By ADRIAN FORD
Most 11-year-olds are just starting middle school. A few are thinking about college, and even fewer are actually in college. Brooklynn Bluto is one of those select few.
Bluto is currently enrolled in Japanese 101 at Pima Community College Downtown Campus. The sixth grader also attends Sahuarita Middle School.
“I chose Japanese because when I am older I plan to go to college at Tokyo University,” Bluto said.
She wanted to take a college course because other options weren’t viable.
“Online classes were not very effective, and my school only offers Spanish classes,” she said. “Originally, I spent a lot of my own money on stuff that did not even work.”
One failed online effort was attempting to learn a Japanese writing system called Hiragana. “It took forever, because the websites were super misleading,” Bluto said.
Chris Sandy, Bluto’s stepfather, originally had doubts about Bluto attending college.
“Concerns I had with Brooklynn taking a college course were mostly related to ensuring she did not get overwhelmed or tired of learning,” he said.
Bluto formalized her request.
“When Brooklynn came to my wife and I saying she wanted to take Japanese, she did it via email,” Sandy said. “The proposal included a permission slip, course information, cost and her plea.”
After reading the proposal, they changed their minds. They also saw she truly wanted to learn Japanese.
“We knew Brooklynn was ready because of her dedication to teach herself Japanese in her free time and her dedication to her violin,” Sandy said.
“We were confident that it was our responsibility to encourage her learning and monitor her stress rather than tell her no,” he added.
In addition, Bluto’s parents realized she wasn’t living up to her full potential with middle school classes. “Brooklynn is typically very bored in public school at Sahuarita Middle,” Sandy said.
Sandy drives Bluto to Downtown Campus on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and waits outside the classroom until she is done.
Before she enrolled, Bluto worried her age might create a barrier between her and other students in the class. But after experiencing college first-hand, Bluto said she had no problem fitting in.
“I do not think age holds me back in any way,” she said. “Sometimes I do not understand some words, but context makes it pretty easy.”
Instructor Bridget Wilde also had initial doubts.
“I was very worried, both for her ability to keep up and for my ability to teach her without affecting the class experience for my older students,” she said. “Japanese is extremely difficult to learn as a second language.”
Bluto was always confident in her ability.
“I thought I could comprehend the level of a college course because of how I was taught by my dad,” she said. “He spoke to me like an adult, teaching me a wide vocabulary and how to use context to understand.”
Bluto’s parents saw they had nothing to worry about as long as she kept up her love for learning.
Wilde also realized Bluto is not your average 11-year-old.
“Of course I cannot discuss her grade but I have found her very bright and thoughtful, and willing to ask questions,” Wilde said. “I am fortunate as a rule that my class is always full of students who genuinely wish to learn, and I think Ms. Bluto embodies that spirit wonderfully.”
After learning Japanese, Bluto plans to take more classes through PCC.
“I am probably going to take a course in math, and then a class in computer coding,” she said.
She also has plans for her academic future.
“If everything goes well, I am going to take high school credit classes during middle school to graduate early,” she said.
She’s considering a major in computer science when she attends Tokyo University.
When Bluto isn’t at school, she fills her free time with many different activities.
“We have been enrolling her in anything she asks, like violin lessons or the Tucson Junior Symphony,” Sandy said.
Bluto has taken such a liking to violin that “she has a rash on her neck because she loves playing it so much,” he said.
She also enjoys “beating the other students at chess,” Bluto said.
Bluto’s parents are enjoying her success.
“She’s been carrying on like a well-conditioned mental athlete” Sandy said.
By RENE ESCOBAR
Elialie, a 23-year-old Pima Community College student from Cameroon, was born into a civil war.
In her hometown of Edea, people lived in the rubble of demolished buildings. Many children were orphaned, unclothed and starving.
“I hated where I lived,” she said. “I wanted to leave every day I was there, but leaving was just about a dream for me.”
Cameroon is one of the poorest countries in the world, according to TheWorldBank.org, with 48 percent of its residents living in poverty.
