What did you do before you came to CCA?
I worked at Metropolitan State University of Denver leading our efforts to be a Hispanic Serving Institution for the past three years, and before that, I worked in the Equal Opportunity Office regulating for discrimination and Title IX and before that, I worked in various student affairs roles dedicated to supporting students of diverse identities.
What brought you to CCA?
There are several reasons why I came to CCA:
1. The people who work here – I had met and had discussions with several people to discuss the possibility of CCA partnering with MSU Denver on a transfer-related effort. Everyone seemed passionate and committed to creating the best environment for student success.
2. The very diverse student population we educate – All of my career experience has been dedicated to creating programs, developing initiatives, and advocating for the access and success of students of diverse identities.
3. CCA is truly where access to higher education is realized for all students.
4. And the vision: CCA aims to be the place where ALL students succeed. This really spoke to me as this is also a deep value I hold – I feel higher education should create space for all students to succeed and this is done through understanding the student population (who they are and what works to support and encourage their success in and out of the classroom), and it means evaluating our own processes/policies to identify any unintentional barriers that should be removed. This has been the focus of all my efforts throughout my career.
How would you describe your role as Vice President of Student Affairs?
I would describe the Vice President of Student Affairs as the lead of a highly competent Student Affairs team that creates the student experience that occurs outside the classroom while also working in partnership with the academic affairs division that creates the student experience in the classroom. I feel my role is to also listen for understanding and be aware of the students’ needs and be the voice of my area advocating for the students in any decision-making processes.
What challenges do you see for CCA but also higher education in general within the state of Colorado?
Funding allocation for higher education in the state of Colorado and across the country continues to be a challenge. With the decline in funding received from the government, higher-education institutions have to be reliant on funding gained from enrollment. Unfortunately, this practice is risky as enrollment numbers are not necessarily a constant. Therefore, identifying alternate funding models and practices remains a challenge.
Additionally, across the state and across the U.S., higher ed is beginning to feel the decline of enrollment that is directly related to the population decline in the numbers of students in the K-12 population. While CCA is up in enrollment, there has been a drop in enrollment in Colorado higher-education institutions. This includes the institution I just came from, which means we spent a lot of time discussing how to be strategic in our enrollment management efforts. Enrollment is both admissions and retention involving identifying new students, new populations, and re-engaging those who left; but also, being responsive to the needs of the student population; identifying best practices that are relevant to the population served, while also understanding and planning for the future.
The new regulations on Title IX will change the current way we handle issues of discrimination related to gender and sexual identity. The new regulations force administrators to allow the cross-examination in cases involving sexual harassment/assault and it narrows the definition of sexual harassment. The impact of these new changes could cause undue harm to all parties and could potentially revictimize in the process.
What do you see as CCA's opportunities for growth, and what are CCA's strengths?
The diversity of our student body is a strength. At 60% students of color, 61% that identify as first-generation, CCA educates students in an environment that exposes students to differences in experiences, ways of doing things and new ideas but also, interacting with individuals different from one’s own identity, inspires personal growth and development while also preparing students to live and compete in an increasingly diverse nation. Educating a diverse population of students also means we are primed to help business and industry to diversify the workforce.
CCA’s efforts to implement Guided Pathways with the goal of improving student success through structured program mapping is a strength. It’s a strength because it guides students through choices to reach their career path while also aiming to minimize and/or avoid setbacks that could occur during their educational journey. Already underway are plans for improving through the development of Pathway Communities that bring together both Academic Affairs and Student Affairs to support students in their Guided Pathways. This will be an excellent intentional effort creating a community of support from education to career success.
CCA’s commitment to and efforts around Inclusive Excellence is also a strength. The work that Quill Phillips has done with her team to develop the IE Strategic Plan, to train and to actualize the steps to move towards an environment that embraces all identities, is truly an exceptional effort that speaks to ensuring the mantra of “You Matter, You Are Valued, You Belong.” I have only been at CCA for four weeks now and probably spend most of my days in meetings, and in all my meetings equity and equity-mindedness is mentioned or is used as a lens for practice. I anticipate the IE work will continue to improve our campus climate and our campus environment.
