NVC Students Travel to Morocco for Researching and Learning Culture

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Northwest Vista College students ventured over 5,500 miles from San Antonio to the historic region of Zawiya Ahansal in North Africa last May for NVC’s first Adventure Science experiential learning project.

The first leg of their trip landed them in the city of Marrakech in Morocco. Professor Scott Walker of Geography, and Adam Aguirre of Anthropology then led the six students on a five-hour trip to Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains for field work, trekking, community service, and an incredible cultural immersion experience. This area is relatively isolated from the rest of Morocco due to its unique geography.

NVC student, Farhana Khan said, those “two weeks in Morocco were not an average study abroad program…our learning took place at the airport, on bumpy roads, around campsites, and in the river—literally.”

Students, who were enrolled in Physical Geography (GEOG 1301) for the journey, learned how to measure the water flow and discharge of the local river that is used to irrigate subsistence crops by the people of Amazigh, a village in the Morocco mountains. The Taghia River was a crisp 49° F according to their measurements taken while standing knee deep in the water.

Two of the students, Farhana Khan and Marcella Palaferri, with the help of Professor Walker, leveraged the river data into a community service project. They spent the rest of the summer back home crunching numbers to develop a professional 24-page hydrology report they have given to the Atlas Cultural Foundation in Zawiya Ahansal, a region of the mountains that encompasses several villages. This is only the second study of the Taghia watershed ever conducted due to its remote mountain location. The students determined this year’s water flow was up to 542 times more than that found in a previous 2016 study by a professional hydrologist.

Link to report https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xLnOFY4EmaAkSBu63XhMzyddUMnc5tiA/view?usp=sharing

“The project our team completed was an excellent opportunity to understand how important the river systems are for this region,” said student Marcella Palaferri. “It is truly the lifeblood for subsistence farming practiced by the people. The information in our report will be extremely helpful for them for future comparative studies.”

Marcella, Farhana, and Scott will be presenting the results of their work at the 2018 Southwestern Association of American Geographer’s meeting in Baton Rouge, LA next month.

In addition to getting wet and dirty, students conducted interviews of local residents for their Cultural Anthropology (ANTH 2351) class. Each student covered a particular cultural aspect of the community such as religion, the local monetary exchange system, or kinship.

“We were humbled by the simple and family oriented life of the Berbers [Amazigh people] and questioned our rat race for more material goods.,” said Farhana.

Marcella added we “were completely immersed in to the culture for the entire 15-day period.”

The students also worked in two rural schools teaching English to middle and high school-aged students who speak French, Arabic, and Tamazigh. The program’s mountain guides doubled as Arabic and Tamazigh language instructors, teaching NVC students basic survival phrases such as “mashi moshkil” (no problem) and “la la bzaf” (no that costs too much), among other things like how to count to ten. Scott is working with the Atlas Cultural Foundation to plan another adventure science field study project in 2020.

Contributed by NVC Geography Professor Scott L. Waker, ScEdD.  

Congrats to NVC’s National Society of Leadership & Success

Northwest Vista College’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership & Success earned the prestigious Founder’s List Award, as well as the President’s Volunteer Service Award – Gold Level.

The Founder’s List is one of the highest honors of NSLS’s Pillar Program. This is reserved for chapters who successfully complete eight of 10 pillars in the administration of their chapters. The National Office developed the program to help set each chapter up for long-term success. The NSLS is the nation’s largest leadership honor society. With 648 chapters, the organization currently has 876,911 members nationwide, and many of its members say being in NSLS impacted their likelihood of landing their desired future job.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is the premier volunteer awards program. It encourages citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition. The NVC Chapter earned the Gold Level Award for members contributing over 1,000 hours of community service.

To learn more about NVC organizations, go here: www.alamo.edu/nvc/experience-nvc/campus-life/student-life/


NSLS Volunteering


Follow Your Passion to a Degree

College can be intimidating no matter how old you are. I tried attending school twice before and life just got in the way. Now, I am 26 years old with school age kids, working full-time and planning a wedding. I decided to go back to school in December of 2017, because after two failed attempts at school, I finally know what I want to be when I grow up!

