The May 7 Commencement Ceremony at Magness Arena at the Ritchie Center, University of Denver featured a Community College of Aurora graduating class of more than 300 students, the largest ever for CCA. Below are a few of the highlights from the ceremony - congratulations to all of our students and the many staff and faculty that helped make this happen with a special thank you to the CCA Office of Student Life which put the ceremony together.
"So I challenge you to always do the right thing, to live your lives as examples to those around you, and to dream. I will close my remarks with a quote from a country-music song by Paul Brandt: ‘Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footsteps on the moon.’” – Dr. Nancy McCallin, president, Colorado Community College System, and Welcome speaker
“Like the athletes who will take the podiums at the Summer Olympics, hold your head high—you’ve earned it! But don’t forget to acknowledge and thank those who helped you along the way. Knowing you make a difference in someone’s life is truly a reward of its own, which is why we, your faculty and instructors, will be cheering you on over here.” - Chris Juarez, faculty remarks
“You have overcome every obstacle thrown at you to be here today. You worked hard in your classes and struggled many sleepless nights. You sacrificed time and comforts in order to give yourself more opportunities, to get to that next step in life—or, for the gamers out there, to level up. You have achieved so much more than the naysayers thought you could.” – Sean “Twich” Collins, student speaker and outgoing Student Government Association president
Nancy Noah, 71, (pictured at left) received her AAS in Computer Information Systems during the 2015-2016 commencement held at the Ritchie Center on May 7. “Age doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s your future and your dream; make it happen for you.”
Despite her loss of vision as a child, Reem Hamodi (pictured at left) has become a successful woman, graduating from the Community College of Aurora this spring with a 4.0 grade point average and an Associate of Arts degree in psychology. Already taking classes at the University of Colorado-Denver, she is on track to reach her goal of becoming a psychology professor.
“Think about your possibilities instead of your limitations,” Hamodi said. “Be positive about your life and do not give in to your life’s struggles.”
Chauvonne Foston, Bobbie Bays, Etzany Diaz Ocampo, Ashley Hartman, Jeffrey Urias, Kayla Rodriguez, Sara Kimmet are all honors students in the Integrated Nursing Program. “We will all be together as we graduate and begin attending classes in the nursing program at CU. We are so excited,” Foston said.
Troy Williams said: “Graduating from CCA is one of the best things to happen to me.” Troy graduated with an AAS in business administration and is transferring to Regis University to pursue a bachelor of arts and master’s degree in business. “I’m going to be real estate agent.”
“It was a roller-coaster ride for me, but I’m glad I stuck in there to graduate,” said Giovanni Benion (AA – sociology). He is a first-generation college student and is transferring to Metropolitan State University to major in teen counseling.
CCA Family Graduates
Accessibility Services Administrative Assistant Sheryl Broadnax’s daughter, Shawna Bauer (pictured at left), graduated from CCA in December 2015 and participated in the May 7 commencement ceremony. She will begin classes at Regis University in the fall of 2016.
Brittany Snow, daughter of CCA Dean of the School of Liberal Arts Ted Snow, completed her Associate of Arts Degree at CCA in December 2015 and participated in the commencement ceremony on May 7. She graduated with honors (magna cum laude) from CCA and is also recognized as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. In fall 2016, she will continue her studies at Colorado State University, with a major in interior design.
One of the best parts of my job is that I get to go to a lot of wonderful events and see our remarkable students in action. What also strikes me when I am at these events is how much of a partnership our students develop with our faculty and staff. CCA students demonstrate with confidence what they know and can do because of the instruction and support they receive inside and outside our classrooms. They are realizing their potential because our faculty and staff are partnering with them to achieve their goals.
Here are some recent examples: Ten CCA students and two of our math faculty attended the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education conference in California in March. They participated in conference sessions and met key Latino leaders. While they were there I received an email from a California colleague about how well they were representing themselves and the college. When they got back they wrote thank-you notes to share how important this experience had been for them and how much they appreciated the opportunity. It was an empowering and eye-opening experience for our students.
Right after our Hispanic students returned, our very diverse Model United Nations team took off for New York to represent South Korea. Two weeks ago, I attended their welcome-back event where they thanked the faculty who accompanied them as well as those across different disciplines who taught them, pushed them, supported them, and convinced them they were equal to the challenge. The students described the experience as life changing. The level of camaraderie and mutual respect in the room between the students and their faculty was powerful.
