STEM Careers Pandemic Proof

STEM workers are in demand! Engineering and STEM-related jobs will take precedence in the employment industry through 2029 according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — professions are expected to increase 8% between 2019 and 2029, compared to just 3.4% for all other careers. Even more impressive, the median annual STEM wage is $86,980 a year, compared to $38,160 for all non-STEM jobs.

Also WalletHub.com ranked four Texas cities in the top 60 of its list of the Best Cities for STEM jobs. Although San Antonio ranked No. 58 on the list that was released last month, Austin ranked No. 4, and its proximity to San Antonio is beneficial.

This is good news for engineering students in Northwest Vista College’s new partnership with UTSA called TATE which stands for Transfer Academy for Tomorrow’s Engineers program. It allows NVC students to co-enroll at both institutions and take engineering courses taught by UTSA and NVC faculty. Upon completion of the NVC component and an associate’s degree in hand, students will continue courses at UTSA to obtain their bachelor’s degree in any of the six UTSA engineering degree programs, which includes Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Civil Engineering. UTSA also has a partnership with Lone Star College, a community college in Houston.

Students interested in the TATE program are welcome to attend a virtual meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 3:30 pm. To sign up and get Zoom details, go here.

What are some of the benefits of TATE? First, students will be able shave off about $8,800 from their tuition and fees by attending a community college first.

Second, students in this program will be the envy of their peers at summer internships. Many of the summer jobs are from companies that pay about $18 an hour – more than doubled the current minimum wage in Texas. Just in the Lonestar State, there are nearly 100 companies that offer summer internships and many are in the San Antonio area, such as U.S. Air Force, Valero Energy, H-E-B, Intel, CPS, USAA, IBM, Accenture, and Proctor & Gamble. After graduation, UTSA says the starting salary for engineers averages about $60,797.

Third, this joint program opens the doors for many students who don’t have the resources to purse an engineering degree. NVC students who are on financial aid can participate in the AlamoPromise program, that along with other financial resources, can end up making college free.

Finally, the partnership allows students to strengthen their math skills to get calculus ready for their final two years at UTSA. With NVC’s strong math department and tutoring program, it can transform students who started in lower-level math development courses and get them calculus ready in their first two years at NVC.

To learn more about the program and its requirements, which includes being calculus ready, visit the NVC website at https://www.alamo.edu/nvc/academics/tate/

NVC Black History Month Resources

 

  • NVC Black History Month Zoom Backgrounds: Go here.

  • NVC: Black History Month – Jeopardy –  Feb. 18

    • Test your knowledge of Black history for a chance to win! Registration required prior to the event. Teams can participate for a chance to win $200-$500. There will be 6 teams max which will consist of 2 students. Study guides will be provided to all contestants before the event, so be sure to study! Limited spots available, so register your team ASAP! Sign up via AlamoExperience. 

  • NVC: The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia – Feb. 24 from 11 am to 12:45 pm

    • Everyone is welcome to hear a talk about “The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia”, which features and extensive collection of racist objects that trace the history of the stereotyping of African Americans. He will take us on a tour of the museum from Aunt Jemima advertisements to the board game Ghettopoly, which is weaved into American popular culture. Sign up via AlamoExperience. 
  • NVC: Diversity Studies Collection at NVC Library Online. Go here to see the link.

  • More Alamo Colleges Black History Month events can be found here

 

Work Study Position Provides Life Skills and Finance Help

The Federal Work-Study program is a government funded program that provides students with employment on colleges campuses. It is essentially a way for low-income students to receive extra financial assistance during their higher education. I was lucky enough to be able to work and attend my classes all at Northwest Vista College.

Work-study has not only relieved my financial burden but has also allowed me to grow professionally. I have compiled a list of how the work-study program has helped me during my two years at Vista.

