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Our faculty are exceptional educators who specialize in student success. They uphold the mission and values of the College and keep up to date on advancements and trends in their fields so that your curriculum is relevant and of the highest quality. You’ll see for yourself how we take extra time to help dedicated students achieve their goals. Below are just a few of our amazing faculty, but you can hear from them directly on our blog and see them on video in our faculty profiles.
Aragon started working at CCA in 2015 as an adjunct instructor, teaching courses in English and later Advanced Academic Achievement. She also worked as a Writing Studio tutor in the Academic Learning Center, and as an Instructional Specialist in the Department of Instructional Intervention and Support. She transitioned to full-time in the English Department in fall of 2018, and teaches developmental English, composition, and literature courses. Aragon currently serves on the leadership team for the Latinx Faculty and Staff Association, and chairs the Inclusive Excellence Marketing Committee. Before joining the CCA community, she taught ESL at Linn-Benton Community College and at the English Language and Culture Institute in Albany, Oregon. She earned her master’s degree in English Literature and Culture from Oregon State University and her bachelor’s degree in English from Colorado State University.
Greg has worked at CCA since 2012 , teaching 16 classes in the Diesel Power Mechanics area related to introductory diesel service and repair, which eventually can lead to a ten-month associate’s degree. Atencio has been Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified since 1977. He spent three decades working in various automotive shops, including 25 for Midas. Atencio also is a General Motors School of Product Service Certified Technician and has been a dealership mechanic.
Chuda joined CCA in 2015 as an adjunct instructor and became full-time faculty in 2018. Prior to joining CCA, he taught at Aurora Central High School; Community College of Denver; worked at Denver Public Schools; and taught at Bhanu Memorial Higher Secondary School in Nepal. Chuda has taught a wide range of classes ranging from Math for Liberal Arts through Calculus II. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics with a minor in Math and Chemistry from Tribhuvan University in Nepal and a Master of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Colorado Denver. He also attended Metropolitan State University of Denver for Alternative Licensure Program.
Dr. Bita Behforooz
A member of the full-time CCA faculty since 2014, Behforooz teaches Human Growth and Development, Child Development, and General Psychology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and obtained her New York State provisional teaching certification in Elementary Education in 2002. She continued her education with a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Methodology from University at Albany-SUNY. She has experience teaching at elementary schools and has taught both psychology and education courses at the University at Albany and other colleges across New York State. Behforooz’s teaching interests includes foundation courses in developmental psychology, educational psychology, learning and motivation. Trained in elementary education, educational psychology, and developmental psychology, Behforooz’s research has focused on understanding student learning processes and factors that can hinder academic success.
Dr. Elsie Bell joined the CCA English faculty in fall of 2020, teaching courses in composition and literature. Previously, she taught writing, literature, and academic success skills at the University of Wyoming, Western Colorado University, and through the CU Succeed Program at the Early College of Arvada. She earned a Ph.D. in Literature from Duke University in 2013, a graduate certificate in Composition Studies from Indiana University East in 2019, and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan in 2006.
Blue played an instrumental role in the redesign and implementation of Developmental English and teaches a variety of classes, including Composition and Studio, as well as Intro to Literature, American Literature, and Ethnic Literature. Outside of the classroom, Blue created and implemented CCA's Safe Zone program, and serves as co-faculty advisor for the LGBT student alliance, Faculty Senate Vice President and is part of the advisory committee for Aurora's Poet Laureate. Prior to joining the college, she earned a MFA in Poetry and worked as an adjunct at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. She spent the next six years at Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, Va., as an assistant professor of English.
Film/Video Media Faculty, Colorado Film School
Not only the current Head of Acting for the Screen, Boulgakova has created and developed the acting program at the Colorado Film School since joining the staff in 2003. Boulgakova has taught all the core acting courses necessary for both a CCA certificate and Associate of Applied Science in Film Media Video and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Video Production with Regis University. Those courses include: Understanding the Actor’s Process, Acting for the Screen, Screen Actor Improvisation, and Screen Performance Workshop. Additionally, Boulgakova has created an actors' database both at CCA and through Facebook; hosts biannual open auditions for use in college and community productions; and teaches private community acting classes for children and adults. Boulgakova’s credits also include acting in student films; directing two shorts; serving as casting director in numerous film projects; and directing a play and running director’s workshop courses at CU-Denver as part of the CFS program. Boulgakova earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting for Theater and Film from -- and worked as an actor at -- the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre. She also did commercials, television, feature films and modeling in her native Russia before coming to the United States.
