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.

Remember to Vote!

According to researchers at Duke University, only about 43% of 18-29 year olds voted in 2016 (Duke 2018).

I think there are a lot of reasons that prompted so many young adults not to vote: Accessibility to a voting station, lack of knowledge about the nominees, time management, and of course the small percentage who simply don’t care.

This election, I believe things will be different. A lot has happened since the last election. The recent events of the pandemic and the digital civil war playing out on social media has prompted young people to be more socially and politically conscious. I am hopeful my peers will participate in this upcoming election! Below I included resources and dates to remember.

Register to vote: https://www.votetexas.gov/register/index.html

  • You must be registered at least 30 days before the voting day. Deadline is Oct. 5

Early Voting: https://www.bexar.org/2237/Early-Vote-Information 

  • Tuesday Oct. 13 – Friday, Oct. 30 (NVC will have in person early voting)

General Election:

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

 

 

Advantages of Taking a Flex Course

With Flex II classes starting on Oct. 19, I decided to share my experience with flex courses. When I first started college, the idea of a flex class was really scary to me. I had always heard about how fast pace they are and how the workload can be demanding.

For those reasons, I never had the courage to sign up for one until this past summer when I had to because there were no other options available. I ended up taking a Texas History Maymester class. It was only five weeks long, and to my surprise, one of the best classes I’ve taken at NVC so far! I enjoyed how quickly the course ended. It got me thinking about how convenient courses like this one could be for a lot of people, so I compiled a list of advantages that come with taking flex courses.

  • Fast Paced – Due to flex courses being so fast paced, they can help you obtain more credit hours in a short period of time which means you can earn your associate’s degree faster!
  • Affordable – Flex courses are only $99 a credit hour for in-district students.
  • Convenient for Working Parents– Parents are used to a fast-paced life so introducing a flex course wouldn’t be too difficult! Not only are flex courses fast paced they are also most of the time self-paced!
  • Flex Class + Remote Learning – NVC is currently offering a bunch of flex classes remotely starting Oct. 19. This is a huge advantage because not only will the course credits be earned quickly and efficiently but from the comfort of your home!

Check out this link for more info: Fall 2020 Registration & Payment Calendar. Note: Currently enrolled students on financial aid would likely have to pay out-of-pocket for additional classes taken during the Flex II term.

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

 

Tips for Successful Remote Learning

In the beginning of each semester, I take time to write down some goals I have for each class. The goals vary from semester to semester and of course from subject to subject. But this semester they have been adjusted to fit my remote learning needs.

Remote learning has been quite the adjustment for many students. A lot of factors go into virtual classes. For example, accessible wifi and devices, appropriate time management and of course integrity. Below I provided a guided list of tips you will need in order to succeed this semester!

  • Wifi and Devices– I know this is not accessible to many people but thankfully NVC offers wifi hotspots and laptop rentals. Providing students with accessibility further increases their ability to perform well in their courses. For more info on wifi hotspots and laptop rental click here: https://www.alamo.edu/nvc/about-us/remote-learning/students/
  • Appropriate Setting- During my Zoom lectures, I prefer to sit at a desk or even on the floor if a desk isn’t available. I refuse to sit on my bed because I am unable to resist the urge to lay down!
  • Join the Zoom class!- Many people dread joining Zoom lectures. To me personally, that’s the easiest part. Attendance is an easy grade and for many professors it’s required.
  • Eliminate Distractions- One of my biggest distractions is my phone so I like to completely detach myself from it. I either put it on my bed while I am on my desk or I leave my phone in another room. It’s dramatic but it works.
  • Manage your time!- After a long day of lectures I just wanna take a nap…and often times I do! As long as I have enough time to complete my homework at night or another day, I allow myself to rest. This is also important in order to avoid burnout. I set reminders on my phone for due dates so I don’t forget what I have to do.

I hope you enjoyed reading my tips and take them into consideration when navigating this strange time! I always enjoy making these because they also serve as a reminder to myself. Remember to stay focused and don’t forget to get up and stretch!

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

 

Flattening the Curve while Earning a College Degree

On March 13, I packed up my belongings from my work desk at Northwest Vista College. I remember debating on whether or not I should keep a bag of pretzels in my drawer for when I come back to my work study job. I decided against it since they’d probably be stale by the time I got back. Spring break was about to begin and I was so ready for a week off. Little did I know a global pandemic was about to change our lives forever.

I remember receiving the email about the transition to remote classes. I was very skeptical at first thinking it would all be gone in no time and we would be told to go back to campus. About five months into quarantine, that memory is now laughable.

I was nervous to begin remote learning for many reasons. Both my brother and I are college students and we have one laptop that we share. This was a huge inconvenience since we had one class that was at the same exact time. He would use his phone to join his Zoom lecture while I would use the laptop. This went on for a while until I decided to get my own laptop. I am very grateful that I was able to buy myself a laptop. I know many students don’t have that type of privilege and accessibility.

