By CASEY MUSE JR.
The Pima Community College softball team (25-12, 19-9 conference) has been playing well in March and has found consistency in several aspects of the game.
March 4: PCC 4, Phoenix 10/ PCC 1, Phoenix 12
The No. 18 Aztecs fell behind 4-0 early in the first game against the No. 2 Bears. They cut into the lead by scoring three runs in the fourth inning.
Sophomore Bailey Critchlow took the loss as she pitched four and two-third innings, finishing with 10 hits and three walks.
Phoenix College jumped out early in the second game, scoring five runs in the first inning. Sophomore Luisa Silvain took the loss. She finished with four hits, one strikeout and one walk.
March 7: PCC 15, Ancilla 1/ PCC 21, Ancilla 2
Pima got back on track in a big way in a double-header against Ancilla College at the Tucson Invitational at Lincoln Park.
The first game saw the Aztecs score five runs in the first inning, then seven more in the fourth.
Freshman Mandy Lorenson earned the win, pitching all five innings. She finished with two hits and 12 strikeouts.
In the second game, the Aztecs scored four runs in the first inning and another 10 runs in the fourth.
Freshman Hannah Wood picked up the win, pitching all five innings. She finished with seven hits and two strikeouts.
March 9: PCC 5, Central Arizona 7
The Aztecs saw their late rally attempt fall short in a makeup game at home.
Pima struck first on a sacrificefly RBI in the first inning. Things got away from the Aztecs when the Vaqueras scored five unanswered runs for a 7-2 lead.
Critchlow took the loss, pitching three innings. She finished with 11 hits and two strikeouts.
March 11: PCC 4, Paradise Valley 8/ PCC 13, Paradise Valley 5
The first game was tight until the Pumas busted it open with seven runs in the sixth.
Silvain took the loss. She pitched four innings and finished with eight hits and one strikeout.
The Aztecs earned revenge in the second game, scoring four runs in the first inning, two in the second and four more in the sixth.
Lorenson got the win. She pitched two innings and finished with two strikeouts and six walks.
March 14: PCC 6, South Mountain 1/ PCC 8, South Mountain 0
Critchlow pitched one of her best performances of the year, so far, in the first game. She pitched the complete game, finishing with one run, five hits and two strikeouts. The offense put up six runs.
The second game was even more dominant as Aztecs scored eight runs.
Lorenson provided her best pitching performances of the season as well, finishing with no hits, three strikeouts and four walks.
March 16: PCC 14, Chandler-Gilbert 1/ PCC 20, Chandler-Gilbert 1
In the first game, Pima scored four runs in the second, fourth, and fifth for a mercy-rule win.
Critchlow earned her 10th win, pitching all five innings and finishing with seven hits.
In the second game, the Aztecs scored 10 runs in the first and eight in the second one. Lorenson tossed her second straight no-hitter for her fifth win.
March 18: PCC 10, AWC 7/ PCC 5, AWC 4
Pima took an early lead in the first game, scoring four runs in the first inning.
The Matadors scored three runs of their own in the fourth to cut the lead to one. The Aztecs put the game away with six runs in the fourth.
Critchlow earned another victory, finishing with nine hits. The second game was extremely close throughout.
Arizona Western battled to a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning, but Pima freshman Alysa Talamante hit a game-winning walk-off RBI.
Lorenson pitched all eight innings and finished with 12 strikeouts and three walks.
March 21: PCC 6 Glendale 1/ PCC 20 Glendale 0
The Aztecs continued their winning streak with a conference sweep over Glendale on the road.
Freshman Megan Flores got things started for the offense with an RBI single in the first inning of the first game to help Pima take control.
Sophomore Margarita Corona got in on the action with an RBI double of her own in the third.
Critchlow earned the win pitching the complete game and finishing with eight hits and four strikeouts. Her record sits at 12-5 for the season.
Game two was even more dominant as PCC scored seven runs in the third inning and another 11 in the fourth inning on their way to 20 total runs and a mercy rule victory.
March 25: Mesa CC, West Campus, doubleheader, noon, 2 p.m.
March 28: at Yavapai College, Prescott, doubleheader, 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
April 1: at GateWay CC, Phoenix, doubleheader, noon, 2 p.m.
April 4: at Central Arizona, Coolidge, doubleheader, 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
After a series of scrimmages, the Pima Community College tennis teams played conference meets against Mesa and Glendale to start their season.
“The team adapts really well to play styles they have never seen before,” head coach Ian Esquer said.
March 9: PCC 0, Mesa CC 9
In their third match, the Aztecs (2-2, 1-2 conference) were swept at home by the No. 8 Mesa Community College Thunderbirds.
Aztec freshmen Emma Oropeza and Janine Fernando dropped the No. 1 doubles match 8-2.
Oropeza also dropped her No. 1 singles match, 6-2, 6-3.
Sophomore Ashley Ochoa played a close second set but fell 6-1, 7-5.
March 21: PCC 9, Glendale CC 0
Oropeza led a string of defeats against Glendale in singles, as she defeated her opponent 6-0, 6-2.
Freshmen Jayme Shafer and Elise Rodriguez dominated their No. 3 doubles 8-1.
March 9: PCC 0, Mesa CC 9
The No. 7 Mesa Community College Thunderbirds swept the Aztecs (2-1, 1-1 conference) in a home meet.
Pima sophomores Marc Avalos and Francisco Ton played a close doubles match but lost 9-8.
Avalos lost his No. 1 singles match, 6-0, 6-1. Ton lost his No. 2 singles match 6-0, 6-1.
March 21: PCC 8, Glendale CC 1
As the Aztecs dominate Glendale, Ton was able to come away with a big victory in his No. 2 singles in a three-set tie-breaker, 6-4, 5-7, 1-0.
March 23: Paradise Valley CC, West Campus, 1:30 p.m.
