Thursday, July 28, 2011

Post 9/11 - GI Bill® Expands Support for Online Students

Recent changes to the Post - 9/11 GI Bill®  will introduce a pro-rated monthly housing allowance of up to $673.50 for students who wish to take courses online and expanded eligibility to include active service performed by National Guard members. In some cases, these benefits can also be transferred to eligible dependents.

The Post- 9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 will take effect on August 1, 2011. Active duty service members, military veterans and their families are encouraged to visit the Rio Salado College Military Central webpage to find out how Rio Salado College can help turn your military experience into a rewarding civilian career path.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Certificate in Language Studies Introduced at Rio Salado College

Tempe, Ariz. – July 21, 2011 – Due to the ever-growing global economy, second language proficiency is an important skill to compete on the international business platform. Rio Salado College has initiated the first academic certificate in language studies for the Maricopa Community College District. The academic certificate in language studies provides a foundation in the study of culture and documents proficiency in a foreign language.

“Something that is unique to languages is that we all grew up with one, but that doesn’t mean the student has had an academic preparation in that language,” said Dr. Angela Felix, faculty chair of languages. “The academic certificate in language studies is more than saying you know how to speak a language; it is the additional skills as well, that are valuable in the work place.”

The academic certificate is designed to help students demonstrate their language skills to a potential employer or university admissions officer.

“Up until now there has not been a way for students to show proficiency to potential employers or use as evidence to universities,” said Felix. “We have so many students out there that have these valuable skills that have not been validated.”

Rio Salado College offers many elective courses to satisfy requirements for the academic certificate in language studies: with 48 start dates, students can complete their certificate without interruption.

“We never cancel classes,” Felix said. “Students will never need to take a semester off because a class was canceled; this really is one of our strengths in the program.”

Rio Salado College’s program also includes an online language lab that has lowered the cost of acquiring the certificate by providing an alternative to traditional course materials and expensive textbooks.

“We used to charge upwards of $200 for textbooks and course work. Now with the online language lab we have been able to reduce the cost to under $60 and are continuing to try to reduce the cost to students.” said Felix.

According to Felix, the online language lab is more individualized than a traditional in-person class room setting.

“Something that is unique to the online format is that students are getting individualized feedback on every oral assignment,” said Felix. “The feedback is all saved in the student’s grade book; you have that constant feedback loop that is not always available in a large class.”

Felix says there is great value in learning a second language, and the certificate will encourage students to study a language beyond the bare minimum requirements. The academic certificate in language studies satisfies all the requirements for Bachelors of Arts.

Felix added, “I really want our students to know that it is such an important gift and talent to speak another language; and we value it in our community, we value it here at Rio and we want to make sure they take advantage of this opportunity.”
Rio Salado College was founded in 1978 and serves one of the largest online enrollments nationwide. The college was recently recognized as one of eight highly productive institutions of higher education in the nation by McKinsey & Company. Rio Salado offers general education courses as well as a variety of degree and certificate programs with more than 62,000 students enrolled annually. It is also Arizona’s largest provider of Adult Basic Education.

The Maricopa Community College District is one of the largest community college districts in the nation and serves more than 250,000 students annually. It includes 10 colleges - Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Estrella Mountain Community College, GateWay Community College, Glendale Community College, Mesa Community College, Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix College, Rio Salado College, Scottsdale Community College and South Mountain Community College. The District also includes the Maricopa Skill Center, SouthWest Skill Center, several satellite campuses and business/industry, technical and customized training institutes.

