Fabian Sanchez: Rising Star

Aspiring students often find themselves unrewarded for their pursuits of greatness in education. The State Student Advisory Council (SSAC) created a system to reward students who have gone above and beyond in school and performed extraordinarily.

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Fabian Sanchez

The Rising Star Award is given to students who exhibit high levels of leadership and student involvement. Fabian Sanchez, a Front Range Community College-Westminster student, a Student Ambassador-lead, and a TRiO Participant has continued to strive far above his peers. He was recently nominated for and selected as a Rising Star.

“I’m extremely honored. I immediately wanted to thank all of the people who helped. I’m still in shock, even though I’ve known for a couple weeks,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez was nominated because of his connected and benevolent involvement at Front Range Community College. The Rising Star Award has given Sanchez the ability recognize ways that he can further impact the Front Range Community.

“The award offers me the chance to meet other people who have done remarkable things at their college,” noted Sanchez.

Sanchez also stated the importance of communication within an educational and workplace environment. Communication skills learned while working as a Student Ambassador have given him valuable insights and reasons behind his award. “Learn how to be apart of a team. In the adult world, just about every job has a team. Very rarely are you independent, someone is always reliant on you,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez advised aspiring Rising Stars to get involved on campus through work-study employment, student clubs and study groups. FRCC needs more students like Sanchez, who strive for more, instead of students who strive for what’s expected.

Written by Jacob Hallberg

Photo provided by Julie Beggs

College Student Must Read: Cash Your Investment

Everyone needs advice from time to time, especially college students. As spring commencement approaches, many Front Range Community College students are preparing to transfer to four-year universities. The goal in doing so is to earn degree to eventually land a dream job. However, the road to that job is far from straight and narrow.  In his new book, Cash Your Investment: How to Leverage Your College Degree Into Your First Job, Author Scott A. Eberwein seeks to impart critical knowledge to any college educated person who will soon become a job seeker.

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Cash Your Investment offers many tips for capitalizing on a college degree that are not taught in class. For example, there is seldom a class in which résumé writing tips are offered, and few classes teach art and importance of networking. Many students are not aware of the resources that campus career services offer. No classes offer personal mentors.

The reality of the job hunt is a brutal one. If one thinks he can simply get a degree and walk into a high level job, he is mistaken. It is not 1970, and it does not matter what field your degree is in. The best jobs are guarded with the utmost secrecy and kept under lock and key. The best of the best start their job hunts early in their senior year of college, all of which Eberwein emphasizes.

Think of the job hunt metaphorically. Your dream job is hidden away in a large castle. You can pound on that front gate until you die, but you will not get in. However, Eberwein offers the tools necessary to attack the castle from the rear door, a much less guarded area of the castle. If you utilize a mentor, write a proper résumé, network determinedly and take advantage of career services, you can break down the castle’s rear door.

Cash Your Investment offers critical information for college seniors and job seekers to be successful at the job hunt. Eberwien emphasizes the importance of known and unknown aspects of the searching for a career. This information is so critical that it should be part of the regular curriculum at most colleges. If one follows Eberwein’s sound advice, he just might land that dream job and conquer the castle of the job hunt.

Written by Christopher Kemp

Photo provided by Scott A. Eberwein

Don’t Miss Family Math Night on April 15

Mathematics, otherwise known as a culmination of numbers and variables, is dreaded by many students. Bogged down methods of education, doubled with uninterested students, creates a negative environment for practicing math. An abysmal subject for most, the prospect of math class can hinder aspiring students.

The logic behind math becomes quite complex, but the essence of math denotes simple laws and rules to follow. With repetition claiming large portions of math proficiency, students need to enjoy and pay attention to the information taught in math class.

Joseph Brenkert, an eighth-year mathematics professor at Front Range Community College, aims to change the way students view math by encouraging fun methods of math participation. The Family Math Game Night on Friday, April 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., inspires fun learning techniques for children and parents. Located in the Rocky Mountain Room, children around the community will gather to play fun math games. Plus, food and prizes will be available to attendees.

