo, remains in Indonesia.

She has applied to bring Renaldo to the U.S., but it takes five-to-10 years for approvals from U.S. Customs and Immigration. Her own immigration in 2010 followed an approved application submitted by her sister in 1998.

Tenka grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese, a dialect different from the language spoken by her parents. She learned a little English as a child, but quickly forgot it.

She now attends English as a Second Language class at Pima’s West and Northwest campuses, and works in the deli department at a Fry’s grocery in Sahuarita.

Some co-workers and customers were initially impatient with her lack of communication skills, Tenka admits. That was both challenging and disheartening at times.

Her Fry’s supervisor, manager Bechir Sfaxi, says Tenka’s communication skills have greatly improved. “She knows her job and gets along well with her co-workers and customers.”

Tenka drives to her job at Fry’s but takes the bus to her Pima classes.

“I am a slow driver, so I only drive in Sahuarita,” she said with a renewed school-girl grin.

There are many things that Tenka misses about Indonesia, including the spices and the smell of the earth.

“It not same smell,” she says with a lingering accent not easily detected in earlier responses. “The beauty of the clothes, the fabrics, all different, not like here.”

She goes on, trying to paint word pictures to describe the type of woven fabric she is envisioning, how it’s made and how it shimmers. “Not like silk, better.”

Tenka remembers the beautiful foliage of Indonesia, and laments that her former engulfing color of green is wiped from her new landscape.

And lastly, the air. The air she breathes in Tucson doesn’t feel quite the same.

She also misses celebrating an esteemed annual tradition to honor family ancestors, held on April 5 at the cemetery and in July at the temple.

Tenka’s marriage was not arranged, as was the tradition in many areas of China, but her parents enjoyed a successful arranged marriage for 55 years.

Her parents never expressed outward emotions such as holding hands or kissing in public, but it was quite clear to Tenka that her parents were in love. “My parents were very happy,” she says.

Public displays of affection are prohibited in Chinese tradition and are against the law in Indonesia.

“Americans hold hands in public and always say, ‘I love you,’” Tenka says. “We don’t do that.” Does she miss her husband? “Yes,” she replies. “I miss him very much.”

Would she ever re-marry? Tenka remains silent for a moment, long enough to suggest that she either did not hear the question or considers it too personal.

She raises her head. “If I meet the right person, I would consider to get remarried. But have to be the right person,” she says.

“I’m rabbit in Chinese zodiac, which means I like safety and to be comfortable in my own space.  Future husband have to understand that.”

Pg07-Tenny Tenka

Tenny Tenka, 63, an ESL student, stands proud to be a part of Pima Community College to further her education. (Emery Nicoletti/Aztec Press)

 

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Registar aims to serve students

Registar aims to serve students

Warm Tucson winters were just one element that led Yolanda Espinoza from Colorado to Pima Community College.

With 29 years of experience in higher education, Espinoza brings developed skills and a passion for students to the position of director of admissions and records/registrar.

“I was looking for a new challenge, and I was pleased to see this job at Pima,” Espinoza said. “I was looking for a change and better winter weather.”

Once a community college student herself, she always knew she wanted to pursue a career that allowed her to give back to community college students. She started work at PCC on Jan. 5.

“I’m a product of community college, which is something I’m very proud of,” she said. “I could just see there was a clear path for me in higher education.”

Her career began when she was a high school student in Colorado attending community college for computer courses. She was hired for an administrative position immediately after she graduated from high school.

She attended college classes while working in various areas of college administration including recruitment, records, financial aid and admissions.

Espinoza earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational development from Regis University in Denver and a master’s of education in human resources and organizational performance/change from Colorado State University.

“I was an employee and a student my entire career,” she said. “I obtained a bachelor’s degree to excel in the higher education arena.”

Most recently, Espinoza served for nine years as the director of enrollment services and registrar at Colorado’s largest community college. She believes her campus-wide role prepared her to serve PCC.

“I think my educational background has really been helpful,” she said. “It’s been human resources and organizational progress and change. We are constantly managing change, technology and exciting initiatives.”

Espinoza described her PCC position as “multifaceted.” She is responsible for a number of student services, and works with student information systems, admissions, residency, student records graduation and student demographic information.

Senior Assistant to the Provost Dolores Duran-Cerda works closely with Espinoza in the district office, and says she has absolute confidence in the registrar’s ability to improve student services.

“In the short amount of time she has been at Pima, Yolanda has made an impact on moving our college forward,” Duran-Cerda said.

