Thursday, May 31, 2012

Save a Life with CPR

Contributed by Angela Ambrosia, Ph.D.
Rio Salado College Faculty Chair of Allied Health


According to the American Heart Association, in 2011, more than 380,000 incidents of sudden cardiac arrest occurred outside of hospitals and emergency rooms. Less than eight percent of these victims survive.

Fortunately, the hope for survival increases with effective bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator provided at the time of the attack. In addition, four out of five cardiac arrests occur in the home, meaning a friend or family member’s life can be saved.

There is a misconception that only medical professionals need to know CPR, but learning how to properly administer CPR is vital for everyone. Because of the lack of proper training and the tendency to forget skills learned, nearly 70 percent of Americans feel helpless when administering CPR.

Rio Salado College offers three online courses in CPR; HCC109 – Basic Life Support for Healthcare providers, HES 106 – Heartsaver CPR AED and HES154 – Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED. These courses require an in-person skills assessment and provide the participant with an American Heart Association card upon completion of the course. This ensures the student’s knowledge is thorough and long lasting.

The success of the courses is evident through the students’ use of CPR during numerous real-life emergencies. In one situation, a student at Rio, was on his way to take the skills test for a CPR course and encountered an automobile accident. The student said that because of his training from Rio he had the confidence to secure the scene, call 911 and provide basic first aid to five victims involved in the accident.

Sarah Johnson, a mother of two and graduate of Rio’s CPR course, found the course to be very helpful, accessible and convenient with her busy schedule.

“If you set quiet time aside, you will get the most out of the class,” Johnson said. “Just knowing that I have the knowledge of CPR means that I don’t have to wait for someone else to get there to help.”

CPR courses at Rio Salado are not only extremely useful but also convenient. The college has offered these courses online since 2010, allowing students to become well practiced in crucial life support practices. In addition, the in-person skills assessment can be scheduled at a convenient time for the student.

For those who may not have the time to take an online course, and want to be prepared, a hands-on instructional video is available from the AHA in support of National CPR and AED Awareness Week, June 1-7.


Keep in mind that hands-only CPR, which consists of only chest compressions, has proven to be as effective as mouth-to-mouth CPR in treating adult cardiac arrest victims. Taking a few classes online or watching a video is an easy and small price to pay for the ability to save a life.

June 1-7 is National CPR & AED Awareness Week. Rio Salado will celebrate CPR awareness throughout the month and provide a Laderal™ Face Shield CPR Barrier Key Ring to students who complete their coursework. The shield prevents direct contact with the mouth, nose and face to protect the rescuer and victim.

Article published in the Tempe Republic May 30

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rio Graduate Overcomes Obstacles

Of the 627 students who received degrees at Rio Salado’s recent commencement ceremony, perhaps none define perseverance better than Gregory Kosko.

In January of 2009, Kosko lost his job due to corporate economic cutbacks. Later that year, he was diagnosed with Essential Tremors, which later escalated into Parkinson’s disease.

“At that point, I was unemployed, disabled and discouraged,” Kosko said. “While time was not a factor, finances and the ability to physically write and type were huge obstacles.”

Kosko knew he couldn’t let his situation stand in the way of going back to school for a degree to further his re-careering options.

“I enrolled in college just out of high school but circumstances prevented me from completing,” Kosko said. “As I rolled into a job and then a career, I was constantly reminded how much more I could achieve if I would just go back and complete my college education.”

Kosko began researching his educational options and settled on Rio Salado College.

“I chose Rio Salado for three main reasons,” Kosko said. “Online courses allowed me to keep transportation costs at a minimum. Flexible start dates offered a way to manage my daily schedule, and Rio’s transfer options allowed a seamless transfer to Northern Arizona University (NAU).”
In addition, Kosko also considered Rio Salado’s Disability Services department when choosing his college.

“Disability Services, and specifically manager Terry Ferra, helped me through to the completion of each and every course,” Kosko said. “Without this assistance I simply would not have been able to return to school.”

Kosko also credits technology in helping see his academic goals become reality. He used Dragon voice recognition software to assist with taking online classes.
“My advice to others is to focus on the doors that have opened, along with the opportunities they present, and not on the doors that have closed,” Kosko said. “The past is out of your control, the future has yet to be written.”

Now the holder of an Associate in Arts degree, Kosko can focus his attention on the future, which includes further education and helping others with disabilities.

