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Plus 50 helps mature job seekers

Plus 50 helps mature job seekers


Laughter filled the gymnasium at Pima Community College West Campus on Sept. 19 as hundreds of mature job seekers walked inside.

Some were better dressed and prepared than others. Some arrived with basic education while others had bachelor degrees, but everyone carried the same hopeful spirit. They were open to whatever the Plus 50 career and job fair had to offer.

More than 60 employers and 12 resource programs were ready to provide opportunities to job seekers age 50 and above.

Potential employers included the University of Arizona Health Center, Tucson Unified School District, Lutheran Social Services, Wells Fargo Bank and Casa de la Luz Hospice.

Participant Richard C. Valenzuela said he has worked as a technician for 20 years and was looking for a change. He also encouraged college students to continue with their education.

“Hopefully, being young, you can continue your education,” he said. “Older people don’t want to go back to school, we just stick with our own careers.”

Job seeker Susan Johnson earned a social service certificate and was looking to work in that field. She is also taking classes in hopes of earning an associate degree in applied science.

“It was difficult at first to get back into the routine, but I adapted and I really enjoy it now,” she said.

Dean Elofson said he has a bachelor’s degree in business and enjoyed a successful career in sales and management.

“I am at the end of my career, and I am looking for something meaningful,” Elofson said. “I am not going to retire because when you retire, you stop working and you die, and I don’t want to die.”

PCC is home to two grant programs that help unemployed men and women ages 50 and older. Both programs are part of national initiatives.

Back to Work 50+ helps adults develop marketing and networking skills, and provides them with strategies to land a job.

Supporters include the American Association of Retired Persons, Wal-Mart and the American Association of Community Colleges

The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program is part of the four-year federally funded educational initiative that was launched at 100 community colleges.

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Job seeker Richard C. Valenzuela fills out job applications at the Plus 50 job fair. After working as a technician for 20 years, Valenzuela said he is ready for a change. (Aztec Press/Mariana Ceja)

It helps students complete degrees and certifications by providing tutoring, computer skills and, eventually, job placement assistance. There are Plus 50 advisers at all six PCC campuses.

Details about the program can be found on pima’s website at

Roger Forrester, Plus 50 Program Coordinator, said he emphasizes the importance of networking, volunteering and internships.

“At the end of the line, we are preparing them and making them as marketable as they can be,” he said. “Often the best way to get a job is to network.”

Bradley Lancaster, who represented Jim Click Automotive at the job fair, said his company is willing to consider quality candidates of all ages.

“Jim Click doesn’t hire any managers from the outside, we only promote from within,” he said. “We are looking for people that want to make a career with the company.”

Tormay Newman, director of caregiver education and training for Home Instead Senior Care, said the company hires part-time male and female caregivers ranging in age from 21 to 80.

“They have to have compassion,” Newman said. “We can train people, but they really have to have the heart to help others.”

Nancee Sorenson, East Campus vice president of student development, oversees the Plus 50 and Back to Work 50+ grants.

“One of the things that people who are 50 and over are concerned about is that maybe their technology skills aren’t as sharp as they should be, or they haven’t had an interview for a job for a long, long time,” she said.

Forrester said part of his role is educating employers.

“Some employers say that if you are over 50, you don’t have any computer skills. Not true,” he said.

“You’ll be surprised at the percentage of people age 50 and older that are very computer savvy, but we have to make employers more aware of that,” he added. “They’ve come a long way.”

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“At the end of the line, we are preparing them and making them as marketable as they can be.” Roger Forrester, Plus 50 program coordinator (Mariana Ceja/Aztec Press)

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“We are looking for people that want to make a career with the company.” Bradley Lancaster, Jim Click Automotive (Aztec Press/Mariana Ceja)

Pima animal shelter bond vote on ballot

Pima animal shelter bond vote on ballot


Thousands of cats and dogs at the Pima Animal Care Center glue themselves to the bars of their compartments, standing up, barking, meowing and licking strangers’ hands with the hope of finding an owner to love.

On Nov. 4, Pima County residents will have the opportunity to vote for a more humane facility for these animals with Proposition 415.

The $22 million proposal will cost the average homeowner about $2.89 annually.

The PACC facility opened its doors in 1968, and is almost half a century old.

Like many old buildings, PACC requires more than repairs. Supporters say they need an entirely new building because the site is currently operating at more than double its capacity.

“We have sometimes 10 small dogs in one kennel, big dogs we usually have up to five in one kennel,” PACC vet technician Nichole Jones said. “These kennels were made for about half of what we have right now.”

People probably don’t realize the need, she said, adding “I definitely think the public needs to be aware of how stressful and crowded this place is.”

The existing building was created when there were roughly 300,000 people living in Tucson. Now, the population is nearly 1 million.

The facility was created as a county pound, offering few services other than warehousing strays. Now, the facility is committed to adoptions and serves as an open admission shelter. That requires new accommodations.

Some of the major challenges that the existing facility faces are the overpopulation of animals, lack of noise-reduction kennels, insufficient quarantine space, inadequate cat shelters, lack of natural lighting and poor medical facilities.

Jones made an open invitation for PCC students to volunteer and spread the word.

“We are more than happy to have more volunteers, we depend on them a lot,” she said. “And just spread the word out about adoption. Spay, neuter and focus on education.”

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A puppy offers a pleading look to potential owners visiting the Pima Animal Care Center. (Mariana Ceja/Aztec Press)

Same-sex marriage: Wedding bells ring

Same-sex marriage: Wedding bells ring


Nine-year-old Nevaeh Riss is already familiar with the concepts of equality and love that so many adults seem to struggle with.

“God would want us to be happy,” she says. “Instead of Him judging us, He would want us to have freedom and to love anyone we love.”

Nevaeh was raised to believe not to judge others and that we all have rights as humans to make our own choices. Her mother, Brystal Riss, was one of the many members of the LGBT community celebrating the legalization of gay marriage in Arizona on Oct. 17.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ruled the state ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional and ordered the state to “permanently cease” the ban.

Attorney General Tom Horne finalized the decision in a statement where he said he would not appeal the ruling.

“I have decided not to appeal today’s decision, which would be an exercise in futility, and which would serve only the purpose of wasting taxpayers’ money,” Horne said.

The ruling follows closely behind same sex marriage bans lifting in Nevada and Idaho on Oct. 7.  With the addition of Arizona, 31 states have legal gay marriage.

Around the entire country, a wave of change has grown. But what does this change mean for Arizona and the people who have fought for gay rights?

Triumph for families

Riss has lived in Tucson for 12 years and works in marketing. She has been involved in Tucson Pride, the Southern Arizona Aids Foundation, Wingspan and TIHAN. For her, the legalization of gay marriage is a step in the right direction for equal rights for all.

“In general, I’m for equality for all people,” she says. “There’s already too much hatred. People need to start coming together more and realizing it’s none of your business,  then we can get past that blockage in the conversation and move on to more deep conversations and know each other past certain stereotypes.”

Her daughter was a life-changing addition into her life and says the importance of acceptance is crucial for children in their developing years.

“As children, that’s such an important age for them because they are going to begin to choose if they allow the hatred and judgments people may put on them to bring them down,” she says.

“I don’t want her to grow up with people around her hating on me, judging me, saying I’m wrong for doing these things.  That’s unfair for a child, especially when all I’m trying to do is bring love into her life. I hope that one day whatever she decides to do she has every right to do it and she won’t be bullied.”


Tears stream down the face of Yazmin Mazon, left, during a ceremony to marry Vaniessia Godinez at Pima County Superior Court. An Oct. 17 ruling removed a state ban on same-sex marriage. (Aztec Press/Nick Meyers)

Protections denied

Local drag queen performer Tempest DuJour is an active voice within the community. An associate professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Theatre, Film and Television by day, he is a hostess for charity events by night.