“She brings experience with using technology in innovative ways that will help the college develop systems to better serve student needs and promote student success,” Duran-Cerda added. “In addition, her expertise in compliance, admissions and records procedures help meet the goals of the college.”

Espinoza’s work experience at the community college level has led her to conclude that change happens often in education. She also thinks the economy plays a large part in enrollment rates.

“I believe that these cycles occur in higher education,” she said. “In community colleges, the enrollment spikes if there is a downturn in the economy, and when the economy starts to improve, our enrollment drops.”

When the budget gets tighter, colleges must do more with less and become innovative, she said.

Though Espinoza has been the registrar for less than two months, she already feels a connection to Pima students and fellow staff.

“I really like the environment because of the students that we serve, and I also like the people that I work with,” she said. “My colleagues are very compassionate and caring people.”

The open-access mission of community colleges has driven Espinoza to improve the student process for years, and she strives to maintain that mission at Pima.

“My goals are to create more efficient, student-friendly services for students by doing process analysis and reviewing our policies in order to remove any barriers that might be in place for students currently,” she said.

GPg04-Yolanda Espinosa

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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Pima ending season strong

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Pima ending season strong

By CALEB FOSTER

The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (18-12, 10-12 in ACCAC) will be the No. 3 seed heading into the tournament. They will face Tohono O’Odham in the first round of the tournament. Pima previously dropped both of their regular season games against Tohono O’Odham this season.

The Aztecs dropped their last game of the regular season to Scottsdale Community College 79-78 on Feb. 24.

Down by three with 9.6 seconds left in the game sophomore Bryan Cervantes missed the potential game tying three-pointer.

Sophomore Murphy Gershman grabbed his 19th double-double of the season with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Matt O’Boyle hit 6 of 10 from beyond the arc dropping 22 on the night. Sophomore Esteban Lopez added 12 points.

The Aztecs fell just short in their game against South Mountain Community College, losing 71-74 on Feb. 21. The game marked their last road game of the regular season.

Gershman posted another double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. O’Boyle dropped 16 points and added seven rebounds of his own during the contest.

The Aztecs fell to Central Arizona College 62-68 on the road Feb. 18.

They trailed 24-32 at the half and with 10 minutes left they were down 43-51 but were never able to catch up in the second.

The Aztecs battled through a tough contest with Arizona Western College, coming out on top with an 83-72 victory on Feb. 14.

The Aztecs found themselves down 41-42 at half but were able to find rhythm in the last few minutes of the game with an 11-2 run which sealed the victory.

O’Boyle took control of the game in the last two minutes dropping eight of his game-high 29 points. O’Boyle sank eight of 12 from beyond the arc. He was named ACCAC player of the week and averaged 17 points and five rebounds in the two game stretch. O’Boyle is averaging 14.9 points and 4.2 rebounds a game this season.

Gershman also had a strong game for the Aztecs, dropping 20 points and 12 rebounds to grab another double-double.

Freshman Dorian Paige went 5 for 6 from the field as he added 16 points of his own.

Pima fell to Mesa Community College 67-84 on Feb. 11 at home. Mesa swept the Aztecs this season with the win.

The Aztecs fell behind Mesa by double digits in the first half, and were unable to close the gap in the second. Mesa’s 19-4 run early on gave them the momentum in the game.

Gershman and Freshman Justin Martion both finished 14 points, followed closely by Cervantes with 12.

 

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Sophomore Matt O’Boyle takes the shot in front of a Central Arizona defender during a Feb. 18 game. The Aztecs went on to lose 62-68 after trailing from the half in a close match. (Photo courtesy of PCC)

 

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Baseball team looks to improve

Baseball team looks to improve

By ALFRED DICOCHEA III

Pima Community College (7-7, 5-5 in ACCAC) is looking to get back on track after a very inconstant to the season.

With a .500 record, Pima hosted Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Feb, 24. For results go to aztecpressonline.com.

Pima would go up to Phoenix square off against Paradise Valley Community College on Feb 21. Pima would earn its first conference sweep, but it would come in consecutive tight games.

Sophomore Trevor Johnson would come up big again this week as he had another game winning hit, as he hit a solo homerun in the top of the 6th. Giving Pima the win 5-4.

Sophomore Marcel Renteria would get the start for Pima, but Sophomore Roy Aguire would pit his third win of season as he closed out the last two innings putting him at 3-0 for the season.