  • Familiarity– Since I began working a week prior to the semester beginning, I had a chance to get familiar with the campus and buildings. This saved me a lot of time when I went to my classes (pre-pandemic). By the end of my time there, the NVC campus felt like a second home to me.
  • Important dates– Working behind the scenes really helped me remember important dates. Such as when registration begins/ends, payment deadlines, holiday breaks etc.
  • Developed Skills/Experiences- During my time as a work-study, I worked with marketing contracts, invoices, and advertisements. I assisted in planning events. I had the privilege of seeing Congressman Joaquin Castro speak at an event at NVC. I also developed excellent communication skills and how to properly work in a collaborative work environment. I bettered myself as a writer and a critical thinker.
  • Finances– I was able to purchase my own laptop, phone, pay for my monthly phone bill and gas for my car. I paid out of a pocket for a summer class because my FAFSA wouldn’t be ready by the payment deadline. I was able to do all of this because of my work-study job.
  • Better Student– My work-study job made me an overall better student. I developed excellent time management skills and was able to properly manage my time at work and my time with classes. The stress of finances was a relief which allowed me to focus better on my education.

As I get ready to move on, I remember how much I may have taken this job for granted. Working and going to school is not easy. It’s one of the hardest two things a person can do simultaneously. Work-study can make it slightly easier and convenient for students by grouping your studies and work into one spot.

I am definitely not calling work-study “easy” but I know my work-study job was worth it. It was worth waking up early, long meetings and sometimes boring tasks. I walked into the office as a teenager who was afraid and unsure of my place there. Now I am walking away from the (virtual) office as a young adult who has accumulated a lifetime of experience and life skills from a small fraction of my life that I will remember forever.

By NVC Graduate Haneen Rafati

Don’t Let Others Hinder Your Goals

When I told my high school librarian I was planning to attend a community college, she gave me a strange look, sighed, and then led me to her computer. She began showing me local universities that I may like. I asked her if she thought I was making a bad decision by choosing to go to a community college. She told me, “well you’re going to start at a community college, but what are the chances you will finish and eventually transfer?”

As I registered for classes at a university this past week, I couldn’t help but remember this conversation. I wanted to attend a community college for many reasons. Affordability, staying close to home, smaller classes etc. The idea of graduating high school and moving away to attend a big university wasn’t my ideal beginning to my higher education. Looking back, I am so glad I made the decision to start my education with a community college.

Transferring to a university to receive a bachelor’s degree was always my top priority after I completed my associates degree. There are many benefits to transferring to a four-year university and receiving a bachelor’s degree. Below, I listed a few.

  • Widens your career opportunities – After taking basic courses at a community college, you will be able to take more advanced courses at the university level and eventually receive hands-on experience in your field of study.
  • More marketable as an experienced student- Since you are entering the university as a transfer student, a four-year college will look forward to your contributions to the campus. This is a great opportunity to get involved in clubs and groups that will enhance your experience and allow you to meet new people!
  • Job Opportunities- With both an associates degree and a bachelors, you will have better experience entering the job force. Most well paying jobs require you to have a college degree, and having two will give you a better chance of getting the job.

I am eager to continue my higher education. Beginning college wasn’t easy and transferring to a four-year university will have its challenges. Something I learned along the way is; the first step of achieving a goal is to start, and then you make a goal to complete it. I am grateful I didn’t let other people’s doubts hinder me from pursuing my path to a higher education on my own time and preferences.

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

 

Know Your Housing Rental Rights

Northwest Vista College’s department of Student Advocacy hosted a webinar with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA). TRLA is a nonprofit legal agency that assists working class and low-income individuals with free civil legal services. During the webinar, the TRLA group of attorneys and legal advisors provided insight on housing rights, evictions and CDC guidelines and forms regarding evictions.

The webinar began with director of Student Advocacy, Lisa Black, sharing data from a survey conducted by NVC and SAC where they interviewed 1,200 students about housing, food insecurity and utilities. The data displayed that almost 50% of students needed assistance in paying rent. About 40% couldn’t afford to pay for utilities like water, electricity and other bills.