On April 23, we had a number of students in our space grant program present their research papers and posters to a pretty formidable group of judges from the aerospace industry. Our students were impressive. Similar to our MUN students, they went up against four-year university students, many of whom were juniors and seniors and they did a great job. On the following Saturday our initially snowed-out CSI: Aurora event took place in the mock courtroom at Lowry and it was another example of how high we set the bar (and how much fun we have reaching it).
The hallways of our classroom building have become an art gallery and currently display student artwork. One of my favorite exhibits was the intersection of algebra and art (complete with a graphed minion and pizza cat). On April 29 we enjoyed a showcase of student musical and theatrical talent, as well as a speech competition with 90 student speakers and many volunteer judges drawn from our faculty, staff, and students. The same day we held our semester induction for Phi Theta Kappa, our community college honor society. It’s hard to beat a day like that!
Finally, I attended the Student Success Center’s end of year celebration, and witnessed the shared pride of our students and staff as they celebrated together their accomplishments.
And there has been so much more. What an incredibly creative and hard-working group of faculty, staff, and students we have at CCA! The evidence is all around us. These are not just jobs to you, and our students are not just sitting quietly waiting for someone to deposit knowledge in their heads. This is about hard work, emotion, engagement, struggle, courage, pride, passion – and potential realized.
I am often proud, inspired, and touched when I get the opportunity to observe or interact with our students. I am equally proud, inspirited, and touched by my colleagues here. So much of what our students accomplish is because of your impact on them. As we celebrate our graduates, I want to make sure we also celebrate all of you. We have a great college because we have great faculty and staff. Thanks for a wonderful year.
Take Back the Night
CCA’s eighth annual Take Back the Night was held on the CentreTech campus on April 14. Students gave presentations, and outside speakers were brought in to talk about consent and bystander intervention. Bras were also collected for a local nonprofit organization, Free the Girls.
Camino al Colegio
The Center for Outreach and Recruitment presented Camino al Colegio, an event held on April 14 for prospective Spanish-speaking students and their families. The presentations and resource fair were offered in Spanish. Twenty-one percent of CCA’s student population is Latino, and this recruiting event is offered each fall and spring on the Lowry campus.
CSI: Aurora Mock Criminal Trial
Students at the Community College of Aurora participated in a mock criminal trial on April 30. Over the course of the trial, students presented their evidence which was collected at a mock crime scene in March. CSI: Aurora captures the popularity of forensics and teaches students the reality of forensic work through an immersive learning exercise.
CCA held its Spring Career Expo in the North Quad Building on the Lowry Campus on April 20. More than 70 employers including King Soopers and FedEx, and more participated in the event, which is held both in spring and fall. The next expo, the Fall Job & Internship Fair, will be held on Sept. 7 at the CentreTech campus.
CCA’s Center for Outreach and Recruitment, in partnership with College Communications, hosted a successful Education Expo on April 2 at the CentreTech campus for individuals who were considering entering college for the summer or fall semester. Through the marketing efforts of Communications, the open-house event grew in attendance by 35 percent over the last one held on campus; 200 prospective students attended the event.
Students who registered for summer or fall classes could participate in games and activities as part of Registration Nation on May 4. As part of the activities CCA President Betsy Oudenhoven took part in the dunk tank.
Transformation Showcase 2016
CCA students strutted their stuff during the first Transformation Showcase on April 29. The event featured artwork, performances, and speeches from talented students majoring in art, theatre, music, and communication.
During the Speak Up! CCA intramural persuasive speaking competition, CCA students presented a topic of their choice, with several citations, in a persuasive presentation. After the first round of speeches, students were judged and scored to return for second- and third-round presentations.
Caption: From left, Computer and Digital Technologies staff Keith Howard, JoAnn Burkhart, and Eric Vahling
Don’t let the new name fool you. The Computer and Digital Technologies Department—previously called Computer Science and, prior to that, CIS—encompasses both of the previous department names, plus much more.
