Saturday, December 21, 2013

Extreme Makeover: KJZZ Newsroom Edition

The all new KJZZ Newsroom.
The KJZZ Newsroom prior to the recent renovation.
Just in time for the holidays, the KJZZ newsroom has a brand new look! The listener-supported public radio station located at Rio Salado College in Tempe, has undergone an extreme makeover, going from an outdated modular setting to a high-tech journalism center.

"The new KJZZ newsroom is an open, collaborative space, designed for journalists to work together and create compelling stories,” said KJZZ Associate General Manager Mark Moran. “Before the makeover, KJZZ's journalists were boxed into cubicles that didn't exactly inspire creativity and inventiveness.”

Collaboration was a key factor in the newsroom renovation.

“It's the same direction being taken by many of the country's Fortune 500 companies,” Moran said. “We wanted to facilitate reporters being able to exchange ideas, check facts and plan for the future. Most importantly, the space is designed so that nobody is ever sitting in the same place two days in a row. It's truly collaborative and flexible.”

Veteran Valley reporter Steve Goldstein, host of KJZZ’s “Here and Now” and co-host of “The Show,” thinks the new work environment is a welcome change.

"We've been in the current space in the Rio Salado College Tower for more than a decade, so reconstructing the newsroom has generated new ways of looking at the world,” Goldstein said. “Now we're seeing each other through frosted glass rather than staring at the side of a cubicle, fostering better face to face communication.”

“Ideas can be expressed to a colleague by either rolling over a chair or even overhearing another conversation and jumping in to make a suggestion or share a source."

Renovations to the newsroom also include new wireless technology that allows for completion of digital editing work on the fly while decreasing time spent on filing and uploading stories.

“We invested in several layers of technology that allow us to stay apace of what is going on in the world on multiple media platforms,” Moran said. “With the technology now in place, we are able to hold virtual editorial meetings with reporters in different states simultaneously, or in fact, in other parts of the world, if necessary.”

The newsroom renovation was funded through a generous donation made by Deeann Griebel, a member of the KJZZ Leadership society.

“I am thrilled to be able to provide funding for the renovation of KJZZ’s newsroom through the Friends of Public Radio Arizona,” Griebel said. “Having an organization like KJZZ that provides balanced, honest reporting is vital to our society.”

Moran agreed, saying the newsroom renovation will ultimately benefit KJZZ listeners.

“Taking down barriers fosters increased communication, more vibrant workers, better story ideas, more productivity and, in the end, more well-rounded in-depth news stories for our listeners,” Moran said.

91.5 KJZZ is an NPR member station that is a community service of Rio Salado College and licensed to the Maricopa Community Colleges, serving nearly 300,000 weekly listeners.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Book Advance Timeline

Qualifying students who met the Priority Filing Deadline for their semester block can expect book advance funds to be available approximately nine business days prior to the semester block start date. Students should review the financial aid terms and conditions to ensure they qualify to receive a book advance.

The Maricopa Student Refund Program is the fastest way to have book advance and financial aid funds delivered. Enrollment instructions for MSRP will be sent through the student center, and students are encouraged to monitor their Gmail account for notification.

Book Advance funds are not restricted to the Rio Salado College bookstore, but students are encouraged to use caution when purchasing course materials from a third party.

Book advance funds may not be an appropriate option for students who prefer to purchase books prior to the first day of class.  Here's a look at the typical Book Advance timeline:
  • Funds are posted to the Rio Salado College account 6-9 days prior to the start of class.
  • Funds can take 4-6 business days to be received by City Prepaid Services.
  • Funds that are deposited on a holiday or weekend may take even longer.
  • Remaining financial aid funds will not be available until two-weeks after the start of class.
Book Advances are not a part of federal student aid. The Maricopa County Community College District offers the book advance program as a service to its students above and beyond Department of Education requirements. Students may opt out of the Book Advance program if they prefer not to receive money prior to their student aid disbursement.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New MCCCD Transcript Report Streamlines Transfer Process

Maricopa County Community College District recently launched the single transcript report. The new transcript report was developed in response to student feedback and is designed to help students transfer all of their Maricopa District credits in a way that is efficient and easy to navigate. Watch the video or visit the transcripts page at to learn more.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reading at Rio Book Club Discusses The Hobbit

Please join the Reading at Rio Book Club Wednesday, January 22, 2014 from 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. to discuss J.R.R. Tolkien's classic novel "The Hobbit." Rio Salado Library has a copy of the book and a DVD of the first part of the film (the second part of the film is in theaters now).
Everybody is welcome!  

