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.
BY ARLAETH RAMIREZ
Whether it’s from the north, west, south or east, many Pima Community College students make long commutes to attend classes.
Mia Rodriguez, 22, drives from Sahuarita to Desert Vista Campus.
“It gets tiring after a while,” Rodriguez said. “I will move up there soon, hopefully.”
Rodriguez has been driving for years because living with her parents is cheaper.
“Although I waste a lot of gas driving to Tucson, it is better than paying rent with people you don’t want to live with,” she said.
Tyler Miller, 20, drives with Chelsea Madrigal, 19, from Oro Valley to Downtown Campus. They take turns driving Monday through Thursday.
“Driving with somebody isn’t so bad,” Miller said. “Chelsea and I are always jamming out to oldies.”
Paola Garcia , 23, comes to Desert Vista Campus all the way from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. She hasn’t moved to Tucson because she can’t afford to pay for an apartment. She said she will try to get a job in Tucson, and then move up.
“I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. to get ready,” she said. “I know that driving up every day will all be worth it after I graduate.”
Garcia, a straight-A student, drives in daily although she only has classes Mondays through Thursdays. She sometimes even goes on the weekends to get ahead in her class work and studies.
“Being the first person from my family to go to college is a privilege,” she said. “Not everyone gets to go to college.”
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.”
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
Javier Alcaraz, a former Pima Community College instructor in Spanish and French classes, died on April 2 due to pancreatic cancer. He was 88.
The family will hold a memorial service on Wednesday, Dec. 28, at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 601 E. Fort Lowell Road. A reception will follow the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Javier Alcaraz’s name to Casa De Los Ninos Crisis Nursery or the Salvation Army.
Alcaraz, who studied in Mexico, Spain, Paris and Rome, taught at the Downtown Campus from 1978 until he retired in 2000. He became the head of the language department toward the end of his career.
After retiring, Alcaraz moved to Spokane, Washington, with his wife Teresa Alcaraz. However, he often returned to Tucson to visit friends.
Daughter Veronique Alcaraz remembers her father leaving advice for her to live by.
“He certainly imparted the love of learning and also the love of caring for other people,” she said. “That’s because of his background as a teacher. He was very passionate about his students and he was a very caring parent and was devoted to his wife.”
For more information about the memorial service, call the Sacred Heart Church at 888-1530
By EDDIE CELAYA
A mundane topic of labor discussions has evolved into a sharp point of contention between Pima Community College and its three largest employee organizations. The disagreement centers around a process called “meet and confer.”
Pima Community College Education Association Vice-President Matej Boguszak said in an email that meet and confer was important on multiple fronts.
“It is what substitutes for collective bargaining at Pima and at many other community college districts across the state,” he said.
Libby Howell, PCC spokeswomen, said that is not the case. “Meet and confer is not collective bargaining, it’s not a negotiation and it does not result in a binding contract,” she said.
Boguszak and PCCEA contend the guidelines for meet and confer have consisted entirely of Higher Learning Commission-related topics the past two years.
“We were asked to focus solely on HLC compliance, reduction in force (layoff) policies, and were not allowed to discuss salaries/raises due to the poor financial state of the college,” he said.
That’s not usual, according to Boguszak.
“More typically, faculty and administration both bring a list of topics/priorities they feel need attention and jointly agree on (or negotiate) which ones to tackle,” he said.
The administration takes a different view. Howell said that the Personal Governance Task Force, which was set up to handle issues with human resources as well as “be more inclusive of employee input.”
Both sides point to a specific policy to support their point: Board of Governors Policy 1.25.
The task force met twice, according to Howell. “What’s most noteworthy is that the PGTF developed the new framework by consensus, meaning all committee members agreed with it,” she said.
Again, Boguszak believes that consensus is a matter of perspective. The PGTF “had met during Fall 2015 to address the issue of redesigning BP 1.25 and Meet and Confer, but it has not finalized any specific recommendations and has not met since,” he said.
The policy, which is another point of contention, was up for discussion at the last Board meeting on Nov. 16. A change in language was proposed, changing the key wording from “assist” to “inform.”