IMG_5805.PNGAccording to Brenkert, “Opening the eyes of the the next generation for acceptance of math,” remains one of the main goals for the Family Math Game Night. This night will attempt to revitalize parent and child math involvement, while also mathematically stimulating children.

Children often do not see the future application of math skills, and this night will attempt “to ease or calm that math anxiety that we have culturally built up,” stated Brenkert. This night is not about winning, but learning new, fun methodology to practice mathematics.

Stop by and enjoy the casual, fun-filled environment. Brenkert noted, “We are just looking for people to come and have a good time.”

Written by Jacob Hallberg

Photo by Kayla Klein

Stress Adversely Affects College Students’ Minds and Bodies

With the passing of spring break, FRCC students are more than halfway through the semester. A lot of work is already behind us and more is waiting. For me personally, this is a stressful time of year in a stressful period of my life. Stress feels like a wet blanket that envelops you; its weight feels suffocating and makes it feel as though we are navigating life in concrete boots. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case, as there are many highly effective methods for managing and reducing stress.

According to the University Health Center (UHC), which “exists to advance the well-being of students and other members of the University community in a way that supports academic success and student retention,” stress is defined as a response to a demand that is placed upon you.

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The website Everydayhealth.com, adds that stress occurs when your tension level exceeds your energy level, resulting in an overloaded feeling. In the article, J. David Forbes, MD, wrote, “As long as our available energy exceeds our tension level, then we’re in an okay state, but if energy is low and tensions are higher, then that can result in a state of anxiety, depression, and feeling overwhelmed.”

Stress is a physiological reaction that our bodies undergo when we are exposed to stimuli that alter our natural balance. When we find ourselves under stress, our body tries to correct this imbalance. According to Campusmindworks.org, an extension of the University of Michigan that provides information and resources about mental health issues for students, the body attempts to counteract the stress by releasing hormones. The energy the body requires to combat the effects of stress could otherwise be used for more beneficial purposes, such as to concentrate or fight off illness more efficiently. So, essentially, stress is a physical reaction within the body to a particular circumstance or demand.

Stress can be caused by either external or internal stimuli. As college students, we are exposed regularly to both of these forms of stress. External stress can look like a big paper or test on the horizon, struggling to meet your financial obligations or changes in your social life. Internal stress can be harder to recognize, as it is often a result of unmet expectations that we place on ourselves or others, which can lead to feelings of guilt or shame. It’s important to recognize that stress can be caused by an accumulation of little things or by big events.

All people react to stress differently, some more efficiently than others, and all people have different levels of stress that they are able to handle healthily. The University of Michigan lists some of the many ways that stress manifests itself in students specifically. Common indicators include: difficulty concentrating, increased worrying, trouble completing assignments on time, not going to class, short temper or increased agitation, tension, headaches, tight muscles, changes in eating habits or changes in sleeping habits.

Many of these symptoms have short-term impacts on our lives. However, there can be more consequences to stress that affect us later in life. According to UHC, “The changes in your body (increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and muscle tension) start to take their toll, often leading to mental and physical exhaustion and illness. Too much stress can cause problems and affect our health, productivity and relationships.”

The Mayo Clinic reported that stress can cause health aliments, including heart disease, weight gain/obesity, digestive problems and even cancer.

While most stress should be avoided, some forms of stress can be beneficial, and the negative effects can be counteracted and kept in check.

Our bodies’ reaction to stress is actually an evolutionary response that has likely allowed our species to survive. Think of the stress that you may feel when a fire-alarm goes off, or you hear the bark of a menacing dog. The burst of adrenaline and cortisol that we receive as a result is a part of the response of our sympathetic nervous system, which is a phenomenon more commonly known as fight-or-flight.

Stress can also be used as a catalyst to finish papers or meet deadlines. “That extra burst of adrenaline that helps you finish your final paper, perform well in sports, or meet any challenge is positive stress. It is a short-term physiological tension and added mental alertness that subsides when the challenge has been met, enabling you to relax and carry on,” UHC wrote.

While there are countless causes of stress, there are also ample ways to reduce the feelings and effects, and, unlike some other health issues, many of them can be practiced on our own time and for little to no monetary investment. A lot of stress can be mitigated or eliminated through life-style changes and practices.

