Saturday, September 29, 2012

Language Skills Key to Personal and Professional Success

RSC's Oweene Stone teaches English
to students from all over the world.
Language Skills Key to Personal and Professional Success

Language is an important communications tool used by people every single day. For those who are not literate in a language, problems can arise not only with communications, but with self-esteem, and personal, educational and financial success.

As the nation observes National Literacy Month in September, Rio Salado College does its part year round by offering free in-person English Language Acquisition for Adults (ELAA) classes.

Currently, more than 1,800 students are taking advantage of ELAA classes.

“The program has students from all over the world,” said Blair Liddicoat, Associate Dean of Adult Basic Education at Rio Salado. “The skills students learn in class range from survival English at the beginning to higher level language that assists them in becoming productive members of society. We instruct them in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.”
Much like coming in from different places, the program caters to those with different educational needs.

“Students come to us with widely varying educational backgrounds. Even those who have many years of education back home may have not been in the classroom for many years. They have to start all over again and learn how to be a student,” Liddicoat explained.
The good thing about the instruction is that although the students have to start again by learning how to be a student, they can do so at their own pace.
“Our adult ELAA students have many personal concerns outside of the classroom that demand their attention,” said Liddicoat. “A student’s desire to attend our class, and the time they can give to the class have competition from all of these other concerns. With this in mind, the program does not give mid-term and final exams. Nor does it assign any formal homework.”

This may sound strange but it serves a greater purpose, a purpose that targets the optimal outcome for the student.

“This eases the students’ minds and removes much of the fear factor of the classroom,” said Liddicoat. “While the program expects the student to learn, it does not penalize the student for not learning as fast as other students.”

Whether fast learners or not, most of the ELAA students at Rio Salado walk away with more skills than they initially had. Liddicoat said he feels it would be quite difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks without having learned these skills.

“Imagine that you lived in another country and could not communicate in that country’s language,” Liddicoat said. “How could you ensure you were getting on the right bus? How could you talk to your children’s teachers? How could you know how much medicine the bottle told you to take? How could you get a job that paid a livable wage and allowed you to support your family and be a proud member of society?”

Given these scenarios, Liddicoat knows Language literacy is very important. With his help, and that of other faculty members at Rio Salado College, the college is well on its way to ensuring the students gain the necessary tools to effectively develop and enhance their Language Literacy skills.

Published in the Tempe Republic Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.
Written by Rio Salado College PR Intern Erica White

Thursday, September 27, 2012

RSC Recruiting for STEM Teaching Program

The Post Baccalaureate National Science Foundation (NSF) Noyce Scholarship program provides funding and support to science, technology, engineering and math professionals interested in pursuing a career in teaching.

As Rio Salado College’s first class of Noyce Scholars prepare for student teaching, the RSC Teacher Preparation Program is recruiting for a second cohort.

According to Noyce Scholars Program Manager Karen Nave, the program is currently partnered with 14 high need school districts looking to fill teaching positions across Arizona.

“We are seeking highly-qualified bachelor degree holders with significant life experience in science, engineering or math who can inspire and meet the needs of 21st century students,” Nave said.

STEM professionals who are interested in sharing their knowledge with the next generation are encouraged to apply by the December 30 deadline. Qualified applicants will receive a $16,500 stipend to offset the costs of teacher preparation classes, certification and professional association fees.

"The concept behind this program is an incredibly good idea,” said program participant Thomas Hagen. "Helping people who are in the math and science fields to make the transition into teaching, and getting them into high needs classrooms makes me excited that someone had a great idea that came to fruition."

Hagen graduated from West Point with a degree in engineering. After spending 22 years in the U.S. Army, working as the technical coordinator for a local school district in New York, owning his own business and serving as a volunteer fireman for 11 years, Hagen said he believes he has quite a bit to offer his prospective students.

“I think the teaching profession is an incredible opportunity to touch the future of our country," Hagen said. “I think my life skills and community involvement will provide an example of how we want the students in our community to contribute.”

Hagan said his experience with the program and the eight other students in his cohort made him feel like what he is doing is important.