“The proposed language changes to BP 1.25 were presented as minor adjustments made to reflect current practice and the extent of the board’s involvement,” Boguszak said.
He and PCCE fear that the change could “potentially contribute to a diminished employee voice.
The administration and Howell find those fears unfounded. She points out that the three employee organizations, including PCCEA, cannot provide the only employee representatives during meet and confer meetings.
“Similarly, membership in these organizations at Pima is voluntary, and not necessarily representative of the majority of employees,” Howell said.
With both sides seeing the negotiations in such different terms, a contentious atmosphere awaits the meetings, scheduled for sometime in the spring semester.
Boguszak harbors some hope, though.
“I truly believe we’re all in this together to create an environment that best supports the work faculty do with our students,” he said.
Dec. 8: Fall 2016 student celebration, recognition and appreciation, Northwest Campus Student Life Center, D-201, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Details: 206-2121.
Dec. 8: “Show, Tell, Give” storytelling contest and book drive, Downtown Campus Writing Center LB-140, 3:30-5 p.m. Free. Details: 206-7156.
Dec. 9-10: “Signature Selections 2016” dance concert, West Campus CFA Proscenium Theatre, Fri-Sat 7:30 p.m., Sat 2 p.m. $8-$10, $5 with student ID. Box office: 206-6986.
Dec. 12: Department of Economic Security for Vets, East Campus L Building Student Mall, 9:30 a.m.-noon. DES will be on campus to help veterans find jobs. Details: 206-7616.
Dec. 12: Poetry reading by West Campus poetry students, Creative Writing Center, Sentinel Peak JG-18, 7 p.m. Free, with refreshments. Details: 206-6084.
PIMA HOME SPORTS
Jan 4: Women’s basketball vs. Scottsdale CC, West Campus gym, 5:30 p.m.
Jan 4: Men’s basketball vs. Scottsdale CC, West Campus gym, 7:30 p.m.
Jan 11: Women’s basketball vs. Phoenix College, West Campus gym, 5:30 p.m.
Jan 11: Men’s basketball vs. Phoenix College, West Campus gym, 7:30 p.m.
Jan 18: Women’s basketball vs. Mesa CC, West Campus gym, 5:30 p.m.
Jan 18: Men’s basketball vs. Mesa CC, West Campus gym, 7:30 p.m.
Jan 28: Women’s basketball vs. Chandler-Gilbert CC, West Campus gym, 2 p.m.
Jan 28: Men’s basketball vs. Chandler-Gilbert CC, West Campus gym, 4 p.m.
Dec. 9-11: Fourth Avenue Street Fair, 10 a.m.-dusk. Free. Details: fourthavenue.org
Dec. 10-26: Winterhaven Festival of Lights, East Prince Road, North Country Club Road, East Fort Lowell Boulevard, North Tucson Boulevard, 6-10 p.m. Free. Details: winterhavenfestival.org
Dec. 17: Downtown Parade of Lights, 4-9 p.m. Free. Downtown parking garages available. Details: DowntownTucson.org/visit/parade-of-lights
Through Dec. 23: Zoo Lights at Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Court, 6-8 p.m. Adults $9.50, children (2-14) $5.50. Details: reidparkzoo.org
Through Dec. 31: Plaza Palmino Saturday Mercado, 2960 N. Swan Road, every Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Details: plazapalomino.wpengine.com
Through May 31, 2017: Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life, Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way, daily 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Adults $9-$13, senior/military $8-$12, children 4-17 $5-$7.50. Details: tucsonbotanical.org
Through May 31, 2017: Butterfly Magic at the Gardens, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Mon-Fri 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat-Sun 6:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Adults $13, students/senior/military $12, children 4-17 $7.50. Details: tucsonbotanical.org
Dec. 8: Sara Watkins @ 191 Toole, 191 E. Toole Ave., 7 p.m. $20-$22. Details: rialtotheatre.com
Dec. 9: Tig Notaro, Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., 7 p.m. $25-$30. Details: rialtotheatre.com
Dec. 9: Rock 102.1 KFMA’s Nutcracker Ball, Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., 7 p.m. $15. Details: hotelcongress.com
Dec. 10: Fat Nick–When the Lean Runs Out @ 191 Toole, 8 p.m. $15-$40. Details: rialtotheatre.com
Dec. 17: Local Love Presents Festivus II, Rialto Theatre, $5-$8. Details: rialtotheatre.com
TOP MOVIE OPENINGS
“La La Land”
“The Bounce Back”
“All We Had”
“Frank & Lola”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Harley and the Davidsons”
“Southside with You”
“Bridget Jones Baby”
“The Magnificent Seven”
“Harley and the Davidsons”
“Southside With You”
Fall 2016 Aztec Press staff:
By EDDIE CELAYA
Former chemistry instructor David Katz has been awarded nearly $150,000 after a judge ruled his due process was violated by Pima Community College and high-level administrators.
