Career Insight

Written by Anthony Arellano

As the students at Front Range Community College walk through the halls, they may wonder if they have chosen the right major for themselves. The funny thing is, often the professors are working in their dream career. This can be said for FRCC art professor, Heidi Strang.

A question any student would want to ask someone employed in their ideal profession is, “What is your favorite and least favorite parts about the profession?”

For Strang, she said she enjoys the fact that she gets to work with people interested in a subject she loves.

“My favorite aspect of being an art professor is the fact that I get to be around students,” said Strang. “I learn from them everyday and it’s great to be around people who are eager to learn.”

Strang loves being involved in the arts in anyway.

“I was warned that being an artist, or being in the art world was impossible, and I wouldn’t be able to make a living,” said Strang.

When asked about her least favorite parts of the profession, her answer was simple.

“Honestly… none,” said Strang “I had amazing high school teachers and college professors who loved art and helped me notice my love for art. I’ve always loved school, I’ve always loved the feeling of being on a big college campus.”

For students who want to pursue the same profession, Strang shared her advice: “Stick with it. You’ll need a Ph.D. to do what I do. It’s a big school commitment but it pays off.”

One aspect of Strang’s advice important to all students, regardless of major, is to do what you love.

Student advisor, Heather Bromberg, provided a statement for students looking to discover their passion: “Finding your career passion is a journey that may take you someplace unexpected.”

FRCC dean, Francois Jacobs also touched on the subject of students finding their passion. “We all have a little voice inside of us that knows exactly what our dreams are. Listen to that voice and don’t let fear overcome you. Work on improving yourself and you will find your passion.”

The Pantry

Written by Gabriella Jade

Need food for the week, but rent is coming up soon? Struggling with what option to choose? There is a way to have both.

The Pantry is a food pantry available to all Front Range Community College Westminster students.

The Pantry, which opened in February 2016, is managed by Jessica Jurgella, student involvement coordinator. This free campus resource is made possible due to a partnership between Student Life, the FRCC Foundation and Food Bank of the Rockies.

“It’s a good source for students to come and get food and give them a helping hand,” said James Davis, FRCC student and Student Life employee, “It helps ease life’s burdens.”

The only requirement to use The Pantry is to participate in a 10 to 15-minute orientation and sign an agreement form.

“The goal is to keep it running for as long as it is needed,” said Jurgella. “It helps with providing food for students in need and to raise awareness on food insecurity.”

Looking to the future, The Pantry may be included in the Wisconsin HOPE Lab’s 2017 Food & Housing Survey, that looks at community college homelessness and hunger. Additionally, Jurgella is looking to partner with Starbucks to accept donations of food and drink items left over at the end of each day.

For those who would like to support The Pantry, Student Life accepts donations of perishable and nonperishable items before their expiration date. While all food donations are accepted, there is a high demand for items such as pasta, pasta sauce, cereal and peanut butter, as students tend to take them more than others. Donations can be dropped off in the Student Life Office.

If one is unable to donate food, one can also donate time. For every three hours volunteered at Food Bank of the Rockies, 10700 E. 45th Ave. in Denver, FRCC receives 20 pounds of food. In order for The Pantry to receive the food, volunteers should sign up on behalf of FRCC or contact Jurgella, who can share a promotional code.

The Pantry is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday when classes are in session. It is located in the Student Life Office, C-0560.

For more information regarding The Pantry, including how to donate or use it as a resource, contact Jessica Jurgella at Jessica.jurgella@frontrange.edu or visit the Student Life Office.

Disability Support Services at FRCC-Westminster

Written By: Josh Speer

If you’re a student at Front Range Community College (FRCC), and have a disability or know someone who does, you’ll be relieved to know that there are resources in place which can help you succeed in academia. The Disability Support Services (DSS) on our campus is probably the most vital of them all. Without them, the college experience would be a lot more difficult for people like me who have multiple health issues.

The first step you’ll have to take is to schedule an intake appointment. When you do so, it is important that you take documentation for your disability if you have it; though they’ll encourage you to follow through with an intake even if your documentation is not yet available. The records are important, not only for the obvious necessity for proof of disability, but also to identify and reduce barriers in academia, to establish which accommodations are necessary, and to be able to substantiate the necessity for these accommodations.

