NVC Student Earns Sought-After Military Award

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Nearly 400 soldiers, sailors, and airmen from Joint Base San Antonio and neighboring areas, such as Fort Hood, Kileen; and Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs competed in the 2018 German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (GAFPB) competition hosted by the collaboration of Joint Base units at Lackland, Fort Sam Houston, Randolph, and Camp Bullis in late October.

The GAFPB, or Abzeichen für Leistungen im Truppendienst in German, is a decoration of the Bundeswher, the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. The decoration can be awarded to all German Military. Allied Service Members, such as the United States may also be awarded the badge to wear regardless of rank. The GAFPB is one of the few approved foreign awards in the U.S. military, and it is one of the most sought after awards to achieve.

There are several events throughout the competition that assessed the Service Member’s basic fitness level and military training over the course of three days. One of the events during the first day was the pistol competition, which the participant is given five rounds and must get a minimum of three rounds into three different targets. The competitor will attain bronze-level for getting three rounds into the three separate targets, silver-level for four rounds and gold-level for hitting the targets with all five rounds.

Day one also captured the rest of the unit-driven military training events such as the first aid test and the Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC). The first day concluded with the 100-meter swim while wearing their military service utility work uniform. Swimmers had a time constraint of four minutes and upon completion of the swim had to tread water and remove their uniform. The second day continued with the basic fitness test consisting of an 11x10m sprint, a flex arm hang (chin-up test) and a 1,000-meter run.

“I have never been tested on this kind of variety of events at one time,” said Army Cadet Corporal David T. Forrest, Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet from Northwest Vista College, and also currently serving in the Texas Army National Guard with his unit, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 143rd Infantry Regiment.

The last day of competition was the 12-kilometer ruck march. Each competitor rucked the distance carrying a 35-pound ruck sack with the goal of completing the course in two hours.

In the end, only 161 out of 385 U.S. Service Members earned the GAFPB – whether it’s a gold, silver, or bronze. Their achievement was recognized at an award’s ceremony held on Oct. 28. Cadet Forrest earned the Gold GAFPB.

“The event is a fascinating experience. It’s not every day that I get the opportunity to earn a badge from a foreign nation so I did my very best to soak in every minute of the event,” Forrest added. “Earning the badge was an honor and something I will proudly wear for the rest of my time in service.”

German Army Sergeant Major Ronald Schiller, Liaison Officer to Combined Arms Support Command, congratulated all the award recipients.

“It’s a good feeling to be able to work and train with my U.S. comrades. I have been doing this for about 30 years and I love it. I am proud of these dedicated men and women’s achievement today,” Schiller remarked.

NVC Students Present at Annual Geography Meeting

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Three Northwest Vista Geography and Environmental Sustainability students, along with NVC’s Dr. Scott Walker, presented at the 2018 Southwest Division of the American Association of Geographers annual meeting from Oct. 3-6, at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

“Established in 1949, SWAAG exists to further professional investigations in geography, to encourage the application of geographic findings in education, government, and business, and to improve and elevate the public image of geography.”

Students Farhana Khan and Allie Sanchez presented their research on Community College Student Climate Change Knowledge alongside professors and PhD students from large, state research universities from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Farhana Khan and Marcella Palaferri presented their research on the Taghia-Ahansal River Profile in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Their adventure science investigation was conducted during their Geography and Environmental Sustainability Fieldwork Project last summer in Morocco.

In addition to the students presenting, Scott Walker, professor of Geography and Environmental Sustainability presented his research on Marketable Skills and Geography Fieldwork in Higher Education.

Marcella, who will graduate in December, said, “the conference was such an awesome experience, it allowed us to present our research papers and was an excellent opportunity to learn from the other presenters.” Allie stated, “I still can’t believe how fast our time went by. I am so grateful to have been a part of this team and truly enjoyed our time together.”

Farhana, the lead author on both student papers said, “This event will indelibly be written in our memories as we further our education.”

Allie, who wants to go on to study wildlife management, and Scott are currently conceptualizing a new research project using digital camera traps and geographic information system (GIS) mapping to study urban mammals on the Northwest Vista College campus.

The NVC research team also had the opportunity to partake in some of Louisiana’s cultural geography with a side trip to the LSU Rural Life Museum. Northwest Vista College is affiliated with the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative that is supported by the National Science Foundation.

Learning Hard Lessons the First Semester

As my first semester of college begins to approach it’s finish line, I can’t help but compile all the things I’ve learned throughout these past few months. I’m going to be honest, at first, I hated college. I wanted to go back to my high school homeroom and work on my word puzzle that was occasionally taken for extra credit.

College felt like a huge responsibility to me, it was different, new and…just…a lot, but I learned to thrive despite these hurdles. College has been a heavy weight on my shoulder but at the same time, it’s been a breath of fresh air. Here is a list of things I learned. They may seem like common sense but, it’s always good to ensure that you keep them in mind.

  • You WILL pull all-nighters to finish assignments so be prepared! – Even though it’s destined to happen, try to avoid it. Go to the library whenever you’re not in class or at work. Try to get all your school work done before going home, it helps a lot.
  • Don’t take classes longer than an hour and fifteen minutes– You might think “A two-hour class doesn’t seem THAT long” well it is. When you’re sitting listening to someone talk for that long it feels like an eternity! If you’re like me and get bored easily and your attention span isn’t that long, save yourself and take courses that are only an hour and fifteen minutes. I think that’s an acceptable amount of time to listen to a lecture.
  • Utilize “rate my professor” like your life depended on it – I wish I could’ve took that site more serious, I just took a quick glance at each professor profile…bad choice.
  • Keep work and school separate – Although it’s emotionally overwhelming, most college students have jobs while they are attending school. It was a struggle for me, my first job AND my first semester of college began at the same time. I felt drained and exhausted but, I was thankful to have my job because it allowed me to take a minute away from school and be productive in other ways.
  • Lastly, stay focused and don’t beat yourself up – You’re never on the wrong path, it may be bumpy and you may begin to drive off of it but without mistakes and life lessons you will never learn; without learning you’ll never allow yourself to grow.

These past few months in college gave me an experience that I’ll never be able to receive in my high school homeroom. I am so thankful for the opportunities I was given in order to pursue my higher education. I can’t wait for all the life lessons and experiences that await me on the rest of my journey.

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

NVC Students Travel to Morocco for Researching and Learning Culture

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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.