First, staying active can have many benefits besides just reducing stress, but even as little as 20 minutes of exercise a few times a week can help to offset some of the health concerns associated with stress mentioned above. Many forms of exercise take place outside, which is another tool for dealing with stress.

Spending time outside has so many benefits to our overall well-being, reducing stress included. A lot of research has emerged over the past few decades pointing to human’s biological need to be in natural environments. Many of us spend the vast majority of life, especially as students, in rooms that often don’t have windows and are artificially lit. Richard Louv, a psychologist studying the benefits of nature, stated, “A growing body of research links more time in nature — or in home, work or hospital environments enhanced through nature-based design — with reduction of stress and depression, faster healing time and less need for pain medication.”

Next, mindfulness and meditation are definitely buzz-words in our society today, but the practices have existed for thousands of years. The Mayo Clinic said, “Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. When you meditate, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.”

Lack of sleep and poor nutrition, which is the reality of many college students’ lives, have adverse affects on our ability to handle stress, among many other detrimental health effects. Much of this can be attributed to lack of energy and nutrition, which lowers the resources we have to deal with things such as stress or illness. The over-consumption of caffeine can exaggerate both of these issues, as caffeine is a stimulant and an appetite suppressor. One of the biggest things we can do as students to reduce our stress and just generally perform better in school is to make sure we get enough sleep and provide our body with the nutrients it needs, both of which help fuel us.

Taking care of our body is also a way we can take care of our mind, as there is a correlation between the physical state of our body and the emotional state of our mind. I find that writing is a key tool that I use to deal with, and work through, stress. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can have similar benefits to writing as talking through your stress gets the problem out of your mind and allows you to see a problem in a different way as the other person can offer suggestions. Stopping the “analysis paralysis” that can occur when we are stressed and have events play over and over in our minds can go a long way to reducing stress.

Finally, ensuring that we build time in our busy lives for social events, activities that we enjoy and even just laughing can help offset some of the effects of stress.

Stress is a big and very real topic that is often under or un-addressed in our daily lives. Between school, work and often families, community college students likely have more demands placed on our time than the average citizen and this can lead to an increase in stress. Employ some of the stress-reducing methods to tackle the rest of the semester ahead.

Written by Alex Liethen

Photo from Mayo Clinic

Jeremy Haft at FRCC: Is China Steamrolling the United States?

It is a turbulent time to be alive. It seems with every passing day there is one more thing to be afraid of. With the presidential race in full swing, Americans are trying to consider the best options for their own survival.

One theme that is often explored in the media, but seldom explained, is how China affects our global economic position. Some people and candidates paint China as a huge steamroller set to pave over all that America is, but new information prompts reevaluation. Author and CEO Jeremy Haft recently gave an enlightening lecture at Front Range Community College about his experiences working with China over the past 19 years.

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Event poster from FRCC.

Haft is a unique American in that he has spent a significant amount of time on the ground in China, watching how they manufacture many of the goods we rely on. Haft used examples from his new book, Unmade in China: The Hidden Truth about China’s Economic Miracle, to explain that many of our conceptions of China are incorrect.

For example, Americans assume that many of our raw materials, manufactured goods and foodstuffs are imported and not exported. According to Haft, this is not true. China is actually importing a significant amount of materials from the United States. Again, contrary to popular belief, China is supporting our job economy by importing substantially higher quality goods from us. Foodstuffs are an example of a good that China often imports from us because their quality is subpar.

Haft’s description of the on-the-ground situation in China is drastically different from the description the media presents the majority. Haft makes a point that essentially pulls the roller out of the Steamroller metaphor. China has minimal experience working in a capitalist system compared to the United States. That lack of experience prevents them from taking the complete upper-hand on the American economically.

It has never been more critical for Americans to make informed decisions. From the products we consume to the leaders we choose, our choices define us as a nation. Jeremy Haft’s dialogue around China is something that many Americans need to hear because it can help us understand many of the things we fear.

America is not dying. China is not going to trample over us. In fact, we may be heading into a new era of global prosperity if we can learn to conquer our fear of one another.

