Category Archives: News

front cover Richland Chronicle April 8th edition featuring photo of flower bed and Richland College marquee showing Classes Online Closed Campus Access Not Permitted message Student Newspaper Available Online

The Richland College student newspaper, the Richland Chronicle, is still being published during these weeks of COVID 19 social distancing. Articles are featured on the RichlandStudentMedia.com website.


exterior of Richland College Garland Campus Richland College Garland Campus Kicks off 2020 with Partnership Awards, Texas Workforce Commission Grant and More

Richland College Garland Campus has already had a busy 2020. Staff hit the ground running in the new year, honoring local organizations with 2019 Corporate Services’ Partnership Awards and receiving a $434,328 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. The grant makes it possible train 272 employees at local businesses, setting the stage for a productive year of training workers through corporate training and workforce development.

“In 2019, Richland College Corporate Services proved again to be a great choice for professional training,” said Konley Kelley, director of community engagement, outreach and recruitment at Richland College Garland Campus. “Based at the Garland Campus, Richland’s Corporate Services team served clients throughout North Dallas. Utilizing grant funding from the Texas Workforce Commission, hundreds of employees working in manufacturing in Garland, IT in Richardson and healthcare in Irving received essential job training on-site at their companies. Corporate Services also provided training for employees of the cities of Richardson, Plano and Garland for Dallas County.”

Richland College Garland Campus recognizes the support of local organizations with its Partnership Awards, presented each year at the Garland Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet.

The Dallas County Manufacturers’ Association Partnership Award was awarded to II-VI Marlow, and the Community Partnership Award was awarded to Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas.

The DCMA Partnership Award recognizes clients who are part of the DCMA and have met and exceeded performance goals as a partner in a Skills Development Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. II-VI Marlow won for its active participation in a Richland College Garland Campus Skills Development Fund consortium grant, providing training to 44 employees in 2019. The employees received training in classes such as Electrical Basics and Troubleshooting; Geometric Dimension and Tolerancing; MSSC Certification; Programmable Logic Controller Fundamentals; SolidWorks Advanced; Excel I, II and III; Principles of Lean Manufacturing; CPR and Leadership Training.

Debbie Winkle, human resources manager, and Pamela Jennett, vice-president of integration and compliance, accepted the award on behalf of II-VI Marlow.

“Receiving this award was a very nice surprise,” said Winkle. “Partnering with the TWC on such things as this recent grant shows that Richland is committed not only to the community, but also to employers. They are exploring options on how to work with employers to help employees get the training they need to be successful. Employees are our number one asset, and engaged, successful employees lead to successful business.”

Kimberly Wilkins, associate dean of workforce development at Richland College Garland Campus, added, “II-VI Marlow has been a great corporate client of ours since 2011. They have participated in several Skills Development Fund grants, during which their employees have received advanced, industry-specific, customized training. Most recently, they received training in Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing and Manufacturing Skill Standards Council certifications in safety, quality, production processes and maintenance awareness. Courses like these have helped increase current skills and wages for their employees.”

The Community Partnership Award recognizes clients who have actively worked with the college in areas such as contract or company-sponsored training, apprenticeship programs and the hiring of students from the workforce training programs at Garland Campus. As a valued partner with a longstanding record of supporting training and economic growth in the community, Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas was the award recipient for its support in funding more than $5 million through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, designed to assist job hunters in securing employment, education, training and resources necessary to succeed; and adult literacy and education grants. Through this funding, thousands of employees and job seekers were trained in workplace communication skills.

Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas has also supported Richland College and its partner companies in the development of Skills Development Fund grants, resulting in thousands of training hours for new and incumbent workers at area businesses, and it maintains a Garland location to assist with hiring, job fairs, unemployment services, career counseling and childcare services.

Steven Bridges, account executive, and Demetria Robinson, vice-president, accepted this award on behalf of Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas.

“Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas is honored to receive this Community Partnership Award,” said Bridges. “We value our relationship with Richland College and the Dallas County Community College District. Richland College Garland Campus has been vital to the surrounding business community. The effort the college has placed on ensuring our workforce is equipped with trained workers has been invaluable to the local economy. Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas and Richland College Garland Campus have a long-standing partnership serving the Garland community through workforce and training initiatives. We appreciate the support of these collaborative efforts and look forward to continued partnerships serving the community.”