DuJour married his husband while they visited family in Utah last year. The state lifted its ban during their stay. The couple has two children and stresses the impact gay marriage laws have on the family unit.

“In the state of Arizona, they only recognize me as the legal parent. So if something happened to me today, the kids would be taken away from my husband,” he says.

“Legally we have no protection for the kids. It’s a huge deal for us. The marriage, whatever.  The kid part is absolutely essential for us.”

Now with the ban on gay marriage abolished, their children will be protected the same as children from a heterosexual couple would be.

According to a 2004 report from the U.S. General Accounting Office, marriage provides at least 1,138 different benefits to spouses and their families. Before gay couples were allowed marriage licenses, these protections were unavailable to them.

Unmarried couples are not often considered next of kin in hospital or emergency health situations of their partners and are not entitled to property, assets or personal items if their partner passes away.

They are also denied automatic joint custody of children and joint tax returns and benefits.

Donnie Cianciotto, artistic director of local theater group Musical Mayhem, came out as a lesbian at the age of 13. Two years ago, he came out as transgendered, identifying as a male.

In 2004, he joined in a domestic partnership offered by the city of Tucson with his then-girlfriend and spoke about the very few protections it offered.

“I remember thinking ‘a domestic partnership, yay how exciting’ but it really didn’t do much for you,” he said. “It gave you some legal protections, but not the whole shebang.”

“Don’t placate us by saying ‘here’s your domestic partnership. It does nothing for you.’” he said.

“This affects the whole family. People don’t realize how many issues are affected just by this one thing. It’s more than just, ‘oh great, gays can get married.’ There’s a lot more tied up in it.”

Cianicatto has many friends within the LGBT community who have now married, including a lesbian couple with a baby on the way.

“It’s good to know my friends, people in the community who are good people and good parents have more protection. It baffles me that people don’t think of the kids in that,” he said.

“Now they are legally married and that kid doesn’t have to grow up thinking my mom doesn’t have the same rights as my friends’ parents.”

Allies in Tucson

Alongside members of the LGBT community cheering the ruling were large factions of Tucson.

April Moss is currently in her second year as Tucson Pride Alliance president and says Tucson has always been a leader in the fight for gay rights.

“The history speaks for itself that Tucson has always been very much supportive,” she says.

“Tucson Pride Alliance was developed in 1977. Tucson was one of the first communities in the nation to pass a law protecting people from anti hate crimes,” she says. “Tucson has always been a leader in stuff like that. The people of Tucson have always reached out and said here, let’s make a difference.”

Cianicatto says Tucson is on average for gay friendliness with other places he’s lived.

“There are some benefits about the LGBT community of Tucson. It’s pretty supportive of itself and relatively close knit,” he says. “We have the other side of the coin which is that it’s not very big, not well funded.”

For DuJour, Tucson is a city to be proud of.

“I’m prideful of diversity in the Tucson community. This is an amazing, warm and welcoming community,” he said. “It always has been, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

Support for the gay community has a strong voice at Pima Community College with its own  Pride Alliance. The group strives to create a safe space for LGBT and allied students to be themselves and become educated about the community.

They host various events at the campuses and have plans for future speakers, Q&A sessions, an LGBT film festival and a coming out stories board where students can share their own personal experiences.

Vice President Melissa Medrano-Jossler says she is happy to live in Tucson instead of another city in Arizona.

“I feel like Tucson is a lot more liberal than other places and more accepting,” she says.

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Ladd and Rob Keith pose with their son Liam and daughter Rowan on the courthouse steps after their marriage ceremony in downtown Tucson. (Aztec Press/Nick Meyers)

Wedding bliss

Couples statewide flocked to the courthouses immediately upon the lifting of the ban.

According to the Pima County Superior Courthouse, clerks issued double the usual number of marriage licenses the day after the ban was lifted.

Local actor and singer Aaron Singleton was one of the Tucsonans to marry at the courthouse when the ruling came down. He met his partner online four years ago and they hit it off instantly.

Their choice to marry was based on their love and the benefits that come with a marriage license.

“We’re looking forward to filing joint taxes the most,” he says.

Though their marriage was a personal triumph, Singleton speaks on the greater good legalization has brought to the state.

“The ban lifting was not just a win for LGBT folks, but a win for the constitution. We are all equal under the law, and laws should reflect that.”

Ally Booker identifies as queer and had a ceremony with her partner to celebrate their love before the ruling. They plan to officially marry once children enter their lives. She opened her sexuality resource center and boutique, Jellywink on Fourth Avenue this year and offered discounts to gay couples with new marriage licenses.

“Our emphasis is on making sure everything is body-safe, educating our customers on what they should look for (and look out for), and providing a friendly and non-judgmental environment where people feel safe to ask questions and explore,” she adds.

“Almost every U.S. city already has a woman and queer-friendly shop like this, and my friends and I have felt a vacuum in Tucson when it came to something like this for a long time,” she says.

“Now Tucson finally has a woman and LGBTQ friendly sexuality resource center.”

Booker believes that the legalization of same-sex marriages will positively affect not only the LGBT community but the community as whole.

“Same-sex parents can now legally adopt their own children. We now don’t have to depend on the whim of individual health care workers to visit our loved ones in the hospital and make important life decisions on their behalf should the need arise. Gay marriage will also affect the business community. The wedding business is a huge industry.”

Moss questions businesses that seek the right to discriminate biased on orientation, race, religion or status.

“Business owners, sometimes I wonder about them because it doesn’t matter who’s spending the money.  Whether you’re black, white, yellow, green, purple, interracial marriage, gay, single parent, the money all spends the same,” she says.

While many couples have married since the ruling, not all are rushing to the courthouse.

Riss does not herself intend on getting married, but is happy those who do now have the right to that choice.

“Personally I don’t believe in marriage due to my own dealings but the whole point of equality is that everyone has a choice.”

Motorcyclist and educator Pablo, who declined to give his lat name, rides with an all-inclusive motorcycle group called The Lost Boys. The Tucson Chapter of the group is made up of men, women, straight, gay and transgender members.

Pablo also does not know if he will ever marry.

““I may never get married and I’m OK with that but for my friends who have chosen to do that I think it’s amazing. It says a lot for our country that we have come this far in this amount of time.”


While people statewide are celebrating this historic ruling, there are still those within the community and local government who have continuously fought against gay marriage.

Attorney General Horne was one of the last holdouts in the state defending the right of Arizonans to only allow “traditional marriages.”

“A number of attorney generals have refused to defend laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I have not been among that group. I have fought to defend the laws as passed by the voters of Arizona, which I believe is the duty of the Attorney General.”

The law he previously fought to protect was Proposition 102, voted on by Arizonans on Nov. 4, 2008.

The amendment to the state constitution defined marriage as “the union between a man and a woman.”

Governor Jan Brewer also released a statement after the ban was lifted defending the decision made by 55 percent of voters several years ago.

“In 2008, Arizona voters approved a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Now, with their rulings, the federal courts have again thwarted the will of the people and further eroded the authority of states to regulate and uphold our laws.”

The definition of traditional marriage is one backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom. The Christian legal organization was created in 1994 “to advocate for the right of people to freely live out their faith in America and around the world,” according to their mission statement.

Lawyers of the alliance supported Horne’s team and in a July filing to the federal court they argued, “Only man-woman couples are capable of furthering the state’s interest in linking children to both of their biological parents.”

Horne’s decision not to appeal the ruling legalizing same sex marriage was one that surprised members of the LGBT community.