And in my time here I have come to be constantly in awe of the Student Affairs division and its ability to do all that it do. Additionally, my direct reports (Reyna Anaya, Kristen Cusack, David Murphy, John Young, Sarah Jiter, Monica Paez, and LeeDel Cohenour) are all experts in their area and bring to the table a thoughtfulness in their advocacy of students and understanding of the innerworkings of their departments and genuine care for the well-being of their staff and students.
Where can CCA grow? Where are the opportunities for CCA?
This is something that I am still learning but I already can see the future potential as every day I am inspired by the people I work with.
Dear CCA Colleagues: As many of you are aware, CCA was designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in 2016. This designation means we meet the federal threshold of educating a 25% full-time equivalent student population that identifies as Hispanic/Latinx. Last semester our enrollment of students who identify as Hispanic/Latinx increased to almost 33%.
Hispanic-Serving Institutions are designated by federal law because of high Hispanic growth in particular geographic locations near existing colleges and universities. The goal of the HSI initiative is to provide federal dollars to develop academic and support services that more effectively address the access, recruitment, transfer, retention, and completion needs of the growing Hispanic population.
Along with these federal dollars that have been committed to this effort (such as the Title V Developing Hispanic Serving Institution grant that we recently secured) there are also other opportunities to apply for funding where HSI designation gives us preferential points or puts us at a competitive advantage. This allows CCA to compete for funding opportunities that could further improve student success, retention, and completion for Hispanic/Latinx students and ALL students.
These students are not a homogenous group. Some were born in the U.S.; some were born in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central or South America, or other Spanish-speaking countries. Some speak Spanish; some do not. Some are citizens; some have documentation; some are DACA or undocumented. They are all our students and are here to continue their education.
Our challenge as an HSI is to enroll these students, provide them with an inclusive and culturally affirming experience, and support them in achieving their academic goals. We know that our efforts to serve all of our students through our Guided Pathways implementation, inclusive classroom instruction, and ongoing efforts to become a more equitable institution, help all of our students to be more successful. As an HSI, we also want to be sure that we are being specifically mindful of the needs of our Hispanic/Latinx students. Here are some of our current efforts to realize our potential as an HSI:
The HSI committee is led by Sheena Martinez and Daniel Sandoval. The mission of the committee is, “To build and sustain educational opportunities and support for the Latinx community to advance equity and justice for the success of all students at CCA.” The committee meets monthly and all members of the CCA community are invited to attend. You do not have to identify as Latinx. Some of the initiatives of this group include a mentoring program for Latinx students and a Latinx graduation celebration.
The Title V grant we received is due to the successful work of the grant development committee. The college was awarded a five-year, $2.85 million grant to eliminate equity gaps and increase retention, completion, and transfer outcomes for Hispanic/Latinx and other students of color. The committee includes Dr. Reyna Anaya, LeeDel Cohenour, Janel Highfill, Ray Keith, Cynthia Koenck, Dr. HyeKyung Lee, Ana Martin-Mejia, Quill Phillips, Mike Pichay, and Chris Tombari. The grant will focus on increasing student success in English and science courses. Grant staff include Monica Paez, Brian Jackson, Dr. Jasmine Yap, Roy Montgomery, and Alexandra Jackson. Dr. Angela Marquez, VP for Student Affairs, will be providing oversight for the grant.
The Latinx Faculty and Staff Association (LFSA), established in 2017, is an affinity group for faculty and staff who belong to the larger Latinx community at CCA. The LFSA is dedicated to supporting CCA students, faculty and staff, fostering Latinx leaders, and promoting an inclusive community that celebrates culture, family, and education through cultural awareness, professional development, and community engagement. Members of the LFSA have donated and raised funds for a Dream Scholarship, among other initiatives. They also work with the Latinx Student Alliance to increase Hispanic opportunity, leadership, advancement, and advocacy at CCA.