A settlement agreement lays out legal guidelines for both sides to follow and constitutes the “full settlement and discharge of all claims.”
Katz, who was fired by the college in 2013, was awarded $149,815. The settlement includes $100,000 as compensation for damages suffered and $49,815 for lost wages.
Administrators named in the lawsuit included Chancellor Lee Lambert, former West Campus President Louis Albert and former department chair Mary Kay Gilliland.
The Arizona School Risk Retention Trust will pay the reward on behalf of the defendants. The ASRRT, a nonprofit located in Phoenix, provides insurance to community colleges during litigation.
Pima spokeswoman Libby Howell said the settlement was not an admission of guilt.
“Note that this agreement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing on Pima’s part or by any of the individuals named as defendants,” she said.
The settlement agreement uses similar language: “Nothing contained in this agreement shall be construed as an admission by defendants that they have violated any statute, law or regulation.”
Howell said both sides “often settle cases to avoid the expense and uncertainty of continued litigation.”
The settlement outlines additional stipulations. For example, each side is responsible for its own attorney’s fees.
The document also details a nondisparagement agreement that makes it difficult for either side to say much: “The parties agree that they will not make disparaging, denigrating or defamatory comments or statements to any third party.”
The agreement resembles a gag order, noting, “The parties specifically agree that they will not comment on the allegations contained in the lawsuit.”
Katz believes the ruling will positively affect current PCC instructors. To help with official discipline from the school, he offered a few suggestions:
“For any complaint procedure/meeting, bring a representative from your representative group,” he said. “If a representative is not available, reschedule the meeting.”
Katz also reminded instructors that due process is their right as a public employee.
“You have a right to be provided with a copy of the complaint,” he said. “That must be a written, detailed description of the complaint with appropriate documentation including names, time and date.”
Katz expects to remain in education.
“Currently, I’m looking for another teaching position to continue my research on integrating lecture and lab for the general chemistry course,” he said.
Northwest Campus hosts ‘ugly sweater’ party
All Pima Community College students are invited to attend an ugly sweater party at Northwest Campus on Dec. 8 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Student Life Center.
The party will honor students and staff who have been a part of Student Life this semester.
For more information, call the Student Life Center at 206-2121.
-By Brittney Young
‘Show Tell Give’ event spotlights storytelling
Downtown Campus will host its annual “Show Tell Give” event Dec. 8 from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Writing Center, LB-140.
Instructor Molly McCloy will oversee a storytelling contest with a “holiday disaster” theme. Students will also read short stories and essays, and participate in a book drive to benefit Casa de Los Niños and Old Pueblo Children’s Home. Student Life will provide refreshments.
For more information, call Josie Milliken at 206-7156.
-By Casey Muse Jr.
PTK chapter works to help ‘Woman Warriors’
The Alpha Beta Chi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honors in Action will help homeless female veterans with a “Woman Warriors” event on Dec. 21 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Downtown Campus.
Students have worked with community agencies to provide food, entertainment, female hygiene products, clothing and haircuts.
