Thursday, July 17, 2014

So You Want To Be An Architect?

Since July 7th, twenty-two middle and high school students have been studying architecture at the annual Architecture Discovery Camp hosted by Doña Ana Community College .  Students have visited locations in Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Bandalier National Monument to see structures and examine their unique features and design.  Interspersed between these visits, campers heard about the design process, design principles, sustainable design, and the relationship between buildings and the environment. All of these experiences were building toward an authentic project; designing a visitors center for the newly designated Organ Mountain National Park.

Since Monday, students have worked in pairs and small groups, utilizing the design process, and interacting with engineers leading to their culmination concept presentation Friday, July 18.  From the concepts, students will create a 3-D model of their building and present to their peers, their ideas and considerations.  I am thankful for the architects and engineers who have donated their time to work with these middle and high school students.  Instructors from New Mexico State University, Texas Tech and DACC have worked together to make this a wonderful opportunity for campers to experience the design process.  I look forward to seeing what they create. 

Hopefully within this group is another Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei, Louis Sullivan, Maya Lin, or Santiago Calatrava. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What was Your First Job?

While I was still in high school I had the opportunity to work part time during the summer. My mother worked in an office and they had a need for someone to help them get caught up on their filing and some odd jobs that the office workers could not complete due to the volume of work they had. One night at supper, my mother asked me if I would be interested in working two days a week for four hours helping out at the office.  I was intrigued by the opportunity. She then proceeded to tell me that I would go to work with her the next day and that I would begin the day with an interview with her boss. She and my father, who was a manger for a supermarket and conducted all of the interviews, shared with me some tips to help me get ready for my interview. 

What I did not know was the interview was just a formality and that I was goi
ng to get the job. Despite being very nervous, I took the interview seriously and began my journey into the world of work at the age of 13.  I learned professionalism, customer service, how to dress, the importance of being on time and what was expected of an employee.  I worked hard and as a result was given employment the following summer which resulted in employment during my four years of college. 

Rarely and probably never are interviews just a formality.  I was lucky to have parents and a willing employer take their time to teach me how to begin the world of work.  As I began working with college students I found myself in the role of coaching them as they prepared for their interviews to become teachers. I soon learned that many people did not have the opportunity I had at 13 to learn from my parents and employers.  Consequently, many people need to learn the basics of searching for jobs, preparing their applications and selling themselves in an interview.  

Today, Doña Ana Community College has the privilege of hosting the Jobs to Career Readiness Bootcamp sponsored by the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA), El Paso Electric and the DACC Career Services Office. Over 126 individuals from the community signed up to learn job readiness skills such as preparing a resume, interviewing, dressing for success, and searching for jobs.  In addition, they will have the opportunity to complete an application to be considered by several employers who have recently located to the Boarder Plex region who have over 1000 jobs available in manufacturing, call centers, and general office work.  I wish each of the participants all the best as they complete the day and their applications are reviewed for consideration.  I know the tips they receive today will help them sell themselves and highlight their skills to the employers from whom they seek employment.

If you know anyone who would wish to participate in a Jobs to Career Readiness Bootcamp, let them know about the next Bootcamp being held at the Doña Ana Community College Gadsden Center. You can click here for more information about future opportunities. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The TRANSFER Mission

"Students, especially minorities, are taking advantage of the good quality and low cost of two-year community colleges. But high hurdles may face them when transferring to a four-year school to earn a bachelor's degree" (Khadaroo, 2014, p.21). 

Doña Ana Community College began in 1973 with a focus on preparing licensed practical nursing, welding, real estate, sales and marketing, and secretarial skills training. Since then, DACC has continued to focus upon technical education in the health sciences, trades, business, information systems, fire and paramedic fields.  However, as Khadaroo points out, the comprehensive community college mission has expanded to include a focus on assisting students with obtaining their general education courses and successfully transferring to a four-year college or university to complete their bachelor's degree. 
 
DACC has been presented with an opportunity to support the students who come to us with the intention of completing general education courses and transferring to New Mexico State University. Our unique relationship with NMSU as a branch within a larger system should negate the competition for students.  Changes in NMSU admission requirements means that students who previously applied and began attending NMSU are coming to DACC to take advantage of the Guaranteed Pathway to NMSU. 
 
What does this mean to DACC faculty, staff and administration?  First, we need to embrace the transfer mission.  This does not mean that technical education is any less important or vital to our students and community.  However, it means we are serving students whose educational goal is to obtain a bachelor's degree rather than a technical credential. Second, we need to support students in their goal to transfer.  This means we need to help them select classes than not only TRANSFER, but count toward DEGREE REQUIREMENTS.  This is an important distinction that we need to teach our students.  As we help students learn the difference, we also need to work with NMSU on course and degree alignment whenever possible, particularly within degree programs designed to transfer.  Third, it means we need to identify barriers that students encounter when transferring to NMSU and work closely with our sister institution to lower the barrier or eliminate them altogether. 
 
As more and more emphasis is placed upon degree attainment, the importance of DACC and NMSU collaborating to ensure completion become more significant.  So, as we begin our journey in intentionally helping students in their transfer goals, lets remember that we are fulfilling our mission as a community college by ensuring that student learning comes first. 
 
The article referenced above: 
Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, "A Better Path to a Bachelor's?", The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, May 12, 2014, 21-24.