Faculty, Computers and Digital Technologies
Burkhart teaches software applications in the Computer Information Systems and Multimedia Graphic Design areas. A CCA employee since January 2010, Burkhart was hired as the director of online learning, which included instructional technology. Her role included system administration of the learning management system, as well as supervising instructional design staff. Burkhart regularly contributes to the instructional technology community by presenting at conferences and participation in professional groups. Prior to joining the college, Burkhart spent nine years as a professor of Business Technology and Graphic Design and a Faculty Development Specialist at Dodge City (Kan.) Community College. She spent nearly three years as manager of information systems at a corporation that owns numerous Midwest car dealerships and for many years was a small business owner. Her educational background includes three degrees from Fort Hays State in Hays, Kan. – bachelor’s and masters degrees in Business Administration and a second masters in Instructional Technology.
Carla started working at CCA in the fall of 2014 as an adjunct instructor, teaching courses in English, ESL, and Advanced Academic Achievement. She also worked as a Writing Studio tutor in the Academic Learning Center. Carla also taught at the Community College of Denver and at Johnson and Wales University for two years. She transitioned to full-time in the English Department in the fall of 2020, and teaches English composition, and literature courses. Carla currently serves on the Title 5 team for English. She earned her master’s degree in Creative Writing and Poetics from Naropa University and her bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in African American Studies from Arizona State University.
Director, Police Academy and Criminal Justice Program
Michael Carter, Director of the CCA Police Academy and Chair for the Criminal Justice program, came to CCA in 1996 from his home state of Hawaii. A former decorated law enforcement officer (full-time SWAT Operator, and patrol) and corporate security manager (1St Interstate Bank’s Security Manager for Hawaii), he started at CCA as a full-time criminal justice professor and added the Director’s role for the police academy in 2001. He has a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Chaminade University in Honolulu.
Film/Video Media Faculty
Chadwick is faculty of Film/Video Media Production/Post Production for CCA and The Colorado Film School. He teaches Production One, Post-Production One, Production Two, Post-Production Two, and Screenwriting. Originally from Denver, and a graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Chadwick has worked professionally in a wide variety of jobs on the set and in the film industry and augments his CFS role as a freelance producer and editor in Denver and Los Angeles. He is the writer, director and/or editor of over 80 documentary videos distributed nationally and broadcast around the world and has also produced and directed a number of Independent short films, exhibited in many film festivals across North America and Europe. He holds an M.F.A. in Film Production from the University of Southern California School of Cinema Television and a B.A. in English from Colorado College.
Dr. Tanya Cook
Dr. Tanya Cook teaches Introduction to Sociology I and II as well as Family Dynamics, Environmental Sociology, and the Sociology of Diversity. Prior to joining the college in 2013, Cook spent time as a research assistant, teaching assistant and student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in Sociology, all from Wisconsin. A passionate fan of pop culture and all things science fiction, Cook researches fan culture. She was one of 26 inaugural recipients of the Mellon/ACLS Community College Fellowship Award in 2019 which helped fund her research on fandom-based activism. Cook regularly presents at both comic conventions and professional conferences as well as publishes research articles related to her work. An intersectional feminist committed to anti-racist education, Cook also serves as an inclusive excellence peer mentor. Cook is also active in promoting community college student and faculty representation and engagement in professional organizations. When she's not writing or teaching, you can probably find her at a comic con.
