Thursday, May 21, 2020

New Rio Salado Website Now Live!

Graphic show a computer sitting on a desk

The new and improved Rio Salado website is now live! Our news stories will no longer be posted to this blog, instead they will be published on the new Rio Salado website in the "News" section. Visit to check out the new modern design and updated content in a user-friendly interface.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

New Rio Salado Website Goes Live May 21, 2020

Graphic shows a computer sitting on a desk

Rio Salado College is excited to announce that our new and improved website will be going live on Thursday, May 21, 2020! You will see a new modern design and updated content in a user-friendly interface. This project is part of a larger district-wide web initiative to create a unified online experience across Maricopa Community Colleges. We think the new website will make finding the information you need easier when you visit Be sure to check it out on May 21!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Share Your Story During Mental Health Awareness Month

Graphic shows a woman with her dog sitting on a mountain top overlooking a canyon

Join us as we recognize National Mental Health Awareness Month during May. While we focus on our physical wellbeing, the food we eat, exercise and getting regular check-ups for vision and dental care, we often forget to take stock of our emotional needs. Nearly 450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental illness, yet nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental illness never seek treatment.

We encourage you to use this month to help break the stigma associated with mental health disorders by sharing your story and inspire those facing similar challenges.

Click here to learn more about mental health awareness.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Stipend Available for Insurance Studies Virtual Summer Camp!

graphic shows students sitting

Rio Salado College is excited to offer INS100, a unique hybrid course that gives students the opportunity to learn about the growing insurance industry and career paths available in this field.

The best part is we have 16 full scholarships available!

Scholarships include paid tuition for this course and a $100 stipend upon completion of the course with grade C or better. Students are responsible for registration fee.

The class will meet virtually via Zoom on Mondays in June (June 1, 8, 15, 22) and will continue in an online format until July 25.

Virtual Zoom Meeting Schedule (June 1, 8, 15, 22)

9:30-10 a.m. - Networking

10-11 a.m. - Lecture/Activity

11 a.m.-1 p.m. - Guest Speaker Presentation

First, register for INS100 and choose Section # 13836. You will need to pay $15 registration fee.

Second, Apply for thescholarship by May 20, 2020, here.

Third, email Dr. Lily Davidov stating you have registered for this class and applied for scholarship.

If you have any questions please contact Dr. Lily Davidov.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Unstoppable Adonis Watt Tackles New Challenge

Alt text 1: Adonis with his mom Veronica and little sister Sanaa at kitchen counter island opening Marvel Hero project commemorative gift box. In upper right corner is part of an image of Marvel’s Unstoppable Adonis comic book featuring an illustrated image of Adonis in his football uniform running with the ball.  Call out box reads: Go Adonis
Adonis with his mom and little sister Sanaa taking part in our video

Meet the Inspiration Behind Unstoppable Adonis, Marvel's first Braille Comic Book.

Clip from Cronkite News story featuring anchor Matt Lively and image of Adonis and Brophy football team celebrating.
Cronkite News Blind Courage video
Valley celebrity Adonis Watt became a media sensation by wowing football fans in 2019 as a freshman Brophy College Preparatory running-back who scored touchdowns— in spite of being blind. While football is his muse and his ambition is to play for the NFL, Watt has been tackling other extraordinary challenges off the field.

“He’s more than just one thing,” said his mother, Veronica Watt. “He's a student, he's an athlete, he's a scholar, he's an ambassador and he's a pioneer… he's not breaking records, he's setting records.”

Photo of Adonis on a sailboat with other buccaneers
Adonis training for Oceans of Obtacles.
Last summer, Watt joined a sailing crew called the Blind Buccaneers with 11 other blind teens from the Foundation for Blind Children, a non-profit he helps to champion.

The buccaneers embarked on a 110-mile sailing trip in the Caribbean— crewing the ship. Their journey training for and taking part in the trip was chronicled in a film called Ocean of Obstacles.

Watt also joined Brophy Prep’s track-and-field and wrestling teams.

Photo of Adonis working out on basketball court.
According to a January 2019 azcentral story by Reporter Richard Obert, which chronicled his last wrestling match, Watt pinned his opponent about a minute into the second period. This was apparently nothing new to Watt, who had a record 7-2 wins with four pins at the time.

In his spare time, Watt is learning how to play basketball.

Word got out about Watt’s drive, determination and extraordinary abilities and made its way to Disney’s Marvel Hero Project, which invited Watt to be among the first group of teens profiled in its November 2019 season premiere. Marvel published Unstoppable Adonis, its first braille comic book in Watts’ honor.

Photo of Adonis' hands reading the braille version of Unstoppable Adonis comic book, featuring an illustrated image of Adonis in his football uniform running with the ball.  Call out box reads: Go Adonis

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey recognized Watt for his achievements during his 2020 State of the State Address in January.

Clip from Governor Ducey's State of the State Address video of standing ovation in honor of Adonis

Adonis is the quintessential humble hero. “At the end of the day, I’m just being me,” said Watt. “It’s not like I’m trying to be a role model. I’m doing things I would regularly do even if I wasn’t getting all this attention for it.” 