“There are a lot of services for male vets but you very rarely hear of any for our female veterans,” event chair Karen Kuciver said. “There are quite a few females out there. We just wanted to reach out to them.”
The Pima chapter began its “Woman Warriors” project as a part of Phi Theta Kappa Honors in Action’s program called “How the World Works: Global Perspectives.” The program offers eight themes, and chapters can choose any theme to build a project around.
The chapter created a presentation on post-traumatic stress disorder and homelessness of veterans. Kuciver said many veterans fall through the cracks in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs system and become homeless through substance abuse and mental illness.
Often, injured vets are over-medicated and many get addicted to the medications, Kuciver said. If they aren’t treated correctly, many start self-medicating with alcohol and heroin. This becomes a downward spiral in which vets can’t hold a job and become homeless.
Female veterans suffer the same issues. The Pima chapter sponsors a woman through Project Action for Veterans, which houses homeless veterans.
Kuciver said the woman was a medic in the Army. The veteran has severe depression and anxiety, and just got off the streets with her two boys.
VA agencies participating in the “Woman Warriors” project provide counseling, employment, housing, health and transitioning services.
They include Project Action for Veterans, Tucson Vet Center, Women’s Health Clinic, Tucson VA Transition Program and Homeless Employment.
For additional information, contact Honors in Action chair Alliyah Graham at 730-2107 or event chair Karen Kuciver at (928) 322-2444.
-By Robyn Zelickson
Mexico awards PCC scholarships funds
A Mexican agency has given Pima Community College $80,000 to fund scholarships for immigrants and Americans of Mexicans origin.
Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, presented the award during a ceremony at the Mexican Consulate in Tucson.
The funds come from the Ministry of Foreign Relations’ Institute for Mexicans Abroad.
The award marks the third scholarship grant PCC has received from IME since November 2014, for a total of $260,000.
-By Maria Angulo
Social services students aid single-parent families
Social services students in PCC’s community organization and development class sponsored an event Dec. 4 for single-parent families.
The students provided free food, games, jumping castles and other entertainment activities. They also gave holidays stocking to each child attending.
Participating social services organizations educated families about available Tucson resources.
Students spent weeks securing donations from local businesses and community members.
-By Francisco Zapata
By EDDIE CELAYA
Pima Community College employee groups chastised Chancellor Lee Lambert during a governing board meeting Nov. 16.
Members representing a faculty group and an exempt staff group rebuked Lambert for suggesting limitations on a “meet and confer” process.
Two board members, Demion Clinco and Martha Durkin, were physically absent but followed the proceedings online and voted via cell phone.
The set-up made for awkward hand-offs throughout the evening, with the phone being passed like a baton from speaker to speaker.
The meeting started with presentation of awards to student and faculty groups, and was followed by a public comment segment.
Matej Boguszak, a math instructor at Downtown Campus and vice president of the Pima Community College Educators Association, took the floor.
“Those of you who know me can attest that I am naturally a pragmatic, rational and collaborative person,” Boguszak said. “I would not be here were it not for grave concerns about the direction being recommended to the board.”
The direction at issue involved the college’s meet and confer process.
“Meet and confer,” a term often used in the context of labor negotiations, means two parties come together in an informal process to discuss issues.
The college has limited topics to Higher Learning Commission accreditation issues for the past two years, according to Ana Jimenez, a math instructor and PCCEA president.
“All other faculty concerns have been put on hold because of these limitations,” she said via email. “We expected that 2017 we would bring to the table a full slate of concerns addressing the needs of faculty.”
Another year of focusing on HLC-related issues would effectively mean a year with no real meet and confer guidelines being set, Jimenez said.
“We are deeply troubled by continuation of restrictions being placed on meet and confer, which is the only forum where we’re guaranteed a seat at the table to work collaboratively with administration about college policy,” she wrote.
Members of the governing board finalize what topics can be discussed, after recommendations from the chancellor and administrators.
Boguszak told board members that PCCEA did not receive advance notification of Lambert’s proposed restrictions.
“It saddens me to express deep disappointment in the chancellor and the fact that he did not give us any notice of this action, even after PCCEA specifically noted concerns during our last meeting,” Boguszak said.