Theatre Director / Coordinator, Performing Arts
The college’s Theatre Director, D’Angelo has been director, creator and producer of seven plays since joining CCA in 2008, including Glimpses, Portraits of the Soul, Romeo and Juliet, and Anonymous. D’Angelo also has served as instructor for numerous courses, ranging from Voice and Articulation and Styles of Acting, to Acting I and II, Musical Theatre, and Theatre Appreciation. In 2011, she was named Faculty of the Year by CCA and Outstanding Faculty by the Colorado Community College System. Prior to joining the college, D’Angelo taught K-through-8 drama at a Denver charter school; served as a guest artist at Ithaca (N.Y.) College; and ran her own local business teaching children’s theatre. Her educational background includes a bachelor of fine arts in Musical Theatre from Ithaca College and a Master of Fine Arts in Contemporary Performance from Naropa University in Boulder.
Dr. Jennifer Dale, She/Her/Hers
Department Chair and Psychology Faculty, Behavioral Sciences
Dr. Dale holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from Capella University, M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Regis University, and B.S. in Psychology from Colorado State University. She has over 22 years of combined teaching and clinical experience, and is passionate about equity and inclusion in higher education. As department chair for Psychology and Sociology, Dr. Dale practices intersectional feminist leadership and teaching to best support students, staff, faculty, and instructors. Her primary focus is student learning and achievement through Inclusive Excellence (IE) practices. She has served on the IE Leadership Team for over five years at CCA. Previous presentations include Navigating Difficult Conversations in the Classroom, Foundations of Inclusive Pedagogy and Inclusive Excellence, Social Identity Awareness, Implicit Bias, Exploring the Isms, Creating Inclusive Environments, LGBTQ 101, Building Community in the Classroom, Sexism at Work, and Race-Conscious Pedagogy.
Entering her seventh year at CCA, Dent offers 13 years of higher education experience at both the undergraduate and graduate level. With CCA, Dent currently serves as the Department Chair for Business and previously served three years as a full-time faculty member in the department. This year, she's teaching Introduction to Business, Business Communications, and Organizational Behavior. Prior to joining CCA, Dent led the Master of Business Administration and Master of Accountancy programs at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., where she also taught undergraduate business courses. Her professional strengths include teaching, academic program development, strategic planning, professional student development, and curriculum development at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Her educational background includes a B.S. in Economics from Radford University in Virginia and an MBA from Webster University in Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Teaching with the college since August, 2006, Dillon became a full-time faculty member two years later. He is a lead faculty for Microbiology, and has taught numerous other biology courses within the department. Dillon is also a lead faculty member of the college’s Engineering area and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium affiliation. Prior to joining CCA he did research at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, working on the early stages of a breast-cancer therapy, and at Northwestern University in Chicago, working in reproductive endocrinology. Dillon earned a master’s degree from Loyola University Chicago in Biology and a bachelor’s in Pre-Medicine from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
Department Chair, English
A full-time CCA instructor since Fall 2009, Feres teaches a full slate of English, Reading and Composition courses in the pre-college preparatory area. He spent more than five years prior to joining the college as an adjunct teaching pre-college curriculum at Suffolk County (N.Y.) Community College. His educational background includes both a Masters and a Bachelor’s in English from Stony Brook (N.Y.) University, with an additional Secondary English certification.
Mandy started teaching for CCA in 2006. She has taught online and face-to-face composition and literature classes for CU Denver (where she earned her M.A. in Literature), CCCOnline, and CCA, and has worked as an Instructional Specialist for CCA’s Department of Instructional Intervention and Support. Mandy currently co-chairs the Open Educational Resources (OER) task force, works on the Inclusive Excellence Committee and Student Programming IE sub-committee, and works on the Instructional Support Initiative team. Mandy has four kids at home who are all adventurers and love to camp, kayak/canoe/paddleboard, fish, and hike. Mandy is also a self-proclaimed wanna-be-world-traveler and almost-could-have-been-a-MasterChef.
Alice C. Gilbert
A former CCA student and graduate of Aurora’s Gateway High School, Gilbert earned her AA at the college on her way to a Math/Computer Science and Women’s Studies degree at the University of Denver, She later was hired full-time at CCA in December 2009 after five years as an adjunct to coordinate the Math section of the ACE Department. Gilbert is the first full-time developmental education Math instructor in the college’s history and now teaches an array of pre-college classes in that subject. Prior to joining CCA, Gilbert worked several years in the corporate world managing a Tech Support department for a computer company in Boulder and tried several home businesses before deciding to change her career trajectory towards teaching.
