Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kickoff Luncheon for Partnership with AARP Wed.


Director of Workforce Issues at AARP will give keynote address

For the first time ever, a community college has partnered with AARP to create curriculum to benefit employers and workers age 50 and over.

Rio Salado College is the first community college in the nation to offer a curriculum created jointly with AARP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people age 50 and over. This partnership will be celebrated at a complimentary luncheon Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center in Surprise.

The curriculum, designed for both employers and 50+ workers, addresses issues surrounding how employers can adapt to a changing demographic in the country’s workforce, and the importance the 50+ worker will play in this employment trend.

The luncheon, which runs from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m., will feature a key note address by Deborah Russell, the director of workforce issues at AARP in Washington DC. Having appeared on national television programs like Good Morning America and the CBS Evening News, Russell is an expert on issues affecting the country’s aging workforce. She also established the AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50 awards program.

Interested employers can pre-register for the luncheon by calling 480-377-4250, or register the day of the event from 11 a.m. to 11:30. The Lifelong Learning Center is located at 12535 Smokey Drive in Surprise.

Rio Salado College, headquartered in Tempe, AZ has service centers throughout the Valley. The college offers degrees and certificates in business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to

Online Computer Classes Including Vista Offered


If your brand new Christmas computer loaded with Microsoft’s new operating system Vista is giving you fits, Rio Salado College has the answer.
Beginning this week Rio Salado is offering classes on Vista. The new system is more than an upgrade from the old Windows XP, it is very different, said Rio Salado Faculty Chair Kerrie Specker.
Find a file in a few clicks, keep photos organized and create a customized movie all made easier with the new operating system.
“Vista is a whole different model for operating and for many a class to familiarize them with all the new features including the tips and tricks will be well worth the time,” said Specker.
Online classes start every Monday, and with the flexibility of online classes students can be navigating through Vista in a few short lessons at home.

Beginning students should sign up for a level 1 class and advanced students should sign up for level 2. Classes are one credit and last 14 weeks but may be accelerated to complete in less time.
Rio Salado has more than just Vista classes. The college offers a number of certificates and degrees in computer technology. Certificates available include computer usage and applications, advanced computer usage and applications, networking, programming and web design.
Once students earn a certificate many go on to finish a degree in computer technology. Certificates open the door for many jobs and a degree enhances those opportunities.
“Our certificate programs are great stepping stones for the job market. Once students complete a certificate often all they need is a few more classes to gain additional certification or they can continue on to complete a degree,” said Specker.

Rio Salado College graduate Cory Kincaid knows from experience computer classes are a valuable skill when it comes to entering the job market. An applications developer and SharePoint Administrator for Avnet Inc., Kincaid received his Associate of Applied Science in Computer Technology with the Highest Distinction from Rio Salado in 2007. While pursuing his degree he participated in the first annual Avnet Tech Games, a computer technology competition, in which his team placed second in the e-Commerce Web Design competition. After completing the competition Kincaid was offered a job at Avnet.

Both the college distance learning format and the real world experiences he gained from class assignments were instrumental in his obtaining a job, said Kincaid.

“Instructors were very engaging and I was able to apply the skills I was learning in class to my jobs. That really made my experience at Rio Salado very enjoyable,” said Kincaid who worked for Mesa Community College in the IT department, the Business Department, and as Webmaster for the student newspaper while going to college.
Avnet has been impressed with the Rio grad.

“I was most impressed with Cory’s use of technical knowledge, decision-making, and problem-solving skills to create effective solutions for Avnet’s customer. Additionally, his educational background gave him the ability to effectively communicate and deliver that solution. He has been an excellent asset to my IT team and he was well prepared as he entered the highly-competitive job market,” said Sonny Horton, Director IT, eBusiness for Avnet Inc.
Initially Kincaid earned his certification in computer applications, but when he realized taking more classes would lead to a degree he went on to finish.

At Rio Salado a certificate in web design, programming or networking can be earned in less than a year at just 34 credits. An associate in computer technology can be earned in two years going full-time.

“Computer technology is a promising field with lots of potential for growth,” said Specker.
Rio Salado College students also have the advantage of being able to purchase software at the student price. Currently Microsoft office 2007 can be purchased by students for approximately $70. For information about taking a Vista class or any other computer program visit the Rio Salado web site at or call 480.517.8000.

Windows Vista Classes Starting Now
Online through Rio Salado College
Starting every Monday
Levels 1 (beginner) and 2 (advanced)
or call 480.517.8000.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Students 'Re-Vibe' their Education with Scholarships

Students win scholarships for online classes at
Rio Salado College

Debra Voss thought she was going to have to drop out of school. Suddenly separated from her husband, the 31 year-old mother didn’t have the money to pay tuition for this term.

But she’s back in class after winning a $500 scholarship in the Rio Salado College “Re-Vibe Your Education” contest. Voss has worked with the special needs population for several years but now wants to become a nurse.

“I was very happy to be awarded the scholarship. It couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Voss a member of the Native American Zuni Tribe.

The “Re-Vibe Your Education” contest held in partnership with 95.1 Latino Vibe is one of several Rio Salado College’s initiatives reaching out to Latino students, said Chris Bustamante, Rio Salado College Vice-President of Community Development and Student Affairs.