The following list specifies what you’ll need to begin the process:

  1. Letterhead of the professional which includes details about their name, address, and qualifications. It is also best to include specifics about the diagnosis, functional limitations endured because of it, medications being taken by the students, side effects of those medications, and recommended accommodations.
  2. Documentation from a medical professional. Whether they’re medical doctors, psychologists, or educational diagnosticians.
  3. Individual Education Plans (IEPs), Summary of Performance (SOP), and/or Section 504 plans from K-12 institutions. Any information about the disability, barriers, and past accommodations from these institutions would also be helpful.

There are a variety of accommodations available. The most common are testing accommodations, note-taking services, alternative text formats, interpreting services for the deaf, and assistive technology. For exams specifically, you can get extended testing time, a “reduced distraction environment” (in the Testing Center), and assistance taking the exam. It isn’t mentioned in the list I’ve provided, but you can also receive extensions with deadlines. I know because I myself have been granted that ability. During the sometimes up to week-long (or more) flare ups of my illness, it has made all the difference in passing assignments, exams, and entire classes. I more than likely wouldn’t be enrolled in college at all if it weren’t for the DSS on our campus. I tried at first to attend school without any accommodations, and it was nearly impossible at times. However, when I found out about what options were available to me, that changed. So if you have disabilities, I would highly recommend getting yourself set up with this department.

Once you have provided the documentation necessary, you have rights to confidentiality about your disabilities, participation in programs/classes that you wouldn’t otherwise be qualified for, be treated with respect and quality in terms of grades and class participation, and to receive these accommodations in a timely manner. Note that you must renew your request each semester. You can do so by filling out this form only if you have already registered.

The DSS at FRCC-Westminster is certainly one of the best resources someone with disabilities could hope for. You have the right to be able to complete an education, even if you’re having to deal with the never-ending full time job of having disabilities, frequent trips to doctor appointments and pharmacies, or anything else thrown at you by the cards you’ve been dealt. Just know that you, as a student, ultimately have the responsibility to see to it these things are taken care of accordingly.

 

Four Year Fridays: Visiting and Touring Local Universities

Written By: Diana-Mari Rossell-Eddy

For anyone looking to transfer for a Bachelor’s program in Colorado; Four-Year Fridays may be for you! Every Friday throughout the Fall and Spring semesters, Front Range- Westminster Campus invites all students to join for an all-day fun, informative exploration of some of Colorado’s amazing 4 year institutions. Whether you have your mind already set on a university or you just want to explore your options, Four-year Fridays is a great way to get informed! Each trip is coordinated by Alana McCoy from advising and everyone is provided transportation to and from the campus(es), along with lunch. There were a few trips this past Fall semester and I was fortunate enough to attend the one to Auraria campus; Metropolitan State University (MSU) and University of Colorado-Denver(CU-Denver).

Once at Auraria campus, our group headed over to the new MSU Student life building. We were all escorted to the 3rd floor where we met with various different advisors and program coordinators on site, as well as other current students. They all shared their experiences with us, had good advice, and answered the many questions we all had.

Afterwards we went on a campus tour. There are a lot of major renovations happening at the campus presently, so it was nice to have a guided tour through the chaos. At the end of the tour, we headed over to the Tivoli building to get some lunch. The Tivoli is a sort of central hub at the Auraria campus. There’s food and entertainment and academic advising for MSU, CU-Denver as well as Community College of Denver. Computer lounges and study rooms also make the Tivoli a great place to study and network with other students.

Next, we headed over to CU-Denver main building for another orientation and meet-and-greet with advisors, faculty and students. This was another great experience and we all received good information on programs and requirements.

I had originally been undecided about which college I wanted to transfer to after Front Range. Coincidently, I was torn between CU-Denver and MSU. But after visiting both colleges, meeting with faculty and students from both campuses, I had a better idea of what I wanted and what I could expect from each college. Now, I feel better prepared and well informed. And I have actually decided on attending MSU, Spring 2018!

To anyone that is still deciding or isn’t even sure what to expect from a four-year university, I highly recommend going on one of these visits. This was a great opportunity to get some insight into the university life. There will be more visits just like this one next semester, so be on the lookout for postings with dates and universities visits for this spring.