“The Parkinson's diagnosis inspired me to work with those who have disabilities because I experienced it firsthand,” Kosko said. “Until it happens to you, is almost impossible to understand its overall effect on day-to-day living. If I'm able to help just one person get through this and get on with their life, it will be well worth it.”

Kosko plans to continue his education at NAU by earning a bachelor’s degree next year, and then to pursue a master’s degree in education.

“The completion of my college degree will surely open some new doors, but returning to work was not the sole purpose behind achieving my degree,” Kosko said. “It was simply a lifelong goal and the satisfaction it brings is immeasurable.”

Published in the Tempe Republic Saturday, May 19, 2012.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

2007 Rio Salado GED Student Finishes Bachelor's Degree at ASU

Jana Easley (left) with fellow ASU Graduate
 Erica Collins
Jana Easley walked across the stage at Arizona State University's graduation ceremony earlier this month and has been accepted to the college’s master's fast track program for social work. It is an accomplishment to be proud of regardless of the circumstances, but for a high school dropout who struggled with drug addiction and abusive relationships, it is an impossible dream finally coming true.

Having received her General Education Diploma in 2007 through the Adult Basic Education department at Tempe-based Rio Salado College, Easley credits her continued success to the encouragement she received from ABE instructors. She shares her story with the hope that others will be motivated to take the first step and enroll in GED classes.

"I started my journey at a domestic violence shelter," Easley said. "At age 35, after 8 years in an abusive relationship, I was able to leave with my daughter and my life."

"My addiction to meth left me homeless and living on the streets. I had already lost my son and eventually custody of my daughter was given to her father," Easley said.

Easley was accepted into rehab through New Arizona Family Inc. (NAFI) and completed the program in four months. During this time, she tried to register GED classes at an institution in central Phoenix, but seats were limited and she was not accepted.

After 10 months sober, Easley relapsed.
"I lost everything," Easley said. "My apartment, my job, my vehicle, and I lost my daughter again."

"After a two and a half year relapse and many near death experiences, I was able to get sober again by the grace of god," Easley said. "I went back into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Crystal Meth Anonymous, got a sponsor and started working the 12 steps."

"For the first year of sobriety I worked at Kashman's Catering in Scottsdale. They gave me my first raise ever and invited me to the company Christmas party," Easley said. "It was reassuring. I was building self-confidence and was ready to tackle the GED again."

"I had heard through the grapevine that if I put a certain amount of hours in on my GED from Rio Salado College, they would pay for my first three classes at any Maricopa County Community College," Easley said. "That's what I needed to hear. I was 'all in'."

At 40 years of age, Easley cut her hours to part time and returned to the classroom.

"I spent many hours with Suzy, my GED teacher and mentor," Easley said. "Suzy had so much patience and believed in me until I believed in myself.

After her third attempt at the GED test, Easley received a late-night phone call from her instructor.

"What a moment that was," Easley said." She was actually crying when she told me. I can still hear it: 'J you passed! You're going to graduate!' I tear-up a little when I think about it."

After graduation, Easley spoke with a mentor from Rio Salado who helped her register for classes at Paradise Valley Community College.

"Rio kept their word and paid for my first three classes. I was really impressed," Easley said. "I started in the summer of 2007, by fall I entered as a full-time student and graduated in May of 2010 with my Associate degree and an acceptance letter from ASU."

Easley followed the example set by Rio Salado alumni who occasionally stopped by her GED class.

"I intended to get my bachelor's right from the start because that's what was modeled by prior students at Rio," Easley said. "They would tell us to get our GED and keep going, so that's what I'm doing!"

Easley will start a fast track program in the summer of 2013 and should earn her master's in social work by 2014.

"I celebrated six years of sobriety on March 11," Easley said. "I'm currently interning for the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence for women. I want to work with women suffering from substance abuse; either one-on-one or in a group setting."

Easley said she hopes her story will encourage others to go back to school and change their own lives.

"Thinking about it could last a lifetime," Easley said. "Just do it! If one can believe, one can achieve."

