NVC Student Gets Coveted Charles Butt Scholarship

After spending nearly 14 years in the Army, DeMarcus Credit, 35, was on a path to find his new mission in life. What he thought would be a career in law enforcement got derailed with an injury forced him to look for other options.

Volunteering at his daughter’s elementary school gave him a new sense of purpose. He found a passion for teaching kids. The school leadership kept inviting him back because they saw he had a gift with connecting with boys of color who needed a bit more guidance. Eventually he found himself at Northwest Vista College enrolled in Math for Teachers or Math 1350.

It was in this class he connected with NVC’s Dr. Mary Zocchi. She helped him prepare for a teaching video he had to submit to apply for the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers. He was one of the few selected in the state.

Dr. Zocchi said she doesn’t know of any other student of hers at NVC who received the scholarship.

This hefty scholarship puts recipients on a fast track to getting their Masters of Teaching degree in just one year. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be committed to teaching in a Texas public school that is majority-economically disadvantaged school (meaning more than 50% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch) or in a shortage subject area (specifically math, science, bilingual, or special education).

While DeMarcus is honored for the scholarship, he said he must stay focus.

“I can’t celebrate until I graduate,” he said. “I went to a community college in 2005 and I didn’t take it seriously. Dr. Zocchi has been amazing. She has given me help outside the classroom to make sure I’m successful.”

DeMarcus had to go through a demanding, six-hour interview for the scholarship. Also, just last year, he earned a Bachelor of Science Cum Laude in Criminal Justice from University of Maryland Global Campus.

“My goal is to reach students earlier in life to let them know they can do well in school,” DeMarcus said. “I want to be where I can make an impact. After seeing how open students were when I was volunteering, I think they would like school more if they had teachers they liked and could relate to.”

NVC Student Gets Opportunity to Study Dolphins

Not many community college students get to study dolphins in the Caribbeans, but Northwest Vista College student Megan Davis, received this opportunity thanks to the National Science Foundation FUERTE grant that NVC has with St. Mary’s University.

Over spring break, Megan travelled to Roatan (an island in the Caribbean) to study dolphins, and recently presented her research at St. Mary’s Research Symposium, which hosted nearly 300 posters this year.

For the first part of Megan’s adventure, she took part in a “field study” or study abroad class at St. Mary’s University where her class spent the first weeks reading scientific articles and learning about field research. This class culminated in data collection on a longitudinal study from 2018 – 2023 at the dolphin pod at RIMS (Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences).

“My group looked at dolphin activity levels – specifically, before and after in-water research sessions and in-water guest interactions. We also collected baseline data for each,” Megan added.

The “In water research sessions” refers to Dr. Dudzinski, director of the ‘Dolphin Communication Project’ getting in the water for 30 minutes every morning to conduct her underwater video and audio data collection focusing on behavior and communication. In addition to the in-water activities, Megan’s group then analyzed the activity levels in relation to season, utilizing the longitudinal data.

She said their findings refuted their hypotheses and are interesting, as in part contrary, to published research. She said they found dolphins are more active in summer and fall, but causality can not be determined.

In addition to dolphin data collection, Megan’s group took part in coastal inter-tidal surveys, as well as experiencing the island and learning about different ecological projects they do, including sea turtle rescues and Coral Reef Restoration.

“It was informative, fun, and overall an incredible experience that I credit NVC & St. Mary’s FUERTE program, and all of those involved for helping make this happen,” Megan said. “The experience abroad as well as in the classroom has been unparalleled, and I am so thankful that I could take part in something so amazing.”

Along with being a part of NVC’s Psi Beta National Honor Society, Megan was selected last summer to attend NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) Virtual Experience. She was one out of hundreds of community college students from across the country to participate in the virtual experience, where students form teams and design a mission to explore Moon or Mars.

Students Can Get Help at the NVC Advocacy Center

Are you a student at Northwest Vista that is having challenges with daily basic needs such as food or paying a utility bill? Are you a student going through a mental health crisis?

Well… the NVC Student Advocacy Center (in Husiache Hall) is here to save the day and yourself! As a student at Northwest Vista College (NVC), my experience at the Student Advocacy Center has made me realized that it is a safe space for all students and employees. The center is here for us students who are in need, deal with everyday struggles, or just need a space to relax and clear your mind. I have had my own fair share of short-comings and delt with mental health issues in the past where my stress levels were so high and overwhelming where it took a huge toll on my academic performance.