“My instinct was that he was going to appeal it,” Cianciotto says. “It’s a fight that so many people are willing to fight to the death, just going to choke the hell out of it and not let it go.”

Despite being happily surprised, he feels Horne merely “went with what was going to be easiest.”

“I have friends who say ‘email Tom Horne or go to the Facebook page and say thank you for him not appealing this.’ Why on earth would I thank someone who has a record of being very homophobic just because he did the right thing?”

Moss, the Tucson Pride president, says she commends Horne’s decision, though she feels it was an inevitable choice.

“I was glad he didn’t want to challenge it. He realized, ‘My job is done. I need to move on and get over this.’ I applaud him for that. I would shake his hand and say ‘Thank you.’”


Rev. Owen Chandler conducts a marriage ceremony for Vaniessia Godinez, left, and Yazmin Mazon at the Pima County Superior Court in downtown Tucson on Oct. 17. They were one of the first same-sex couples married after the ban was lifted. (Aztec Press/Nick Meyers)

Equal rights

With the number of states lifting marriage bans and religious affiliations stepping forward to show support, why is there any opposition left?

Moss says that the issue isn’t restricted to the LGBT community, but rather is about equal rights as a whole.

“People need to get their heads out of the bedroom and they need to accept people for who they are,” she says.

“What it is in all actually is about human rights. It used to be if you were African-American you had to sit at the back of the bus. If you were a woman you could not vote,” she adds.

“These things have all evolved and changed and that’s where it basically is right now for the LGBT community.”

Though the Bible is often cited as the source material defending “traditional marriage” supporters of marriage equality are challenging how it has been interpreted.

“I was raised in the church and was taught that love one another,” Moss says.

“You taught me to love and be accepting and that’s exactly what I am.”

Riss also came from a religious background and her father was a Jehovah Witness.

“The biggest thing I say is don’t judge.  It’s huge for me because that’s what it says in the Bible,” she says.

“They seem to miss a lot of that for what they may be uncomfortable with and they aren’t ready for the change. A lot of people in society like their safety and their comfort. This is their life in a box.”

Her daughter Nevaeh gave simple advice to those wanting to place judgment upon anyone.

“I think that people who want to judge people should stick it to themselves instead of telling other people. They might be really sad because they don’t like how they are or they are jealous,” she says.

“You should choose your own path, you shouldn’t choose their path because then you would be sad and lonely.”

Final words of pride

The legalization in Arizona is a harbinger of change within our society as a whole. Though many feel the fight for equality and gay rights still faces obstacles and challenges, joy and pride are the feelings most prevalent among the LGBT community and its supporters.

Booker from Jellywink says there’s more work to be done.

“There’s still a lot of haters out in mainstream society and policies and attitudes that reflect that hate.   And there’s also that age old problem of when a certain portion of an oppressed community is finally accepted within the folds of the establishment, they forget the struggle of the rest of the community.”

“Social change is a never ending process that ebbs and flows,” she says. “I’ll just focus on celebrating each achievement.”

She is offering a 40 percent discount at Jellywink through Nov. 6 to any newlywed gay couples who have read this article.

Drag superstar DuJour was surprised at how soon licenses were being issued once the ban was been lifted.

“Truth always wins. Love always wins. We always knew it would just be a matter of time but didn’t know it would be this quick.”

Moss hopes the change and equality continues to spread.

“I think that day is coming, hopefully sooner than later, slowly but surely, the states are coming around.”

Riss remains optimistic of society learning acceptance.

“It’s amazing to be able to see people able to be happy with who they are,” she says. “Once people see that the world is not going to implode they will see it is OK.”

For young Nevaeh, gay marriage boils down to a lesson most of us learned as children; treat others as you would like to be treated.

“I think it’s cool how we can marry whoever who want because what if someone loves someone and it wasn’t allowed? That would be very heartbreaking,” she says. “You don’t want to hurt people.”

‘THEN AND NOW’ Bernal exhibit explores artists’ careers

‘THEN AND NOW’ Bernal exhibit explores artists’ careers


The Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery at Pima Community College’s West Campus is shining a spotlight on artists with unrecognized Tucson origins.

“Then and Now,” curated by Bernal director David Andres, dusts off the work of four artists to compare them to the creators’ latest and greatest.

“They’re important artists but they don’t seem to get recognized back here,” Andres said. “I’m trying to bring attention to them having a history here and then going off and making history.”

Jan Olsson, Ann Fessler, Tom Savage and Pam Marks all attended the University of Arizona during the late 1970s and early ‘80s before becoming internationally discovered.

The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 12.

A reception and gallery talk will be held Nov. 6 from 4:30-6:30 p.m., with two of the four artists attending.

From painting and drawing to photography, the artists studied a variety of mediums.

After graduation, the artists continued to expand their horizons.

“It’s good for students to be able to see artists that have been working for a long period of time instead of someone who’s just starting,” Andres said.

Olsson began teaching at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia before she moved to Paris, France, where she currently works in the historic artists’ residence La Ruche.

Fessler also took up the teaching reins. She began at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore before landing at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she became the director of the photography graduate program.

While keeping a full-time teaching position, Fessler makes documentaries. She is also the author of “The Girls Who Went Away,” which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award for general nonfiction.

Savage found himself in California, where he still works today. He received a prestigious grant from the International Pollock-Krasner Foundation in 2010-2011. He has recovered from a 2012 liver transplant.

Marks worked as an artist-in-residence for the Arizona Commission on the Arts before leaving to take up a professorship at Connecticut College in New London.

Gallery admission is free and open to the public. Hours are Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

“Pima Community College and Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery is honored to bring them back to Tucson for this exhibit,” Andres said.

For more information, call 206-6942 or visit

Photos courtesy of Bernal Gallery

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Ann Fessler: Along the Blue River, still from film, 2001-2013.

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Jan Olsson: Dessins sur Mesures, No. 10, ink, graphite and gesso on book plates, 2008.

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Pam Marks: Displacements #2, solar plate etching on Japanese paper, 2011.

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Tom Savage: Solitude 2, mixed media on wood panel, 2014.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Retooled team has 10 freshmen

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Retooled team has 10 freshmen


Last season, the Pima Community College women’s basketball team was a well-oiled machine and a tough matchup for many conference opponents.

The Aztecs made it to the Division II Region I championship game as the No. 2 seed, but lost to No. 1 Mesa Community College for the third straight year.

This season, they’ve revamped their roster and brought in 10 freshmen.

“We’re really inexperienced but with that being said, we have a lot of very talented freshmen,” head coach Todd Holthaus said. “I’m really excited to see what happens.”

Holthaus is proud of the hard work his team has exhibited early in the preseason and believes the diligence will pay off.

“They’re a hard working group, extremely hard working group, I love it,” he said.

Becoming comfortable with new teammates and developing good team chemistry can take a while to develop but with the regular season quickly approaching, the Aztecs must develop chemistry on the fly.

“We’re working on our chemistry but this has been one of the lowest maintenance teams I’ve ever had,” Holthaus said.

Returning sophomore Melody McLaughlin is confident in her team and optimistic about the freshmen.

“Our defense is going to win us games and overall we communicate well,” she said.

“Being able to talk on and off the floor keeps up our chemistry and that’s just something we have to keep working on, because we’re girls,” McLaughlin added jokingly.

Newcomers to the PCC basketball program have enjoyed getting to know their new teammates and are excited to join a team with winning traditions.

“I love Pima and I love all these girls,” freshman Ashley Mack said. “Even though sometimes we get on each other’s nerve, I still love them.”

Mack expects the Aztecs to continue their high-octane offense.

“We’re big and we’re really fast,” Mack said. “We also all play pretty smart and we all get along on the court.”