A veteran instructor of both two- and four-year institutions, Vicki Graham began teaching in 1988 and continues to enjoy equipping students with communication skills while promoting the benefits of the Communication major. Vicki’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Azusa Pacific University and a master’s degree in Human Communication Studies from California State University, Fullerton with an emphasis in Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication. Along with teaching at her alma maters and as an adjunct at Southern California community colleges including Orange Coast College and Saddleback College, Vicki spent 15 years involved in intercollegiate speech and theater competition, coaching hundreds of diverse two- and four-year students—many of whom attained regional, state, and national championship recognition. Through her private consulting business she has provided interpersonal, public speaking, and argumentation coaching to corporate teams, best-selling authors, the Miss America organization, political candidates, Motorola and other international technology corporations, as well as moderating debates for the League of Women Voters. She is also a featured inspirational speaker at faith-based twelve step retreats throughout the western United States. Vicki joined CCA in August of 2012 and serves as coordinator for the Communication program.
One of the longest and richest histories at CCA belongs to Gray, who not only graduated from the school in 1994 but also worked two stints in the cashier’s office prior to joining the Math department. Gray began as a part-time faculty in 2002, teaching classes ranging from Pre-Algebra to Calculus III, before getting hired full-time two years later. He was promoted to chair of the Math department in ’06, a position he served in for 12 years, after which he spent a sabbatical year at the Center for Urban Education at USC’s Rossier School of Education where he joined a team dedicated to uprooting racial inequities within higher education. Gray also coordinates the Student Success Awards, is a two-time recipient of the Dr. Linda and Roger Bowman Faculty Award in 2010 and 2017, and was named Faculty of the Year in 2013.
Dr. Jennifer Harrell
An adjunct for about six years, Harrell joined the full-time staff in Fall 2012. She currently teaches General Biology and is the lead instructor for Biology for non-majors, the latter both online and on campus. Harrell previously taught Microbiology and Anatomy and Physiology courses at the college. Prior to joining CCA, Harrell earned a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan. She has a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn.
Rhonda Hattar began her teaching career at CCA in 2008. She teaches General College Biology I and II and serves as lead instructor for those courses. You may also find her collecting creek samples or taking care of plants for labs. She’s a mom of three and loves reading books, gardening, hiking, and yoga. She earned her M.S in Cell Biology at the University of Colorado, where she researched the role of the microenvironment in breast cancer. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Chemistry from Tulane University in New Orleans.
Film/Video Media Faculty
CCA’s 2011-12 Faculty of the Year, Hicks’ main area of emphasis is in the writing/producing arena and his teaching calendar reflects that screenwriting and producing emphasis. Hicks also has been active out of the classroom since joining the college in Fall 2010. He began CCA’s screenwriting club, Fade In, and serves as a faculty advisor. He started an event called “Shorts Bash” as a venue for film-school students that he hopes will become an annual tradition and created the Colorado Film School screenwriting award. Hicks and Dr. Peggy Norwood were the first two CCA faculty members to introduce the use of iPads into the curriculum to gauge the educational effectiveness of integrating the technology into courses. The two faculty presented their findings as featured speaks at two conferences: Conference Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology (COLTT) and WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET). Hicks has over 100 professional credits in motion picture, television and commercial production, including the development of projects with the former head of 20th Century Fox and president of William Morris Agency, and has worked alongside numerous Academy Award winning producers, directors, actors and cinematographers. He served in 2012 as director of the Vail Film Festival screenwriting competition.
Elizabeth joined CCA in 2004 as an instructor and became a full-time faculty member in 2008. She has taught most of the courses within the anthropology discipline. Those courses include cultural anthropology, biological anthropology, forensics, archaeology and Native Peoples of North America. She has also taught field studies abroad in Costa Rica and Mexico from 2008-2010, helping students explore the relationship between culture and environment. She earned her master's degree from Rutgers University. As part of her master's work she did paleoanthropological/archaeological fieldwork in Kenya. While completing her bachelor's degree at the University of Georgia she worked in the psychology department's primate lab studying monkey and ape behavior.