The Student Advocacy Center always reached out to me via my student email. Once I finally realized I could not handle everything on my own, the center was there for me and only a phone call/email away. The Student Advocacy Center helped me with food, my tuition, other necessities such as feminine products and face masks in the “Health and Wellness Station.” They also told me about many different resources that other students and myself could use when in sticky situations. Resources that the center provides is “Grab N’ Go” for students who needs a quick snack and drink to get through the day, counselors to help with your mental health, case managers to help you gain access to critical onsite support, emergency student aid, community resources, etc.

They also have external resources to help with groceries like curbside with H-E-B. My personal favorite resource is the financial literacy portion that helps students learn how to manage money and help students get on the path to financial success. They provide helpful links like “Crash Course” https://www.cashcourse.org/Registration and “I Grad” https://www.igrad.com. Once this was brought to my attention, I felt extra weight was taken off of my shoulders. I knew moving forward that this school really cares about their students.

I want to dedicate this blog post to the sweet Ms. Lisa Black who was the very first lady who helped me in my shortcomings, who is also the mastermind behind Student Advocacy Center that pushes students to not be afraid and ask for help. Ms. Black is a huge influence at Northwest Vista and her dedication to help these students is a big part on why students come back to Northwest Vista College.

I also want to thank the other student advocates, Ms. Catherine Lopez and Ms. Yolanda Reyes Guevara. These women have helped me in multiple ways and stood beside me to make sure I was getting the help I needed, even when certain situations were not fully met, they still went above and beyond finding other outlets to help me succeed. To the three of you, thank you again for being personal fairy godmothers to me and the students at the Northwest Vista College.

By NVC Student Diamond Murphy

How to Not Just Survive BUT Thrive in College

Starting college can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. When I first started college, I was so lost. I did not know where I wanted to take my academic career. I did not know you had to register yourself for classes. I was struggling. Below are some tips to not only survive, but to thrive in college and become successful at NVC.

Know where you are headed.

Having a clear idea of your goals and what path you will take is important when going to community college. If you want to get through community college quickly, you must have some idea of what career you want so that you can plan your path to success.

Register as soon as possible.

College classes fill up fast, if you want to ensure you graduate on time you must always register on time.

Take advantage of student services.

This one is so helpful. NVC has so many resources for you to be successful. The Student Avocacy and Resourse Center can help you with

  • Financial Aid
  • Counseling and mental health
  • Food and shelter

Do the work.

Not all the learning is done in a classroom. Doing your homework and practicing your skills is the most important thing you can do to being successful NVC.

By NVC Digital Media Student Christopher Miranda


Staying Focused – Even During a Pandemic

The life of a college student can be busy especially if they are working and going to college part time – even during a pandemic.

For Jerrel Williams, busy is his middle name! This US Army veteran not only attends Northwest Vista College, but is a husband, a dad to two elementary-school age children, and a chef at a private local school that is still operating its daycare. The school is near the Medical Center and many of its parents are considered essential workers. Prior to the coronavirus, he was also busy running his catering business.

Jerrel said once his military career switched to being in the reserves, he wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself. He’s the main cook at home and often cooked for his platoon. His wife encouraged him to turn his love of cooking into a career and he earned an associate degree from the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio. It was his mom who gave him the inspiration for his business’ name.

“I had to write a paper on what memories food gives you,” Jerrel said. “I remember my mom would make Bulgogi (a Korean-style beef you eat with steamed rice). Every time I ate it, it would lead me back to her warm heart (she passed away in 2011). When I have people eat my food, I want them to go back to their heart and cherish memories they have, while creating new memories. I want to make food a memorable experience.”

He also created fond memories at NVC when he took home first place in NVC’s first inaugural Beans & Chili Cook Off in February. He’s hoping to earn an associate degree from NVC next fall and combine his love of cooking, nutrition and fitness to be a knowledgeable resource for his clients that range from athletes, busy parents and businesses.

“NVC provided a warm welcoming feeling (when I first came here), the staff showed heedfulness in seeing me succeed,” said Jerrel, who’s studying Kinesiology at NVC. “Going to a big university can be overwhelming. Once I finished my first semester all of my instructors reaffirmed my initial thoughts, so for that I truly thank you.”

Prior to COVID-19, he and his business partner were busy making food for catering events. Their goal is to get funding for a food truck to one day bring the truck to catering events. While he specializes in Cajun food, his chili is now award-wining and he loves to get creative with dishes. He often posts mouth-watering pictures on his Instagram page (@AWaytotheHeart).