Election 2016: A Look at District 2 of the Colorado House of Representatives

Written By: Josh Speer

There is a lot going on this election cycle. The presidential, congressional, and plenty of state and local-level elections are all involved in their own election process. This article will be focused on the race for District 2 of the Colorado House of Representatives, between incumbent Alec Garnett (D) and challenger Paul Linton (R).

There are precisely 469 seats up for election on November 8th for the U.S. Congress.  Of these 469 seats, the Senate (or “Upper House”), who only elect two senators per state, account for 34 of the open seats, while the remaining 435 open seats involve the House. The majority of Senate seats that are vulnerable to loss belong to Republicans, who have twenty-four seats to defend, as opposed to their Democratic counterparts, who only have ten. Going into this election, Republicans currently hold the largest U.S. House majority since 1928. In order for Democrats to “flip the chamber”, they would have to pick up at least thirty seats.

With sixty-five total seats up for grabs in this state, the Colorado House of Representatives is considered one of twenty key battleground chambers. With a total of thirty-four seats, as opposed to the Republicans who hold thirty-one, the majority of our House is currently held by Democrats. Due to term limits, though, eight seats are open and have no incumbent running. Also a product of term limits, more Democrats (seven) than Republicans (one) are ineligible for re-election.

This campus in Westminster is part of Colorado’s 2nd congressional district that also encompasses other northwestern Denver suburbs such as Boulder, Thornton, and Northglenn. Mountain towns like Idaho Springs, Vail, and Grand Lake are also included. Our current incumbent, Representative Alec Garnett [D], is one of the two candidates running for this specific seat in office. His challenger is Paul Linton [R].

Alec Garnett [D]

Democrat Alec Garnett is a fourth generation Coloradan. He completed his Masters Degree in public administration at the University of Colorado-Denver, and has since committed his life to public service. He served as Senior Legislative Assistant to Congressman Perlmutter out of Washington D.C. While in this position, he helped draft and pass legislation such as Epilepsy Centers of Excellence Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). He returned to Colorado to help run his father’s campaign for Colorado Attorney General and went on to become Executive Director of the Colorado Democratic Party. In 2014, he won in a landslide with 72.6% of the vote with his election to chamber.

Garnett’s proposals on his campaign website for higher education are to eliminate student loan debt for those attending state schools and implementing a tax that would have them pay back 3% of their income to the state upon graduation and going into the workforce. He also claims he will fight for better accessibility and to reduce the overall cost of a college education. For grade school children, he wants to secure a universal, full-day of kindergarten for all and a half-day of preschool for those who want it. He wants to fight against the spread of vouchers and the privatization of public schools.

He is also an advocate for strict gun laws. He references the 2013 guns laws passed in Colorado, House Bills 13-1229 (universal background checks), 13-1228 (implemented a background check fee), and 13-1224 (prohibits the sale, transfer, and possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines), and his desire to expand upon them. One specification he lays out on his website is his desire to fight against concealed carry permits on college campuses.

To learn more about his policy proposals, visit his campaign website or check him out on social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.

 

Paul Linton [R]

Republican attorney Paul Linton is incumbent Alec Garnett’s opponent in this race. Linton was educated at the University of Denver – Sturm College of Law. He also earned an A.B. in History and Political Science from the Ivy League school, Brown University, in 1968. He happens to be a veteran of the United States Navy Reserve, and has been a practicing attorney since May 1976. His entry into politics was when he ran against Anne McGihon [D] in 2008 for District 3 of the State House. However, McGihon was ultimately the victor.

The Republican Party’s stance on college student loans that are granted by the government differ from their Democratic counterparts. The Party opposes government-granted student loans, however, it is in support of the government serving as an insurance guarantor. They believe “efforts should be taken to provide families with greater transparency and the information they need to make prudent choices about a student’s future.” Directly opposing the Democratic Party position that supports expansion of these programs.

Concerning matters of grade school education, he takes the conventional Republican stance of questioning the efficiency of Common Core, the funds allocated to public educational institutes, and the authority of the Department of Education. The party believes that “enormous amounts of money are being spent for K-12 public education with overall results that do not justify that spending.” He points out how the money being spent per pupil reaches upward of $20,000 at some institutions per year. At some schools in the suburban Front Range area, that number is approximately $10,000.