March 29: Mesa CC, 11 a.m.
March 23: Paradise Valley CC, Phoenix, 1:30 p.m.
March 28: Eastern Arizona, West Campus, 1:30 p.m.
March 29: Mesa CC, 1:30 p.m.
By CASEY MUSE JR.
I am always talking about how lucky I have been to have had an opportunity to be a part of the Aztec Press.
I was one of those people who had no idea what they wanted to do with their life after graduating from high school. After working full time for a couple of years, I decided that I needed to ease my way back into school but I still had no idea what I wanted to study.
One of my biggest hobbies outside of work and school has always been sports. I am always trying to keep up with relevant headlines across various leagues.
Early in my time back at school, I was excited when I was offered a chance to contribute to the sports section of the Aztec Press.
The first sports that I ever covered at Pima were track and field and women’s golf, and I loved every minute of each.
I learned so much about the specific steps it takes to produce a news story. This included meeting the right people, conducting interviews, creating the stories, editing the stories and designing the pages in the computer programs.
I developed a new respect for all of my favorite journalists.
Sports at Pima have definitely been on the come-up since I have been covering them.
The football program behind the leadership of head coach Jim Monaco has seen a recent playoff appearance. Improvements in recruiting every season have resulted in a better product on the field.
It has been an honor to cover Pima sports during Sydni Stallworth’s basketball career. She is a BEAST and one of my favorite Aztec athletes of all time.
I have been on staff to see head softball coach Armando Quiroz win his 400th career game and continue to sustain a consistency throughout his program. I have also seen the steady improvement made in our baseball program through a revamped recruiting effort.
I was lucky enough to cover the men’s basketball team this season as it won the Region I Division II championship for the first time in seven years. There has been an upward trend in the program behind the leadership of head coach Brian Peabody.
I would be remiss not to express a small piece of gratitude to Raymond Suarez. Suarez serves as the sports information director at Pima and is excellent at his job. He is always there for advice and extra information regarding Pima athletics. Great guy.
I am extremely proud to be a part of the Aztec family. I cannot thank my classmates, members of the athletics department and adviser Cynthia Lancaster enough for the opportunity to make something of myself.
By EDDIE CELAYA
The March 8 Pima Community College Governing Board meeting will be remembered for two reasons: its nearly intolerable length and its bombshell accusations. A scheduled vote on the college’s most important issue, tuition rates, was postponed.
The nearly five and a half hour long meeting tested the patience of the board members, who openly sniped at each other verbally. Right off the bat, the public comment portion set the tone for the adversarial (and long) evening.
ISSUES IN HUMAN RESOURCES
Frank Velazquez Jr. delivered the night’s most serious charge. Velazquez, who is the program manager for a West Campus’ STEM grant, informed the board of his impending contract termination and his frustrations in applying for another position.
“Yesterday I found out the reason why I wasn’t moved forward for the last position I was in the running for,” he said. “The feedback given to me by HR was that the campus VP was concerned about my ‘going around regulations’ based on something I said in the interview.”
Because Velazquez’s current position is tied to a federal grant, “going around regulations” would mean Velazquez misappropriated federal funds. “He has questioned my integrity, and therefore I cannot stay silent,” Velazquez said.
“There is an inherent fallacy in his allegation,” he said. “In layman’s terms, no grant project director can ever ‘go around regulations’ when it comes to redirecting federal grant money.”
At the end of Velazquez’s statement, board members Sylvia Lee and Demion Clinco asked Chancellor Lee Lambert to look into Velazquez’s allegations.
Board member Luis Gonzales made a more forceful request.
“If anyone, any department needs to follow rules and protocol, it is HR,” Gonzales said. “I would ask today for the Chancellor, to undertake a complete and thorough investigation of the HR department to determine what is going on.”
Board Chairman Mark Hanna made note to move the issue onto a future board agenda.
Coalition For Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Responsibility President Mario Gonzales kept the tone fiery.
“As chairman of C-FAIRR I urge the new board majority to recognize that Mr. Hanna and Mrs. Lee have failed in their duties and have not undertaken the task of seriously assessing the chancellor’s leadership,” Mario Gonzales said.
Gonzales statement laid out C-FAIRR’s reasoning for wanting to assess Lambert. Recent lawsuits, and the Higher Learning Commission were among the culprits.
The chancellor’s decision to send a letter and envoy on behalf of former Tucson Unified School District H.T. Sanchez representing the college was also cited.
The problem, Mario Gonzales said, was that Lambert issued the letter on official PCC letterhead and claimed to speak for the board.
“By supporting one political faction against another, he jeopardized PCC’s credibility in the community,” Mario Gonzales said. “What’s more, his actions demonstrate Mr. Lambert’s total ignorance and lack of awareness of the community.”
Board member Lee sternly addressed Mario Gonzales after his statement. “I really urge C-FAIRR, rather than bring back issues again and again that are not based on fact, in my opinion, to work with us and not sabotage the college,” Lee said.
“I challenge all of the board members to tell us what issues we have brought to the table that have not been documented publicly,” Gonzales said.
“Ok, we’re not in discussion Mr. Gonzales so you can please return to your seat” Hanna said, interrupting Gonzales.
SUMMER SCHEDULE FIGHT
The tense night continued with faculty representative David Morales’ report to the board. He focused heavily on the implementation of the upcoming Summer Session schedule.
“The past month was filled with the focus on the summer scheduling decision that has undermined our efforts to innovate and move forward,” Morales said.
For instructors, the main concern was “what is the ultimate goal of the summer scheduling decision?” Morales said.
When Morales ended his report, Lee immediately spoke. “Whenever you roll something out there’s got to be a communication plan,” she said. “It can’t be done unilaterally, which it sounds like it was.”
Board member Luis Gonzales was more blunt.
