Monday, March 29, 2010

Retirees Heading Back to School for Encore Careers

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager

The Chinese thinker and social philosopher Confucius famously said “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

All too often these words of wisdom are lost as people grow from dreaming children to working adults. People lose sight of what they love to do and pursue careers for the wrong reasons. When they add a car, a house and family to their lives, the thought of starting a new career may seem irresponsible and becomes more difficult to pursue.

Valley resident Leonard Quimby is someone who falls into the category of people who pursued a career for the wrong reasons. Unlike those who stay in their jobs, Quimby decided to join a large group of retired individuals who are taking advantage of online learning to change careers and pursue a job that they love.

Leonard Quimby is not your usual retiree. He is only 42 years old, and his strong work ethics lead him to a series of promotions and eventually a CEO position. Regardless of his success, he was not happy with his career path and decided to make a change.

“I was extremely bored with where I was in life,” said Quimby, of Gilbert. “I was semi-retired, and I was looking for a way to re-engage, but I wanted to make sure it was something that I had a real passion to do. If I had a real passion to do what I was doing before I retired, I would still be doing it.”

Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, Quimby reflected back on everything he has done in life and realized that working with kids brought him a lot of satisfaction.

“I knew I wanted to be in some sort of classroom teaching setting,” said Quimby. “I’ve been a coach, a court appointed special advocate to oversee foster children, and being involved with kids and kid’s causes is what I want to do.”

After deciding to pursue a new career path, his research led him to the Teacher Certification Program at Tempe-based Rio Salado College.

“I chose online classes so I can get it done as quickly as I want,” said Quimby, who is slated to complete his certification in May. “I’m under my time schedule, not the teacher’s [schedule].”

Having a flexible schedule was just one of the deciding factors that led him to taking classes at a community college.

“You have a public education cost, which is a great value, and it’s all under your own terms,” he said.

As Quimby takes classes, he continues to reflex back on his previous work to find ways to bring real-world examples to the classroom.

“Some advantages that people have in life, set them up to do something exactly like this,” said Quimby.

He believes anybody willing to take a chance can successfully pursue a new career in the same way he has gone about it.

“You can go after anything you want. With the way [Rio Salado College] programs are structured, anyone can go after what they want,” he said. “It’s their own fear that’s holding them back. The flexibility the program has eliminates the excuses of people getting educated to do the things they want to do.”

“All too often people don’t live life, life lives them,” he added.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lights Out for Earth Hour

Rio Salado College is taking part in Earth Hour by turning off the lighted marquee, which faces the I-10 freeway, on Saturday from 8:30-9:30 p.m.

Earth Hour is a global event in which millions of people will turn out their lights to make a statement of concern about our planet and climate change. Rio Salado is encouraging Valley residents to take part by turning out their lights during this event.

For Rio Salado, caring about the environment represents a lifestyle change that blends into daily routines. The college has adopted several measures to “think green” and beyond. It is in this forward-thinking nature that we have become committed to the principles of sustainability.

We take a broad view of sustainability, including socio-cultural, environmental and economic dynamics to make sustainability bearable, equitable, and viable. To put it simply, we aren’t blindly “going green.” We’re carefully weighing the benefits and costs in the big picture and taking an approach that makes sense.

Sponsored by World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour was started in 2007 and is the largest event of its kind in the world. In 2009, more than 4,000 cities in 87 countries went dark. Here in the United States, and estimated 80 million Americans participated, along with 318 cities and eight states.

Participating in Earth Hour is easy, fun and free. Rio Salado hopes you will join us for this amazing event. To sign up, visit where you'll learn more, including ways you can spread the word about Earth Hour, plus creative things to do when the lights go out in case you need inspiration!

Please pass this note along to anyone you think might want to take part. Let's all turn out and take action. To get a better sense of the event, check out this Video.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rio Hosting Free Gardening Workshop

Rio Salado College is hosting a free workshop about drip irrigation and planting summer vegetables on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rio’s Community Garden, 1480 S. Hohokam Drive, Tempe (behind Rio Salado’s administrative building). The workshop will be lead by Gardening Practices and Techniques instructor Peter Conden, and it is open to anyone who volunteers. Peter also is available to answer all gardening questions during the workshop.

This is a hands-on workshop so please be prepared to get dirty. Wear sturdy shoes, sunscreen, and a hat, and bring a water bottle and lunch. Tasks to be accomplished include: installing a drip system, planting summer vegetable seeds, and general clean up of the garden area (weeds, small rocks).

