Monday, May 24, 2010

Rio Salado Debuts Accelerated Degree Program

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager

Rio Salado College has been a pioneer in higher learning for more than 30 years. The college represents a new model of higher education for those who are seeking an education through non-traditional means.

Rio Salado College was the first school in Arizona to go completely online, and to educate employees where they work. It is the first college in the nation to offer weekly start dates. Now, the Tempe-based college is reintroducing an innovative program called RioPASS, which stands for Pathway for Achieving Student Success. RioPASS is an accelerated two-year associate degree program for students who have a high school diploma (or GED).

“One of the unique elements of the program is that it is offered in a hybrid format,” said Kishia Brock, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs at Rio Salado College. “This means the students have the flexibility of online learning paired with the support of an in-person classroom environment.”

Students in the program also are admitted as a cohort (a group) and proceed through a prescribed sequence of classes. This means that of the members of the cohort take the same coursework together at the same time, in the same sequence, for the two years they are in the program. The cohort meets periodically on Saturday mornings at Rio Salado College’s main site in Tempe.

“We designed this program with the idea of giving students more support, which we believe will help more students complete their degrees,” said Brock. “RioPASS participants will receive support from instructors, specialized tutors, and students in their cohorts, who are taking classes simultaneously.”

According to Brock, another unique feature of the program is the benefit of how the classes are paired.
“This is an accelerated program, and students take two classes at a time for eight weeks,” said Brock. “Classes are paired so that assignments are shared and utilized in both classes as part of a learning community.”

After completing the two-year track, students earn an Associate in Arts degree with coursework in General Education, including Sustainability and Environmental Literacy, Business and Liberal Arts.
“If interested, the students can earn certificates on the way to their associate degrees,” said Brock.

For more information about RioPASS, call (480) 517-8580 or visit

Rio Salado College is hosting free information sessions for students who want to learn more about the RioPASS program. Sessions will be held at Rio Salado College, 2323 W. 14th St., Tempe.
  • Thursday, June 17, 2010 @ 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 19, 2010 @ 10 a.m.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Defining Green Jobs Topic of May Education Forum

This month, we bring you a panel presentation and discussion on the nuances of a career in Sustainability. While this is one of the fastest growing sectors of the job market — more than doubling the growth of tradition job sectors — it is still unclear as to what defines a green job and how it relates to a broad spectrum of industries. Join our guest speakers as they explore many topics that bring clarity to this field.

Topics Covered
• Industries that support green jobs
• Relevant skill sets
• Roles and responsibilities
• Future trends

Leslie Lindo is the President and Lead Instructor of the Sonoran Sustainable Building Advisor Program, which offers a mastery level USGBC Education Provider Program for professionals on the principles of sustainable design. In her role with this organization, Leslie has worked closely with workforce development agencies to educate job seekers, employers and career advisors on the prevalence of green jobs. Leslie also coordinates sustainability programs through the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU West. She is a LEED Accredited Professional and the first Certified Sustainable Building Advisor in Arizona.

Colin Tetreault holds a Master of Arts from Arizona State University's School of Sustainability, the first program of its kind in the United States. Colin serves as the director of sustainability for Atlasta Catering and Event Concepts, where he is charged with changing organizational structure and culture to be more sustainability minded. His efforts impact all levels of systems from employees and managers to suppliers and customers. Colin holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He has studied international business and development at the Baltic School of Business and consulted for an international telecommunications firm while living in Sweden.
Katrina Shum is the Sustainability Manager for ARAMARK, greening food service operations in Higher Education. She developed her strength in sustainability through her work in the international Ecotourism field. Katrina was involved in the Global Ecotourism Conference and her award-winning report on community-based tourism was used to assist the Lao government in regional planning. In Mongolia, she engaged the Tsaatan community to develop governance, operations and market-linked financial frameworks. Originally from Canada, Katrina graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Hospitality Management with a focus on Sustainable Development.

Rio Salado College, The Conference @ Rio
2323 W. 14th St, Tempe, AZ 85281(map)
FREE Parking

Monday, May 24th from 5:30 to 7:30pm

5:30 - 6:00pm Networking
6:00 - 7:30pm Presentation

$10 Members
$20 Non-Members
Additional $5 required when paying at the door

RSVP required by 5p.m., May 23rd (Click Here)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Retirees Find Encore Careers Through Rio Salado

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager

When some people retire they become homebodies and work around the house. Others are not quite ready to completely leave the workforce and seek encore careers. East Valley resident Gary Light is a retiree who fits into the latter category. After finishing a successful career in foreign intelligence with the federal government, he sought out a second career.

“I don’t care for honey-do lists,” said Light. “My kids are all grown up and I missed working with kids, so I started working as a substitute teacher, which my son was doing too, and really enjoyed it.”

Light enjoyed the work so much; he decided to start taking classes at Tempe-based Rio Salado College to earn his teaching certificate with a focus on special education.

