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THE WORD: What inspired you to return to school?

THE WORD: What inspired you to return to school?

Interviews and photos at Downtown Campus by Emery Nicoletti

“I’ve had a desire to learn how to weld for a while. I’m a metal artist. I can now mark this off of my bucket list.” Leonard Castro, 63 Retired, City of Tucson admin. Welding student

“I’ve had a desire to learn how to weld for a while. I’m a metal artist. I can now mark this off of my bucket list.”
Leonard Castro, 63
Retired, City of Tucson administrator
Welding student

“I was given a paid semester to Pima Community College from the VA, which encouraged me to enroll here. I have made many friends and connections.” Nick Christensen, 48 Military veteran Paralegal major

“I was given a paid semester
to Pima Community College
from the VA, which encouraged me to enroll here. I have made many friends and connections. I love Pima, but hate the elementary school sized desks. ”
Nick Christensen, 48
Military veteran
Paralegal major

“I moved here from Sonora, Mexico, two years ago. I speak Spanish and French, and am here to improve my English-speaking skills. I love studying and continuing my education.” Carmen Martinez, 60 Language/translation major

“I moved here from Sonora, Mexico, two years ago. I speak Spanish and French, and am here to improve my English-speaking skills. I love studying and continuing my education.”
Carmen Martinez, 60
Language/translation major

“I’m taking electrical classes here at the Downtown Campus. I’m working on expanding my opportunities in a field I currently work in.” Mandarke Florez, 42 University of Arizona employee Electrical student

“I’m taking electrical classes here at the Downtown Campus. I’m working onexpanding my opportunities in a field I currently work in.”
Mandarke Florez, 42
University of Arizona employee
Electrical student

“I’ve always wanted my degree. I’m semi-retired and now I’ve got the time.” Robert Leon, 62 Semi-retired, sales Undeclared major

“I’ve always wanted my degree. I’m semi-retired and now I’ve got the time.”
Robert Leon, 62
Semi-retired, sales
Undeclared major


FIRST BITE: A Purple Tree Paradise

FIRST BITE: A Purple Tree Paradise

Editor’s note: Pima Community College has replaced made-to-order cafeteria lines with food trucks. Aztec Press reporters are investigating the new options with fork (or spoon) in hand.


Purple Tree is the latest food truck parking at Pima Community College campuses. The new addition caters to students looking to grab a refreshing bite to eat between classes.

Its concept combines mouthwatering foods, healthy lifestyle patterns and laidback vibes in one little purple truck.

Owners Andre Newman and David Krummenacker found inspiration for their solar-powered get-away on wheels while vacationing in Hawaii in January 2014.

“We got completely addicted to these acai bowls that a little truck was serving on the north shore of Oahu, a really popular surfer destination,” Newman said. “They were doing really good business and we were there, literally, for breakfast, lunch and even sometimes for dessert.”

Purple Tree’s menu is completely organic and uses local ingredients to create affordable, drool-worthy creations.

Their specialty item is the acai energy bowl, made with acai berries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and almond milk. It is topped with layers of granola, fresh-chopped strawberries, bananas, shaved coconut and honey.

“Nothing in the bowl is not organic,” Newman said. “There’s no dairy, no artificial sweetener and no ice in our blenders.”

The energy-building bowl costs $7.50 for a large or $5 for a small.

If you’re looking for something to cure a sweet tooth without added guilt, Purple Tree offers organic chocolate, vanilla and coconut ice cream for $5. The ice cream can be made into an ice cream sandwich, a banana split or an ice cream sundae.

Check out Purple Tree’s Facebook page for upcoming events and menu selections.


Tanisha Knutzen/Aztec Press The Purple Tree food truck sells organic food and makes its products using locally grown ingredients.

Tanisha Knutzen/Aztec Press
The Purple Tree food truck sells organic food and makes its products using locally grown ingredients.

East Campus hosts astronomy program

East Campus hosts astronomy program


Pima Community College’s East Campus invites guests to explore the galaxy in their Astronomy for All series.

Their debut event will take place Feb. 25 at the East Campus Community Room and observatory.

Megan Reiter, a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, will present a lecture on the early development of stars called, “Growing Pains: The Tumultuous Youth of Stars.”