The book club will meet in the 2nd floor faculty area of the Hohokam building at our Tempe location. As has become a Reading at Rio Book Club tradition, cupcakes and other treats will be served!

What: The Reading at Rio Book Club Discusses The Hobbit
When: Wednesday, January 22, 20134from 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Hohokam, 2nd floor faculty area

Contact Christopher Orf at the Rio Library with questions or to RSVP. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

SPOT 127 Teen Reporters Unveil Stories of Deception

Teen reporters from SPOT 127, KJZZ’s youth media center, are using their passion for journalism and digital media to produce an online audio series about tobacco use and addiction called Stories of Deception. Students Taking a New Direction (STAND), Arizona’s anti-smoking youth coalition, recently enlisted the help of the SPOT 127 team to produce the series.

“I hope teenagers hear this message and realize there are better ways to cope with stress and anxiety than by using tobacco products," said BrieAnna Frank, a Maryvale High School junior who has been with the SPOT 127 team since its grand opening in Nov. 2012 and the producer of a public service announcement in the series called Don’t be a Replacement.

“There is no one better to explain the perils of tobacco use to teens, than other teens,” says Courtney Ward, Chief Office of Tobacco Prevention and Cessation for the Arizona Department of Health Services. “We are really pleased with the outcome of this first series with SPOT 127. We plan to take SPOT 127 studios to places outside of metro-Phoenix to recruit other youth that will help us capture many other stories.”

The SPOT 127 team has already completed two public service announcements, which focus on the adverse effects smoking has on a teen’s social life and how tobacco companies view young people as ‘replacement’ smokers for the hundreds who die every year from tobacco-related diseases. They have also completed a feature story that reveals why people living with mental health conditions are more likely to smoke and are more prone to die from smoking.

The segments are available on the STAND web site, STAND is also using Facebook to encourage its many followers, especially Arizona educator, to share these stories with teens.

"I have really enjoyed the opportunity to tell teenagers about the dangers of tobacco use. This message is incredibly important to our generation," said Hannah Smith-Rodgers, a SPOT 127 reporter and senior at the Arizona Conservatory for Arts and Academics who produced the feature about the additional dangers of smoking for people living with mental health conditions.

“The enthusiasm of our team of journalists is apparent in the work they created,” said SPOT 127 Executive Director, Greg Pereira. “Our studios empower them to be the best story tellers they can be and we are delighted to be a partner with STAND.”

The teen reporters had complete control of the project from concept to completion. They chose the interviewees, the editorial focus and managed all aspects of production from the SPOT 127 studios at 3701 W. Thomas in Phoenix.

SPOT 127 is a division of listener-supported 91.5 KJZZ and a community service of Rio Salado College. This free, after-school program is designed to introduce high school students to digital media journalism and support programs that help them build confidence, attain valuable skill sets and achieve higher learning. Teens interested in joining the team can learn more at or by calling 480-774-8350.

This story can also be found in the December 14 edition of the Tempe Republic. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Child and Family Studies Subject Guide Now Available

The Rio Salado Library is proud to introduce the Child & Family Studies Subject Guide. The guide provides links to key library and Web resources for CFS students. These resources are arranged by topic so that students can instantly access the information they need the most:
  • Where Do I Start?
  • Books & eBooks
  • Magazine & Journal Articles
  • News Articles 
  • Countries, Cultures & Customs
  • Video & Image Collections
  • Research Paper Help
  • Citation Help
  • Web Searching Tips
  • Child & Family Studies Resources
  • Student Requests
Developed by Kirstin Thomas, Instructional Coordinator for the Library, this subject-specific guide is designed to be a one-stop shop for all of your Child & Family Studies related research needs.

