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Scholarship student goes for the gold

Scholarship student goes for the gold



In college, completing assignments and making it to class are hard enough. When students manage all of that and end up receiving praise for their work, it is an example of how hard work can pay off.

Pima Community College student, Andrew Paxton, will be remembered as an involved, passionate academic who has worked hard to make his time at PCC count.

He began classes in Fall 2012 and since then has served as an officer for Pima’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Alpha Beta Chi, and is president of the Journalism Club. He was editor-in-chief of the Aztec Press for more than a year.

On March 23, Paxton received a prestigious national honor when he was named a 2015 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar.

“It was pretty surprising,” Paxton says. “Even more surprising was the reaction I got after the award. I guess I didn’t realize how prestigious the award actually is. I didn’t have much of a social life the last few years. So they didn’t just hand me the scholarships by any means.”

Paxton was one of 50 community college students nationwide to receive top honors from PTK and will receive a $1,500 scholarship and special medallion.

A former president of PTK, Kyra Harris, says her friendship with Paxton was instant and she saw him as her right-hand man.

“I cannot think of anyone who deserves that scholarship more,” she says. “Andrew is ambitious, dedicated and compassionate. Many people are like crabs in a barrel, constantly trying to pull themselves up while they pull others down. Andrew is nothing like that. He understands the value of true collaboration and I would stand beside him for anything.”

In February, Paxton was one of four PCC students named as All-Arizona Academic First Team, earning him a scholarship and two-year Arizona Board of Regents tuition waiver to the University of Arizona.

When Paxton first began his experience at Pima, it was a major turning point in his life.

“I was involved in a road rage incident in 2007,” he says. “I nearly died as a result, and during my convalesce, I realized I wasn’t really living, just existing. I had received a second chance at life and I decided to make the most of it.

“Pima has opened more doors, windows and avenues for me than I could have ever imagined.”

Of Paxton’s many achievements, he says his time at the Aztec Press is his proudest.

“I have been able to meet countless people, and share their stories and experiences,” he said. “Those interactions have shaped me in ways that will influence my life for the rest of my days.”

At the helm of the student newspaper, he led the way to statewide and national awards, increased coverage and reported on Pima news topics with unwavering commitment to the truth.

More important than accolades, Paxton inspired and led student reporters in their own journeys.

“I was able to help train the next wave of journalists on staff,” he said. “Working with a reporter to develop a story and seeing the impact, on the author and the audience, is a very satisfying feeling and one I hope to replicate in the future.”

Harris witnessed the progress Paxton has captained for the organizations he was involved in.

“Pima has been very lucky to have Andrew,” she said.  “I know for a fact both PTK and the Aztec Press wouldn’t have done as well without his leadership and guidance. He has put both of them on the national stage which is good for all of Pima.”

He retains his humility.

“I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the success I have had so far were it not for my support network of my girlfriend, mother, friends, family, advisors and cat,” he said. “I believe those that stand by us throughout good times and bad are critical to finding not only success, but inner happiness and peace as well.”

Paxton will graduate from Pima on May 21 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in journalism at UA. His plan after college is “world domination.”

“I will be an editor somewhere, probably for my own publication, so I can be my own boss,” he said. “I also will write some books, and probably teach someday. Maybe sell out and go into public relations, but only if I need the money to support my Fabergé egg addiction.”

Paxton hopes to merge his political science interests with his love of journalism.

While he was surprised to receive PTK’s scholarship, he is well aware of the fact that he earned this recognition.

His story of success at Pima just goes to show that the college experience is worth all the long hours and struggles.

Paxton will remain on West Campus as the advertisement manager of the Aztec Press.

Comic: Yuck the Bug

Comic: Yuck the Bug



Experience: the best teacher

Experience: the best teacher


Experiences are the most important part of life.

Through experiences, whether they’re good or bad ones, we gain a sense of direction in life, all while creating lasting memories.
These moments of clarity, excitement and pain paint a picture of our life.

We learn about the person we see in the mirror each day and about the person we hope to eventually become. We realize through the ups and downs of life what defines us.

We must learn through these experiences what it is that we want out of life. Not only are we learning about ourselves but we are creating something that is worth talking about in our future.

Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” I find that experiences are the most beautiful parts of life.
People always say that money creates happiness but I think that it’s the experiences of life that create happiness.

It’s these simple things in life, such as experiencing a new city, meeting new people or picking up a new hobby that we so often take for granted.

It’s a simple task to do something out of our comfort zone. If we continue to make these small steps outside of our box, we’ll realize there is a whole world out there just waiting to teach us something new.

Experiences are beautiful, they’re life­changing moments and we need to learn to embrace them. I’m not one to use the term, “YOLO” but the definition of the word is quite true because we do only live once. Why not make it an awesome ride?

Every day isn’t going to be sunshine and roses but every day is an experience. If we take the good with the bad, we’ll realize that both sides of the equation depend on one another to bring a lifetime of beauty and learning.

Knutzen loves seeing new places, meeting new people and learning through the ups and downs of life.