“The director of special education at the school where I’m working recommended Rio Salado College,” said Light. “The online classes are challenging, but I get a lot of support from the college’s staff.”

The program he entered is Rio Salado’s 50+ Encore Programs, which was created to support adults over the age of 50 who are eager to prepare for new careers in education. Based on adults’ areas of interest, experience, educational backgrounds, and employment situations, candidates are able to enroll in one of four online teacher certification programs. Rio Salado customized its online teacher certification programs for eligible adults, who are interested in re-careering and pursuing teaching positions in early childhood, elementary, secondary and special education.

“We know there are people who want to re-career,” said Kimberly Tobey, Rio Salado College’s community liaison director. “Our 50-Plus Encore career programs allow us to work directly with the 50-plus re-careering student. For many of them, it may have been a long time since they’ve been in school so we have a career coach available to them to ensure they find success in school and in the online learning environment.”

Light, who is 63-years-old, agrees with Tobey and said he received a lot of support at Rio Salado, which helped him make the dean’s list this past semester. He also said the program can help more than people who are retired and seeking a position with job security.

“This is a very good program for older people with degrees who get displaced from corporate America,” he said. “It’s especially good for people who want to teach special education, math and science.”

While Light enjoys helping students with special needs, he said the students are not the people receiving help. He said the students are helping him, too.

“I feel like working a long time and working with these kids keeps me sharp,” said Light.

To learn more about Rio Salado College’s 50+ Encore Programs, contact Rio Salado’s Enrollment Services at 480.517.8580 or visit

Rio Salado College 50+ Encore program orientation dates, programs and times. The orientations offer an overview of the courses and pathways available. Financial aid options also will be discussed.

June 2: noon and 6 p.m. at Rio Tempe Campus
June 7: 6 p.m. at Communiversity @ Surprise
June 15: 6 p.m. at Rio Avondale site
July 7: noon and 6 p.m. at Rio Tempe Campus
July 14: 2010: 6 p.m. at Communiversity @ Surprise

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Food Systems Director Expands Classes

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado College public relations manager

Rio Salado College's new Café@Rio will have more additions than just an expanded dining space when it opens in June. The café will be managed by Michael Hodgins, the college's new Sustainable Food Systems director, who will be using the kitchen as a classroom for the program's hybrid courses.

Hodgins, who graduated from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 1994, joined the college in April and brings an abundance of culinary experience to the Tempe-based college, 2323 W. 14th St., Tempe.

"I started in the food industry when he was 15 years old in upstate New York," Hodgins said. "I've done everything in the industry from owning my own restaurant to working in country clubs to cooking in sports and entertainment venues. Two places I worked at were the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Chase Field when it was called Bank One Ballpark. I worked in the upper-end suites and got to cook for the players. It was a great experience."

Most recently, Hodgins worked as an executive chef at Bon Appétit, which is a sustainable foods contractor in the Valley. It was during this time that he realized he had a passion for sustainable foods. It is this passion that led to him becoming a program director at Rio Salado College.

"My introduction to the program and Rio Salado College came when I became a member of its advisory council," said Hodgins, who lives in Chandler. "I've been a kitchen guy my entire career and this program drew me toward wanting to work at Rio Salado. There are not a lot of places that have sustainable food programs."

In the Sustainable Food Systems program students will learn about the real food movement, how food is produced and purchased, and even preparation techniques for the cooking and baking process.

"Sustainable foods are foods that we can use without jeopardizing future generations," Hodgins said. "We will be buying from local farms, which will cut down on food being shipped from far away, and we will grow our own food in the new garden at Rio Salado's main campus."

Hodgins has a lot of experience teaching food safety classes and doing demonstrations for crowds, but this is his first time teaching at an educational institution.

"I'm currently teaching the Study of the Global Food System and its Impacts, which focuses on the movement toward sustainable food systems," Hodgins said. "In a couple of weeks I will be starting Sustainable Restaurant Practices, which covers energy efficient appliances and equipment, electricity and water conservation practices, environmentally friendly kitchen products and methods for disposal of waste, and much more."

According to Hodgins, the courses will appeal to anyone who wants to learn about sustainable foods, not just those in the culinary industry.

"There is so much to learn about sustainability," Hodgins said. "There are a lot of people using the term 'green,' but this program will truly show them a more in-depth look at what sustainability and being green means."

To learn more about Rio Salado College's Sustainable Food Systems program, visit

Monday, May 3, 2010

Enter Our Sustainability Contest and Win a Scholarship

Are you passionate about sustainability? Do you have creative talents? Enter the Art to the 3rd Power Sustainability Contest to win a Rio Salado scholarship!

Rio Salado students are encouraged to enter a work of creative writing or media that integrates the three “Rs” of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

While submissions must be original works, how you address the three “Rs” is up to you, so get your creative juices flowing!

Three winning entries will be selected. Winners will receive Rio Salado scholarship vouchers of $350, $250 and $200 respectively. The deadline to enter is September 29, 2010.

For a list of the contest rules and an entry form click HERE.