The lecture begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by stargazing from 7-8:30 p.m.

The all ages, open to the public event is free.

Upcoming events are planned for the series falling under the theme “bringing the universe to your back yard.”

On March 26, UA postdoctoral Cameron Hummels will give a lecture before stargazing.

Another postdoctoral fellow of the Department of Astronomy, Karin Sandstrom, will lecture on April 29.

Details of both presentations will be available at a later date.

For more information, contact East Campus student life at


Speakers’ Series returns March 3

Speakers’ Series returns March 3


Pima Community College biology instructor Theodore G. Manno will discuss “Social Behavior of Prairie Dogs and Ground Squirrels” March 3 in the second installment of the spring semester Speakers’ Series.

Manno will share his findings on social interactions, mating behaviors and natural history of prairie dogs and squirrels.

He has studied colonies across western North America and is the author of a 2014 book, “The Utah Prairie Dog: Life among the Red Rocks.”

The free talk will begin at 6 p.m. in PCC’s district offices at 4905 E. Broadway Blvd., in the Community Room, C-105. Light refreshments will be available.

The final spring Speakers’ Series talk will take place on April 7, when art instructor Barbara McLaughlin discusses “Japanese Wood Sculptors.”

The Speakers’ Series is co-sponsored by PCC’s Faculty Senate, Provost Erica Holmes and Executive Vice Chancellor William R. Ward II.

For additional information, call 206-4500.

Photo courtesy of PCC Theodore G. Manno dissects the social behavior of prairie dogs.

Photo courtesy of PCC
Theodore G. Manno dissects the social behavior of prairie dogs.

Pima News

Pima News

Massage clinic appointments open

The Student Massage Clinic at Northwest Campus offers 50-minute massages for students, employees and the general public.

Sessions are $10 for PCC employees and students, and $20 for the public. The clinic is available Friday afternoons at the times listed below:

Jan. 31-March 14 

2:05 and 3:10 p.m.

March 28-May 16 

1, 2:05 and 3:10 p.m.

May 30-June 27

1, 2:05, 3:10 and 4:15 p.m.

The clinic is located in room A-212. Participants are expected to schedule their appointments ahead of time.

To make an appointment, leave a message with your name, phone number and desired appointment time. After you receive a confirmation phone call, you can prepay for the session at any cashier’s office.

Arrive at least 15-20 minutes before the appointment to complete paperwork.

Please be aware that therapeutic massages are not appropriate for people with serious or uncontrolled medical conditions, contagious illness or fever, or pregnant women.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 206-2062.

-By Lisa Zimmer


PCC will close for rodeo break

Pima will close its campuses on  Thursday, Feb. 26, and Friday, Feb. 27, for the rodeo break.

Online services, including MyPima, will remain available during this time.

-By Jamie Verwys


Share memories of Downtown

Pima’s Downtown Campus celebrated its 40th anniversary on Nov. 15, 2014,  with music, dance performances and free treats.

This semester, the campus is compiling a memory book of student stories.

If you have a memory of Downtown Campus you would like to share, contact Pat Houston at

Campus birthday activities will continue through the semester and a special reception will be held to honor founding members of Downtown Campus.

-By Jamie Verwys


Best Bets

Best Bets

Compiled by Katie Stewart Vacio

Upcoming events ranging from the rodeo parade to a steam punk convention adopting a western theme, but other festivals emphasize peace and artistic endeavors.

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Rodeo:

Feb. 21-March 1 

Events from rodeo competitions to barn dances will take place at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. Sixth Ave. Daily admission prices range from $14 to $28. Parking costs $5.

Details: or 741-2233

Night at Trail Dust Town: Feb. 25 

The Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo returns to Trail Dust Town and Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road. The event starts at 5 p.m. with a petting zoo and dining specials at the steakhouse. Loop Rawlins-Wild West will perform trick roping, whip cracking and gun-spinning during two shows at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. A rodeo dance starts at 7 p.m. in the Savoy Opera House with a local favorite, the Jack Bishop and the Robert Moreno Band, playing country tunes.