Remember your mom every day

Remember your mom every day


We all know that Mother’s Day is supposed to be a celebration for moms across the country, a day where she can eat a horrible breakfast in bed and relax as her family tries to fill her shoes for 24 hours.

The holiday began in this country about 100 years ago, when Anna Jarvis began a campaign to have moms nationwide recognized for their efforts.

Later, after Hallmark and other companies began commercializing Mother’s Day, Jarvis started rallying against the corporate flood and even tried to have the holiday rescinded.

Ten years after the holiday was declared a national celebration, Jarvis was even arrested for disturbing the peace during a Mother’s Day protest.

The reason she was so passionate was because Jarvis believed that the sentiments being expressed during the second Sunday in May should come from the heart, not the store.

She believed hand-written notes of affection were the best way to express esteem for the women who mean so much to us.
So although this column was typed, I am using a bit of this space to express my heartfelt love, appreciation and gratitude for the woman who made my very existence a possibility.

Were it not for my mother, Candi, I would not be the person I am today. Her guidance, wisdom, kindness, compassion and unconditional love have all guided me through my journey, and I would have been truly lost without her.

She has always had faith and encouraged me to do my best, no matter how long the odds may have been or what challenges we may have been facing.

Mother’s Day is also about recognizing those in life that have shown the maternal instincts and bonds that we think of when we hear the word “mother.”

I have been lucky to know many strong, compassionate women in my life, far too many to name here, but each one of them played a special role and I will never forget everything they did.

And let’s not forget my friends and classmates who somehow balance a family with school, and sometimes work as well.

All of us have these women in our lives, whether they are our biological mothers, our grandmothers or aunts, or simply a woman who took the time to show us we mattered, we were special, and life was going to be OK.

So please remember those amazing women, the lessons they taught us, and consider what they would think of us today. Remember them not just on Mother’s Day, but every day. Live to be a better person, to make all the mothers out there proud.

Whatever you do, just don’t buy her a Hallmark card. You’re better than that.

When Paxton was young, he would make his mom cards and art projects for Mother’s Day. She is probably thankful he is just sticking to writing newspaper columns now.


DC Jumbie serves up fun

DC Jumbie serves up fun



Many students have noticed the DC Jumbie Latin Caribbean food truck making stops at Pima Community College campuses, if not for the flavorful smell of sandwiches grilling and sweet plantains roasting, then maybe for the signature big yellow truck.

Truck owner Daniel Figueroa has been in business since March 2013, but has always had a passion for food and cooking.

“I grew up in both Chicago, Illinois and Miami, Florida,” Figueroa said. “Food has always been a big part of my life, as my parents both loved to cook. It is what brings our family together.”

All sandwiches on Figueroa’s menu have their own unique and individual tastes, and are also paired with a side of fried sweet plantains.

The Cuban sandwich is stuffed with slow roasted pork and ham, melted Swiss cheese, topped with dill pickles and drizzled with mayo and mustard.

Customers ordering the Monster barbecue sandwich get the trio of slow-roasted pork, ham and grilled chicken. The sandwich is smothered with Figueroa’s smoky barbecue sauce.

The newest sandwich on the DC Jumbie menu, and my favorite, is the Tropipeño Jack sandwich. It gives you the choice of grilled pork or chicken, layered with sautéed peppers, onions and jalapeños, topped with pepper jack cheese.

All sandwiches cost $7, which is reasonable for an 8-inch grilled sub sandwich with a side of fried sweet plantains.

Figueroa’s wife and family are from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, which inspired the Caribbean pop in his meals.

“I was exposed to and grew up with many different flavors, allowing DC Jumbie to come to life,” Figueroa said.

Pg03-Food Truck

Figueroa pulls up to serve hungry students some of his authentic Caribbean sandwiches at the West Campus. (Shana Rose/Aztec Press)

Drop F-bombs for feminism

Drop F-bombs for feminism



In October 2014, the pro-LGBT equality, anti-racism and anti-sexism T-shirt company FCKH8 released the video “Pink Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism,” produced by Mike Kon. By the title of the video, you can probably tell where this is going.

The video starts out with seven little girls between the ages of 6 and 13 dressed like princesses. The sound of a beautiful harp is playing in the background and the princesses are innocently tilting their heads and being pretty.

Suddenly you hear a record scratch, then shit gets real.

The princesses open the video with “I’m not some pretty fucking helpless princess in distress. I’m pretty fucking powerful and ready for success. So what is more offensive? A little girl saying ‘fuck,’ or the fucking unequal and sexist way society treats girls and women?”

The princesses weren’t simply cursing just to spice up the script. They were also speaking up on pay inequality, rape and violence — issues women are facing in today’s society.
FCKH8 received mixed criticism from its audience.

Some viewers found it empowering, to have little girls speak up on the issues. Some thought it was clever how they grabbed attention with the use of swear words. Others were completely disgusted and saw this as child abuse.

I, personally, loved the video.

I loved that issues of pay inequality, rape and violence were advocated by little girls. I loved that this video made people uncomfortable and provoked thought. I loved the point the video was actually trying to make, and how the video was executed.