The country has never recovered from the Kamerun Campaign during World War I, when many towns and villages were flattened by artillery. Because Cameroon lacks money, very little debris has been cleared.
Elialie, who asked that only her first name be used, now attends PCC. She’s majoring in public health and currently taking classes in writing, Spanish and geography.
During her childhood, she learned English at a school associated with the International Rescue Committee.
Her journey from Edea to Tucson began in 2007, after her mother developed a non-cancerous tumor. Elialie, then 14, and her older brother walked 20 miles to a larger city and found jobs.
With help from the IRC and other donors, Elialie eventually traveled with her mother and two brothers to Tucson. Her mother underwent surgery to remove the tumor.
As war refugees, the family receives benefits that include an apartment and supplemental checks. Agencies helped her older brother find work and pay Elialie’s tuition fees.
Elialie thought Tucson was a very quiet place when she first arrived.
“It was very welcoming, because people didn’t judge my English-speaking skills,” she said.
Classmates find her quiet as well.
“She’s very to herself, not talkative at all,” writing classmate Robert Valenzuela said. “Elialie has a quiet character to her.”
Nevertheless, Valenzuela enjoys interacting with Elialie during class and learning more about her culture.
“She’s opened-minded towards stuff, and brings her culture to her work,” he said.
Elialie wants to continue her education at the University of Arizona. After earning a public health degree, she’ll return to Cameroon as a missionary who helps children receive medical attention.
“They are people who need help,” she said. “I want to help those people.”
By ALLIE HOLLER
If you walk into Tucson’s Isle of Games on a Sunday, you’ll find Pima Community College student Ron Cover.
Cover (pronounced like over) will be in the back of the store with spiders, demons, the occasional elf and a large collection of paints and brushes.
He spends his Sundays painting miniatures for games.
“I have several thousand miniatures,” Cover said. “I like to have them painted when I play.”
His passion for tabletop and role-playing games has spanned decades.
He first discovered the world of tabletop and RPG games in the 1970s and has spent most of his life creating worlds of fantasy as he socializes with friends.
Cover, 56, is a retired Army sergeant who spent four years in Germany from 1982-86. His primary job was to calculate the trajectory of artillery cannons, and he later moved to a position that required top-secret clearance.
“Anything but presidential clearance,” he said.
During his military career, Cover spent most of his time in northern Germany but had the chance to do some traveling in the region. As part of his deployment, he spent a month in a castle that was built in the 1400s.
“Above one of the doors, it had 1492 carved in it,” he said.
Cover was injured during a war game exercise in northern Germany while riding in a vehicle called a “Gamma Goat.” The driver hit a ravine and launched Cover into the air and onto a radio panel. He injured his lower spine.
He didn’t know the severity of the injury at the time and neither did the Army. Cover completed his service but did not make a lifelong career of it due to his injury.
He returned to Tucson, where he had lived since age 10 after his parents relocated from Toledo, Ohio.
Cover attended the University of Arizona and worked in multiple fields while progressively becoming more disabled as a result of his injury.
“I worked with handicapped transport, which I thought was funny,” he said.
He then worked in the insurance industry until his full retirement in 2002.
Over time, Cover’s injury has gotten progressively more serious. He has undergone several surgeries and experimental treatments to help remove and mitigate scar tissue around his spine.
When he’s out of the house, he is mostly confined to a wheelchair.
With help from nonprofit organizations like Disabled American Veterans and from state senators, Cover qualified for full disability from both the military and the Social Security Administration.
Cover’s more recent therapies include a Dorsal Column Stimulation implant, a device designed to treat specific chronic pain afflictions.
Cover was a prime candidate for the treatment, which involves implantation of electrodes to the area near the lower spine and an electric pulse generator to stimulate the area.
“It feels like I am in a vibrating chair from the waist down,” he said. “It works well, but it is more of a distraction from the pain.”
Since becoming fully retired, Cover has been raising his children and attending PCC through the military GI Bill. He has almost completed a liberal arts degree with a focus in world history.
His benefits also helped put his wife and two children through a large portion of school.