Questions/comments about the guide? Contact

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Understanding Student Loan Repayment

Paying for College: Understanding Student Loan Repayment 

Properly managing student loans is an important step in establishing a financial foundation during and after college. Students who borrow money to pay for college MUST pay it back. Here are some of the things students need to know about repaying student loans.
  • Payments for most federal loans are not typically expected until the student leaves college or reduces to less than half-time enrollment. Payments for PLUS loans begin as soon as the money is disbursed. 
  • Defaulting on student loans will damage the student’s ability to borrow money in the future and can result in garnishments of wages and tax refunds. 
  • Student loan deferments postpone or reduce payments and interest for a limited period of time and require the student to meet specific requirements. 
  • Student loan forbearance options postpone only payments. Interest will still accrue during forbearance. A discretionary forbearance is decided by the lender. A mandatory forbearance requires students to meet specific eligibility requirements. 
  • Students should contact the loan servicer if they are having trouble making payments. In some cases, the repayment plan can be changed to allow for lower payments over a longer period of time. 
  • Under VERY LIMITED circumstances, students may qualify to have their student loans forgiven, canceled or discharged. 
Visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Website for a comprehensive look at the student loan repayment process.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

RSC Reaches Out With Peer Mentors

It’s human nature. When your mother asks you to do something, you take it with a grain of salt. Your friend makes the same request and you’re on it like a Black Friday shopper lining up at the mall.

Why the difference?

“We tend to relate to our peers more so than others,” said David Hall, director of academic advisement at Rio Salado College.

That is the foundation for a new peer mentoring program in the college’s advising department.

The peer mentors are part of RioAchieve, an initiative dedicated to increasing student completion rates, and part of a student success grant the college received in October 2012.

Rio Salado has hired four peer mentors to reach out to degree-seeking students who are new to the college.

“Peer mentors are current students who have proven to be successful, with at least a 3.0 grade point average,” Hall said. “They know the system and they know the available resources. They can offer tips on how to be successful.”

The peer mentors will each be assigned a group of students, with a goal of guiding them through their chosen academic program to completion.

“The peer mentor team will reach out to their students, hoping to work with them regularly and guide them through their programs efficiently,” said Michael Murphy, assistant director of academic advisement. “More importantly, the mentors will be there when the student has questions, concerns, or just needs someone to talk to about their studies.”

Mentors will interact with students in many ways, including telephone, email, in-person meetings and through social media. Through these communication channels, peer mentors can share their own experiences and strategies from a personal perspective, and build unique relationships with students.

Students participating in the RioAchieve initiative will have both a peer mentor and an academic advisor.

Where the peer mentors will serve a motivational support type role, the academic advisors ensure students choose appropriate classes, evaluate transfer credits and help develop program plans.

Jennifer Wharton, a Rio Salado employee for five years, will serve as the supervisor of the RioAchieve advising team.

"I am delighted to be part of the team providing student-focused proactive advisement and mentoring through the RioAchieve program,” Wharton said. “Offering peer mentoring is an exciting new opportunity to connect with our students at a different level.”

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How-to Stay Happy and Healthy Through Hectic Holiday Happenings

Hometown visits, elaborate meals, colorfully wrapped packages and cards with hand written holiday wishes are all important traditions, but the mechanics of the holiday experience can cause any light hearted merrymaker to feel a little stressed out.

According to Melanie Abts, Rio Salado College counseling faculty chair, most holiday stress is predictable, so the best strategy is simply to plan for it.

"Being prepared for uncomfortable situations allows us to identify circumstances that are beyond our control and keep things in perspective," Abts said.

For example, whether flying or driving, holiday travel is ugly.  It just is.  Winter weather can cause canceled flights or poor driving conditions, children are wound up and can't be still, security is heightened, traffic is jammed, and there are any number of hiccups that can happen along the way.

Abts suggests avoiding the chaos completely. "Fly on Christmas day if you can," Abts said. "The airports are completely empty, the flight crew is cheerful, and you'll probably get your choice of seating."

"If that's not possible," she added, "Just plan for the worst case scenario.  Give yourself plenty of time so that you don't feel rushed and make sure your carry-on can cover you for a day or two in case your luggage gets lost.  Bring a set of earplugs or a music player and lots of snacks and you’ll be set."