Another fear that I had was not doing well in my courses due to distractions at home. One of the biggest distractions to me is my phone, so I came up with the plan to completely remove my phone from for my sight during Zoom lectures and homework time. It was really effective. I did fairly well in the spring semester and stayed organized despite the challenges.

For this upcoming semester, I want to stay focused and resilient. I think the best trait for humans to have is resilience. Especially in the midst of the chaos in the world. I will continue to do my part in order to flatten the curve while simultaneously earning a college degree. It’s so evident that academics and this pandemic go hand in hand. Without educators and the educated we wouldn’t know anything about COVID-19.

Overall I am glad that my family and I have stayed healthy during this time and I am also grateful for the ability to continue my education from home. And on a brighter note, I am also thankful that I took that bag of pretzels home and saved it from rotting in my desk!

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

Let’s Keep Dancing, Creating and Learning Together this Fall!!


The Alamo Colleges and Northwest Vista College has determined that remote learning is the best way (right now) for you to keep making progress towards your educational goals while staying safe.

So this fall semester, NVC Dance will offer live interactive studio training with personalized feedback through Zoom, Flipgrid, and a variety of other digital platforms which allow us to keep dancing, creating and learning together remotely.

So, take a remote class in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Pilates, Improvisation, and/or Dance Performance this Fall

  • Connect with others through dance
  • Dance/learn wherever you are
  • Keep building your skills
  • Keep creating
  • Keep sweating (we promise you will sweat)
  • Keep moving—get back to your body; movement for health
  • Stay home and stay safe
  • Stay strong—Build resilience
  • Keep making progress towards your degree in Dance.  All of the courses below transfer to the dance program at Texas State San Marcos. http://myalamocatalog.alamo.edu/preview_entity.php?catoid=192&ent_oid=4290&returnto=12862

Fall Dance Classes

Technique and conditioning classes   Weekly live interactive group movement sessions as well as personalized one-on-one coaching and feedback via Zoom, Flipgrid and other digital platforms.  Semester concludes with a digital concert; a virtualExtravaDanza.  Technique courses include:

Modern Dance – This semester in Modern Dance we will explore the foundations of movement practice; how developmental movement patters support and inform dance technique.  Create pathways for action and expression through the body with imagery, movement and applied kinesiology. Stretch, spiral, curve, slide, contract/release.  Whatever the size of your at-home dance space you will enjoy a full-bodied movement experience.

Ballet – Dive into the world of ballet by learning the foundational techniques and steps focused on alignment, strength, and grace from the comfort of your home. Remote learning through innovative digital platforms like Zoom and FlipGrid will provide a new, fun way to train in this historic dance form while receiving a sense of community with classmates and individualized feedback to improve technique. There will be a heavy focus on barre (standing and FloorBarre) as well as adagio movement.

Jazz Dance – A survey of Jazz Dance styles, including classical, musical theater and urban forms.    Focus this semester on skills we can build in smaller spaces: turns, balances, extensions, hinges and footwork.

Other studio-based classes:

Improvisation – The art of spontaneity; doodling with movement.    We will meet each week as a class via Zoom for guided movement improvisations, supplemented by in-person (via Zoom) discussions of selected articles on improvisation by artists in the field.   Our focus this semester will be inner resources: the ongoing flow of sensations, ideas, feelings, images which inform our improvisations.   We will also explore ways that we influence and are influenced by each other in movement, with particular attention to the unique opportunities for connection our digital interface provides.   Semester will culminate with each student leading the class in a guided improvisation of her own creation.

Dance Performance – Rise to the challenge of dance performance in the digital world. Gain new perspectives on dance as well as develop a keen sense of creativity, dedication, and collaboration. Participate in innovative choreographic projects by students, faculty and guest artists created with the use of remote platforms like Zoom and FlipGrid. Works created during the semester will be presented in an all-digital concert at the end of the semester.

Pilates –  Support your technical training in dance with core strength and control.   Weekly instruction in Pilates mat work beginning through beginning/intermediate.

Theory courses:

Our lecture-video based classes—Dance Appreciation and World Dance— will also be taught remotely. Think about, read about, talk about dance. Focus is on historical, social and cultural contexts for dance.

Fall payment plan

$21 is all you need to hold your classes for fall! That’s $1 for payment plan, and $20 for the first payment. The rest of the cost is  spread out into manageable payments throughout the semester. To get started on a payment plan select “Enroll in plan” in ACES.

Faculty Advising

We are here to answer all your dance-related questions! For questions about Fall dance classes, the Dance major, and our Transfer Advising Guide (TAG) in Dance with Texas State San Marcos just email Jayne King (jking80@alamo.edu). For questions about the Dance Performance class and the NVC Repertory Dance Ensemble (our virtual student dance company) just email Bittany Lopez blopez128@alamo.edu. We can correspond by email or set up a teleconference if you prefer.

NVC Dance…… your dreams in motion

 

 

Dance