Monday, July 19, 2010

July Education Forum Set

This month's Education Forum takes an inside look at the “Energize Phoenix” project, which will provide energy-efficient improvements to neighborhoods including multifamily units, commercial and industrial buildings and single-family homes along a 10-mile stretch of Phoenix's light rail corridor to be known as the "Green Rail Corridor." It is expected to create up to 5,300 jobs from now through 2013, and up to 8,000 total over the next six years.

The Education Forum is held at Rio Salado College, 2323 W. 14th St., Tempe and starts at 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Topics Covered
• Evolution of the project
• Distribution of the $25 million grant fund from DOE
• Benefits for business owners and residents
• Job opportunities and community outreach

Matt Fraser
Director, Research Development, Global Institute of Sustainability
Associate Professor, School of Sustainability
Arizona State University

Dimitrios Laloudakis
Manager, Public Works, Energy/Facilities Department
City of Phoenix

$10 for Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce members; $20 for non-members

More information is available at

Employee Uses Vacation to Volunteer in Haiti

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado College PR Manager

Every year, Rio Salado College employees volunteer thousands of hours to hundreds of charities throughout the Valley and state. While the bulk of volunteer hours are concentrated on local charities, some employees have taken their efforts international. Recently, Benjamin Russell, a web technician at the Tempe-based college, used his week of vacation time to volunteer in earthquake-devastated Haiti.

The decision to volunteer in Haiti started with Russell’s sister, Megan Plunkett, who sponsors a child in Haiti through the Brent Gambrell Ministries — the group that organized the trip.

“Ever since the earthquake I wanted to visit Haiti, and when she told me she was going, I immediately knew I wanted to go as well,” said Russell. “I enjoy helping people in need, and I really felt inspired to go on this trip when I first heard about it. As a Christian, I am called to show God’s love to those in need, and I find it incredibly rewarding to see the happiness less fortunate people have when you show them love and compassion.”

While Russell was on vacation, his time in Haiti was not spent relaxing, which is exactly what he wanted from this trip.

“On several days, the group I was with helped clear the foundation for a house our organization was planning on building for a widow,” said Russell. “The team moved approximately 60 tons of rubble in just a few days to allow the next team to already start building the house.”

According to Russell, he took pride in all of his volunteer efforts, but it was the interaction with Haitians that gave him the most joy.

“On one day, I helped out at the pair of orphanages housing teenagers,” said Russell. “While I was there, the groups painted classrooms, helped correct electrical problems, sorted medicine and took on other many other much needed tasks. For two other days, we helped at a local school that was part of a church. The first day, I assisted a teacher, and the second day I got to teach myself. The kids had fun doing crafts, hearing stories, and playing several games.”

On his last day in Haiti, Russell had the opportunity to drive through other areas to observe the magnitude of the damage. During the ride, he saw firsthand the effect of the earthquake as rows of buildings were sitting in rubble.

“One of the most moving moments was seeing Haiti’s equivalent to the (United States) White House, simply sitting in ruins from the earthquake,” he said. “But the hardest part of traveling through the city was knowing that every building in ruins meant tens to hundreds of lives lost.”

Russell won’t have any vacation time for a while, but said he doesn’t have any regrets about going to Haiti and that it is something he will always remember.

“The trip was definitely life changing,” he said. “It was amazing and tragic at the same time.”

To learn more about Rio Salado College, visit To learn more about Brent Gambrell Ministries and its efforts in Haiti, visit

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Susan G. Komen Race Planning Meeting

Team captains or those planning to form a team for the Susan G. Komen Phoenix Race for the Cure on Oct. 10, are invited to learn more about the race and team planning on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center Community Room, 12535 Smokey Drive in Surprise.
For those unable to attend, additional sessions will be added by Thursday at
Information or to RSVP: or 602-346-2873.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Book Rental Program Can Cut Costs for Students

When it comes time to choosing books for their classes, students at the Maricopa Community Colleges now will have an expanded roster of options, including renting their texts, the colleges announced today.

The textbook rental program, called Rent-a-Text, means that instead of purchasing course material, Maricopa students can now rent popular titles at an average cost of about half the new book purchase price. Rent-a-Text is the latest cost-saving program offered by Follett’s Higher Education group, which manages bookstores on the Maricopa campuses.

