Pushing Yourself the Extra Mile

Spontaneity is the best.

It’s exciting to be able to have the most bizarre and wonderful experiences you never would have known if you hadn’t taken the first step out of your comfort zone. While that step feels like the scariest feeling in the world, embracing change is so rewarding. I never would have met my closest friends or been able to travel around the country if I had learned to become scared of the unknown.

What is less exciting about spontaneity, is when you find yourself enrolling in extra classes to “get ‘er done”…on top of an all-consuming freelance job. Oh, and let’s enroll in Army ROTC too, you know, for fun. Let’s take a fitness challenge that leaves you so inhumanly sore that you find yourself waddling around like a penguin. An angry, sleepy penguin.

Earlier this month, I found myself in Wisconsin on a business trip. As I trekked through the airport, which was decorated in leftover Halloween streamers and bootleg “Alice in Wonderland” garb, I found myself stressing. There was so much to do; I had traded the previous night’s sleep to get ahead on an essay, but I needed to read more chapters, study for a test, figure out how to submit all of these things on a mobile phone. I’m sure the security cameras loved seeing an overdressed tourist toddling stiffly down the terminals.

The leaves were changing to a deep, rich red; the smell of wood and spices hung in the air; the streets flooded with bodies as the Milwaukee Brewers lost their most important game of the season (sports!). The weekend was a success. I couldn’t feel my legs the good majority of it (thanks, exercise), but I somehow managed to submit all of my work on time. Was it worth it? Is this grind of school and extracurriculars worth the time spent and sleep lost?

I feel like if I hadn’t pushed myself here, I never would have learned to appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given. With ROTC and more engaging community classes, I have felt more involved in campus life. I recently attended a lecture! I have volunteered for community events!

It’s easy to sit back and take it slow. I definitely don’t recommend sticking to insane schedules all year long! But being able to push yourself and thrive in a new environment is the most satisfying feeling in the world.

(I still can’t feel my legs.)

By NVC Student Kathryn Carrillo

How to Survive on a College Budget

Saving MoneyAt this point of the year, we are all familiar with the “broke college student” phrase that has been our excuse for mainly everything regarding finances.

With holidays approaching and the semester coming to an end, our brains are filled to the brim and our wallets are…not. I will be sharing my personal tips on how I have limited my spending habits and have managed to live through a tight college budget.

  • Manage your moneyCash Course is an easy-to-use guide with tips for the best and most useful financial choices. It’s free to make an account and a really simple way to manage your money.
  • Utilize student discounts or free student awards– Amazon is such an easy website to get carried away on and “splurge” so, do this at your own risk when applying for their free student 6-month Prime membership. Most items come with free shipping as well!
  • Rent EBooks instead– Textbooks are expensive, save some money by renting an eBook instead. My textbook for one of my classes is $60 for a brand new one, $45 to rent a used one and only $30 to rent the eBook. Prices may vary regarding different textbooks, just remember to be financially smart and get something you can afford.
  • Build your credit– The Discover student credit card is so easy to apply for, as long as you’re a student, more than likely you’ll get it. You should use it sparingly and it’s a good thing to have in case of emergencies. The minimum payment for most credit cards depends on the purchase, but it typically ranges around $35-$70. This credit card has the first 6 months with no interest and also gives you 5% cash back if you submit your GPA!
  • Living at home is okay– Although different people may deal with different circumstances, living with your parents saves a lot of money and you shouldn’t feel any pressure or rush when it comes to moving out.

As I continue to pursue my higher education, keeping these simple tips in mind have been very useful to me. I can only hope that it can possibly help future or current students in the same situation.

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

 

 

Learning Hard Lessons the First Semester

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

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

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

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

By NVC Student Haneen Rafati

Congrats to NVC’s National Society of Leadership & Success

Northwest Vista College’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership & Success earned the prestigious Founder’s List Award, as well as the President’s Volunteer Service Award – Gold Level.

The Founder’s List is one of the highest honors of NSLS’s Pillar Program. This is reserved for chapters who successfully complete eight of 10 pillars in the administration of their chapters. The National Office developed the program to help set each chapter up for long-term success. The NSLS is the nation’s largest leadership honor society. With 648 chapters, the organization currently has 876,911 members nationwide, and many of its members say being in NSLS impacted their likelihood of landing their desired future job.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is the premier volunteer awards program. It encourages citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition. The NVC Chapter earned the Gold Level Award for members contributing over 1,000 hours of community service.