The point wasn’t to have little princesses drop knowledge on the public about pay inequality and rape while cursing to get everyone’s attention.

The point was to show that society is more concerned with little girls cursing than they are with women making 23 percent less than their male counterparts for the same work, and that one in five women are raped or sexually assaulted in gender-based violence.

I will admit, FCKH8’s video did come off as sexist and crossed the line with some statements of their testimony.

One of the princesses made a bold statement: “One out of five women will be sexually assaulted or raped by a man. Stop telling girls how to dress and start teaching boys not to fucking rape.”

The fallacy belief that rapists are only men and victims of rape are only women has created this scary world where women can’t walk to their car alone at night or can’t leave their drinks unattended for a second.

But looking past some of the sexist misconceptions, I understood the overall message. I’m somewhat heartbroken that not everyone could get the message because they were so distracted by the cursing.

Rose has come a VERY long way from being the stereotypical man-hating feminist to becoming an advocate for gender, gender identity and sexual orientation equality.

Students positive about new Tech Corner

Students positive about new Tech Corner



This semester, Pima Community College rolled out a new Information Technology help desk to assist Pima students facing software troubles.

The Tech Corner, located in the Downtown Campus Learning Commons, helps students with issues on their personal computers ranging from software to web assignments to phone apps.

Chris Williams, a PCC IT specialist, has a bachelor’s degree in computer networking and often staffs the table during the Tech Corner’s hours.

“I enjoy helping students out,” Williams said.  “I worked for Sunnyside school district and I enjoyed helping students and staff, but I needed to do more.”

Tech Corner is a pilot program to determine how beneficial free IT help is for students who may be experiencing trouble that impacts their education. This semester, Tech Corner has helped over 150 students.

Geselle Coe, the learning center coordinator at Downtown Campus, helped put the Tech Corner in action.

“Our mission is to eliminate technological barriers so that we can increase student success and learning outcomes,” she said.

Williams says the need for free IT help arose when his former supervisor, Kevin Milton, realized that some students were dropping or unable to complete courses due to technical difficulties.

“Students were talking about dropping classes because they couldn’t get technology to work and they really had nowhere to go,” Williams said. “So we wanted to set them up with something where they could go get some help and stay in school.”

The Tech Corner now serves roughly 10 students per week, but Williams says the low number comes from a lack of advertising, especially at other Pima campuses.

Williams says his repairs go far beyond the technical aspect, and that many students leave feeling a lot of stress relief once they are no longer having technology trouble with their computers.

“A lot of courses are requiring technological projects,” Coe said. “Students may get frustrated at times with their online assignments, and here is a one stop place where they can come by and sit down and get their questions answered.”

One student even brought her home desktop in for help.

“We set it up on one of the stations here and helped her out,” Williams said. “We do a little bit of everything.”

If the program succeeds, Pima will institute Tech Corners at all campuses and fund full-time positions for the job. In the meantime, 13 employees at Downtown Campus provide service to all PCC students.

Coe said the student reviews in an online survey are encouragingly positive.

“So far, we’ve had really positive responses,” she said. “We get a lot of students who feel more confident in their online classes as well. Before we had a lot of apprehension, but now they know if they run into any problems they can come to the Tech Corner.”

In online feedback surveys, students reported a consistent 80 percent satisfaction rate with the service they received. Student comments contained positive reviews expressing appreciation for the IT help and reduced levels of stress.

The Tech Corner is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday. You can reach them by phone at 206-7094 or at

“I just love helping people,” Williams said. “I like to see somebody go away happy, because now their stuff works.”

Pg07-Tech Corner

IT Specialist Chris Williams stands in front of the Tech Corner at the Downtown Campus Learning Commons. The help desk assists students with technology problems free of charge. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press)

DOGPATCH- Angels doing hell work

DOGPATCH- Angels doing hell work



When you pull into Summit View Estates, the area dubbed “Dogpatch,” you pass a sign that reads “No dumping.” It’s riddled with bullet holes. Going down the dirt road, there’s scattered, run-down trailers, piles of worn-out tires, trash bags and miles of desert.

Not far in, there’s a small clearing that contains a five-gallon bucket and a small black trough full of murky water. There’s also two huge make-shift dog bowls brimming with dog food.

Marjorie McKellips pulls out a flowery umbrella and offers to share the little shade it provides. “I love everybody, can’t give me a reason not to,” she says.

McKellips, along with founder Nancy Maddry, runs Angels for Animals, a grass-roots organizations that looks out for the animals in Dogpatch.

McKellips says that the food and water in the clearing are one of two feeding stations.

“Our feeding stations, of course, go to hell in a hand-basket between dogs and people,” she says. “You can see, there’s trash everywhere.”

This time of year, Angels volunteers try to come out three or four times a week, when they have enough help.

McKellips points at the black trough and says, after a couple of weeks, she’s surprised it’s still there.

“Somebody’s going to steal it,” she says. “They always steal it.”

The dogs that run the area keep under any shade they can find during the heat of the day. Some of the dogs have been dumped there and others are owned by residents in the area.