I listened to other people on what I should get my degree in. You can never go wrong with a business degree, they said. I didn’t actually stop to think about what I was interested in or passionate about. Just what would make me the most money, or land me a job. So, I tried pursuing my degree in Business Management with the intent to transfer to a university. I had amazing professors, but I just was not interested in the classes so I fell behind.

After talking to many friends, family, colleagues and by passers, it seems that this is more common than I thought. So many of us get caught up in the money we can possibly make in the future, rather than what will make us happy. I’ve realized that if you love something, whether it be art, fitness, literature or whatever, there is always a way to make money off of your passions. This is why I’m now choosing to pursue an associates degree in Digital Media at Northwest Vista. I would never have guessed that my hobby of playing on Adobe Photoshop would be able to make me money one day. The classes feel like a breeze because I’m engaged with the material, rather than another boring class I have no interest in.

For those of you just starting out, or maybe you are considering school again, I would suggest to make sure you are truly pursuing your passions. One degree might not sound as important as another, but they all matter.

By NVC student Viviana Smith

NVC Access Office Benefits Students with Disabilities

By NVC Student Kimberly Redgate

Do you know how the Access Office at Northwest Vista College can help students?

“Creating Equal Opportunities for Students with Disabilities” is the mission statement of NVC’s Access Office, which specializes in providing services to students who have physical, learning, mental, and psychological disabilities. The Access Office serves students with these disabilities by providing accommodations to help achieve academic standards in the classroom.

Sharon Dresser, Special Services manager of the Access Office, said the most commonly used accommodations are to allow students more time for exams, use a volunteer note taker or use a recording device. Depending on the specific disability, other services may be included in accommodating the student, such as a sign language interpreter, larger chairs or screen-reading software for those who are visually impaired.

Sharon said that not all of the estimated 700 students on campus who have confirmed disabilities come to the Access Office each semester to request accommodations. She believes some of the major reasons why this occurs are because students may be too embarrassed, in denial or don’t realize they have a disability.

Sharon recommends that students with disabilities visit the Access Office’s webpage to see what services are offered.

Based on the results of a recent Access Office survey, the majority of students who sought help from the Access Office ranged in age from 17-25 with the ratio of males to females being about even. They reported their experience to be very good in regards to how friendly the staff was, how helpful their services were, and how well their needs were met. In addition, their accommodations contributed greatly towards their learning, desire to continue college, and goal to graduate.

For more information concerning NVC’s Access office, visit its homepage or you can reach the office at (210) 486-4466 or through email at nvc-access@alamo.edu.

Being Active in Student Organizations can be Motivating

Dina Jackson
By NVC Student Dina Jackson

College can be overwhelming, without a doubt. Many times I remember feeling all alone in my journey especially when I see no signs or reminders of the end result. This tends to slow us down and/or we lose focus of what we are trying to accomplish. I have found the remedy – becoming active in student organizations (especially those pertaining to your field of interest). Attending speech seminars, career fairs and other school sponsored events is definitely the cure.Student organization membership not only allows us to meet new people with interests and goals similar to ours, but it also exposes us to new ideas (ideas that would have never occurred to us otherwise). The experience offers a whole new perspective and allows you to grow as an individual.

I am a fanatic when it comes to attending school sponsored events. I must admit, if my schedule permits, I even attend those events that do not necessarily have anything to do with my major. Why? Simply because after each and every event, especially speech seminars, I have walked away with tons of new and useful information that I did not know before and that I can apply in my own personal life. I cringe at not being able to attend an event because I wonder what will I miss.

Recently, I attended an “Accounting Stars Luncheon” at UTSA’s College of Business. It was a great experience!!! Attending this event was definitely worth my while and more productive than I ever imagined it would be.

Part of the program included a panel of three former UTSA students whom are all now very successful individuals in the accounting field. The panel was made up of a gentleman happily working for KPMG, an accounting firm; Stephanie Davis, vice president of Corporate Tax for Valero and another lady who is chief auditor for Frost Bank. They talked to us about their experience at the UTSA Business School. They also talked about hurdles and their greatest obstacle(s) when they graduated and went to work in the field. They gave us advice and provided us with reassurance.