Cover has never quit playing games. It is also a family affair, with family members attending conventions and holding regular game nights.
On Sundays, Cover sets up his paints and miniatures and helps other people learn and explore what it takes to paint something not much larger than your thumb. A myriad of paint colors and small brushes make it possible.
Cover assists young and old with painting and other aspects of gaming.
“I’ve been collecting for 20 years,” friend Dave Weir said. “I’ve painted maybe 100. At some point, you have to learn something new.”
At the last Rin-Con multi-day gaming convention, Cover and members of his informal painting club organized a paint-and-take to provide participants with instructions, paints and miniatures.
Various gaming companies donated most of the materials. Cover’s group also arranged for donations that were used as raffle prizes, and intend to do it again in years to come as well as for other conventions in the area.
Why does he spend so much time helping others discover and enjoy games and miniatures?
“I’d rather be doing something than sitting at home,” he said.
“Life is fun, I like to make the most of it,” he added. “I’m broken but life is good.”
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
Growing up, Chef Mario Diaz De Sandy Jr. wanted to be an actor. He didn’t find his current passion for cooking until later.
He now pursues both passions. The certified executive chef has his own cooking show.
“Originally I went to school for acting, back in the day, like early ‘80s,” De Sandy said.
De Sandy, widely known as Chef Mario, stars in a cooking segment on Telemax network, which is broadcast all over Mexico. De Sandy cook dishes for a program that airs on Saturdays at 9 a.m.
“I’ve had a few people stop me at Food City and stuff like that,” he said. “I’m not really looking for fame and fortune, but it feels good to be recognized on TV as a chef.”
De Sandy’s native language is Spanish, but family members living in Mexico have called after seeing the show to give him points on how to speak Spanish in a more proper way.
“When you grow up on this side of town, you learn Spanglish and you learn words from the street,” De Sandy said. “I had six or seven words that I had to Google translate and practice saying.
One such word was “alcachofa,” which is the Spanish word for artichoke.
De Sandy films the TV segments at the Pima Community College Desert Vista Campus, where he works as a culinary instructor.
It usually takes De Sandy more than 45 minutes to demonstrate and cook the featured dish. After editing, those 45 minutes become a six- or seven-minute video.
Before filming his own show, De Sandy played an extra in 14 Tucson movies. He worked as a chef for one of the film crews, feeding them breakfast each morning.
At one point De Sandy spent six months in the Washington Mountains working as an assistant producer and then on the special effects team.
“It was a great experience for me,” he said.
In addition to his acting pursuits, De Sandy recently completed a milestone in his cooking career by completing all requirements to become a certified executive chef
There are four major keys to becoming certified.
The first step is completing classes that count as education-work experience.
“I just received a bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and I took a bunch of classes at Pima, and when you bundle them all together, I qualify for that section,” De Sandy said.
Secondly, he obtained letters from previous employers that show he has leadership skills.
“I had to get letters stating that I actually supervised more than four employees,” De Sandy said.
During past work at University Medical Center, he supervised 110 employees.
Next came a cooking exam with multiple parts.
“You have to do an appetizer, a main entree and a salad,” De Sandy said. “It’s very expensive because you have to practice, so you have to buy food for practice. Then you have to buy food for the actual exam.”
Applicants must incorporate specific items and techniques into their creations.
De Sandy was required to include lobster, salmon, chicken and many other ingredients. He also had to demonstrate designated knife cuts such as julienne, paysanne and batonnet.
He spent 12 hours driving to the Phoenix location, setting up, taking the three-hour exam and cleaning up.
“You always want to leave the kitchen in a better condition than you found it,” he said.
Once he had the education, the letter and the practical exam out of the way, he had to complete a 100-question written exam in Nogales about kitchen management, sanitation and other topics.
De Sandy was one point short on his first try. “Unfortunately the passing grade was 300 and I got a 299,” he said.
He blamed a combination of not keeping track of time and not studying, and promised himself he would take the test again and ace it.
The results were better when he re-took the test 10 months later.
“I scored a 340,” he said.
