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

NVC Graduate Gets Ready for International CrossFit Games

NVC Graduate Goes to CrossFit Games
L to R: Jessica Aelvoet, Casey Viator, Gio Contreras, Joceline Marie Gonzales

On most days of the week, you can find Northwest Vista College graduate Giovanni “Gio” Contreras coaching classes at LoneStar CrossFit in San Antonio – motivating students to get through a tough workout, do a few more pushups, keep their back straight when doing squats or giving advice about nutrition.

Between coaching, finishing up his master’s degree in accounting from UTSA, and waiting on the birth of his first son, Gio and a team of three other people train for several hours a day with the goal of grabbing the top spot in the team division from the international CrossFit games in early August.

The LoneStar team was the only team that qualified from San Antonio to compete at the Reebok CrossFit Regionals recently. They snagged the coveted fourth spot out of five in order to get to the international competition in Madison, Wisconsin. Just 40 teams from all over the world will vie for the No. 1 spot. In addition to Gio, the LoneStar team consists of Jessica Aelvoet, Casey Viator and Joceline Marie Gonzales.

“I knew I would get here eventually. It has been one of my goals since I discovered CrossFit in 2013,” Contreras said, who’s also a U.S. Marine reservist and got hooked on the sport when he was stationed in Afghanistan in 2013.

NVC Graduate Goes to CrossFit Games

He’s accomplished this in just five years though it has come with a lot of determination after bouncing back from knee surgery, while also pursuing a higher education. Gio first attempted college in 2008, but didn’t take it seriously and joined the military. He chose to come back to Vista because of small class sizes and the campus environment. In 2015, he earned an associate degree in accounting.

It also helps that NVC is only four miles from LoneStar CrossFit, which attracts a lot students, faculty and staff to the facility. In 2016, Contreras qualified as an individual competitor to go to the CrossFit Regionals. He repeated this feat again this year, however, he said it’s much more fun to compete as a team.

When Gio and his teammates head to Madison, he will not only have his LoneStar family cheering him on, but much of the San Antonio CrossFit community and his fellow Wildcats at Northwest Vista College.

Annual Student Art Exhibition at Northwest Vista College

This year’s annual student exhibition highlights the artwork of 12 exceptional Northwest Vista College students.

The students were chosen for the exhibition from a pool of 40 applicants. NVC Instructor Rachael Bower looked at over 200 works of art by those students to narrow down the artists. The featured students span a variety of media including ceramics, collage, digital, drawing, fashion design, painting, photography, sculpture and woodworking.

Rachael has curated the student show each year since 2015. Typically there are eight students whose work is showcased over the summer months, half two-dimensional and half three-dimensional. This year there was such a wonderful variety of themes, techniques and media that it was expanded to include even more artists.

Arranging the work for installation is one of Instructor Bower’s favorite parts of the process, “it is always exciting to see how the art informs one another.” Each student’s artwork is accompanied by a brief biography and artist statement for viewers to learn more about them and their work.

Exhibit on Display Through Summer

 

The exhibition remains on display through the first day of classes, Aug. 27. The public is welcome to view the exhibition at any time Monday through Thursday this summer. You can find the art exhibit lining the hallway in the Palmetto Center for the Arts building. Purchase inquiries may contact Instructor Rachael Bower, rbower3@alamo.edu.

Interested in submitting your artwork next year? Look for the ‘Call for Art’ posters in the art building in spring 2019. Students do not need to be art majors to apply or enrolled in art classes-this juried opportunity is open to all Northwest Vista College students. All skill levels and media are encouraged to apply!

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Two NVC Students Get Funding in “Shark Tank” Style Competition

Two Northwest Vista College students recently took part in an Alamo Colleges “Shark Tank” competition and came out unbitten and with some investor funds to help turn their ideas into profitable businesses.