Jimenez echoed those sentiments.
“PCCEA … would have preferred discussing this action prior to its inclusion in the board agenda but we were not informed and, in fact, only found out about the action by reading through the board packet,” she said.
Frank Velazquez Jr., president of the Association of Classified Exempt Staff, also criticized Lambert’s proposal during the public comment portion of the board meeting.
“In the face of low student enrollment, difficult decisions must be made,” he said. “But ACES wants to remind you, chancellor, that you are not alone in making these decisions.”
Velazquez also challenged a proposal to rewrite a portion of board policy known as section 1.25. The policy change would change the description of employee meet and confer input from “assist” to “inform.”
“The meet and confer process must remain a collaborative effort, therefore ACES is not in support of proposed changes to Board Policy 1.25,” Velazquez said.
General Council Jeff Silvyn said the proposed change came about because board members wanted to clarify the role employee groups play in negotiations.
“Assist’ can mean all kinds of things,” Silvyn said. “If we think about how employees and administration assist the board, it’s by providing information to the board.”
District 3 representative Sylvia Lee sympathized with the employees’ point of view.
“I think ‘to inform’ is a nebulous term,” she said. “I really don’t think it changes the intent.”
Lee proposed an amendment stating the original language of “assist” was fine. The amendment failed.
A round of discussion among board members ensued, followed by a vote.
The board defeated the proposed meet and confer limitations by a vote of 3-2. They approved the proposed changes to the language of Board Policy 1.25 by the same margin.
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.”
By MARIA ANGULO
Thanks to a new relationship with Zhuhai City Polytechnic College in China, studying abroad has become more accessible for Pima Community College students.
Leandra Bailey is one of the six Pima students in the program’s inaugural semester.
“It was an exciting idea to be able to be part of the first round of international Pima students who would be paving the way for others to have this same opportunity,” she said via email.
“I have always had the desire to live and study in a foreign country,” she said. “I immediately jumped at the opportunity.”
Bailey wanted more than just backpacking through Europe. She wanted to experience an unfamiliar country, including the culture and its people. For her, traveling to China provided that opportunity.
Learning Mandarin has been difficult but Bailey welcomes the challenge.
“Traveling to a country that speaks a foreign language really pushes you to interact with the community, rather than just act as a tourist abroad,” she said.
The excitement of being in China began the moment she arrived.
“I was amazed by every single aspect of what I was experiencing,” she said. “There were new sights, new smells, and I suddenly couldn’t understand anything anyone was saying to me.”
Bailey lives in a dorm and enrolled in a program that allows her to take Mandarin Chinese courses while also serving as a conversation partner with local Chinese students.
Her work is more mentoring than teaching, and is conducted in a casual environment.
“I help them better their English skills, and they help me with learning about the language and culture,” she said.
Bailey is pursuing an associate of science degree at Pima and plans on transferring to the University of Arizona to study astronomy and planetary science.
“I think that being a student abroad is an invaluable experience, regardless of your career path,” she said. “I would encourage anyone to take the opportunity to study abroad.”
Haven Scheiderer is also enrolled in the Pima program.
“It is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was in high school,” she said, also via email. “I applied for this program because I’ve always been interested in Eastern Asian Culture.”
Scheiderer wants to push herself of her comfort zone and improve her social skills and said an exchange program was a great way to do that.
She hasn’t experienced much culture shock. “I have found that the people aren’t much different from me,” she said.
Scheiderer maintains a busy schedule with school events, cultural activities, class, studying and working as a conversation partner.
“I enjoy keeping busy,” she said. “It has allowed me to focus on why I came here and not get homesick.”
As a conversation partner, Scheiderer has learned ways to help Chinese students learn English.
“We started off trying to just sit in a circle and talk about different topics but they were both bored by that and nervous to speak in front of others,” she said.
Instead, they play games. “It gets them involved and it is fun for both parties,” Scheiderer said.
Scheiderer receives good grades but learning the language hasn’t been easy. She knows it will take a long time to become fluent.