Brian Horvath retired from the Army in 2008 as a Master Sergeant after 22 years working as a mechanic/maintenance manager. He grew up in Berlin, Germany and graduated from Berlin American High School in 1983. He can read, write, and speak fluent German. He has served in Kirchgoens, Germany; Ft. Ord, CA; Ft. Hood, TX; Vilseck, Germany; Ft. Knox, KY (where he was a basic training Drill Sergeant),; Baumholder, Germany; and Ft. Sheridan, IL. He has been deployed to Iraq twice, Afghanistan once and has been in six different conflicts in five different countries. His hobbies include cooking, golfing, gardening, and growing my own peppers for salsas, chilies, etc. He has been married for almost 29 years and has a 28-year-old daughter and 24-year-old son both of whom are CCA alumni.
Affiliated with CCA for almost three decades, Jackson-Carter is one of the longest-tenured staff at the college. She served as the Science Department Chair for almost 25 years, and now has decided to focus on her teaching as she nears retirement. She’s taught all five of CCA’s Chemistry courses, including current classes in General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. Jackson-Carter also has been a longtime member of the state’s faculty curriculum committee as CCA’s general-education representative. Jackson-Carter has previously helped secure several major initiatives in the science department: the creation of the Science Resource Center on the Lowry campus, acquisition of $430,000 in grant funding to infuse molecular biology curriculum into Colorado high schools, participation in the Aurora Lights program to provide supplemental instruction to CCA science students, and two 5-year NSF S-STEM grants to provide scholarships and support to CCA students majoring in STEM fields. Prior to joining CCA, Jackson-Carter was manager of a geochemistry lab in Lakewood and a chemist for a pharmaceutical company. Her graduate work was in Mechanistic Organic Chemistry at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., and has a BA in Chemistry from the University of Colorado-Boulder.
A faculty member at CCA in part and full-time roles since 2008, Jović teaches two calculus courses, pre-calculus, introduction to statistics, and math for liberal arts. He’s also the concurrent enrollment coordinator for the math and science departments. Prior to joining the college, Jović taught a range of math courses at three local high schools - Aurora Central, Northglenn and Bishop Machebeuf, and at Front Range Community College in Westminster. He has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in geology from the University of Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia. He also earned a master of science and completed all his class work towards his doctorate in environmental engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden.
Dr. Paul Langston
Paul joined CCA in Fall 2018 and has been an instructor for the past eleven years. He teaches World history, American history, Africa American history, and many other histories. He is also the director of CCA’s Confluence Conference. His educational background includes a PhD from the University of Colorado, a Masters of Arts from the University of North Texas, and a bachelor’s in Psychology from Stephen F. Austin State University. His area of concentration is colonial and early U.S. history and his dissertation examined the legal and constitutional ramifications of Pennsylvania’s state government implementing wartime powers during the United States Revolution.
Department Chair, Emergency Medical Services
A former clinical coordinator at the college, Lattone joined CCA full time in 2008. She teaches a variety of paramedic coursework, including cardiology, medical and trauma emergencies and pharmacology. She also has editing responsibilities for a major medical publication relating to simulation studies. Lattone is a former field supervisor for Rural Metro in Aurora with varied responsibilities related to the running of 15-person shifts. She also served as a field paramedic from 1999-2007 in Aurora and Tacoma, Wash. Her educational background includes a bachelor of science degree in biology from Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., and paramedic certification from Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, N.Y.
Levell was born and raised in southern Indiana where his interest in writing began. He attended St. Meinrad College and finished his bachelor of arts at the University of Southern Indiana. He continued his education at Naropa University where he received his Master’s in Fine Arts in Writing and Poetics. Soon after, he began teaching writing and literature at CCA and has taught at CCA since fall 2006. In 2007 he was named CCA Faculty of the Year. He has also served as a tutor at the writing studio at CCA. He published his first collection of poems Green River Road through Finishing Line Press Fall 2018, and became a full-time faculty member in the English Department in fall 2019.
