Paradise Valley Community College connection

In 2010 I began taking classes at Paradise Valley Community College.  I was a part-time student and a full-time stay-at-home mom.  As my son became older, I was able to invest more time in getting to know the PVCC campus better.

I enjoyed taking electives while completing my general education classes.  Electives and education courses gave me the opportunity to develop relationships.

It took me four semesters to find my way into journalism. In the Spring 2012 semester, I took my first JRN course, News Production.  I was slow to begin writing for the campus newspaper, The Puma Press, but I gained momentum along the way.

Writing was hard work, especially learning to write news articles.  They seem easier to me now, but then I felt more overwhelmed instead of confident.  There was so much to learn, and I suppose being an adult reentry student posed more challenges than less; especially, I found learning to live in the digital age challenging.

However, two years later, I am more skilled, confident and experienced in writing and making multimedia projects.

I am appreciative of the PVCC community.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am on the far right. This was a fun picture taken at Paradise Valley Community College at the end of the Spring 2014 semester. A few of us from Club Ed were attending the PVCC student awards event, so we posed for a group shot. On the left are my friends Caitlyn Soppe and Kelly Schwab, and in the middle are the two education program faculty advisors, Harriet Betts and Meggin Kirk.

A few of my Puma Press friends at the PVCC Puma Student Choice Awards.10295275_10151993549995887_7909655012490469395_o From left to right: Jasmine Barber, Karyn Black, Nikki Charnstrom, Eric Paul Johnson, me and Scott Scott Shumaker in the front row trying to fit all of us in a selfie. I love hanging out with these journalism people!


my first published article – April 2012

Three PVCC students win UNM arts contest

In Albuquerque, New Mexico at the 2012 Western Regional Honors Council Conference, the prestigious publication of Scribendi will debut this April, and three accomplished PVCC honor students will be formally recognized at a reception.

Isabel Santana, Geremy Cites, and Ryan Borys will be awarded $250 each for their works of art at the “Between Earth and Sky: Imagining the Future” event. “Scribendi” — an annual, national art and literary publication produced at the University of New Mexico— celebrates work from undergraduate students in honors programs from a 13-state western region of the United States. The Western Regional Honors Council consists of more than 220 participating colleges. This year, from 53 of these colleges, Scribendi received over 540 student works. A blind jury narrowed down these works to the best 54 pieces for publication; those with the most quality elements in artistic expression.

Isabel Santana, PVCC student and poetry winner, was excited to hear that she was chosen. In her junior and senior years of high school, a few of her writings had been published district wide, she said. Being published in “Scribendi” has continued her writing success.

“Being published before was rewarding, but this experience gives me another way to meet college students who also write and share the same passion,” said Santana.

Santana says she creates her poems in a reflective calm. She has to wait for everything to settle down before she can process her emotions and views.

“Poetry helps me release my inner feelings,” Santana revealed.

When artist and PVCC student, Geremy Cites, was asked about the best part of winning, he said, “For me personally, I think it’s the feeling I get like a week after, when the excitement has fizzled down. This is when I realize I did something with my art. All through the process of making some piece, I fend off uncertainty, something like, is this worth my time? I know it is when I find out I trusted myself to submit my efforts.”

Cites says he constantly challenges himself to see what he can and can’t do. His muse is his competitive nature.

“I never played sports, but I constantly want to make something better, more original,” he says.

For photographer and PVCC student, Ryan Borys, the most satisfying part of being selected was the challenging nature of winning.

“They only select 10 percent of all the submissions for the whole magazine making the selections per category very low so it is a pretty big deal,” he says.

Borys says he is inspired by the process of making a final product.

“The world in general, taking a typical every day event or thing that people see every day, and creating an image that is more interesting and more beautiful… being able to capture an instant in time in a beautiful and different point of view is why I love photography,” says Borys.

Borys will be transferring to NAU for photography as well as academics.

On April 11th, Sherry Adams, PVCC Honors Program director; John Douglas, future Honors Program director; Rikki Shannon, Honor’s Program adviser, along with Santana, Cites, and Borys will drive together to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend the three day conference.


Santana’s poem titled
“Mi Veneno Favorito/
My Favorite Venom”
will be published in the
University of New Mexico’s
literacy publication
April 2012 edition.
Isabel Santana poses for a picture outside of the Paradise Valley Community College’s administrative building.



Inside a labyrinth
Full of nonsense words
And problems with no answers
There is a beat that awakes
My senses and accepts
Blindly my destiny
Because of weakness
I tie up my liberty
And roam through a maze of no return
Without life or reason
Because of weakness, I accept
Disappointments and betrayals
And I forgive because I tend to forget
The pain I went through
And its not because I’m nice
It’s because of weakness
The same one that paralyzes me
And take me to you.

geremycites graphicart
Geremy Cites posing for a picture inside the Kranitz Student Center at PVCC. Cites’ work “Overgrowth” won in the UNM contest for  graphic  design.
ryanborys photography
Ryan Borys posing for a picture at PVCC. Borys won in the photography section for his artwork, “Tonto.”

Festival of Tales and my favorite pictures

Paradise Valley Community College’s Education program hosted the Fall 2014 Festival of Tales

For the past several years, I have taken pictures of PVCC’s education program semester-end literacy event, The Festival of Tales.  Facebook has a homepage for the event.