“The people running the program at Rio Salado have been extremely professional and great motivators. They are high energy and really get you fired up to go out and do great things in the classroom," Hagen said. "The other Noyce Scholars are people like me who have varied backgrounds and are bringing a great deal of life experience to the table. I love being associated with such a high quality group."

For more information about the NSF Noyce Scholarship visit and search Noyce or contact Pam Asti, at 480.517.8066 or


Rio Salado College was established in 1978 by the Maricopa Community College District to provide the next step in education for non-traditional students. The college, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, was recently recognized as the fastest growing community college in the nation serving more than 67,000 students annually. In addition to providing high-quality instruction for 100+ degree and certificate pathways, Rio Salado is dedicated to providing flexible, affordable access through; adult basic education, collaborative partnerships, early college initiatives and online learning.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Deployed Soldier Continues Studies at RSC

Serving as an infantryman in Afghanistan hasn’t stopped Army Sergeant Jason Bateman from continuing his education. Even during deployment, Bateman has managed to take computer science classes online through Rio Salado College.

“I would like to be able to say that I was able to get my degree while working a full time job,” said Bateman. “Plus, it would be nice to have the credentials to be able to get a good job when I get out of the army."

Bateman knew the basics of computers, but didn’t realize the extent of what computer programs have to offer. He is currently enrolled in online classes such as Intro to PowerPoint and Microsoft Access and plans to earn a certificate of completion in computer programming and associate degree in applied science.

However, balancing a full-time job while taking classes can create challenges.

“The biggest obstacle is to keep up a steady pace on my classwork,” said Bateman. “While I am here in Afghanistan, there are not too many distractions, but back at home, there are distractions, everywhere you look.”

Bateman has long history of family members who served in the military and enlisted in 2001 just two weeks after graduating from high school.

“It was always my dream to be in the military, but not in school. My grandfather graduated from Ohio State University while pursuing a career in the Air Force. So I know that it can be done,” said Bateman.

He hopes that he will also be a positive example for his daughter who just started kindergarten.

“I think that if I am able to show her that I am going to school, it will motivate her to try harder,” he said.

His advice to other military members with an interest in pursuing a degree during their service is to get enrolled.

“With the educational programs that are offered by the military, it’s very easy to obtain a degree. It might be difficult due to training schedules with the military, but it is absolutely possible,” said Bateman.

About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado College was recently recognized as a military friendly school for the fourth consecutive year by Victory Media. The college currently serves about 1,800 active duty services members, spouses and dependents and about 900 veterans. Rio Salado College also has a team of advisors with military experience that are available to help active military or veteran students throughout their academic experience.

Published in the Tempe Republic Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.
Written by Rio Salado College PR Intern Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lookout Mountain Teacher Awarded for Excellence

Congratulations to Amber Bridgewater of Lookout Mountain Elementary School in North Phoenix for winning the KEZ 99.9 FM Excellence in Education Award for September 2012.

Bridgewater was nominated by Amber Shipman whose daughter is in Bridgewater’s first grade class.

In a letter Shipman wrote she commended her for her dedication.

“You set up personal time after school to help the students having a hard time with reading. You are a wonderful teacher who really cares about the education the kids get.”


Each month, a Valley K-12 teacher will be selected from all the entries to be recognized for their outstanding contribution to education. KEZ’s Marty Manning will visit the teacher’s school to surprise them with their “Excellence in Education” Award. The surprise visit will be broadcast during the Beth and Friends Show. All winning teachers are rewarded with $99, an Excellence in Education Award, and a Rio Salado College gift bag.

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, September 18, 2012

RSC Named Military Friendly 4th Year in a Row

Rio Salado College has been named to Victory Media’s Military Friendly Schools ® list for the fourth consecutive year. This places the college in the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools for offering the highest level of educational support for America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses.

The list was created as a result of data collected from a survey of more than 12,000 VA-approved schools nationwide. 

“Rio Salado College has a long history of providing support to active military personnel and veterans,” said Dr. Chris Bustamante,  Rio Salado College president. “Our online format and military partnerships help service members continue on with their education, even when deployed.”

