The Community College of Aurora's May 5 commencement ceremony took place at Magness Arena in the Ritchie Center on the University of Denver campus. More than 300 students participated in this year’s ceremony, one of the largest ever for CCA.
Congratulations to all of our students and the many staff and faculty who helped make this another great event!
CCA President Betsy Oudenhoven congratulated the students saying, “No one runs a marathon without preparation and hard work, and I know that for many of you this has been a marathon. Let me congratulate our wonderful students. You should all be very proud. Graduating from college is an accomplishment to be celebrated.”
Nancy McCallin, President of the Colorado Community College System, gave her last remarks to CCA graduates before her retirement on July 31: “Congratulations on this incredible achievement in your lives. It is my honor to address you on this very special day where you have proven to yourself through your hard work and commitment and dedication that you can do it – that you have graduated. You have an incredible gift that you have given to yourself as you embark upon the next journey of your life.”
The student speaker was Justin Davis, Associate of Applied Science in Writing/Directing, who told the audience, “Reach for the dreams in front of you. Listen to the stories to the left of you. And bend over backwards for the people who are behind you.”
A Family Act
CCA’s 2017-2018 commencement class featured a family act: Danielle House and her daughter, Breanna Andrews, graduated together.
Danielle received her Associate of Applied Science degree in CCA’s Paralegal program. Breanna received her Associate of General Studies degree in the Integrated Nursing Pathway (INP) program.
When Danielle was helping her daughter enroll in the INP program at CCA, she thought: “If she can do it, why can’t I?” That thought motivated her, and she applied as well.
“I was a bank teller for 20 years,” said Danielle. “I never attended college, and I wanted a career change.” Danielle will transfer to the University of Colorado Denver to pursue a bachelor’s degree in human resources in the fall.
“I always knew I wanted to go to CCA,” said Breanna. “After high school, I didn’t think a big college was best, so CCA was much cheaper and the nursing program was right for me.”
Breanna will transfer to the nursing program at the University of Colorado on the Anschutz campus. She plans to complete CU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and become a pediatric nurse.
CCA Concurrent Enrollment student Isabelle Medina graduated from CCA on May 5 – more than two weeks before she graduated from Rangeview High School. Isabelle was the youngest graduate attending CCA’s 2017-2018 commencement and is also a first-generation college student. She is 17 years old.
“I am very glad I finished my degree,” she said. “It was a challenge to schedule classes between high school and college, but my counselor and I made it work.”
Isabelle received her Associate of Science degree in psychology and on May 21, received her high school diploma from Rangeview High School.
“I want to be a therapist because I want to help people,” she said. “There is a huge need among young people, and I want to give back to the community.”
She plans to transfer to the University of Colorado Denver where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
It has felt like a really good year, with many wonderful accomplishments by students, faculty, and staff. For me, and I know for many of you, graduation is one of the best days of the year. For our students, it may be one of the best days of their lives. On Saturday, May 5, we had 329 excited students participate in the ceremony, more than we have ever had in the history of the college. I think this is indicative of the level of engagement of our students. Thanks to all of you, our students do feel a part of this college community and they feel that they matter. They brought themselves and their families and friends, and they celebrated this moment with us. How lucky are we to be part of something so powerful?
One of the practices that helps our students achieve success is momentum – maintaining continuous enrollment and consistently making progress toward a credential. Momentum matters for institutions, as well. I believe that CCA is experiencing a great deal of positive momentum, and as we recharge over the summer and look to the year ahead, I hope we will consider how we can build on that momentum. This year we have made steady, consistent progress on enrollment, Guided Pathways, Inclusive Excellence and equity, new program development, professional development, relationships with our community partners, and much more. We have received scholarship donations and grant funding, as well as awards and recognition. We are laying a strong foundation for student success.