While the catering part of his business has slowed due to the virus, he has transitioned to making meals for athletes and everyday people who need a break from cooking. And the students at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School still get to taste his chef creations. When the school was in session, Jerrel and his mentor, Tony Zavala, fed about 200 students a day.

This summer on July 18, Jerrel will be the executive chef and host for the 4th Annual Community Junior Chef Competition on the South Side, which is hosted by San Antonio-based nonprofit, World Lolei Inc. At the event, backpacks and other supplies will be collected to help kids with back to school. Recently Jerrel assisted World Lolei Inc., and several community partners, with the donation of food and hygiene products to over 115 families, as well pay for rent and utilities for seven families for the month of April.

Jerrel said while the intensity of his catering business has slowed due to the virus, he’s looking forward to the future.

“At times life may seem like an over whelming struggle however, without struggle there is no progress,” Jerrel added. “Continue to stay strong through the tough times and always remember life is too short to wonder what if. I am making my dreams come true, I took that first step and I haven’t looked back since. Don’t sit on your passion. Make a plan of action, put your heart and soul into it, and prosper.”

Thank You for Making Education a Priority

Dear NVC Students,

Thank you for making education a priority. With so much happening around us right now in regards to the coronavirus, you may be wondering what the future holds.

As a parent and grandparent, who has two sons in college and a granddaughter in elementary school, education is important to me on a personal and professional level.

As your president, I want to assure you that Northwest Vista College is doing everything possible to keep our students, faculty and staff safe and to provide needed resources for remote learning as well as advocacy services such as how to obtain food, counseling, how to file for unemployment or speak to someone about domestic abuse and other resources.

Please continue to stay in college and reach out to your instructor or advisor if you need help with anything. You may also refer to this web page for resources:  https://www.alamo.edu/nvc/about-us/our-college/remote-learning/students/

Thank you.

Dr. Ric Baser
NVC President


10 Tips for Writing Scholarship Essays

Everyone jumps at the opportunity of receiving free money, but as soon as we see that an essay is required, we immediately put it off. I know I’m guilty of this. But this past week, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on how to write scholarship essays. During the workshop, I learned a lot and decided that it’d be great to share some tips with fellow students.

  1. Personalize your essay- The readers want to know who you are. A good way to do this is to tell a story.
  2. “Challenge” or “Obstacle”- When the prompt includes one of these words, write a story about how you overcame a challenge or obstacle. Mention how you “grew” from that. Correlate it with your education or finances.
  3. Talk about your “goals” and “vision”- The people giving away the money like to know that their money will be put to good use. Talking about your career goals is a great way to make that valid.
  4. Be specific – Tell them what you want to do with your life. Why you’re pursuing a higher education. Why you need the money etc.
  5. Imagine your audience – Your reader is a real person with a life and personality of their own. Talk to them as if they’re a friend. You will more than likely relate to them.
  6. Be memorable – Tell them things that make you unique. Use emotions that will leave them crying, angry, frustrated. Usually heartfelt stories make these marks.
  7. Don’t be formal – You are telling a story, you don’t need to be overly proper. You often times don’t even need an intro for essays like this, just begin telling your story.
  8. Use imagery – Describe emotions, settings, details etc.
  9. Follow the word count – Try not to go over the word limit but do not go drastically under. (Ex: if it’s 300 words, don’t go under 250)
  10. Read your essay and then read it AGAIN and then have someone else read it!

To apply for the Alamo Colleges and Northwest Vista College scholarships, go here.

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati


How to Stay Healthy as a College Student

A student’s performance in school is heavily dependent on their overall health. Whether it’d be pertaining to their mental or physical health. As we approach the middle of the semester, it is crucial for student’s to take care of their well-being. All aspects of health correlate to each other and often times when we’re only paying attention to one, the others are abandoned. So, here are some tips that I do in order to stay healthy as a college student.

Preventing illness

  • Wash your hands!! – Germs are everywhere and they SPREAD through handshakes, opening a door, handling food or drinks.
  • Keep hand sanitizer with you – Washing your hands may not always be convenient and time friendly. Keeping sanitizer with you offers a quick and effective way to kill germs.
  • Up your water intake – You are more likely to stay healthy if you drink 62oz of water every day. Try adding half a lemon for taste. The benefits of lemon water can improve digestion, skin and weight loss.

