Showing posts with label GED. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GED. Show all posts

Monday, January 25, 2016

Helping Adults Achieve a College Education!

This inspiring video will provide a glimpse into the lives of adult students who have overcome many obstacles to pursue a college education-- and found help and guidance through Rio Salado's Adults Achieving a College Education (AACE) program. 

Rio Salado staff are committed to help you succeed! 
Whether you need assistance preparing for the GED® test, learning English as a second language, finding financial aid or meeting any of the other challenges of returning to school-- we're ready to help!

Visit this web page to learn how Rio Salado's AACE program can help you!

#‎GED‬ ‪#‎ESL‬

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Job Fair for Youth & Maricopa Students!

logo for 100,000 Opportunities Initiative Project Fair & Forum Phoenix

Rio Salado is proud to join the Maricopa Community Colleges and Starbucks in the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative Fair & Forum at the Phoenix Convention Center this Friday, October 30 to help young people between the ages of 16 and 24 find employment and educational opportunities.

Starbucks will be joined by 20 other companies to recruit, hire and provide support services at the event.

While the event is designed specifically to help young people who are not currently employed or in school and who have had difficulty finding jobs and educational opportunities, Starbucks is inviting all Maricopa Community Colleges students to take advantage of the workshops, services and interviewing opportunities available during the free community event.
  • Meet and interview with more than 20 companies 
  • Practice interview skills with one-on-one coaching 
  • Create or improve resume with personalized support 
  • Get resources to complete high school degree and explore college 
  • Get help with job applications 
  • Attend workshops on how to set career goals 
  • Tap into legal resources and immigration services 
  • Find a mentor and job training programs, open a bank account and more!
Participants will also have access to bus passes, food, haircuts and other services to help them prepare for on-site interviews.

100,000 Opportunities Initiative Fair & Forum 
Friday, October 30 
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 
Phoenix Convention Center
100 N. Third St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

To register, visit

Register and Schedule Your Interviews Now!
Participants can pre-schedule up to two interviews online and should plan to dress for success to meet with various employers during the event.

logo for 10K opporunities initiative

About the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative:
The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative is a coalition of leading U.S.-based companies committed to training and hiring 100,000 Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 who are out of school and not working by 2018. Launched in August of 2015 to create more pathways to economic opportunity for young Americans, the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative aims to be the largest employer-led coalition in the country. The Initiative creates pathways for youth with untapped talent and potential to build skills, gain credentials and employment, and reclaim the American Dream. The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative is an employer-led coalition that will leverage the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions. It is supported by many of the country’s youth and opportunity-focused nonprofit organizations, local governments, and participating funders.

#StartSomewhere #100kOpportunities

Monday, June 15, 2015

2015 HSE Graduation on MCTV

Get inspired!  Tune into MCTV to watch the Rio Salado 2015 HSE Graduation Ceremony-- Friday, June 19 at 8:30 p.m. on COX Channel 115.

#RioGrad #GED

Friday, May 22, 2015

Graduates Take First Step toward College

For some people, making the transition from high school to college student is just one seamless step in a prescribed path to adulthood. Many others, however, encounter hardship and obstacles along that same path. For those who persevere, the reward is even more meaningful.

Rio Salado College celebrated the accomplishments of these go-getters at its annual High School Equivalency (HSE) graduation ceremony on Thursday evening, May 21 at Orangewood Nazarene Church, in Phoenix.

There where approximately 50 graduates in attendance, representing more than 100 students who successfully completed the college’s HSE prep classes and passed the state’s HSE exam (also referred to as the GED® test).

Tera Gomez, the HSE graduation student speaker, is a perfect example of how each person takes a different road to reach their destination.

In her 30 years, Gomez has already dealt with a lifetime of adversity. She has faced a childhood spent in hospitals, the death of her mother from a brain tumor, a marriage and divorce, the births of her three children, the loss of a home, and the deaths of her beloved grandparents on the same day.

“I decided to go back to school when my family hit financial hardships,” Gomez said.

Working retail and temporary positions since she was 19, Gomez was passed over for promotions at work because she did not have a high school diploma. She reached out to Rio Salado to take high school equivalency prep classes.

