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Student Veterans in DCCCD Reflect on Veterans Day

Derek Cornelius

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

Christopher Gaytan

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.

Richland College Compiles List of Resources for North Texas Tornado Victims and Volunteers

To assist its college community and greater service-area community, Richland College’s human resources office compiled a list of local resources not only to provide information to those displaced from their homes during the Dec. 26 tornadoes, but also to provide individuals looking to identify an outlet through which they can volunteer to help those individuals affected by the recent storms.

Potential volunteers can visit the following link for information on how to help:

Displaced citizens can access the following links for information about obtaining assistance in their recovery from the storms:

Recovery Needs and Assistance:

Resources for Lost Pets:

Resources for Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) Employees:

DCCCD Employee Assistance Program, (registration code AWP-DCCCD-1622), 800-343-3822, 800-448-1823 (TDD)

Counseling Resources for Richland College Students and Student Employees:

Richland College Lakeside Resource Center, El Paso Hall room E082, 972-238-3771

Richland College Dean Appointed to Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Panel of Judges

Richland College’s executive dean of planning research, effectiveness and development, Fonda Vera, has been named as a judge for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest honor for organizational innovation and performance excellence.

As one of 12 judges on the panel, Vera will be responsible for selecting which applicants receive site visits, and ultimately, which applicants are recommended to the U.S. secretary of commerce as Baldrige Award recipients. All applicants for the Baldrige Award are evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. Based on these assessments, the highest-ranking applicants are chosen for an on-site visit by a team of examiners to clarify questions and verify information in their applications.

Vera has participated in six Baldrige consensus review teams, leading four as a senior examiner. She has participated in four site visits, one visit as the lead examiner.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987. Awards may be given annually to organizations in each of six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care and nonprofit. The award promotes innovation and excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations and publicizes successful performance strategies.

Having received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2005, Richland College remains the first and only community college in the nation to receive this distinguished performance excellence award.

For information on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and the Baldrige Award application process, visit

Richland College Announces Membership in Initiative Aimed at Enhancing Undergraduate Student Learning in Texas

Leap Texas LogoRichland College is one of the founding members of a recently announced consortia of more than 60 higher education institutions in Texas called the Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College.

Created by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), LEAP is a national advocacy, campus action, and research initiative that champions the importance of a 21st century liberal education. LEAP Texas provides an opportunity for institutions across the state to collaborate on common issues and a shared purpose, such as upholding the commitment of faculty, providing a strong educational foundation for an increasingly diverse student population, adhering to the Texas Core Curriculum for Higher Education and embedding high-impact practices in the undergraduate curriculum.

“Richland College’s participation as a LEAP institution is consistent with our vision of being ‘the best place we can be to learn, teach and build a sustainable local and world community,’” said Zarina Blankenbaker, Richland College vice president for teaching and learning. “Our student success initiatives are focused on helping students cultivate lifelong learning skills which align with community and employer priorities.”

With such a high number of institutions involved in LEAP Texas, the initiative has great potential for growth and action, with the capacity to reach nearly 900,000 students.

Founded in 1915, AAC&U is considered the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career.

For more information about LEAP Texas, visit

Richland College to Host Dallas Children’s Theater with Performance of ‘Flat Stanley’

Richland College will host the Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) in a special performance of the DCT’s “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley” on Sept. 13 at 1:30 p.m. in Richland’s Fannin Performance Hall.Flat Stanley tour logo art

The performance at Richland College will be the final performance in Dallas before the DCT takes the show on the road, quite literally, on a national tour.

Based on Jeff Brown’s beloved children’s book, “Flat Stanley,” the musical comedy follows Stanley Lambchop, a boy just like everyone else, who makes a wish to be something special. When that wish comes true after a bulletin board falls on Stanley and literally flattens him, he discovers how easy it is to travel the world as a letter via the postal system.

“What I love about the show are all the teachable moments that don’t feel like lessons,” said guest director and Broadway veteran Michael Serrecchias. “It’s a fun, Broadway-style musical comedy about the value of being different and the importance of family.”

The Richland College performance of “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley” is an opportunity for the DCT to preview the show to an audience and begin the process of working in different venues as the cast and crew prepare for the national tour. The production is appropriate for children over the age of five and is free and open to the public.

The DCT is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and was founded in 1984 to address a growing need for professional family theater. It is a forum for artistic collaboration, an educational resource for metropolitan schools and a vehicle of enrichment for the greater Dallas community. The DCT has been touring nationally for 17 years and has been designated as an American Masterpieces Touring Artist by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information about the Dallas Children’s Theater, visit

Richland College hosts APIASF community reception

Nation’s Largest Scholarship Organization for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Raises Awareness About the Need to Support Local Students

From left to right: Zarina Blankenbaker, Richland College; Michael Fung, APIASF; Kay Eggleston, Richland College; and Neil Horikoshi, APIASF.

From left to right: Zarina Blankenbaker, Vice President for Teaching & Learning, Richland College; Michael Fung, Chairman of the Board, APIASF; Kay Eggleston, President, Richland College; and Neil Horikoshi, President & Executive Director, APIASF.

The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), the nation’s largest non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, held a special community reception hosted by Richland College in Dallas on Feb. 4. Guests from around the greater Dallas area attended the event to learn more about APIASF’s work to support local students, as well as the programs and services Richland College is providing as a designated Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI).

“With as many as 50-65 percent of Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander adults 25 or older not enrolling in any form of postsecondary education, AANAPISI institutions like Richland College are playing a critical role by increasing access to higher education for students and the programmatic support to help ensure success,” said Neil Horikoshi, APIASF president and executive director. “Our collaboration with Richland College and other AANAPISIs around the country allows us to maximize our impact for students and help strengthen local communities.”