Physical Health

  • Stay Active – This tip doesn’t necessarily involve working out or going to the gym. Simply walking around campus can aid with this goal. After a long day of classes, I do about 4,000 steps!
  • Mindful eating – Eat for fullness not satisfaction. Pause between bites and chew slowly! It aids with digestion and you get full faster.
  • Don’t restrict yourself – Often times restricting yourself from snacks and junk can result in binging. Try to limit your intake of unhealthy foods while simultaneously adding healthy foods into your diet for a balance!

Mental Health

  • Don’t bottle your feelings – Write, draw, talk it out with someone! But don’t keep it in. Decluttering your thoughts through a form of art can really make a difference.
  • Don’t neglect yourself- School can often be time consuming, but it’s important to make time for yourself to do the things you love.

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati







NVC Student Gets Priceless Opportunity to Take Part in NASA Program

Northwest Vista College student Steven Moore is so knowledgeable about being on a plant-based diet, he incorporated his vegan lifestyle into a Mars proposal as part of NASA’s Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program that he participated in over the summer.

In order to survive on Mars, he said astronauts will have to adopt a plant-based diet since its unlikely farm animals will be able to survive the trip or can be supported on the red planet. In fact, NASA is already researching this diet for its astronauts for long missions. Steven’s proposal eventually led him all the way to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. But getting there wasn’t easy.

To be selected, students must submit transcripts, and write essays discussing their desire to join the program. Steven also received help from NVC Engineering Coordinator Dr. Thomas Pressly, who wrote a recommendation letter for him. Out of 700 students nationwide who applied, Steven was first selected for the five-week online portion of the program. At the end program, students were given the choice to write about rebuilding a Mars rover, redoing a mission to Mars, or changing one of the habitat systems.

Steven’s vegan proposal went into further detail about the water reclaim system and the importance of having two different water filtration systems for women and men at the International Space Center. Steven researched more than 100 hours about this topic that dealt with long-term food storage, growing food in microgravity, longevity of plant-based food sources, and how a vegan diet can provide positive health benefits to astronauts. His long hours paid off. He was the only student to accomplish a perfect score on his proposal.

Steven was then one of just 320 students selected for the four-day, all expense paid trip to Alabama where students took part in STEM-based activities. During the site visit, students were able to compete in two different challenges, tour the facility, and hear from guest speakers, including Dr. Ruth Jones, the branch chief at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. Dr. Jones is considered the next generation of “Hidden Figures.” The movie “Hidden Figures” depicted the role African-American female mathematicians played to get the first man on the moon in the 1960’s.







Time for a Career Change…Back to School I Go

Who wants to go to work and argue all day? Not I. Not anymore. I decided to change my career instead.

This was a major decision. I had to understand that for a period of 2 years, I would have to:

  • Give up substantial income;
  • Travel less;
  • Pamper myself less;
  • Stop helping others financially; and
  • Forego other luxuries I’d grown accustomed to.

First, I had the difficult task of identifying which path to pursue. I wanted a less stressful career with greater opportunities for flexibility. I researched career sites, spoke with a career coach, took personality tests, etc., and decided to pursue Front-End Web Development.

Next, I had to figure out the most cost-effective way to train for this career. I had the option to attend a coding boot camp, but I wanted a well-rounded education that would teach programming and design. I am on track to obtain a Level 1 Certificate in Digital Media through NVC.

I’m noticing how much has changed over the years since I’ve been in school. Not to worry, because I have good adaptation skills. I’ve decided to do things differently this time.

Online Courses

I avoided online courses in the past and now they make up 75% of my schedule. I am less inclined to join clubs or attend events. Although, I wish I were eligible to study abroad. That would be awesome.


I’m also realizing the crazy amount of pressure I put on myself. I’m in my first semester and have experienced high levels of frustration while working through assignments. I’ve earned a BA in Political Science, a Paralegal Certificate and a lucrative career, yet I’m questioning my abilities this time around.

I had to stop comparing my older brain to my younger one. I’m more focused on learning skills and less focused on making the grade. I must stay mindful of my self-talk to make sure it’s positive.


I have to stop being timid when interacting with my professors. When my confidence wanes, I question my decision to change my career. After feeling the thrill of creating a project, I want to experience it again and again.

I have pep talks with myself to reiterate that this is a new field and I need to allow myself time to learn and gain experience. I have great teachers who are more than willing to help. I also have an amazing support system existing of my husband and teenage son.

Hard work and confidence is key. It took great courage to take this step. It will all be worth it when I obtain my certificate and start my new career. I can do this!

By NVC Student Kaphillis Brown