In the second game, Pima would have an even closer call with Paradise Valley. As it would take extras for Pima to put Paradise Valley down. Pima won by a familiar score 5-4 and in 11 innings.

Freshmen Justin Hammergren would start the game pitching five innings. Freshmen Vinnie Tarantola who got his first win of season putting him at 1-1 and sophomore Chris Kucko who would get the save would combine for 6 innings.

In a close game though out, Pima would steal the win after pinch runner freshmen Ryan Ramsower would score off a wild pitch in the top of the 11th. Pima would be forced to string out their bullpen for this game. Having three guys pitch multiple innings.

Pima would square off against Phoenix College on Feb 17, Pima would split games with Phoenix. In game one Pima would win the game dramatic fashion 2-1.

Johnson would hit the game winning run driving in freshmen David Oropesa. Aguire would get the win improving him to 2-0 for the season.

In the second game Phoenix would recover from the heartbreaker and rout Pima 12-1 in eight innings.

Pima couldn’t get it going in the second game, as they only managed four hits in the game and their only point coming in the 7th. Sophomore Ryan Norrix would take his first loss of the season putting him at 1-1 for the season.

Pima would travel up to Mesa face off against Mesa Community College on Feb 14. Pima would split games with Mesa. In the first game Pima would lose a tight one to Mesa losing 1-0, with the only run of the whole game coming in the 4th.

Renteria, who pitched a near flawless game, would drop his first game of the season putting him at 0-1. Renteria would pitch a complete game, with only one earned run on four hits. Renteria didn’t have the run support to match his gem.

In the second game Pima’s nonexistent run support from the first game would come up big with 7. Pima would take the second game 7-4.  Freshmen Al Cruz would come with a nice performance as he had a two RBI game.

Hammergren would pick up his first win of the season putting him at 1-1 for the season. Aguire would get the save after pitching the 9th inning.

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Ivan Estella recoils after being struck by a pitch during a game against Utah State University – Eastern on Feb. 5. Pima went on the win both games in the series. (Caleb Foster/Aztec Press)

 

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Feb. 15 deadline nears

Feb. 15 deadline nears

By EMERY NICOLETTI

Connor Tate, a 22-year-old dual Pima Community College and University of Arizona student, has “Obamacare” figured out — well, depending on your point of view.

Despite the Feb. 15, enrollment deadline for President Barack Obama’s health care reform legislation, also known officially as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Tate has decided he is not going to sign up.

He believes particular mandates incorporated within the law have caused the cost of insurance to skyrocket for the young. “Why should I get it?” he asks.  “The fine for not getting it is only $95.”

He expresses frustration with what he feels are health care procedures that are outrageously overpriced.  “Right now I pay out of pocket. If anything catastrophic happens I can always sign up on my parent’s health plan,” Tate said.

Since Tate knows he can no longer be singled-out for pre-existing health conditions, he has calculated his financial options, “For now, I’d rather pay out-of-pocket,” he said.

Danielle Neal, 20, a business major at PCC isn’t too worried about insurance right now.  Fortunately, she’s under the umbrella of her parent’s insurance plan until she turns 26.  She is certain she will obtain her own insurance independently or through her workplace in the future.

She states she realizes the importance of health coverage and knows she will always have it. “You never know,” she says.

It is difficult to understand that under the current U.S. health care system it is possible to be forced into bankruptcy and to spend your life savings on paying for treatment for a disease or a condition that is simply out of your control.

Director of Provider Outreach in the Department of U.S. Health and Human Services, Matt Heinz, has advice for Pima students.

“Like education, health insurance is an important investment we must make for the future so that we can live long healthy and productive lives without fear of financial ruin from an unexpected injury or illness,” he said.

The subject of health care, primarily the Affordable Care Act, is a complex issue.

Creating a health care system for a country where health care has long been a choice is not only a complicated journey for some of the world’s brightest health care consultants, but it’s also a very upsetting task for those enrolling in the program itself.

With that being said, it will definitely take time to work out the imperfections.  And while there may be much criticism along the way, Americans must realize that insurance works best when everybody has it.

In a broader context, the act has led to a robust discussion of the “right vs. privilege” debate in health care.

Should every American be afforded the right to health care and insurance coverage?  Or, is it a privilege afforded only to those that have the means to pay for insurance or the treatments?

An argument can be made that much of the overall health of any one individual is determined genetically and out of their control.  Other diseases or conditions may be influenced by environmental factors under the control of the individual, for instance, diet, smoking habits or weight.