Details: or 296-4551


Rodeo Day Parade: Feb. 26

The world’s longest non-motorized parade celebrates its 90th

anniversary this year. The annual Rodeo Day Parade will begin at

9 a.m. The 1.5-mile route starts at Park and Fair avenues, goes south on Park to Irvington Road, west on Irvington to Sixth Avenue and north on Sixth to the north side of the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. Tickets for grandstand seats on Irvington Road cost $10 for adults and $5 for children under 13. For tickets, call 294-1280.

Details: or


Annual Peace Corps Fair: Feb. 27

The Peace Corps program at the University of Arizona is sponsoring this event, held at the UA Student Union North Ballroom from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., to celebrate the founding of the Peace Corps more than 50 years ago. Festivities include interactive exhibits, an African market and a Pacific Island village. Local organizations will also be available to provide information about how to get involved in the local community.


Peace Fair and Music Festival: Feb. 28

The Tucson Peace Center will host its 33rd annual free festival at Reid Park, near 22nd Street and Country Club Road, from 11 a.m.-

4 p.m. Festivities include live music, entertainment, displays,

children’s activities and food vendors.



Oro Valley Spring Festival of the Arts: 

Feb. 28- March 01

The Oro Valley Festival of the Arts at Oro Valley Marketplace will feature works by regional artisans and craftspeople at 12155 N. Oracle Road from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. with free admission for the public.

Details: or 797-3959


Wild Wild West Steampunk: March 6-8

Old Tucson will transform itself into a western-style steampunk theme park when the Wild Wild West Steam punk convention returns for its fourth year. Activities include concerts, street performers, special events, panels, workshops, rides and games. Online ticket sales end March 1. Event times and ticket prices are available on the website. Old Tucson is located at 201 S. Kinney Road.


Arizona Renaissance Festival:

Through March 29

The 26th annual event takes place every Saturday and Sunday through March 29 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. It will also be open on

President’s Day, Feb. 16.

Tickets cost $20-$22 for adults, with various discounts available. Parking is free.



Pg06-Rodeo cartoon-Sierra




Default logo - green

Rodeo By the Numbers

Compiled by Nick Meyers and Katie Stewart Vacio


Years since first Tucson Rodeo.

Over 200***

Number of floats entered in the Tucson Rodeo Parade each year.


Participants in the first Tucson Rodeo Parade in 1925.


Estimated number of human contestants in Tucson Rodeo.


Estimated number of horse participants at Tucson Rodeo.


Estimated number of cowboy hats sold at Tucson Rodeo.


The cost of a proven barrel racing horse.


Estimated number of Tucson Rodeo attendants every year.


Prize money distributed among winners at Tucson Rodeo each year.






AZTEC CALENDAR: Feb. 25-March 11

AZTEC CALENDAR: Feb. 25-March 11


Feb. 25: PCC Astronomy for All lecture and stargazing, East Campus community room and observatory, 6-8:30 p.m. Details:

March 2-26: José Galvez Photography Exhibit in honor of Cesar Chavez,EastCampusStudentLife,Monday-Thursday



March 7: Produce on Wheels – With Out Waste,DesertVistanorthparkinglot,

8-11 a.m. $10 to receive up to 60 pounds of fresh produce. Details: 206-5101.

March 10: PCC Music presents the Chorale & College Singers concert Renewal,WestCampusProsceniumTheatre,


employees. Details: 206-6986.

March 11: Irish Dance Troupe performance,EastCampusstudentmall,



Feb. 28: Dirty Rotten Imbeciles with Hillbilly Bo, Flying Donkey Punch, Blood Spasm, Knuckle Junction and The Hotchiks, The Rock, 136 N Park Ave., 6 p.m., $20. Details:

March 2: Young Thug and Travis Scott, The Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., 8 p.m. $30-$60. Details:

March 4: Like Vultures with Set In My Ways, Autonomy and Waysted Youth,TheRock, 6a.m.$

March 9: Whitechapel with At War With the Inferior, Order 66, A Sea Monster Ate My Friend, The Rock, 6 p.m. $16-$18. Details:

March 10: Electric Six with Avan Lava, The Rialto Theatre, 9 p.m. $13- $15. 21 and over. Details:

March 11: Uriah Heep and Powered Wig Machine,TheRialtoTheatre,8p.m.