NVC student Jorge Latorre; San Antonio College (SAC) student Angela Costlow, and Joel Robbins of St. Philip’s College (SPC) won second place and $3,000 for their business called Veteran’s Property Renovation that is a veteran-managed company targeting key renovations to maximize property values.

Alexandria Borrero, an NVC student, and Brian Etheridge, a student at Palo Alto College, won third place and $1,500 for their business called Ali-Rooz, which will offer custom screen-printed athletic wear produced and sold out of a “fashion truck” that can offer its products on site at events.

The first place honor and $5,000 went to Lakeisha Matthews, a student at SPC, Melissa Rodriguez, a SAC student, and Tracy Watts and Thermajean Jones, SPC faculty members, for their Kid Car-go business, which is a concept for a rideshare company to transport children using moms from the same school districts as drivers to work or after-school programs.

The competition was sponsored by Alamo Colleges’ The Learning Company, which is a six-week program that encourages student entrepreneurs to turn their “big ideas” into reality. Students and faculty participate in free innovation boot camps where they are trained and mentored by experienced instructors and business partners.

“I am so proud of the students and faculty members who have devoted a great deal of time and hard work to making their big ideas into real-world products and businesses,” said Alamo Colleges Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie. “We started The Learning Company to provide additional opportunities to our students to become successful entrepreneurs in a format designed specifically for community college students. With the support of our community partners and outstanding leadership, we have students who are already seeing their ideas realized,” he added.

Other teams also were recognized for their achievements. The Early Birdies team won the Change-Maker award. The Grindhouse award for perseverance went to the Showstopper team and the IC2 Best Business Model honor went to the Texas Revolution team. A number of other individuals from the Alamo Colleges District also were recognized for their encouragement and support of The Learning Company program and the teams.

Past winners of The Learning Company have gone on to launch companies, received funding from investors and begin manufacturing of their products.

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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.

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From Tragedy to Scholarship Winner

NVC student Steffyn Nowak was relentless in reaching her dream despite life dealt her one too many blows.

At the age of 15, she was raped and had a baby from the assault. Right before she was set to testify against her assailant, his family kidnapped her and took her to Mexico and Guatemala for six months. When she came back to the states, she soon dropped out of high school and lived in her car for several months.

Several years go by and she’s happily married with two kids. In spite of all this tragedy, she always wanted to go to college and be a doctor, but she thought her dream was over because she was a full-time mom to two young kids. Her mother took care of her older daughter.

“I started working at Dairy Queen and became a manager and was making some good money,” she said. “One day, a young girl with scrubs comes in and I was at the front counter taking orders. I remember all these emotions just started coming to me that I was meant to do something more. I went to the bathroom and cried.”

With her GED in hand, Steffyn was ready to take on college for the second time. She had enrolled in Del Mar College in Corpus Christi but couldn’t continue after two semesters because her family moved to San Antonio. She received another setback once she got to Northwest Vista College. After examining her GED, the admissions staff told her that her GED was fake. Apparently a company was scamming people out of money for a GED in return.

Steffyn was devastated!

But she didn’t give up. She returned to Vista a month later with another GED – this time it was legitimate, and she was able to enroll. Even with a GED, she was able to test high enough into a college algebra course, which is something most student don’t do even with a high school diploma. Steffyn said she always loved math and had taught herself calculus and biology by watching YouTube videos.

Steffyn credits many of her instructors at NVC for helping her along the way, as well as her advisor, Kristal, who helped guide her through college. She also had her family and children as a motivating factor. Steffyn wanted to make her father proud of her even though he passed away when she was 7 years old, and her brother tragically died in a motorcycle accident last year at the age of 34.

Fast forward to 2018, Steffyn will be earning her associate degree and walk across the stage on May 14. Along with accomplishing her goal, she received another surprise – a $48,000 scholarship to the University of the Incarnate Word. She plans to go pre-med and be an emergency room surgeon.

“I cried when I found out about the (UIW) scholarship,” she added. “My family and friends tell me I was determined to reach my goals. There’s always a way.”

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

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