Article published in the Tempe Republic May 26.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Take Summer Classes at Rio

Summer is usually a time for college students to take a break from their busy course loads and find a job or return home for a few months before the next school year begins. But now with the vast array of summer classes available for students, many of which online, the summer is also a time when students can get ahead and one step closer to earning their degree.
There are an abundance of opportunities for students to earn college credit this summer by enrolling in any one of a number of Rio Salado College classes and programs. Rio Salado offers online and in-person classes in 80 different subject areas in two separate summer sessions. This opportunity isn’t just for Rio Salado College students either. Rio course credits are transferable to any of the three in-state universities and Rio also has partnerships with a number of universities across the nation. So whether students are interested in learning about a new subject or completing that final course requirement in order to graduate, Rio has courses in everything from accounting to Japanese.
Here is a listing of some summer course options:
·         Buried Cities and Lost Tribes (ASB222): 8 and 12 weeks classes available. Learn about discoveries by researchers of lost civilizations and how they made their discoveries.
·         Introduction to Screenwriting (CRW190): 14 week classes available. Students have the opportunity to learn how to put together a movie or play script.
·         First-Year Composition (Eng 101): 8 and 16 week classes available. Students have the opportunity to develop their writing skills to write papers on a college level.
·         College Mathematics (MAT 142): 8 and 14 week classes available. Students learn basic math skills such as probability, finance and geometry.
·         Internet Marketing for SmallBusiness (SBS 220): This unique class is a part of the Small Business Management program at Rio. It teaches future Entrepreneurs how to effectively use internet marketing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

RSC Supports EAA Phoenix Effort to Promote Clean Transportation

The Phoenix chapter of the Electric Auto Association (EAA) recently hosted a 100 mile Electric Vehicle Rally with Tempe-based Rio Salado College as the final destination. Participants took a tour of the Garden @ Rio and learned about the college's sustainability efforts while their vehicles recharged using the seven on-site electric vehicle charging stations.

Installation of publicly available EVSE charging stations is planned for locations across all ten Maricopa District community colleges in an effort to support clean transportation.

According to EAA Phoenix Chapter President Jim Stack, the Phoenix area is well ahead of the curve when it comes to providing infrastructure and support for alternate fuels and electric vehicles.

"There are over 200 EVSE charging locations throughout the Valley," Stack said. "My Nissan LEAF actually shows them on an in-dash display, but anyone can find them using the Blink Network map."

"Rio Salado makes a big impact," Stack said."They have so many locations around town. There are seven stations at the Tempe headquarters and two stations at most of their satellite locations."

Stack also said he believes there is a trend among local businesses to support electric vehicles. "Rio Salado is a leader, but the entire Valley community is behind the movement towards clean energy."

The Phoenix EEA chapter is a 100% non-profit organization for electric vehicle enthusiasts. The group sponsors events like the Electric Vehicle Rally to help raise awareness of the advancing capabilities of next generation electric vehicles.

"Our events help show the greater Phoenix area how easy it is to drive an electric vehicle," Stack said. "We also show how EV's can be very efficient and surpass the range and economy of other vehicles."

"The winner of our 100 Mile EV Rally for the 21st Century event drove over 8.5 miles on each kilowatt hour (KwH) of electricity at around 10 cents per KwH," Stack explained. "He could drive around 85 miles at a cost of about a dollar."

"The new electric vehicles regenerate when they slow down or brake which adds another 10-15% to their range, " Stack said. "It also stops brake wear and brake dust. No other car in the world can do that."

Rio Salado College is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and the largest online public community college in the nation. Founded in 1978, Rio Salado offers degree and certificate programs, general education courses and support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students. It is also the largest provider of adult basic education in Arizona.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Excellence in Education Year-End Celebration 2012

Nine teachers who were nominated for “Excellence in Education” awards during the 2011-12 school year were honored at a banquet on May 16 in Phoenix.

“Excellence in Education” is a partnership between Rio Salado and 99.9FM KEZ. Students and their parents nominate K-12 teachers who are excellent at their profession and have made a difference in their community. Valerie Segerson of Johnson Elementary in Mesa was named “Teacher of the Year.” Sergerson received $999 and additional accolades from the attendees, Rio Salado College and Clear Channel Communications.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Congratulations Rio Salado Class of 2012

Keep an eye on Facebook for more student photos and quotes.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rio Salado Graduation Gets Social

With the 2012 GED Graduation and 2012 Commencement ceremonies taking place later this week, Rio Salado College wants to make sure graduates know about all the fun stuff that's available to help them celebrate.
Rio graduates are encouraged to share their accomplishment with friends and family by posting a 2012 Grad Badge to their Facebook timeline.

The college has also created a YouTube video with advice for grads and a collection of digital wallpapers available for desktop, laptop and mobile featuring a graduation abstract, the 2012 graduation theme and the newly introduced Grad Girl.

Although the Rio Salado graduation and commencement ceremonies are not open to the public, the entire Rio Salado College community is invited to join in the fun on Twitter tomorrow and Thursday.