Faculty, Computers and Digital Technologies
Ram joined CCA in August 2020 as a full-time Computer Science Faculty. Before joining CCA, Ram worked for a year as an Artificial Intelligence Researcher at HRL Laboratories. Earlier, he worked at the Machine Intelligence Lab at RIT, where he also earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Computer Engineering. His work was focused on Deep Learning, and more specifically on Generative Adversarial Networks for Image-to-Image Translation.
A Writing and Literature instructor for 15 years, McClelland-Fieler served as an adjunct instructor for five years at CCA before becoming full-time faculty. She teaches four sections of English 090 for the Academic Enrichment Department and one of Introduction to Literature. Prior to joining the college, McClelland-Fieler taught English at the Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy in Denver and Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Wash. She also was previously an ESL instructor at the Berlitz Language School in Denver and Cincinnati and taught Composition at Miami (Ohio) University, where she earned her master’s degree in English / Creative Writing. McClelland-Fieler has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Cincinnati.
Neupane started working at CCA as an adjunct and a concurrent enrollment instructor in 2012. He has a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics from Tribhuvan University in Nepal, and a Master of Education in Mathematics from Kathmandu University in Nepal. He also has a Master of Science in Mathematics Education from University of Colorado, Denver and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching Mathematics with a concentration in Pure mathematics from Colorado State University Global. He also has a Graduate Certificate in Linguistically Diverse Education from Regis University. Neupane teaches courses ranging from College Algebra (MAT 121) through Differential Equations with Linear Algebra (MAT 266) in Calculus Series as well as Introduction to Statistics (MAT 135) and Mathematics for Liberal Arts (MAT 120).
Kelly O’Dell started teaching psychology courses as an adjunct instructor in 2009 at the Community College of Aurora, the Community College of Denver, and Red Rocks Community College. She was hired as a full-time Psychology faculty member at the Community College of Aurora in 2012. She has been the chair of the Assessment Committee and a member of the CARE Team at CCA. She has also served as the chair of the State Faculty Advisory Council, the faculty representative to the State Board of Community Colleges and Occupational Education, and most recently, the chair of the Colorado Faculty Advisory Council. Kelly holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado Denver, a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wyoming, and an associate degree in Liberal Arts from Casper College in Wyoming. She is also a NASM-certified personal trainer.
Jason Ray has been with CCA since 2016 as an adjunct instructor in the evenings as well as teaching concurrent enrollment through CCA and the University of Colorado at Denver to high school students. He was hired to the full-time faculty position beginning in Fall 2017. Jason has taught a wide range of classes ranging from Quantitative Literacy through Calculus III. A native of Colorado and a product of the Denver educational institutions, Jason attained a double major bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Chemistry from Metropolitan State University of Denver. He also earned a Master of Integrated Science from the University of Colorado at Denver with an emphasis in mathematics. A long-time educator, Jason taught within Denver Public Schools at Collegiate Prep Academy located in Montbello. Jason served students at the Academy for six years as the Math Department Chair and concurrent enrollment instructor.
Dr. Michelle "Shelly" Ray
Department Chair, Math
Michelle “Shelly” Ray joined CCA in July 2019 as the Chair of Mathematics. She was employed at Aims Community College as a Professor of Mathematics from 1999 to 2019 and the Director of Academic Assessment from 2013 to 2015. She was named Faculty of the Year 2012 at ACC. Shelly earned her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and her Secondary Teaching License from Colorado State University. She earned her Master of Arts in Mathematics Education from University of Northern Colorado. She had the honor of being part of a Center for Learning and Teaching in the West, a National Science Foundation grant project, through which she returned to Colorado State University to earn her Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Mathematics Education. In addition to her chair role at CCA, Shelly works as the two-year lead for the statewide Math Pathways project and is a content specialist for Complete College America. She partnered with the Colorado Department of Higher Education and AAC&U, co-leading the GT Pathways Redesign project.