“We are hoping to encourage students to go back to school or to continue with their education. We would also like to introduce them to the convenience and quality of our online classes at Rio,” said Bustamante. “For many students the chance to take classes when and where they want makes a significant difference in their ability to earn a college education,” said Bustamante.

Besides collecting $500 for tuition and fees scholarship winners also receive a one-on-one session with both an academic advisor and financial aid counselor.

“We want to make sure these students have the right tools to be successful at the college. Quality academic advising as well as knowing all the options available for paying for a college education are important factors in whether students succeed,” said Bustamante.

Since August, 10 students have been awarded the $500 scholarships. Although the focus is on the Latino population the contest is open to anyone interested in going to college. First place scholarships winners also receive one year of free Internet service from Cox to complete the package.

Scholarships are based on outstanding accomplishments, community involvement, academic achievements and the desire to go to college. The public is encouraged to nominate themselves or someone they feel deserves to win.

Winners so far include Kathy Martinez, Mayra Rumbo, Daniela Hernandez, Elena Mota, Maria Avila, Sandra Ortega, Jose Pastor Jr., Monique Miranda and Chelsea Chavez.

Rio Salado College, a pioneer in online education, recently begin offering weekly start dates, meaning students can enroll in classes every Monday throughout the year so scholarship winners can begin class at any time.

Rio Salado has also implemented the Textbook Savings Program which can save students as much as 50 percent in upfront costs of textbooks. The Textbooks Savings Program begins in January and will be phased in. In the next few years the program is expected to expand to include a majority of the required textbooks.

“We call it the Rio Advantage. Weekly start dates, online student support, 24/7 helpdesk, affordable tuition, first rate faculty, and credits that transfer to a university at a fully-accredited institution that all make Rio Salado the college within everyone’s reach,” said Bustamante.

Rio Salado College is one of the ten Maricopa community colleges with more than 61,000 students, of which 26,000 are online. The college offers degrees and certificates in a variety of fields including business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or visit

Governor Napolitano Congratulates Excellence in Education Winner

"Excellence in Education"

Ironwood Elementary School special education teacher Helen Ciba heard from Governor Janet Napolitano Tuesday.

A winner of the “Excellence in Education” award presented in partnership with Rio Salado College and KEZ 99.9FM, Napolitano congratulated Ciba by phone during a live broadcast when Napolitano was being interviewed on the “Beth and Bill Morning Show”. The Governor congratulated Ciba and thanked her.

“I respect the work teachers do day in and day out,” said Napolitano.

Ciba was nominated by parent Marianne Aldrige. Aldrige says Ciba does a wonderful job with students that need more attention and assistance.

KEZ’s Marty Manning and Rio Salado’s Maribeth All showed up earlier this week at Ironwood located in the Phoenix School District to honor Ciba. Each month during the school year, a Valley teacher is selected and recognized for his or her outstanding contributions to education. Teachers are honored in a surprise visit to the teacher’s school where they are given the “Excellence in Education” award. All winning teachers are awarded $99, an “Excellence in Education” plaque, a KEZ Prize Bag of Fun, and their picture on the and Rio Salado College websites. Online entry forms can be found at

Rio Salado College - "Getting involved in the communities we serve!"

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Essay Winners Rewarded with Textbook Savings This Month

In her senior year of college, Gevora Griggs of Mesa dropped out just shy of of earning a degree. That was in 1992.

"Since then I didn’t think I’d ever be able to fit a degree into my life,” she said. “Now I finally can thanks to online classes.”

Griggs, an appointment specialist at the Mayo Clinic, is one of five winners of the Rio Salado College ‘Rio Advantage’ essay contest. Students submitted essays about which of the college’s advantages make their college experience better. Griggs chose online classes.

“Because I’m a full-time employee, wife and mother, going to class even just once a week is not really an option,” she said. “With online classes I can devote the time that I need to my family and still be able to go to school. I can log on at midnight if I have to and do what I need to do. That’s been wonderful for me.”

Griggs returned to school last March at the age of 38 to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.

Fellow essay winner Heather Robinson of Chandler followed a similar path as Griggs before enrolling in Rio Salado teacher education classes in August.

“I have tried to earn a college degree for the past 12 years, but due to work schedules and children this has been impossible,” she wrote in her essay.

Robinson left a lucrative job in corporate training when her son was born and decided to make the most of her time while she was at home.

“I was caught up in the whole ‘I have to actually be in a classroom in order to go back to school’ thing, so it prevented me from going back to school earlier,” she said.

“These online classes have been structured and reliable. I know I am getting the same quality education those attending a university receive.”

Robinson, a stay-at-home mother of two, plans to teach elementary students once she graduates.

Other contest winners include Mesa resident Kari Taylor (pictured above with Rio Salado College Vice President of Community Development and Student Services Chris Bustamante), William Hadjison of Bullhead City and Patricia Negri of Tucson. Each winner was awarded a $100 voucher valid for textbook purchases or tuition.

The essay contest is in honor of Rio Salado’s new Textbook Savings Program that the college launched last month in partnership with Pearson Custom Publishing and Follett Higher Education Group. The groundbreaking program cuts textbook costs for students by up to 50 percent by using customized textbooks containing exactly the material required for Rio Salado courses.

“I pay my tuition with my financial aid and then the books can be another $200-$300,” Robison said. “Anything that saves students money like the Textbook Savings Program is very helpful.”

Enroll in Free G.E.D. and English Classes at Rio Salado