“I might know the words in my head but saying them is another story,” she said.
Scheiderer is happy about her decision to study abroad.
“I can’t speak for other countries but studying abroad in China is very special,” she said. “I think China is an amazing place to visit. Everyone should get the opportunity to go abroad at some point in their life because it’s eye opening and an experience of a lifetime.”
By ARLAETH RAMIREZ and ADRIAN FORD
Jonathan Lerma, 19, has settled into apartment-style housing for his semester at Pima Community College but misses family aspects of his home in Durango, Mexico.
“I can only eat frozen food so much,” he said. “I really miss home-cooked food.”
Lerma’s friend Irving Gonzalez, 20, of Chihuahua, Mexico, also cited meals as a challenging adjustment.
“The biggest difference between our housing here and our homes in Mexico is the food,” he said.
Lerma and Gonzalez enrolled at PCC through Bécalos, a program that provides Mexican students with scholarships to study abroad.
PCC welcomed 69 Bécalos students in August as part of an ongoing initiative.
In addition to scholarship funds, Bécalos pays for part of the students’ living expenses. The students are expected to raise money and reciprocate for future students.
Marlenne Trejo, chancellor at Technological University of Saltillo, said Bécalos students are usually the first ones in their families to go to college.
“Some of these students haven’t traveled anywhere,” she said. “For them to come to a whole different country, that is just amazing to them.”
Lerma has noticed differences between the U.S. and his home country.
“The streets of Tucson have a lot less holes than in Mexico,” he said. “The cars here stop for pedestrians. In Mexico, you have to wait until you’re clear and run for it.”
Pima helps the new arrivals integrate into clubs and activities to become a part of the community.
Emmanuel Cabrera, 21, of Pachuca, Mexico has met many different people and participates in lots of different activities.
“The Bécalos program is a good way to link students from Mexico with international programs that let students study and learn about diverse cultures,” he said.
Another Bécalos student is Jacobo Quiñones, 21, of Pachuca, Hidalgo Mexico.
“Bécalos changes your perspective on things,” Quiñones said. “It helps university students to improve all the skills and knowledge in a completely different country and we also get to share the culture with the different international students.”
Jesus Torres, 20, of Saltillo, Coahuila, is grateful he was selected.
“Going back to Mexico and being able to say I came to the United States to study will be the best, because not everyone gets chosen to study in a different country,” he said. “I can’t explain how grateful I am.”
Ricardo Castro-Salazar, vice president for international development, enjoys watching the students expand their horizons.
“The impact Bécalos has on these students is rewarding to us,” he said.
Some students don’t have money to buy a suitcase or a jacket to bring into the U.S., said Vicky Garza, president of a mobility program.
“This program has changed their lives and I see the happiness it brings these students,” she said. “It’s an experience they’ll never forget.”
Gonzalez echoed Garza’s comments.
“Sure I miss home, but I am learning a lot from my time here in the U.S,” he said. “I hope to take the knowledge that I’ve gained back home to Chihuahua.”
By ARLAETH RAMIREZ
More than 340 international students from 44 different countries are attending Pima Community College this semester.
The highest numbers come from China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and India.
As vice president for international development, Ricardo Castro-Salazar helps make those students feel at home.
“Not only do we want to bring international students but we also want to offer an international experience to all of our students,” Salazar said. “The educational experience is enriched through these students.”
Salazar brings a global perspective to his work. He has lived on four continents and has taught in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Past work at Pima included overseeing an 84-member task force that developed an Internationalization/Vision 2020 strategic plan for students.
“We are part of the global diversity and we want to include that in their learning,” he said. “Arizona in general is very diverse.”
Salazar said international students have opened his mind to different perspectives.
“I know that when they go back to their country they will take a part of the U.S. with them,” he said. “Not only have they learned from us, but we have learned a lot from them.”
The number of international students has increased over the past seven semesters.
“Little by little, we are seeing growth,” Salazar said. “I want to be able to bring the world to our students, but also send them out to the world.”