Gardening Practices and Techniques is part of the Sustainable Food Systems program. More information can be found HERE.

Monday, March 22, 2010

College goes great lengths for charities

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager

This year, Rio Salado College launched Pay 30 Forward, a campaign that asked employees to volunteer at least 30 hours in their community. The campaign has been very successful as the employees have volunteered thousands of hours at hundreds of charities. Recently, a group who called themselves The Rio Way Heart Walk Team took part in the Phoenix Heart Walk and raised nearly $5,000 for the American Heart Association. In early March, 12 employees ran a combined 200 miles in the Ragnar Relay, which raised money for local charities.

Next weekend, Matt Freed, a graphic designer and adjunct faculty member at the Tempe-based college, is taking part in the Bike MS event in Florence, Arizona. During the event, Freed and a friend will trek 150 miles on their bikes to raise funds for the Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“I had a friend ride last year and he asked if I wanted to ride it with him this year,” said Freed, an avid bike rider, who often rides Phoenix’s South Mountain. “The thought of riding 150 miles was daunting; I have only done rides that were about 35 miles.”

According to Freed, this is not the type of event a person can take part in without preparation. Besides raising money before the event, he started training rigorously in January.

“The training consists of a core workout on Tuesday, an hour ride on Wednesday, which I do at 4:30 a.m., strength training on Thursdays, two to three hour rides on Saturday and three to four rides on Sunday,” said Freed. “It has been difficult to follow the training regiment. I missed two weeks with illness and a couple of work outs here and there, but I think I will be OK for the ride.”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.
If a riding partner and the training are not enough motivation for Freed, he has some another good reason to take on this challenge.

“A colleague at my last job had MS and I saw firsthand what the disease does to someone on a daily basis,” he said. “She was at work every day no matter what – she was an inspiration to me and was an excellent example of overcoming obstacles in life. I will be thinking of her at about mile 75 when the going gets tough.”
The local chapter of the National MS Society has been serving Arizona residents since 1956, and serves more than 8,000 Arizonans affected by MS.

If you would like to support Matt Freed by donating, please click HERE.

To learn more about the Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or to donate, visit To learn more about the Rio Salado College, please visit

Friday, March 12, 2010

Scholarships available

There are nearly 50 scholarships available for the 2010 – 2011 academic year for new and continuing students. The dealine for most scholarships is April 9.

The TriWest Military Scholarship deadline for the summer I 2010 term is May 1, 2010.

The TriWest Military Scholarship is available to service members in the active, reserve, or guard component of any U.S. military service branch or spouses/dependants of service members.

To learn more or to apply for a scholarship, please click HERE.

Additional questions may be directed to Kala Weinacker at 480.731.8407.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Phoenix Teacher Wins 'Excellence' Award

On Tuesday, KEZ's Marty Manning and Rio Salado College's David Staudacher surprised Cactus View Elementary School teacher Dianne Orr with the Excellence in Education Award for March. With Manning and Orr are Sara Lee and her son, Zachary, who nominated the teacher.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Class Encourages Students to Write Their Story

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado College PR Manager

“Everyone has a story to tell,” said Sandi Marinella, the Coordinator of the Creative Writing Program at Rio Salado College. “So we created a creative writing program to help people develop and write their stories.”

Rio Salado College started helping people write their stories over a year ago when it launched the introductory course for the program. Based on the demand they are developing courses that will allow aspiring writers to take a variety of classes and complete an Academic Certificate in Creative Writing.

“We have classes that appeal to everyone,” added Marinella. “The program is quite diverse, and we want to draw people from all walks of life.”

In the coming month, the Tempe-based college plans to release a second series of classes, which include Introduction to Fiction Writing and a course on writing scenes, Topics in Fiction. The new courses focus on in-depth writing of short stories and development of scenes to create stories, novels, or film scripts. Current elective classes in the program include magazine article writing, modern fiction, children’s literature, and contemporary cinema.

“When we launched the first classes last year, we were pleasantly surprised by our online enrollment,” said Marinella. “We have high expectations for our new classes.”

Marinella isn’t the only person excited about the classes. Students have flocked to the classes and are thrilled to share their work.

“I'm enjoying this class very much,” said student Seth Anderson, who is enrolled in the Introduction to Creative Writing class. “I've been a writer for a long time, but through this class I've been exposed to more ideas and techniques. The class keeps me accountable each week and keeps me writing - and thinking about writing - all the time.”

Besides brushing up on his skills and learning new approaches to writing, he said the classes keep his attention, too.