Celes Oppedahl, dean of student success at Richland College Garland Campus, added, “Richland College and the Garland Campus have been working with Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas for more than 35 years, providing high-demand training and services to individuals. The partnership has allowed thousands of non-traditional students to gain the knowledge they need to be employed in new careers. The economic impact of this training has added value to the city of Garland and to Dallas County, preparing the future workforce and filling the skilled workplace shortage. Training is developed to meet the demands and requirements of the local business.”

In late January, Richland College Garland Campus announced a Skills Development Fund Manufacturing Consortium grant at a check-signing ceremony. TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron S. Demerson presented the $434,328 check to the Richland College Garland Campus and the DCMA on Jan. 29.

“We have gathered to acknowledge our appreciation for the important industry training impact that this $434,328 Texas Workforce Commission Skills Development Fund Grant is making possible through Richland College Garland Campus and its dynamic tri-partnership with the Garland Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas County Manufacturers’ Association,” said Kathryn K. Eggleston, president of Richland College, during the opening remarks. “This grant enables this triad to advance and expand technical and non-technical training to employees at seven Garland and regional area manufacturing companies, continuing to leverage our capability to grow the economic base of Garland’s manufacturing sector businesses, while also contributing to a skilled Texas workforce.”

This grant provides funding for Richland College to train 272 employees, contributing to more than 7,373 training hours of anticipated positive operational and productivity impact. The companies included in the grant are Ecolab; RHE Hatco, Inc.; Interceramic; Kirchhoff Automotive; Mapei; II VI Marlow; and Sanden Vendo of America. Training sessions under the grant include: Electrical Basics and Troubleshooting, Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, Forklift Certification, Project Management Fundamentals, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma Green Belt, CPR/First Aid/AED, Project Management, Microsoft Office and Leadership.

“Today, we warmly welcome representatives from these seven grant business partners and applaud each company for its commitment to enhancing the skills of its respective workforce, which, in turn, contributes to the business strength of our Garland community, the north Texas region and the state of Texas,” Eggleston added at the event. “We truly appreciate each of you for joining us today to celebrate this economic advancement opportunity made possible through the Texas Workforce Commission. Richland College appreciates the exceptional confidence that the Texas Workforce Commission and area manufacturers place in us as a proven, high-quality, results-focused training provider.”

Demerson said, “Economic development, education and workforce are the secret sauce in Texas. On behalf of Governor Abbott’s office, congratulations to the employers, Dr. Eggleston and everyone involved in this training. We stand ready to help in any way that we can.”

Paul Mayer, CEO of the Garland Chamber of Commerce, added, “I define economic development as the ability for individuals to have the life they want. This training is economic development—people developing people. Thanks to every one of you.”

Upon completion of this training, Richland College Garland Campus hopes to continue working with the Texas Workforce Commission to receive additional Skills Development Fund grants to offer training opportunities to other north Texas businesses.

“Having celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019, Garland Campus is looking forward to many more years training individuals for good-paying jobs in multiple fields,” said Kelley. “The campus is also intent on providing training and resources to help companies invest in their existing workforce. ‘Train the ones you have’ is just as important in this tight economy and time of low unemployment. Retaining skilled, motivated employees and expanding their skillsets is far easier than recruiting and filling open positions. Richland College is here to provide training and resources to our business community. We value our partners, and together we can offer resources such as job-ready workers and grant-funded training to keep our workforce strong, skilled and engaged.”


Nine people pose for the camera while holding a giant check. Richland College Garland Campus and Dallas County Manufacturers’ Association Receive $434,328 Grant from Texas Workforce Commission

Richland College, Dallas County Manufacturers’ Association and Texas Workforce Commission representatives participated in a check-signing ceremony Jan. 29 in the Richland College Garland Campus gallery, during which Richland College Garland Campus and the DCMA were awarded a $434,328 Skills Development Fund grant to train 272 employees for more than 7,373 training hours.

“We have gathered to acknowledge our appreciation for the important industry training impact that this $434,328 Texas Workforce Commission Skills Development Fund grant is making possible through Richland College Garland Campus and its dynamic tri-partnership with the Garland Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas County Manufacturers’ Association,” said Kathryn K. Eggleston, president of Richland College. “This grant enables this triad to advance and expand technical and non-technical training to employees at seven Garland and regional area companies, continuing to leverage our capacity to grow the economic base of Garland’s manufacturing sector businesses, while also contributing to a skilled Texas workforce.”