McKellips says many owners don’t maintain proper fencing, and the dogs are allowed to roam free.

Most of these dogs are not neutered, spayed or vaccinated. McKellips says that’s what Angels for Animals is all about.

Dumping dead animals is also very common at Dogpatch. McKellips and the other volunteers at Angels routinely look for bodies.

“We drive through here with our windows open, air conditioning off and our noses peeled. You will smell death, trust me,” McKellips says. “Once you smell it, you never forget it.”

They also look for garbage bags and boxes.

“If there’s bags of garbage, we go check and see if it’s garbage—or is it a body?” she says.

A few hundred yards down the road, there’s a dead dog, clearly visible. Its body is stiff, its head at an odd angle, mouth open. Flies surround it. A strip of neon flagging-tape is tied around an extended leg and another is on the tree above.

If Angels finds a body away from the road, they try to move it to the road to be picked up. They use the flagging-tape to help Pima Animal Care Center find the dead animals.

McKellips said she called PACC about this dog two weeks ago.

Jose Chavez, enforcement operations manager at PACC, says they do not do a regular patrol of the area but that PACC responds to more than 100 calls from Summit each year pertaining to dead and stray dogs, dog bites and animal welfare.

Chavez didn’t know anything about that particular dog, but he says that PACC makes a point of picking up reported dead animals as soon as possible.

Farther up the road, there’s a grave marker—a crude cement headstone with a man’s name. A faded, yellow construction vest is slung over it. McKellips says the area used to be full of trash and discarded furniture.

On the other side of the road, McKellips points out a fresh death.

“He wasn’t there Sunday, but he’s there today,” she says.

The dog’s body is bloated and covered in flies. Angels volunteer Zach O’Hern was alerted to it by the smell while driving along the road that morning.

O’Hern and his wife, Sam, started working with Angels about a month ago.

They are two of eight volunteers currently working the Dogpatch. McKellips says they’re blessed to have that many.

“People come and go,” she says. “It’s an ugly place. We go through volunteers faster than some people change their underwear.”

McKellips has been working with Angels for five and a half years.

The first time she came out to Dogpatch, she came across bags full of dead roosters from a cockfighting pit, which Angels eventually helped get shut down.

Angels volunteers talk with Summit residents in their yards and homes. They offer them help getting their animals spayed, neutered, vaccinated and licensed.

Edgar Giron is a Summit resident. Two dogs run around his yard. Someone throws a deflated soccer ball to one of them. It just jumps back and stares at the ball.

“Most of the dogs around here don’t know what it means to play,” McKellips says.

There is another dog under Giron’s house with a litter of puppies she birthed that morning.

McKellips tells Giron she’s set up an appointment to spay and neuter the grown dogs and that there will be a foster home for the mother and her puppies soon. She asks if he still has enough dog food.

Giron and his cousin work in the front yard. They have witnessed people dumping dogs. Recently, Giron saw a man in a truck on the road behind his house.

“He opened the truck and started taking dogs out,” Giron says. “A lot of dogs, there was like nine of them.”

Sometimes at night, he sees the headlights of cars stop down the road where there are no houses. The next day he’ll see more stray dogs. Giron and his cousin have also found dead horses.

Giron says people dump dogs because they have more than they can take care of or because their female dogs had puppies.

Angels only takes a dog out of Dogpatch if it is badly injured, sick or too young to survive on its own. They’ve had to take three litters of puppies out in the last week.

O’Hern and his wife found and rescued most of those puppies.

“For us, every time we pull dogs, it’s not so much sad as it is satisfying and motivating,” he says. “It’s something bigger than yourself. These animals, they literally have no one. And if they did, they trusted someone and someone just threw them away.”

McKellips says they never intended on being a rescue operation. “It just became apparent there was no choice.”

It is not usually certain how the dead dogs that Angels finds in Dogpatch died.

“We have no way of knowing,” McKellips says. “If there’s enough of it left to really take a good look at the body, we try to make sure. Are their legs bound? Is there a gunshot wound? Is there anything visible that we can call the Animal Cruelty Taskforce on?”

There often is.

Many of the dead animals may not be a product of animal cruelty but rather a lack of means and understanding, says Mike Duffy, ACT officer and co-chair at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. When an animal gets sick and dies on a property, the residents of Summit don’t understand what to do with it.

“But they know there’s a place in the roadway, at the intersection of Country Club and the Old Vale Connection,” he says. “If they dump it there, somebody takes it away.”

Duffy says the residents of Summit generally don’t have the money to pay for trash collection or county landfill disposal fees, which would be viable ways to remove a dead animal. And they can’t call PACC to pick it up from their property because the dogs rarely have the legally required licensure and rabies vaccination.

Licensing fees vary from $8 to $100 depending on many factors, among them the dog’s age and if it’s fixed. Licensure needs to be renewed yearly, and late fees of $10 to $36 are applied for not complying.

The HSSA offers walk-in vaccinations for $13, though getting to the clinic may be hard for some Summit residents.

