The May 6 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, one of the largest ever for CCA. Congratulations to all of our students and the many staff and faculty that helped make this another great event! A special thank you to the CCA Office of Student Life for coordinating this year's ceremony. Congratulations to all of our graduates for realizing their potential!
CCA President Dr. Betsy Oudenhoven gave the welcome remarks to graduates. She asked them, “Will you continue to realize your potential?”
Colorado State Sen. Rhonda Fields gave the commencement address and told students: “I know there have been some rainy days, and I know there have been some hard times. But you know what? You made it to the other side.”
Christina Hughes gave the student remarks during the 2016-2017 Commencement Ceremony. “I have found that being a student at CCA has given me one of the most powerful gifts—self-love,” she said during her speech.
CCA graduate Elizabeth Henderson looks up at the audience during the Commencement Ceremony.
Roland Alarid was the oldest graduate from the 2016-2017 graduating class of CCA. Roland received an associate of arts degree in writing and directing; he plans to start his own business in audiovisual media production and distribution after graduation. At 75, he also carries the distinction of being the oldest graduate from the Colorado Film School at CCA.
At 17 years old, Lissette Montano was the youngest graduate in CCA’s 2016-2017 graduating class. She was a concurrent enrollment student who attends Aurora West High School and received her associate of arts from CCA; she will transfer to CU Boulder, where she plans to major in linguistics and international relations. Lissette speaks English, Spanish, some French, and is working with an app to teach herself Portuguese.
Degree Awarded Posthumously
At the end of CCA’s commencement ceremony, after all the graduate’s names were called, CCA President Betsy Oudenhoven announced Gregory Jon Setliffe’s name and awarded his family his degree. Gregory passed away in March 2016 but had accumulated enough credits to earn an associate of general studies degree. As his mother, Barbara, her husband Tom, and their other son, Tom Jr., made their way to the stage, CCA’s 2016-2017 commencement class stood and applauded. “The fact that they were able to honor him meant a lot to us,” Barbara said before the ceremony. “CCA is just a great community.”
(Left) Gregory Setliffe at home.
(Right) The Setliffe family after receiving Gregory's degree.
What are they?
Remember the all-college meetings where CCA staff discussed metamajors? Those metamajors are now known as Guided Academic Pathways, and they are designed to help students make decisions about their academic programs and to assist in keeping them on that path. Guided Pathways are the whole package of academic programs: advising, course selection, and support services that help students get from application to graduation. At CCA, the Office of the Dean of Students, working with various departments, has designed a special web tool to help students select a possible career based on their personality traits. This tool also helps them find the right academic program based on their natural aptitudes and propensities.
The six guided academic pathways are 1) Communication and Language, 2) Creative Industries, 3) Health and Public Service, 4) People, Societies and Ideas, 5) Professional Studies, and 6) STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
When will they launch?
CCA’s Advising Department, Student Affairs, School of Liberal Arts, and School of Professional Studies and Sciences are now implementing the Guided Pathways tool when talking with students about the future of their education.
How does it work?
Students who are undecided about a career or degree path can begin by reading the Guided Pathways brochure or website to identify the personality traits that best describe them. For instance, personality traits for the STEM pathway include the ability to think critically and analytically; thinking of oneself as innovative; an interest in how things work; the ability to solve problems, and being a quantitative reasoner.
If students feel that they possess those traits, they move on to the next section of the Guided Pathways tool and look at the possible careers that match those traits. For the STEM pathway, for instance, those careers include animal and plant scientist, computer programmer, engineer, environmental specialist, and researcher, among others.
Students then find a list of associate degrees and certificates that CCA offers in those fields and chooses an academic pathway toward attainment. At this step, students meet with an advisor to make sure that the program is the right fit and to resolve any other questions they might have.
The final feature of the pathway, once students have chosen an academic program, is that they can easily find an Academic Course Map that lists all of the courses they need to take to earn a degree at CCA and possibly transfer to a four-year college or start their career. The Academic Course Maps are separated into two-, three-, and four-year schedules so that students know exactly what courses they need to take and when. Seeing an advisor at this step is also recommended.
If staff, faculty, or students have any questions about Guided Pathways, there are specific departments that can help! You can contact Academic Advising at 303-360-4906 or Career Services at 303-340-7231. Or call the Transfer Success Program at 303-340-7108 for more information about transferring to a four-year college or university.