Included within the Computer and Digital Technologies Department are AAS degrees in IT Help Desk and Support, Networking, Programming, Web Design & Development, Graphic Design, and Technology for Business Operations, as well as corresponding certificates. While the varied areas share some courses, they are different and lead to very different careers—but they all involve computers and technology: Computers and Digital Technology!
Let’s take a tour!
Across from the grill in the West Quad, you may see one of Keith Howard’s programming classes writing code, or code may be written all over the board at the front of the room. You might also see students at the front of the room as they demonstrate their programming abilities in presentation style for the rest of the class. Whatever form it takes, these students are learning to write code. Our computer programming degree has been totally redesigned to give students the skills necessary to begin working in this growing field as soon as they receive their AAS in computer programming. From the first programming course to the last, students will be building complete applications that would wow the average employer. Upon completion, students will have developed complete desktop applications, dynamic websites, and native mobile applications. These applications can then be included in their portfolio to show prospective employers their skills and abilities.
Down the hall, you will find networking students in Eric Vahling’s classes learning all about how to build a network and, along with that, how to keep it secure. CCA hosts a STEM day for girls each year, and the networking activity for those students this past year was to illustrate how easy it is to get into a machine that is password protected. The students who took part in the activity were quite surprised when Eric and Wendy Muench (who teaches CISCO networking), were able to figure out the students’ password immediately by using a keyboard tracer that was installed on the machine earlier, so when the student typed in her password, it was logged, giving them the information. It was a great lesson to the students on the importance of using strong passwords!
In the same room, at another time, you might find students taking computers apart, putting them back together, and installing all the necessary system software and applications. These students are more than likely studying for their A+ certification. The department currently teaches students the skills to sit for six certification exams, including Security+, Network+, Linux, A+, Project+, and CISCO. All are industry certifications recognized by employers.
Moving on down the hall to room 107, you’ll find students being taught the efficient use of Microsoft Office applications. Some students enter this class thinking they already know how to use the software but, after a couple of weeks, discover that they have a lot to learn.
Looking in the window of room 103, you’ll notice all sorts of contraptions. Those “contraptions” make up the network equipment used in the CISCO courses, and room 103 is the CISCO lab. This past year, equipment was moved, giving students their own set of equipment as they connect computers to switches and routers and learn to administer CISCO networking equipment. Next to the CISCO lab is the new graphic-design lab, which moved to the West Quad this past spring semester. Here, you can see students learning to design publications, both in print and for the web.
Keith Howard and Eric Vahling started their first year teaching full-time at CCA in August. They now have one year completed and are looking forward to teaching this summer. Department Chair JoAnn Burkhart has been with the department three years.
Don’t ever think you are too old to learn more about technology. We have a 71-year-old student who graduated this spring with a degree in CIS!
Diesel Power Open House - May 19 – 4 to 6 p.m. - Diesel Power Mechanics Building
Diesel Power Open House - May 21 – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Diesel Power Mechanics Building
BBQ Bash - June 11 - 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Leading Ladies” Student Theater Production - June 17, 18, 24, and 25 – 7:30 p.m. – Fine Arts Building, F100
“Leading Ladies” Student Theater Production - June 18 and 25 – 2 p.m. – Fine Arts Building, F100
On April 26, CCA staff and faculty welcomed back the CCA Model United Nations team from its trip in March to the National Model United Nations Conference, where the CCA team brought home an honorable mention for the second year in a row. Students, faculty, and staff watched a video that detailed the students' experiences and you can watch it below as well. The video below also received an award from the National Collegiate Conference Association which will help pay for a portion of the delegate fees for next year's Model UN submission.
In her first year as full-time faculty, Kate O’Donnell has done an excellent job showcasing the work of our students in the Arts and Communication Department. She has curated and maintained a consistent showing of excellent student art in two buildings on the CentreTech campus. In addition, she coordinated a very successful High School Portfolio event, inviting high school students to participate in our spring student show and receive feedback on their work. The Spring Student Show, at the end of the spring semester, was a huge success thanks to Kate’s diligence and leadership. Submitted by Scott Wakefield, chair, Arts and Communication Department.
