Memories in our soul?

In “my PVCC things” in my pro-bag which compartmentalizes my life are a few folders.

One keeps my goals while another has many beloved photos, not all are there. I have two larger black, thin digital portable external terabyte hard drives where all of the vast captured moments of people’s lives are stored into event files. I need to go through them, some day? A day when they won’t hurt to look at them, represent shards of glass, broken, fragmented pieces of myself and what life I shared with others. Grief. The stages of tragic, disrupted loss.

I have to take them out, now, however, to decide, create, an uncertain re-entry plan?

The black professional bag has to be emptied out of what used to be, so new can be placed inside.

The me and them in these beloved areas of my life, can they be put back into some genuine whole?

I don’t recall exactly what day I attended Aware Club after The Festival of Tales in 2015. Michael had sent out an invite, and I had a file folder to drop off to Marketing. I had begun the Fall semester hiding out in safer, obscure places on campus. Each Wednesday I ventured out into three other areas tackling anxiety, fear and uncertainty in order to regain a sense of composure and understanding in regards to a lost life that no longer existed. I was no longer a journalism student on that campus to many, and I was trying to negotiate like a frightened rabbit with real predators in the background watching to see if I needed exterminated? For me, I was grasping at any possible pathway forward, re-framing, for hope anywhere. I wondered if I could still possibly graduate in May without the loss of my dignity, moral compass and intact fragile identity? What were my choices, options left? I was never going backwards to settling for fake again!

Thus, I was strong enough to venture my way back into the KSC building to an upstairs room where a small group of my peers would help me know. I wore my necklace of “Esther’s beads.” Advocating connections are really helpful when grown, sown so nicely, planted more appropriately in my soul. Thus, I went in to nicely assess, read and discern certain people.

This photo says so much. I had this file in my pro-bag where I keep important matters. It had a few of my favorite Puma News stories in it. They are stories that serve a purpose; they are about service learning, an overarching theme, plan, from silos to synergy.










Aware Club had a guest speaker. She was from the Welcome Center, to the front downstairs. She asked a few questions, and people provided good feedback. Donna kept everyone moving along as usual “verbally jumping in with all her lovely supportive gestures.”  I still found watching her captivating, a place of longed for opportunity of learning, mentoring.  I chose her long ago. She never knew.

I shared a few insights intentionally. I was discerning to know if she was genuinely interested?

It is easy to say pleasant things, but to offer a real critical observation is entirely different. I was practicing assertiveness skills in safer places transitioning them into more complicated and oppressive areas where an authentic voice is unwanted.

I spoke with a slight hint of edgy disapproval in regards to the disconnect that far too many professors have in helping students participate in a community. I gave an example: How hard is it for them to open up PVCC’s main website and invite students into a beneficial, campus-whole-wide-look at the diverse meaningful carefully planned public, social occasions that they could engage in? grow in?

Additionally, they as well could attend and even volunteer, lend their supportive talents and expertise, or even just affirmation. Why is that asking too much? I said, “Lazy.”

The guest inquired specifically about the needs of adult re-entry students.

I had one of the Aware Club articles in my bag, written by Julie Rhodes Mataway. I didn’t take it out though, for I wasn’t yet ready to allow Donna to “see” areas that I shared so easily with Mike Ho. Instead, I provided her with key search; I observed her write them down: Donna Mosher, Aware Club, Puma Press, PVCC.

I kept Julie’s article, cut it out fresh from publication, added it to the folder for it provided highly useful data as well as treasured relational place of goodness, support and love…and, I was there to see if that too was now gone? Who was Donna now to me?

Baby Steps PVCC offers wealth of support to returning students by Lynx Editor Mataway, the cover story.

Donna was so unaware of how much she planted, sowed into me; that my grief was like watching, experiencing, a beautiful green and lush garden full of vibrant female connection perish unable to save it from fading away inside of me, dying into some vast unwanted wasteland. My trust and entire relationship with her was murky, darkened by tainted views, corrupt control, and manipulated leadership which twisted all things good and true into some evil place of ruin – for what?

To avoid dealing with problems, hurtful issues and destructive choices that tore all of us down including them. It all needs to stop!

I look at the scattered contents of what used to be my life, and I still have love with Francine! And on the end is Victoria. I keep track of progress and areas that really work. I miss Donna, Aware Club and what was once and is no more. Puma Press, what is it now? all the work, all the growth interwoven like a tapestry where strings were pulled out as to unravel them all.

Still what remains? This is a process, one I have been avoiding.

There is Dr. Green and Laurie Cigan at her retirement “party.”  In that memory is a brief window, rare opportunity, in which I saw Shirley’s tenderness, her deep love and devotion over the relationships in a community she fondly cared over; and, value in shared work-related progress, satisfying, collaborative faithfulness, well-planned togetherness, accomplishment in stewardship…words strung together like beads on a necklace which are not exactly right for now. Expressing what is in that memory is difficult to put into a few words in one or two sentences, for it expands into a much larger view, comprehension, beyond that place and time into colorful legacy – breathtaking to have the rare ability to perceive, view.

Mike Ho and a few Student Life stories with relevant quotes. Then, others as well still intact.

Miranda Gue humor…Finals stress drives some PVCC students absolutely bananas, I recall the writing of it, the hilarious nature of a few people collaborating in the news room. Friends.

One by Rachel Van Iwaarden, Editor-in-chief, about Politics first, America’s citizens last, in which she gets tough on Obama and other leaders who are struggling to come together in budgeting programs and plans??? March 1, 2013, and her article could change-out a few names and be the same old story suitable for today, current in the news!