Written by Christopher Kemp

Media provided by Front Range Community College

Journey to Space in Astronomy Club

Have you ever stared into the vast night sky and gotten lost in thoughts, grappling with concepts about our place in the universe, or if we are alone? There is an opportunity at FRCC-Westminster to quench that curiosity in Astronomy Club.

“Throughout human existence we have always looked up,” said Anthony James, student organizer of Astronomy Club. The club meets on Thursdays at 11 a.m. in the Student Outreach Center and is open to any curious students. “If you just like staring at space, come stop by,” he said.

A couple of times each semester, the Club uses the telescope on the east end of campus for solar or night sky observing. This affords students the opportunity to gaze up at the night sky using the power of optics to get a closer look. The experience of using the telescope brings reality to the group’s discussions, as they can look at some of the objects they are talking about.

“I like seeing the planets,” James said. “I like seeing Saturn and Jupiter. It’s fun looking at those because they are so far away. They’re these gas giants, these huge planets, but you can see them through a telescope. It’s just super cool to see and when you first see Jupiter, and you see the moons around Jupiter- you’re kind of like ‘Wow.’ We have these huge telescopes, and Galileo and other early astronomers just made their own telescopes, and they were seeing almost the exact same thing. It’s kind of a cool experience.”

Experiential learning also sets Astronomy Club apart from run-of-the-mill organizations. “We try to do [community service] projects,” James said. Last semester, the Club donated a telescope to Anythink Library. “This semester, they plan to create a rail gun that can move objects with electromagnetic force.

I was able to watch the Club in action during a meeting, as they worked on the rail-gun project. The meeting included Dr. Lindsay Rocks, an astronomy and physics professor and the faculty advisor to the Club. She set the project up, explained to us the physics behind what was taking place, answered questions and talked science and astronomy with us.

When they aren’t tinkering with an experiment or project, the Club discusses science and space. “Arguing about how many dimensions there are, a lot of random stuff. We pretty much just talk about science,” James said. To participate, you can talk to Dr. Rocks or James, or you can simply attend a meeting. “Anybody is welcome,” James said. “We don’t do math in there, so don’t let that discourage you!”

According to James, the night sky puts life and our existence into perspective. “We are only able to see what’s in front of us, and when you can stare at something that’s millions, or billions, of years old it kind of puts a different view-point on life and our place in the universe,” he said. “You can kind of understand where we came from and what’s going on. It’s kind of a humbling experience to look up and to realize that we’re here and there is so much out there and we are just flying through space.”

There are reasons that space is important that are much closer to home, not only on our planet but also in the Front Range. Space is big business in Colorado. According to the Colorado Space Coalition, Colorado has the nation’s second largest aerospace industry, with over 160,000 employed across over 400 companies, including eight of the nation’s top aerospace contractors.

“I think a lot of people take it for granted that a lot of technology comes from just studying the stars and space,” James said. James is starting his studies at FRCC and plans to transfer to CU-Boulder to continue his education. In addition to a booming aerospace industry, Colorado is also home to schools with superior aerospace programs.

“CU-Boulder has a great astrophysics and planetary sciences program. The New Horizons Project heavily used CU-Boulder to send [the mission and craft] to Pluto. Whether it’s making telescopes, or airplanes or space shuttle parts, telescope lenses, there is a lot around Colorado. There is a huge (space) community here in Colorado,” James said.

We are also fortunate to live in Colorado because, away from the Front Range, there are still dark skies that allow better star viewing, as well as a thinner atmosphere which allows for crisper telescope sightings. One of the biggest threats to the night sky is called light pollution, which means that the light created by cities and society pollutes the night sky and detracts from our ability to view the astronomical bodies. This is why only a few stars are visible in downtown Denver verses a few thousand in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. In fact, Colorado is a leader in preserving this resource that is quickly vanishing.