“What are we going do about this?” he said. “Do we say ‘administration, you made a little bit of an effort and it was ok, but since we already screwed it up, let’s move forward with it anyway?”
Referencing Higher Learning Commission recommendations, he addressed Lambert. “To be honest with you Mr. Chancellor, I’m not sure how the hell we passed the HLC test,” Gonzales said.
“Ok Mr. Gonzales,” Hanna said, quickly. “We need to be careful we are not in discussion.”
After remaining mostly quiet throughout the night, a defiant Lambert spoke out during the Chancellor’s Report. The letter to TUSD was first on the agenda.
“I will own that, but I will say this,” he said. “My statement was not about what was going on at TUSD, it was simply to point out that we have a great relationship, and we want that relationship to continue.”
Summer session issues came next. Lambert said PCC had seen a decline of 22 percent in summer enrollment since 2012. He added a majority of students taking classes in the summer do so online.
“How do we justify to our taxpayers that we are running six facilities at full staffing levels in the face of this fiscal reality?” Lambert said. “That’s what’s driving the need to examine what we are doing on the summer.”
Lambert then went into a timeline detailing various meetings he held with important constituencies. He claimed it highlighted how open the summer scheduling process had been.
“I just want you to know,” Lambert said. “Extensive input was sought from employees over the course of a few months.”
Luis Gonzales was unimpressed by Lamberts litany of meetings and forums.
“Yeah, you can have all kinds of meetings, but if you don’t listen and don’t take it into account, what’s the result?” he said. “What we get is this argument here.”
He chastised Lambert further. “It certainly sounds like somebody isn’t listening.”
Lambert shot back. “I just gave you an example of how we listened,” he said. “Because of the feedback I received from the employee groups, we decided not to adjust contracts for the summer.”
Human Resources will also up be up for review, Lambert said. The college will go over contracts and hiring practices in place.
The issue Velazquez testified to earlier in the meeting seemed to take the chancellor by surprise. “I didn’t know that was what he was told by HR,” Lambert said. “But I also have to give the benefit of doubt to the other person.”
TUITION DECISION DELAYED
A presentation on the college’s new (and first) diversity plan had been scheduled to last 30 minutes, but ended up lasting three times that long. That last item on the board’s agenda for the evening was a vote on finalizing tuition rates.
College Executive Vice Chancellor David Bea laid out the financial benefits and drawbacks of three scenarios. Two scenario’s called for a $3 increase and another a $7 increase.
“What we know is, unless there is a significant enrollment turnaround, we are facing a pretty significant decrease in our expenditure limit capacity,” Bea said. The expenditure limit dictates how much of the college’s funds raised through taxes it can spend in a given year.
A severe decrease in expenditure limit spending would be catastrophic, Bea said.
Lee asked Bea if there could be salary increases without an increase in tuition rates.
“No, it would be very difficult to give salary increase of any significant type,” Bea said.
In response, Luis Gonzales asked if Bea had done any studies on how no increase or a 1% increase in tuition would affect the average instructor.
Hanna reminded Luis Gonzales that the topic at hand was tuition rates. “So it’s ok to go until midnight when the topic is tuition, but we can’t go a little longer on diversity?” Gonzales said, clearly perturbed.
Hanna, in an attempt to defuse some of the tension, said he agreed with Gonzales’ position that increasing tuition to balance the college’s ledger was wrong-headed.
“Write this down Mr. Gonzales,” said Hanna. “I absolutely agree with you that to vote on a tuition increase at this point, before we know what we are going to cut is something I don’t feel comfortable about.”
Bea attempted to explain that voting on tuition rates would not be out of the normal, even before the college had set a budget. However, citing the absence of Meredith Hay, Clinco made a motion to table the decision.
Gonzales asked if Clinco wanted more information on the topic. “No, I mean I think we are missing a board member, and I think it’s important that everybody be here for this decision.”
With that, Hanna adjourned the meeting.
By EDDIE CELAYA
A Pima Community College board member suggested Chancellor Lee Lambert may have abused his authority when Lambert sent an envoy to represent the college and governing board at a Tucson Unified School District meeting.
The affair was set in motion by a Feb. 27 email sent by TUSD Governing Board member Kristel Ann Foster to Lambert soliciting community support for thensuperintendent H.T. Sanchez.
“Please write the board and come to the meeting Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 5:30 p.m.,” Foster wrote. Sanchez, who had been embattled for weeks up to that point, resigned before the start of the meeting.
In an email interview with the Aztec Press, Lambert said PCC representatives “learned of Dr. Sanchez’s resignation when the TUSD Board meeting began.”
During that meeting, Special Assistant to the Chancellor Esperanza Duarte spoke during the public comment period of the meeting.
“I’m here on behalf of and at the request of Chancellor Lee Lambert,” Duarte said. “As well as the governing board of Pima Community College in support of Dr. Sanchez.”
Duarte continued, reading from a prepared letter. She said Sanchez had been integral in working together with PCC in furthering both institutions’ aims.
Contacted by the Aztec Press, Duarte refused to confirm who authorized her to speak on behalf of the board.
“I can’t get into that, all I can tell you is there was a miscommunication,” Duarte said by phone. “You’ll need to speak with the college spokesperson.”
It was also unclear why Duarte was asked to deliver the message at the Feb. 28 meeting since TUSD board members were already in possession of the letter.
On Feb. 28, PCC Board member Sylvia Lee received a forwarded email from Assistant to the Chancellor Gaby Echavarri containing Lambert’s letter. Lee in turn forwarded that email on to the TUSD board at 1:57 p.m.
PCC board member Luis Gonzales said in a March 1 email to Lambert that the board never agreed to send a letter of solidarity regarding Sanchez, or to have a college representative invoke the support of the board.
“You need to know that I am disturbed by you taking the liberty to send this letter out on behalf of PCC on PCC letterhead that gives the impression that the entire board is in agreement,” Gonzales wrote.