Interim Chair, Arts and Communication Department
Savannah Sanburg acquired a Master’s degree in Social Justice from the University of Colorado Denver in the Fall of 2015. Savannah has been an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Colorado (Boulder campus), University of Colorado (Denver campus), and the Community College of Aurora. Savannah has an interdisciplinary resume, teaching subjects that include: Freshman Composition, Public Speaking, Introduction to Ethnic Studies, Global Media, African-American History, Foundations of Ethnicity in America and US Popular Culture, and more. Savannah earned a bachelor of science in Speech Communication with a concentration in Rhetoric and Public Address from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013. Savannah also received a bachelor of science in Consumer Sciences from Colorado State University in 1998. In addition to Savannah’s teaching portfolio, she currently is working as the Interim Department Chair for Arts & Communication. Savannah has developed a new course ETH 215 Diversity, Difference, and Discrimination under the direction of Dr. Brandon Williams.
Faculty, English as a Second Language
An adjunct at CCA since Jan. 2010 and a full-time faculty starting in Fall 2015, Schweissing brings nearly 25 years of teaching experience in ESL, GED instruction and Theology/Religious Studies. Schweissing began tutoring ESL students as an undergraduate student at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and continued as a conversational English instructor for Japanese students after graduation. He spent two years in the Dominican Republic as a volunteer ESL instructor, and 31/2 years teaching the subject in Puerto Rico while working on his master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language at InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico at San Germán, He then periodicially taught ESL during a nine-year stay in the Bahamas. In 2009, he returned to the United States and began supervising a tutoring/homework program for Karen refugees in Northwest Aurora. Schweissing is higher-ed special interest group chair for the state’s TESOL organization. He has a master’s in Urban and Intercultural Ministries from Denver Seminary.
Dr. Ashley Simpson
Department Chair, Early Childhood Teacher Education Program
Hired in July 2015, Simpson is charged with oversight of 12 adjunct instructors and a full-time faculty member. She also teaches two courses: Curriculum Development and Adult Learning and Teaching. Simpson spent five years prior to joining CCA as a reading skills facilitator – preparing students for college-level curriculum – at Hinds Community College in Utica, Miss. Her educational background is vast, and includes a doctorate (Early Childhood Education with a focus on Reading and Global Development) master's (Reading Education) and bachelor's (Elementary Education) from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. She also earned a specialist's degree in Academic Leadership/Higher Learning and Teaching from Walden University in Minneapolis.
Andrew Singer has worked for CCA since 2016. He has worked as a diesel mechanic for the U.S. Army and Union Pacific Railroad. In the Army, he advanced to become a shop foreman and earned his A.A.S. degree in automotive technology while in the armed forces. After his third deployment in the military, he had to retire due to injury. He then worked for Union Pacific as a diesel mechanic on locomotives for two years before joining CCA.
A longstanding faculty member since 1998, Spiegel serves as the lead in the area of Philosophy. He also teaches courses such as Ethics, Logic, Philosophy of Religion, Introduction to Philosophy, and Environmental Ethics. Spiegel’s first priority is to design his Philosophy courses so that they are interesting, informative and well organized. This priority has been recognized previously with the Bowman faculty endowment award, which recognizes CCA faculty making a significant difference for their students. Prior to joining CCA, Spiegel worked at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a chapter coordinator of Campus Ambassadors, with a stint hosting a radio show devoted to philosophy and current events. Then, he moved to Denver, and started a house painting business in the metro area. He holds a bachelor’s in Geology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and two master’s degrees from Denver Seminary, the latest in Philosophy of Religion, with honors.
Julie is an Associate Professor in the Business Department at the Community College of Aurora. She completed her bachelor’s degree in English and Education from Metropolitan State College of Denver. Julie holds both a master’s and doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership and Management from the University of Phoenix. Her research passions are entrepreneurial employment of people with disabilities as well as equity, diversity, and inclusive practices in the classroom. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and learning from students as well. Julie is a published researcher and seeks opportunities to engage with students, faculty, and staff as a presenter at professional development sessions. She also enjoys horseback riding and swimming in her free time.
Stacey is an interdisciplinary artist and arts-educator. Creating visual metaphor in a variety of mediums including lens based, new media, and installation, she enjoys work that simultaneously seduces and repels. Her work explores body, consciousness, and connection to environment. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of South Florida and a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia College Chicago. She is full-time art faculty at the Community College of Aurora since 2018, and a CCA instructor since 2016. She has experience in curriculum design, video production and post production, and has taught in both online and face to face modalities since the beginning of her teaching career. She has taught college level at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, University of South Florida, International Academy of Design Technology, Pasco Hernando State College, and the Art Institute of Tampa. Previously, she also taught children and teens through ID Tech Camp, Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation, and Community Stepping Stones, for which she founded the printmaking program and wrote various grants. Her art and research have been presented nationally and internationally, including in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Paris, France; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL; Denver, CO; San Palo Alto, CA.