Linton takes the official Republican position on gun rights which “opposes legislation such as assault weapons bans, high-capacity magazine bans, and registering ammunition” as they are “intended to restrict our Second Amendment rights.” Citing, of course, District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 which ruled that their ban on firearms violated constitutional rights. Speaking of the erosion of constitutional rights, he also questions the authority of the National Security Agency (NSA) and The Patriot Act signed into law by George Bush in 2001.

Linton doesn’t have a Twitter or Facebook, but feel free to check him out on Linkedin or CrowdPac.

In conclusion, be sure to take each of these positions into consideration before heading to the polls. The last day to vote is November 8th. If you don’t live in the vicinity of the 2nd congressional district, please do check out the rest of the Colorado House of Representative candidates at Ballotpedia.

A Quiet Resource: FRCC’s Library has Something for Everyone

library1

Written By: Josh Speer

Photos By: Alex Liethen

The College Hill Library, a joint public-academic operation between Front Range Community College of Westminster and Westminster Public Libraries, is no doubt a thriving location. There is a lot going on; everything from weekly programs to aid in learning a second language to various book and writing clubs. It also happens to be the location of our campus Math and Writing centers where students can go to get extra help from a tutor at no cost to them. The public can also go for computer access, fax and scan services.

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Yes, that is Darth Vader and R2D2 welcoming you to the library!

There is a weekly program to help those learning English as a second language. ESL students can get help to improve their conversation skills on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 am and evenings at 6:30 pm, and then Thursdays at 9:30 am. There is also a Spanish conversation program on Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30 pm to help those learning the Spanish language establish fluency. Social engagement is an essential component in helping to establish fluency when attempting to learn any second language. The new friends you’ll make is just an added bonus!

Aside from weekly programs, there are also a number of special programs that take place. There was a ‘Banned Books Week’ that began on September 26th and ended on October 1st. According to Westminster Public Libraries latest Month at a Glance publication, the point of the event is to “celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of the first amendment”. Featured were books that have been challenged across the country over the past couple of years (even decades!). There are also events for children and teens; such as ‘Totally Terrific Tales’ program for ages 6-8 on Tuesday, September 26th from 4:00-5:00 pm (call 303-658-2606 to register) and a ‘Teen Advisory Board’ where ages 12-17 can earn volunteer hours for posting reviews on the Teen Underground website and promoting library services to other teens at the Westminster Public Libraries (no registration required).

The Math Center, library4located at L280 (in library), is an academic lab staffed by campus faculty where any FRCC student can go to get assistance for any level of mathematics. During the fall and spring semesters, it is open from Monday through Thursday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Friday from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, and Saturday from 1:00-4:00 pm. The Writing Center, located at L264, exists to help students develop their skills as a writer and is open to anyone enrolled in a course with a reading, writing, or speaking component. They’re open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and Friday from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Many of the textbooks that students use are available as loaners at the library as well. If you left your book at home or need to look up a formula from last years math class, you can talk to the friendly librarians at the front desk and borrow the book for a few minutes to a few hours. Of course there are non-textbooks available to checkout or to borrow for a few minutes to look up a piece of information.

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A beautiful view can ease the stress of studying- fortunately our library has many windows with stunning views!

The library is also a great place to find a quiet place to get your homework finished or prepare for your next test. There are tables, chairs and nooks and crannies all over the place where you can settle in for some quiet study time. Computers are also available for students to use as well. Being on the West side of the building, the views over the Westminster and the Front Range mountains are stunning and provide a nice, naturally lit area to study.

As you can see, the College Hill Library is a busy place. Where students and other members of the community come for both work and play, and the resources to do so are plentiful. Whether your interest lies in a weekly program, special event, or learning resource, there are plenty of reasons to go check it out. What are you waiting for?

Electives: Creating a Well-Rounded Student

By Jacob Hallberg

Each day continues to pass and the knowledge base of the summer semester students grows. Their minds filled with new information and ways to help shape them into a better, more rounded employee or individual of society. However, often times many of the classes we take as undergraduates don’t directly relate towards our degree, they are still required.

If you’re are in any way similar to me, you may have pondered the question of why. Why must we as students be required to take so many classes that don’t directly influence our capacity in our chosen field of research and study? The answer may elude some, but the underlying message maintains a strong hold within our education society.