“I know that light pollution is an issue and it’s getting harder and harder for us to use ground telescopes because of the light pollution. I think we should all take a moment to look up and just kind of realize that there is something up there,” James said, referring to what is called the Night Sky Initiative, which is an international, 501(c)-3 non-profit organization devoted to protecting the night sky for present and future generations. The organization advocates for the creation of night sky parks, places set aside for the enjoyment of the people to see the night sky, and recognizing communities that currently exist with a healthy night sky view, called International Dark Sky Communities.

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Wet Mountain Valley

Colorado has two such places: The Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Wet Mountain Valley and town of Westcliffe, have both received this designation and puts them among the few locations in the US that have been acknowledged for their views of the night sky. In fact, Westcliffe is one of only 14 communities in the world that has received the designation of Dark Sky Community, places that have put an emphasis on preserving the night sky.

If you are interested in the night sky, Colorado is a fantastic place to live. We have great views of space, highly-regarded institutions for the study of space and a healthy aerospace economy. You journey to space could begin Thursdays at 11 a.m. with Astronomy Club!

Written by Alex Liethen

Photo by Alex Liethen

Stormwater Poses Pollutant Threat to Students

Runoff from rain and melted snow skips the water treatment plant. Called stormwater, this runoff acquires pollutants as it travels into creeks and streams, then journeys into rivers and oceans, along with the pollutants.

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As Colorado enters springtime, the winter’s snow begins to melt and rain falls rampant. Whereas some of the water seeps into the ground or evaporates, some runs across the land instead. As it travels, it picks up pollutants, including animal feces, pesticides and fertilizers, sediment from construction, trash and car oil, which it carries into bodies of water. This dangerous mix of pollutants and dirt poses threats to aquatic life and safe drinking water for humans.

The federal Clean Water Act requires large towns and cities to manage stormwater using best practices to avoid polluted runoff.

To reduce the amount of polluted runoff, citizens must upkeep their vehicles to avoid oil drips, pick up after their pets, and throw away their waste. To further prevent pollution, people should fertilize their lawns after rainy season, to prevent pesticide build-up in water, or refrain from using lawn-care products entirely, if possible.

Pollutants threaten the air, water and land, and increasingly so in the modern world. Stormwater heavily pollutes bodies of water: the number one cause in most states. Citizens can actively reduce this threat by increasing awareness of proper waste management.

Think about what goes down the storm drain. It’s more dangerous than one may assume.

For additional information, questions, or comments, please contact the Front Range Community College – Westminster Campus Facilities Services Department at (303) 404-5399.

Written by Kayla Klein

Photo provided by Mike Baranovic, FRCC-WC Facilities Supervisor

Muslim Student Association

The divide between student and school life maintains a steady gap of detachment. Students head to their classes and afterwards commence home, avoiding the communal aspect of schooling at Front Range Community College. However, social students enjoy staying at Front Range Community College, meeting new, captivating and like-minded individuals. Rasul Haras, President of the Muslim Student Association, tackles this communal divide directly.

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Rasul Haras

Haras, who is the vice president of an overseas refuge recruitment organization, an attendee for his local youth group and a gateway to college student, aims to create conditions at Front Range Community College that promote healthy student interactions.

Overtime, ELS Muslim students can face specific struggles that relate to their education and social needs at Front Range Community College. The language barrier hinders relationships. Haras manages this issue by educating ELS students on proper English speaking. Haras plans on introducing educational English speeches at the Muslim Student Association’s weekly meetings.

These weekly meetings consist of a half hour motivational and religious speech. This environment promotes bonding, as members of the Muslim Student Association enjoy each other’s company around campus. Haras noted, “This type of environment makes them feel welcome.”

These meetings promote healthy group communication as well. Haras said, “I never gave a formal speech [before]…speaking in front of people helped me a lot.” Haras creates and arranges a thirty-minute speech each week. With attendance around 30 individuals, Haras must garner the attention of all 30 for the allotted meeting time. Though challenging, this task helps Haras develop necessary communication skills.

Students that feel a sense of belonging within their school often times perform academically better than their uninvolved counterparts. This organization bridges the communal divide and consequently, Muslim Student Association members perform better.

Students interesting in joining the Muslim Student Association can contact Haras at: rasulharas@hotmail.com.

Written by Jacob Hallberg

Photo provided by P.J. Travin