$26-$29. 21 and over. Details:



March 3

“Resident Evil: Revelations Episode 2” (PS4, XB1, PS3, 360)

“White Night” (PS4, XB1)

March 5

“Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars” (Wii U, 3DS)

March 10

“Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters” (PS4, PS3)

“Resident Evil: Revelations Episode 3” (PS4, XB1, PS3, 360)

March 11

“Ori and The Blind Forest” (XB1, 360)



Feb. 21-March 1: 90th Annual La Fiesta De Los Vaqueros, Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. Sixth Ave., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. See website for schedules of morning events. $14-$70. Details:

Feb. 25: Hoop and Jam Flow, Maker House, 283N.StoneAve.,

Feb. 26: Arizona Super Smash Brothers Meet Your Maker,MakerHouse,283.N.StoneAve.,5-11p.m.$5singles,

$3 doubles. Details:

Feb. 27: Urban Yarns at the Library: Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Free Admission. Details:

Feb. 28: Antique Swap on Fourth Ave, Creative Ventures Craft Mall, 522 N. Fourth Ave., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Details:

Feb. 28-March 1: Oro Valley Festival of the Arts,OroValleyMarketplace, 12155N.OracleRoad,

March 1: Arts and Crafts Fair, CatMountainStation, 2740S.KinneyRoad, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Free admission. Details:

March 8: Madaras Spring Art Show, Madaras Gallery, 3001 E. Skyline Drive, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Free admission. Details:



Theatrical releases:

Feb. 27


“The Lazarus Effect”

March 6


“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

“Unfinished Buisness”


March 6

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part One”

March 10

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”



Feb. 28: Baseball vs. Glendale Community College, West Campus, noon.

March 3: Baseball vs. GateWay Community College, West Campus, noon.

March 3: Men’s tennis vs. Mesa Community College, Tucson Racquet Club, 1:30 p.m.

March 5: Women’s tennis vs. Ohio Northern University, West Campus, noon.

March 7: Softball vs. Eastern Arizona College, West Campus, noon.

March 10: Baseball vs. Cochise College, West Campus, 3 p.m.

March 11: Baseball vs. Pro Train, West Campus, 2 p.m.

March 12: Baseball vs. Douglas College, West Campus, 10 a.m.


Compiled by Aztec Press staffers

Live music: Katie Stewart Vacio

Movie openings: Alex Fruechtenicht

Pima home sports: Will Willcoxson

Tucson events: Tanisha Knutzen

Video game releases: Alex Fruechtenicht

Submit listings for free or inexpensive events

of interest to the Pima community at least

one week before publication date to:

Aztec Press Calendar,



Looking for a few good patients

Looking for a few good patients


A beautiful smile feels good all around. Perfect teeth become one of our beauty ideals but, beyond appearances, oral health plays an integral part in our well-being.

Poor oral health correlates with problems in sleeping, eating and speaking, according to a 2000 report, “Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General.” Other side effects include mouthand facial pain and social stigma.

The quest for whiter, cleaner teeth is often made complicated by high costs and accessibility of affordable dental insurance, but students in Pima Community College’s dental program are on a mission to make oral health available to all.

The Pima Dental Hygiene Clinic, located at West Campus, is currently seeking patients for the student-operated facility, which offers low cost dental cleanings and periodontal treatment.

“We are providing the care the individual’s oral health dictates,” Clinic Manager Anita Stevens said.

She is confident the program teaches students to provide personalized care for each patient’s specific needs.

“We are teaching the students to care for patients based on the accepted standards of care, so patients can’t get less, it’s always more,” she said.

Routine procedures, such as cleanings and checkups, cost approximately $45 and periodontal treatments are about $65. Included in the cost are an exam, X-rays as needed, prophylaxis and fluoride treatment.

The affordability of services brings many patients who do not have dental insurance but the cost is a benefit to insured people as well.

“There’s no such thing as good dental insurance,” Stevens said. “If you are lucky you have a $2,000 a year benefit. Most people it’s $1,000 or $1,500 but it’s not going to go very far. It’s a discount, it’s not insurance.”

She believes a lack of insurance should never prevent someone from getting the care they need.

“We have got to retrain people to get care if they have insurance or not because there are options available,” she said.

The clinic provides students of the dental assisting, dental hygiene and dental lab programs with hands-on experience using the most current technologies.