The good news is that we have increased Hispanic/Latinx student enrollment over this past decade as well as the representation of Hispanic/Latinx individuals in our workforce. More bilingual materials, robust enrollments in our community ESL programs, inclusive practices in our classrooms, and the asset mindset of our students and our workforce have led to positive results. Thanks to everyone for your good work on behalf of these students!
Bring Your Dog to Work Day
Associate Dean of Career and Technical Education Sheena Martinez's dog, Louie (left) met Misty, during Bring Your Dog to Work Day on December 20. Misty is owned by Denise Oakley, Coordinator of Academic Affairs Support Services.
Student Walter James found time on the first day of classes for pancakes and coffee. The Office of Student Life offered a pancake breakfast on January 21 to start the semester.
Congratulations to CCA students Autumn Conner, Cristian Rosales, and Angel Lozano for receiving the 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship. Each of them was presented with a $500 scholarship at CCA's Martin Luther King Jr. Dedication Luncheon on January 31.
Keynote speaker Dr. Marla Franco, Assistant Vice Provost for Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Initiatives from the University of Arizona, shared her knowledge of HSIs on February 28 in the Forum in the Fine Arts Building.
Music Instructor Evan Kirk and his wife welcomed their daughter, Amariana Paz, on January 30 at 4:50 a.m. Amariana weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces, and was 21.5 inches long.
Pathways Advisor Cyanna Whitney welcomed her son, Kameron Jeremiah, on February 15. He weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces, and was 20 inches long.
Financial Aid Administrative Assistant Isela Villa Vazquez welcomed her daughter, Maria Margarita De Belen, on December 10. She weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces, and was 19 inches long.
CCA 2019 Employees of the Year Named at Spring Kickoff Event
CCA’s spring 2020 kickoff was January 15 on the CentreTech Campus, where faculty, staff, and instructors gathered to recognize new employees, look back at what’s happened at CCA in recent years and ahead to what’s on the horizon.
The college also celebrated the college’s 2019 employees of the year as well as 72 employees for their years of service (the categories were five, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years). Six employees (Barbara Aaker, Michael Eli, James Gray, Douglas Knox, Craig Piel, and Thomas Wilkes) have worked at CCA for 25 years and three employees (Chris Hunt, Askale Haile, and Alan Stutman) have been with the college for 20 years.
The employees of the year were Lily Ryan, Accounting Technician III (classified staff member of the year); Daniel Schweissing, ESL Faculty (faculty member of the year); Tasia VanderVegt, Sociology Instructor (instructor of the year); and Nnena West, TRIO Director (professional-technical employee of the year).
Top Left Photo Caption: Vice President of Student Affairs Tricia Johnson, Sociology Instructor Tasia VanderVegt, and President Betsy Oudenhoven.
Top Right Photo Caption: Dean of Students Reyna Anaya, TRIO Director Nnena West, and President Betsy Oudenhoven.
Bottom Left Photo Caption: Vice President of Student Affairs Tricia Johnson, ESL Faculty Daniel Schweissing, and President Betsy Oudenhoven.
Bottom Right Photo Caption: Vice President of Administrative Services Skip Noe, Accounting Technician Lily Ryan, and President Betsy Oudenhoven.
Black Heritage Month
The Black Faculty and Staff Umoja affinity group held Black Heritage Month events throughout February. The final event, Honoring Black Excellence, honored staff with awards who represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Lynn Adams, Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics); H. Ray Keith, Kujichagulia (Self-determination); Lizzie Louis, Kuumba (Creativity); Quill Phillips, Nia (Purpose); Antonio Pido, Imani (Faith); Savannah Sanburg, Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility); and April Stewart, Umoja (Unity).
Caption: Community College of Aurora Foundation Development Director Lynn Adams and TRIO Academic Coach Melkamu Alemu show off the awards they received during the Honoring Black Excellence event on February 26.