Holthaus expects returning sophomores McLaughlin, Adrianna Barrientez, Jayla Brown and Alexa Arndt to lead on and off the court.

“Our leaders are probably Mel, Adri and Jayla, so we’re really inexperienced,” he said.

On Deck:

Oct. 30: Tucson Sol scrimmage, West Campus, 7 p.m.

Nov. 6-7: @ Arizona Western Classic, Yuma, TBA.

Nov. 19: @ Chandler-Gilbert CC, Chandler, 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 22: Phoenix College, West Campus, 2 p.m.

Current and former aztec players hudle prior to the annual Alumni game

Current and former Aztec players huddle prior to the annual alumni game. (Photo courtesy of PCC0

WOMEN'S SOCCER: PCC earns top player, coaches honors

WOMEN’S SOCCER: PCC earns top player, coaches honors


The No. 1 seeded Pima Community College women’s soccer team (15-4-2) protected their home field Oct. 29, winning a hard-fought semifinal playoff game 2-1 against No. 4 Paradise Valley Community College.

Freshman forward Devyn Hunley scored the game-winning goal in the 85th minute.

The Aztecs will host No. 2 Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Nov. 1 in the Region I, Division I championship game at the Kino North Grandstand at 7 p.m.

The winner will head to the NJCAA national tournament in Melbourne, Fla. Pima lost at Chandler-Gilbert in last year’s region semifinals.

In the semifinal game, sophomore forward Rachel Ridlinghafer scored a sliding goal in the 24th minute off an assist from Hunley. Paradise Valley tied the game with a goal in the 31st minute.

After Hunley scored Pima’s second goal, Paradise Valley fired a shot less than a minute later but sophomore goalkeeper Angelica Gonzalez made the save.

The Aztecs outshot Paradise Valley 11-2 for the game.

Pima claimed the ACCAC conference title and secured the No. 1 seed in the regional tournament on Oct. 25 with a 6-1 victory over GateWay Community College.

PCC finished the regular season with an undefeated 9-0-1record at the Kino North Grandstand, outscoring their opponents 39-6 at home.

Aztecs also took top honors when the All-Conference/Region I teams were released on Oct. 27.

Sophomore forward Shannon Shields was selected Player of the Year. She scored 18 goals, had seven assists and led the team with 43 points during the regular season.

Pima head coach Kendra Veliz was named Coach of the Year.

Hunley earned first-team honors after she scored 11 goals, had five assists and finished with 27 points.

Ridlinghafer was named to the second team. She finished with 13 goals, eight assists and 34 points.

Sophomore midfielder Sarah Dunbar was also named to the second team. She scored four goals during the season.

Freshman midfielder Brandi Park received honorable mention. Park led the team with 10 assists to go along with four goals.

In the GateWay game, Ridlinghafer scored a three-goal hat trick in the first half, and notched two assists. Hunley scored two goals and Shields had one.

On Oct. 23, Pima lost at Mesa Community College 3-2 in overtime. After a scoreless first half, the Aztecs found themselves down 2-0 in the second half. Ridlinghafer and Shields scored goals to force overtime.

The Aztecs took control of the second half in an Oct. 18 game against Cochise College, winning 2-0. Shields scored both goals.

The Aztecs’ defense held Cochise to two shots on goal, but Gonzalez stopped both attempts.

Pima defeated Paradise Valley Community College 1-0 on Oct. 16, with Shields launching a shot from 25 feet in the final minutes of the game. Sophomore Alexis Veney earned an assist, and Gonzalez made four saves.

Player of the year Shannon Shields disrupts a play against Gateway

Player of the year Shannon Shields disrupts a play against GateWay Community College. (Beto Hoyos/Aztec Press)

Campus president grateful for education opportunities

Campus president grateful for education opportunities


The new president of Northwest Campus was a first-generation college student who originally had no intention of seeking higher education.

David Doré said a life-changing summer spent in a remote village in Mexico made him realize he could be doing more with his life.

“I realized that I had the opportunity to attend college and the people in that village did not have the same opportunity,” he said. “I decided then and there that it was my responsibility to go to college.”

After he began attending college classes, Doré realized his love for teaching.

“Once you find your spark, then you know this is what you want to do with the rest of your life,” he said.

“When you walk into something and you just know this is what you’re meant to be doing, that’s what teaching is to me.”

Pima Community College hired Doré in May after an extensive search for a new campus president.

“David’s wide-ranging background serving students, combined with his administrative expertise, makes him a most welcome addition to the college,” Chancellor Lee Lambert said in a press release.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Gannon University in Erie, Pa., Doré completed master’s degrees in theological studies, education and business administration at three different universities.

He attended Pepperdine University in California for his doctorate in education.

Doré has spent nearly two decades working with community colleges but began his career by teaching at lower grade levels.

“Community college is more interesting to me,” he said.

“The students are extremely diverse and we take people from where they are and take them to the next level.”

Although Doré loves working in a classroom setting, he knows he can impact students at a broader level through administrative positions.

He most recently worked at Mesa Community College as the dean of instruction for career and technical education.

He was responsible for 150 degree and certificate programs, and oversaw the newly created Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute.

Jeremiah Palicka, student government president at Northwest Campus, said he is excited about the future connection of Doré and the campus.

“From what I’ve seen, he is super involved on and off campus,” Palicka said.

“We’re just excited about working with him on upcoming campus projects.”

One of Doré’s many goals for both Northwest Campus and PCC is to make people feel proud of Pima and to feel proud about attending a community college.

He wants to see students thrive within the campus community by taking the initiative to be more involved and to get their voices heard.

Every success he has enjoyed in life started by taking chances, Doré said.

“Always be willing to take a risk,” he said.

“When you’re young, you don’t have much to lose, so why not take a chance and live outside your comfort zone?”

Pg05-David Dore-Northwest Campus president

David Dore, the new president of Northwest Campus, says he loves teaching but knows he can make an impact as an administrator. (Tanisha Knutzen/Aztec Press.)

Creatures of the night

Creatures of the night


A quick glimpse of an ape-like creature walks across the frame of a home video.

Is it really Bigfoot or a man in a suit perpetuating a long running hoax?

Cryptozoology, a pseudo-science that studies hidden or unknown animals, was named in 1959 by author Lucien Blancou, according to

Blancou wrote about a forerunner in unknown animal research, Bernard Heuvelmans, who published “On the Track of Unknown Animals” in 1955.

Heuvelmans wrote, “What makes an animal of interest to cryptozoology is that it is unexpected.”

An animal must be “truly singular, unexpected, paradoxical, striking, emotionally upsetting and thus be capable of mystification,” he said.

Is there any truth to the horrifying monsters reported by witnesses?

Bedtime stories, life lessons

Cultures from around the globe use stories and anecdotes to teach children lessons of survival and morality.

They also serve to scare the community from acting out taboo behaviors.

It seems some of the “cryptids” reported by man could easily be explained away as one of these fables.

In the Philippines, mothers warn their children not to go out late or the Aswang will kidnap them and devour their blood and organs.

The Aswang is a shape shifter, often taking the form of a shy human by day and a winged monster, dog or woman at night.

Myths about the creature have existed in the Philippines for the last 400 years, according to the 2011 documentary, “The Aswang Phenomenon.”

Canadian director Jordan Clark found in his research that the Aswang has been historically used as a form of social control and propaganda by the Spanish colonizers, the Catholic Church and the Philippine government.

Though the fear created by the Aswang is genuine for the people of the Philippines even today, determinant, scientific proof of the creature’s existence remains unfound.

Global similarities

While some reported cryptids have been proven to represent societal negatives in specific countries, a multi-cultural link is present in strikingly similar descriptions of beasts from opposite ends of the world.