Follow @RioSaladoOnline for official updates from the event or join in the pre-ceremony conversation using the #RioGrad hashtag.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Excellence in Education Winner Announced

Congratulations to Valerie Segerson for receiving the May 2012 Excellence in Education award from KEZ 99.9 FM and Rio Salado College.

The Montessori teacher instructs 4th, 5th and 6th graders in her classroom at Johnson Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona. She was nominated by parent Lynn Cormier who said she feels Segerson’s enthusiasm for teaching and learning are evident in her compassion for students and the energy she puts into each day’s lesson.

“Her classroom hums with efficiency as she works to put each child on a path to being self-motivated, self-disciplined, and self-directed. She is always smiling and in an upbeat, positive state-of-mind that encourages students to do their best every day,” Cormier said. “As a parent, I applaud how proactive she is with keeping the parents informed and up-to-date on our children's performance.”

Excellence in Education is a partnership between Rio Salado College and KEZ 99.9 FM, which recognizes Valley teachers. Students and parents of students are encouraged to nominate K-12 teachers who are excellent at their profession and have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in their community.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

2012 Commencement Celebrates Student Success

Graduation Numbers Increase as Students Overcome Challenges
to Gain New Opportunities and Strengthen the Local Economy 

PHOENIX – May 4, 2012 – Rio Salado College will celebrate the accomplishments of the 2011-12 graduates at commencement May 17 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix. This marks the 33rd graduation ceremony for the college and a 45 percent increase in associate degrees awarded from last year. The free-ticketed event begins at 7 p.m. Featured student speakers will be Michal Rudnick and Gina Boesch.
Michal Rudnick
Rudnick, a 33-year-old wife and mother of three put college on hold for ten years as she started a family and worked for a local government agency. She overcame many struggles to earn her Associate in Applied Science in public administration, which will allow her to move up in her career and provide examples of academic excellence and dedication to her children. Her biggest passion is healthcare and she will next pursue a bachelor's degree at ASU in public administration to help prepare for pending changes in the healthcare industry as it relates to her profession.

“I look forward to furthering my education, as Rio Salado has given me an excellent foundation,” said Rudnick. “Not only am I better prepared to face professional challenges, the online learning format at Rio has dramatically improved my online communication skills which are vital to the professional work I do every day.”
Gina Boesch
After a successful clerical career in civil service, Boesch, a working mother of seven-year-old twins, found herself unemployed and without highly marketable skills. As a Mexican immigrant, she longed to utilize her bilingual skills to those needing help with the most basic of transactions. While her career in civil service was rewarding, she quickly reached the highest level her education would allow. She decided she could become more, and despite financial and health challenges, has earned her Associate in Applied Science in computer science. She is currently enrolled in a bachelor's program at ASU focused on web design, and will next pursue a masters in bilingual education on her road to designing bilingual e-learning materials.

“I reached my goal of graduating from Rio Salado thanks to countless amounts of help I received from college personnel,” said Boesch. “I can’t wait to apply my passion and strengths in a profession I believe will open doors for many people without them having to sacrifice their own culture in order to succeed.”

Additional highlights include congratulatory remarks from Maricopa Community College District Governing Board President, Doyle Burke, MCCD Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick and Rio Salado College President, Dr. Chris Bustamante.

A total of 4,112 degrees and certificates will be awarded for 2011-2012, with nearly 150 students participating in this year’s commencement exercises.

2012 Graduation Statistics*:
627 Associate Degrees
  • 143 Associate in Arts 
  • 10 Associate in Elementary Education 
  • 1 Associate in Fine Arts 
  • 72 Associate in General Studies 
  • 21 Associate in Business – General Requirements 
  • 8 Associate in Science 
  • 372 Associate in Applied Science 
23 Academic Certificates

3,256 Certificates of Completion

206 Recognitions of Academic Achievement (TEP)

*Projected numbers at time of posting.

Additional Graduations:
The college will celebrate the accomplishments of 34 Dental Hygiene graduates at a pinning ceremony at 4 p.m. on May 11, at the Conference Center @ Rio.

GED Graduation will be held May 16, at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix at 7 p.m. More than 200 graduates will participate in this year’s ceremony.

For more information visit For grad night photos visit Rio Salado’s Facebook page .


Rio Salado College is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and the largest online public community college in the nation, serving nearly 70,000 students annually with more than 43,000 online. Founded in 1978, Rio Salado offers degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students. It is the largest provider of adult basic education in Arizona and served more than 9,500 students last year.