The college currently serves nearly 2,600 active military service members and more than 2,500 veterans, representing all five service branches.

“We also offer support through specialized advisement, our Veterans Affairs Office, and the East Valley Veterans Education Center (EVVEC),” said Bustamante. “These resources help service members and veterans navigate their benefits during active service and when transitioning to civilian life.”

Established in 2011, the EVVEC is a unique one-stop-shop where military personnel, veterans, and their spouses can connect to workforce development, educational and community support and resources.
When visiting the center, former U.S. Representative Harry Mitchell said, “Soldiers who enter active duty, or veterans who return from war, should know that they won’t fall behind academically, professionally, or financially when they return home to civilian life.”

About Victory Media Inc.
Victory Media is veteran-owned small business founded in 2001 which provides, data-driven, Military Friendly ® lists.  Victory’s lists are published in G.I. Jobs, Military Spouse, Vetrepreneur magazines, republished in national and local periodicals and are frequently cited on national and local TV stations.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rio Salado College Receives HLC Re-accreditation

Rio Salado College has received notice that its accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has been reaffirmed for the next 10 years.

“This is an important milestone for Rio Salado,” said Dr. Chris Bustamante, Rio Salado College president. “It is a sense of accomplishment and validation of the important work that we do to serve our students and the community.”

Accreditation is a process used by higher education to evaluate colleges, universities, and educational programs for quality. This process ensures that an institution’s academic program meets acceptable standards.

Attending a regionally accredited school is important for students who plan to transfer to another institution or pursue graduate programs in the future. Institutions must be regionally accredited to qualify for participation in federal financial aid. In addition, employers may want to verify the accreditation of a college or university before reimbursement of tuition or fees as part of company-sponsored benefits.

The college’s next HLC reaccreditation visit will take place in 2021-22.  Rio Salado became a candidate for accreditation in 1978 and has been continuously accredited since 1981.

About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado College was established in 1978 by the Maricopa Community College District to provide the next step in education for non-traditional students. The college, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, was recently recognized as the fastest growing community college in the nation serving more than 67,000 students annually. In addition to providing high-quality instruction for 100+ degree and certificate pathways, Rio Salado is dedicated to providing flexible, affordable access through;  adult basic education, collaborative partnerships, early college initiatives and online learning.

Constitution Week Highlighted at RSC

On September 17 citizens of the United States of America will celebrate the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. When the Constitution was signed in 1787, the population of the United States was 4 million people; today it is more than 312 million people.

Thomas Jefferson, founding father, and third President of the United States stated that in order for the country and its citizens to maintain their freedoms, people need to be educated and informed.

As an educational institution, Rio Salado College not only prepares students for successful careers, but helps them learn about the government and their role as citizens.

“Responsible civic engagement can only be achieved with an in-depth understanding of the contents and foundational political concepts that are imbedded in the U.S. Constitution,” said Rio Salado College Social Sciences Faculty Chair Patricia Case, Ph.D.

She went on to say that while the media plays an important role in keeping people updated on what is going on, it is necessary to have a firm understanding of the Constitution and how government works.

The college offers political science classes focused on the U.S. Constitution. It also offers courses in U.S. government for students who want to better understand the history of the United States.

Being actively engaged in something, whether it is politics, the community, or a cause can bring a sense of fulfillment to individuals and it can also lead to positive change, according to John Bastian, coordinator for Student Life & Leadership at Rio Salado College.

The Constitution guarantees that people are free to assemble for a cause, free to speak and express themselves, and to work for the improvements they may seek in their own life or in their community.

Students might want to “express their views and to give voice to those beliefs and ideas that are important to them,” Bastian said.

He said that through classes, campus groups and initiatives students can learn how to be engaged in a democracy. Education about the Constitution and the U.S. Government can strengthen any student or citizen regardless of what degree they seek or academic discipline they have chosen.

In support of Constitution Day, Rio Salado College will also make available pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution for pick up at all of its locations throughout Maricopa County while supplies last.