The good news for CCA is that we have started to reverse our enrollment decline, having seen increases in enrollment for both fall 2016 and spring 2017 semesters, with a 6.6 percent increase in FTE (full-time equivalent enrollment) this semester. This is the result of a number of initiatives across the college, including the implementation of Recruit software, a concerted and college-wide effort to assist students before they are dropped for nonpayment, a successful and collaborative partnership between academic and student affairs that has led to an increase in concurrent enrollment, and an increase in Hispanic student enrollment.
This semester we have seen an increase in new applicants (up 10 percent), an increase in our fall-to-spring retention (up approximately 7 percent), and an increase in concurrent enrollment (up 416 students). As we know, efforts to attract new students as well as efforts to retain our current students work together to improve our enrollment.
Enrollment and Budget Trends
The fact that we have started to increase our enrollment again is a very good thing. However, for the last four years, our enrollment was in constant decline. From a high point of 12,780 students in 2012-2013, we fell to 10,529 students in 2015-2016.
At the same time that we were declining in enrollment, we were increasing expenditures. The majority of this increase was in Instruction, as it should be. In addition, although our funding is based on FTE, approximately 80 percent of our students attend part-time, and every one of these individual students requires college services.
We are spending more in some areas, such as travel and special functions, than some of our peer institutions, and we are taking a close look at how we can sensibly reduce these expenditures. We have not chosen to cut our budgets in recent years nor to put specific parameters around our spending, but these are conversations we need to have. Although our enrollment is definitely improving, we are not back to where we were, and state funding continues to decline.
Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
It appears that the increase in general-fund appropriations to CCCS (Colorado Community College System) next year will be minimal, with a proposed increase of approximately $380,000 across the system. The State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education has approved a tuition increase of 5.6 percent,which would increase per-credit-hour tuition by $7.65 or $229.50 over 30 hours. The board also supports a salary increase of 2.5 percent across employee groups.
As we budget for FY18, we need to consider carefully whether new or increased spending supports our college priorities and to use evidence to inform our decisions. We need to ask ourselves if there is anything we can stop doing, or do differently or more efficiently. We need to plan ahead so that needed expenditures don’t become unexpected emergencies. We need to invest in our students, our employees, and our infrastructure in ways that improve our effectiveness as a college. We need to use our limited resources strategically. And we need to take well-considered risks when they are appropriate.
We at CCA have never been cavalier about how we spend our money, but there has been more latitude in the past few years—even as our revenues have dropped. My hope is that, with this new cycle, we can begin to better align our enrollment and our expenditures, and continue to plan for growth. But let’s set as our first goal to get back to where we were five years ago. We have always done a lot with a little, and I know it can take its toll over time. Let’s do our best to invest in ourselves and our future and place our resources thoughtfully, where they will do the most good, continuing our tradition of innovation, quality, and inclusion.
CCA celebrated Take Your Child to Work Day on April 27, when employees were invited to bring their children to work with them so they could observe our staff at work.
Below are a few of CCA’s special guests who came with their parents:
Faith Samuel, daughter of Michelle Samuel, Library Services coordinator, and Joseph Lawrence, son of Dan Lawrence, director of Library Services, take a break from working in the library to hang out in a tree.
Santiago Esmeral, son of Tatiana Esmeral, Lowry evening administrator, spent time with his mother at Lowry campus. His customer service was excellent, and he proudly greeted students and staff who walked by him. He even helped direct some visitors to the North Quad to attend an evening ESL course.
Alexandria, daughter of Dean of Students Tamara White, checks her mother’s Outlook calendar to help her during Take Your Child to Work Day.
Kyla Antony and Kate O'Donnell Named to 40 Under 40 Class
Kyla Antony, director of the Center for Orientation and Recruitment, and Kate O’Donnell, faculty member in the Arts and Communication Department, have been selected to participate in the second American Association for Women in Community Colleges’ “40 Under 40” class. The AAWCC honors women working in community colleges across the country who are rising stars and who are making a difference on their campuses. The 40 women, including Antony and O’Donnell, were honored at the AAWCC National Awards Breakfast on April 24 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Betsy Oudenhoven, CCA president, attended the breakfast, along with CCA’s two honorees.
In 2016, Stacey D’Angelo, director of the Theatre Department, was recognized by the AAWCC as part of its first 40 Under 40 class.