Our students learn in engaged classrooms with committed and talented educators, they encounter helpful and caring staff members, and they get to be fully who they are when they are on our campuses. Do we always get it right? No. Do we keep trying? Yes. I believe that we are doing many good things – and we have to keep at it. I don’t know if there will be a “magic moment” when it all comes together. Probably not. But I do believe that we will begin to see improved and equitable outcomes as a result of our collective efforts. Not just mine, or just yours, but all of ours together.
And here is where I have a favor to ask. This fall I will be starting my sixth year as president. We will also be starting a new strategic-planning process – and we will need all of your voices to inform this work. So, let’s start with my fall speech. If you were me, what would you say? What messages do you think are most important to share as we start a new academic year together? What needs to be clarified, highlighted, emphasized, and celebrated? In those lovely, idle moments of summer, when there isn’t anything in particular on your mind, I challenge you to consider: If you were me, and had the honor and the responsibility of addressing the entire college community, what is it you would want to say?
Please send me your suggestions. I know that if you do, I will get it right. Have a wonderful summer, whether you are on campus or off. And thanks for everything.
The Community College of Aurora has made a significant change to the registration process for all students registering for the fall semester.
Students no longer can register during the first week of fall classes. Instead, they can register only up to the day before fall classes start. This means that for the start of the traditional fall semester on Monday, August 20, students can register for classes until Sunday, August 19. After August 19, students will not be able to register for classes except under special circumstances.
“As educators, we know students are more successful and teachers are able to build community more effectively when students are present on the first day of class,” said Paulette Dalpes, Vice President for Student Affairs.
It’s not too late to remind students to register early. Remember: students have until August 19 to register for the traditional fall semester. For students taking online courses, they have until August 26 to register. A majority of online classes will start on Monday, August 27 and at that point students can no longer register for classes.
CCA’s Communications and Marketing Department has worked with Admissions, Registration, and Records to communicate these changes with a Register Early! campaign.
The campaign emphasizes the changes, explains why they are important, and informs students on how to avoid missing deadlines. To encourage students to register early, Admissions, Registration, and Records is offering CCA-themed "Fox Socks" to the first 400 students who register, and those students can also enter a drawing for a chance to win a drone.
If you or your students have questions about early registration, please contact Kristen Cusack, Registrar/Director of Admissions, at 303-360-4701.
Take Back the Night
Susie Roman, Director of Prevention and Education for The Blue Bench, talked to students about consent during the annual Take Back the Night event on April 12. Take Back the Night is an international event aimed at ending sexual, relationship, and domestic violence in any form. This was the 10th year that CCA has hosted the event.
Red Fox Mural
CCA students Kaye Hollister (standing on the ladder), Lis Long Weber (sitting), and Xiomara Gonzalez work on the Red Fox Mural on May 11 in the Administration Building. The mural will be installed on the wall that faces the Human Resources conference room. The mural is designed to celebrate the generosity of CCA staff who have donated $50 or more. Those staff members will have their names listed on plaques installed on the wall.
“Speak Up, CCA!” Competition
Seventy-six students participated in CCA’s annual speaking competition “Speak Up, CCA!” on April 27. Students delivered speeches and were judged by 48 CCA faculty and staff in the all-day event.
(left photo) Students who participated in “Speak Up, CCA!” fill the bridge on the CentreTech campus.
(right photo) Chris Tombari, Dean of Academic Affairs for the School of Liberal Arts, presents the first-place trophy to CCA student Charlie Altvater (right), while Lynette Jachowicz, Chair of the Arts and Communication Department, applauds.
Muse 2018: Arts Showcase
CCA students participated in the Art Showcase on April 27, in which their artwork was featured on the walls and in display cases within the Classroom Building.
(left photo) Student Kaye Hollister (left) was awarded first place in the Foundations 2D and Drawing I category for her “Skeletal Flower.” She is with Art Faculty Kate O'Donnell.
(right photo) Student Shana Thompson won first place in the Advanced Drawing and Photography category for her “Still Life with Balloons.”