Legal Studies Program Coordinator
Oversight of the Paralegal Department, including its curriculum, scheduling, hiring and supervision, fall under Uchner’s auspices. She teaches a variety of classes spanning the spectrum of both disciplines, including constitutional law, criminology, judicial functions, methods of criminal justice research, introduction to law, and legal research and writing. She began her CCA career in 2005 after nearly 15 years as a prosecutor in Colorado’s 18th Judicial District and the Attorney General’s Office. Uchner also served as a lawyer in private practice. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s of science degree from Arizona State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Wyoming.
Dr. Edgar Vargas Blanco
Dr. Vargas Blanco is the lead professor for World Languages programs at the Community College of Aurora. He holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Houston. He has worked as a Spanish and Linguistics instructor in Colombia, France, England, and the United States for more than 20 years. He was part of a Fulbright project in Central Asia during summer 2018 and he was part of a National Screening Committee for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2021-2022. At the moment, he is a board member for the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers which is held in the fall and spring semesters every year.
Dr. Art Vaughn, Jr.
Vaughn spent a year as an adjunct before joining CCA’s full-time staff in January 2014 and currently teaches Introduction to Business, Business Law, Business Communications, Organizational Behavior, and Management. His previous career experience included eight years as an adjunct at University of Phoenix, Argosy University, Colorado Technical University, and DeVry University. Vaughn’s corporate career included 12 years at CitiGroup in its Finance department. His last position at CitiGroup was as a Financial Analyst for Diners Club. Vaughn received both his bachelor’s degree (in Business Administration Management) and master’s (Finance) from Regis University. He has completed his doctorate in Higher Education at University of Denver.
Affiliated with CCA since 2006, Welliver joined the college full-time in 2011. She regularly teaches composition and literature and also has led a graphic literature course. She joined the staff after spending time as a graduate student and teaching assistant at East Carolina Universtiy in Greenville, N.C., where she earned her master’s degree in literature. Welliver has a BA in writing, rhetoric and culture from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.
Dr. Brandon Williams
Chair, Social Sciences
Dr. Brandon Williams came to Community College of Aurora in 2015 with over ten years of experience in teaching in university, community-college, and high school settings. While Dr. Williams received his Ph.D, from West Virginia University, and his Masters of Arts from James Madison University, he is most proud of the Associates of Arts Degree he received from Broome Community College. Since coming to CCA, Dr. Williams has overseen the creation, development, and supervision of History Gatekeeper initiatives, and in his new role as Department Chair, he is now overseeing the development of discipline and department specific assessments for the Social Sciences Program. Dr. Williams’s historical research focuses on teacher unionists who sought to remove racial barriers in New York City classrooms during Northern Jim Crow. This research has informed his current efforts to create an equitable learning environment and close achievement gaps within CCA.
Dr. Susan Young
Science Department Chair
Susan joined the Science department at CCA in August 2020. Susan’s role as Science department chair includes supporting about 20 full-time and adjunct instructors and the many students taking biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, and geology courses. She also oversees the 2020 NSF-funded S-STEM Grant that supports academically talented STEM students with financial need. In 2018, Susan retired as Professor of Chemistry from Hartwick College where she spent 23 years teaching general chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and chemistry courses for non-science majors in addition to serving as department chair. Since returning to Colorado, Susan has taught chemistry courses at CCCOnline, the US Air Force Academy and Red Rocks Community College. She has a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Dayton and a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Susan’s scholarly work focuses on the use and development of educational materials and technology to support and improve student learning. Recent publications include coauthoring MindTap General Chemistry and MindTap General Chemistry: Atoms First, comprehensive technology-based learning tools that address the needs of students and faculty, and authoring content for the OWLv2 learning platform.