The most famous American cryptid, Bigfoot, is called  Sasquatch by Native American tribes.

The beast seems to have cousins in almost every country. Ape-like humanoids have been spotted in the Himalayas (the Yeti), Mongolia (the Yeren) and Australia (the Yowie).

With the prevalence of reports of ape creatures in so many places, could it mean it’s out there? Or, does this just speak to a human desire to find the missing link?

A 1973 report, “Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality,” was the first published scientific study of Bigfoot. Primatologist John Napier concluded that with no hard evidence, science must say that Bigfoot does not exist.

However, Napier could not dismiss the hundreds of eyewitness accounts. “There must be something in northwest America that needs explaining, and that something leaves man-like footprints,” he wrote.

Mistaken identities

In another formal study published in the Journal of Biogeography in 2009, sighting locations were used to determine Bigfoot’s preferred habitat.

It concluded that most Bigfoot sightings were likely black bears that inhabitant the same environmental parameters and have a striking resemblance to physical descriptions of the ape man.

Some cryptids have been scientifically determined to indeed be real animals.

One example is the okapi, or African unicorn, documented by ancient Egyptians and by African tribes. Described as a cross between a zebra, donkey and giraffe, it was rejected by Western science and considered a myth.

The British governor of Uganda, Harry Johnston, acquired an okapi skull and pelt in 1901 during his time in the Congo.

There were an estimated 10,000-20,000 wild okapi in 2011, according to the Okapi Conservation Project.

The monster is fear

Be they hoax or myth, endangered species or real mysteries of science, I have come to one conclusion: Cryptids are real because the human emotion of fear is a realty.

I have no doubts that many have looked into the dark and seen something that frightened them, something they did not understand. Fear allows the unknown to become something tangible.

Whether by cultural influence or an individual’s interpretation of what a monster actually is, fear could be looking out at us, capable of mystification.


Aztec Press photo illustration by Jamie Verwys and Nick Meyers.

Wing ready to fly into future

Wing ready to fly into future


Much changes in 30 years, but Dave Wing’s passion for teaching digital arts at Pima Community College has withstood the test of time.

Wing began his tenure at PCC in 1984, and will retire in December.

He grew up in Seattle, Wash., and became interested in photography early in junior high school.

“I first used old analog 35mm films and I took photo classes, and would always freelance and develop my own photos in my own darkroom,” he said.

Toward the tail end of the Vietnam War, Wing enlisted in the Air Force and worked as a munitions specialist. His four years in the service took him overseas briefly.

“The only place I went to was Okinawa,” he said. “I was there for 18 months at Kadena Air Force Base.”

He applied to extend his stay in Japan, but mistaken orders brought him back to the United States.

Upon his return, he was stationed at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.

Wing was split in his feelings toward the war, but did his duty.

“I think that war in general is a terrible thing and I don’t think anyone should have to go into any kind of combat situation,” he said. “Certainly I believe in democracy and I did my part to support it.”

After his military discharge, Wing looked for work.

“I was south of Tucson pulling weeds in trailer parks and I thought there had to be something better,” he said.

His solution was to enroll at the University of Arizona.

During Wing’s time at Pima, a major challenge was keeping up with technology advancements.

“Computers have changed and what we can do with computers now has changed,” he said. “When I came here, we started with Mac 512 and floppy drives and no storage.”

Wing was somewhat of a pioneer in the digital arts department. “I was the first person they hired full time to teach on the video side,” he said.

Though Wing has spent most of his career at PCC, he’s also taught at the UA and worked with major production companies.

“I’ve done stuff for the Arizona Commission of the Arts, and worked as a lighting director on a Nickelodeon show, ‘Hey Dude,’ for several seasons,” he said.

Independent Film Arizona named Wing their 2014 Educator of the Year.

“We know of no one who has made as great a contribution to the southern Arizona filmmaker community as you have,” IFA President Antonella Cassia said during the presentation.

Wing believes video and photography skills can be useful even for people who don’t take a career path in digital arts.

“It benefits people by learning the skills of organization and planning,” he said.

Derek Lookingbill, a PCC graduate who runs his own indie film company called Dream Stalker Productions, has been Wing’s assistant since 2012. He credits Wing with teaching him critical skills.

“I had a good idea of what was going on coming in but he just helped me sharpen everything,” Lookingbill said. “It’s going to be hard to replace him but he’ll still be around a bit.”

Other digital arts graduates provide further testament to Wing’s knowledge and teaching ability.

“I’ve had students who ended up working in LA in reality television, music videos, dramas, documentaries, and we keep having more and more students transferring to film schools in Los Angeles and back east,” he said.

Favorite memories include working with students on their year-long film project.

“This may be their only time working with this equipment or this may be their first of many,” he said.

Don’t think for a second that Wing will stay home in a rocking chair once he retires. On the contrary, he’s ready to unleash his inner rocker.

He’s a guitarist for a jazz band called Silver Croft, which plays at local venues like La Cocina and Monterey Court.  Listen to songs at

Wing has been with the band for four years and looks forward to spending more time making music.

“There are two retirees in the group,” he said. “I’ll be the third and I look forward to taking up the instrument more.”

Wing enjoyed his time at the college but says he’s ready to move on. “You know when it’s time, but I’m certainly going to miss it,” he said.

He calls PCC an asset to the community and admires Pima students.

“I don’t know if I’m a good teacher but my students are good,” he said. “PCC generally has creative students.”

Pg11-Dave Wing green screen

Digital Arts instructor Dave Wing, left, works with Derek Lookingbill in front of a video lab green screen. Wing plans to retire in December. (Beto Hoyos/Aztec Press.)

PHOTO SPOTLIGHT: A busy weekend in the Old Pueblo

PHOTO SPOTLIGHT: A busy weekend in the Old Pueblo

It was a colorful weekend in the Old Pueblo as community members turned out in full force to celebrate what makes this city ours. Tucson Meet Yourself drew thousands Oct. 10-12 to celebrate the diversity of cultures and folklife represented in Tucson. On Oct. 11, members of the LGBT community gathered at dusk to participate in the Tucson Pride Parade, demonstrating support for individuals of all genders.

-By Nick Meyers

Pg16-Pima Pride

The Pima Community College East Campus Pride Alliance turns out in force to participate in the Tucson Pride Parade on Oct. 11 in support of the city’s LGBT community. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press.)

Pg16-Tempest DuJour

Tempest DuJour makes sure her vibrant hair maintains its shape before members of the LGBT community stroll down Fourth Avenue. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press)

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Traditional Chicano art such as alebrijes is on display at the Tucson Meet Yourself festival. (Larry Gaurano/Aztec Press.)



Piñatas are one of many artisan crafts available for purchase at the Tucson Meet Yourself festival. (Larry Gaurano/Aztec Press.)



Grupo tradiciones showcase a traditional Mexican folk dance called jarabe at Tucson Meet Yourself. (Larry Gaurano/Aztec Press.)

MEN'S SOCCER: Team battles through injuries

MEN’S SOCCER: Team battles through injuries


The Pima Community College men’s soccer team (12-3-1) showed depth and perseverance after  battling through injuries suffered in an Oct.2 game.

The Aztecs shut out Scottsdale Community College on Oct. 11 with a 2-0 win. The win marked their eighth shutout of the season and the second time they have beat Scottsdale.

Freshman Alejandro Gonzalez scored for the Aztecs in the first half off an assist from fellow freshman Robert Gorman.

After the half, freshman Sadam Ali added to the lead with an assist from freshman Osvaldo Varela.

Freshman goalkeeper Sam Kavathas had three saves during the game.