According to the panel, the accounting field is an area which provides new challenges almost every day; however, it is definitely rewarding. It was very inspiring to see and hear these individuals. I was also able to get a few great UTSA contacts relating to the accounting department, which will be very helpful in the near future:

Needless to say, I left this event with a new level of motivation and vigor to continue chasing my dreams. It was extremely motivating to meet successful people, working in my field of interest, that once stood where I am today. Hearing their testimonials, learning about their struggles and challenges as they moved through school and into their careers, but most importantly, witnessing their success today has definitely and positively influenced my life. I’ve always known that there would be challenges along the way, but after attending this event, I now know that everyone faces similar challenges and I’ve witnessed the success at the end of the tunnel through other people. I feel more confident than I ever have before; I am forever grateful.

Dina Jackson is graduating this May with an associate degree in Business Administration. She is transferring to UTSA in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Alamo Colleges Students Volunteer At Morgan’s Wonderland

By NVC Sophomore Dawn Thomas

On Saturday, April 9, the Student Leadership Institute students, led by Rodell Asher and instructors of the Alamo Colleges, descended on Morgan’s Wonderland eager to learn how they could serve and become volunteers of this extraordinary place that is the only park in the world designed with special needs in mind.

Volunteer coordinator Jere Delano greeted the students with a warm and energetic smile. After a short training session with Jere, whose name tag reads simply “Jere – Loves his grandkids,” the students participated in a ribbon cutting that was held in honor of the park’s 1st birthday celebration where General Manager Dave Force and Founder Gordon Hartman each spoke. The inspiration for Morgan’s Wonderland is 17-year-old Morgan Hartman, who grew up as a special-needs child. Morgan danced around in the background during the ceremony and greeted everyone with her contagious smile as well as handshakes and hugs.

The SLI students and instructors were given their assignments in the park and sent out for what would become a life-changing day for all included. Students volunteered at the park’s many different attractions such as the fully accessible Carousel, Sensory Village, Off-Road Adventure Ride, Wonderland Express & Depot, and The Wharf. To see pictures of the students, click here.

Jere reminded the student volunteers that this park was not only designed for the special needs visitors, but for all to come and play together.

“This is a place where families come for a rest from the daily routine,” explained Jere, “they know they can come here and not get the strange looks and stares that they receive out in the world because people do not know what to say or how to react to those with special needs.”

In the year since the park has opened, there have been visitors from 48 states and over 15 countries. Many visitors on that Saturday were there for the first time such as Tonya Sprowl who is from New York, but is stationed in San Antonio in the military. She and her husband have two daughters, ages 13 & 7. Their 13 year old is in a beautiful purple wheelchair and playing on the Butterfly Playground with her little sister as I spoke to her mother.

Mrs. Sprowl described her family’s experience as “Amazing. We are able to play as a whole family. My daughters are able to play together and do the same activities.”

The park has a huge impact on its volunteers as well. When asked what she hoped her SLI students would get out of the volunteer experience, instructor Veronica Rosas- Tatum from Palo-Alto College said, “My only desire is for all of the SLI students to experience the inclusiveness of this environment and gain an appreciation of how easy it is to interact with a special needs individual.”

My own personal experience at this magical place was something that I will never forget. I met so many lovely people like my new friend Renessa and her 11-year-old son Robert, and Clara, and Alice – our Duchess of Dance for our parade. My new friends all have a special place inside my heart now as do their parents and family members that I got to visit with. Their infectious smiles and sweet spirits will stay with me forever.

I must also include the park staff in my list of new friends as well. They all set fabulous examples and were so helpful and grateful for all of the volunteers there. As a matter of fact, I was so moved by my experience at Morgan’s Wonderland as a volunteer that I have cleared several dates on my calendar so that I can go back and volunteer again.

At the end of our long day, Park Director Peter Albarian, whose name tag reads “Hippie Bus Lover,” thanked the SLI student volunteers and the instructors for their time and hard work. He had warned us earlier that morning that we would leave with a different perspective.

“Outside these gates is the real world,” said Albarian. “In here is a wonderland where miracles happen every day.”

Please visit www.morganswonderland.com for info on how you can get involved and volunteer.