To learn more about NVC organizations, go here: www.alamo.edu/nvc/experience-nvc/campus-life/student-life/

 

NSLS Volunteering

 

Follow Your Passion to a Degree

College can be intimidating no matter how old you are. I tried attending school twice before and life just got in the way. Now, I am 26 years old with school age kids, working full-time and planning a wedding. I decided to go back to school in December of 2017, because after two failed attempts at school, I finally know what I want to be when I grow up!

I listened to other people on what I should get my degree in. You can never go wrong with a business degree, they said. I didn’t actually stop to think about what I was interested in or passionate about. Just what would make me the most money, or land me a job. So, I tried pursuing my degree in Business Management with the intent to transfer to a university. I had amazing professors, but I just was not interested in the classes so I fell behind.

After talking to many friends, family, colleagues and by passers, it seems that this is more common than I thought. So many of us get caught up in the money we can possibly make in the future, rather than what will make us happy. I’ve realized that if you love something, whether it be art, fitness, literature or whatever, there is always a way to make money off of your passions. This is why I’m now choosing to pursue an associates degree in Digital Media at Northwest Vista. I would never have guessed that my hobby of playing on Adobe Photoshop would be able to make me money one day. The classes feel like a breeze because I’m engaged with the material, rather than another boring class I have no interest in.

For those of you just starting out, or maybe you are considering school again, I would suggest to make sure you are truly pursuing your passions. One degree might not sound as important as another, but they all matter.

By NVC student Viviana Smith

Finding a Purpose Helping Veterans

Just 10 days after graduating from high school, Albert “Bert” Jimenez was in a grueling U.S. Marines boot camp in San Diego. Three weeks after that, he found himself in Iraq at the age of 18.

Four years later and two deployments to Iraq, Bert left the Marines with a heavy toll. PTSD and the trauma of seeing close friends die in a war zone impacted his mental and physical health. He didn’t know how to pick up his life after the Marines and turned to heavy drinking.

While all the mental demons are not totally gone, Bert has found a new life through exercise, attending Northwest Vista College, and slowly dropping about 115 pounds. This past fall, Bert completed the Boston Marathon with a group of other veterans and is also on course to earn his associate degree from NVC after this summer.

He said Vista was his first shot at college and he wasn’t sure if he could handle it.

“For me, it’s still kind of scary because I don’t do too well with crowds, but college has helped me to be a better person and get me out of my comfort zone,” Bert said.

Now, he wants to help other veterans through psychology. He has been accepted to UTSA this fall and he hopes to get a bachelor’s and master’s degree to work in a clinical setting to counsel veterans.

He says often times it’s hard to relate to psychologists or counselors because while they may be book smart, they don’t have that experience of watching a friend die in a foreign country or the aftermath that veterans face after being deployed multiple times. He believes he can bring that missing element to help counsel veterans.

In fact, Bert is getting his psychology field experience now through the San Antonio chapter of 22 Until None, which has the mission of ending suicide among veterans. The group’s website says 8,030 veterans commit suicide a year; and after military service, the chances of veterans committing suicide goes up 200 percent. Even worse, 1 in 5 suicide deaths are veterans, according to the site.

Bert says it’s not uncommon for him to get phone calls from veterans daily or even at 3 am because a former soldier needs help in order to make it to the next day.

Along with 22 Until None, Bert is also a fitness coach with Rise Above Hardship, which is a local nonprofit started by fellow NVC student Jose Luis Sanchez. R.A.H’s mission is to help veterans and the community through fitness. Bert can be found motivating others to do squats, run or do pushups Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at local parks around the city. Many of the people who go to R.A.H. classes are veterans with missing limbs, wives of veterans or just regular community members who need a coach’s motivation to push through a tough workout.

In the meantime while Bert is finishing up classes at NVC, he will be training to do his first triathlon in San Marcos this summer and will head to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon in October.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Failures and Successes

As I get closer to the completion of my final semester for my associate degree, I have experienced a few downfalls that I see as failures. But I have also seen successes.

I was extremely disappointed that two of my classes didn’t pan out to be what I expected. I had to make the difficult decision to withdraw from these two classes and drop down to part-time hours. Many might not make a big deal, but for me, I saw it as failure. I was disappointed in myself for not pushing to finish and being satisfied with “just getting by.”  It has taken a lot for me to swallow those two failures, despite the encouragement from friends and family.

Looking on the brighter side, I have been happy and proud to say that I was also recognized in the Awards Ceremony for having a 4.0 grade point average, as well as being inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. I have gained experienced in writing for The Pulse, which is Palo Alto College’s newspaper; and I have written several published blog posts for Northwest Vista College.