Computers, digital X-ray machines and panel machines were some of the evolved tools of the trade that drew hygiene student Larissa Bosecker to the program.

“I went to dental assistant program here, so I was really looking forward to come back after a quite a few years,” she says. “There’s so much change, especially in clinic. They have added a lot of technology. It’s different, everything improves and of course we have great instructors.”

Working in the clinic taught her lessons about the importance of her own oral health, and she wants to teach patients about the effect dental health has on wellbeing.

“It’s very important, extremely important,” Bosecker said. “Unfortunately some patients don’t recognize this. It’s why we are here. We teach them how important it is to keep a healthy mouth. If you have healthy mouth, everything is healthy. It’s all related.”

All health related programs at Pima teach a higher standard than what is required to pass their board exams, Stevens said. Only the most experience students in the two-year program work in the clinic, after completing the required competencies. When providing care to patients, students are graded and aided by a dentist supervisor.

Student Bernadette Salazar is in her second semester at Pima’s dental program and her daughter has been a patient a couple of times. She hopes the skills learned in the clinic will secure her a job in the future.

“It’s something I’ve always been interested in, taking care of people’s teeth and making sure they are healthy,” she said. “I love learning and working with my classmates. After school, who knows? I want to be lucky enough to find a job and work.”

There are 50-60 students enrolled in Pima’s dental program and about 25 students participate in the clinic. Thanks to a grant awarded in October 2014, the clinic hopes to expand that number to 30.In the summer, second-year funding will be used for expansion and additional equipment.

The clinic welcomes all members of the community, including children, and is seeking patients to fulfill student learning requirements.

Appointments typically take three and a half hours, and patients may require additional visits based on their dental needs. Clinic times vary but are offered seven to 11 times a week during the spring semester.

The clinic will also hold its annual Give Kids a Smile on Feb. 20. The event is sponsored by the American Dental Association and will provide dental care to 60-100 under-served children.

To schedule an appointment or request more information, call 206-6090.


.Pima dental students Satura Sarafan, left, and Lissa Curtis demonstrate a procedure on fellow student Aimee Rendon at West Campus.

Pima dental students Satura Sarafan, left, and Lissa Curtis demonstrate a procedure on fellow student Aimee Rendon at West Campus. (Aztec Press photos by Jamie Verwys)

Dental student Bernadette Salazar prepares her daughter, Mary Baro, for an X-ray at the West Campus clinic.

Dental student Bernadette Salazar prepares her daughter, Mary Baro, for an X-ray at the West Campus clinic.

From the Editor: Speak out about changes at PCC

From the Editor: Speak out about changes at PCC


The start of the new semester brought at least one big surprise: the disappearance of Sodexo cafeterias from Pima Community College campuses.

Last issue we ran the story “So long Sodexo! Cafeteria changes vendors” in which our reporter outlined PCC’s reasoning behind making the switch.

I have heard from many of you about your disappointment over losing readily accessible nutrition and freshly prepared food to an untested system of local food trucks and convenience store-style service.

Vice Chancellor David Bea referred to the new contract as having a “positive impact on the budget” during a recent governing board meeting. Due to ongoing state budget cuts and decreased enrollment, it isn’t surprising that the college is looking for ways to save money.

Pima has contracted Follett to provide food services for the next five years, so there is not much to be done about the current situation. The college is accepting comment, but there is little they can do beyond hear your voice.

For those of you who are disappointed with the new food service, the disappearance of winter classes and possible cuts to summer classes, let this serve as a wake-up call. Get involved with student government; let your concerns be heard.

The new La Pima initiative is another great way to voice your opinion on the services the college offers you, the students and employees of Pima.

For now, PCC has contracted with local food trucks to provide meals and snacks during tentative lunch hours. However, a limited schedule, selection and price options may make that opportunity less accessible than prepared food on campus.

Like many of you, I am skeptical about the college’s decision. I question whether students will get the foods and nutrition they need in order to remain alert and ready to learn, which is the college’s ultimate purpose.

Consider alternative options to take care of yourself, even if the lack of hot and healthy food at school makes it more difficult. But more importantly, don’t regress into quiet disapproval.

Though the administration has a slew of issues to handle, our voices can and should be heard.

Speak up, get involved and have a say in your future and the future of Pima.

