Author Archives: Keenan Cobb
Congratulations to Ferdinando Castro, who recently won the Hall of Honor Medal for Phi Theta Kappa. He is one of seven students in Texas, which has a total of 55 Phi Theta Kappa chapters, to win this award.
Ferdinando is an international student from Venezuela, speaks five languages, is a former professional athlete and completed 300 hours of service-learning last semester, earning the President’s Volunteer Service Award – Silver. This semester, he is going for gold, which requires completion of 500 service hours in a year. He is involved in 14 student organizations at Richland, he is the SGA Region 2 Resolution Committee Chair who led the creation of several resolutions with fellow SGA members and he recently presented original research at the Richland Honors Conference on Gun Violence Prevention. Fernando will graduate in Dec. 2020 with the designation of Richland Honors Scholar, the highest honors designation available at Richland.
“I am honored knowing that thousands of chapters in the nation apply for this award, and very few students are able to win it,” said Ferdinando. “Volunteering is important to me because I experienced what happens when communities do not support each other.”
When he lived in Venezuela, Ferdinando was a professional athlete in two different sports. His twin brother (a current Richland student) and his older brother (a former Richland soccer player and student) convinced him to visit them in Texas when the political and economic system in Venezuela started to fail and showed no signs of recovery. He resisted at first because he was living with his mother in Venezuela and playing soccer professionally, but his path became clear when a serious injury resulting from an illegal tackle ended his career.
“I regret that I was not involved in my communities back then, so I decided to take this opportunity as a chance to grow as a human being,” explained Ferdinando. “I do not want anyone to go through what my country is experiencing right now, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that it does not happen. I was not sure how to do so though, so my response was to join as many organizations as I could and volunteer for as much as it was possible. It turned out that I was able to do more than I thought I could, and in doing so, help others feel more motivated as well. So, it has become a passion for me and a fulfilling way of living.”
He is working hard to get the gold presidential volunteering service award this year to prove that an international student can get this type of recognition from the White House. He also thought it would look nice for the Hospitality, Exhibition and Event Management Club to have recorded hours of service to the community. His involvement led to many students and clubs wanting to be more active on campus and asking Ferdinando for advice on how to do that. Being an inspiration helped motivate him to keep trying. Finally, he loves volunteering because he always likes to aim to be better, and he loves a good challenge.
Last semester, Ferdinando completed 275 hours of community service, and this semester he has more than 350 hours (and he is still doing some despite being quarantined). “I believe that now, more than ever, it is important to show that no matter the circumstances in which we are living, we can still achieve our goals; moreover, our communities need help more than ever,” he said.
Ferdinando is currently pursuing his associate degree in Applied Science in HEEM at Richland College, where he expects to graduate in fall 2020. He then plans to transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree and become a meeting and event planner. “I plan to create events where people gather to share ideas on how to improve our world or to provide a better community service,” Ferdinando explained. “I am fascinated by how much human interaction can shape our world, by giving them a tool to have a better future. After earning my bachelor’s degree, my goal is to be able to work internationally and help as many other cultures as possible. I want to make an impact and create international events where we can ensure a better future for the next generations.”
If there is one thing Ferdinando has learned, it’s that life is unpredictable. All he can do is focus on what’s ahead of him and take every opportunity that is available. He hopes that he can reach those who are feeling limited or hopeless and inspire them to take action.
“I was not aiming to obtain recognitions; I just wanted to be engaged in my communities and to give back to the institution that gave me a second chance in life,” he said. “Before I started this path, I was depressed, feeling alone in a country that seemed to despise my culture, and not knowing exactly what to do after losing everything I built. My goal was only to learn from my past mistakes and to help others, and in the process of doing so, I obtained so much more than I asked. I am now happy, full of wonderful people I can call friends all over the world, and I have a clearer objective in life. If I was able to do so, I guarantee you that anybody can as long as they take actions and stay authentic.”