Richland College received a five-year AANAPISI grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 that will total more than $1.4 million in funding. With 14-16 percent of Richland’s student population comprised of Asian American students and at least half demonstrating financial need, the AANAPISI funding impacts many of the college’s underserved students. Richland’s AANAPISI funding is focused on three initiatives: creating a collegewide understanding of the effects of poverty on students; adapting the principles of “Achieving the Dream” to Richland’s culture and capabilities resulting in improved student success in developmental education and gatekeeper courses; and operating a textbook lending library supporting 50 minority, low-income male students annually.

“The community reception was a great way for us to launch our partnership with Richland College and we are looking forward to continuing this collaboration to provide greater access to higher education for Dallas students and the resources that will develop future leaders who will excel in their careers, serve as role models in their communities and contribute to a more vibrant America,” Horikoshi said.

In addition to the leadership of APIASF and Richland College, many local business and community leaders attended the event. Guests included representatives from the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Dallas Korean American Chamber of Commerce, the Dallas Network of Indian Professionals and the Dallas Chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals.
For details about APIASF’s work to strengthen communities and its scholarship programs, visit APIASF’s website at

Based in Washington, D.C., the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) is the nation’s largest non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). APIASF works to create opportunities for students to access, complete, and succeed after post-secondary education; thereby developing future leaders who will excel in their career, serve as role models in their communities, and will ultimately contribute to a vibrant America. Since 2003, APIASF has distributed more than $60 million in scholarships to deserving AAPI students. APIASF manages two scholarship programs: APIASF’s general scholarship and the Gates Millennium Scholars/Asian Pacific Islander Americans funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Richland partners with “Hip Hop for HIV”

Hip-Hop4HIV-logo_smRichland College will host “Hip Hop for HIV,” on July 19, from 2 – 6 p.m. “Hip Hop for HIV” will provide free HIV testing as well as on-site medical counseling for all those tested. Get tested and receive a free ticket to the fourth annual hip hop concert, hosted by 97.9 FM The Beat. “Hip Hop for HIV” allows those tested to know their status, be further educated on the disease and be better informed on the social and medical services available to treat those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

The concert will be held on Aug. 21 from 3 – 6 p.m. at the Palladium Ballroom located at 1135 South Lamar in Dallas. Among this year’s featured performers are T. Cash, Yung Nation, B Hamp, Dorrough, Doughski G, BMC Boyz and more.

2011 partners and sponsors include the Dallas County Community College District, Rickey Smiley, City Councilman Dwaine R. Caraway, KBFB 97.9 The Beat, the city of Dallas and Project Re-Connect, the MLK Jr. Family Clinic, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Kaiser, AIDS Arms and Regional Resource Network Program – Region VI.

For more information contact Stephen Red Delasbour or Stephanie Nash at 972-331-5400 or visit the 97.9 FM web site.

Richland College Hosts Health Profession Information Sessions

The Richland College Department of Math, Sciences and Health Professions will host a series of free Health Professions Information Sessions in Wichita Hall, room 249. The sessions will be held every Wednesday at 3 p.m. throughout the year (unless the campus is closed) and Thursdays at 6 p.m. from May 5-26. Sessions on the following careers will be discussed:
• Billing and Coding for the Medical Office
• IT in Healthcare (Support Specialist, Programmer, Software Analyst)
• Certified Medical Assisting
• Medical Office Technician
• Medical Practice Manager
• Pharmacy Technician
• Phlebotomy Technician

Sessions begin promptly and late arrivals will not be admitted. For more information, go to or call 972-238-6950.

Richland places 1st in Texas in 2011 RecycleMania

Its third year in the national RecycleMania competition, Richland College came in first place among Texas institutions and ranked 15th nationally out of 288 colleges and universities in the Grand Champion division.

Other Texas institutions that competed in the Grand Champion division include, The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor University, Trinity University, Rice University, Northlake College, University of Houston, and former Grand Champion of Texas: the University of St. Thomas.

California State University – San Marcos was the RecycleMania 2011 Grand Champion.

Participating institutions tracked campus recycling and trash data which RecycleMania organizers ranked according to who collected the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or had the highest recycling rate.

RecycleMania started in 2001 as the brainchild of administrators at the Ohio University and Miami University to increase recycling in the residence and dinning halls on their campuses. RecycleMania’s mission of inspiring environmental and social consciousness fits perfectly with Richland’s vision to be best place to learn, teach, and build sustainable local and world community.

For more information, contact Jerry Owens, Assistant Director of Facilities Services, at 972-238-6173 or

Richland Collegiate High School Students Receive Princeton Prize

Four Richland Collegiate High School (RCHS) students recently received the Princeton Prize in Race Relations scholarship for the Dallas/Texas region. Ana Chavez, Samia Nasir, Kanwal Hamid and Aarzu Isa will receive a regionally awarded scholarship of $1,000 and will attend Princeton’s annual symposium on race.

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations was created to identify and commend young people who are working to increase understanding and mutual respect among all races. It’s mission is to promote harmony, understanding, and respect among people of different races by identifying and recognizing high school age students whose efforts have had a significant, positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities.

RCHS is a unique charter school for high school juniors and seniors. Students can complete their last two years of high school at Richland College by taking college courses and earning college credits with a focus on mathematics, science, and engineering or visual, performing, and digital arts.
For more information, contact Anitra Cotton, Manager of Public Information, at 972-238-6022 or