Pg06-Opinion-Nick Meyers

Pima News

Pima News

Desert Vista hosting produce distributions

Produce on Wheels has begun its spring season of produce distribution at Pima Community College’s Desert Vista Campus. The events are sponsored by PCC’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

Produce on Wheels With Out Waste, or POW-WOW, is a program of the Borderlands Food Bank. It allows students and members of the community to receive up to 60 pounds of fresh produce for a $10 donation.

Distributions will be held every Saturday until June from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. at Desert Vista’s north parking lot.

For more information, call 206-5101.

-By Pablo Espinosa

PCC to screen documentary on Feb. 20

Pima Community College will host a Feb. 20 screening of the documentary “Stolen Education” that includes an audience discussion with producer Enrique Aleman Jr.

The screenings and discussions will take place in the Downtown Campus Amethyst Room from 9 a.m.-noon and from 2-5 p.m. The screenings are free and open to the public.

The movie documents Mexican-American school children who challenged discrimination in Texas schools in the 1950s. It chronicles eight students who testified in “Hernadez et al vs. Driscoll Consolidated Independent School District” in 1956.

For further information, call 206-4850.

-By Katie Stewart

‘Up With People’ workshops coming to PCC

The Up With People performance and educational organization is coming to Pima Community College in March to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

More than 110 performers from 20 countries will participant in workshops and other events at PCC campuses from March 2-9.

Workshops topics include leadership, intercultural communication, global awareness and environmental awareness.

For more information, contact Sharon Arceneaux at 206-7263.

Up With People will also stage 50th anniversary shows at the Fox Tucson Theatre on March 6-7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12 to $50, and are available through

-By Katie Stewart

PCC creates accreditation specialist job

PCC creates accreditation specialist job


Pima Community College has hired Bruce Moses as vice chancellor for accreditation. He will begin work on March 2.

The college created the position to maintain accreditation standards set by the Higher Learning Commission.

Chancellor Lee Lambert said the new position will provide leadership to fulfill a critical function.

“It is necessary for PCC to be in compliance with accreditors at the college-wide and specialized-program level,” he said in a message to employees. “Additionally, we must conform to state, regional and federal laws and regulations.

Moses joins Pima after eight years as a peer reviewer for the HLC. He was previously employed at Central Arizona College in Coolidge as an associate vice president for planning and institutional effectiveness.

“Bruce’s expertise and experience make him an ideal person for the position,” Lambert said. “He has a deep administrative and leadership background in assessment, planning, institutional effectiveness and research.”


Labor official visits


U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez visited Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus Jan. 29 to greet volunteers participating in an Affordable Care Act enrollment fair.

Perez summarized his visit in a single sentence while addressing media during the fair. “I’ve been visiting employers talking about how we can upscale workers to punch their ticket into the middle class,” he said.

He also spent time visiting PCC’s Aviation Technology Center and talking with local leaders about ways employees and businesses can better work together to achieve equitable outcomes.

“I’m excited to be able to see firsthand how smart federal investments to expand the kind of job-driven training that PCC has been pioneering for years, and new programs that provide affordable access to health care, are paying off for Tucson,” he said.

The Downtown Campus enrollment fair was hosted by Student Life with help from the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, a statewide public interest organization focusing on research.

“We’ve been helping to spearhead some efforts on this campus as our focus is working to make sure young adults know their options and rights,” said Diane Brown, Arizona PIRG executive director.

Both Perez and Brown stressed the importance of convincing uninsured young people to enroll in a health care plan.

“The bad news is that too often young adults believe that between credit card debt and living expenses, they cannot afford health insurance and therefore they too often defer coverage until it is too late,” Brown said.

The labor secretary’s visit fell on National Youth Enrollment Day, dedicated to getting young adults to sign up for health care.

“I can tell you all too many stories of young invincibles who went skiing and got in an accident or drove home and got in an accident,” Perez said.

“The good news is the vast majority of Arizonans are receiving financial assistance to pay for their health insurance and local enrollment assistants can help with the enrollment process,” Brown said.

Some 77 percent of people who signed up in the first four weeks qualified for financial assistance.

“It’s really exciting and exhilarating to visit with folks and see that they’re signing more and more people up,” Perez said.