“They would be responsible for the fees and fines involved for having an animal that was not vaccinated and was not licensed,” Duffy says.

Failure to license is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $150 to $750, four months in jail, two years’ probation or any combination thereof. The fine is reduced to $75 if a license is obtained within 15 days of the complaint.

Duffy is not certain that PACC would actually cite residents for these violations. “I think the people think that would happen so it makes them that much more reluctant to get the government involved,” he says.

The HSSA has set up spay and neuter clinics in Summit as a way to educate residents. They also put literature about animal care in the schools, where they know many residents will see it. It’s unclear if these initiatives have helped.

Duffy says that putting food and water out, as Angels does, may actually be perpetuating the problem.

“The folks out there that don’t have money for dog food, they open the gate and let their dog go because they know they can go down the street to where that pile of food is and get something to eat there,” he says.

Members of ACT go to Summit on a regular basis, as well as members of the sheriff’s department and other organizations.

“Plus, the Pima County Animal Care Center has an office here that’s responsible to drive through there a couple times a week,” Duffy says.

Duffy says that because those other organizations patrol the area, the HSSA no longer goes there.

“The complaints continue to come in to us, but the thing is, we really don’t know how valid the complaints are because the people that are finding the animals out there aren’t that religious about filing police reports,” he says. “If there’s not a police report on file, it didn’t happen.”

Last year, Angels for Animals found two young dogs that were shot, but alive. The HSSA gave both the dogs amputations and found them homes.

McKellips heard from a Summit resident that one of the ranchers in the area had shot the dogs.

She says a lot of the residents are fearful of police, and some are even fearful of their neighbors.

“If you’ve got a neighbor who’s shooting dogs because they’re on their ranch, you’re not going to tell anybody if you’re being threatened with losing your life because you said something,” she says.

McKellips says everybody knows everybody around there and most of them have gotten to know Angels pretty well.

“They like us because we don’t turn anybody in,” she says. “We don’t make them talk to police.”

She also finds campsites in the area and on occasion, drugs.

“You’ll also find a lot of paraphernalia from drug drops,” she says. “We have come out here and found full drug drops that hadn’t been picked up yet. You back away rather quickly and calmly, and you just go away and leave it alone.”

Ranch cows and bulls also roam the land and die on it. Angels volunteers have come across sick and injured horses in need of help. They’ve found dead goats in the wash. Last year, they found a huge dead boar.

One night McKellips had to stay late because of what she found.

“There was a horse down there, well, pieces thereof,” she says. “So I had to wait for the Animal Cruelty Taskforce to get out here.”

She thinks the horse had been cut up because it was too heavy to move in one piece.

“I’m assuming,” she says. “I have learned in five years you can assume anything you want, you’re never going to freakin’ understand this.”

One time, just off of Swan Road, they found a dead dog glued to a board. It had been propped up, facing the road. Someone had put a burrito in its mouth.

“We’re hoping it was dead when it was done,” McKellips says. “God, I hope.”

By the time she got to it, most of the body had been eaten by animals.

McKellips says despite everything, there is goodness in Summit.

“There are some very, very nice people out here,” she says. “They just don’t have the means to do a lot of the things that they should do, so we help with that.”

Average family size in Summit is larger than the average for Pima County and the nation, but the average income is less than one-third, according to a report for the Pima County Health Department by an evaluation team through the University of Arizona.

Angels has brought vaccination clinics to Summit and performed the vaccinations themselves. It’s getting harder for them to do that though. McKellips say a lot of veterinarians and PACC do not accept those vaccines as viable.

State law requires the rabies vaccination to be given by a licensed veterinarian. When it comes to parvovirus and distemper vaccinations, if they are not properly stored and administered, they won’t provide the proper immunity.

McKellips says people need to have more pride in their community and join in the effort to stop the dumping.

“Tell their neighbors,” she says. “Tell everybody that they can about the problem in that area and that they want it to stop. Take down license plates if they see something. You’ve got to stop being afraid to tell the police when you see these things happening. It’s education, spay and neuter, and taking responsibility.”

Angels for Animals is always looking for donations, volunteers and fosters.

They have a running tab at Valley Animal Hospital, where they make regular payments. They also need gas cards.

People can send gas cards or donations of any kind to Angels for Animals Tucson, 1121 S Eli Dr., Tucson, AZ 85710.

For more information visit the webpage, visit the Angels for Animals Tucson Facebook page or call 490-5492.

“I don’t think in my lifetime we’ll ever not have work out here, unfortunately,” McKellips says.

“This is hell work. This is ugly, dirty, disgusting, hell work. Why do we do it? Cause nobody else is going to do it.”


Marjorie McKellips talks with a reporter about the work she routinely does in Dogpatch. (Larry Gaurano/Aztec Press)


During a recent visit, Angels for Animals founder Nancy Maddry feeds one of the dogs that roams the Dogpatch. (Ben Barocas/Aztec Press)


Dead dogs like this one are found in Dogpatch on a regular basis. Reasons for death are often preventable diseases, neglect and abuse. (Ben Barocas/Aztec Press)

Life in your 20s isn’t all that great

Life in your 20s isn’t all that great


People say that life starts at 20.