Rick Roman, attorney on the TRLA housing team, presented the audience with tips and advice about tenant rights and eviction. He highlighted the importance of paying your rent, if you can of course. When you refuse to pay your rent in protest of your landlord’s negligence in repairing your house or apartment, you allow them the leisure of filing an eviction notice. Instead you should report their negligence. Attorney Rick Roman also went over basic tenant rights below:

  • Right to proper notice- Your landlord must give you a notice before they file an eviction
  • Right to repairs- Tenants have a right to have repairs in the house/apartment they are renting
  • Right to report- Tenants have the right to report incidents
  • Right to record- Tenants have the right to record a conversation as long as they are a part of it
  • Right to a hearing- Tenants have a right to a court hearing before eviction takes place
  • Right to request a reasonable accommodation- Tenants have the right to request a reasonable time to pay rent. For example, if you receive your paycheck on the 3rd of the month but your rent is due the 1st, you may request an accommodation to have it changed.
  • Right to retaliation of protections- After you report your landlord, they are not allowed to take certain actions against you for 6 months
  • Texas law prohibits landlords from cutting off utilities (water, electricity, gas)
  • Late fees for rent should not exceed a certain percentage
  • You have a right to reschedule a court hearing regarding eviction if you are not ready
  • An eviction notice is just a notice! Do not vacate

It is crucial for tenants to know their rights, especially during challenging times. The CDC issued an order that put a hold on evictions for eligible tenants until Dec. 31, 2020. Since the pandemic has only been getting worse, there is a possibility of extending this deadline. In addition to that order, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or “CARES” act is also protecting renters in select areas. The act protects renters for 120 days by prohibiting evictions and missing rent payments or charging late fees for rent. For more info on properties covered by the CARES act, access the map here: CARES Act Tenant Protections in TX

The work TRLA is committed to doing for the community is inspiring. I learned so much during this short webinar. For more information, please visit Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) | Free Legal Services or call (888) 988-9996 or (210) 212-3703 if you are facing eviction.

Check out this PDF on what to do after receiving an eviction notice. TEN DAY NOTICE OF NONCOMPLIANCE:

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

 

 

 

Learning with a Group of Friends

As someone who is pursuing a teaching career, I pay close attention to different teachers and their teaching styles. Despite the relationship I’ve had with previous teachers, good or bad, I have always learned something from them whether it’d be regarding academics or a life-skill.

Like many other professions, teaching is an art and it requires a lot of effort. I have looked up to teachers for the majority of my life. I think what makes a teacher phenomenal is the impact they have on their students. Not only academically but, socially and emotionally.

Now is the time to nominate your favorite teacher for the Excellence in Teaching Award. The deadline is Friday, Dec. 4. Here’s why it’s important to nominate an instructor:

  • It allows Northwest Vista College to showcase instructors as premier models of commitment to excellence, serving as motivational sources for other faculty to emulate as they continue to aspire to impact student learning  through high-quality teaching;
  • It significantly helps an instructor’s career through students’ affirmations that he/she is doing a superior job in teaching; and,
  • Nominating a faculty allows you a unique opportunity to thank an instructor for sharing his/her expertise and for a job well done.

One professor I plan to nominate is Dr. Sandra Garza. I met her (via Zoom) this semester and it has been such a joy to learn from her. She teaches Mexican-American History and her classroom doesn’t feel like a one way street to learning. She allows room for conversations to take place so we can learn from each other. I also think Dr. Garza is really passionate about her profession. There is so much emotion and passion in her lectures which makes it so much more exciting to learn from her. I truly do believe Dr. Garza deserves the recognition for her phenomenal teaching skills. When I join her class, it doesn’t feel like a task, it feels more like joining a conversation about history with a group of friends.

Has an instructor inspired you this semester? If so, go to to this link and nominate them.

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

No One is Born Being Biased or Prejudice

On Nov. 4, I had the privilege of participating in a webinar where author and historian Dr. Ibram X. Kendi spoke about his New York Times best selling book “How to Be an Anti-Racist”. The conversation was very open minded and involved a lot of tough topics surrounding bigotry and systemic racism in America. Dr. Kendi delivered a phenomenal message to the community and left many of us thinking about how we can better ourselves to be anti-racist.

When asked about the difference between racism and prejudice/bias, Dr. Kendi thoughtfully responded stating that racism, prejudice and bias are all rooted in bigotry, “no one is born being biased or prejudice” he continued. These things are taught. Racism is rooted in bigotry, but is also fueled by power. Later in the webinar, he spoke about how power is policy. Which is why so many racist policies are essentially integrated into a system. This explains a lot. Historically, racist people have been the most powerful.