The companies included in the grant are Ecolab; RHE Hatco, Inc.; Interceramic; Kirchhoff Automotive; Mapei; Marlow; and Sanden Vendo of America. Training sessions under the grant include: Electrical Basics and Troubleshooting, Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, Forklift Certification, Project Management Fundamentals, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma Green Belt, CPR/First Aid/AED, Project Management, Microsoft Office and Leadership.

Upon completion of this training, Richland College plans to continue working with the Texas Workforce Commission to receive additional Skills Development Fund grants to offer training opportunities to other north Texas businesses.


Headshot of Kay Eggleston Richland College President Named 22nd Chair of the Baldrige Foundation

Richland College president Kathryn K. Eggleston was named the 22nd Chair of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award on Jan. 1.

“Dr. Eggleston is a nationally recognized leader within higher education and the Baldrige community. We are fortunate to have her expertise and dedicated service on the board of directors,” said Al Faber, Baldrige Foundation president and CEO. “In her new role chairing the board, I am confident that Kay will bring innovative, strategic thinking and leadership to the entire Baldrige community. Kay’s knowledge and expertise with the Baldrige Framework are proven, as her executive leadership was instrumental in Richland College being named a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient in 2005.”

“The foundation faces important challenges today in ensuring the long-term financial viability and growth of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program in the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the Department of Commerce,” said Eggleston. “We will accomplish this through two key overarching strategies: permanent restoration of annual federal funding in the Congressional budget, the public partnership; and rebuilding the endowment to support the program and operations, the private partnership.”

Eggleston was appointed president of Richland College in May 2012. She is currently on the board of directors of the American Association of Community Colleges, has served on the board of directors for the both the Richardson and Garland Chambers of Commerce, is a charter member of Altrusa International Inc. of Downtown Dallas and has been honored with many distinguished awards during her career, including the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s 2017 Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction.

Richland College was a 2005 recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and was the first community college in the nation to receive this distinguished performance excellence award.

The Baldrige Foundation is the private-sector partner of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program in the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the Department of Commerce. Its mission is to ensure the long-term financial viability of BPEP and to support organizational performance excellence. For more information, visit the Baldrige Foundation website.


Illustration of locks that appear digital in nature Two Richland College Students Win $500 Scholarships from Cyber FastTrack Program

After completing several challenges during a period of five months, Richland College cyber security students Clayton Barbier and Reuben Seward each won $500 scholarships and made it to the semi-finals of Cyber FastTrack, advancing further than thousands of other students from universities and colleges around the country.

Cyber FastTrack is a free online cyber security challenge used to identify highly talented college students with a desire to enter the cyber workforce and provide them with the practical skills employers require.

Barbier and Seward participated in the CyberStart Assess challenge from April 5-May 10, the CyberStart Game from May 20-June 28 and the CyberStart Essentials from July 10-September 16. They completed challenges in forensics, intrusion detection, security operations, system and network penetration testing and application penetration testing.

Of the 13,289 students who started the program, only 2,579 made it to the quarter-finals and were invited to the CyberStart Game. They had five weeks to demonstrate their skills in more than 252 cyber security challenges, ranging from cryptography puzzles to advanced reverse engineering problems. From there, only 541 made it to the semi-finals. Those students gained access to CyberStart Essentials, an innovative online course that helps students achieve proficiency in the most valuable foundations of cyber security through hands-on exercise, quizzes, interactive labs and exams.

Richland College was designated as a Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center in 2014. The goal of the program is to bring the latest technology and a vendor-neutral education, where instruction breaks away from traditional information technology training methods. Because independent thinking and problem solving are encouraged, students complete hands-on lab work and participate in collegiate competitions such as CCDC, National Cyber League and the Black T-Shirt Challenge. Graduates will be prepared to enter the workforce with technician-level skills and will be ready to complete industry certifications. Learn more by visiting www.richlandcollege.edu/cybersecurity.

For more information about Cyber FastTrack, visit www.cyber-fasttrack.org.