“We are thankful for Ferdinando’s engagement with Richland and the DCCCD and his influence on the entire state of Texas,” said Kathleen Stephens, honors program director. “His engagement has made our college, state and country a better place, and we can learn much from his example, engagement and excellence.”
Congratulations to Ferdinando and thank you for all your service to the community!
The Richland College Food Pantry donated more than one ton of food to the North Texas Food Bank in our service area. The 101 boxes of food, totaling 2,902 lbs., were brought to the Network of Community Ministries in Richardson on Apr. 20.
“Thank you for the tremendous contribution of 2,902 pounds of non-perishable food from Richland College’s Food Pantry to the Network of Community Ministries in Richardson!” said Kay Eggleston, president of Richland College. “Amidst so much uncertainty for so many students and families in our community, this donation, and the assistance of Facilities Staff to make it happen, exemplify our enduring Thunderduck spirit. I am uplifted by knowing that our hearts will always be larger than any challenge we face. Many thanks to all for this tremendous team effort.”
The food delivered included:
- 43 boxes of peanut butter, with 12 jars in each box
- 4 bags of white rice
- 13 boxes of Cup Noodles
- 18 boxes of macaroni and cheese
- 4 boxes of peach snacks
- 9 boxes of beef soup
- 6 boxes of beans cans
- 4 boxes of potato flakes
All seven of the DCCCD colleges are sending their food bank food to other food banks and community partners in the area to help those who are hungry during the COVID-19 crisis. With campuses currently shut down because of the pandemic, and with no students around to patronize the food banks, the decision was made to clear the shelves and help the greater Dallas/Ft. Worth community.
Thanks to the Facilities Services colleagues who helped move the boxes of food and all the Thunderducks who have donated food to the Richland Food Pantry!
Read about one of our outstanding alumni, Ari Rastegar, who was recently featured in a Forbes article! Ari is the CEO of the Texas-based Rastegar Property and one of the youngest investors in commercial projects across the state. Forbes recently covered his story and deemed him as the “Dallas Real Estate Underdog.”
The story mentions Richland College, stating how Ari went here for a semester before graduating from Texas A&M University, then going on to get a law degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Now, his firm boasts a multimillion-dollar diversified portfolio and builds commercial real estate in Dallas, Austin, Phoenix and other areas.
Read the full article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/candaceevans/2019/09/03/ari-rastegar-the-dallas-real-estate-underdog/#5e3446974548.
For the sixth year in a row, Richland College partnered with Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, to host part of a four-week summer camp for young women focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. The girls were at Richland June 10-14.
“The girls are living proof that the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts,” said Simona Farcasiu, with the School of Engineering and Technology. “It takes a community to encourage girls to overcome challenges and pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields, and it was a great joy to watch the returning group of girls act as mentors to the rookies.”
This year, Richland College hosted two groups of girls – rookie eight graders and returning ninth graders. The returning group participated in biology/chemistry camp led by Libiya Shah and Becki Williams, where they learned about the water cycle and tested various water samples. The eighth graders participated in engineering/math camp, led by Simona Farcasiu and Praveena Dhayanithy, where they learned how math concepts are applied in engineering. Some applications included resistor color codes as applications of exponents and measuring sine waves as applications of trig.
In addition, both groups participated in a digital literacy camp led by Melinda Andrews, where they investigated their digital footprint and online safety. Also, the girls utilized their special reasoning skills when building lamps in art camp, led by Vicki Mayhan. Finally, both groups performed a beautiful dance routine symbolic of the Gestalt theory, “the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts,” led by Gina Sawyer.
Guests speakers during the camp included Martha Hogan, former executive dean for the School of Engineering and Technology, who spoke about the importance of education and addressed various pathways for achieving a degree and moving into a career in STEM. Sparsula Simmons, PMP, CSM manager at State Farm, led the girls into explorations of what it takes to be successful in a career and reminded the girls that they have the keys to success. Two Richland College police officers, Corporal Brooks and Officer Lopez, led a discussion with the girls about various issues.