Gonzales also voiced his displeasure about being perceived as politically interjecting on the college’s part.
“To get involved in a political dog fight where we have no jurisdiction is not only shortsighted but fraught with all kinds of political fall-out against the college and our governing body,” he wrote.
THE CHANCELLOR’S DEFENSE
Lambert responded, defending his decision to issue the letter by citing Board Policy, Section 1, part F. The policy states that the chancellor “serves as the primary spokesperson for the college to the students, employees, government authorities.”
On March 1, governing board Chairman Mark Hanna confirmed in an email to Gonzales that he had spoken with the chancellor regarding Sanchez, with a caveat.
“I asked the chancellor if he would consider a letter of support (explicitly not a board endorsement),” Hannah wrote. “If indeed Ms. Duarte voiced support for the superintendent from our board, that was not authorized by me.”
While Hanna did not view his conversation as authorizing the letter from Lambert to TUSD, an email exchange between Lambert and college vice chancellor Lisa Brosky shows Lambert viewed the conversation differently.
“The board chair ask (sic) me to consider this,” Lambert wrote. “He did not direct me to do this on behalf of the college or in my own personal capacity. I let him know I would do this on behalf of the college.”
During the PCC board of governors meeting on March 8, Lambert offered another defense of his actions. “Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication that happened between myself, and I’ll own that.”
It was unclear with whom the “miscommunication” he referenced happened between.
However, Lambert insisted his motives were not political. “My statement was not about what was going on at TUSD, it was simply to point out we have a great relationship and we want to make sure that continues,” he said.
AN INVALUABLE PARTNER
The letter itself and internal PCC emails tell a different story. While the letter does make mention of the relationship between the two institutions, each reference is in the context of how beneficial Sanchez was to the relationship.
In regards to PCC’s Career and Technical Education program, Lambert wrote that Sanchez has helped build the pipeline of students from high school to college.
“Dr. Sanchez’s support has strengthened PCC’s efforts to expand access to students seeking careers,” Lambert wrote.
In her email to the TUSD board, Lee referenced the chancellor’s letter. “I hope you will take what our chancellor said to heart,” Lee wrote. “Which is to keep Dr. Sanchez as your superintendent.”
The letter ends with Lambert calling Sanchez an “invaluable partner,” to the college.
“I look forward to future collaborations with him as we work together in service to our students and community,” he wrote.
COPY OF LETTER
Interviews and photos by Elise Stahl at Northwest Campus
“Usually on either crafts or on the kids I babysit.”
“Sometimes I spend it on clothes or something, but mostly I’ve been saving it to get gas and stuff like that.”
“Smoothies and Starbucks.”
Major: Anatomy and physiology
“Probably fast food.”
“I usually just give it to my siblings, whenever they go out with friends.”
Major: Environmental biology
By DALE VILLEBURN OLD COYOTE
Pima Community College will stage the final installment of its spring speakers’ series on April 4.
Instructor Maureen Salzer will discuss “Going Global Without Leaving Town: Strategies for Internationalizing the General Education Curriculum.”
The presentation will be in the community board room (building C) at the PCC district office, 4095 E. Broadway Blvd. The event is free to attend and will have light refreshments.
During her talk, Salzer will address techniques to successfully incorporate diversity awareness and global awareness into established courses throughout all college programs.
She’ll have literature resources available for faculty, including a bibliography.
Salzer developed the strategies while on a research sabbatical in Fall 2016.
She has been an instructor of writing, literature and humanities at West Campus since 2010. She earned a Master of Arts in English from Northeastern University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Arizona.
For additional details about the speakers’ series, call 206-4500.
April 5: Poetry literary slam, Northwest Campus Student Life Center, D-201, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Stop by the Student Center to show off your poetry skills and share them with other students.
Details: Student Life, 206-2121
April 5: Traciana Graves, “Don’t Call Me a Bitch,” 11:25 a.m.-noon, East Campus center courtyard. Interactive event for men and women will advocate for equality on campus and in the world. Details: Student Life, 206-7616
April 5: Traciana Graves, “Understanding What Yes means in Sex,” 2-3 p.m., East Campus student mall. Interactive program in recognition of sexual assault awareness month. Attendees can engage in activities and discussions that encourage awareness of the effect of words and actions. Details: Student Life, 206-7616
PIMA HOME SPORTS
March 23: Baseball vs. Toros de Tijuana, Kino Memorial Stadium, 11 a.m.
March 23: Men’s tennis vs. Paradise Valley CC, West Campus tennis courts, 1:30 p.m.
March 25: Softball vs. Mesa CC, West Campus, doubleheader – noon, 2 p.m.
March 28: Women’s tennis vs. Eastern Arizona, West Campus tennis courts, 1:30 p.m.
March 28: Baseball vs. Eastern Arizona, West Campus, doubleheader – noon, 2:30 p.m.
April 3-4: Women’s golf, Pima Community College Invitational, Randolph Golf Course, noon start each day
April 4: Baseball vs. Central Arizona, Kino Memorial Stadium, doubleheader – 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m.