Written by PR Intern Matt Loper

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September is National Preparedness Month

President Barack Obama has declared September 2012 to be National Preparedness Month. According to his Presidential Proclamation, “Each of us has an important role to play in bolstering our preparedness for disasters of all types -- from cyber incidents and acts of terrorism to tornadoes and flooding. I encourage all Americans to visit or to learn more. Individuals and families can also take action by building a disaster supply kit with food, water, and essential supplies in case of emergency, and by developing and sharing an emergency plan with their loved ones.”

Last week, Rio Salado College staged a fire drill to practice emergency evacuation procedures. To learn more about our emergency preparedness efforts click here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

RSC Honors Outstanding Adjunct Faculty

Rio Salado College is not running short on outstanding adjunct faculty. On Wednesday, August 29, 2012 the college honored 36 adjunct faculty members at the 2011-2012 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty awards reception.
 As in previous years, the college honored individuals who have shown exceptional and admirable work by way of teaching, learning, and assessment.

“We salute you for the critical role you play in our students’ success,” said Rio Salado College President Dr. Chris Bustamante at the celebration. “Your talents and caring dedication break down obstacles for students and guide them as they transform their lives through education. We celebrate your individual accomplishments and the positive difference you have made at Rio Salado College and in the lives of our students.”

Dr. Bustamante went on to express his gratitude for the significant role the faculty have played in maintaining the college’s reputation as a national leader in higher education.

“More than ever, your work and personal contributions are making a profound difference in the field of higher education and in the lives of our students.”

Outstanding Contributions to Assessment of Student Learning

 Marilyn Dadey-Cutrufo, Education; Jennifer Lane, Sociology; Jennifer López, Spanish; Polly Mack, Reading; Howard Oechsner, Humanities; Jacqueline Rome, Education; Lana Short, Computer Information Systems.

Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning
 Lynn Arouh, Philosophy; Franklin Berry, Communication; Sheila Broglia, Chemistry; Susan Bullen, Geography; Christine Burke, Education; Nickie Chouinard, Biology; Shannon Christman, Computer Information Systems; Kathleen Conway, English; Kamela Craig, Counseling and Personal Development; Michael Crusa, Public Administration; Patricia Ficere, Law Enforcement Technology; Donna Germuska, History; Bernice Gersitz-Cherlin, Airline Operations; Kristen Hamilton, Religious Studies; Eugenia Ilisei, Allied Health; Leslie Jackson, Early Childhood Education; Mary King, Motor Vehicle Customer Service; Marie Main, Business; Mark Maresca, Spanish; Melynda McBride, English; Angela McWilliams, Biology; Stan Pettigrew, Economics; Lindsey Repak, Mathematics; Janice Robillard, Humanities; Mirka Rogalski, Addiction and Substance Use Disorders; Stacy Smith, Utilities Customer Service; Alexander Spence, Psychology; Andrea Strock; Jeffrey Williams, Mathematics.

About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado College was established in 1978 by the Maricopa Community College District to provide the next step in education for non-traditional students. The college, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, was recently recognized as the fastest growing community college in the nation serving nearly 70,000 students annually. In addition to providing high-quality instruction for 100+ degree and certificate pathways, Rio Salado is dedicated to providing flexible, affordable access through; adult basic education, collaborative partnerships, early college initiatives and online learning.

Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) Receives Support

WCET’s Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) Framework Brings the Power of Big Data to Online Learning 

Partners from  16 US Higher Education institutions will come together to share practices, intervention strategies and anonymized records from more than 1 million students to look for patterns that predict success.

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) recently announced that WCET, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, has been awarded a $2,557,920 grant to validate and extend their ground-breaking work exploring effective uses of big data predictive analytics to improve opportunity and success for low-income and first-generation students.

Rio Salado College is one of six founding institutions of the Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) Framework which helps predict risks to student retention and progress toward degree completion, and allows institutions to remove obstacles to student success and demonstrably improve rates of student retention.

“The research and work that WCET does is invaluable as we seek innovative ways to support student success in higher education,” said Rio Salado College President Dr. Chris Bustamante. “This project is very much aligned with our vision and commitment to our students. We are confident that it will play a crucial role in maximizing our students' potential, and to ultimately and help them achieve their academic goals.”