Some students have their entire college path carved out and push to complete each step. The electives seem to be a hindrance at first, but in reality they are there to shape you into a better student.

As a Computer Science major many of the electives I take have no immediate effect on my success in my field, but after questioning the importance of some classes I came to the realization that the electives are actually shaping me into a better student overall. They give me the opportunity to expand my otherwise narrow horizons and give me the chance to improve in other areas of study rather than my chosen path of study. Additionally, some classes are able to directly improve my likelihood of success by giving me the skills that enable a successful career path. For example, taking business classes enables students to learn more about the business side of everyday aspects and can help an entrepreneur student create a successful business that they otherwise would have lacked knowledge to successfully create.

Similarly, students who are unsure of what area of study they would like to choose may take electives. If students had no electives, then the undeclared student would be potentially wasting years of time by taking classes until they find what major they are interested in. The current setup of our educational system allows for students to take many electives and hopefully, after a few years of electives, the previously undeclared student finds a prospective interest.

Not all electives are completely unrelated towards a degree. Typically, there are three different types of electives that are available for students when completing a degree. Free electives, which any course will fulfill, area of study electives, which are often pre-selected types of classes within a program, and general education electives, which are designed to help create a well-rounded intellectual within a society.

One example of a required elective for many degree programs is the public speaking course. Public speaking aims to teach students how to successfully materialize their thoughts while in front of often times large groups of individuals. In many working environments employees may be required to stand up in front of their fellow coworkers and give a presentation on their part of a specific work project. For example, if you work as a financial analyst at a small company and the quarterly meeting is scheduled, your employer may require you to give an informational presentation on the current state of the company’s finances and how they might improve their margin of loss.

Overall, electives offer students more than just a fulfillment of time. Students should aim to take electives that they feel will improve their ability to be a successful member of society and a competitive force within the job market. Electives are in place to create well-rounded students and broaden their access to further information. If you are interested in what electives you should take to become a well-rounded student, please contact an education counselor here at Front Range Community College.

Important Fall Dates and Deadlines

By Jacob Hallberg

The summer semester is nearing its end and students are scrambling to finish up the last assignments and tests. Often times, students can feel overwhelmed with the many different deadlines that come with a new school semester. With so many upcoming, these final weeks can become a blur.

The New Student Orientation for the Westminster Campus occurs on August 17. New students are given a great opportunity to familiarize themselves with the campus at large. Students can bring their schedules to the New Student Orientation event as well to have their classes mapped out for them. Additionally, event staff can find your books in the bookstore to make your transition into Front Range Community College a seamless experience. Meeting fellow students is another perk of attending the event. Previously attending students can introduce you to key members of staff that enable fluidity within our college environment. With so many great benefits available for new students, the New Student Orientation event is a key fall semester event.

Students can start using financial aid in the bookstore starting August 16th. With this option, students select their books from the store, new and used (when available) copies are both options as well as notebooks, folders, pens and pencils, paint and some basic supplies for technical programs such as EMS and Nursing. Instead of paying cash, the cost of the supplies are put on the student’s account and are added to the tuition bill. When financial aid money is distributed, the cost of the books are taken from the funds (as well as tuition) before refunds are granted.

The tuition payment deadline for the fall semester is on August 18, and if you register for classes after the 18th, your payment will be due by midnight on the Tuesday following the day you register. If these requirements are not met any registered classes will be dropped. For more information and a more detailed breakdown of the payment schedule, click here.

All classes begin on August 22, including 15-,12-,10-week and the first 7.5- and 5-week classes. Students should make sure that they have the required course materials before this date as many class schedules begin immediately on the first day of class. Usually a notebook and a pencil is enough for most classes until they give you more information about the required materials. Often you can look up what books you need through ewolf as well as ask during New Student Orientation and at the bookstore.

September 6, is the last day to drop 15-week classes with a refund. However, classes are still able to be dropped until November 19. During this period of time any class dropped will be marked as a withdrawn class with a W recorded.Visit FrontRange.edu for more important deadline dates and information.

FRCC’s Newest Award Winning Program

Front Range Community College has an award winning program housed on campus that you may not have heard of, the Gateway to College program. At the end of June, PJ Travin, the Assistant Director of the Gateway to College Program, and Andy Dorsey, the President of FRCC, traveled to Minneapolis, MN to accept the award. Travin recently shared what the Gateway to College program is and why FRCC won the award.