“Throughout the camp, the girls impressed us with their depth of thought, openness to new ideas and support for each other,” added Simona.
Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas serves a diverse population of 1,000 girls, ages 6 to 18, in the Greater Dallas area. The organization focuses on the development of the whole girl through a combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment and research-based programming that equips girls to lead fulfilling and productive lives, break the cycle of poverty and become role models in their communities. For more information, visit https://girlsincdallas.org.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this event another success!
The Richland College Student Green Team, in partnership with the World Wear Project Green Fundraiser Program, is inviting all employees, students and the local community to donate unused clothing, shoes and other textiles. The Student Green Team will earn 12 cents per pound to help fund educational resources, project materials and supplies, field trips, team T-shirt expenses and recognition awards.
The World Wear Project clothing bin will be temporarily located in parking lot E, near the Walnut Street entrance of Richland College. Donation boxes will also be located for item drop-offs in the El Paso Hallway.
By donating your gently used shoes, clothing, purses, belts, wallets, hats, caps, backpacks, stuffed animals, toys, pots and pans, you will help divert thousands of pounds of waste from local landfills. Many of the donated items will ship globally to help businesses and disaster victims.
For questions, please contact Sonia Ford at ext. 6109 or email@example.com.
Congratulations to Richland basketball player Caleb Williams, who was recently named First Team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American! Caleb has played guard on the men’s basketball team under Coach Jon Havens for two years. For the 2018-19 season, he averaged 19.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
“Perseverance,” said Jon, when asked to describe one thing that sticks out to him about Caleb. “Caleb lost his memory after taking a hit in football his senior year of high school, and he had to re-learn most everything. He had to red-shirt and not play basketball his first year out of high school. He then transferred to Richland and has maintained a 3.0 GPA while here. He went from a player that averaged 8 points per game as a freshman to a player that averaged 19.9 points and 8.5 rebounds during his sophomore season, leading his team to a Region Championship and third place finish in the nation.”
After graduating with his associate degree from Richland this May, Caleb will attend East Central University in Ada, OK, on a full athletic scholarship in the fall. He will be majoring in kinesiology with the hopes of becoming a physical therapist after graduation.
The Dallas County Community College District always has been defined not by whom we exclude, but by whom we include. We do not know the impact on our students of the recent executive order regarding immigration to the United States by residents of certain countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). We do know that at least 47 DCCCD students are from these countries.
Undoubtedly, enormous confusion has occurred around the world, in our country and within the higher education community regarding the implications of this executive order. Let me be clear: the network approach to higher education makes it necessary for us to connect our students to the resources they need as they encounter barriers to their future success. While we do not know what the impact will be on our students, we stand ready to provide and/or direct them to the resources that will help them make the most informed decisions about their personal situation.
This immigration situation is evolving and changing and, because of the many lawsuits that have been filed, it is impossible to know how it will be resolved. In spite of uncertainty, we have put in place several strategies to help expedite sharing information with students who potentially could be affected.
To help provide information in a timely fashion, I have asked that we set up a dedicated email to address questions or concerns. We will do our best to guide any questions we receive at firstname.lastname@example.org to the appropriate resources.
We are actively assisting a number of community organizations that are both willing and able to provide support to our students or employees. We have provided a list of these resources to each college office that is responsible for international student admissions and advising. I want to thank these individuals for their willingness to meet with and listen to the concerns of our students.
We continue to monitor developments related to the order, and we are working with peer institutions, universities and national associations to understand and best address its implications and any changes that may result from pending litigation. That being said, all colleges and universities are in exactly the same situation – we are learning as we move forward, and there is no precedent for a situation of this nature.
For more than 50 years, we have welcomed students, faculty and staff from around the world. That culture of diversity and inclusiveness has become an essential component of the DCCCD community, and it is reflected in our policies, which prohibit discrimination in any form. When I arrived at DCCCD in 2014, I began immediately to talk with our leadership, faculty and staff about the importance of integrating global learning into our curriculum, noting that today we live and work in an international economy.