Many begin a new chapter in their life, like starting college and paying their own way.

Some start their first part-time or full-time job, which they use to pay actual bills. Others move out of their parents’ house and are now on their own in what grownups call reality.

When we were adolescents, we thought that being in our 20s was going to be the greatest time of our lives.

We had dreams of endless partying, staying up all hours of the night, eating whatever we wanted and doing whatever we wanted because we were adults. Life was going to be like a Gatsby party.

In reality, some of us are worn out, tired, overworked, starving, lost young people trying to keep above water and wishing we were teenagers again.

A lot of us are insecure and not really sure who we are.

What are we going to do with our lives and where is our next meal coming from?

An article, “The Real World: Recognizing Mental Illness in Young Adults” by Vikram Tarugu, explains how young adults are prone to mental illnesses.

“They find that their independence involves many new responsibilities and stresses, as well as freedoms,” Tarugu wrote. “This period of transition has a cruel twist as it may coincide with the emergence of a mental illness.”

The first episodes of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder tend to appear in the late teens and early 20s, according to Tarugu.

All that stress packed into one person makes it hard for 20-somethings to handle life at times.

Sometimes we don’t even want to get out of bed because facing the world is too much. The grip of responsibilities and pressures to be successful is choking us.

As young adults in our 20s, we must realize that we don’t have to be what society dictates.

We also need to realize that things will get better. Eventually, our insecurities will just be a distant memory.

Pg06-Opinion-Katie Stewart

Vacio thinks being in her 20s sucks and just wants to be 30 already.


Reform social attitudes

Reform social attitudes


Why, in 2015, are we still dealing with issues of race and discrimination?

These are the kind of issues that generations before us worked hard to eliminate, and yet we’re still seeing traces of this pathetic subject on a daily basis.

Not only does our society deal with problems of black, white and brown but we have growing issues with gender differences and same-sex relationships.

Isn’t this supposed to be the land of opportunity and equality?

Why should it matter how we look, where we come from or who we choose to love?

Some people might argue this isn’t a topic for conversation because it no longer exists in our society.

However, a quick glance at the television screen proves we are still being challenged:

● South Carolina officer charged with murder in black man’s death.

● Walmart faces lawsuit alleging gender discrimination in California stores.

● Houston gay couple allegedly kicked out of cab for kissing.

This is only a small percentage of the headlines that flood news streams with topics regarding race and discrimination.

This is the type of controversy that, I truly believe, is keeping our nation from making positive strides forward.

Maybe it’s just the “peace and love, everyone is created equal, hippie way of thinking” that I have embraced over the years but I don’t see why we can’t just all get along.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple because we don’t live in a peaceful world that promotes the overall goodness of people.

We live in a place that quickly passes judgments based solely on a person’s skin color, cultural background, gender and sexual preference.

If we make an effort to change our way of thinking, we will begin to see fewer headlines denigrating the human race and more words of encouragement and acceptance.

We need to stop allowing stereotypes to take control of our perceptions.

It shouldn’t matter who the person across the street is holding hands with or that the people next to you are a couple of shades darker or lighter.

We need to allow the idea that we are all here for the same reason, and that is to live a healthy and happy life.

I hope we can foster a movement of change in our lives by creating a world without racism, discrimination or stereotypes, a place without acts of violence or hate.

We all deserve a life filled with nothing but kindness and the acceptance of one another.

Pg06-Opinion Tanisha

Knutzen plans to promote a positive change in her life, which she hopes will create a positive change in the lives of everyone around her.


Cartoon: Yuck the Bug

Cartoon: Yuck the Bug


Pg06-Sierra cartoon-Yuck the Bug

Small crimes, severe penalties

Small crimes, severe penalties


We think slavery is a thing of the past. But as prisons continue to be built, more ordinary human beings are incarcerated and more poor families suffer.

It’s time for Congress to repeal mandatory minimum sentencing, which forces judges to base their sentencing on federal guidelines. It is not working.

Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986, enacting mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes.

That was the beginning of mass incarceration. First-time marijuana offenders and nonviolent offenders received long sentences, serving time in prison with no chance of parole.

The boomerang effect caused overcrowding in prisons. Taxpayer money built more prisons in order to improve inhumane conditions.

Lives of common people were broken. In many families, only the mother took care of the children because the husband was incarcerated.

Children suffered the most. They grew up hoping their father would come back after five years or even 15 years.

In Arizona, debate rages on whether to give more funds to prisons and less to education. The recent cuts in funding public education should become a wake-up call.

Let’s turn to American history. The Civil War of 1861-1865 costs thousands of lives, both from the Confederacy and the Union.

Eventually, President Abraham Lincoln convinced Congress to pass the Emancipation Proclamation. Eliminating slavery became his legacy.

Today, with burgeoning prisons and incarceration’s effect on the millions of people who spend time behind bars, it looks like slavery is coming back.

We must decide whether to follow the same path of mass incarceration or to reduce sentences for first-time offenders and nonviolent offenders.