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Gateway To College’s office on the FRCC-Westminster Campus

“The award is specifically for our graduation rate from the previous year (2014). So that implies it (the graduation rate) was for the prior two years since typically our students are in the program for two years. Almost 300 graduates have gone through the program in 8 years but we had almost 50 graduates that year.”

This was the first year that the award was handed out and it is quite an honor for FRCC to have received it given the demographic of students the program supports and because of the award’s alignment with values of FRCC. As Travin states, “Front Range’s mission is Diversity and Inclusion and helping community and this is the premise of the Gateway to College program.”

According to their website, the aim of the Gateway to College Network is to “support communities in building sustainable pathways for disconnected youth (former high school dropouts) to a high school diploma and a meaningful college credential.” Travin provides more detail;

The “(Gateway to College) Pilot program ran out of Portland Community College 12-13 years ago that Bill and Melinda Gates thought was cool and they threw in a bunch of funding. They don’t still fund it, however they originally funded it and created a national network for it.” There are around 41 different programs in 21 states and the program here started in 2008. The program here, and in the other 40 programs included in the Network, provides an alternative schooling environment for students who are struggling in a traditional, high school classroom.

“What we do is take students who are at risk of dropping out of high school or have dropped out of high school and they come to us and they have to go through a somewhat rigorous process to be accepted into the program.” Travin expands on the enrollment process;

“The process involves attending an information session where I talk about the program for an hour and a half, they have to prove they can read at an 8th grade level and take the accuplacer where they have to test into at least MAT-050 and CCR-092. After, we interview each student where we do a one-on-one interview and then as a staff decide if each student is a good fit for the program. The district also needs to approve the student so they essentially get approved twice.”

The at risk students that he refers to include students who are enrolled in high school but don’t have the credits they should for their grade level, students who are struggling with substance abuse issues, a parent (or parent to be) that had to take time off to raise their child or simply a student whose learning style isn’t well suited for a traditional high school classroom.

Students get referred to the program by their school district and FRCC works with five different districts in the surrounding community; Adams County, Brighton, Mapleton, Jefferson County and Westminster Public Schools.

“These districts can refer students to us, which can be (referred by) a high school counselor to the principal to an administrator and even from other students. So students get to us through all different ways.”

The program is essentially a scholarship for the students as the Gateway to College program pays for their tuition. The school district that the student is coming from ultimately pays FRCC for the student’s tuition.

Students in the Gateway program are enrolled in more than just CORE curriculum classes. As a part of their first semester at FRCC, Gateway students are required to take a Foundations Semester, as Travin refers to it, which is a college preparedness and success course load. Students take MAT-050, CCR-092 and AAA-090 (an academic skills and college readiness class). The course is taught by the staff of FRCC’s Gateway to College Program. These Master’s level instructors also serve as the student’s counselor, tutor and mentor.

The class really focuses on the barriers to the student’s success in school, which may include outside of school social struggles, family issues or money/poverty problems, to name only a few. As well as addressing these barriers, the faculty also help students learn how to take notes, how to prepare for a test, how to budget time and other related skills that are necessary to thrive in a college environment. This extra support is especially important due to the demographics that the program serves, which can be seen in these charts that Travin provided. The first-generation college student statistics really highlight this importance.

One of the truly beneficial features of the program is the fact that, after the initial semester, the students are able to earn both high school as well as college credit and some students graduate high school, at 18, having also completed many requirements for an Associate’s degree.

“If they do well in that first semester, do well in their classes, then they move on and become a continuing student. What that means is that they are taking college classes (with the larger FRCC population) and they are dually enrolled, meaning they are getting college and high school credit.”

In addition to needing to meet the enrollment requirements for traditional FRCC students, Gateway to College students must attend at least 85% of their classes, be enrolled in the college success course (what Travin refers to as homeroom) each semester, achieve C’s or better in all their classes and show improvement in their soft skills, which includes good communication, utilization of resources, time management and overall quality of work and effort put into their schooling.