Through March 26: Tucson Cine Mexico festival showcasing contemporary Mexican movies at varied venues. Free, but reserve seats at thethinyellowline.brownpapertickets.com. Details: tucsoncinemexico.org
Through April 1: Tucson Invitational Games: college baseball, Kino Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, game times and days vary. Single day tickets: adults $6, kids 12 and under free; weekly pass: $25. Details: tigsports.net
March 24-26: Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair, 10 a.m.-dusk each day, free to public. Details: fourthavenue.org
March 25: Marana Founders’ Day Festival, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Ora Mae Horn Park, 13250 N. Lon Adams Road. Live entertainment, vintage tractor-car show, heritage village. Free. Parade along Marana Main Street begins at 10 a.m. Details: maranaaz.gov, calendar tab
March 25-26: Africa Night Dance Fusion live music and dance performances, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. each day. $20 in advance, $25 at door. Details: diasporashowcase.com
April 1: Cruise, BBQ & Blues Festival and Car Show, Oro Valley Marketplace, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $5. Details: saaca.org/classiccarshow
April 2: Cyclovia Tucson car-free neighborhood stroll, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., free. Details: cycloviatucson.org
March 23: Kate Mo$$, 191 Toole, 191 E. Toole Ave., 7 p.m., $5. Details: rialtotheatre.com
March 25: Gabriel Ayala, Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., 7 p.m., $10-$15. Details: hotelcongress.com
March 25: Joey Fatts, D Savage: At Your Neck Tour, 191 Toole, 7 p.m., $15-$17. Details: rialtotheatre.com
March 25: Zeparella, Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., 7 p.m., $10-$17. Details: rialtotheatre.com
March 26: LIE, Club Congress, 21+, 8 p.m. Free. Details: hotelcongress.com
March 26: KFMA Day, Kino Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way, noon-10 p.m. $40. Details: kfma.com
April 1: Why?, 191 Toole, 7 p.m., $15-$18. Details: rialtotheatre.com
April 1: Miranda Sings with Special Guest Colleen Ballinger, Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., 8 p.m. $39.50. Details: foxtucson.com
TOP MOVIE RELEASES
“The Boss Baby”
“Ghost in the Shell”
“The Zookeeper’s Wife”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“A Monster Calls”
“A Tale of Love and Darkness”
“Office Christmas Party”
By KATELYN ROBERTS
In Central Africa, Arnaud Davy Mambanza Mboungou had two full-time jobs: working as an oil engineer for Haliburton and taking care of his deceased older brother’s children.
Fleeing his home in 2016 to seek asylum was not part of the plan.
Mambanza Mboungou, 36, left Pointe- Noire, a city in the Republic of the Congo, after a highly contested election in which President Denis Sassou Nguesso won a third term.
He first fled to Ethiopia, then to the U.S. because it was familiar to him. He now lives in Tucson and attends English classes at Pima Community College.
Mambanza Mboungou is not considered a refugee because he fled on his own, without help, a plan and a sponsor.
When it comes to being an asylumseeker in the United States, he leaves political activism in his past.
“Politics are politics. Reality is reality,” he said.
In Pointe-Noire, Mambanza Mboungou feared for his life because of his political activism with a movement called “Don’t Touch my Constitution.”
The group opposed a referendum that would lift term, rules and age restrictions that barred Sassou Nguesso from seeking re-election.
“Our goal was to freely and peacefully express opposition to the constitutional referendum, which we found to be unconstitutional and non-consensual,” he said. Sassou Nguesso, 73, has been the Republic of Congo’s president since 1997. Before that, he was president from 1979 to 1992. His time in office represents one of the longest presidential terms in Africa.
Mambanza Mboungou also coordinated district campaign efforts for an opposition candidate. He supported Gen. Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, who once served as Sassou Nguesso’s security adviser.
“I conducted door-to-door outreach to voters with a team, wrote and made stump speeches to promote my candidate,” he said.
Mambanza Mboungou said it was clear that few residents supported the re-election of Sassou Nguesso.
Nevertheless, the referendum passed in a disputed landslide that claimed voter turnout of 72 percent.
It showed 1.2 million people in favor of undoing the restrictions. Those numbers did not add up, compared to media reports of a low voter turnout.
Opposition leaders claimed fraud “ranging from having security forces cast multiple ballots to paying people to vote,” according to Vice News.
After the election, many opponents were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, reported missing and killed.
“Some of them are still reported missing or have fled the country like myself,” Mambanza Mboungou said.
“I’m here seeking asylum or protection,” he added. “I fled my country for fear of being killed, harmed or unfairly imprisoned due to my political opinion and being a member of a particular social group.”
Mambanza Mboungou first lived in Portland, Maine. His journey to Tucson began through the Inn Project, which works with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide transportation and temporary housing for immigrants.
Tucson’s Christ Church United Methodist is a host site and helped him to Tucson.
Mambanza Mboungou contacted PCC’s international development department, and enrolled in the college’s free English classes.
International student advisor Miranda Schubert became a go-to for Mambanza Mboungou’s at Pima.
“He called up our office, and I happened to answer the phone,” Schubert said. “He explained his situation, and I was really excited to get to help him out.”
The Inn Project works with immigrants who have cleared background checks and customs. Some host churches, including Christ Church, provide meals, hygiene products, bedding and clothing.
Mambanza Mboungou now volunteers at Christ Church, helping families with refugee or asylum status. Most families come from Central America.
“They look up to me because I work here, but I am in the same situation as them,” he said.
Mambanza Mboungou speaks fluent English, but meets every Saturday with his conversation partner.
“I want to become even more fluent,” he said, laughing. “I need to be able to defend myself and my case in English.”
Mambanza Mboungou grew up in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo with three brothers and four sisters. He attended Sunday School and was a Boy Scout.
“My family belongs to the Baptist Church, and my mother is a deacon,” he said.
In 2008, Mambanza Mboungou attended Marien Ngouabi Univeristy in Brazzaville and the institute of Oil and Gas in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and was hired by Haliburton in 2010.
He began work as a drilling and completion fluids engineer.
“I worked for that company until I had to flee the Congo in 2016,” he said.
Mambanza Mboungou frequently traveled for his work. He often had to leave his children for 30-day periods.
Until January, he kept in touch with his family. On Jan. 11, Mambanza Mboungou got news that his family was in danger, and he hasn’t been able to reach them since.
After achieving asylum status, his goal is to find his family.
“When I return home to my family, I want a normal 9-5 job,” he said.
By CASEY MUSE JR.
