Time Management: Keep a Calendar!

20131225142344It’s the last few weeks of school before summer and I took on a lot of new opportunities this semester, and I’ve already agreed to take on a few more next semester, but that’s kind of the point isn’t it? Well, for me it is.

This is where that growth from living life on my own terms and paycheck to paycheck becomes full of meetings, classes, fundraisers, more meetings, New Student Orientations, homework, presentations, more meetings, and so forth. You can’t always do your first choice, even if it’s your favorite thing in the world. Instead you have to set very specific goals, because in the end this is where all the skills required for that dream career are built.

Trust me, there is no satisfaction to be gained from living paycheck to paycheck. Or I should say, no long-term satisfaction. It’s fine for a little while, but then you’ll wake up when you’re 29, like I did, and realize this is not what you had in mind.

Fortunately I figured it out real quick, and am now in a situation where every minute of my day must be accounted. Time management is the only way this works, and the best advice I can give is keep a calendar. Also, make sure you use it not just every day, but throughout the day. Whenever you’re presented with a choice, choose very carefully, and make absolutely certain it is the right choice. Once the decision’s been made that’s it; you’ve committed.

By NVC Student Bryan McCluggage

Get Involved – Be a Leader!

fbcover_sign3-22.jpgThe second best decision I’ve ever made, right behind the one that got me in college, was the decision to become involved. I remember in 2008 seeing a picture of a bunch of protestors upset about the bank bailouts and not being able to find a job. One person held a sign that said, “I have $80,000 in debt, a 4.0 GPA, and no job. Where’s my bailout?”

My first impression was that there was definitely a number of logical fallacies in play here, which could be an entire essay in itself. One of them, however, was that I knew it was somehow the former student’s fault and certainly not the government’s. After that, I wondered how someone could get into that much debt. Then I thought about what it would take to have that great a GPA, and yet have no job? What was this person’s degree?

I did some research and came to the conclusion that it was a very complicated process, and while I understood this process, I didn’t really have a personal connection to it. Then I got here and began to see it all for myself. I realized that not just anyone can get great grades, but plenty of students can.

The truth is often quoted, it is as true today as it was in that former student’s time in college, and will continue to be true going forward. If a student doesn’t demonstrate the willingness and ability to extend themselves beyond the classroom by taking on leadership roles, then there’s a near perfect certainty that when they go up against someone who did, they’re going to lose.

The reality is harsh, and too few students fully understand the weight of its meaning. It’s trying to teach a lesson to someone who has no grasp of possible ramifications, nor the perspective necessary to see beyond the moment.

College is an opportunity to expand what is called ‘human capital’ in economics. It’s the idea that you build your potential through education, work, training, and so forth. This is what the former student holding the sign missed.

My resume will shine, and when I’m ready to find a real job, I’ll hopefully have one waiting for me before I ever step across that stage. Why? Because I got involved.

By NVC Student Bryan McCluggage

Finding My Niche

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Northwest Vista College

I am an adult learner, returning to school after completing a bachelor’s degree, raising a family and having over 20 years of work experience.

I want an associate’s degree from NVC in order to build upon my skill set and to make myself more marketable for a career. When I graduated from college 15 years ago, experience was the most important trait employers looked for.

Today, employers are caught up in the letters and numbers following your name. They want to see degrees and certifications. While I want an associates from NVC, I have to pay for the entire degree out of my own pocket because there is not any financial aid for going backwards in school degree levels.

I returned to school, beginning with a certificate at NVC, in order to determine what would be my best route for continuing my education. While a master’s degree seems like the logical next step for someone who holds a bachelors degree, it isn’t always feasible. Graduate school is expensive. In the science fields, a master’s degree is often a stepping stone to a doctorate, but it it often does not help a person increase their salary value. Who wants to spend two years of their life and thousands of dollars to be worth the same rate they were worth with a bachelor’s degree?

Then there is determining which degree to pursue. Do I want to be a medical doctor, a pharmacist, a nurse, a professor or teach at a two-year school like NVC? Do I want to continue being a research scientist or administrator? Do I want a MBA? The questions are numerous.

I have taken multiple aptitude tests over the years. One skill that regularly appeared was working with computers. I was raised by computer engineers and software programmers. I have considered computers my evil step siblings.

NVC offered a Web Design course and I enrolled in it. I decided I might as well prove I was either good with computers or rule out that idea. Guess what? I fell for it. Web design is challenging and very rewarding when I create a properly functioning and aesthetically pleasing website. Then I took a programming class. Wow. This fully allowed me to get very technical and very specific. Programming is control! My lifelong love of building puzzles has now been translated into a skill set I can utilize for a rewarding career. The drawback to discovering computers after completing my bachelor’s degree is that many jobs, and most advanced degree programs, require a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I am not interesting in reinventing the wheel for my career.