Another interesting point Dr. Kendi mentioned was, “denial is addiction”. Those who refuse to acknowledge facts but constantly are shown proof and evidence are addicted. I thought this was very relevant to the nation’s current state with the pandemic. COVID-19 has been consistently denied as some sort of hoax by many people despite the evidence by scientists and medical doctors.

This brought Dr. Kendi to his next point. He explains how studies have shown that COVID-19 is more likely to be contracted by lower income Black and brown communities. On the other hand, there are many people who refuse to wear masks and abide by CDC orders. This puts the people who are high risk (people of color) in danger. This is harmful and racist.

Dr. Kendi ended the webinar by leaving the audience with some advice. He urged the viewers to simultaneously join a local social justice group and still work on yourself to be anti-racist. This way you can implement change within yourself and the system. He continues by saying that although he is a scholar and has dedicated hours of research studying racism, he is constantly learning how to be anti-racist as well. I believe this was encouraging for many of us. I left this webinar feeling really hopeful.

Conversations about racism are difficult to have, but they are so necessary in order for change to occur. As a young adult, I am not waiting for change to magically occur, I am taking steps to ensure they will occur, slowly but surely.

“We need to be weapons of mass construction, weapons of mass love. It’s not enough just to change the system. We need to change ourselves.” -Assata Shakur

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

Anti-Racist Resources

  • PBS’s “Teaching Your Child About Black History Month”
  • “How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion” | Peggy McIntosh at TEDxTimberlaneSchools (18:26)
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
  • Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
  • The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
  • From health care to education, how systemic racism affects Black Americans
  • Why everyone should understand ‘racial trauma’ right now “Who wants to live in a society where so many people routinely experience racial trauma?”
  • 25 Books for People Who Want to Learn More About Race in America

Not Enough to be Non-Racist, WE must be Anti-Racist

On May 26, 2020, In the midst of a global pandemic, Americans all over the nation swarmed the streets in protest following the death of George Floyd by a Minneaopolis police officer.

Protests lasted weeks and resulted in civil unrest across the country. Americans were divided by those who support Black Lives Matter and those who support the police. Black Lives Matter is a renowned movement created to advocate for lives lost by police brutality. Since 2014, about 1,300 Black men and women have been murdered by police officers (Washington Post, 2020). The fight for justice and equality is often mistaken as an equal fight between two peoples, the police and African-Americans. This is not the case at all. Americans are working together to dismantle a racist system. Police brutality against African Americans has been prominent in this country for centuries. Although this movement has received outpouring support, not much has been reformed or changed. This further proves the words said once by civil rights activist and professor Angela Davis, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist”.

Author and Historian, Dr. Ibram Kendi wrote a book titled, “How to be an Antiracist”. This book showcases the trials and tribulations of bettering yourself to be completely and wholeheartedly anti-racist. Dr. Kendi has published academic journals, written many books on racism and justice and has recently been a part of research at Boston University on how to be anti-racist. Dr. Kendi will be speaking at Northwest Vista College via Zoom on Nov. 4. For more info and to register, visit this link https://www.alamo.edu/nvc/kendi2020.

I think this event would be a great way for students and faculty to be a part of a conversation about the political inertia currently surrounding us. Personally, I enjoy learning more and I am so glad this event will be hosted by an African-American man. It is important for us to listen and learn during these times. This event will be open to the community and free for everyone to join! Once again, visit this link for more information https://www.alamo.edu/nvc/kendi2020.

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

Achieving Goals – Even During a Pandemic!

When I first attended NVC, it was a goal of mine to eventually graduate and receive an associate degree. After two years, I can finally say that I have achieved these goals.

These past two years have been troublesome as I navigated my way through college as a first- generation student. I picked up habits and acquired many skills along the way. Now that I have applied for graduation, I decided to reflect and share some of my past semesters and how I managed to persevere despite the hurdles.