CCA Geography Faculty Member Presents His Research in Guatemala
As part of his dissertation research process, Geography Faculty Nikolai Alvarado traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, in January to present his research on the political lives of migrants in informal settlements. His research was presented at the Conference of Latin American Geography’s 50th-anniversary meeting.
Erica Hines Named Director of Career Services
Erica Hines was named Career Services Director in January. Erica has been a Career Counselor since April 2018. Erica has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education and human resource studies with a specialization in counseling and career development from Colorado State University.
Simpson Receives Fellowship
Dr. Ashley Simpson, Chair of the Education and World Languages departments, received an Advocacy Fellowship from the American Association of Educators (AAE). AAE is the largest national, non-union, professional educator organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to educator empowerment and advocacy—promoting professionalism, collaboration, and excellence without a partisan agenda.
“I recently found out that Campus Security Technician Laura Longmire at the CentreTech campus, has been going above and beyond the requirements of her position duties. Laura has observed in her time here at CCA that some of the staff have shifts which tend to have them here a bit later into the evening, and she is especially observant and caring of those who park in the accessible parking. On nights that it snows, Laura has been helpful and caring by cleaning the snow and ice off of the car of one of her fellow employees who parks in this area just before that employee leaves to go home. It was so heartwarming to hear that she is so thoughtful about the safety of our employees, even beyond what is normally expected of her role. Hats off to Laura! We appreciate you!” – Submitted by Cindy Hesse, Human Resources Director
Community ESL Program Update
Students representing 83 countries – or 43% of the total world nations – are taking courses in the Community ESL program this winter term. The number of countries increased from 65 over the previous fall session.
Nearly 800 students enrolled in Community ESL classes this winter. The country of origin with the most students is Mexico with 171 enrolled. Ethiopia and Venezuela are next with 70 and 39 students, respectively, who are in the program.
The most common language spoken by enrollees of the Community ESL program is Spanish with 356 students. Students who speak French (62 students) and Amharic and Arabic (52 students, respectively) represent the next highest primary language groups.
CCA Receives $31,000 Grant to Bolster Open Educational Resources Efforts
CCA has received a $31,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Higher Education to implement a pilot project to increase the adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) at the college and measure the positive effects of OER usage on student success.
OER are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used by faculty and instructors to provide quality education without the excessive cost of textbooks. In the coming weeks, several opportunities will become available for faculty and instructors to receive incentives to review or adopt an OER textbook or curate OER learning materials for their courses.
The pilot project has four goals: 1) develop and implement a sequenced professional development curriculum on OER adoption and pay for a part-time instructor to attend professional development; 2) complete 30 reviews on the Open Textbook Library; 3) update five courses for adoption of OER materials (e.g., a textbook) and redesign one course adapting and curating various/multiple OER source materials; and 4) provide contracted instructional design support for the update of six courses where faculty and instructors have adopted or developed a set of OER course materials.
Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI) Grant Extended Through 2020
The United States Department of Labor has extended the Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI) grant through December 2020. Originally slated to end in June 2020, the grant provides resources and support services to student parents. The $3.9 million U.S. Department of Labor grant was awarded to CCA and the Community College of Denver in July 2016. The grant is designed to expand educational opportunities and access to careers in high-demand industries for student-parents in the Denver Metro area. SWFI provides to student-parents academic advising, coaching and navigation services, tuition assistance, childcare navigation, supportive service funds for childcare and other cost-of-attendance expenses, career counseling, and job-readiness and employment supports.
“Honk!” Musical Shows at Aurora Fox, Tours Japan
In January, “Honk!,” a musical directed by Theatre Director Stacey D’Angelo, showed at the Aurora Fox Arts Center. D’Angelo directed the play, which is based on the tale of “The Ugly Duckling,” for the Phamaly Theatre Company, a Denver-based nonprofit whose performers have disabilities of various kinds. “Honk!” has a unique collaboration, as it has partnered with a Japanese theater foundation called The Nippon Foundation: Diversity in the Arts, which is exploring inclusive theater practices for Japanese actors with disabilities, the majority being deaf actors who speak sign language. “Honk!” and D’Angelo traveled to Tokyo in February for a two-performance tour.