Here are my favorites out the 216 photo album I created.



GCC earns prestigious SCUP award






Photo courtesy of SCUP, still from 2014 award video

Alex Roe, SCUP president, presenting Glendale Community College’s psychology faculty Dr. Lopez with the Institutional Integration and Innovation award, July 2014 SCUP Conference in Pittsburg, Penn.

GCC earns prestigious SCUP award

by Shelley Handley

Glendale Community College received a national award in July from the Society for College and University Planning. GCC is the first junior college to receive this honor.

The award acknowledged GCC for innovative thinking, effective strategic planning and implementation.

“Winning this award has been very exciting. To receive this kind of prestigious recognition has been wonderful for our college and an amazing validation for all our hard work,” Dr. Alka Arora Singh, dean of Strategy, Planning and Accountability, said.

To accept the award, GCC representative Dr. Illder Lopez, psychology faculty, traveled to Pittsburgh, Penn. to attend SCUP’s 49th annual three-day international conference.

“It was an honor to go. Anytime a college receives national recognition in regards to the work they are doing, it is very notable…GCC is standing out among all the community colleges and universities nationally,” said Lopez. “That is a big deal!”

SCUP is a 50-year-old prominent organization that shares the best practices in fostering student success through collaborative leadership, effective planning, resource efficiency, ongoing assessment and underlying analytics.

“While the idea of strategic planning seems broad and disengaging, it’s absolutely critical to our students’ success,” said GCC’s President Dr. Kovala. “Now, imagine if the college didn’t have a plan to help our students and our own employees? We would quickly find ourselves hurting for clarity and not helping the very people that we care about – the students!” she said.

Brianna Long, GCC freshman and Paradise Valley resident, attends GCC’s nursing program. In a few years she hopes to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Her experiences at GCC are meeting her needs and expectations; she has experienced helpful advisors, supportive faculty and friendly students she said.

“People have been very nice and helpful,” Long said. “I appreciate the advisors making sure that my schedule is right – that I won’t be taking the wrong classes or confused about what I need to do to complete the program I am in.”

More than thirty representatives, Strategic Planning Task Force (SPTFr), from various departments and divisions worked for over 18 months to complete the Fall 2013 Integrated Strategic Plan. The plan was created to serve the college and student’s needs into the year 2020 said Singh.

“This was an extensive, collaborative work among talented, hard working and committed people,” Singh said. “We could have never completed this size of a campus-wide integrated plan without everyone buying into fully participating in such a thoroughly comprehensive strategic process.”

Lopez said the most important aspects of SPITFr’s work that the campus experiences every day are somewhat intangible, almost assuming, but are extremely significant for success:

  • Utilizing research, analytics, makes certification programs more cohesive and efficient
  • Collaborating provides diverse perspectives in assessing campus needs
  • Aligning, centralizing all departments and budgeting, saves time for everyone
  • Systematically measuring what is being done ensures accountability
  • Prestige, image, promotes confidence in GCC’s faculty, staff and students.

SPITFr meets regularly to discuss eight specific factors regarding the plan: shifting demographics; student under-preparedness; student success initiatives; resource constrains; evolving workforce needs; collaboration; emerging technologies; and compliance and accountability.

Having an effective plan and maintaining it ensures that students do not “spend more money, become burnt-out and disillusioned” Kovala said.

Dr. Singh, GCC’s dean of Strategy, Planning and Accountability, in her office displaying Glendale Community College’s award winning Fall 2013 Intergrated Strategic Plan.


Fancy shawl dancer Aitana Jones



Glendale Community College’s students, staff and faculty awaiting the unique Native American fused cuisine from the Emerson Fry Bread mobile restaurant.

GCC Native American Student Association
brings fancy shawl dancer to campus

At ten in the morning, the Emerson Fry Bread mobile food truck slowly made its way along Glendale Community College’s paved sidewalks stopping at the Center Mall on Thursday, Nov. 20 to help celebrate Native American Heritage Month.

GCC students, staff and faculty were able to order specialized Native American fused cuisine from the food trucks’ menu throughout the morning and early afternoon.

At 11:30 a.m. the Native American Student Association (NASA) began its event. NASA member Charis Holiday, GCC freshman, introduced Rock Point, AZ resident and 13-year Native American dancer Aitana Jones.

Jones performed four Native American traditional dances: Straight Dance with freestyle butterfly movements; Crow Hop resembling a hopping crow through Navajo land; Double Beat with intricate feet shuffling; and Round Dance which celebrates life.

“As students heard the music they came over,” Student Service Specialist Isabel Conchos said.


GCC freshman Karina Teran said that the butterfly dance with its unique beauty was her favorite.

“The music added a nice spiritual quality to the very interesting performance,” GCC senior Azzi Saadi said.

The program ran for a half hour.

Peter Chacon, NASA member and GCC senior, ran games and awarded prices following the event.

GCC freshman Giselle Mercado and David Truong said the ring toss was very challenging.

GCC Sophmores Malika Murphy, Dionte Maswell, Diondre Moore-Young and Marcus McCollum tried the bean bag toss, several times.

Chacon “was generous in allowing multiple plays and awarding prizes for good efforts,” Murphy said.


NASA President Alicia Navejar ended the ceremony by appreciating student participation and contributions. She blessed Jones with a gift from NASA.