Tyler Pace, Rio Salado College

Delynn Bodine, Rio Salado College
480.517.8205(w) 480.215.9456 (c)

Friday, July 22, 2011

KJZZ to Host Mayoral Candidate Discussion July 27

KJZZ 91.5 FM is hosting a live studio discussion with six of the leading Phoenix mayoral candidates on Wed., July 27 at 11 a.m. KJZZ’s Here and Now host Steve Goldstein will interview Anna Brennan, Wes Gullett, Claude Maddox, Peggy Neely, Greg Stanton and Jennifer Wright individually and then bring them together for a round table discussion during the hour-long special. Listeners are encouraged to send their questions to Here and Now’s Facebook, Twitter or email accounts before the show. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Teacher Prep Students to Benefit from New Collaboration

Earnest Palomino is an engineer who wanted to become a teacher. A move to Arizona and a distressed economy were the catalyst for him to enroll in Rio Salado College’s post baccalaureate teacher preparation program. Two years later Palomino will see his goal become a reality when he teaches math to students at Dysart High School this fall.

“The way Rio structures the program really prepares you for the next step. You begin with core classes, next practicums and then student teaching,” Palomino said. “They also go beyond academics and teach practical things like, control of the classroom.”

For more than a decade Rio Salado College has been a leading provider of teacher preparation in Arizona and has helped students with bachelor’s degrees prepare for certification. Recently the college joined together with the New York Times Knowledge Network to provide a premier post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program. The program will provide students with additional resources and nationwide networking opportunities.

“This collaboration brings together Rio’s proven Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Preparation Program and experienced faculty with the support of the Knowledge Network’s eLearning platform and student access to The New York Times’ content repository,” said Janet Johnson, faculty chair of education for Rio Salado College. “This is an added value to for our students.”

“I think it would be very helpful to have the back logs of The New York Times articles,” Palomino said. “Especially to see what’s current in math and science.”

Students will also benefit with opportunities to share experiences and network with other students from across the nation via blogs, wikis, forums, chats and private student groups.

“One of the things about teaching is that good teachers are always needed everywhere. It will be an advantage to be able to network with students from all over and find out where the openings are,” Palomino said.

According to the U.S. Department Bureau of Labor Statistics, prospects for careers in teaching are expected to grow nearly 12 percent over the next five to six years. The online program, combined with 48 start dates throughout the year, provide flexibility for re-careering adults.

Gary Light was semi-retired when he enrolled in and completed Rio’s teacher preparation special education program. This fall he joins the Scottsdale School District as a certified teacher.

“Although you never see them you feel like you know your professors,” Light said. “They are always online and always email you. You receive a lot of individual attention that you wouldn’t get from other schools. If there are any questions or problems, they listen to you.”

The new collaborative program will be available in August for students seeking certification in elementary, secondary and special education. The program can take from 18 to 24 months to complete, depending upon the pace of the student. Recruitment outreach will be piloted in Arizona with plans to expand to the national market.
“I would encourage people who think they are finished with work, to take a second look at this program, because being associated with young people keeps you keyed in to what going on in the world,” Light said.

The Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Preparation Program is approved by the Arizona State Board of Education and certification is accepted in many states nationwide. Admittance to the program and state certification are based on state-by-state requirements. It is the responsibility of the student to verify those requirements. More information about the program can be found at

Media Contact:
Delynn Bodine, PR Manager

Monday, July 18, 2011

Employee Spotlight: Matthew Budwill

Matthew Budwill is a mild mannered system administrator by day, but in his free time he’s an adventure seeking storm chaser!

The Rio Salado College employee has been chasing storms in Arizona and across the country for the last 15 years. He started out as an amateur doing time-lapse photography at night and has evolved through both training and experience into a certified SKYWARN spotter.

“I kind of stumbled across it,” Budwill said. “It just started out through my photography doing time-lapse at night. Over the years I’ve amassed more training and now storm chasing is what I do. “

Budwill received training as a storm spotter from the National Weather Service. As a certified SKYWARN spotter, he is able to report severe weather events and storm damage to any NWS office.

“While I’m out, I issue weather reports to the national weather service that allows them to issue warnings. I send in damage reports so they can analyze what happened during a storm. And of course if someone is broken down or a victim or something, I’m able to stop and assist,” Budwill said.