My first fall semester was rough. I was fresh out of high school and placed in a new environment with new people. I was also struggling with personal issues and couldn’t get a handle of a school-life-work balance. Eventually, I had to drop a class which caused me to develop a lot of anxiety about academics and my future. As a student who relies on FAFSA to continue my education, I was worried about losing financial assistance. At the end, everything ended up falling into place and worked out smoothly. I definitely grew as a person and learned a lot from that experience.

My second spring semester was also really stressful. I was full time and taking difficult courses. In the middle of the semester, the campus shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we were forced to transition to remote learning. The transition was rough and I was extremely nervous about maintaining my grades while at home. I also lost my job and social life, which was stressful and devastating. I ended up getting my first B that semester. I was really angry at myself for a long time. Now I look back and I am so proud of myself for being resilient enough to earn a B. I could’ve given up and failed the class completely, but I didn’t and that’s enough to be proud of.

When I would imagine myself getting ready for graduation, I would always picture that it would be far in the future. But now, it feels so soon. Two years truly went by so fast and I know it’s cheesy to say, but it’s because I enjoyed every minute of it. As I applied for graduation with my advisor, I was engulfed by a bittersweet feeling. I am so excited to continue my higher education and pursue my desired career.

I am so proud of myself for receiving an associate degree. I have so many options of what I can do next. I can take a break and get a job, perhaps get another associates degree, or of course continue my education and receive a bachelor’s degree. No matter what I decide to do, I will always have something to fall back on and for that, I am eternally grateful.

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

To learn more about applying for graduation, go here: https://www.alamo.edu/nvc/experience-nvc/current-students/graduation/applying/

NVC Student Recognized by People Magazine for Tackling Mental Health

It’s not every day that Northwest Vista College students get to claim that People Magazine gave them a shout out or in Micah Palacios’ case – a feature in their digital magazine.

Micah was one of 11 girls featured in its story on, “Meet PEOPLE’s Girls Changing the World in 2020.”

The magazine said, “In honor of International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11, we’re celebrating young innovators and trailblazers making a difference in their communities and beyond.”

This is from People magazine:

Destigmatizing Mental Health: Micah Palacios, 18

At 9, Micah Palacios lost 75 percent of her hair due to alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease. She turned to her San Antonio 4-H group to assist with the ensuing anxiety and depression, and their embrace inspired her to share her mental health struggles with others. Since then, she’s led 4-H community workshops, spoken to elementary school students and starred in a PSA with actress Sophia Bush.

“People say my story has helped them,” says Palacios. “I never thought I could change people’s lives.”

While Micah has been working on mental health and how to bring it to young adults for a while, she received the opportunity at Northwest Vista College to hone in on her passion in Dr. Homer Guevara, Jr.’s Texas Government class in the fall of 2019 when she was taking college classes as a high school student.

Dr. Guevara provides his students sample issue papers (white papers) that he’s authored for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce related to higher education through his role as the Chamber’s co-chair of the Education and Workforce Council.

Students can select problems Texas faces in different areas such in K-12, Higher Education, Health, Energy, Criminal Justice System, etc. and then present their policy proposals to the class as if the audience is the Texas Legislature. The idea is to provide the legislature with ideas that can potentially become laws, thus creating a plan of action to improve the daily lives of Texans.

“It was exciting to learn how an assignment could inspire students to see that they can make an impact in their community.  I’m extremely proud of Micah for pushing her initiative and making her goals a reality.  We’re a better world for it,” said Dr. Guevara.

Now a freshman at NVC, Micah launched the “Navigating Your Thoughts Mental Health” in September 2019 with Bexar County 4-H. Her 4H mentors, Natalie Cervantes and Rudy Ruedas from Bexar County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, also gave her the support necessary to make her project a reality.

“My 4-H leaders and friends surrounded me with support during the difficult times. My experiences with alopecia areata showed me firsthand how mental health can affects people’s lives. I wanted to educate young people on what his mental health and reduce stigma in our community,” Micah said. “I have continued my work in the 4-H program by educating youth on mental health in Bexar county 4-H by leading workshops and now Mindfulness Mondays on Zoom for all ages to learn about mental health/coping mechanisms.”

To contact Micah or to find out about Mindfulness Mondays, see her Instagram page at @MicahPalacios.