Photo of Adonis lifting weights
“Notoriety hasn't changed him, but it's changed people who have felt held back,” wrote azcentral Reporter Richard Obert in a story about Watt. “They see or hear what Watt has done and it inspires them.” 

“He's Unstoppable Adonis the comic book right, but his life is literally him being unstoppable with his education, unstoppable with his physicality, unstoppable with his confidence, his competence and his skill,” said Veronica Watt. “He would say, don't limit yourself by accepting labels. You have a diagnosis that's a scientific conclusion but there's so much more that you are.”

Photo of Adonis in class
Among Watt’s newest challenges— college, through Rio Salado College’s dual enrollment program at Brophy Prep. 

Rio Salado serves as the largest provider of dual enrollment education in Arizona, helping nearly 7,500 Maricopa County students at 43 schools across the Valley earn college and high school credits at the same time. Adonis got started with an environmental science class last fall. 

“I probably started dual enrollment the third week of school,” said Watt. “It’s a sophomore level class so it’s not crazy hard… but like anything in class you have to put effort and time studying into it.”

Photo of Veronica Watt at home
Mrs. Veronica Watt.
“Parents are usually the ones to convince students to take advantage of the cost savings, seamless university transfer options, time savings and other benefits of our dual enrollment programs,” said Rio Salado Dual Enrollment Director EJ Anderson. 

“I'll tell you three things about dual enrollment: time, money and comfort level/ competence,” said Veronica Watt. “Your kids are going to be in school for less amount of time. You’re going to save money… you're paying community college rates for college credits. And then you have the competence. They're graduating and they're already comfortable. They're not going to walk into college as freshmen.”

Rio Salado dual 2019 grads
with President Smith. 
At present, there are 207 high school students on track to graduate with associate degrees from Rio Salado during the 2019-2020 academic year. Thousands more will earn credits that transfer seamlessly to Arizona public colleges and 40+ colleges and universities across the country.

Among this spring’s Rio Salado associate degree graduates will be three dual alumni who have since transferred to other colleges. They will be earning degrees through the Maricopa Community College’s reverse transfer program, which allows students to combine their community college and university credits to meet the requirements for an associate degree. 

“Adonis won't graduate with an associate degree, he'll probably have 30 credits, but you know, we're okay with that,” said Veronica Watt.

Adonis holding a big check for $10,000 from Parker and Sons Character Counts scholarship fund.  He's surrounded by his family.
Adonis with his family, accepting 2019
Character Counts scholarship award.
“If I had to do it all again, I would have put him into dual enrollment right away. I think that was part of me putting my limits on him saying well, I don't think you can, I don't want it to be too difficult. And now I’m thinking, we just lost some time. We could have like had tons of credits. You live and learn, so I hope someone can learn from his experience and just take it on.” 

“It’s helping me transition to college,” said Watt. “I don’t think about it too much but in the back of my mind I kind of just remind myself this grade is going to count for that class in college so I’ve got to put everything into it. I’m not going to be playing football forever. Education is something that's going to be there after football. It’s something that’s going to be there forever. Once you get it nobody can take it away.”

Check out a video version of this story.

For more details about Rio Salado’s dual enrollment program, visit

By Rio Salado College Media Relations Manager Annette Flores

Monday, May 11, 2020

Celebrate Military Appreciation Month Throughout May

Graphic reads Military Appreciation Month

May is National Military Appreciation Month. Use this time to give thanks and show appreciation to those who serve our country. Declared by Congress in 1999, May was selected National Military Appreciation Month as a month-long observance honoring the sacrifices of the United States Armed Forces.

Click here to learn more about Military Appreciation Month.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Celebrate Small Business Week May 3 – 9, 2020

Graphic shows people at a conference table on laptops

Small Business Week is a week meant to highlight the importance of entrepreneurs and small business owners across the United States. During this week, small business supporters are encouraged to shop small at local businesses.

Nearly 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. While cash is often a major reason for failure, lack of planning and a sound marketing strategy are key drivers of failure. Owners who have a sound understanding of the 4 Ps, effectively monitor performance and pivot when things are not working are much better positioned to beat the odds.

For aspiring small business owners and existing small business owners, Rio Salado offers a Small Business Startup certificate designed to create a foundation for small business owners to overcome the obstacles that often result in business failure.

Click here to learn more | Classes Start Monday

President Smith Named Aspen Institute #PresFellow

Photo of Kate Smith.  Rio Salado brand symbol in white with waves in middle.  Text: Kate Smith Aspen Presidential Fellowship. Rio Salado and Aspen Institute logos.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Rio Salado College Interim President Kate Smith is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2020-21 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, a highly selected leadership program preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success. 

Photo of president smith
“I am deeply honored to take part in this Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, especially now, as our country is grappling with COVID-19 and we are united in our efforts to create increasingly innovative ways to support and encourage student success,” said Smith. 

Smith, an Ahwatukee, Phoenix resident, began serving Rio Salado in 2016 as the vice president of academic affairs and has served as interim president since August of 2018. 