From the Spirituals to the Hip-Hop
Hasan Salaam, community activist, spoke in the Larry D. Carter Theater on April 10. His presentation, titled “From the Spirituals to Hip-Hop: Black Music’s Socio-Political Importance in America,” focused on the history of black musicians and their influence on today's music.
CCA Named 2018 Promising Place to Work
The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education have selected CCA as a 2018 Promising Place to Work in Community Colleges.
CCA is one of 18 colleges nationwide to receive the award, which recognizes CCA’s best-in-class student and staff recruitment and retention practices, inclusive learning and working environments, and meaningful community service and engagement opportunities. For 40 years, NISOD has celebrated and promoted excellence in teaching, learning, and leadership at community and technical colleges. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education has been reporting on diversity in higher education for more than 30 years.
CCA will receive the award on May 29 at the NISOD annual conference in Austin, Texas.
New Faculty Senate Executive Team
The Faculty Senate Executive Team has been announced for the 2018-2019 school year. Tanya Cook, Sociology Faculty, will serve as president; Eric Cline, Math Faculty, will serve as vice president; and Travis Graves, Clinical Faculty and Resource Manager for Allied Health, will serve as secretary. Sandra Edwards, Adjunct Instructor in the English Department, will serve as the adjunct representative.
Tricia Johnson Receives an Under 40 Award from AAWCC
Tricia Johnson, Vice President for Academic Affairs, was a recipient of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges’ Under 40 Award at the Annual Awards Breakfast held on April 29 in Dallas, Texas. She was one of 27 women to receive the award, which recognizes outstanding female leaders under the age of 40 working at a community college.
Current CCA staff members who have also received the award include Kate O’Donnell, Art Faculty, who received the award last year, and Stacey D’Angelo, Theatre Director, who was recognized in 2016.
Eed Cefkin Named One of Colorado’s Asian American Heroes of 2018
Eed Cefkin, Adjunct Instructor with CCA’s Community ESL program, was named one of Asian Avenue’s Asian American Heroes for 2018. Read about Cefkin in the May issue of Asian Avenue.
Arts and Communication Recognition
“April is always a busy month for the Arts and Communication Department—lots of events happening! But much of it would not have been possible without the support of so many folks, including Leah Springman (a theatre tech/lighting expert and Theatre Instructor), Alex Palmer (Live Event Tech Specialist), and Nathan Greyman (the department’s Graphic Designer and iMac Lab Monitor). I’m always impressed by (and grateful for) how hard how so many people work to make the April Arts and Communication events so successful, but these three often work “behind the scenes” and deserve as much recognition as everybody else!” – Submitted by Lynette Jachowicz, Chair, Arts and Communication Department.
Wendy Muench Named Expert Level Instructor
Wendy Muench, Adjunct Instructor in the Computer and Digital Technologies Department, has been named an Expert Level Instructor by the Cisco Networking Academy. The Expert Level Instructor designation is given to the top 10 percent of Cisco instructors globally, based on student feedback and performance.
Community ESL Enrollment Reaches Record High Enrollment
CCA’s Community ESL program recently enrolled 680 students in classes for the spring term, surpassing all previous single-term enrollment numbers. The Community ESL program, housed in the North Quad Building on the Lowry Campus, offers ESL classes, U.S. Citizenship Preparation classes, and Bridge ESL classes to close educational gaps as students prepare for college study or workforce entry. The Citizenship Project, working in partnership with the Colorado African Organization and Lutheran Family Services, has helped 10 CCA students obtain their U.S. citizenship in the last two terms.
“It’s about providing equity to the infrastructure of opportunity, something we all strive for at CCA,” says Brannon Saffron, Program Director of the Community ESL program. “We try to help students with the skills they need in order to enroll in college, pursue sustainable employment opportunities, or be a better advocate for their families in their communities. We are trying to clear a path for students who may never have thought that a college education was a goal they could achieve.”