I want to assure you that I value the diversity of our faculty, staff and students and that DCCCD is committed to fully engaging the wealth of thought, purpose, circumstance, background, skill and experiences shared in this community.
Although the current environment related to immigration is unsettled, I remain focused on our purpose: to equip students for effective living and responsible global citizenship. We stand with you as we continue to build a community of teaching and learning through integration and collaboration, openness and integrity, and inclusiveness and self-renewal.
Chancellor Joe May
Derek Cornelius, like many other student veterans on campuses of the Dallas County Community College District, wants to give back to the community and help other veterans.
As he reflects on the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, the 46-year-old Army veteran, who is studying welding at Mountain View College, said he wants to go beyond honoring veterans’ service.
“It is a chance for me, as an individual, to recognize them for their service, especially Vietnam veterans,” Cornelius said. “That’s a group of veterans who really got the short end of the stick when they returned. As much as I appreciate people recognizing me and thanking me, it humbles me more than it makes me feel good.”
Cornelius, who deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 attacks, said he hopes to help in the future with vocational rehabilitation at the Veterans Administration. “It’s about reaching out, giving back and getting with individuals with disabilities to help them out,” he added.
Christopher Gaytan, who served in the Marine Corps and who deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007, shares Cornelius’ feelings.
“I know I’m a veteran, but I also look at folks who were in the Vietnam War or who were in Desert Storm. I really respect those veterans because they went through some stuff that most other folks can’t even imagine,” Gaytan said. “When I see somebody who is homeless and find out that he or she is a veteran, I wish I could do more for them.”
Serving those who have served
Ken Wisdom, who served in the Army from 1983 to 1988 and who now is studying to become a social worker, said some veterans are coming to back to the country from the Middle East and are having trouble adjusting.
“I would like to help, if I can,” said Wisdom, who did not deploy during his time in the military. “I had it so easy, so they should have it as easy as possible. I want to help them get the resources they need, whether educational, financial or medical.”
Wisdom added that many of his family members served in the military. His two grandfathers served during World War II, two of his uncles served in Korea, and one uncle served in Vietnam, he said.
“Veterans Day gives me a moment to reflect on my relatives who have served in the military. It gives me a moment to be proud of the fact that I’m part of what enables us to hold elections and have the greatest country in the world,” Wisdom said.
Janet Davis, vice president of the Student Veterans of America at Eastfield College, served in the Army from 1978 to 1984. She said she is studying business administration and hopes to transfer to a four-year university after she earns her associate degree.
Davis said she started in the medical field in the Army, and she hopes her degree will help her get a job in a medical office, where she could help other veterans.
“When someone says to me on Veterans Day, ‘Thank you for your service,’ it brings joy to my heart. I feel like I made a difference,” said Davis. “But I still want to give back to my country. I hope someday I can work in a military environment so that I can make a difference in veterans’ lives. I don’t care when they went in or out; we’re still veterans.”
Francisco De La Rosa, 53, retired last year as a sergeant first class from the Texas National Guard after serving in the Army for 31 years. He deployed to Iraq twice, once for Desert Storm in the early 1990s and a second time for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009, and he also served as a peace keeper in Kosovo.
De La Rosa said he had 17-year-old soldiers under his leadership, and he always promised their families that he would bring them back alive, which he did. He said he is honored that people in the U.S. recognize him for his service, but he would rather see other veterans receive the honors on Veterans Day.
“I’m appreciative and honored, but I didn’t do it for the pay or the benefits. I just wanted to serve,” De La Rosa said. “I didn’t want recognition when I joined. I wanted to do my job and help maintain our way of life in the U.S.”
De’Corian Land is majoring in general studies at Eastfield, but he said he hopes to transfer to North Lake College in the future to study logistics because that was his specialty while he was in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. The 24-year-old from Terrell, Texas, served in Afghanistan and is now in the Army Reserve. He said he is planning to go to the Veterans Day parade in Dallas on Friday to honor those who have served.