FRCC’s Gateway Program has seats for 105 students, which makes it one of the larger programs of its kind in the nation. The program usually runs at capacity as well and in most semesters there is more demand than the school can supply. The acknowledgment from the Gateway to College Network reflects just how successful FRCC’s program really is because semester-by-semester retention, as well as graduation rates, are the two most important ways the program can measure its success.

“This award is won on how many students we graduated and the percentage of students who were in the program who should graduate and who then did graduate at the time they should. So of the 41 programs in the country, we are one of the top five.”

Travin provided some of the most recent statistics about enrollment and the success of the program. “During 2014 – 2015 (the award year), we served a total of 164 students and had 60 graduates

  • Our students pass their classes with C’s or better at a 71% rate
  • Our average graduate has earned 27 college credits
  • We have a 74% Fall-to-Fall retention rate
  • 52% of our students stay at FRCC and continue into the college and another 10% transfer to another 2 or 4-year institution, so 62% of our graduates go on with their college (of the ones we can track).”

We are very fortunate as students to be a part of a campus and community that offers such wonderful programs which are designed to set students up for success during their college careers as well as into the future. As students, we are surrounded in forward thinking, service oriented programs. From Gateway to College to the TriO program to all of the academic advisors and tutoring services available, there is support and help available for all types of students and all manner of needs.

For more information on FRCC’s Gateway to College Program, check out their Facebook page, FRCC Gateway to College, and the Gateway to College Networks site Gateway to College Network. If you know a student who could benefit from this program or just want more information on the services offered, contact PJ Travin at PJ.Travin@frontrange.edu.

Written by Alex Liethen

Photo by Alex Liethen

A Message of Acceptance and Tolerance

Written by Alex Liethen

Photos courtesy of The Denver Post

The 14th Dalai Lama visited Boulder on Thursday, marking his first visit to the state since 1997 and given his age, 81, potentially his last. Along with many others in attendance, it has been a dream of mine to attend a teaching of his for decades. On June 23rd, that dream was finally realized.

The teaching was held on the CU-Boulder Campus, in the Coors Event Center. It was a warm and sunny morning when I pulled up on my bike, about an hour before the scheduled 9:30 start time of the teaching. The crowds grew thicker as you approached the center. Bikes were locked to every sign, tree and bench in site, in typical Boulder fashion. Streets were closed off with yellow vest clad officers directing pedestrians and cars alike. I heard at least five languages spoken among the diverse crowd; English, Spanish, Tibetan, Chinese and British. I sat next to a kind lady from Pennsylvania. People travelled from far and wide to see the Dalai Lama speak.

The lines to get in snaked around the building as everyone was funneled through metal detectors. The energy inside, as it was in line, was excited yet calm, just as you would expect at a Buddhist centered event. The teaching was hosted by the Tibetan Association of Colorado and the influence of Tibetan culture could be seen in the goods being sold and the adornments of the stage.

The teachings were preceded by short speeches from Boulder Congressman Jared Polis and Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones. Polis welcomed the Dalai Lama to Boulder and showered him with praise; “It takes a man of peace to be a man for peace.” He managed to sprinkle in some political statements and thoughts, including the recent Orlando nightclub shooting and the sit-in that was taking place in Congress as he was speaking and which he needed to return to Washington, D.C. for. He was greeted with raucous applause at the mention.

Mayor Jones also greeted the Dalai Lama and welcomed him to Boulder. In her speech, she claimed “I would be remiss to not present you with some gifts” after which she gave him a bicycle jersey and helmet. With the all-knowing grin that only an enlightened individual seems to have, he slung the shirt over his shoulder and donned the helmet. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, the reincarnation of Buddha and one of the most recognizable figures in the world, wore the white bike helmet for the next 10 minutes, through the remainder of the introductions and welcome speeches. In a world filled with political correctness and cultural customs, he is the only person of his stature that can get away with wearing a bike helmet through any significant portion of an event that has the eyes of a nation focused on it. It was comical and refreshing and really helped set a tone of acceptance and humility, concepts that would come up in his teachings that followed.

Dalai Lama Bike Helmet
Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones with the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama started the teachings by immediately invoking an analogy created from the bike helmet. He spoke about the helmet being for safety while using a bike to get from place to place. He likened Buddhism to that bike helmet in that it can be a safety net for our mind and body, which get us around in this life. He was quick to transition into what would become a major theme of the first half of the two-hour teaching; acceptance of others. Partly delivered in his native Tibetan (then translated) and partly in English, he talked about the importance of accepting other people’s belief systems and the need to understand that all the major religions try to teach the same principle, love. He stressed that Buddhism might be the path for some but that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism are paths that are more appropriate for others. The path isn’t what’s important he says, finding yours is.