Red Fox Authors
Paulette Dalpes, Vice President of Student Affairs, is a contributing writer to a new book, Uncommon Bonds: Women Reflect on Race and Friendship. The book was released in April.
Dalpes co-wrote a chapter with a colleague in the field of student affairs, Berenecea Johnson Eanes, about their friendship across multiple social identities, with a focus on race and sexual orientation.
Savannah Sanburg, Adjunct Instructor in the Arts and Communication Department, and two other authors wrote about “Diamonds in the Rough: Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning in Facebook Pollshare.com Comments” for the publication American Behavioral Scientist in April.
Daniel Schweissing, CCA Faculty in the World Languages Department, wrote an article for EthicsDaily.com. “My Journey to Become an Interfaith Baptist” was published in May.
Chris Tombari, Dean of Academic Affairs for the School of Liberal Arts, worked with four authors on an article for the journal Higher Education of Social Science. “Title IX Administrators: Interpreting a Rapidly Expanding Profession” was published in March.
Familiar Faces in New Places
Molly Dougherty, formerly Student Support Specialist, assumed the role of Graduation Processor in April. Dougherty has been with CCA since September 2017.
Chris Tombari, formerly Associate Dean for the School of Liberal Arts, was selected as Dean of Academic Affairs for the School of Liberal Arts in April. Tombari has been with CCA since August 2009.
Web Content Specialist Joe Florkowski married Ashley Belbeck in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 23.
The Community College of Aurora was selected by The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) as one of five finalists for its 2018 Award of Excellence in the category of Advancing Diversity.
The AACC’s Advancing Diversity Award recognizes colleges that have contributed significantly and over a sustained period of time to advancing diversity in community college leadership, the community, and within higher education as a whole.
Spring 2018 Career Fair
(left photo) Mike Marovich, Manager of Labor and Technology at PSAV, talks with CCA student Jeremy Keller regarding career opportunities during the Spring Career Fair on April 10.
(right photo) From left to right, Bob Burnett, Career Advisor; LeeDel Cohenour, Career Services Director; and Jason Bynum, Career Advisor and Internship Coordinator, celebrated a successful Spring Career Fair. This year’s Career Fair theme was “Rope Yourself a Career.”
Camino al Colegio
CCA hosted Camino al Colegio, a college recruitment event held on April 12 for prospective Spanish-speaking students. Information about programs, enrollment, and financial aid was presented in Spanish. The event drew more than 60 participants and continues to grow each semester. The next Camino al Colegio will be held this fall.
Caption: From left to right, Scholarship Advisor Christina Villalobos, CCA student Daniela Ronquillo, and CCA student Crystal Palacios answered questions in Spanish about financial aid.
Interfaith Club Trip
Student members of CCA’s Better Together, the college’s interfaith and intercultural club, visited Soka Gakkai International Buddhist Center in Denver on April 21. The trip was arranged by Daniel Schweissing, CCA Faculty in the World Languages Department.
U.S. Army War College Eisenhower Speakers Program
Four students from the U.S. Army War College spoke on military issues during the U.S. Army War College’s Eisenhower Speakers Program on May 3 in the Student Centre Building. CCA and the Aurora Chamber’s Defense Council hosted the program, which honored Bill Wiggins and Molly Link, long-time supporters of the college, the Aurora Chamber, and World Denver.
(left photo) Bill Wiggins and Molly Link at the U.S. Army War College’s Eisenhower Speakers Program.
(right photo) From left, Jo O’Brien, Industry Relations Director; Valerie Gantzler, Coordinator, Accelerated Pathways to Success; Janel Highfill, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Resource Development; and Rep. Mike Coffman at the event.
The Community College of Aurora Foundation raised more than $121,000 through the To and Through College Luncheon on April 13 at the Stanley Marketplace. That amount is 28 percent higher than the amount raised at last year’s To and Through College Luncheon. This year’s theme, “An Afternoon at the Matinee,” featured students acting out skits and then the audience created and participated in their own skits.