ThankYouAmerica! Reception and Award
The ThankYouAmerica! campaign wrapped up a successful effort to educate the public about combating extremism using social media on April 14 at a closing reception at the central branch of the Aurora Public Library. The ThankYouAmerica! campaign, created by CCA students and under the direction of Dr. Bobby Pace, chair of the Department of Social Sciences, incorporated community events and digital media to showcase the integration and inclusion of immigrants into the heart and life of the city of Aurora, while celebrating their diversity.
On May 9, it was announced that the group won first place from a Facebook and federal government-sponsored state competition. Colorado Public Radio interviewed ThankYouAmerica! participant Sharona Grinsteiner regarding the ThankYouAmerica! campaign.
Chantal Baca, academic advisor in TRiO Student Support Services’ ESL Program, received the Outstanding Woman Award as an alumna from the Institute of Women’s Studies and Services at Metropolitan State University in Denver on April 26. The Outstanding Women’s Awards is a long-standing tradition created by MSU Denver’s Institute for Women’s Studies and Services, which celebrates women at the university who have enhanced the campus community with their outstanding contributions. Every year at the annual Outstanding Women’s Awards Reception, one exemplary person in each category (student, alumnae, faculty, classified staff, and administrator) is honored by a selection committee comprised of the award winners from the previous year.
The American Association of Women in Community Colleges named CCA Theater Director Stacey D’Angelo as one of the organization’s “40 Under 40” award winners for 2016. These awards celebrate community college women across the country who make a significant difference at their colleges and in their professions. This is the first year that the Association has presented these awards. D’Angelo received the award at the American Association of Women in Community Colleges conference in Chicago on April 11. (Caption: From left to right, AAWCC President Beverly Walker-Griffea and CCA Theater Director Stacey D'Angelo).
Victor Vialpando, dean of the School of Professional Studies and Sciences, created a digital storytelling video that focused on Mexican intracultural institutions of higher education in the Yucatán. Check out his video below:
Stepheny Hinkle, concurrent enrollment and academic program coordinator for SPSS, is getting married to Noel Beauchamp on May 28 in New Mexico. They the couple will marry in a library at the Albuquerque Academy.
Kenya Trejo, administrative assistant in the Student Services office at Lowry campus, is graduating from Metropolitan State University in Denver with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in women’s studies. Kenya is a first-generation college student and proud daughter of Mexican immigrants. She started taking classes at CCA in the fall 2010 and graduated with an associates of arts in May 2013 from CCA. She is grateful to her family and CCA staff members for always pushing her and inspiring her.
Elizabeth Hirsh, anthropology faculty, gave birth to twins on April 28. Olivia Kekoa Chiodo (5 lbs. 15 oz.) is on the left and Finnegan Noa Chiodo (6 lbs. 13 oz.) is on the right.
President Betsy Oudenhoven's daughter, Mollie Oudenhoven, graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine degree on May 7. She is going to be a pediatrician and do her residency at Children’s Hospital.
The CCA Office of Student Life put on two De-Stress Fest events on the Lowry and CentreTech campuses on April 25 and 26. The events were geared toward students taking finals, allowing them to “de-stress” and relax a little during finals. A jumping obstacle course at Lowry and therapy dogs at CentreTech were part of the activities offered.
CCA hosted a 9Health Fair for the 16th year on April 10 on the CentreTech campus. The 9Health Fair allows the community to take advantage of free and low-cost health screenings and information booths from various health groups in the Denver region.
Spring Transfer Fair
The CCA Spring Transfer Fair was held at the CentreTech campus on April 19. More than 30 colleges from the surrounding area participated. The event is designed for CCA students to meet with representatives from the colleges and to learn about their options to transfer.
Open Mic Night
The CCA Office of Student Life presented an Open Mic Night for students and the public on April 20 at the CentreTech campus. This event included drama, singing, creative writing, poetry, instrumental performances, and more.
Byron O’Bayley, Internship Coordinator
Chantal Baca, TRiO SSS – ESL Advisor
ChukwuFumnanya Egbune, TRiO SSS – ESL Advisor
Christina Villalobos, Financial Aid Advisor
Rebecca Pickett, Program Assistant for CFWD
Michael Wilson, Custodian
Aida Ramic, Administrative Assistant
After eight years at CCA, Diana Counterman, administrative assistant in the Outreach and Recruitment Department, retired in April. Congratulations on your retirement and we will miss you!