The goal of the newly funded research is to validate and extend the PAR Framework data model, data definitions and research and analysis protocols developed by PAR Framework partners during the successful PAR Framework proof of concept demonstration in early 2012. These implementation efforts will offer institutions easy to understand resources, including reports, dashboards and decision-support tools, to anticipate threats to student achievement, and remove barriers to student success before they become problems.

“WCET members share a belief that great value comes from working together toward shared goals” observed Beth Davis, PAR Framework Project Director. “Each of the institutions participating in PAR has volunteered to contribute institutional information and processes to improve our collective understanding of student success. This means everything from de-identified data to the evaluation and documentation of effective practices that keep students on track. Their willingness to actively contribute to this community of inquiry focused on online learning excellence is inspiring.”

The grant will support the expansion of the PAR Framework data set to more than 1 million student records from across 16 WCET member institutions. “With 16 participating institutions and over 1 million anonymized student records in the shared data set, it will be possible for the PAR Framework to pursue our goal of identifying trends that contribute to student success, program momentum, and online course completion,” noted Dr. Phil Ice, Principal Investigator for the PAR Framework.

“The cross section of community college, 4-year and for profit institutions featuring everything from traditional to progressive and competency-based programs will significantly advance our modeling capabilities”.

Each one of the participating institutions is an acknowledged leader in the world of online learning. The six founding PAR Framework partner institutions include; American Public University System, Colorado Community College System, Rio Salado College, University of Hawaii System, University of Illinois Springfield, and the University of Phoenix.

They also include ten new institutional partners Ashford University, Broward College, Capella University, Troy University, Lone Star College System, Penn State World Campus, Sinclair Community College, University of Central Florida, University of Maryland University College, and Western Governors University.

“PAR is a great example of the academy at work,” says Dr. Mark David Milliron, Chancellor of WGU Texas, and longtime advocate of the use of analytics in education. “It’s a diverse group of tough-minded educators willing to share data, ask hard questions, explore new ideas, and work together toward a common goal of helping more students succeed.”

About Rio Salado College:
Rio Salado College was established in 1978 by the Maricopa Community College District to provide the next step in education for non-traditional students. The college, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, was recently recognized as the fastest growing community college in the nation serving nearly 70,000 students annually. In addition to providing high-quality instruction for 100+ degree and certificate pathways, Rio Salado is dedicated to providing flexible, affordable access through;  adult basic education, collaborative partnerships, early college initiatives and online learning.

About WICHE:
The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) is a cooperative, membership-driven, non-profit provider of solutions and services that accelerate the adoption of effective practices and policies, advancing excellence in technology-enhanced teaching and learning in higher education. More information about WCET’s institutional membership resources, services and common interest groups can be found on WCET’s website,

Media Contacts:
Delynn Bodine, Rio Salado College
(480) 517-8205

Cali Morrison, WCET
(303) 541-0234

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rio Salado Welcomes Two New Faculty Chairs

Rio Salado recently welcomed two new faculty chairs to its staff this August, Angela Kwan and Richard Cuprak. In Rio Salado’s unique faculty model, 23 faculty chairs oversee more than 1,400 adjunct faculties. This provides students a strong curriculum with a diversity of perspectives to learn from. Angela Kwan was a Lieutenant in the Phoenix Police Department where she trained officers and worked patrols. She has a master’s in arts with a focus on distance learning and bachelor’s degree in public administration. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Rio Salado College. Richard Cuprak worked as a product development engineer and has taught at Arizona State University and Gateway Community College. He has a master’s degree in mechanical technology in engineering and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Angela Kwan - Profile

Serving the community is a way of life for a new faculty chair at Rio Salado College.

Angela Kwan served the Phoenix community as a Lieutenant in the Phoenix Police Department for nearly 22 years and is now the faculty chair for public safety programs at Rio Salado College.

Kwan hopes to serve the community by improving the way students get an education and transition into the workforce after graduation.

“I’ve always felt this engrained characteristic to give back,” she said.