Variety Magazine Names Colorado Film School One of 30 Stellar Film Academies in the World
The Colorado Film School received some national publicity when Variety named it one of the “30 Stellar Film Academies in the World,” in the magazine’s April Entertainment Education issue. The stellar cast of winners included such programs as the University of Southern California, the University of California Los Angeles, New York University, and the London Film School.
Variety wrote this about the Colorado Film School:
“Though Colorado Film School’s enrollment is at approximately 350 students, the school produces more than 1,000 films per year. CFS students participate both as interns and paid cast and crew for productions in and around the Denver area. Alumni have worked on films ranging from “The Avengers” to “Gone Girl.”"
"Thank you to our faculty and staff for all your hard work, to our students for inspiring us every day, and to the CCA leadership for making this dream a reality. We appreciate your support and guidance, and look forward to working alongside you in the future to provide the best learning opportunities for our students." – Brian Steward, director of Colorado Film School.
Sandra O'Connor Naturalization Oath Ceremony
Sandra O’Connor, administrative assistant with the Campus Security and Safety Department at CentreTech campus, became a naturalized U.S. citizen on April 20 during the naturalization ceremony at Four Mile Park in Denver.
Sandra was one of 35 people from 16 countries who took the naturalization oath. Born and raised in Panama, she came to the United States in 2005 and has worked at CCA for the past two and a half years.
Caption: Sandra O’Connor poses for a photo during the naturalization ceremony on April 20. Gov. John Hickenlooper (left) was present for the ceremony.
Jason Bynum—Full-Time Career Advisor
Jason Bynum, formerly a part-time career advisor for CCA, will become a full-time career advisor on May 15. Congratulations, Jason!
Jessica Rogan—Full-Time Administrative Assistant
Jessica Rogan, who has worked at CCA since October 2015 in a part-time role as student assistant and then office assistant, became the full-time administrative assistant for the Office of Student Life on May 1. Congratulations, Jessica!
Camino al Colegio Sees Big Boost in Attendance
The second Camino al Colegio on April 26, an event designed to inform and educate Spanish speakers in the community about CCA, drew nearly 70 people — twice as many as last year's event. Potential students and their families met in the Forum in the Fine Arts Building on the CentreTech campus and listened to presentations given by Financial Aid, student club Dreamers in Action, and many other departments.
2017-2018 Colorado Space Grant Consortium Scholarship Recipients
Three Community College of Aurora students have received the 2017-2018 Colorado Space Grant Consortium (COSGC) Transfer Scholarship. Recipients receive a $2,000 scholarship to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder to pursue their bachelor's degree. CCA recipients were Lani Brooks, Jasey Diaz, and Eric Pineda. Jasey will attend Colorado School of Mines.
On April 14 at the CentreTech campus, CCA held its second Conference Share, an event that encourages staff and faculty to share with their co-workers the knowledge they have gained from various conferences they’ve attended throughout the year.
Caption: Michelle Pacheco, director of enrollment services for Concurrent Enrollment; Kurt Wollenweber, Concurrent Enrollment coordinator, Cherry Creek School District; Stepheny Beauchamp, academic programs coordinator for Concurrent Enrollment; and Nicole Banks, coordinator of Concurrent Enrollment Student Success, gathered for a group picture. The group gave a presentation titled “Concurrent Enrollment: Strengthening Us to Empower Them.”
Open Mic Night
CCA’s Office of Student Life hosted an Open Mic Night on April 19 at the CentreTech campus. Students performed songs, rapped, and recited poetry as part of the event.
Caption: Student Neha Baweja recites a poem during Open Mic Night.
Pizza with the President
Jorge Velasquez, assistant director of the Office of Student Life, watches as CCA President Betsy Oudenhoven talks with a student during Pizza with the President at the Lowry campus on April 17.
CCA’s courtroom (known as Law and Order: EDU) recently served as the site for an interdisciplinary mock murder trial on April 22 at the Center for Simulation. The trial included students studying such disciplines as archeology, anthropology, criminal justice, paralegal, theater, and translation and interpretation. The trial capped the semester-long CSI: Aurora project spearheaded by Elizabeth Hirsh, Anthropology faculty. During the trial, students presented evidence that was collected by other students at a mock crime scene in March. Students testified about what they’d found at the crime scene, and paralegal students served as the lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense. Students also served on the six-member jury, which found the defendant not guilty of the murder.
Caption: Margaret Uchner, legal studies coordinator, leans over to provide guidance to paralegal student Kristin Cokas as she prepares during the trial. Paralegal student William Bliss is sitting at the table. In the background, Doug Rossi, adjunct instructor in the Paralegal Department, serves as judge, and Tim Wilkerson, adjunct instructor in the Paralegal Department, sits to his left.