Not surprisingly, despite “affordable” being in the title of the act, most of the discussion on the benefits of Obamacare have centered on the increased access to health care. A number of provisions in the Act expressly improve access for millions of Americans.

ACA addresses the access and affordability of health care in numerous ways as previously discussed, but “What does it do for the overall cost of health care?” After all, part of the reason for enacting the ACA was to address the increasing costs of care and to “bend the cost curve.”

One of the reasons for our increasingly expensive health care is related to the way in which we pay our doctors and hospitals for the services they provide.

Compared to other developed countries we don’t visit the doctor more. It just costs us more.

In Germany for instance, people visit the doctor an average of 9.7 times per year compared to 4.1 per year in the U.S.

Currently, there is little concern in the present system for the quality of care and outcome each of these services provide.  However, the ACA seeks to “bend the cost curve” by using pilot programs in Medicare that pay doctors and hospitals for the quality of the care they provide rather than the quantity of services.

Health care provider structures, such as accountable care organizations, or ACOs, bring together physicians, hospitals and insurance companies in arrangements that encourage shared accountability for the cost and quality of care.

The rationale for providing no out of pocket costs for many preventive services is also intended to decrease the nation’s overall health care spend. Accessing and using more preventive screenings is intended to nip in the bud many costly diseases and the resulting use of health care resources.

“Taking preventive measures to insure the proper protection of our bodies is really the way to go,” said Health Net Pharmacy Services Vice-President Scott Wert. “The American Southwest is second in the world for malignant melanoma and many Southern Arizona transplants of northern European descent do not take preventive measures with sunscreen.”

Remember, preventive measures, certain cancer screening and colonoscopies are also examples of services intended to improve the lives of Americans, and reduce our overall health care costs.

The deadline for this open enrollment period is Feb. 15.

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U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez greets volunteer Samantha Fierro at a health care enrollment fair at Downtown Campus on Jan. 29. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press)

Pg07-Danielle Neal

Danielle Neal, She is under her parents’ insurance coverage until she’s 26. She plans on obtaining her own insurance after she no longer qualifies for her parent’s coverage.

 

Pg07-David Todirita

David Todirita, He’s currently on his parent’s health plan. ACA is not a priority, but he recognizes its importance. He says he’s only been to the hospital maybe five times in his life.

 

Pg07-Fatma Ersouly

Fatma Ersouly, She and her husband both want children. They realize medical care during pregnancy is expensive, so they signed up for the Affordable Care Act.

 

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Low gas prices help student budgets

Low gas prices help student budgets

By PABLO ESPINOSA

As gas prices drop to their lowest level since 2009, Pima Community College students are feeling financial relief at the start of the semester.

“I’m paying for college and insurance, now I feel more independent,” said PCC student Lynsi Hill. She used to spend $38 to fill the tank of her Toyota Tacoma, and now it’s down to $22.

The national average for gas prices hit its highest point in 12 months at $3.56 on July 4, 2014. After more than 100 days of falling prices, the cost began to creep up in early February.

The national average Feb. 6 was about $2.15, according to AAA Arizona. The statewide average on Feb. 6 was $1.98 a gallon, up more than 7 cents from the week before.

The Economist reported that four major factors were driving down prices:

• Low demand

• Uninterrupted oil production despite instability in Libya and Iraq

• America being the world’s largest oil producer

• Saudi Arabia and other gulf nations being unwilling to sacrifice their share of the market to drive up prices.

Low demand for gas has been caused by the switch to fuel sources other than oil, and a rise in oil production efficiency.

Much of that efficiency comes from new techniques in North America — hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling — that make it possible to extract oil from shale rock and low economic activity.

Despite instability caused by the Sunni militant group ISIS, Iraq produced an average of over 3 million barrels of oil per day last year.

Libya, engulfed in tribal warfare, still produces almost 1 million barrels of oil a day in 2014 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The United States has created a surplus abroad by importing less oil, possibly because it is the largest oil producer in the world not exporting crude oil.

Last year the U.S. imported more than 6.5 million barrels of oil per day. That’s down from 12.5 million barrels per day in 2005 according to the EIA.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies could drive up oil prices by slowing down their production but they have little need to do so.

It can produce a barrel of oil for $5 to $6, according to the Economist. With gas prices as low as they are Saudi Arabia is still making extraordinary profits.

After the national average hit bottom on Jan. 26 at $2.02 gas prices have begun to rebound. On Feb. 10 prices reached $2.18.