Pima completed a 4-3 comeback win on the road Oct. 9 against Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

The Aztecs were behind 1-2 going into the second half, with their lone goal coming from Gonzalez off a penalty kick.

Freshman Alex Rojo scored next for the Aztecs off an assist from sophomore Garrett Andreatta.

Andreatta scored the third goal for Pima with sophomore Arturo Vega in on the assist.

Freshman Gabe Zepp stepped up for the Aztecs late in the game where they found themselves in a 3-3 tie. Zepp scored the winning goal off an assist from freshman Ryan Bristow in the 82nd minute.

Despite being down two key players, the Aztecs upset No. 11 Glendale CC on Oct. 7 with a blowout 3-0 win.

Freshman Emilio Villatoro scored first for the Aztecs in the 33rd minute off the back of a defender to give the Aztecs a 1-0 lead going into the half.

Vega scored next for the Aztecs off of an assist from sophomore Christian Cabello in the 51st minute. Gorman scored the last goal in the 76th minute.

The Aztecs ended with seven shots on goal and with three saves from Kavathas.

“Glendale is obviously one of the top teams in the conference,” head coach Dave Cosgrove said. “There’s no way anyone would have expected us to win 3-0.”

The Aztecs fell to Phoenix College 5-1 on Oct. 2 in their worst loss of the season.

Pima found the net early when Zepp scored in the 7th minute off an assist from Gonzalez.

Phoenix answered by scoring three goals in the first half and adding another two in the second. The Aztecs gave up the most points in a game this season. Phoenix outshot Pima 10-8. Kavathas finished with three saves.


Oct. 16: Paradise Valley CC, Kino North, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 18: Yavapai College, Kino North, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 23: @ Mesa CC, Mesa, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 25: GateWay CC, Kino North, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 28: @ NJCAA Region 1 Quarter Finals

Oct. 30: @ NJCAA Region 1 Semi-Finals

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Freshman Gabe Zepp battles for possesion against a Scottsdale CC defender on Oct. 11. (Caleb Foster/Aztec Press.)


VOLLEYBALL: Winning streak comes to an end

VOLLEYBALL: Winning streak comes to an end


The Pima Community College volleyball team took on No. 10 Arizona Western College on Oct. 11 but lost in a five-set thriller.

The Aztecs held a lead for most of the first set but Western tied it up at 19-19. The Aztecs scored six of the last seven points to win.

In the second set, the biggest lead for either team was three points. The Aztecs could not hold a 24-22 lead and Western came back to win.

Western held a lead most of the third set but the Aztecs won the fourth set. In the fifth-set tie breaker, the Aztecs gave up a lead early and couldn’t recover.

Sophomore Nykole Adun led the Aztecs with 11 kills, five blocks, five digs and two aces.

On Oct 10, the Aztecs lost to No. 13 Scottsdale Community College in another five-set battle.

In the first set, the Aztecs scored the first six points of the game. Scottsdale got as close as one point but Pima took the win.

Scottsdale won the next two sets but the Aztecs came back in the fourth to force a fifth set. The Aztecs came within one point five times but could not grab a lead.

Sophomore Alexis Ammerman led the Aztecs with 18 kills and seven digs. Adun had 11 kills.

On Oct. 8, the Aztecs extended a winning streak to five games when they beat Phoenix College in four sets.

The first two sets mostly went the Aztec’s way, thanks to kills from freshman Kaysee Pilgrim. The third and fourth sets were tougher. Phoenix had a lead for most of the fourth set but the Aztecs cut the lead to one. A kill by Adun secured the victory.

On Oct. 3, the Aztecs defeated South Mountain College at home.

“I think we’re carrying the momentum from the San Diego tournament,” Ammerman said. “We got a little taste of victory and we want more.”

The Aztecs dropped the first set but responded by winning three straight.

On Oct. 1, the Aztecs beat Chandler-Gilbert in three sets.

After trailing in the first set, the Aztecs scored eight straight points for a win. In the second set, Pima capped the win with a kill by Pilgrim.

Ammermen finished with 10 kills. She was named ACCAC Division II Co-Player of the Week for Sept. 29-Oct. 5.


Oct. 17: @ Yavapai College, Prescott, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22: @ Mesa CC, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24: Glendale CC, West Campus, 7 p.m.

Pg13-Nykole Adun-Volleyball

Sophomore Nykole Adun attempts a pick against Western Arizona College on Oct 11. She led Pima with 11 kills, five blocks and two aces. (Photo courtesy of PCC.)

Aquaponics taking root

Aquaponics taking root


Verdant foliage and flowing water provide sharp contrast to the dry landscape that surrounds Pima Community College’s Desert Vista Campus.

Tomatoes and lemongrass mixed with fish ponds represent the college’s foray into aquaponics, a method of agriculture that combines aquaculture and hydroponics. It’s essentially a blend of fish farming and water gardening.

“One nice thing about the program is the flexibility,” program coordinator Ely Esparza said. “This allows for a lot of ingenuity. There are no black and white guidelines so your hands are free.”

Some 44 graduating high school students got a first-hand look at the program when they participated in Esparza’s Agri-SURF Summer Bridge Program.

The program was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and founded by Esparza, who was inspired by his love of surfing when conceiving the name. The acronym stands for Agricultural Sustainability and Universal Renewable Farming.

“I love this program and the staff,” student Darien Coronado said.

Esparza said one of his primary aims is to show students that agriculture encompasses far more than traditional farming.

“A lot of people think agriculture only involves tractors and pitchforks,” he said. “In reality, there is a lot of technology and scientific research involved.  engineering, animal sciences and water policy.”

During the five-week summer program, participants went on numerous field trips to local farms and research facilities such as the Biosphere 2.

By the end of the summer, students had constructed two aquaponics systems. The main chamber of the system contains fish stocked by Local Roots Aquaponics, a company that specializes in aquaponics systems ranging from aquarium size to 50 square feet.

The water from the fish tank is directed by gravity to a lower chamber filled with lava rocks that serve as a filter. Various plants and vegetables are placed within the porous rocks, with their roots submerged in the nutrient rich water.

Once the water has reached the end of the system, it is pumped back to the fish chamber. After it is filtered, it’s ready to begin the cycle again.

This method of gardening is especially useful in the desert because it uses far less water than traditional practices. Studies show it typically uses 10 percent of the water, with potential to produce 400 percent more food, than common agricultural techniques.

Unlike crops grown in soil, there is no need to weed out unwelcome vegetation. Plants currently growing in the PCC systems include basil, bell peppers, lemongrass and tomatoes. They are lush, healthy and shaded from harsh overhead light.

The 35 tilapia now stocked in the tanks will be replaced in December with catfish that can survive winter temperatures.

The young generation of tilapia will be transferred to warmer waters. The mature fish will be the main course in a small fish fry, allowing students and staff to savor the fruits of their efforts.

“It is something new and exciting,” program participant Gladys Ramirez said. “It is good to be involved in things that have never been done before.”

Desert Vista is currently the only PCC location with aquaponics facilities, but Esparza plans to expand the program in the future. Students from Northwest Campus were also involved in the summer program.

As part of next summer’s program, Esparza plans to add two more systems as well as a small ramada and benches.

“It’s a simple concept and can be done at home,” he said.

The innovative concept has caught the attention of numerous Tucson residents and organizations. Arizona Illustrated recently featured the program and new businesses include Local Roots Aquaponics, Ecogro, Tucson AquaPonics Project and Maggie’s Farm Aquaponics.