“We’re committed to making education as affordable as possible,” said Maricopa Community Colleges Chancellor Rufus Glasper. “Giving students more textbook choices is an increasingly important part of that commitment.”

The colleges’ textbook rental program will:
• Be available to students in-store and online, with in-store pickup;
• Allow students to choose a preferred form of payment, including financial aid and credit and debit cards;
• Allow students the freedom to highlight and make notes within the normal wear and tear associated with coursework;
• Give students the choice to buy their textbook at the end of the term if they decide to keep the book.

Students can purchase new textbooks, but with the cost of some text exceeding $100, that can be an expensive option, even if the students plan to sell their books back to the bookstore. In many cases, they can reduce their initial outlay by purchasing used books. However, renting the text offers students the advantage of less expensive initial costs, without the worry of whether they will be able to sell their books back to the bookstore at the end of the semester.

In a related development, the colleges and Follett announced a new feature that will make it easier for Maricopa students to choose the right textbook for every class. Now, when a student signs up for a Maricopa course on the website, they will be shown the textbooks required for the class, along with the “ISBN” number of each textbook, as well as the various purchase options and costs available. This feature is being added in part to comply with a new federal law that requires that colleges and universities provide students with accurate course information, including textbook ISBN numbers and prices.

The Rent-a-Text program is based on a Follett pilot program that saved students at seven schools across the United States nearly $2 million on course materials in just one semester. Follett said that more than 90 percent of participants surveyed expressed satisfaction with the pilot program.

“We’ve been at the forefront of cost savings programs for more than a century,” said Thomas A. Christopher, President of Follett Higher Education Group. “Helping to reduce the costs of education is part of our mission, and we look forward to working with the Maricopa Community Colleges to deliver substantial textbook savings to students.”

Student Awarded Scholarship

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager

Rio Salado College graduate Katherine “Kat” Robinson worked hard during her tenure at the Tempe-based college. And for her efforts she is one of 40 students across the country — and the only student in Arizona — to be awarded a Jake Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to helping young people of exception promise reach their full potential through education. The Foundation provides challenging opportunities to high achievers from lower-income families through its Young Scholars Program, generous scholarships for undergraduate and graduate study, and grants to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.

“Since it was established, the Foundation has recognized the importance of community colleges and their value to American society,” said Lawrence Kutner, the foundation’s executive director. “What we’ve also realized is that many top-notch students at these two-year colleges need financial help to get to the next level.”

The foundation will provide Robinson with a scholarship worth up to $30,000 a year for up to three years, which will allow her to transfer to a four-year college to complete her undergraduate degree. For Robinson, this will allow her to pursue her degree at Cornell University in New York.

“I am lucky enough to know my passion early in life — the law,” said Robinson. “Law school is only attainable with completion of a bachelor’s degree. I decided to transfer from community college in order to continue pursuit of my career goals.”

For Robinson, it was more than luck that helped her earn the scholarship. Robinson said Michelle Prins of Rio Salado College “is undoubtedly the best professor I have encountered in my academic career.” Prins built up her confidence, “while pushing me to challenge myself.”

The support and encouragement Robinson found at Rio Salado also lead her to being named to the All-Arizona Academic Team in February and the All-USA team in April.

Robinson earned her spot on the first team by maintaining a 3.93 grade-point average (GPA), earning 57 credits, and participating in a variety of college and community activities. Her activities include: Vice President of Leadership for the Alpha Theta Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa; editor and writer for The Alpha Theta Omicron Alpha Bits; student coordinator of a Beautification and Community Garden Program; and a victim response member for Pandora’s Project.

As a member of the All-Arizona Academic Team she was awarded a cash prize of $1,000 and a full two-year renewable scholarship at one of Arizona’s three state universities. As a member of the All-USA team, she was awarded an additional $2,500.

“We are honored to have her represent Rio Salado College,” said Rio Salado President Chris Bustamante. “She is an outstanding student who has shown a passionate commitment for education and the community.”

The All-Arizona Academic Team scholarships are offered every year to two students from each of the state’s community colleges. To qualify, students must have earned a high grade point average and many credits in different academic disciplines at Rio Salado College, be working toward an associate degree, and be an active participant in service learning activities such as block watch participation, charity organizations, political organizations, religious groups and other community groups.

For more information about scholarship opportunities at Rio Salado College, please visit