Of course, hometown visits aren't always the most joyous occasions either.   A critical parent, sibling rivalries or even running into an ex can be troublesome.

"If you know you’re going to a family dinner and you know a particular person will bring up something you did last year, or that you’re not a good enough parent or that you're too thin or too fat or why aren't you married yet? You can plan your response ahead of time," Abts said.  “You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself and your reactions. "

Resources like money and time are also in short supply during the holidays.  Running low on either can cause tension and, according to Abts, it's important to prioritize to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

"Sometimes we just take on too much," Abs said. "Especially Rio students who may not even be on a break.  We have start dates as late as December 5, and the holiday season can be a high-need time for those students.”

Abs recommends the stress management workshop available on the Rio Salado College counseling site for students, or anyone else who is feeling distressed during the holidays.

"Distress is different,” Abts explains. "Distress comes from the game changers like death, divorce, or even learning that you have a baby coming.  Even if it's a positive event, if you're already stressed, you might be at your breaking point. It's important to realize that yes, you are in crisis, but you can get through it."

According to Abts, although some people take comfort in holiday traditions, abandoning high maintenance rituals during times of distress might be helpful.

“It’s important during these times to identify what’s important to you and cut out absolutely everything else.  How important are all of the rituals?” Abts said. “If you’re already at the breaking point, don’t expect yourself to bake seven cakes or to plan a charity event.  It’ll be ok. If you don’t do those things, the next day will still happen."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Understanding the Student Center To Do List

The student center to-do list is the key to avoiding financial aid delays. Financial aid cannot be processed until everything in the to-do list has been completed. Students can find their to-do list on the right-hand side of the student center.

Items in the to-do list will vary depending on each student’s situation. The most common to-do list items involve:
  • Admissions 
  • Program eligibility 
  • Verification of dependent or independent status 
  • Master Promissory Note (MPN) 
  • Missing or incomplete documents and forms
If all of the to-do list items have been completed, students can monitor the status of their financial aid application by clicking the Account Inquiry link in the Finances section of the student center (see image below).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Inspirational Art at the Knowledge Commons

Kat Randall is the lead graphic designer at Rio Salado College. Her work can be found across the Valley on everything from billboards and big screens to bus tails and light rails. She is also responsible for the wall mural decorating the entrance to the RSC Knowledge Commons, a one-stop student resource center on the fifth floor of the Rio Tower building.

The translucent mural is the first thing visitors see as they arrive at the Knowledge Commons, featuring dynamic portraits and quotes of key historical figures.

"It was important to me to have something that really captured the attention from the get-go," Randall said. "I was aware that some of our students come to our building exclusively to visit the Knowledge Commons and utilize those resources, so I wanted to have an impactful entry way."

The Rio Salado library staff worked with Randall to find quotes for the mural from visually interesting and familiar historical figures.

"I thought it would be really great to have a visual of who said the quote," Randall said. "In addition to being recognizable, it gives a feel for the different eras the speakers came from."

Randal said she hopes the piece will influence and uplift students as they enter the Knowledge Commons.

"I hope that the hallway really catches their eye right from the elevator and inspires them. We can learn so much from past generations and leaders by following their words of wisdom. I also love that it has our Rio colors and communicates our aesthetic without being overly branded," Randall said. "I enjoy the projects where I have complete creative freedom. This project was one of those, and I'm really proud of it."

In addition to her work as a graphic designer, Randall said she enjoys side art projects and interior design.

"Interior design is one of my passions," Randall said. "All design has common elements. You can see the relationship between amazing furniture and a stunning magazine layout. Good design is good design. It's about color, composition, scale and balance. Exploring creativity in different mediums really helps me be the best designer I can be."

According to Randall, Adobe imaging software is a helpful tool for those pursuing a career as a graphic designer.

"Just about everyone uses Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. Those three pretty much rule the industry in print," Randall said, "but it's not all about the software. You need the basic skills of composition and typography to go with it. The important thing is to constantly push yourself, even if it's for just a few hours after your day job. Design takes a good eye and some natural talent, but it really is a lot about practice too."

Rio Salado College offers a 35-credit certificate of completion in digital design. For more information, visit