Dawn Thomas is also an NVC College Ambassador and in SLI Student-Tier I

Tough as Stone

By Brian Carlisle

Imagine you’re at the pinnacle of your career. Whether it be a writer, professional athlete, teacher or musician it doesn’t matter, you’re living your dream and you’re at your peak.

Then one day something happens and you’re injured to the extent that you can no longer live out your dream. To make it worse someone intentionally did this to you to better themselves. How would you recover? Would you sulk and blame the world or would you be strong and overcome? 

This is what happened to semi-professional Ugandan soccer player, Stone Kyambadde, whose knee was injured intentionally by another player during a match. This ended Stone’s career at its peak.

But as if he were the star in an underdog sports movie, Kyambadde was down but not out. Instead of slipping into depression and self-loathing, Kyambadde found a way to bring together the needy and abandoned youth of Kampala and established a soccer team called the wolves in 1989 that he continues to coach to this day. The boys he mentors are often from rival communities.

The nation of Uganda is war torn by these rivaling factions, but Kyambadde has found a common interest for the boys through soccer and brings them together to teach them love and forgiveness.

Students and the public will have a chance to hear Kyambadde’s message of forgiveness during his visit to Northwest Vista College on April 28 and 29.

“We hear stories like this from around the world that don’t seem real to us but they are and with Kyambadde we get to experience what he lived through,” said Valarie Fluellen, the Intern Organizational Learning Coordinator at NVC and the person responsible for Kyambadde’s visit.

Kyambadde’s story inspired Stephen Covey to include it in his “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” workshop. Kyambadde is a speaker of Habit 1- Be Proactive, in the “7 Habits” and travels internationally to speak at conferences, colleges and various groups. Habit 1 teaches to be proactive, or to assess the situation and develop a positive response not just reacting to events. 

On April 28-29, Kyambadde will be visiting NVC to meet with students, faculty and staff about his approach to leadership. He will spend time on April 29th with NVC’s fourteen Leadership Lab participants to help strengthen leadership skills in the area of deployment and execution of plans, both locally and globally. The public may attend Kyambadde’s lecture from 11:00am -12:00pm and he will engage in dialogue in the form of questions and answers from 12:00pm– 12:30pm.

Brian Carlisle is a Northwest Vista College student.

The Great Northwest…Vista Parking Problem

By Joseph Frymire

“Hey are you leaving? Can I have your spot?”

Parking spaces are scarce at Northwest Vista College; if you haven’t been asked this question yet, you probably haven’t been here very long. During the first few weeks of class you might as well resign yourself to either a long search for a spot or a very long walk to class. It gets better as the semester goes on, but one could never describe it as perfect. Luckily, the NVC staff is well aware of the problem, and is actively looking for solutions.

“The administration is well aware that there are issues with parking, and we’re looking all the time for ways to improve.” says Melissa Monroe-Young, Public Information Officer at Northwest Vista. 

And it’s true, the school administration hasn’t just been sitting on their hands. Per a deal reached with Sea World, NVC students can park off-campus and catch a shuttle right back to the Cypress Campus Center. Even more on-campus lots are being constructed out past the Boardwalk portables.

“There are lots of options for students.” Monroe-Young explains, “If they take night classes, or arrive earlier, parking can be a lot less difficult.”

But with a population of roughly 15,000 students, timeliness and proper planning can only go so far. There’s only so much space to build at ground level; eventually they’re going to have to start building up.

“There are already plans in the works to build a parking garage to deal with population growth.” says Monroe-Young, “In fact, parking pass prices have already been increased to help pay for it.”

Large universities such as UTSA have implemented garages to deal with parking issues. However, there is a point of contention in regards to building one at Northwest Vista: the campus’ natural theme. Monroe-Young stated that there have been multiple talks on how to include a parking garage without impeding upon the “green” motif present throughout the school.

“I’m on the fence,” says Leah, an NVC student, “On one hand (a garage) would be nice to have, but it might look ugly against all the trees.”

Students are ambivalent toward the issue. Most were happy to hear that one would be built, but were sketchy on whether it would be naturally obtrusive. Some, however, were indifferent.

“Live Oak Hall already looks like a factory,” says Brian, another student, “Paint (the garage) purple, call it ‘artsy’ and nobody will care.”