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team (22-11, 13-9 conference) found the postseason magic to advance to the NJCAA Division II tournament. This is the Aztecs’ first trip to the big dance in eight years.
The Aztecs won in the first round against a team from Illinois on March 21 and will face No. 1 seed Southwestern Community College of North Carolina on March 23 at 11 a.m.
March 8: PCC 119, Glendale 111
Pima outlasted Glendale Community College in a high-scoring affair at home in the Region I, Division II semifinals.
The No. 2 seeded Aztecs took an early 22-11 lead and never looked back.
The team made their first six threepointers to lead by 21 points. No. 3 seeded Glendale showed fight in the final minutes of the first half to cut the lead to 57-48 at the break.
An early run by Glendale in the second half cut the lead down to two points but PCC showed poise to put the game away.
Six Aztecs scored in double figures.
Sophomore Deion James scored a teamhigh 25 points and added 11 rebounds for his 18th double-double on the season.
Freshman Alize Travis scored 23 points on five-for-seven shooting from the field. He added 15 assists and six steals.
“It was very important to stay calm when the game got close,” Travis said. “Even when momentum is not on your side in the moment, you have to know how to respond and keep playing. Staying poised is a major key.”
Sophomore Damon Dubots contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds.
With the win, the Aztecs earned their first Region I, Division II championship game appearance in seven years.
March 10: PCC 102, Phoenix College 99
The No. 2 seeded Aztecs captured their first Region I, Division II championship since 2009 in a close game on the road against No. 1 seed Phoenix College.
The Aztecs were able to sustain a 51-49 lead at halftime.
Phoenix College began the second half on a 10-3 run to take a 59-54 lead. The Aztecs once again showed poise in the big moment, responding with back to back three-pointers to regain the lead.
The game went back and forth the rest of the way as the teams saw eight lead changes in the second half.
In the end, it came down to free throws. James hit a clutch pair to give Pima a 100- 96 lead with 9.8 seconds remaining. The defense held on to seal the victory.
Sophomore Emilio Acedo lead the way as he scored a team-high 27 points shooting six-for-nine from three-point range.
James scored 27 points and added 12 rebounds to earn the Most Valuable Player award for the game, after earning his 19th double-double of the season.
The victory was head coach Brian Peabody’s first region championship since taking over at Pima.
March 21: PCC 93, Waubonsee CC 84
The Aztecs took control early in their first-round NJCAA Division II Men’s basketball tournament game against Waubonsee Community College of Illinois.
Pima began on a 12-2 run to take a double- digit lead just minutes in.
The Aztecs maintained the lead on their way to a 40-30 halftime lead.
PCC busted the game open at the start of the second half as Acedo drilled two key three-pointers to help the Aztecs go on a 14-4 run and secure their largest lead of the game.
Waubonsee showed fight but could not battle all the way back.
Acedo finished the game with 14 points after making four three pointers.
James found his stride in the second half and led all scorers with 31 points, shooting 13-for-13 from the free throw line.
Dubots amassed nine points and 11 rebounds.
No. 1 seed Southwestern Community College beat Southern Maryland to face the Aztecs in the quarterfinal game.
Southwestern CC are just short of being undefeated for their season, losing only to Kirkwood CC of Cedar Rapids.
By CASEY MUSE JR.
The Pima Community College men’s basketball team will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Region I, Division II tournament.
PCC will host No. 3 seed Glendale Com munity College on March 8. During their final five games of the sea son, Pima won two games and lost three.
Feb. 15: PCC 110, Cochise 102
The Aztecs earned one of their best wins of the season at home against Cochise College. The game was back and forth to start until Pima took charge halfway through the first half. A 7-0 run gave the Aztecs their first double-digit lead of the game at 32-21 with just over eight minutes left in the half.
PCC strengthened its lead to as much as 14 before settling for a 50-39 halftime lead. Cochise did all it could to close the gap in the second half and came as close as a seven-point deficit but it was never enough.
Sophomore Emilio Acedo had another good game as he tied for the team high in scoring with 26 points. He shot 4-for-7 from the 3-point line. Freshman Isiah Murphy had one of his best games of the year as he also scored 26 points. He shot 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the process.
Sophomore Damon Dubots contributed 19 points and seven rebounds. Fellow sophomore Deion James secured his 15th double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. The result meant a split in the season head to head with Cochise.
The Aztecs fell 96-83 to the Apaches in Douglas in January. The win also meant Pima had won seven of its last eight games.
Feb. 18: PCC 67, Phoenix College 72
The Aztecs fell in a close game on the road against Phoenix College. The No. 20 Aztecs and No. 11 Bears went back and forth for the entire game. The first half produced nine lead changes and seven ties as the teams went in to halftime tied at 32.
The Aztecs came out strong in the second half, using an 8-0 run with about 12 minutes left in the game to take a 52-46 advantage.
Pima couldn’t maintain, however, and Phoenix College reclaimed the lead with just over five minutes left.
The Aztecs managed to tie the game two more times but could never take back the lead.
Acedo led the way with 20 points. He shot 3-for-6 from the 3-point line. James earned his 16th double-double on the year with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Dubots added 11 points.
Feb. 22: PCC 84, Central Arizona 79
Pima earned a close victory at home against Central Arizona College. The first half was closely contested and the teams entered halftime tied at 33-33. The Aztecs played a strong second half
but Central Arizona was able to keep things close.
Up two points with 27 seconds left, Acedo iced the game on a clutch 3-point shot. James scored a team-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds. Acedo finished the game with 13 points
and seven rebounds.
Pima also earned 34 bench points. The win earned head coach Brian Peabody the most wins he has ever had in a season at Pima, with 19. The win also offered revenge for a 103-97 loss the Aztecs took from Central Arizona in January.
Feb. 25: PCC 93, Mesa 94
The Aztecs played such a close game on the road against Mesa that regulation just was not enough.