She plans on expanding internship opportunities for students, especially in the paralegal program.

“It’s easier to get hired as a paralegal when you have worked as a paralegal,” Kwan stated.

Because of her time in the police department, Kwan understands the way the county and city attorney’s offices work and is looking to help students find internships there, along with private practices.

Kwan’s experiences in the police department benefit her as a faculty chair as she draws on life experiences to strengthen the classes for Rio Salado’s students. She worked her way up from a patrol officer to a Police Academy Trainer during her career as an officer.

She has a master’s in arts with a focus on distance learning and bachelor’s degree in public administration, both she earned while she was an officer.

Kwan focuses on education and training because she knows how important it can be to the student.

“The way I look at it is creating a future through education,” Kwan explained.

Kwan was born and raised in Phoenix and has experienced community college, the university, and has seen almost every aspect of the community as a police officer, including the high-risk population.

Having experienced shift work while on the police force, Kwan knows how important online classes can be for students with various work and family responsibilities.

“[Rio Salado] meets the needs of a lot of learners,” Kwan said.

“It’s the convenience of going to class with a few clicks of the mouse,” Kwan said about the strength of Rio Salado College’s class and faculty structure.

While Kwan loves to run and stay fit, she also enjoys keeping her community in shape. She plans to continue volunteer work and is even staying on as a reserve officer for the police department.

For Kwan, her position at Rio Salado College is another opportunity for her to give to her community.

     Richard Cuprak - Profile

A new faculty chair at Rio Salado College embraces the challenges of the new position because he knows the greatest growth and success can come from challenges. Richard Cuprak is the new faculty chair for applied technology at Rio Salado College and his focus is on the students.

“I want to challenge students to challenge themselves,” he said.

Cuprak has a history in engineering and product development, which meant working to meet the needs of society and the people around him.

“My personal goal is to really make a change in how people perceive their role in the world,” Cuprak explained.

As the faculty chair over a program that will focus on alternative energy and sustainable technologies, Cuprak will be educating students on ways to improve the way we use energy, money, and time.

“That’s the idea here at Rio, always challenging ourselves to improve,” Cuprak said.

He has also taught at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic Campus and at Gateway Community College.

His goal is to teach his students to really think and use their minds. Cuprak believes that learning is more than just passing tests and getting grades, it’s about developing thoughts and ideas that lead to success.

“I always tell my students they have the greatest computer ever…in their heads,” Cuprak said.

He has a master’s degree in mechanical technology in engineering from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Northern Arizona University.

Cuprak was born in Phoenix but has lived all over the state of Arizona. He attended two different high schools, Clifton High School and Chinle High School, located on different ends of Arizona from each other.

His passion for teaching and helping the individual student will continue as he works within Rio Salado’s faculty model that allows for students of all learning types to benefit from the various adjunct faculty.

“All of the [Rio Salado] faculty respects the individual and their learning needs,” Cuprak explained.

He considers himself a family man with a love for the outdoors. Cuprak is a father of two and has been married for almost 22 years.

Throughout his life, he has challenged himself and others to be the best they can be, and to hold to what they believe is right.

Now Cuprak begins a new chapter where he can increase his reach to students and help them find the success he knows they are capable of achieving.

Written by Matt Loper, Rio Salado College PR Intern

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sustainable Food Systems Offers Three New Classes

Tempe based Rio Salado College now offers three new classes for students who dream of becoming a world-renowned cook -- or those who just want to make healthy, sustainable meals at home.

The new classes, including AGS 182 Gardening Practices and Techniques, CUL 113 Commercial Baking Techniques and CUL 105 Principles and Skills for Professional Cooking, provide students with hands-on experience working in Rio Salado’s on-site garden and Café.

The classes are part of the sustainable food systems program led by Director Michael Hodgins and are presented in a hybrid format. Students meet in-person twice a week and complete online assignments on their own schedule.

“I think these classes are a great experience for any students interested in food, gardening or sustainability in general. The classes are structured so that no prior knowledge or experience is needed,” said Hodgins. “Students come out of these classes with knowledge that they can apply to a future job in the industry and to their home lives. They also learn how to complete the food cycle, which includes growing food, preparing food and composting food which goes back into the garden.”