The soccer team poses on the field with the trophy. Richland College Men’s Soccer Team Wins 8th National Championship

The Richland College men’s soccer team, the 2018 national champions, traveled to Herkimer, NY, this past weekend to participate in the 2019 NJCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship. Despite cold and sometimes snowy weather conditions throughout the weekend, the Thunderducks prevailed and competed in the championship game Nov. 17 against home team Herkimer College, emerging victorious with a 2-1 victory and an eighth national championship.

This title is the first for Richland College head coach Raul Herrera, a former assistant coach who stepped into the role midseason when former head coach Sean Worley retired. Herrera is also a Richland College alumnus and was the starting goalkeeper on the 2006 national championship team.

The championship game started with an opening score by Toi Yamaoka, assisted by forward Takayoshi Wyatt. The score stayed 1-0 until the 76th minute of the game, when Herkimer player Mupenzi Irakiza had a game-tying score. Despite the Herkimer Generals dominating play for the final 15 minutes of the game, the Thunderducks scored on a successful penalty kick by Alvara Tudanca with just two seconds left, clinching the title and ending the season undefeated, with an overall record of 18-0-1.

The championship tournament began Thursday, Nov. 14, with Richland winning 4-0 against Sussex County Community College in the quarterfinals. During the semifinal round Nov. 15, Richland cruised to a 5-0 victory against Genesee Community College, which secured their spot in the title game. This was the third time that Richland and Herkimer have competed against each other for the national championship.

Richland defender Mariano Fazio was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and Wyatt was named Most Valuable Offensive Player. Herrera received Coach of the Tournament honors. In addition, Richland players Sergio Baena and Henry Sach were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Richland College has won the men’s soccer national championship in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2018 and now 2019. A ring ceremony to honor the 2019 team will be scheduled this coming spring.

For a recap of the 2019 championship, visit https://www.njcaa.org/sports/msoc/2019-20/div3/national_championship/championship_recap. Additional information about the Richland College men’s soccer team is available at https://www.richlandcollege.edu/sliferlc/athletics/mensoccer/pages/default.aspx.


Richland College Logo North Texas Storm Damage Update

Richland College is offering tuition-free Continuing Education classes in response to the tornadoes and damage that was sustained by employees, students, and the local community. Find out more at richlandcollege.edu/storm-relief.

The Richland College main campus and the LeCroy Center were closed on Oct. 21, as there was no electrical power. Since first light on Monday, Facilities Services and College Police diligently worked to assess the impact on college buildings and grounds. It has been determined that aside from the extended power outage, fallen limbs, and debris and trash resulting from the powerful winds, we are fortunate that all our college buildings sustained no structural damage.

Building Maintenance and Landscaping crews worked to collect limbs, debris, and trash from all areas of the campus. Oncor representatives worked closely to restore power to the campus, and it officially came back on at 9 p.m. Oct. 21.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to our students, faculty, and staff who may have been affected by last night’s destructive tornadoes and this morning’s ensuring storms,” said DCCCD Chancellor Joe May in an email sent Oct. 21. “While no deaths or serious injuries have been reported, the losses to property and the impact on families’ resources cannot be underestimated.”

“We are also keenly aware that many of our students, faculty, and staff and their families may have been personally impacted by the devastating storm,” said Kay Eggleston, president of Richland College in an email sent Oct. 21. “As Thunderduck family, we embrace them with our care and concern and are exploring and establishing avenues of physical and emotional support for them. As always, members of our CARE Team will stand ready with counseling and referral advice, and Chancellor May and the DCCCD Foundation are discussing ways to organize relief funding resources for those students and colleagues affected. More details will be shared soon.”

If you are in need or know someone who is, here are some helpful connections in our community:

North Texas Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/local/texas/north-texas.html
North Texas Food Bank: https://www.ntfb.org
Salvation Army of North Texas: https://www.salvationarmydfw.org
Richland College CARE Team: rlcCARES@dcccd.edu; 972-238-3771; https://www.richlandcollege.edu/care
Richland College Counseling Center: Counseling-RLC@dcccd.edu; 972-238-3771; https://www.richlandcollege.edu/counseling

The local Network of Community Ministries is also providing assistance by way of food, shelter, and clothing.