The Boston Globe reported that the price for crude oil has begun to climb in anticipation of the United States and other oil producing nations cutting production.

Oil rigs that are no longer profitable in the United States because of high extraction costs are being shut down.

With the supply of crude oil going down, prices will continue to climb and gas prices will follow.

The national average will stay below $3 through 2015 for regular gas according to AAA’s national group’s prediction.

Gas prices are also set to go up due to the summer-vacation season and American refineries exporting more oil according to The New York Times.

Although the U.S. does not export crude oil, oil refineries have increased their exports.

The national gasoline stockpile is at its lowest for this time of year since 2011.

With the increase in U.S. oil production and a flood of crude oil in the U.S. market, the low fuel demand in the country has made refineries look elsewhere.

Refineries are selling to countries like Mexico, the Netherlands and Brazil in growing amounts.

Yet, PCC students express little concern with the global affairs of commodities or the long-term economic consequences of low gas prices.

PCC nursing student Ellen Ogley said she hadn’t thought about the negative effects of low gas prices.

“I’m thinking on a small scale, about myself,” she said.

There is cheerfulness about the low gas prices among students.

The price drop comes at a good time with the start of the semester, when expenses for students rise.

Liliana Grijalva, a PCC student whose cost for filling up the tank of her Ford Focus went from $30 to $14, expressed relief.

“With buying books, it’s been a load off, it has been really helpful,” she said.

A student at PCC three years ago, Alexus Navarro, now working at a Circle K said she has not seen an increase in customers since the gas prices went down.

She has seen a new pattern develop since the price drop, with customers who pay in advance for their gas purchase.

“There are a lot of people who pay for too much gas, expecting it’s going to be more and they have to come back,” she said. “They expect it’s going to be $40 and it’s more like $30.”

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Gas prices well below $2 a gallon have been a common sight recently. (Pablo Espinosa/Aztec Press)

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A man fills his truck at a local gas station. The price of crude oil has recently begun to climb once again. (Pablo Espinosa/Aztec Press)

 

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Broke for Valentine’s Day? Try our five low-cost ideas

Broke for Valentine’s Day? Try our five low-cost ideas

By RUDRANI CHATTERJEE

Valentine’s Day can be a challenge, especially if money is an issue. Thankfully, Tucson offers numerous options that will please your date and your wallet. Check out these budget-friendly places that don’t include a drive-thru.

From Ethiopian cuisine to Mexican food to everything in between, we hope this guide will help to make your day special.

1. La Indita

La Indita is a family-run restaurant that really delivers on service and taste. Dishes vary from chicken mole to Indian fry bread tacos.

Another perk: free chips and salsa. Dishes at La Indita vary from $8 to $12, which means a meal for two at this cozy place can cost as little as $20 with tip.

2. Café Desta

If you’re sick of Mexican and want to be a bit more adventurous, try Café Desta. It’s an Ethiopian restaurant where Injeera bread is served, along with multiple side dishes to share. This place would be a great fit for vegans.

For $25, you can get a combo for two that includes any five items. Options include vegan and meat dishes served with selata and Injeera or rice.

To save even more money, stop by before 2:30 p.m. for a lunch special that includes three items with rice or Injeera for $9.

3. BK’s hot dog stand 

Downtown Tucson also has a BK’s hot dog stand right in front of Puebla Vida Brewery. If you’re looking for awesome beer, brewed locally, this is the place to be.

Grab some Sonoran hot dogs, drink some beer and go on a walk.

4. Caruso’s 

If you’re looking for something classier, check out Caruso’s. It’s another family-run Italian restaurant that serves up delicious food and gives you free garlic bread to start.

Dishes rarely exceed $13. If you cut out wine and desert, you can get a white tablecloth dinner for under $35 including tip.

5. Lindy’s on 4th

If ethnic cuisine isn’t your cup of tea, have no fear. There’s always Lindy’s.

Yes, this place is small and often crowded, but for good reason.

Stop by and try one of their many specialty burgers with tots or fries. A single burger is $6.50 and you can share a basket of tots for $5. A meal here will be well under $25 including tip.

There will also be live music and merchant discounts on Fourth Avenue on Valentine’s Day. Check it out even if you don’t eat — there will be plenty to do and see.

