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

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/

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