Reflection Spring Showcase
CCA’s Arts and Communication Department hosted its Reflection Spring Showcase on April 21, 22, and 28. Students in art, music, theater, and speech classes demonstrated their skills during the showcase.
Music Director Michael Pickering plays piano and sings during the Music Showcase. From left to right, in the background: Chris Tombari, associate dean, School of Liberal Arts, plays guitar; Ted Snow, dean, School of Liberal Arts, plays drums; and CCA student Jordan Henderson plays bass.
"Speak Up, CCA!"
Ted Snow, dean of the School of Liberal Arts, shakes hands with first-place speaker Benjamin Rhoton after the "Speak Up, CCA!" competition ended on April 28. The speaking tournament had a record number of participants this year -94- and the 47 judges, composed of CCA faculty and staff, participated in the selection process. Twenty-one students made it to the final round, and the process of elimination was difficult for the judges.
Students view drawings and other art that were posted on the walls in the Classroom Building on April 28 as part of CCA’s Art Showcase.
Students from area high schools and CCA presented some of the best work they had produced in art classes. The artwork was judged in separate competitions for the CCA students and the high-school students.
For the High School Portfolio Review, Rangeview High School student Coree Morgan won first place; Rangeview High School student Autumn Gamel finished second.
For the CCA Art Show, Julio Herrera won first place with his work “Mumble,” and Kristin Smith won second place with her work, “Reflection/Retraction.”
Theatre Department Showcase
(Left) Denika Myles carries a snow shovel onstage as she talks with Tyler Nye during their performance of “Chocolate” as part of the Theatre Showcase on April 28.
(Right) Anisha Gurung (left) speaks with Adia Marble on a bench during their performance of “That First Fall” during the Theatre Showcase on April 28.
Kimberly Tenure, CCA adjunct instructor in the Political Science Department, took her State and Local Government Class to visit the State Capitol during Spring Break.
The class met with Reps. Mike Weissman and Dominique Jackson before the session started. The class then attended the session as the General Assembly debated House Bill 1242—“New Transportation Infrastructure Funding Revenue.” After lunch, the class visited the Colorado Supreme Court, toured court chambers, and viewed an original copy of the Colorado Constitution.
Jacob Sangiuliano, son of Valerie Sangiuliano, assistant registrar, will graduate from Grandview High School on May 26. He will pursue his undergraduate education at CCA in the fall.
Kathryn Sturtevant-James, director of the Office of Student Life, and her husband, Eric, welcomed their son, Emerson Forrest James, on May 9. Born at 12:28 p.m., Emerson weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 22¼ inches long.
CCA's Model United Nations team again received an honorable mention award after the team's trip in March to the National Model United Nations Conference. Ryan Elam, CCA's video specialist, focused on the story of one student's experience at CCA and with the Model United Nations team as he created this year's Model United Nations video. CCA's Model United Nations team represented the country of Mexico during the conference. The video also received an award from the National Collegiate Conference Association and will help pay for $1,000 of the delegate fees for next year's Model UN submission.
Military and Veterans Expo
Congressman Mike Coffman greets a potential employer during the Military and Veterans Employment Expo at CCA on April 14. More than 30 potential employers attended the Expo, held in the Student Centre Building.
Spring Career Expo
CCA’s Career Services Department held its Spring Career Expo at the Lowry campus West Quad Building on April 18. More than 70 companies attended and talked with attendees about jobs and internships.
Diesel Open House
A representative from Power Motive Corp. speaks with potential students at the Diesel Power Mechanics Open House on April 13.
A man gets his blood drawn by a phlebotomy student during the 9Health Fair held at CCA’s CentreTech campus on April 23. Area residents could attend the fair and receive free and low-cost screenings for a variety of health issues.
What is the one book that you would recommend to anyone to read—either fiction or non-fiction?
Chris Tombari, associate dean, School of Liberal Arts: "A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons" by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor. "A fascinating read to see the lived experience of a slave with a different perspective on President James Madison and his wife Dolley Madison. I learned of this book when we visited James Madison's plantation, Montpelier, in Virginia."
Chryztii Harrod, admissions assistant/work-study student: "The Bible. It can be seen for so much more than its religious meaning; whether historical context, poetry, or inspiration, I find it the one book I can guarantee is worth the read."