Network of Community Ministries
741 South Sherman Street
Richardson, TX 75081
972-234-8880
Monday – Thursday 9:00 AM-6:00 PM
Friday 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

The Small Business Association provides low-interest disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters. For more information, call 214-860-5865 to schedule an appointment with a part-time representative at:

Richland College Garland Campus
675 W. Walnut St.
Garland, TX 75040

Or, visit SBA.gov/disaster

Additionally, many students may have lost their jobs as a result of the storm that left many area businesses damaged. Please let your students know that Career Services staff are available to help students find new job opportunities. They can be reached by calling 972-238-6100.

DCCCD provides a free job listing service for employers to connect with current students, former students, and community members. Richland College participates in this online job bank that lists full- and part-time jobs in the Dallas metroplex. The job bank can be accessed by clicking on the following link: https://dcccd-csm.symplicity.com/students/?signin_tab=0.

Additionally, if students are eligible for financial aid then they can apply for a work-study job to help pay for expenses. The following departments are looking to fill positions:

English Corner, one opening
Multicultural Center, two openings
Honors department, one opening
Business Services, two openings
Biology lab, one opening
Continuing Education, two openings
Follow DCCCD and Richland news and emails for updates to resources.

For more information, or to request assistance making a connection with the Foundation, please contact Whitney Golin at 972-238-6023 or WhitneyG@dcccd.edu.


Six people pose together in the HMS lobby, with Commissioner Daniel in the center, holding a giant check. Richland College and HMS Receive $541,112 Grant from Texas Workforce Commission in Check-Signing Ceremony

Richland College, the Texas Workforce Commission and HMS representatives participated in a check-signing ceremony at the HMS headquarters in Irving Oct. 16, during which Richland College was awarded a $541,112 Skills Development Fund grant by the Texas Workforce Commission to train 227 incumbent employees and 39 new employees for HMS.

“We deeply appreciate the ongoing confidence that the Texas Workforce Commission and area employers place in Richland College as an experienced, high-quality, results-focused training provider, and we remain committed to meeting the workforce training needs and exceeding the expectations of businesses and corporations in all the communities we serve,” said Richland College President Kathryn K. Eggleston. “We also extend our sincere appreciation to the Texas Workforce Commission for the Skills Development Fund grant and the immediate impact this particular grant will make in training and advancing HMS employees’ success.”

Putting people first and developing a strong workforce were clear themes of the event, punctuated by the many HMS employees in attendance who are benefiting from the training provided by Richland College.

“Customized training like what Richland College can provide, I think, makes all the difference in the world,” said TWC Commissioner Representing the Public Bryan Daniel.

This partnership among Richland College, HMS and TWC also aligns with the HMS company value of encouraging employee success, growth and collaboration, which in turn benefits not just HMS, but its customers and the entire healthcare industry.

“As a healthcare technology company, it is vital that we invest in delivering highly relevant training in new and emerging technologies. That’s how we will continue to bring innovative solutions to our clients and move healthcare forward,” said Bill Lucia, chairman and CEO for HMS. “By innovating and leading with the head and the heart, HMS will continue to ensure that more people have access to quality healthcare coverage.”

The customized training provided by Richland College for HMS is highly IT-driven, with HMS focused on developing skilled, technical talent. Training sessions under the grant include: Big Data Analytics, Hadoop – Programming Language, Cloud Administration, Cloud Development, Cloud Architecture, DevOps for Leaders, Automation for Cloud, Artificial Intelligence – Deep Machine Learning, Powershell Scripting – Programming Language, Python – Programming, Structured Query Language – Programming, VBA Programming, Intermediate Excel and Project Management Professional.

HMS advances the healthcare system by helping healthcare organizations reduce costs and improve health outcomes. With industry-leading technology, analytics and engagement solutions, HMS saves billions of healthcare dollars annually while helping consumers lead healthier lives.

“I want to say, ‘thank you’ to the Texas Workforce Commission and Richland College for all of their hard work and support for us as we’ve really started to engage in and start to leverage different training and technologies to help propel and drive the company,” said HMS Vice President of IT Operations Mark Olson.

Upon completion of this training, Richland College plans to continue working with the Texas Workforce Commission to receive additional Skills Development Fund grants to offer training opportunities to additional north Texas businesses.

The SDF program at Richland College Garland Campus provides customized job-training programs for businesses who want to train new workers or upgrade the skills of their existing workforce. The program is a partnership among Richland College Garland Campus, TWC and community business partners. For additional information about the Skills Development Fund program, visit https://www.richlandcollege.edu/aboutrlc/garland-campus/pages/skills-development-fund.aspx.