Now, I finally have a much more finite focus. I am very well versed in the science of biology and healthcare. I have over four years of professional medical research experience. This is a skill set that I want to build upon. I have finally found a program that combines all of my career interests and a decent salary when completed. I am applying for a Master of Public Health program that focuses on Public Health Informatics. This is where I can see myself being happy and productive, applying my skill set to a field that helps many people live healthier and more productive lives. I am grateful for NVC being available and affordable enough for me to sort through my interests and discover my marketable talents, even after I completed my associates degree.

By NVC Student C. Kalyn Reim

Two Stress Relieving Massages to Give Yourself

HandsIts half-way through the semester! Are you feeling stressed out with homework and studying? Here are two massages you can easily do yourself to help with tight muscles and headaches.

Hand Massage

Your hand can definitely need a good massage from writing papers or typing documents. It could use a “recharge” on energy to write that mid-term paper.

How to do it:

  • Use your opposite hand and place your thumb with the nail facing upwards on the palm of your other hand.
  • Press gently and work your way up to the tip of your pinky finger. Start over from the middle of your hand to your pinky again, but this time, apply medium pressure. Then start over again, but use hard pressure.
  • Repeat the steps you did for your pinky finger, but apply them to the rest of your fingers. Then switch hands and start the whole massage over.

Neck and Shoulder Massage

Your neck is the No. 1 place to hold the entire stress of your body. If you have a constant problem with headache, massaging your neck is the answer to relieve the tension in those muscles.

How to do it:

Place both of your hands on your shoulders on the bottom of your neck. Gently squeeze and hold for about three seconds. Continue to do this up to the top of your neck where your skull is, making little circular movement with your fingers. The muscles right under your skull is mainly where tension headaches come from, so make sure you massage them well.

If these instructions didn’t work for you, here a video you can follow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-DtnHFvpL0

As you do these massages, please don’t apply too much pressure as you can harm your muscles instead of relaxing them.

By NVC Student Tamara-Davida Lopez

The Challenge of Going Back to College

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If you think it’s hard enough going to college at your young age, think twice.

As a mom of two kids and wife of a wonderful husband, let me share my story…

Twenty-four years ago, we came to the USA with a 3-week old baby and a 2 year-old little girl, with the idea to stay only 3 years while my husband finished his training.

In my country, I had a wonderful career, which I had decided to put on hold for 3 years. After the first three years, another three years of training came, and then, after those 3 years, my husband received a good job offer. We decided that I would stay at home and raise the kids.

Time passed by and the kids began going to the school. Sadly, I considered myself being retired from my previous career and decided to take a new path or at least take the classes that have always interested me. I began a new professional adventure. But, everything was different now…and I had to confront many hurdles.

First, money. We already had to take out sizeable tuition loans for our children, so I could not even ask for my own loan. Otherwise, I would have to essentially sell my soul to the bank.

Second, my memory – Have you had those memory lapses where you don’t know what you were going to do or where you left your phone? OK, well, let me tell you that, at this point in my life, they are not momentary lapses anymore. They are always happening to me. Most of the time, I need to ask someone to call me to find my phone, to take a photo to remember where I parked my car or to use my phone just to add reminders. God bless you, iPhone!

And third, my accent – Sometimes when I am tired, it is very hard to speak English for me (it is my second language) and added to my heavy accent, it is the perfect storm of miscommunication. Sometimes when I am exhausted and talking with someone in English, I begin to see their eyes widen, as if to shout “what the heck is she trying to say?!” At this point, my mind begins to blocking out all coherent thoughts and no word comes out of my mouth. Then, I need to calm myself down, listen to what I am saying, and retake control of the situation.

As you can see, it is not easy to return to college, be a foreign student and a mom at the same time. But for me it does not matter, because every time that I come to school, I am so excited because I am going to learn new tools that are going to help me outside in the real world.

By NVC Student Martha Aceves

Get Involved: Join the C.A.T Crew

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Vista students volunteering for Habitat for Humanity

When I was a new student, I always saw a group of students helping out in events and I wanted to learn how I could get involved. I eventually asked the Student Life office how I could join in on the fun and they sent me an email about how to join the C.A.T Crew.

My first experience as a member of C.A.T. Crew was very interesting. I was a volunteer in Habitat of Humanity. I felt very nervous but excited at the same time. I did not know they do a lot of activities to help people off campus.

C.A.T. crew is very involved at Vista and are always hosting events for students. Some events that I volunteered for were breast cancer week and Halloween. My favorite was in November and the event was “Elf Willy,” which was to celebrate Christmas and give children presents. The crew wrapped all the presents for the families, who are in financial need. The next day they hosted a breakfast for the families.

I encourage students to join a club like this because it teaches the meaning of service. Joining the C.A.T. Crew is a grand opportunity to get involved, meet others and learn about your campus. To learn more about the C.A.T Crew, go here.