To learn more about Pima’s program, contact Ely Esparza at 206-5199 or


Ely Esparza, program coordinator for Pima’s Agri-SURF program, checks on basil growing at an aquaponics system at Desert Vista Campus. Students from a summer bridge program built the system last summer. (Sierra J. Russell/Aztec Press)


BEYOND THE POLE: The hidden world of exotic dancers

BEYOND THE POLE: The hidden world of exotic dancers


“Looking to round up the finest 18 and over girls in Tucson, cash nightly.”

Advertisements promising college women wads of cash for flashing serious skin aren’t hard to find. The call for exotic dancers can be found by picking up a copy of Tucson Weekly or Pima Community College’s own student publication, the Aztec Press.

Since January, issues of Aztec Press featured an advertisement for a local “gentlemen’s club,” Eden Cabaret. The ad spurred negative response from Pima students and faculty.

Social service student Sandra Fisher wrote, “It is extremely unlikely that a bright, educated future for young women will begin with selling their bodies.”

She asks, “Did anyone at the Aztec Press consider the impact of such a sleazy suggestion in a campus publication to our student body (pun intended)?”

Bob Shoun, director of PCC’s Office of Dispute Resolution, received a complaint that the “advertisement was not in line with the college philosophy and concerns related to sexual harassment.”

Editor-in-chief Andrew Paxton responded to the criticism in a column published last semester.

“The decision to run this form of advertising was not made lightly or arbitrarily,” he wrote. “The issue was discussed at length in the newsroom before I made my choice to allow the ad space to be purchased.”

He adds, “In the end, the newspaper is a business. In order to publish, we need financial backers. Any legitimate business that is willing to invest money in a college newspaper is welcome in these pages.”

The Aztec Press operates as an academic learning lab for student journalists, who exercise their First Amendment right to publish without prior restraint. The publication is expected to cover printing expenses through the sale of advertising.

While the content of Eden’s ad is not reflective of Pima or the newspaper, it brings with it questions about morality and the role that exotic clubs play in society.

What actually lies beyond the velvet curtains and dimly lit rooms of a strip club?

Are these establishments purveyors of debauchery and wayward girls? Are they a source of entertainment that speaks to the erotic nature of humans? Are they a dangerous, damaging environment or just businesses staffed by people trying to make a living?

“There’s this impression that the girls want to be there and have no respect for themselves,” says a former Eden dancer named Pandora.

“Most girls are there because they have to be,” she says. “They are working to make money. They aren’t there to party and it’s not something we do for fun.”

Two years ago Pandora was in a relationship she was supporting financially. She had no money for rent and a desire to finish her classes at the University of Arizona. As a customer of the club herself, she decided to begin dancing there.

After one year, she saved enough money to leave the industry and finish her final semester in school. Though she wanted to find a career with her new degree, her diploma was withheld until she paid $800 that she owed.

“I went back to Eden for two days and hated it because I had completely left the culture,” she says. “When I got back into it, I had culture shock.”

Currently, Pandora is training to be a manager and acts as “house mom” to the dancers. She teaches pole tricks and safety procedures, provides money-making tips and acts as a secondary bouncer.

Pandora’s story of college aspirations and unpaid bills is a common motif with the dancers who make up the adult entertainment industry. Many cite school, children and being out of money.

Eden dancer Gemini saw how much money the women were making and decided she could do that too.

“The money is my favorite part,” she says. “I went to school, I got my associate’s and stopped going. I want to go back, but right now I’m just taking care of my daughter.”

Dancers are independent contractors who pay the clubs a portion of their earnings to dance there. Depending on the number of customers, a performer can make anywhere from $100-$1,000 in one night, according to Pandora.

Along with the money they can potentially earn, dancers create their own schedules.

Serena, a UA student and a dancer for Curves Cabaret, started as a waitress. She switched to dancing when she faced a financial blow.

“The moment that actually pushed me into becoming a dancer and stop waitressing was when I had my camera, MacBook and external hard drive stolen from the trunk of my car,” she says.

“After weeks of dancing all sweaty and half naked for eight hours a day, I finally replaced all my stuff the next month.

“I wanted to make myself available to every event, show, concert, to take pictures, shoot video, do interviews and whatever else,” she says.

“I can’t think of any real 9-5 that would work with that hectic schedule. Dancing, just to take care of the bills, so I could focus on furthering my career seemed worth it to me.”

While the quick money and flexible schedules often draw people to exotic dancing, they seldom stay long-term.

Research related to exotic dancers has found women working in the sex industry are more susceptible to drug addiction, assault and mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress.

A study by the director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology program at the University of Pennsylvania found 55 percent of strippers are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and 60 percent experience depression.

Jessie Kosorok Mellor, a PCC psychology instructor and department chair, conducted informal research into the world of exotic clubs while pursuing her degree. She worked for a tanning salon that sold clothing and accessories for exotic dancers.

It became her job to load her vehicle with boots and clothing, and sell them to dancers inside the dressing rooms two nights a week. During her three years with the women, Mellor witnessed drug use, fights and tears. She believes she gained insight into the lives of the women.

“If anything, it gave me a real-life look at don’t judge,” she says. “We all have a story. We all have something.”

Mellor saw drug use, including the smoking of crystal meth, and noted some women were concerned about infections.

“I witnessed one girl who was so freaked out because some guy had a wound and she came in with blood on her,” she says. “She didn’t know where it came from. ‘What if he has HIV? What if he has something?’ I’ve seen them freak out over that.”

During her time spent within the inner workings of a strip club, Mellor came to believe that most dancers feel reasonably safe.

“Managers and bouncers have an investment for their own livelihood so there is a level of safety,” she says.

Employees always walked her to her car and helped her load her things, she says. “I never felt in danger and I wasn’t even any employee of that establishment.”

The inherent risks are not lost upon those within the business. Performers and club employees easily identify potential emotional and physical risks.

A former dancer who goes by the name Tank is currently pursuing a career in politics. His short time stripping at Dicks Cabaret, a male club in Phoenix, left him drained.

“I don’t recommend it to anyone unless you are a very strong-minded, strong-willed individual,” he says.  “I don’t think our society creates those types of people very much anymore.”

During the time he performed at the all-nude club, he found himself emotionally weighted by the experience.

“It eats away at you,” he says.  “I used to feel really drawn out and never wanted to be there. I only think there is a small window of people who can handle that type of experience and not get destroyed by it.”

Tank admits to gaining something from that time in his life. It wasn’t money, because he wasn’t making very much. Rather, it was a broadened perspective and acceptance of himself.

“It helped me find my own path,” he says. “It made me much more able to step away from societal norms and acceptance of who I am and accept people more readily as well. It made me realize it’s OK not to think like everyone else.”

Curves dancer Victoria also finds acceptance to be one of the best outcomes. “I think being on the pole alone is empowering,” she says. “I’ve worked really hard for my self-confidence and I’m doing this for my education and career.

“If you have a good reason for doing it, not drugs, it’s worth it and empowering. I’ve never loved myself and my body, and other women’s bodies, more since I started dancing.”

She acknowledges that drug use and risks are present but says that doesn’t mean you must or will engage in them.

“People think it’s this constant drug party, when its not,” she says. “A misconception is that once you start dancing you turn into a druggie or alcoholic. No. You are that person before you step into the club.”

Strip clubs can be dirty, and are sometimes the site of crimes such as murder and prostitution.

Dancer Serena spoke about the dangers of some clubs. “The strip club is a very dirty place and the girls that work there are not very clean,” she says. “The dirty strip club is also where the drug dealers like to hang out.”

Serena cautions, “It’s so easy to fall into that trap of being under the influence and someone takes advantage of you.”

Aside from the telltale stripper poles and stages, a strip club can cultivate a variety of environments.