There are glimmers of hope.

Many grassroots social justice advocates, such as Families Against Mandatory Minimum, lobby Congress to repeal mandatory minimum sentencing.

States from Texas to California, New York to Mississippi, have been reforming their prisons and sentencing laws for years, with overwhelmingly positive results.

If we repeal mandatory minimum sentencing, we give hope to children waiting for Dad to come home. After all, a strong family is the basis of a strong country. Time is ticking.


Fassler is a social justice advocate. She believes promoting equality for everyone is good for the country. Everybody wins.



From the Editor: Newsroom becomes our family



For many of us, family is a high pillar of life. It stands right next to other basic needs like food, water, home, work and socialization.

There are dozens of analogies and phrases based on the value of the family unit and what really defines a family member. “Home is where the heart is.” “You can’t choose your family.”

In some ways, that’s correct. We can’t choose our family but throughout our grand adventure of self-discovery and community, family members we never knew existed come to us in the form of friends.

My father once told me, about falling in love, that you will just know when you meet that special person. I told him that sounds terrifying. I can’t seriously believe that one day a magical and overpowering sense of love will just overtake me.

Apply that “love at first sight” theory to friends, however, and I have felt that knowing sense quite often.

There are many words that could describe the reporters and editors of the Aztec Press. Eclectic, zany, driven, opinionated or special could all cover it. But family is the word that best describes us as a group.

Some of us have grown up together over a few semesters, like siblings teaching each other about the world. Just like I promise to protect and care for my parents, I vow that to my colleagues in the newsroom.

We are an interesting mix of people, different personalities that might have never become a family had it not been for this student newspaper experience.

I can’t directly speak for any of our talented writers, but I can say with full sincerity that my life would not be the same if they hadn’t come into my heart.

I didn’t choose this family, but we all made the choice to open our hearts and lives to one another. The forming of love happened fast, and it’s a nurturing, teaching and welcoming space.

I have felt that comradery from the very beginning, but one of our students really made me think about its importance.

Four of us recently spoke to a Journalism 101 class about why the students should consider signing up for Aztec Press. One of our first-semester reporters, Kit Fassler, stepped forward and talked about how she once sat right where they were sitting now.

She smiled, looked back at us and said, “They are my family now. We would love you to be part of our family.”

Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there to your peers. The friends you make at Pima Community College could change your life.

Enjoy the issue. Consider it one of our many family albums that we have to share with you because we love it so much.

Struggling to balance work, class

Struggling to balance work, class



From classes to hours of homework and balancing a social life, the college experience is a demanding time in many students’ lives.

Throw a work schedule into the mix and responsibilities reach a maximum stress level.

Although the demands for working students are high, the motivation to keep moving through the long days are worthwhile with help from family and friends. Personal goals help students continue to move forward.

For 22-year-old Pima Community College student Troy Terry, the balance between working two jobs, attending classes and trying to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle has been quite the challenge. But even through the nonstop days, he remains motivated.

“My mom is a huge motivation for me,” Terry said. “Unfortunately, she passed away last May. She was my motivation to keep moving and to never stop. She would always tell me, whatever you want to do, you can do, just put your mind to it and always stay motivated.”

A normal week for Terry consists of working roughly 55 hours between GNC and Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails, attending classes three days a week through PCC’s police academy, completing anywhere from 7-10 hours of homework and trying to keep up with eating well and working out.

“The hardest part is getting my homework done and turned in on time,” Terry said. “They want us at a high standard, so sometimes I can turn in an assignment, that if I would of had a little more time, I could have done it a lot better. I tend to rush a lot of things.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 78 percent of undergraduate students work a rough estimate of 30 hours per week, while attending classes. About 25 percent of those students work full-time jobs.

PCC counselor Todd Slaney can relate personally to the difficulties that many of his students face while trying to  balance a work and school load.

“You have to sacrifice something,” Slaney said. “I wasn’t able to sacrifice school or work, so it was having a social life. I wasn’t able to go out three nights a week and be successful at school. I had to minimize what I did with my friends and even my family, sometimes.”

A survey from Citigroup and Seventeen magazine found that many colleges recommend or even mandate that a student’s work schedule be limited to no more than 10-15 hours per week.

Colleges want to see their students succeed academically but unfortunately for many students, paying bills and tuitions is a major factor and anything less than 30 hours is not a plausible amount.

Slaney said managing both loads is easier if a student is going to school part time and working part time. It becomes more overwhelming when both work and school are full time loads.

When a small amount of time is stretched between two time-consuming activities, a high rate of success is less likely. Something must be sacrificed in order to maintain balance.

“Often when I talk to students, they need to drop a class because they weren’t being very successful in that class,” Slaney said.

“They tell me that they can’t reduce their work hours because that’s what pays their mortgage or rent or what puts food on the table,” he said. “Often when they do have to let something go or give something up, it’s school, unfortunately.”

An online article, “Learning and Earning: Working in College,” from weighs the pros and cons of students attending classes while working. The report notes statistical differences based on the number of hours a student is working.