Caption: CCA students Nathaniel York, Antonella Correa Garcia (middle), and Genesis Miller (right) act out a scene during the 2018 To and Through College Luncheon, themed “An Afternoon at the Matinee.”
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan passed away on May 13 at the age of 69. A resident of Aurora since 1973, Hogan served the City of Aurora for more than 30 years in various roles, including on the City Council and as mayor, and supported the Community College of Aurora. He also served as a Colorado State Representative in 1975-1976 and ran for U.S. Congress twice.
President Betsy Oudenhoven commented on the mayor’s leadership:
“I extend condolences on behalf of the college to his wife, Becky, his family, friends, and colleagues. Steve was a wonderful man, a strong and forward-thinking leader, and a good friend to CCA. He was unfailingly supportive of the college and proud that we are Aurora’s college. He led and nurtured Aurora through an unimaginable tragedy and helped our community to find a strength and resilience we might not have known we possessed. But he always knew it. And he will be sorely missed.”
Phase One of the Project SLOPE Assessment task force is ending. The Task Force concluded its focus groups with internal and external stakeholders, cataloged existing data-collection processes across the college, created a plan for basic assessment training, and is updating the Assessment website and adding an Assessment glossary. Summary reports of the work completed during Phase One will be available on the revamped website this summer. Phase Two of the Task Force will continue in the fall and is open to anyone who wants to get involved – you don’t need to have participated in Phase One. Please email Assessment.CCA@ccaurora.eduto learn more.
Success at the Colorado Space Grant Consortium Robotics Challenge
Two CCA student teams won awards for their work in the Colorado Space Grant Consortium Robotics Challenge in April. More than 100 college students from Colorado and New Mexico participated in the Challenge on April 14, held at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Twenty teams participated in the event and six won awards, including both CCA teams.
Team Ares (Bruce Bell, Reachana Hong, Hiram Saucedo, and Ryan Wade) received an award for their trouble shooting and perseverance. The judges also praised their robot as being one of the most capable at the Challenge.
Team Enginerds (Aminah Abushahma, Joseph Harrell, Ruby Gomez Martinez, and Henry Reyes) received an award for navigation and avoiding obstacles.
CCA Rising Stars
CCA students Christina Norman and Henry Reyes were named 2018 Rising Stars by the Colorado Community College System.
Norman and Reyes were among 27 students across the system who were acknowledged during a ceremony at Arapahoe Community College’s Littleton Campus on April 10.
Students are nominated for their work on campus and with community organizations and have expressed interest in advocacy work in such fields as health care, social services, and education.
Four CCA Students Receive Colorado Space Grant Transfer Scholarships
CCA students Erchis Erdenebat, Juvinni Pineda Bu-Assaf, Ashley Wolff, and Yi-Lin Wu have received scholarships from the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.
The Colorado Space Grant Consortium (COSGC) is funded by NASA and is a statewide organization involving 21 colleges, universities and institutions in Colorado.
The COSGC awards scholarships to students who have worked on a Colorado Space Grant project at a two-year institution and are transferring to a four-year institution that are members of the Consortium.
John Boddie, Client Testing Specialist
Robert Costello, Client Testing Specialist
Veronica Estrada, Recruiter and Outreach Coordinator
Jessica Gagnon, D2L Administrator
Eduardo Garcia, Financial Aid
Erica Maestas, Career Advisor/Employer Outreach
Erik Quintana-Lira, Administrative Assistant II
Denise Wise, Accounting Technician III
Irae Yoo, College Recruiter
Campus Safety Officer Jeremy Kimel (first row, left) left CCA on March 30; he joined the Security Department in August 2012. Jeremy’s colleagues celebrated his time at the college with a farewell party.