“Veterans Day is about remembrance – remembering and recognizing everyone who served before me,” he said.
Joshua Moreland, a disabled Navy veteran who operated weapons systems as a fire controlman, said he doesn’t consider Veterans Day a recognition of his service.
“I look at it as a recognition to other veterans, even those who are still on active duty,” said Moreland, who is studying internet development through online classes at both Richland and El Centro colleges. “I don’t consider it an honor to me. A big part of it is that, even as a disabled vet, I have my life, and I can’t help but feel blessed having all four limbs and being sound of mind.”
Moreland said people who go into the military do it selflessly and many give all for their country – and civilians should understand that. He added that he wants to start his own web development company after he finishes his studies and then use his business to help other veterans.
Veterans Day: More than sales and discounts
Naomi Zachery, who served in the Army from 2011 to 2015 and who now attends El Centro, said too many veterans are struggling. “Getting free food and discounts doesn’t help us. Too many saw combat, and they’re broken. It takes them years to get over that. Veterans Day should be about helping out those veterans,” Zachery said.
Eastfield’s Gaytan said Veterans Day should be more about having respect for those who served before him. “It’s not so much getting a free meal. We should think about the folks who didn’t get back and who fought for us. Just remember those vets, the guys who are here. I want to try to take care of them,” he said.
Veterans can take advantage of financial aid
Jessica Jenkins, coordinator of the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success at Eastfield and a Navy veteran, said she helps veterans process and receive the military educational benefits they are entitled to receive.
“As a veteran, I can relate to other veterans, and I understand the things that they may be concerned with,” said Jenkins. “I can help veterans fill out their education benefits application and help them understand the differences between the benefits they may be eligible for before they apply.”
Jenkins added that there are several types of financial aid that a veteran might be able receive, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Texas Hazlewood program and other assistance. But she said veterans have to make sure that they apply early because the VA can take up to six weeks to process their applications.
DALLAS – Richland College, of the Dallas County Community College District, is one of only two Texas institutions awarded a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor during a ceremony hosted by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Washington, D.C., on Mon., Sept. 29.
This $3.25 million grant will help equip Richland College train Texans who require new job skills for immediate employment. By leveraging Richland’s existing manufacturing and electronics technology programs, partnerships with 14 Dallas employers, the City of Garland, the City of Richardson and the Metroplex Technology Business Council with TAACCCT grant funds, the Veterans-Focused Engineering Technology Project (VFETP) will meet the needs of local veterans and others who seek training to enter or re-enter the local job market.
The VFETP offers associate degrees (with credit-applicable education or experience) in manufacturing and electronics technology. The program also will offer certificates in electromechanical maintenance, advanced design for manufacturing, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). The curricula will follow national credentialing standards from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) and the International Society of Certified Electronic Technicians (ISCET). Richland College’s employer partners include Alexandria Industries; Atlas Copco; the City of Richardson, Texas; DW Distribution; Garland Power & Light; Kenney Industries; Oncor; QT Manufacturing; Raytheon; Romeo Engineering; Smart GeoMetrics; Texas Instruments; the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; the North Texas chapter of the National Tooling & Machining Association; and the Metroplex Technology Business Council. Richland College will collaborate with Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas to identify potential students, including veterans, as well.
The employer partners have committed to hiring program completers, supporting curriculum development, offering internships and providing on-the-job training for students.
Dr. Kathryn K. Eggleston, president of Richland College, said, “With TAACCCT funds, Richland College is strategically positioned to bridge critical gaps of two kinds: one between the workforce and specialized employment training and the other between that workforce and local employer needs. The VFETP is designed to help Texans access training, to help them succeed in completing training and to match program completers with jobs in growing industries.”
Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor, said, “The Dallas County Community College District focuses on job-driven training and and partnerships that can help rebuild America’s middle class. The grant received by Richland College means that we can train students – veterans, in particular – in fields that will continue to grow and which offer jobs now in the fields of advanced manufacturing, mechatronics and electronics manufacturing. We support economic and workforce development, and this grant enables Richland College to involve industry partners, support our communities and assist veterans as they seek good jobs and re-enter the workforce.”