“Part-time student employment may have beneficial effects: for example, an on-campus research position may spark a student’s interest in further academic programs or provide important work experience that will improve future labor market prospects,” it says.

However, the report also finds that students who work 35 hours or more may suffer academically.

● 55 percent have negative effects on their studies.

● 40 percent limit their class schedules.

● 36 percent are limited on class choices.

● 30 percent limit the number of classes they take.

● 26 percent limit access to the library.

For Terry, this type of strict life structure came slightly easier to him because of his athletic background and commitment to playing football throughout his high school career.

“Football definitely helped prepare me with my time management,” Terry       said. “Everything in high school is class, then practice, then homework, dinner, shower and sleep. You wake back up and repeat.”

It’s not an easy task for students to consume everything that has been placed on their plate but with the right amount of dedication, time management skills and willingness to sacrifice extracurricular activities, the results can bring great benefits.

“Following a schedule is important and just make sure you have everything written down,” Terry said.

“Just make sure you have everything scheduled out,” he added. “That’s huge because it makes it a lot easier to manage and stay on top of grades, even if you have to sacrifice a couple hours at work to get things done.”

Pg07-Insight-Andrea Hahn

(Aztec Press photo illustration by Tanisha Knutzen)


The writer behind Writing 101

The writer behind Writing 101



He sits in a darkened room, fingers hovering over a keyboard while sweat drips down shadowed cheeks, concentration enhanced by gentle Italian techno music. Shell shocked and numb, he realizes his book is finished.

Writing 101 instructor Andrew Foster, 34, has worked part time at Pima Community College for eight years. He said teaching writing helps keep his mind fresh when it comes to his own writing.

“Last week I finished a memoir I’ve been working on for several years,” he said. “Proud but sad my baby’s all grown up and gone.”

Foster has drawn up a dream list of 20 agents and has started the process of querying them. “I need to find an agent that has had memoirs and biographies published before,” he said.

The first chapter of his memoir was recently published in a Baltimore publication, Cobalt Magazine.

“This chapter was rejected at only three or four other magazines before Cobalt took it,” Foster said. “I feel pretty lucky on this one. My usual rate for acceptances is about one in every 100 submissions. If you want to be published, you have to get used to constant rejection.”

One of his first publications was a poem in the Colorado Review in early 2000. He has also been published in a Tucson literary journal, Spork.

Foster submitted a chapter of his memoir to this year’s Tucson Festival of Books writing contest. He was a runner-up for the grand prize and received a chance to participate in a literary workshop.

The workshop included talks led by several well known authors, including author and poet Ray Gonzalez of the University of Minnesota.

Foster enjoys reading both nonfiction and fiction.

He is currently reading “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” a novel by Zora Neale Hurston. Written in the ‘30s, it is a classic in African-American literature.

His favorite authors are William Shakespeare and James Joyce. He has the full collection of Joyce’s books, including “Ulysses,” “Finnegans Wake” and “Dubliners.”

Foster likes to teach by using multiple visuals in his Downtown Campus classroom and takes time to provide detailed explanations.

“He uses his personal time to help us with our assignments,” said Charity Brian, 21. “He makes it easier to understand the concepts of writing. He is a good communicator.”

Brian is in her first semester at PCC and is taking WRT 101 as part of the requirements for her major in law and criminology. She takes three other classes and is exhausted by the end of her day, but she looks forward to her writing class.

“He has opened my eyes to new creative writing techniques and ideas,” she said.

Foster has a family connection with words. His father, Michael Foster, studied languages and traveled to Canada to study Cayuga Indians.

Foster’s father met his mother, a native Canadian, and they married shortly after. Two years later, Foster was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

He was raised in Norwich, Vt., and in Philadelphia. While attending a boarding school in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Foster participated in the school newspaper and in creative writing workshops.

He knew he liked writing in elementary school and decided to become a professional writer during high school.

When not teaching or writing, Foster enjoys a game of chess.

“I’m a total beginner, but it’s fascinating,” he said. “It’s humbling.”

He is also a whiskey aficionado.

“It’s actually a much less expensive hobby than wine tasting,” he said. “A $50 bottle of wine will last you one night but a $50 bottle of single malt scotch can be slowly enjoyed over many months.”

Extending his passion for teaching outside of the traditional classroom, Foster recently taught a WRT 101 class for employees of Tucson Electric Power. TEP not only paid the tuition, but also paid the employees for each hour they spent in the classroom.

“WRT 101 was a required step in their process of becoming journeymen electricians,” Foster said.

What does writing mean to Foster?

“Writing is the secret life of the soul, encoded in this thing we call language, which was the first virtual reality that humans invented,” he said.

Pg09-Foster class

Writing 101 instructor Andrew Foster answers his students’ questions. Foster, who just finished writing a memoir, says teaching writing keeps his mind fresh for his own work. (Aztec Press photos by Shana Rose)


Pg09-Foster solo

Instructor Andrew Foster explains the daily lesson to his Writing 101 class at Downtown Campus. (Aztec Press photos by Shana Rose)