Get Connected With Your Peers

As a sophomore at NVC, I have experienced a good amount of college life. It has been a drastically different experience than it was in high school for me, whether it be from the way classes are set up or the overall difficulty.

Through these two years and change, I have realized that there’s a great importance when it comes to your community at college. If I could give myself one piece of advice when I first started at NVC, it would be to make friends and get acquainted with your peers.

Now, that is a lot coming from an introvert. As someone who finds it rather difficult to talk to new people and make friends, that would definitely be the advice I would give myself and anyone else in college. My first semester was rough just because I had trouble fitting into the classroom and the debates. I found myself shying away from discussions and groups because I had no idea who anyone was.

But trust me, it is well worth making friends when you can. First of all, you won’t have that weird awkwardness of walking into class and feeling like everyone else is involved except for you. Even just one friend to sit beside and talk to makes the day go by a lot better! And there is a lot more than just the classroom chatter, but help on assignments when you are in a bit of a pinch. I cannot tell you how many times I have been stuck on that one question, or missed a day due to hospital visits or unexpected situations, only to be saved by that friend I made. No more scrambling around for what we did the day you were missing when you can just ask your newly made friend!

Also, making connections is extremely important when it comes to what you want to do later on in life and getting a job. Say you are looking for something related to photography but you are having trouble how to start or get involved. Remember that student in your photography class who already had experience and works for a small business? Talk to them and ask them questions and maybe they might even be able to get you set up somewhere!

College is meant to be a fun experience to pursue what career you would like to do, and get in touch with your community. You are not alone in the struggle that is school and picking out your major to decide what you want. Everyone else around you is in the same boat, trying to figure out how they want to live their lives so don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers.

By NVC Student Gina Briggs

 

 

 

Making the Decisions that are Right for YOU!

I remember sitting in my high school class, it was the day when our counselors were helping us decide what we were going to do after graduation. Where we were going to transfer, what we were going to do, and how to pay for everything. It was an extremely stressful point in my life having to decide everything there, and I remember wanting to go to NVC first before anything else so that I would be comfortable.

To my surprise, it seemed as though the counselor pushed for a university instead. She said it’d be better off than going to a community college if I have great scholarships. I thought it’d be okay, but I didn’t quite understand everything completely when I enrolled and found myself miles and miles away from home without a single person I knew around me. Overwhelmed with anxiety, I found the stresses of money and home sickness were affecting my mental health greatly.

I had eventually withdrawn within the first two weeks and enrolled into NVC since it was just a few minutes away from home, and that was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Instead of feeling isolated and alone, I was met with familiar faces and friendly new ones who were willing and wanting to help me through the process. There was no confusion as to what I was going to do and how I was going to do it, because the staff were with me all the way. To me, it was the best way for a high school graduate to get integrated into the new life of a college student.

Going into college life isn’t easy but it’s important you make a decision that’s right for you. Don’t feel peer pressured by others to push you in a direction you may not want to take. There’s not a single part of me that regrets withdrawing from the university and spending my time with NVC. I’m happy to be a Wildcat and to be able to experience college the right way for me.

 By NVC Student Gina Briggs

Easing Anxiety with the Help of NVC

Can you imagine wanting to attend your favorite class, filled with your favorite people to learn about your favorite subject? But just as you’re standing outside the door of the class, suddenly you’re overwhelmed with the feeling of regret, fear, and your stomach starts churning? Being someone with anxiety, this is something I struggle with daily.

Anxiety is an enemy of public places, especially colleges and their campuses. When I want to focus on the information and having fun with my fellow peers, that is instead surrounded by a sea of uncertainty and a strong desire to flee away to be by myself. It made my entry into college life very difficult for me because I often thought about ways to distract myself or spend all day fidgeting in class.

But things took a great turn when I decided to gather up my courage and head for NVC’s Mental Health Counseling. I thought at first it wouldn’t help, but because it’s a resource we have available, I thought I’d give it a try. And let me tell you, I don’t regret it in the slightest. I remember being so nervous and uncomfortable, waiting to be seated with a counselor. What if I was going to be judged? What if they couldn’t understand what I was going through? A lot of these thoughts burdened me in that waiting room until a counselor finally approached me and led me into her office. You wouldn’t believe that just after a few minutes, my worry was swept away.

My counselor was very understanding of my situation, and knew exactly what I was going through. They listened to everything I had to say and made sure that out of everything, I was comfortable. They provided small exercises to suggest helping my anxiety, and even offered to schedule future appointments to talk about my progress and how my day was going.

I was initially worried my experience would be somewhat like an interrogation. But I was far from the truth, it felt like I was talking to an old friend of mine. Ever since, I felt more comfortable approaching that office to talk about my problems with anxiety, and are working hard to work alongside my anxiety so that I can have a great college experience. I strongly recommend giving them a visit if you have any concerns with your emotional or mental health. You won’t regret it!

To learn more about counseling, call the NVC Advocacy Center at 210-486-HELP (4357), or email nvc-advocacyctr@alamo.edu. Students can also complete some initial intake forms by going to the Advocacy website.

By NVC Student Gina Briggs

 

The Little Things Mean so Much

You really start to miss the little things when it’s been taken from you. You start to notice things you silently appreciated when you had them and how empty it feels without it. When COVID-19 hit and schools transferred to being remote-only, I thought nothing of it. In fact, I was almost excited at the thought of waking up in the comfort of my home to only walk like three feet over to my computer to attend class, and I’ve realized how much it’s impacted my school life.

It’s been almost a year now of living through this pandemic, something I thought I’d only read about in history books. All of my classes have been remote only and there’s something I have to say. Although we’re trying our best to stay safe from the virus and protecting not only ourselves but others, there is an emptiness in watching faces on a screen instead of in person.

You can only know so much about your fellow peers or your community behind a camera. It took away one of my favorite things about a new class, and that was meeting new people. I learned a lot about others by talking to them face to face, experiencing new things and ideas, and especially just making new friends. I can’t help but feel like I have taken it for granted now that I don’t have it. I am looking forward to things opening up when it’s safe for everyone to live life like normal again.

But even through all of this, remember that there are still ways to get involved with your campus and your peers. Reach out to them, reach out to the school and attend some of the events. Stay updated with your community and remember to stay safe. If we all team up to stay masked and keep our distance, the sooner we’ll be able to enjoy the little things that mean so much to us.

By NVC Student Gina Briggs

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/

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/