These accomplishments have made me realize that along with failure comes success. Sometimes you can’t have one without the other. I have been able to look at the positives in this college experience and not be down about the negatives. I can now look at my life and see that I have come a long way. This 44-year old wife and mother has come back to school after a long break, works a job and has church involvement, all while going to school full time. I think I’ve done well, and I am proud to know that on May 19, I will joyfully walk the stage to receive my associate degree. This will be a huge stepping stone to finishing my bachelor’s degree and pursuing my career in Communications

By NVC Student Monica Lopez

Dropping a Course to Balance School and Life

Online Summer Classes BannerI feel like I have been challenged this semester in balancing life and school, or really just balancing my classes in general.

I didn’t have too much of an issue at the beginning of the semester until I started a very advanced flex class. It was a Interactive Web Elements course where we were learning how to make WordPress templates from scratch.

I learned it was the straw that broke the camel’s back–like when you have a tower of cards, and everything is okay and nice until you put on that one card that makes the tower crumble. Maybe I’m being too dramatic – just a little.

But this class was very hard, and required a lot of my attention. Inevitably, I had to drop it this semester. I do feel a load off my shoulders…even if I do get a W and I felt bad about dropping my first class.

Dropping a class has also been a learning experience–I now know what I can and cannot handle. I would definitely love to take this class when I have more time to focus on it since it will be helpful for my career. Here are a couple things to remember, if you ever decide you want to take a flex course:

1. What kind of course is it? Is it advanced?
2. With your current classes, can you add on a fast-paced class?
3. Do you have the skillset to take this class or would it be best to wait until later?

Here’s to continuing to balance everything in my life, including my classes!

By NVC Student Sarah Hegstrom

College Life

Important Lesson to Learn

Being an older, non-traditional student, I needed to have flexibility with my schedule; so I decided to take most of my classes online.

Online classes were much better for me because I was already disciplined to work from home with my job. It wasn’t a hard transition to take online classes and still meet deadlines and keep up with assignments.  However, one of my biggest mistakes was not understanding the difference between ACES email and Canvas email.

I had a strict Spanish teacher who would not accept late work no matter what.  We had a paper that we had to write, but we had to get her approval on the subject first.  Without her approval, she would not accept our work.  Well I emailed her through ACES and gave her my idea.  When I hadn’t heard back, I sent another email, and still no response.  With the due date getting closer, I went ahead and began working on my paper anyway so that I’d at least have it ready once she gave her approval.  I sent a third email and still didn’t get a response.  I finally just turned in the paper anyway.

I was shocked and angry when I received my grade for my paper.  Let me add that I missed out on a weekend trip with my family just to stay home and write this paper.  I received a ZERO!  She didn’t give me credit for the assignment because I didn’t get her approval.  I explained that I had emailed her several times.  Then she realized that I used my ACES email and didn’t go through Canvas.  I was so confused!  But I was also upset that she wouldn’t give me a break and realize it was a simple mistake and not that I didn’t do the work.  She stood by keeping the zero as my grade.  Five of us made that mistake, and we all received a zero.

From that point on, I have always used Canvas email for any communication between myself and professors or other students.  That was a huge lesson learned.  That one zero made me work really hard the rest of the semester, including extra credit.  I was able to get a high “B,” but I really should have had an “A” in that class.

By NVC Student Monica Lopez

Balancing Everything

Part of the challenges of college is that you are now an adult with more responsibilities. Many college students have to hold a job while going to school in order to pay for school and other bills.

I had to figure out a way to balance school with working, family, heavy involvement at church, and any other thing that comes up. I’m a married woman with four teenagers at home, and I definitely play the full-time role of a mother in every way. I do most of the cooking and cleaning inside of the home.

Going back to school has made my family more aware of the role that I have played all these years. They have now had to step up and start helping more. It’s also made me realize that I had to teach my kids to have more responsibility and not do everything for them, especially at their age.

I have had to make difficult sacrifices. I have had to miss out on some big things, such as a weekend road trip to one of our favorite spots and then a week-long trip to Florida last summer. They both landed during a time when I had finals during my summer session. I hated missing out, but I had to prioritize.

One of the things that helps me to organize my schedule is keeping a planner. I write all of my assignments and due dates as soon as I have my syllabus for each class. This helps me plan around things throughout the semester. I love how Canvas is laid out as well. It gives a “To Do” list and a calendar to see what’s coming up.

Being an older student has given me more focus and determination to finish than when I was younger. I took the privilege of a college education for granted, which I now see as a priceless gift.

By NVC Student Monica Lopez