“’My religion’ turns religion from an altruistic tool to a weapon. A strong sense of ‘this is my___ (fill in almost anything) causes a sense of ownership, which create negative emotions- anger.”

This message is especially relevant in the social climate world-wide and in America as it regards religious faith and people’s strong sense of this is my religion or country or right and I need to defend it. The message that he strongly associated with tolerance of others was being altruistic, especially when it comes to one’s spiritual practice and generally how we interact with those around us.

“To practice altruism, you need to practice tolerance.”

His talk was periodically interrupted by his deep, guttural yet highly soothing chuckle, usually instigated by something he said that he found amusing. These brief laughs, which brought a smile to the face of everyone in the audience, help keep the mood light while addressing important, contentious issues.

The Dalai Lama also had some messages and lessons for students, but they are ones that everyone can, and should, apply. “I’m 81 years old and I’m still a student. When I have time, I read and think, which, I think, is good.” He does mention that he wasn’t always this way. “When I was young, I was lazy, I didn’t want to study, I wanted to pray.” This statement elicited his belly laugh, as well as laughs from most of the audience.

In a phrase that could have come out of a commencement address but one that was highly appropriate for the setting, the Dalai Lama sums up how we can make a difference in the world.

“To change, we must start with 1 person. Then multiply by 10, 100, 1000. That is how we change.”

This concluded the first half of this teaching. The second half was devoted to the theme of the event, which came from a Buddhist text and is called “Eight Verses of Training the Mind.” The text that he taught from was very appropriate to follow-up the teachings on tolerance and acceptance because it focuses on eight practices that can be adopted to develop a compassionate and altruistic mind.

Compassion in Action
BOULDER, CO – June 23: His Holiness the Dalai Lama duplicates sign language from an audience member expressing ”I love you” during the Compassion in Action event at the Coors Events Center June 23, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Instead of just reading the Eight Verses, which as he stated are fairly clearly laid out in the concise text, he talked about how to practice the lessons contained in the verses while tying them back to the earlier lessons. He talked about specific methods to meditation and contrasted single-pointed meditation- focusing on the breath is an example- verses analytical meditation, which is meditating by repeating a mantra or focusing on a word or topic such as love.

“Single-pointed meditation is one path and is beneficial but analytical meditation is more important, better, for the mind.”

The Dalai Lama concluded the teaching by having everyone join in with a recitation of the 8th Verse (see below) three times, followed by reciting a few Buddhist mantras three times as well. He then thanked everyone in attendance, bowed, and gracefully and humbly walked off the stage.

The teachings of Buddhism, and the Dalai Lama, can be highly beneficial for all people, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or religious background. Meditation practices can help students through the stress of school. For more information on Buddhism in the Boulder area, check out;

Tibetan Association of Colorado

Boulder Shambhala Center

 

The Eight Verses on Training the Mind.

 

1.       With the wish to achieve the highest aim, which surpasses even a wish fulfilling gem, for the benefit of all sentient beings, may I hold them dear at all times. 2.       Whenever I interact with another, may I view myself as the lowest among all and, from the very depths of my heart, hold others as superior.
3.       In all my activities may I probe my mind, and as soon as an affliction arises- since it endangers myself and others- may I confront it directly and avert it. 4.       When I encounter beings of unpleasant character and those oppressed by intense negativity and suffering, as though finding a treasure of precious jewels, may I cherish them, for they are so rarely found.
5.       When others out of jealousy treat me wrongly with abuse and slander, may I take upon myself the defeat and offer to others the victory. 6.       Even if someone I have helped or in whom I have placed great hope gravely mistreats me in hurtful ways, may I view him as my sublime teacher.
7.       In brief, may I offer benefit and joy to all my mothers, both directly and indirectly, and may I quietly take upon myself all the hurts and pains of my mothers. 8.       May all of this remain unsullied by the stains of the eight mundane concerns, and, by understanding all things as illusions, free of clinging, may I be released from bondage.