The brokenness:

The centerpiece is an article about “resurrecting embattled Service Learning” written by Gavin Victor. There are quotes, commitments by Dr. Dale, in regards to our community. I have a few others as well. I am supportive in helping out, and he always spoke up about having an open door policy where he welcomed student conversation.

Dr. Dale will not be the same knowing he broke a broken student in the worst of ways for foolish reasons, betraying his own true self, convictions. He chose to be cowardly, to hide it all instead of make it right. Forgiveness is a way back, and he didn’t want it.

News is thin and one can keep many stories that weave a bigger picture into something very worthwhile! I am seeking to find what remains in the debris. I yearn for all of it to put back. Tears stream that it cannot.

God will carry me on…there is a poem about a tandem bicycle that came into my life in the early 1990’s.

The hardest part of life with God is seeing beyond what is all around us into a deeper reality, truth that God unfolds in His own good time.


God Carries You

On September 21, 2016 at 12:45 p.m. a legal sheet of paper was placed before me to sign and date. I was officially expelled from college. A “NO TRESPASS ORDER” on all MCCCD Properties was a part of the legal process. I added, “requesting legal aid.”


Today is August 7th, a Monday morning. I have been working through loss, grief in long-term trauma which involves a complicated process towards healing, recovery.

I have been progressing through a grief cycle. I have to begin to actually touch things, organize all these “things” tied to an internal place inside me that feels like shards of glass, broken into a thousand pieces. How do you put that back together? Can it be “put back at all? so much is disorganized, and I am passing through “protesting” and “accepting” what occurred.

I have had so many questions in all the wounds. Grief wheel

It is hard to know help and support never came. What does that really mean? When I was asked to leave my college classroom, political science class, I went alone peacefully with two security officers and a dean of students to her office to go through something I had known for weeks was coming for me. I was a journalism student who began a long research and interview process looking for effective solutions to very complex problems especially funding and safety areas; by accident while investigating, I found myself uncovering unethical corruption and illegal behavior. And, now, on that day, they had me on trumped-up, fabricated “evidence” in regards to student misconduct; the pattern in all the horrible lawsuits I had been looking into was scapegoating from the top down. District Office had already threatened me months ago.

I had been frantically darting this way and that to escape and resolve areas for over two years; however, in the end, I was like some rabbit being chased down by a few, cunning, big-bully kids having fun tracking down and shooting a creature who had no ability really to defend, free or protect myself. I had lost, and now I was more broken than ever. When rabbits do not get away, manage to escape, they often become mangled small animals, and that is exactly what I looked like on the inside even if outward appearances could half-fool most.

Two days later, on a Friday morning, after speaking to a specialist, I checked myself into Banner Thunderbird Medical Center; I went through the emergency room intake where I was admitted to the psychiatric ward for an official evaluation. I was to ask for an MRI and a check-over to verify my mental stability and emotional competence.

I had to remove all my clothing and place each item into a bag. Then, I had to remove any jewelry and place it also into a smaller plastic bag. As I stood naked, arms out straight and legs two feet a part, my whole body was checked, evaluated and screened. I was given hospital clothing to put on. I then went into a room where I had my blood taken, where I was asked to provide a urine sample and formally assessed by a few professional staff. I had elevated blood pressure.

A few hours later I was released. I was given instructions to follow up with my regular doctors to provide further help and schedule an MRI. They found no reason to keep me; that I posed no threat to myself or to others. That I had no illegal drugs in my system, and the results were sent to my medical doctor, practitioner. I could obtain an official copy of their report by requesting it through their records department.

College will begin soon, and God is still carrying me. Each day is one more forward, inching along.

I asked so many people for help. No one listened, but quite a bit of abuse and depraved indifference was their repetitive choice. I talked about peaceful ways to progress using procedures, policies and their own stated belief systems.

Trust is shattered, hope is gone, and what remains is how do I go forward, how to rebuild my life and find a support system and belonging among a network of caring people? After tests were done, formally by experts, I am in a two-year, at least, recovery program. The hard part is that I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, so those four words make it almost impossible to be safe in any community. Labels and prejudice and all other judgmental behavior is too hard for me to navigate currently. I am too wounded, broken inside. Where can I rebuild trusting relationships? Where can I ask for help without getting more victimized?

I do not require admittance into a behavior health facility; although, that is the typical response from others who are “uncomfortable” and “ignorant” and just hurtful.

Stereotypes, born from people’s fears hinder recovery options for me. Normal is an area that is hard to come by for people like me, yet it is necessary for recovery.  It seems impossible. Yet, even in my frustration, disappointment and anguished talks with God, He continually reminds me that nothing is beyond Him even when my faith is sad, broken-hearted, weak.

Thus, God is carrying me still. He will make a way as I trust in His faithfulness and promises.

Who am I now? Begin again…

Brevity’s founding editor Dinty W. Moore interviews Melanie Brooks, author of the recently released Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma, featuring Brooks’ conversations with Andre Dubus III, Sue William Silverman, Kyoko Mori, Richard Hoffman, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Abigail Thomas, Mark Doty, Edwidge Danticat, Jessica Handler, Richard Blanco, and others about how they tackle […]

via Writing the Pain: Memoirists on Trauma and Memory — BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

I can relate with how hard it is to go from being so disorganized in the trauma that to begin to use writing as a means to heal is rather a desperate move beyond the wasteland that now seems to be an overwhelming reality…so, the difficult journey of the tasks of grief, acceptance of loss, adjusting to life as it is now, and reinvesting and reinventing oneself opens up like a fading storm with gray skies promising life of renewal.    Reading Brevity’s blog post of Writing in Pain encouraged me today…there are real truths in the words revealing the nature of trauma…

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.