Caption: In the front, from left to right, Campus Safety Officer Jeremy Kimel, Campus Safety Officer Justin Pfluger, Campus Safety Officer Austin Coleman. In the back, Campus Safety Officer Avery Kuyper, Campus Safety Officer William Banks, and Security Director Travis Hogan.
What are your fondest memories from your high school or college graduation?
Jennifer Bird, Academic Program Support Specialist, Behavioral Sciences and English departments: “I graduated from CCA with my Associate of Arts in May 2013. I was incredibly nervous; there were so many people there! When we started to walk in, the music got my attention. For a moment I thought, “No, it couldn’t be.” But a few more chords into the music, it was undeniably the “Legend of Zelda” theme blended into a medley and style to be more fitting for a graduation walk. It was amazing and made me so happy. The medley mixed in other nostalgic themes and music, too. It was such a little thing, but it gave me a point of familiarity in an event that was really chaotic and almost overwhelming.”
Kristen Cusack, Registrar/Director of Admissions: “The class that graduated a year ahead of my high school class was a really rowdy bunch, and they were always doing something that led to a new policy the next year that impacted my class. Their commencement ceremony was a real zoo – they brought silly string and noisemakers, they were loud and interrupted speakers throughout the evening, and they even spray-painted walls of the venue after the event. In the weeks before my class was to graduate the next year, they started telling us all of the new rules. They set up cameras throughout the venue and told us that they would review the tapes to see if there were any “shenanigans” before issuing diplomas the next week. As usual, we were the good class and didn’t do anything wrong—except for one little thing: we snuck in several bags of Skittles candy and EVERYONE had four or five when they went up to cross the stage; as we shook the high school principal’s hand, we would also drop a few Skittles in his hand. He was pretty confused at first, but just casually dropped them in his pocket and moved on. Several times during the ceremony, he had to duck behind a curtain to empty his pockets of the candy. People watching the ceremony (and even some on stage) didn’t know what was happening, but those of us in the front rows had a hard time controlling our laughter! We knew we were safe because there was no way they would hold the diplomas of the entire graduating class! It was our little bit of sweet revenge on the rules imposed on us.”
Will Flowers, Interim Director and Disability and Equity Coordinator: "My high school was the only public high school in a pretty small town in Tennessee. Somehow, when the computations were done, I wound up being second in my graduating class. I was probably more surprised than anyone else. I was a skater punk with baggy clothes and spiked hair and Bad Religion T-shirts. I wouldn’t describe myself as a dedicated student. So, every year the top five students in the senior class had to give a speech at graduation, and the AP English teacher would develop a unified theme, where all the speeches were variations on a phrase. (One year it was “I believe I can…” leading up the valedictorian’s big speech, which was “I Believe I Can Fly.”) My year, the theme was Carpe Diem, and we had to open our speeches with variations on the phrase “Seize the day with…” I think we had “Seize the day with faith,” “Seize the day with integrity,” etc. I wrote a speech called “Seize the day with two spatulas.” Somehow it got approved.”
Andrea Rascón, Academic Coach, TRIO: “My fondest memory from my high school graduation was when two of my uncles lifted me onto their shoulders, which they did every year for each graduate in our family – we have a big family! Four years later, at my college graduation, my entire family road-tripped from Grand Junction to Greeley to see me be the first woman of my generation (on both sides of the family) to walk across the stage to receive my bachelor’s degree!”
Emily Silvola, Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs: “I graduated from Elon University. Elon is the Hebrew word for “oak.” At the new-student convocation, at the start of freshman year, every student receives an acorn to symbolize the beginning of their college career. Then four years later, at graduation, every graduate receives an oak sapling to symbolize the growth they have experienced while at Elon, as well as the ongoing opportunities for growth in the future. Seventeen years later I still have the acorn; as for the oak sapling… well, it’s a really wonderful and symbolic memory. Leaving the country a few months after graduation meant that it never got planted, but it continues to serve as a special reminder that every day brings new opportunities for learning and growth.”