At Eden Cabaret, the goal was to create a safe, fun party atmosphere and erase the negative perception of a former club at the location. Owner Jeffery Lindstrom, originally from Chicago, purchased the space five years ago and put a priority on remodeling and restructuring.

“We had to come in and kick everyone out and start fresh,” he says. “People know that it’s OK to come here again.”

Because it is a fully nude club, alcohol is prohibited.

“There are no drugs and there aren’t going to be any fights,” he says. “We wanted college kids to know they can come here, have a good time and feel safe.”

He runs the club as much like another business as possible, he says. “You need to create a party environment once the doors are open, but its preparing for business hours before that.”

Eden has a strict no-touching policy in place. Dancers are also walked to and from their cars, and prohibited from giving out personal information.

With the advancement of technology and social media, new safety hazards present themselves. Every cellphone has a camera that can share information instantaneously, making it difficult to enforce the no-camera rule.

One patron took a dancer’s naked photo and displayed it on a fake Facebook page created under her name.

Dak Frederick is a Ten’s Show club employee who trains new dancers. He says the safety precautions established by the club, coupled with the training that dancers receive, helps create an environment where women feel safe.

As a topless club, Ten’s Show can serve alcohol. Belligerent customers are asked to leave.

“Drunken guys are eighty sixed and called a cab,” Frederick says.

He admits to occasionally protecting dancers from their family, who might step in accidently or with the intent to retrieve their daughter.

“Sometimes the girls say, ‘you got to hide me, please, from my family,’” he says. “Some of the parents don’t know their daughters are strippers. Sometimes the dads come in, too.”

Though exotic dancers bare it all on stage, most keep their job secret to protect themselves from the disapproval of family and society.

“It really gives you insight into humanity,” Pandora says. “It’s not something I’m going to broadcast but anyone who finds out doesn’t need to hold it against me for any reason.

“It really comes down to your views on sexuality and nudity. It means a lot more to some people. It’s your body, you own it. I’m not letting anyone touch me or have sex, it’s not intimate.”

Though Tank hated his experience as a dancer, he believes improvements can and should be made to strip clubs.

“They are almost necessary,” he says. “If our society were to give more allowance to these things, it could make a much healthier environment. If certain aspects of stripping didn’t have such negative connotation, it would make it harder for the bad people to exist in those.”

For some, strip clubs serve a simple function within society.

“Rappers and just the ignorant public in general make strippers out to be drug addicts with daddy issues that are too lazy to get a real job, when in reality a lot of the girls I work with are fine,” Serena says.

“I feel like the purpose of these clubs are to just have some fun or to fill in some type of void in each customer.”

Mellor believes the role of a strip club is defined by the person who pays to be there.

“It’s a complicated nuance, as most aspects are in human sexuality,” she says. “When that role does not support the workers and truly allow for consent, then it becomes punitive and unacceptable.

“If the workers feel safe and are truly of sound body and mind and want to be there, I can’t tell them they can’t be.”


Aztec Press photo illustration by Larry Gaurano

Aztec Press photo illustration by Larry Gaurano











At least 400,000 people work as strippers in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor.

Many have entered into the industry to fix money issues and to provide for themselves and for their families.

Despite the monetary benefits, there is no denying that risk factors exist.

Drug usage in clubs, long hours, unwanted physical or verbal contact and sometimes unclean work environments can all make exotic dancing potentially dangerous.

In a world where knowledge can help set us free, we need to look at a topic from all sides.

To gather information for this article, I visited two Tucson cabarets and interviewed five exotic dancers, plus two trainers, a Pima instructor and a club owner.

Only one dancer allowed her photo to be taken and each dancer provided only a stage name.

We met at coffee shops and strip clubs, and I transcribed hours worth of interviews.

I did not write this article to fill seats in the clubs or to enlist college students. I also didn’t write it to condemn the industry or the people who oppose these establishments.

I wrote it because I believe information and truth are the best way to handle a subject deemed taboo.

-By Jamie Verwys

Nursing program off life support

Nursing program off life support


Pima Community College’s nursing program has made some progressive changes over the past year, and recently regained proper standing with its accrediting body.

On Sept. 19, the Arizona State Board of Nursing concluded that PCC had resolved governance issues and autonomy regarding its nursing program based on evidence submitted by the college.

During an email interview Pamela Randolph, AZBN’s associate director of education and evidence-based regulation, wrote that PCC had successfully corrected governance issues regarding its nursing program.

“The board found that Pima Community College had remedied all deficiencies and restored full approval status,” she wrote.

In July 2013, PCC received a notice of deficiencies from the AZBN.

The complaint said Pima undermined the governing authority of its dean of nursing, Marty Mayhew, and that undermining the authority of the nursing program administrator compromises nursing education and places patient safety at risk.

On Jan. 28, Mayhew resigned from her position following the completion of an internal investigation into claims of her misconduct.

Following Mayhew’s departure, Chancellor Lee Lambert wrote in email to employees that Brian Stewart, an academic dean from PCC’s Desert Vista Campus, would assume interim responsibility over the nursing department.

Stewart said the integrity of Pima’s nursing program was never in question, and that the autonomous governing of PCC’s nursing department needed to be restored to state-level policy.

“The notice of deficiencies wasn’t written in regards to the program itself,” Stewart said.

“The notice of deficiency was in regard to adherence to state regulation with the nursing director being recognized as the authorizing body for the program.”

He said the education provided to PCC’s nursing students has been consistently robust, which he said is exemplified in Pima’s nursing certification test scores, and the college’s open-enrollment policy.

According to AZBN website, PCC’s nursing certification scores rose to 92.06 percent in 2013, which is greater than the Arizona state average of 88.25 percent.

Stewart said he took the nursing dean position without any plans to assume its responsibilities long-term. He said expanding his skill-set and staying at PCC’s Desert Vista Campus are his goals.

“I’ve been a nursing director for a long time,” Stewart said. “I wasn’t interested in continuing that. I want to do something new that pushes me, and challenges me.

“Plus I committed to my faculty at Desert Vista,” he added.

Stewart said during the investigation, the AZBN looked at Pima’s policies and updates regarding its nursing program.

“They liked the direction the college was going under new administration,” Stewart said.

“They see a change in behavior and acknowledged that the new governance and reinforcement of policy was a good thing,” he said.

On July 29, Pima held candidate forums to fill the assistant dean and director of nursing positions.

But, after Joseph Gaw secured this new position, Stewart said the college recognized the nursing director position was a full-time position in itself. The college is still searching for someone to fill the role.

Gaw began his career at PCC as an adjunct instructor in 2010, while also working as an advanced registered nurse at Tucson’s Northwest Medical Center. His resume also includes nine years of advanced patient care at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital.

While working at St. Mary’s Hospital Gaw was enrolled in a mentor program that provided training for nursing graduates to transition into specialty care positions.

He was later offered bachelor degree classes from Grand Canyon University via the expansion of that program.

“Now, that’s important,” Gaw said. “Because what they did is they gave the entry point to a bachelor’s process that most people hadn’t even thought about doing at the time.”

For the past two semesters, Pima’s concurrent enrollment program has offered its students the chance to pursue associate, and bachelor degrees for nursing certification simultaneously.

Gaw said he will continue to work to help nurses get the education they need to progress in the workplace.

“As a community college we have to meet that need,” he said.

Furthermore, Gaw said his goals are to increase student-engaged learning, and community outreach which will be spearheaded by Pima’s dedicated nursing faculty.

“We have a fantastic team in this nursing department, and the students have to know that,” Gaw said.

“My faculty are my life-blood of this program, and this team is ready to serve and ready to help them be successful.”


From left, Deanna Merrill, Kaileen Martin, and Sharon Powell speak with Joseph Gaw in between their nursing skills lab examinations.