Feb. 15 is the deadline for healthcare enrollment under the ACA to avoid a fine.

“What we’ve seen nationally is a dramatic uptick in the number of young adults who are being covered under their parents’ plan or more young adults that are enrolling here,” Perez said.

For more information visit “Health Insurance 101” at the PRG site,

College adopting global focus

College adopting global focus


Global education is an increasing priority at Pima Community College, and Ricardo Castro-Salazar is heading the effort.

Castro-Salazar is hard at work as vice president for international development for the college. It’s a new position, which Chancellor Lee Lambert says will be instrumental in the effort to strengthen global education at PCC.

“Global learning will promote economic development, expand our understanding of cultures and languages, encourage inclusiveness and diversity, and strengthen our community and nation,” Castro-Salazar wrote in an article for the Arizona Daily Star.

Castro-Salazar says that internationalization means educating our community in terms of why global perspective and global education are so important.

There are different dimensions to internationalization, and one of those dimensions is international student recruitment.

Recruiting international students is something that PCC has done for a number of years. Castro-Salazar says that arena has become a bit neglected though, and it is time to revive those efforts.

Another dimension of what he and other administrators plan to do is to develop opportunities for the international professional development of faculty members, staff and administrators.

Castro-Salazar is working with The Fulbright Program, a government-funded program that promotes international understanding and the exchange of faculty members and students.

“We also want to develop relationships with institutions throughout the world,” Castro-Salazar says.

Pima has many faculty members who are well connected throughout the world.

“We want to use their talents. We want to use their expertise so that Pima can have them as ambassadors,” Castro-Salazar says.

He recognizes that not all community college students or community members can go abroad.

“How do we bring that world to them?” he asks. “Well, through the exchange of cultural knowledge and all this very rich understanding that international students and international scholars bring to us.”

International students can offer a genuine perspective on life in other countries.

“There’s no substitute for that,” Castro-Salazar says. “When you have a person sitting right there in front of you, and he or she is telling you their perspective, why they feel that way and why things are a certain way in the culture they come from—that right there is global understanding and global communication in our classrooms.”

Castro-Salazar will work to infuse classrooms and extracurricular activities with a global perspective. He says PCC will move toward internationalizing the curricula.

“We want to make it into a sustainable, long-term plan that is infused in a great majority of our courses,” he says.

As an example, he says it is important to put American history into a global context—the context of the world at that point in time.

“All knowledge is the accumulated knowledge of many generations and sometimes many different cultures that came together throughout time,” he says.

Some people are opposed to internationalization. Castro-Salazar says their perspective may be a misunderstanding of what internationalization means.

“It is something that we have to respect,” he says of opposing views. “We have to look at their positions and their perspectives and explain to them that what we are doing is actually in the best interest of the community.”

The college’s responsibility is towards the community, but Castro-Salazar says the concept of community is changing.

“Communities today are very international,” he says. “They depend greatly on external factors. Here in Tucson we are a very international community.”

He says that we have various types of relationships with many countries, and we should focus on the educational component of those relationships.

“Any challenge, any problem, any solution that you look for will most likely involve an educational component,” Castro-Salazar says. “Education is the key to a lot of solutions and a lot of understanding.”

There is also economic benefit from internationalizing PCC.

In the article he wrote for the Arizona Daily Star, Castro-Salazar says that international students contributed $27 billion to the U.S. economy and supported 340,000 American jobs during this academic year.

Also, the international students support programs and services for all students by paying out-of-state tuition.

Long-term economic benefits may also come from international students who return home with a positive opinion of their host country, aiding in good relations for future trade, development, tourism and investment.

Lambert also sees the financial benefit of recruiting more international students, but says that is not the major reason he supports the initiative.

“It’s not about the money,” he says. “Do the right thing, and the money follows.”

A December article in The Arizona Daily Star said, “A widely-traveled Pima Community College instructor will launch the school’s new push to solicit students from China and around the globe.”

Castro-Salazar explains that while China is the country that is sending the most international students to the United States, there are many others that are important too, like South Korea, India, Saudi Arabia and Brazil, to name a few.

“They are also very important players in the international arena,” he says.

He explains that China may have been the country mentioned in the Arizona Daily Star article because the chancellor was invited there.