Pima had a hot start to the game and broke out to an early 23-16 lead. The lead grew to as many as nine points but Mesa came back to regain the lead by halftime. Pima entered the second half down 41-40.
Mesa was in control for most of the second half until a late Aztec run forced overtime. Mesa owned the overtime period and scored the game’s final five points to win it. James earned his 17th double-double of the season with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Three other players scored 17 points
Mesa earned its revenge as Pima defeated the Thunderbirds 115-78 at home in January.
Feb. 28: PCC 71, Arizona Western 98
It was a rough night for the Aztecs in their final home game of the season. Pima fell behind early to Division I opponent Arizona Western and could never chip their way back into it. James scored a team-high 15 points, while Acedo contributed 14 points.
All of the sophomores were honored during halftime.
By MELINA CASILLAS and NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
Ana, a student at Pima Community College and the University of Arizona, came to the United States when she was 2.
She came with her parents and brother, because her parents thought it was the best thing to do for their children.
“It’s not like Mexico had a bad life for us, it’s just there was more opportunity,” Ana said. “Not only economic rights, but education rights for my brother and I.”
Ana, who asked that her last name not be used, works with the UA Immigration Student Resource Center to create a safe environment for those in the same situation.
“I think that it’s crazy, and as dumb as it is, it also strikes fear,” she said. “Not only in yourself but in the family and your community, and it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly referred to as DACA, is an executive order signed by President Obama in June 2012.
The policy allows undocumented immigrants who migrated to the United States before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to be eligible for work permits and protection from deportation for two years, with a renewable application.
Students who take advantage of the policy are referred to as Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAMers.
Those who are eligible pay a $495 fee, an increase from $465 as of December 2016. DACA students must also provide fingerprints and other biometrics for an $85 fee and prove they have not had any criminal convictions.
As of September 2016, over 800,000 DACA applicants have been accepted nationally. Nearly 4,000 of those reside in Pima County, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
The DREAMers were fearful before Obama’s executive order in 2012. The order allowed them to step out of the shadows to continue their education and build a better life in the ‘land of opportunity.’
However, former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer began erecting barriers for DACA students as soon as the policy took affect.
Brewer issued a state executive order to deny the DREAMers driver’s licenses they were eligible for in 2012.
In December 2014, U.S. District Court Judge David G. Campbell overturned Brewer’s order, allowing DREAMers to receive their licenses.
Before that, Proposition 300 was passed in 2006. It made undocumented immigrants ineligible for in-state tuition. Children who had grown up in Arizona most of their lives were now required to pay out-of- state tuition.
Maricopa County Community College District challenged this; allowing in-state tuition to DREAMers. Former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne took the district to superior court. The court ruled in the college’s favor.
As of Jan. 10, current Attorney General Mark Brnovich has begun the appeal process to block DREAMers from receiving in-state tuition once again.
DACA students at PCC currently receive in-state tuition according to PCC’s website.
After a ruling by Federal Judge Arthur Anderson in 2015, all three state universities have been required to offer in-state tuition for these students.
While DACA students pay in-state tuition they are not eligible for any federal aid, including FAFSA.
UNCERTAIN POLITICAL CLIMATE
Now that Donald Trump is president,uncertainty fills the air for the DREAMers and all undocumented immigrants alike.
In a press conference, Trump said “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, because you have these incredible kids, in many cases not in all cases.” He also said he will deal with DACA “with heart.”
However, on Feb. 10, DREAMer Daniel Ramirez Medina was arrested in Seattle.
According to the Los Angeles Times, immigration officials say that Ramirez was a “self-admitted gang member” and arrested him for safety reasons.
Ramirez’s attorney disputed that saying he’d never been convicted of a crime and that he was pressed by immigration officers to falsely admit to the accusations.
Protests around Washington State have already begun in solidarity with Ramirez.
Locally, organizations like the University of Arizona’s International Student
Resource Center, are working to protect the rights of DACA students by supplying training to staff.
ISRC also speaks to the Arizona Board of Regents about making the college a sanctuary zone.
ISRC is also working with a Barrett Honors College student to create an app to alert students of where Border Patrol or other officers are seen around the Tucson area.
Advocacy groups like Scholarships A-Z are also helping DACA students, providing them with assistance in finding private scholarships for school and other immigration resources.
Many volunteers for Scholarships A-Z are also DACA students.
COLLEGE OFFERS HOPE
Although the situation is grim, there are helping hands at many institutions, though some are safer than others. That is evident in letters sent out after the proposal to end the DACA program by the Trump administration.
Chancellor Lee Lambert put out a statement Jan. 30, saying, “The College is reviewing action we could take to ensure students and employees feel secure, respected and supported.”
Pima does stand behind their employees; the email also lists links to help, and others to make an informed decision.
Ann Weaver Hart, president of UA, put out a statement, Nov. 24, 2016. With only 70 DACA students, they represent less than one percent of the student population.
“The UA statement publicly stakes out our position on protecting DACA student information,” she said.
“Providing advice and counsel for those students and ensuring any educational aspiration underway at the UA can be successfully completed regardless of events.”
Although the university had good intentions, many DACA students did not think the letter was clear enough on how it would protect them.
“President Hart, who’s president here at the UA, said she would protect DACA students in all her abilities,” Ana said.
“However coming together with other DACA students we thought it was vague, it didn’t really say anything or like actions to protect.”
A student at the UA felt so unsafe that he transferred to Pima.
“One DACA student left UA to transfer to Pima, because there are more opportunities there and it’s a safer environment,” Ana said.
By KATELYN ROBERTS
With the Aztecs’ last meet before nationals under their belts, every national qualifier earned is being counted.
On Feb. 17, Pima Community College’s track and field teams competed in the NAU Tune-Up Meet in Flagstaff.