Contributed by NVC Student Shaila Ramirez

Submit Your Name to Be an Alamo Colleges Student Trustee

fbcover_sign_600px.jpgThe NVC Student Government Association is seeking NVC students who are interested in applying to become NVC’s nominee for Student Trustee for the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees.

The non-voting Student Trustee will serve along with the other nine elected Board of Trustees members.  The Board is the governing body of the five Alamo Colleges.  The compensation for Student Trustee is $300 per semester.  The position requires the Student Trustee attend required Board meetings and may also require travel to conferences and retreats.

Applicants for Student Trustee must have:

-A minimum of 12 completed college level course hours at the Alamo Colleges
-Be in good academic and civic standing with the Alamo Colleges
-Be enrolled at any of the Alamo Colleges and able to serve a term that will begin on May 1st and end on April 30th
-Have a GPA of at least 2.5

*Also Encouraged

-Proof of community service hours
-Participated in a student club or organization

If you are interested in applying to become NVC’s Student Trustee nominee, please fill out the attached application form AND submit a brief essay addressing your interest and credentials for this position.

Email the application form and essay to NVC Student Government Association Co-Advisor Craig Coroneos at ccoroneos@alamo.edu or deliver hard copies of the application form and essay to Craig Coroneos in LOH 206 no later than 5pm on Thursday, February 19, 2015.

More information about the Student Trustee is available in the attached Board policy describing the position.  Any further questions about the position can be directed to Craig Coroneos at ccoroneos@alamo.eduor 210.486.4812.

NVC Student Awarded Scholarship for Helping Veterans

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NVC Student Luis A. Cortes (in white shirt) Receives scholarship from Edwards Ministerial Association

Helping veterans is something Luis A. Cortes is passionate about. As the head of a local organization that helps veterans get information on their benefits, the NVC student was recently awarded a scholarship for helping others.

The Edwards Ministerial Association, Inc. (EMA) awarded him $1,000 scholarship for his service to his country and fellow veterans. Luis was in the U.S. Army for 12 years and was medically separated as a second lieutenant due to an injury he sustained while performing an airborne operation.

Luis said this scholarship is going to help him pay for his last required classes to finish his NVC Associate of Arts in Sociology.

“This associate’s degree  is going to help me gain more knowledge and skills that are required to be able to counsel veterans and their families to apply and obtain state and federal  veteran’s entitlements,” Luis added. “Any person I work with will know that I have the education and knowledge in order to have earned my degree and work in that field of study.

Brigadier General, Dr. Charles W. Edwards, started the Austin-based EMA as a nonprofit organization that ministers to disabled veterans and other organizations in government, education and law enforcement. Dr. Edwards awarded Luis the check on Nov. 18 at NVC.

Luis says he’s just a few classes away from receiving his third associate degree. He already has a bachelor’s degree under his belt in Criminal Justice and hopes to become an attorney one day to be able to represent veterans and their dependents on a volunteer basis.

In addition to being a part of NVC’s Leadership Honor Society and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Luis also served for the past six years as a commander of the Disabled American Veterans Kel-Lac Chapter 114 in  Helotes, which helps disabled vets access their military benefits.

3 Tips to Balance College & Work Life

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As a returning college student, I have been struggling with figuring out how exactly to get through the semester with a 4.0 while still maintaining my home and work life.

The hardest part of this balancing act is keeping from drowning and giving up completely. I had a bit of a meltdown recently and that is when I decided to figure something out. The following tips are what I feel are the most helpful tips I have received from family, friends, and my experiences:

  • Organize, organize, organize – In order to keep your life together, it is imperative that you are organized. You should have a planner. Every week, write down all of the assignments, exams, quizzes, projects, etc. that are due that week and look at that planner EVERY day, twice a day. When you are organized with your school work, it is less likely that you will forget to complete something.
  • Make sure you give yourself at least one ENTIRE day off from everything – For me, this day is Saturday. Saturdays are my no-work, no-school, ALL PLAY days! I make sure that anything I have due on Saturday is completed a day in advance so I don’t have to log on, go in, or do anything for school or work. I use my Saturdays for relaxation and family.
  • Remind yourself every day that this is only temporary and it will all be worth it in the end. On the days when I feel like giving up or I am feeling guilty for not giving my daughter the attention she needs, I remind myself that this is only a temporary struggle. I think about the end of the road, when I am walking across the stage at graduation and seeing my daughter’s face smiling at me. I remind myself that I am doing this so she will be proud of me and so she can have everything she deserves in life.

We are all going to experience some sort of struggle in our college careers, but just remember – in order to get to the goal, you have to get through some struggles. That is what life is all about and that is how we become stronger in the end.

By NVC Student Christina Garcia