“We have the fortune of having a chancellor who is highly internationalized and understands the value of global education,” Castro-Salazar says. “He obviously had connections in China already, so of course we are going to develop that relationship. It’s a very important relationship, but it’s not the only relationship.”

Castro-Salazar also played an instrumental role in bringing 49 Mexican students to PCC last semester with the SEP-Bécalos-Santander Universidades program, through the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative.

“We want to promote understanding between Mexico and the United States,” he says.

The focus between the United States and Mexico is often on trade, immigration and security.

“What we want is a new focus, on a very important dimension—education,” he says. “In order to resolve these other three dimensions, we need education to start with.”

PCC is hoping to bring 60 more students from Mexico in the fall.

Lambert says that Castro-Salazar’s education and experience make him ideally suited for the challenge of strengthening global education.

Castro-Salazar says that through living in other countries we can come to see that our understanding of the world is very limited sometimes.

“You become very humble,” he says.

Castro-Salazar says he thinks everybody should be able to have cultural exposure.

“We need to get used to the idea that we cannot survive by ourselves,” he says. “We are not alone in this world. We need to know what other people in this planet are about, and we need to understand their customs, their beliefs. We need to understand and accept those things.”

Vice President for International Development Ricardo Castro-Salazar brings a valuable global perspective to Pima Community College.

Vice President for International Development Ricardo Castro-Salazar brings a valuable global perspective to Pima Community College.


College expects probation to be lifted

College expects probation to be lifted

WPg 5-Provost Holmes

Provost Erica Holmes speaks to Pima students, employees and community members during All College Day last August after being recently hired. She spoke about addressing the HLC probation head on. Nick Meyers/Aztec Press


Pima Community College may soon have probation lifted, but lack of evidence means monitoring will likely continue for years to come.

The Higher Learning Commission, Pima’s accrediting body, sent a fact-finding team last September to determine if deficiencies discovered during a 2013 visit had been remedied.

The team interviewed more than 100 college employees, students and community members and determined that the problems, such as a negative culture, leadership problems and high turnover rates, had largely been corrected.

However, the team noted that evidence was lacking to substantiate many of the reported improvements, due mostly to the short time frame the college had to institute the recommendations.

“PCC is an institution in flux, with numerous changes in policies, processes, and structures taking place,” the team wrote in their report, which was released Dec. 18. “Many of these changes are ongoing or recently implemented.”

Some changes were made just weeks before the team’s visit, the report noted. This led to the team having concerns with some of the components being fully resolved.

“Nevertheless, the team did feel that the institution had made significant progress in addressing its major challenges, in particular, those that led to probation,” the report said.

Due to the lack of evidence, the team suggested Pima be placed “on notice,” meaning monitoring would continue and another team would visit in March 2016 to assess the outcomes.

“Whether the changes made are effective or sustainable only time will tell,” the team said.

College officials believe the college is on the right track.

“As the site visit report indicated, we are moving in the right direction and are committed to instilling a culture of continuous improvement at the college,” Chancellor Lee Lambert wrote in an email to employees on Jan. 9.

Lambert and other college officials appeared before the commission’s Institutional Actions Council Committee Hearing on Jan. 13 to review the report from the fact-finding team.

After the meeting, the IAC committee also recommended Pima have sanctions removed and be placed on notice.

“That moves us a step closer to regaining the fullest confidence of the HLC,” said Pima provost Erica Holmes in a Jan. 26 email to students.

The committee had fewer reservations regarding some of the criteria being met than the team that visited the college.

While the fact-finding team found four criteria had been met “with concerns,” the IAC committee determined those same criteria had been fully addressed.

The IAC committee also recommended the college be given more time before another evaluation team is sent to Pima, suggesting an October 2016 visit rather than March.

The recommendations of the fact-finding team and the IAC  committee will be sent to the commission’s board of trustees, which will make a decision and take action sometime in late February or early March.

Lambert said he expects the college to be taken off probation after the board of trustees meets, due to the work of so many Pima employees, students and members of the public.

“The dedication of our employees, working together in service to our students and community, fills me with pride,” Lambert wrote in an email to employees shortly after the IAC recommendation was released.

“More than ever, I am hopeful we will be taken off probation and be on our way to becoming a premier community college.”