The knowledge and skills needed to maintain an organic kitchen are increasingly in demand as consumers become aware of the benefits of a healthy diet. Not only do organic meals promote a healthy lifestyle for the individual, but learning to recognize and cultivate organic food sources promotes a cultural shift that may contribute to a healthier and more sustainable society.

“I think consumers are seeing an obesity epidemic everywhere they look. Allergies are running rampant, there are schools that don’t even serve peanut butter,” said Hodgins. “Many people are seeing a connection between food and health that I don’t think they were as in tune with 10-20 years ago.”

Although buying your produce at a local farmer’s market can be more expensive than the traditional alternative, it’s worth the elevated price, said Hodgins.

“It is true that food from small scale, sustainable farms is often more expensive than food that is produced in the industrial food system. However, I’d rather pay a little more up front than pay massive medical bills on the back end.”

The Café and Garden @ Rio will host the second annual Food Day Celebration on October 24th from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in partnership with Mesa Community College, Tempe High School and Chipotle. The event will include cooking demonstrations, a farmer’s market, garden tours and more. Students who are interested in these classes or a sustainable food systems certificate can learn more at or

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

RSC Library Provides 24/7 Research Assistance

Research assignments are a part of college life. The Rio Salado College and Maricopa County Community College District libraries have developed a network of support options to assist students who may not yet be familiar with college-level research techniques.

“It’s important for students to expand their information literacy,” said RSC Librarian Janelle Underhill. “Rio Salado students have access to over 60 subscription databases containing complete content from thousands of magazines, journals, reference works, e-books, image collections and streaming videos.”

“We want students to be able to use these resources and services with confidence, so we provide as many channels of support as we can,” Underhill said.

Support is available around the clock to help students formulate search strategies, navigate databases, find and effectively use relevant information for papers or other projects.

Several options are available for students who are new to the research process.

Ask a Librarian

The Ask a Librarian service provides students with 24 hour access to a live librarian who can answer questions about online and in-person research tools, provide links to additional information and direct students to the proper resources.

"Rio students don't always have a traditional schedule, so they love that there is a librarian on call 24/7," said Karen Docherty, Rio Salado College librarian. "The chat service is designed to be convenient and easy to use. It doesn't matter if it's six in the morning before they go to work or 11 at night after they get the kids to bed. All that's needed is a computer and Internet access to connect to the service and start chatting with a librarian."

Txt a Librarian

Students on the go can conveniently ask questions by SMS text message. The Txt a Librarian service uses a secure third party program to anonymously connect users with a Maricopa District librarian. To start using Txt a Librarian, students just need to text "RioLib" to 66746.

Online Writing Lab (OWL)

In addition to 24-hour research assistance, students can take advantage of the self-serve Online Writing Lab (OWL) provided in collaboration with the RSC English Department.

The OWL provides students with a wealth of information, tips and tricks to help them write at a college level. The "Writing Rubric" section covers basic elements such as sentence structure, organization and content. Other sections like "General Writing" and "Critical Thinking" cover topics such as evaluating and citing sources, paraphrasing and quoting, as well as more advanced topics like analysis, inference, and reasoning.

How Do I...? Video Series

There are also quite a few video tutorials available in the "How Do I...?" section of the Rio Salado College Library web pages. The tutorials cover everything from basics like logging in or accessing an e-book to using library databases.

"The tutorial videos are a great tool to help students who prefer to do things independently," Underhill said. "They walk the viewer step by step through each process. They are very easy to follow."

In-Class Visits

Many course instructors invite Rio Salado librarians to visit their classes and teach students how to formulate search strategies and to use library databases to find relevant and reliable journal, magazine, and newspaper articles, books, and media (such as images and streaming films).

District Library Services

All MCCCD libraries offer free in-person, phone, Txt a Librarian and Pregúntele al Bibliotecario (Chat en Español) services. These services are available to MCCCD students, faculty and staff. To get help from a librarian now, visit