Photos and interviews by Bryan Orozco at West Campus
“I’d say the economy for sure. I think our future president has some good ideas, but I’m not sure he knows how to work them out.”
“Probably unity between the people.”
Major: Electrical engineering
“Financial aid. We have to wait almost a month after school has started.”
“The economy and President Trump. I think that will be the most challenging task.”
Major: Metrology engineering
“Oh dang. I really don’t know.”
Photos and interviews by Nicholas Trujillo at Desert Vista Campus
“Either way, no one was going to be happy. People shouldn’t judge everyone else, because everyone has a different opinion.”
Major: Mechanical engineering
“It caused a lot of hate between everyone. We have to learn to connect with each other and just deal with it for four years.”
“Both of them had too many of the bad things, so it was kind of a hard choice. I didn’t vote because those two weren’t the right ones for this country.”
Major: Computer engineering
“Disappointed. He doesn’t have the experience to run this country and I feel like he’s just going to run it into the ground.”
Major: Athletic training
“Hopefully he does a good job. I think we’ll be OK. Hopefully we don’t go downhill real fast.”
Photos and interviews by Arlaeth Ramirez at Downtown Campus
“Sweet potatoes. It’s like desert while eating dinner.”
Major: Liberal arts
“Mashed potatoes have to be my favorite, just because of the gravy.”
“My mom puts good stuff in the mashed potatoes. I’m not sure what I like, the mashed potatoes or the good stuff.”
Major: Electrical engineer
“I like turkey because that’s what Thanksgiving is for, to eats lots of turkey.”
“Turkey. It tastes good.”
Major: Business administration
By KATELYN ROBERTS
We’ve all seen “Feel the Bern” merchandise, “I’m with Her” T-shirts and “Make America Great Again” baseball caps decked out on babies, students, Uber drivers and your racist grandpa.
Social media has also enjoyed the strongest influence ever in a presidential election. The candidates know this, and use it to their advantage.
For instance, Donald Trump utilized his social media accounts instead of paying $2 billion in advertising, according to a study by mediaQuant.
Researchers and strategists agree the quickest way to make news is by posting it directly to voters.
University of Arizona freshman Britanee Hudson, 23, and many others use Facebook as their vehicle for election information.
“I don’t watch the news,” Hudson said. “I, like most millennials, don’t have cable and have no interest in biased, fear-mongering media that I seem to find whenever the news does happen to be on.”
Hudson admits she’s not as knowledgeable as she’d like to be on Tucson politics but said, “I will be by election day.”
She began following politics after hearing a speech by a Democratic candidate for Arizona attorney general.
“I first became abnormally interested in local politics for my age in 2014 because I got the opportunity to hear Felecia Rotellini speak in Mesa,” she said.
Hudson was impassioned by Rotellin’s stance on immigration reform, so “started looking in depth with other local representatives as well.” She uses sites like Ballotpedia.org to research bills.
Oftentimes, however, voters don’t have enough information to make informed decisions about local politics.
This is where apps like Countable come in.
Countable keeps users up to date on local politics, whether you’re a student trying to ace a class or a citizen who wants to learn more about local issues.
Wired magazine calls it an “an easier way to pester your local congressmen.”
Countable is available for Android and iOS. Sign up for free, enter your zip code and select your interests. You’ll see your local politicians immediately, and can contact them. Each member has a profile on the app.
Users can get updates on which bills your local representatives voted on and how they voted. They can also watch voting in real time.
The user-friendly, photo-heavy layout is easy on the eyes too.
Countable offers a blog for daily news, and frequently rotates house and senate bill bios. Videos explain basics like why political ads have to end in an “I approve this message.”
The app only asks the user questions. It’s never biased, which makes it accessible for everyone.
I’ve personally found it useful for classes and for remaining politically aware.
Hudson put it well: “While this presidential election is of greater importance to me than elections in which I’ve voted in the past, it isn’t the president who going to raise the minimum wage or legalize marijuana in Arizona.”
Compiled by Casey Muse Jr.
Date in November when the election takes place.
