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

 

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/

Easier Transition to Engineering Degrees for Students

Northwest Vista College students will now be able to get an easier transition to a bachelor’s degree in Engineering with a new partnership between Alamo Colleges and the The University of Texas at San Antonio.

TATE, which stands for UTSA Transfer Academy for Tomorrow’s Engineers (TATE) program, will allow NVC students to co-enroll at both institutions, and take engineering courses taught by UTSA and NVC faculty. Upon completion of the NVC component of the program, 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.

Qiaoying “Joy” Zhou and Thomas Pressley of NVC’s Math and Engineering department said that through TATE, NVC students will transfer to UTSA as true juniors without missing key courses and key prerequisites. The program was designed for 30 students per cohort.

This new program provides many benefits to students. It makes the transfer process streamlined and gives them an opportunity to earn an associate of science degree at NVC while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. And, it also gives NVC students access to top employers including the U.S. Air Force, Valero Energy, H-E-B, Intel, CPS, USAA, IBM, Accenture, Proctor & Gamble, and more.

Joy and Thomas added this joint admissions program also opens the door for many students who don’t have the resources to an engineering degree. It provides students who are economically disadvantaged with the opportunity to start at Alamo Colleges at low cost (or no cost through AlamoPromise) while still being able to keep pace with their UTSA counterparts and graduate with a bachelors in engineering in four years total.

Additionally, students who are not mathematically prepared to start a university engineering program in calculus in their first freshman semester, can attend Alamo Colleges for a pre-summer or even a pre-fall semester to work on their math level before joining the program.

TATE is looking for new students and on July 9 will hold a virtual information session from 3 pm to 5 pm. To attend the session, go to this link.

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/

Thank You for Making Education a Priority

Dear NVC Students,

Thank you for making education a priority. With so much happening around us right now in regards to the coronavirus, you may be wondering what the future holds.

As a parent and grandparent, who has two sons in college and a granddaughter in elementary school, education is important to me on a personal and professional level.

As your president, I want to assure you that Northwest Vista College is doing everything possible to keep our students, faculty and staff safe and to provide needed resources for remote learning as well as advocacy services such as how to obtain food, counseling, how to file for unemployment or speak to someone about domestic abuse and other resources.

Please continue to stay in college and reach out to your instructor or advisor if you need help with anything. You may also refer to this web page for resources:  https://www.alamo.edu/nvc/about-us/our-college/remote-learning/students/

Thank you.

Dr. Ric Baser
NVC President

 

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.

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