Ari Rastegar smiling. | Photo courtesy of Forbes Richland Alumnus Ari Rastegar Featured in Forbes Article

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 


Ashlynn Norris poses, wearing a Richland College lanyard and a NASA t-shirt. Richland College Student Accepted Into NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program

Reaching for the stars is a normal part of life for Richland College honors student Ashlynn Norris, who was recently chosen as a NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar. This hardworking young woman joined other community college STEM students from across the country in getting an authentic NASA experience.

“I felt breathlessly excited when I found out I was chosen as an NCAS,” said Norris. “I have always dreamed of being involved in a NASA program, but I generally believed that it wasn’t attainable. Seeing that email was a confirmation that I could maybe have a chance to pursue things I always believed were out of reach.”

As an NCAS student, Norris had the opportunity to engage in research and learning opportunities with NASA during a five-week online course that ended July 3. During the course, students learned about NASA’s past, present and future missions, as well as the science, technology and engineering that happen behind the scenes.

“In the last five years, we’ve only had one other NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar,” said Kathleen Stephens, Richland College Honors Program coordinator. “It is a very competitive program that requires an application and letters of recommendation. As we seek to increase the number of women in STEM fields, I’m particularly excited for Ashlynn to have this opportunity.”

Norris and the other students heard from NASA subject matter experts, including Stu McClung, project planning manager for the Orion program; Trent Smith, project manager for VEGGIE, the in-orbit garden on the ISS; and Lisa Spence, a manager in NASA’s Human Research Project.

“These talks have been wonderful because neither Stu nor Trent were linear, normal students,” said Norris. “They both had a very interesting road to NASA and offered a lot of hope and wisdom to those who aren’t standard students, showing that anyone can participate in NASA if they work for it.”

Upon course completion, qualifying students are invited to tour a NASA facility and work with NASA scientists and engineers on-site. The students will visit NASA space center nearest them and participate in a four-day on-site study of the current Moon to Mars campaign. During this trip, students will attend lectures with current engineers, research tasks and complete challenges.

“I am most excited about the opportunities that this experience can give me,” added Norris. “I am blown away with how welcoming, enthusiastic and driven every single NASA employee I’ve interacted with is, and they’ve made a point to tell everyone that there is a place for anyone here, making sure that we understand we’re welcome. Being an NCAS student comes with opportunities down the line as well.”

Norris told her Richland College Honors Program advisors about a project some former NCAS student researchers spearheaded, in which a payload of micro-algae was sent to the International Space Station for a week to see how the plant would respond under stress. The plant produces a powerful antioxidant that NASA believes may be able to help fight the heavy strain on astronauts’ bodies while in micro-gravity. NASA has agreed to ship samples of this algae to Richland College’s biology department to be studied by students to see how micro-algae grown in space differs structurally.

“Ashlynn is new to the Honors Program, but she has already excitedly shared a way to enrich the program by giving us information about space algae that could potentially be used in an honors science classroom and for the science boot camp led by Dr. Dwight Randle,” said Stephens.

Upon graduating Richland College, Norris plans to transfer to UT Dallas to pursue a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. She has always been intrigued by artificial intelligence and the advancement of the exploration of space, and she hopes to have the opportunity to work with NASA one day.

“No one should give up on themselves just because they may be a non-linear, busy or working student,” said Norris. “It is never too late to pursue things that you love, and Richland College and NCAS have done a wonderful job of reminding me of that.”

The Richland College Honors Program provides highly qualified students with an enriched and challenging academic community where they develop the capabilities necessary to excel in their educational and career goals. In May 2019, 24 students with the Richland Honors Scholar designation and 24 additional students with the Richland Honors Certificate designation graduated from Richland College. Learn more about the Richland College Honors Program at https://www.richlandcollege.edu/cd/instruct-divisions/rlc/mshp/honors-program/pages/default.aspx.

NCAS gives community college STEM students an authentic NASA experience and encourages them to finish their degrees and eventually pursue a NASA-related career. Eligible students must be U.S. citizens, high school graduates or equivalent, at least 18-years-old, registered at a U.S. community college, have concurrent enrollment or completion of 9 or more hours of STEM coursework and able to commit to a five-week online session. More information is available at nas.okstate.edu/ncas/.