Number of Republican candidates Donald Trump defeated on his way to the GOP nomination.
Date in March 2000 when “The Simpsons” joked about Trump being president.
Number of electoral votes in the important swing state of Florida.
The sequence number of the next president. Barack Obama is the 44th U.S. president.
Number of electoral votes in the largest state, California.
Percentage chance that Hillary Clinton will win the general election.
Percentage of African-American voters surveyed in Ohio and Pennsylvania who said they will not vote for Trump.
Number of dollars that Trump’s hair weave supposedly costs.
Number of dollars raised by the Trump campaign as of Oct. 16.
Number of dollars raised by the Clinton campaign as of Oct. 16.
By ROBYN ZELICKSON
Pima Community College will host a photography exhibit titled “Louis Carlos Bernal: Arizona Unseen, Color Photographs 1978-1988” through Dec. 9 in the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery.
The 48 color images, which have never been seen, are from the Louis Carlos Bernal Archive, located at the University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography.
The Pima exhibit will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Bernal’s birth by highlighting images the world-renowned photographer created during the 1970s and ‘80s.
The exhibit provides a look at the lives of Arizona migrant farm workers and of barrios in Tucson and Douglas.
“My images speak of the religious and family ties I have experienced as a Chicano,” Bernal wrote of his work. “I have concerned myself with the mysticism of the Southwest and the strength of the spiritual and cultural values of the barrio.”
Bernal founded the photography department at PCC and was an instructor for 17 years. On his way to teach at the West Campus in 1989, Bernal was in a serious bicycle accident. He died in 1993 after being in a coma for four years.
West Campus photography instructor Ann Simmons-Myers curated the Pima exhibit. She has been working since 2013 on a larger Bernal retrospective at the UA Center for Creative Photography, for display in the next few years.
“I am thrilled to be able to share these images with the community in celebration of Bernal’s 75th birthday and the Chicano culture he documented,” Simmons-Myers said.
PCC will host a reception at the gallery on Nov. 3 from 5-7 p.m. Simmons-Myers will give a talk at 6 p.m., during which she will introduce some of Bernal’s family members, including his daughters Lisa Bernal Brethour and Kristina Bernal.
Simmons-Myers will also discuss the process of producing each of the image groups in the exhibition. There will be time for a question-and-answer period.
The color in many of the original Bernal prints has been lost because of the quality of printing paper in earlier decades. High-resolution captures of the original negatives allowed Simmons-Myers to obtain new color prints for educational purposes.
Former Pima student Ernesto Esquer created the prints. Esquer has worked at PCC for seven years, and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from UA in 2015.
Simmons-Myers credits Esquer’s dedication to photography, PCC and the Bernal project as the raison d’être of the exhibition.
The new prints will become a part of the permanent Bernal Archive at the UA Center for Creative Photography.
The Bernal Gallery is located in the Center for the Arts complex on West Campus.
The gallery and its programs are free and open to the public. The gallery is open Monday -Thursday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and before most evening performances in Center for the Arts theaters.
The exhibit will be closed on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, and during the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov 24-25.
Additional previously exhibited Bernal images are on display at the Tucson International Airport gallery through Jan. 27.
For more information, call 206-6942 or email email@example.com.
“Louis Carlos Bernal: Arizona Unseen, Color Photographs 1978-1988”
Where: West Campus Bernal Gallery
When: Through Dec. 9
Photos and interviews by Nicholas Trujillo at Desert Vista Campus
“I feel like I am really connected to the community but I attribute that to my job. I’m a tutor and I’m always talking with students that are coming and going.”
“I feel like I’ve had a nice foundation and I’m building on that foundation. There are so many clubs here that people can get connected with.”
“I feel very connected. When I came here on my first day, I was already signed up for Student Life so it’s a very welcoming community.”
“Really connected. I started with Student Life and that’s like the gateway to everything in the community. Plus I joined TRIO, and that really helps as well.”
Photos and interviews by D.R. Williams on East Campus
Photos and interviews by Andres Chavira at East Campus
Photos and interviews by S. Paul Bryan