FYI

La Indita

622 N. Fourth Ave.

792-0523

Café Desta

758 S. Stone Ave.

370-7000

Puebla Vida Brewing Co.

and BK’s hot dog stand 

115 E. Broadway Blvd.

(The hotdog stand is in front of Puebla Vida)

Carusos Itanlian Restaurant

434 N. Fourth Ave.

624-5765

Lindy’s

431 N. Fourth Ave.

207-6970v

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La Indita on North Fourth Avenue definitely shows a lot of variety and character. (Aztec photos by Rudrani Chatterjee)

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Cafe Desta, an Ethiopian restaurant, offers a variety of dishes for adventurous diners.

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BK’s hot dog stand on East Broadway can be paired with locally brewed beer.

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Caruso’s, a family-owned Italian restaurant, is ideal for wine and pasta lovers.

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Lindy’s is always a crowd pleaser and leaves customers feeling satisfied.

 

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Auto program strives for top gear

Auto program strives for top gear

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.”

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Xena Chapman, a second-semester photography student, preforms a pre-delivery inspection on an old Suburban in the automotive technology lab at Downtown Campus. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press)

 

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Third-semester metal fabrication student Matthew Hendry reassembles parts of a small motor. By the end of the semester, students are able to build an engine from completely disassembled parts. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press)

 

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Stage favorite opens Feb. 26

Stage favorite opens Feb. 26

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.

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(Poster courtesy of PCC)

 

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Aeric Azana (Patsy) appeals on bended knee to fellow members of the “Monty Python Spamalot” cast. The show opens Feb. 26. (Photo courtesy of PCC)

 

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Pima posts 13 national qualifiers

Pima posts 13 national qualifiers

By WILL WILLCOXSON

Already well into the season, Pima Community College Track and Field teams have competed in two competitions since the beginning of the year.

After two meets, the Aztecs have 13 national qualifiers, with 11 meets still left in the season.

The Aztecs hosted teams from  Central Arizona Community College, Glendale Community College, Mesa Community College and Paradise Valley Community College during the Aztec Invitational on Feb. 6-7.

During the meet, the Aztecs fielded several national qualifiers in multiple events.

Sophomore David Stiles placed first in both men’s high jump and long jump. He achieved 1.83 meters in high jump during Friday’s pentathalon events and a distance of 13.29 meters on his last long jump attempt the following day.

Freshman Ahmed Mohamed set a national qualifying mark in the indoor 1000 meter race, with a time of  2:39.47.

Freshman Meghan Sweeney, improved on her national qualifying mark in the long jump competition with a distance of 1.66 meters.

Sophomore Andrew Lee set a national qualifying mark in indoor men’s pole vault with a height of 4.35 meters on his last attempt.

The Aztec track and fields teams competed at the Paradise Valley Community College meet that took place the previous weekend on Jan. 31.

Sophomore Kaysee Pilgrim and Sweeney highlighted the women’s high jump competition, with each of them taking first and second respectively. Pilgrim reached a height of 1.66 meters and Sweeney followed just below at 1.61 meters.

Danielle Spargur hit a high jump of height of 1.61 meters tying Sweeney and also earning an NJCAA qualification spot.

Freshman Jamie Holliday achieved her personal best in the long jump competition with a distance of 5.64 meters on her last attempt, as well as setting a national qualifier and taking first place.

Sophomore Rhiannon Reece received first place and set a national qualifying mark in the women’s pole vault competition at 3.05 meters on her final jump of the day.

Sophomore Cruz Rodriquez placed third in the 1000-meter race. A time of 2:32.77 places him in third place in the country.

After taking a week off of competition, the Aztecs will resume Feb. 21 with the Glendale indoor invitational.

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Red shirt freshman Danielle Spargur glides through the air with ease during the women’s high jump event at Pima’s West Campus for the Feb. 6-7 Aztec Invitational. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press)

 

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Sophomore Shane Ward sets his stance to sprint in the Men’s 60-meter dash on Feb. 7. Ward is in his second year of playing football for Pima Community College and runs track in the off season to stay fresh. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press)

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Budget woes plague PCC

Budget woes plague PCC

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.

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A sign at Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus reminds students of important new deadlines for the Spring 2015 semester. (Jamie Verwys/Aztec Press)

 

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Music found instructor late

Music found instructor late

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.”

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Pima Community College vocal instructor Jonathan Ng conducts a chorale class at West Campus. Ng will perform an “Amore” concert on Feb. 8. ( Alex Fruechtenicht/Aztec Press)

 

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International students receive assistance from college office

International students receive assistance from college office

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 intadmit@pima.edu.

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