Ultimately one garage isn’t going to solve all the parking problems either, and everyone probably knows that. The Sea World lot isn’t going away, and there could be more off-campus lots in Northwest Vista’s future. Which raises the question: is it fair to expect students to pay the same amount for off-campus parking as they would for an on-campus spot?

“I don’t think it’s really an issue, since the current system is all we have right now.” says Monroe-Young.

It’s first come, first served parking at NVC, for students and faculty alike. That’s the way its always been, and it looks to stay that way in the near future. Most students are happy with the flat rate, and parking equality. Only a few are interested in a tiered system, and those who are only want it so they can pay more for preferential parking.

“If I could get a spot right up front, sure.” says Michelle, another student, “Otherwise I don’t care that much.”

And right now, what’s there to care about? The spring semester has reached its midpoint, and parking isn’t that hard to find. During the summer semesters, the Northwest Vista lots will look practically barren. But when the fall semester rolls around again, and there’s a brand new batch of students freshly graduated from high school, the old grumblings will begin anew.

The parking problem is always going to be there, but at least we’ve got a few ideas on how to make it better.

Joseph Frymire is a Northwest Vista College student.

NVC’s Dance Ensemble Takes Show on the Road

By Graciana Rodriguez

The Repertory Dance Ensemble is preparing to take the show on the road for all to experience. Students are preparing a touring schedule that includes three venues around San Antonio plus one on- campus performance.

Being a part of NVC’s touring repertory dance ensemble, students create and stage innovative and fun dances with faculty and guest artists, and experience a variety of dance styles, performing in theatres, schools and community centers throughout San Antonio, plus they earn transferable college credit in repertory and performance dance.

Guest choreographer Ruben Ornelis from New York City composes Folklorico dances adding his own spice to the act. Beatriz Ayi from Uganda choreographs Temperance and African dances from her native land. This diversity adds to the program’s success.

“It’s a diversity of dance languages,” says program director Jayne King. Before coming to NVC, King owned her own studio in California and now teaches fulltime at NVC.

On March 29 the group will be at Jumpstart Theatre. In April they will perform at Kriewald Road Elementary School and Southwest High School. The last scheduled event will be at NVC on May 6 at the Cypress Campus Center patio. Participating in the event will be local senior citizens who will join in a variety of activities, including student dancing, workshops, and judging.

Graciana Rodriguez is a Northwest Vista College student.

Wildcats Put NVC on the Map

by Stephanie Cavazos

Anyone who remembers the Cinderella story might be surprised to know we have one right here at Northwest Vista College with the Wildcats girls basketball team who are preparing for the South Texas Club Sports League this weekend at UTSA.

This team coached by Daniel Johnson was the first 2-year college team to make it to the Championship round at the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Tourney Feb. 26.  Surprisingly, the Wildcats competed against 4 year colleges; although SAC and PAC were among their competitors.

“We beat 7 four-year colleges,” says Coach Johnson. “Among them was UT PAN AM from the south to Beaumont from the west, taking 2nd place.” “We put NVC on the map,” said Johnson.

Team unity is one of the core values the Wildcats attributes to a winning record. “It happens naturally,” says Johnson.  However team unity is not the only value Coach Johnson teaches.  “I believe in teaching sportsmanship,” says Johnson. “Just because we can outscore the other team doesn’t mean we have to blow them out the water.”

What’s next for the Wildcats? This weekend the Wildcats will be in a tournament at UTSA. Coach Johnson has a unique way of prepping his team. “Visualize yourself, see yourself making that layup, that 3 pointer, and it will happen,” he says.  Every girl on the team has a different method to their mental preparation.  “Each girl is different”, says Johnson. “One will listen to her iPod, while another will meditate.”  No matter how they prepare, it’s safe to say the team’s spirit and morale comes to life once they step on the court.  We have all heard it.  It starts with a slow escalating clap ending in “Wildcats!”  To cheer on the Wildcats attend this event and see what all the fuss is about. The girls already have a bye which places them into the Championship round March 13 at 1p. Their competition will be the winner of Southwest Texas Junior College (SWTJC) vs. St. Phillips College (SPC). Good Luck Wildcats!

Stephanie Cavazos is a student at Northwest Vista College.