Although he has had some formal training, quite a few of Budwill’s skills were self-taught or incidental.
“I was looking for new technology to use so that while I’m out I can upload GPS data in real time. Along with that technology, came training for how to more safely maneuver around tornadoes and such,” he said.

Budwill operates completely out of his truck which is equipped with GPS, full internet capability, three hand held cameras, and a high definition dash-cam capable of streaming live video to his Web site, He also has a dew point sensor that he engineered himself. “It’s based on a fairly standard design, but it took 3 years of trial and error to get it the way I wanted it,” Budwill said.

The truck also has custom headlights and a light bar that can be seen from up to 10 miles away. Budwill can track his location through an iPhone app called Radar Scope which helps him keep a safe distance.

“With tornadoes I’m very cautious,” Budwill said. “I chase with radar. Even on my cell phone I have GPS enabled radar so I can see exactly where I am in relation to the storm.”

Budwill chases all kinds of storms and weather conditions. He said location plays a big part in what he expects to see. “In the Midwest you’re looking for a different kind of footage. Tornado footage, hail damage…stuff like that.” He added, “Around here, people are more focused on dust storms and haboobs as well as lightning. In the Midwest they get a lot of cloud to cloud. Around here we get more cloud to ground, so it’s a lot more impressive in photographs.”

As for the haboob that struck Phoenix on July 5, Budwill said it’s the first time in 15 years that he’s shied away from a storm for safety reasons. “It’s probably the worst one I’ve seen in my 15 years chasing, or actually 20 years that I’ve been living here.”

“I will chase pretty much anything because I’m trained to, but I didn’t want to chase that one because I didn’t feel safe,” Budwill said. “I’ve almost been struck by lightning five times, which is five times too many.

According to Budwill, visibility and wind speeds are the most dangerous elements of those types of storms. “Debris is not such a big deal around here. Mostly it’s just dirt, but I have had a headlight broken by a very dense tumbleweed.”

Friday, July 1, 2011

Student Earns College Degree before High School Diploma

Graduating from college before high school wasn’t exactly part of Anngela Adam’s plan, at least not at first. In May she received her associate of arts degree from Rio Salado College three weeks before graduating as a valedictorian from Mountain Pointe High School.

The summer before Anngela’s freshman year, she took algebra and German courses from Rio Salado College in order to take advanced high school classes and free up her schedule. She then took advantage of Rio Salado’s Dual Enrollment program which enables students to receive high school and college credit at the same time.

“I’m just a driven person,” said Anngela. “Why not get classes out of the way? It made a lot of sense to be earning college credit while going to high school.”

Anngela brought home information about Dual Enrollment while still in middle school. Her parents were supportive of the concept.

“We thought that with college tuition prices going up that this would be a good idea,” said Christa Adams, Anngela’s mother. “She was going to have to master theses upper level classes such as calculus, so why not just get serious about it.”

Anngela also banked college credits through participation in Concurrent Enrollment during the summer. In her senior year, she discovered that she was just two courses short of an associate degree. She decided that even with a busy schedule, if she gave some extra effort and managed her time wisely she could do it.

“Being dual enrolled helped Anngela to focus and gave her the incentive work harder,” said Christa.

Anngela has plans to attend ASU this fall and has already taken the majority of her required general education classes which will free her up to concentrate on her major in biomedical engineering.

“I want to be a doctor and I have a lot of school ahead of me. Dual Enrollment really helped me get a head start on my education,” said Anngela.

For more than 24 years Rio Salado College has provided a Dual Enrollment program. During the recent 2010-11 academic year, 53 high schools partnered with Rio Salado College to serve nearly 8,500 students across the Valley.

“I would strongly recommend Dual Enrollment to others,” said Christa. “Students have to take some initiative and meet the deadlines. With follow up and hard work, they can succeed.”

For more information about Rio Salado Dual Enrollment visit or see a high school counselor.