Freshman Colin Dylla qualified nationally for the 800-meter race with a time of 1 minute and 58.17 seconds, taking fifth place Freshman Filimone Tu-avao qualified in the weight throw with a throw of 51 feet and 7 inches.
He earned ninth place. Freshman Jymil Toney improved his national qualifier in the high jump with a new mark of 6 feet, 8.75 inches.
Sophomore Sam Shoultz took second place in high jump, matching his season-best mark with a mark of 6 feet, 10.75 inches.
In the long jump, freshman Cam Duffy earned second place at 22 feet and 0.75 inches, and Treyshon Malone earned third with a jump at 22 feet and 10 inches.
Next up, PCC track and field will head to Pittsburg, Kansas, to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Indoor National Championships.
By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
After a sweep against Imperial College, the Pima Community College men’s and women’s teams played in a preseason tournament in Mesa.
“It went really well,” head coach Ian Esquer said.
Other schools such as Eastern Arizona and Arizona Christian University weren’t expecting the new coach and his team to get as far as they did, Esquer said.
“I was happy everyone played and had fun,” he said.
ACCAC preseason tournament
For doubles, the men’s team got to the finals of the main draw and the semifinals of the back draw.
“Arizona Christian University played and we beat them in the finals, so they were pretty impressed, as was I,” Esquer said.
ACCAC preseason tournament
In singles, freshman Emma Oropeza made her way to the semifinals of the main draw, while freshmen Janine Fernando and Lien Nguyen reached the back draw finals.
In doubles Oropeza and Nguyen made it to the semi’s of the back draw.
Feb. 23: Eastern 8, PCC 1
PCC’s game in Thatcher resulted in just one win, from freshman Elise Rodriguez. She won her No. 6 singles 7-6. The Aztecs lost every other match on the road.
By MELINA CASILLAS
Spring Break offers a time for fun and taking a week to forget about school.
If you’re a typically broke college student, you probably can’t even afford to look at top destinations such as Cabo or Miami.
Never fear. If you want a good time without spending too much, you’re reading the right article.
PATAGONIA STATE PARK
The park is located in Santa Cruz County about an hour and a half south of Tucson. Options include visiting for the day or camping near its namesake Patagonia Lake.
Enjoy scenic water views from a boat, with rentals available. You can also fish, swim or take a half-mile hike to Sonoita Creek.
The park is open for day use from 4 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission costs $15- $20 per vehicle for up to four people, and $3 for individual walk-ins or bicyclists.
Tips for day visitors:
• Arrive early, like at 6 a.m., to maximize fun and to nab a spot that includes a picnic table and great view.
• If you get tired, take a nap in the sun. Just make sure to layer on the SPF.
• Pack a picnic. Fast food and restaurants are not readily available.
• Compile a playlist and make sure you’re able to use offline mode, because service is spotty.
• Take a sweater. It can be chilly in the morning and is often windy.
Make reservations for tent or RV camping at 877-MY-PARKS from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., or reserve online.
For more information, visit https://azstateparks. com/patagonia-lake.
PUERTO PEÑASCO (ROCKY POINT)
The Mexican beach resort is roughly three hours south of Tucson. Bring your passport or birth certificate.
Most hotels require a person over 25 years old to make the reservation but some allow guests under age 25 to stay at their properties. Many also offer Spring Break deals.
A sampling includes Las Palmas, Princesa Penasco, Casa Blanca, Bella Sirena, Playa Bonita, Laos Mar and Peñasco del Sol.
Daytime activities can be just as fun as the nightlife. Options include day bars, ATV and jet ski rentals, horseriding on the beach, golf, fishing, sunset cruises and banana boats. You’ll see banana boat rides available all over Rocky Point’s beaches.
Rides usually cost $5-$20, depending on how long you ride and how far you go. The boats normally carry six to eight people per trip.
For more information, visit sites such as visitmexico.com/en/rocky-point
Visit Arizona’s west “coast” if you’re looking to get out of town but not out of state. Havasu is located along the Colorado River, four and a half hours from Tucson.
Known for its year-round sunshine and huge Spring Break crowds, Havasu offers tubing, boating hiking, cycling, fishing, offroading and much more. You won’t run out of things to do.
For additional details, visit the Spring Break Section of golakehavasu.com
STAY IN TOWN
Tucson offers fun, touristy and scenic spots that won’t hurt your wallet too much.
It’s free to hike Tumamoc Hill, located off West Anklam Road. Just follow the three rules: no pets, no hiking between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and don’t mess with the wildlife and plants. Carpool with friends and then go for brunch.
For an overview of Tucson’s many other hiking trails, see visittucson. org/things-to-do/hiking.
If you want an adrenaline rush, consider Get Air, Rocks and Ropes or Autobahn Indoor Speedway.
Get Air trampoline park, 330 S. Toole Ave., costs $12 for one hour and $18 for two hours. You’ll pay an extra $3 for jump socks. Hours are Monday-Thursday, noon-10 p.m.; Friday, noon-11 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, visit http://getairtucson.com.
Rocks and Ropes, also located at 330 S. Toole Ave., offers indoor rock climbing. Admission costs $15 for adults, $10 for ages 12 and under. Other options: pay $12 for a first-time lesson with orientation, $6 for equipment rental or $30 for a full firsttime package. Hours are Monday-Friday, 3-10 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, visit https://rocksandropes. com/downtown.
Autobahn Indoor Speedway, 300 S. Toole Ave., lets the kid in you live out your Mario Kart dreams. Prices vary from $19.99 to $100. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight; Sunday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. For more information, visit autobahnspeed. com/locations/tucson-arizona-indoor-gokarts.
If you prefer a calmer pace, consider one of the 10-plus museums located in Tucson area. One example: the Tucson Museum of Art, 166 W. Alameda St. For more information, visit tucsonmuseumofart.org.
Daniella Campuzano and Ashley Muñoz contributed to this article.