Richland College’s grant funding is part of the larger TAACCCT competitive grant program co-administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the U.S. Department of Education. ETA announced 71 new grants under this program to single-institution applications and intra-state consortiums across the nation. The purpose of TAACCCT grants is to close educational gaps between potential employees and employers in growing industries, such as advanced manufacturing.
“Community colleges play a vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As our economy continues to rebuild, businesses are looking for employees with the skills their company needs to stay competitive….These grants help meet those demands, providing critical investments in education and supporting key partnerships.”
Watch the grant announcement ceremony:
For more information about Richland’s manufacturing and electronics technology programs, visit http://www.richlandcollege.edu/engineeringtech/ and http://www.richlandcollege.edu/certs/manufacturingTechnology and or contact Martha Hogan, executive dean, Richland College School of Engineering, Business and Technology, by email at email@example.com or by phone at (972) 238-6210.
Students need role models, whether they are enrolled in K-12 or college. Often, students don’t realize that they themselves can be role models, but that’s what happens when a select group of Dallas County Community College District students are named LeCroy Scholars every year. Those individuals, who are campus leaders among the seven colleges in the DCCCD system, also serve as role models for their peers, volunteers in their communities and organizers who work to serve others.
Some have served as mentors, team captains, officers in academic honor societies, band members, tutors, student ambassadors for their colleges, and volunteers for church and community-based organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Family Place.
They have inspired other students, as well as DCCCD faculty, staff and administrators; as a result, eight students have been named 2014-2015 LeCroy Scholarship recipients by the DCCCD Foundation for their outstanding leadership and academic achievements.
The program honors one of DCCCD’s former chancellors, Dr. R. Jan LeCroy, who served in that capacity from 1981 to 1988. Students selected as LeCroy Scholars receive full tuition and books for up to four semesters. All recipients may attend any of the seven colleges in the DCCCD system: Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake or Richland.
The LeCroy Scholars fund was established with a grant donated by Mike A. Myers and the Mike Myers Foundation in 1988 to honor his longtime friend, Dr. Jan LeCroy, who passed away in 2013. The program was the first major student recognition and incentive scholarship created for DCCCD.
Myers, who currently serves as chairman and president of Myers Financial Corp., took an active role with LeCroy, when he was still living, in the selection process. Myers will continue to carry on his personal involvement with the program: he will interview finalists and help with the selection of the scholarship recipients, as well as personally mentor those students throughout the year – providing valuable insight and advice to help LeCroy Scholars succeed in school and in their communities. Myers and LeCroy previously hosted a number of events during the year that provided opportunities for scholars to network with other recipients, including a yearly gathering of former and current LeCroy Scholars. Myers plans to continue that tradition as well.
The scholarship recipients, the colleges they attend and their chosen fields of study are:
- Taryn Allen of Rowlett, Eastfield College, general studies;
- Kym Gonzalez of Dallas, Mountain View College, business and Spanish;
- Michael Heggie of Garland, Eastfield College, psychology;
- Benjamin Kellogg of Flower Mound, North Lake College, electrical engineering;
- Joseph Marble of Dallas, Richland College, criminal justice;
- Rachel Quiroga of Dallas, Eastfield College, nursing;
- Elisabeth Tuttass of Flower Mound, North Lake College, psychology; and
- Brian Weidinger of Rowlett, Eastfield College, general studies.
Five DCCCD students are returning LeCroy Scholars for 2014-2015:
- Edith Barajas of Garland, Richland College, accounting;
- Tiffani Coleman of Dallas, Richland College, social work;
- Cody Dziak of Mesquite, Eastfield College, biology/kinesiology;
- Victoria Livingston of Dallas, El Centro College, science; and
- Itzel Ruiz of Dallas, El Centro College, criminal justice.
For more information, contact Kathye Hammontree in the DCCCD Foundation office by phone at (214) 378-1536 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.