Photo caption: Theatre Director Stacey D’Angelo in the Tokyo Tatemono Brillia Hall as part of the “Honk!” tour.
Graduation Ceremony Held for Changing Lives Through Literature Participants
A second group of participants has completed the national Changing Lives Through Literature program. The program, initially proposed by Aurora City Council member Allison Hiltz and brought to CCA by Aurora Municipal Judge Shawn Day, works with individuals who are in the court system. As part of the program, English faculty member Susan Achziger teaches a literature workshop. A graduation ceremony for the participants was held on January 22.
(Photo caption: From left to right, Aurora City Council member Allison Hiltz (who initiated the program), Judge Peter Frigo, Emelin Aguirre (participant), Sunita Dean (participant), Rischa Ross (participant), Jennett Montanez (participant), Susan Achziger (CCA English Faculty), and Daisy Dominguez (participant) pose for a photo).
Henderson Works with East Colfax Community Collective
Career Advisor Towanna Henderson is a founding member of the East Colfax Community Collective. The East Colfax Community Collective attended a community workshop with the Denver Community Planning and Development department of the city of Denver in January. The ECCC wanted to demonstrate how equity and inclusion should be addressed in city planning of the East Area Plan. The East Colfax neighborhood is an international community of Afghanistani, Burmese, Karen, Congolese, Hispanic, African-American, Indonesian, Anglo, and Ethiopian residents. Several CCA students live in the area and the Lowry Campus is only a few blocks away.
CCA Hosts Legislative Breakfast for Local Politicians, Aurora Chamber Representatives, Business Professionals
CCA hosted a legislative breakfast on January 6 at the CentreTech Campus, where local officeholders, Aurora Chamber of Commerce members, and business professionals gathered for breakfast and discussion. Among those in attendance were Congressman Jason Crow (6th Congressional District), Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko, Aurora Chamber President and CEO Kevin Hougen, and several state senators and representatives from the Eastern metro area.
CCA’s DMI Provides Support to Company Dedicated to Eliminating Illicit Cellphone Usage in Correction Facilities
In December, the Disaster Management Institute (DMI) at CCA supported Cell Detect, Inc., a company committed to eliminating illicit cellphone usage in correction facilities, with beta testing of new technology using ankle bracelets to disrupt cellphone signals. The DMI brought in 30 people who were distributed throughout an empty correctional facility to test the functionality of Cell Detect’s software and product design.
Hayman Barber Gives Gen Z Presentation to at Georgia Conference
VA Hayman Barber, Dean of Academic Affairs and Workforce Partnerships, gave a presentation titled “Generation Z: Shaping Modern Day Universities by Rethinking Student Success” on February 6 at the 37th Academic Chairpersons Conference in Savannah, Georgia. Hayman Barber’s presentation explored different ways to help Gen Z — those born between 1997 and 2012, according to the Pew Research Center — be successful in higher education.
Brett Baker, Welcome Center Coordinator, CentreTech
Alexandra Jackson, Title V Learning Community Coordinator
Brian Jackson, Inclusive Pedagogy Instructional Coach for English
Patrice Lewis, Recruiter
Christine Lo Bue-Estes, Director of Health Science Program Development
Marissa Manzanares, Pathway Advisor (Health)
Ronald Manis, Grounds and Nursery
Mikki Miskoviak, Welcome Center Coordinator, Lowry
Roy Montgomery, Title V Learning Community Coordinator
Mike Pichay, Director, Student Engagement and Retention
Monica Paez, Title V Project Director
Katrina Venta, Recruiter
Dr. Carmen Wade, Dean of Academic Affairs and First-Year Success
Eileen Walsh, Career Advisor
Dr. Jasmine Yap, Inclusive Pedagogy Instructional Coach for Science