2012 GED Graduation Celebration Scheduled May 16

More than 200 GED graduates will walk with confidence and pride across the Orpheum Theater stage in downtown Phoenix on May 16 to receive their diplomas.

The Spanish Baroque style theater offers the perfect setting for this particular event.  GED graduation is a dramatic and emotional celebration of triumph over the circumstances and personal challenges that each student faced during his or her journey.

And the party is getting bigger.

The number of GED graduates through Rio Salado’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) department more than doubled in five years from 247 in 2006 to 533 in 2011. The class of 2012 is expected to continue the trend of growth.

“We’re thrilled to see the program growing,” said Lilybeth Brazones, adult basic education program director for Rio Salado College. “It is great that we are able to help our students. They will have so many more options now in terms of their post-secondary education and career.”

This year’s GED graduation student speaker, Lisa Murillo, is a participant in the six-month AZ-IBEST Program.  Students in the program take 24 credits of dental assisting technology classes in addition to contextualized GED instruction.  
“The program is followed by a 200-hour internship in a dentist’s office,” said Blair Liddicoat, associate dean of adult basic education at Rio Salado College.  “It is a very rigorous program and we are happy to have an IBEST student speaking at the GED Graduation.”

The AZ-IBEST program is an example of the college’s STAR-PATH model for providing students with college and occupational pathways that will lead to gainful employment in a chosen career path.   

For more information visit For grad night photos visit Rio Salado’s Facebook page .


Rio Salado College is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and the largest online public community college in the nation, serving nearly 70,000 students annually with more than 43,000 online. Founded in 1978, Rio Salado offers degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students. It is the largest provider of adult basic education in Arizona and served more than 9,500 students last year.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

GED Graduate Fulfills a Lifelong Dream

Lisa Murillo is no ordinary student. She is a mother, grandmother and General Education Development (GED) graduate of Rio Salado College and will be the student speaker at the college’s GED graduation on May 16.

Born in Los Angeles, Murillo was the youngest of three children. At the age of 14, she moved to Arizona with her mother when her parents divorced. By the time she was 16 years old, she had dropped out of high school to provide for herself when her mother returned to California. She survived by providing routine maintenance and cleaning for a tennis court.

Murillo said that she had always hoped to return to school but found it difficult due to her family responsibilities.

“I had always wanted my GED, it was something that I envisioned, but I had to work to keep a roof over my family’s head. I knew in time, I would fulfill my dream of walking in a cap and gown once my children were grown up. That time for me is now,” she said.

In conjunction with her GED classes Murillo has been taking dental assisting courses and plans to earn a certificate in dental assisting in July. She has been part of a grant funded program; Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (IBEST), which allows students to work toward their GED while at the same time, learn valuable skills for the workplace.

“The program is followed by a 200-hour internship in a dentist’s office,” said Rio Salado College Associate Dean of Adult Basic Education Blair Liddicoat. “It is a very rigorous program and we are happy to have one of its participants speaking at the GED Graduation.”

The IBEST program is an example of the college’s initiatives to provide students with college and occupational pathways that will lead to gainful employment in a chosen career path.

“Rio’s program which allowed me to complete my GED while also cementing a career in the Dental Assisting field seemed like a great way to start a new career,” said Murillo.

Murillo admits that returning to school has been a lot of work. “Going back to school as an adult learner requires creating new habits and breaking old ones. Take it from me, it takes focus and determination, but it can be accomplished with perseverance,” she said.

Murillo is proud of her accomplishments and plans to and plans continue on with her education to earn an associate degree in dental office management. “Starting a new career with the right education is a life changing experience. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made,” she said.

Published in the Tempe Republic Saturday, May 5, 2012.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

April Excellence in Education Winner Announced

Congratulations to Aaron McDowell, teacher at Wickenburg High School in Wickenburg, Arizona for being awarded the April Excellence in Education Award by KEZ 99.9 FM and Rio Salado College.

McDowell was nominated by student Hanna Willis who said she would not have been able to pass the required standardized math tests if it weren’t for McDowell’s dedication and willingness to go the extra mile. 

“I have been in special education since the third grade and never thought I would be able to pass the AIMS,” Willis said. “Mr. McDowell took the time to tutor me whenever I had extra time. He allowed me to come in before or after class. He also let me tutor during his prep time.”

Excellence in Education is a partnership between Rio Salado College and KEZ 99.9 FM, which recognizes Valley teachers. Students and parents of students are encouraged to nominate K-12 teachers who are excellent at their profession and have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in their community.