“My teacher has given us some fun assignments that didn't feel like I was just going through the motions to get a grade,” said Anderson, of Tempe. “I'm allowed and encouraged to be creative and think outside the box.”

“The Introduction to Creative Writing class has a lot of high-interest activities,” added Marinella. “The students get to create a character, create a setting, write the same scene with two unique voices, write a “short short”( story), prepare a query letter to send to a publisher, and create a polished story to send out and actually market.”

Being thoroughly engaged is a concern of many students who take online classes, but Anderson thinks the writing classes are well suited for the online platform.

“I've taken other online classes in the past and I missed the discussion and interaction that a classroom allows,” said Anderson, who holds degrees in economics and Russian. “However, writing is such a solitary activity that a creative writing student doesn't need to be in a classroom. Some assignments that I have had in the class I'm taking now required us to upload one of our short stories for peer editing. A student doesn't need to be in a classroom to do that.”

Additional classes focused on non-fiction writing and novel writing are expected to rollout in coming months, and the entire program is slated to be available by the end of the year.

To learn more about the Creative Writing Program at Rio, please visit or contact the program coordinator at

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sun Sounds Seeks Beer Fest Volunteers

By David Staudacher and Mira Radovich, Rio Salado College

On Saturday and Sunday more than 200 craft beers will flowing at at Tempe Town Beach during the Great Arizona Beer Festival, which benefits Sun Sounds of Arizona. A big part of the festival’s success comes from volunteers. While Saturday’s positions are filled, festival organizers are still seeking people to fill two shifts on the second day.

“We are still in need of volunteers for Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. and from 2 to 8 p.m.,” said Andrea Pasquale, Manager of Programming and Volunteers for Sun Sounds of Arizona. “As long as someone is 21 or older they can volunteer.”

While thousand of beers will be poured throughout the day, volunteers are needed to fill a variety of roles said Pasquale.

“We are seeking volunteers to help with everything,” she said. “We need people to work the front gate, place wrist-bands on people entering the festival, man the designated-driver tent, help in with the volunteer tent, set-up, and tear down. Of course we need people to pour beer, too.”

While the festival will draw thousands of people, the beer drinkers are not the only people who will benefits from the festival.

“Sun Sounds of Arizona receives all the proceeds from the festival,” said Pasquale. “Also, anyone who volunteers for six hours will receive free admission to one of our other festivals in Flagstaff or Tucson.”

Sun Sounds is a radio reading and information access service for people who can’t use printed material. It is primarily directed toward people who are blind, have age or disease related vision loss, or have difficulty holding printed material.

“The inability to use print can cause people to become isolated from family and friends,” said Heidi Capriotti, marketing coordinator of Sun Sounds. “We give them an opportunity to stay connected with their communities. It’s a 24-hour window to the world.”

In Arizona, 49,000 listeners tune in daily to hear newspapers, books, magazines and other pertinent information read aloud, allowing them to stay informed of current events.

Five-hundred statewide volunteers read everything from local and national newspapers, including the Arizona Republic, USA Today and Wall Street Journal, entertainment magazines, health newsletters, obituaries, and the latest best-sellers.
“One of our most popular programs is weekly reading of the grocery ads on Wednesdays,” said Capriotti.

The Sun Sounds service is available in many formats: radio, telephone, online, and in some areas, cable TV.

Radio programs are broadcast on the sub-carrier of FM stations, meaning the signal can’t be heard on standard radios. Instead, subscribers are loaned a pre-tuned radio receiver at no charge.

Eligible listeners can also hear the broadcast and archived programs on Sun Dial II, a telephone access system that even allows users to surf the Web without a computer.
“One advantage of the telephone service is that listeners can pause their listening and return later to where they left off,” Capriotti said. Sun Dial II recognizes callers by phone number, and also allows them to bookmark favorites — all by voice command.

If someone can’t make it to the festival, there are a myriad of opportunities to volunteer at the radio station.

“We have many volunteer opportunities at Sun Sounds,” said Pasquale. “We are especially looking for people to make phone calls to listeners, and help in our office.”

To volunteer at the beer festival or at Sun Sounds of Arizona, please contact Andrea Pasquale at, or by going online and filling out a volunteer form at

Sun Sounds of Arizona is a part of Rio Salado College’s Division of Public Service, along with NPR affiliates KJZZ 91.5 FM and KBAQ 89.5 FM, and Maricopa Colleges Television. To learn more about Rio Salado, visit