“As the acting president of America’s Online Community College, I am eager to further advance the progress that has been made to make education affordable and accessible in partnership with the Aspen Institute, its fellows, Rio Salado and the Maricopa Community Colleges.” 
The Rising Presidents Fellows will embark on a 10-month fellowship beginning in July 2020. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the fellows will be mentored by esteemed current and former community college presidents who have achieved exceptional outcomes for students throughout their careers, and will learn strategies to improve student outcomes in and after college, lead internal change, and create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, employers, and other partners. 

Aspen Presidential Fellowship logo
“Evidence shows that substantial improvements in student success are achieved only when presidents have the commitment and skill needed to lead change within their institutions and through partnerships in the community,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “These fellows have been chosen because they embody that commitment and, we believe, will build their skills even further to become transformational presidents.” 

“The Aspen Rising President Fellowship Program recognizes leaders who are committed to the success of students and community at large," said Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, Maricopa County Community College District Chancellor. “Kate has the creativity and drive to transform our Colleges and we are tremendously proud of her to join this initiative.” 

Photo of Smith at front of a classroom presenting student data to staff

Smith decided to devote her career to education nearly 30 years ago with one mission in mind. “Teachers and education change lives— quite simply, that is why I chose a career in education.” 
The Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship responds to the growing need for a new generation of leaders well-equipped to meet the challenges of the future. Nationally, nearly 80 percent of sitting presidents plan to retire in the next decade. While the traditional pathway to the presidency has excluded women and people of color, the incoming class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is composed of 70 percent women and 61 percent people of color and represents institutions of varying sizes and locations. 

Together, the 2020-21 fellows are leaders at colleges that collectively serve more than 500,000 students. As well, 42 Rising Presidents Fellowship alumni have become presidents of community colleges that collectively serve an additional 500,000 students nationwide. 

2020-21 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows
  • Margaret Annunziata, Davidson County Community College (NC)
  • Gita Bangera, Bellevue College (WA)
  • Kaylyn Bondy, Williston State College (ND)
  • Naima Brown, Santa Fe College (FL)
  • Monica Brown, Montgomery College (MD)
  • DeAnna Burt, South Central College (MN)
  • Monica Castaneda, Glendale Community College (AZ)
  • Tamara Clunis, Amarillo College (TX)
  • Mildred Coyne, Broward College (FL)
  • Renee Craig-Marius, Reedley College (CA)
  • Mark Curtis-Ch├ívez, College of DuPage (IL)
  • Chrissy Davis, Spokane Falls Community College (WA)
  • Tawny Dotson, Clover Park Technical College (WA)
  • Kurt Ewen, Houston Community College (TX)
  • Mary Gutierrez, Diablo Valley College (CA)
  • Susan Guzman-Trevino, Temple College (TX)
  • Paul Hernandez, Mount Wachusett Community College (MA)
  • Lloyd Holmes, Monroe Community College (NY)
  • Jennifer Kent, Ranger College (TX)
  • Kimberly Lowry, Lone Star College – Houston North (TX)
  • Ali Mageehon, Southwestern Oregon Community College (OR)
  • Corey McCray, Tidewater Community College (VA)
  • Donna McDaniel, Texarkana College (TX)
  • Brian Merritt, Central Carolina Community College (NC)
  • Scott Newman, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OK)
  • Mayra Olivares-Urueta, Tarrant County College (TX)
  • Tammi Oyadomari-Chun, University of Hawaii (HI)
  • Julie Penley, El Paso Community College (TX)
  • Dilcie Perez, Cerritos College (CA)
  • Nicole Reaves, Northern Virginia Community College (VA)
  • Star Rivera Lacey, San Diego Continuing Education (CA)
  • Irene Robles-Lopez, Pima Community College (AZ)
  • Vince Rodriguez, Coastline Community College (CA)
  • Kate Smith, Rio Salado Community College (AZ)
  • Jackie Thomas, Lone Star College-Tomball (TX)
  • Lena Tran, San Jose City College (CA)
  • Joel Welch, Western Piedmont Community College (NC)
  • Kristina Whalen, Las Positas College (CA)
  • Jermaine Whirl, Greenville Technical College (SC)
  • Jonathan Woodward, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MS)

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices and leadership strategies that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter at @AspenHigherEd.

Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative (SELI) strives to help education leaders further develop their ability to transform education systems and drive meaningful change. SELI programs bring together the strengths of Stanford Graduate School of Education and Stanford Graduate School of Business, as well as additional Stanford faculty and resources, to offer multidimensional and immediately impactful professional development programming for practicing leaders in PreK-12, higher education, and policy. By fostering collaboration and building relationships between existing colleagues and among new peers, SELI programs create networks supporting participants’ continued learning and organizational improvement. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Grab Your Favorite Book And Participate In Get Caught Reading Month

Pick up a good book and get caught reading all month long. May is Get Caught Reading Month, encouraging people to read and share their love for reading. What is your favorite book to read? Where is your favorite place to read a book? Let us know.

Learn more about Get Caught Reading Month here.