“I was terrified to return to school after being out of the classroom for almost 15 years,” Gomez said. “But the program at Rio Salado took away all of the scary parts and made it a very comfortable experience.”

She specifically cites the personal attention and dedication of Rio Salado College staff.

“I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today without the tutelage of my fantastic math teacher, who is one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met, and the guidance of my college counselor, who was always there to hold me up when I felt weak,” said Gomez.

Gomez plans to pursue college in the near future, after her family is more stable financially.

“Once you put your mind to a goal, do whatever you have to do to get there,” she said. “Put your nose to the books and put in the hours necessary to learn, and you'll get there.”

Visit this web page for details about Rio Salado's HSE Prep program.

Photo 1: HSE Grads lineup for processional
Photo 2: HSE Graduation ceremony begins

Photo 3: Gomez with Rio Salado Director of Community Partnerships College Bridge Pathways Lily Beth Brazones
Photo 4: Gomez with Rio Salado Counselor Amberly Lebeck-Brown

By Mira Radovich, Communications Coordinator at Rio Salado College.

2015 HSE Graduation a Memorable Evening

Last night's 2015 HSE Graduation was without question, a memorable evening! Inspirational, emotional and moving in so many ways. You’ll be hearing more about it in the coming days. 

A special thank you to our guest speakers who helped make last night extraordinary, especially student speaker Tera Gomez for sharing her inspirational story.

Many thanks to all of the volunteers, faculty, staff and guests for your attendance and support. And caps off to the 2015 HSE graduates who took part in the ceremony. Congratulations. You should be very proud of your achievements!

image of graduation ceremony in progress

We will post high resolution photos you can upload and share in the next few days. You will also have an opportunity to purchase individual photos from GradImages at in the next few weeks. You will also have a chance to view the ceremony in its entirety on MCTV. Stay tuned for air dates. It will be well worth your time!

Pictured above: MCCCD Governing Board Member Doyle Burke, Deputy Associate Superintendent of Adult Education Services Sheryl Hart, Tera Gomez, Rio Salado President Chris Bustamante, MCCCD Governing Board President Tracy Livingston and MCCCD Governing Board Member Dana Saar.

#‎RioGrad‬ ‪#‎GED‬

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rio Salado 2015 HSE Graduation May 21

Program cover for Rio Salado College 2015 HSE Graduation

We look forward to the 2015 HSE Graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 21 to celebrate the achievements of students who have successfully completed Rio Salado's High School Equivalency (HSE) Prep program and passed the GED ® test.

Rio Salado 2015 HSE Graduation
Thursday, May 21, 2014
Orangewood Nazarene Church
7510 N 27th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85051

5:30 p.m. Lobby opens to graduates and guests
6 p.m. Auditorium doors open
6:30 p.m. Graduates line up with marshals
7 p.m. Graduation ceremony begins

Light refreshments will be available for purchase.

There's still time to take part in the ceremony.  Visit this web page to register.

Gowns, Caps & Tassels
Graduates participating in the ceremony must wear the official college blue gown, cap and 2015 tassel. The $25 graduation fee includes the cost of these items, as well as a diploma cover.

photo of two 2014 HSE grads

Photos, DVDs and MCTV
Rio Salado staff photographers will be taking photos, which will be posted on our Facebook page for you to upload and tag. Grad Images will also be taking photos during the ceremony, which can be purchased online at in the next few weeks.

You will have an opportunity to purchase a DVD copy of the ceremony at the event or by way of email. The cost is $20 and must be paid when ordering. Cash or credit cards will be accepted. Email requests can be made between now and Monday, May 25 by submitting to A Rio Salado representative will contact you to complete your order.

MCTV Cox Channel 115 will be videotaping the ceremony for broadcast, which will be sometime in late May or June.

We encourage you to share your graduation stories.
  • Use the #RioGrad hashtag in your posts.
  • Join us on Facebook to post photos and comments and to tag photos.
  • Use Google+ and Instagram to share photos and comments. 

Congratulations to the Rio Salado 2015 HSE Graduates!

Quote and photo of 2015 Student Speaker Tera Lynn Gomez: “I was terrified to return to school after being  out of the classroom for almost 15 years but  the program at Rio Salado took away all of  the scary parts for me and made it a very  comfortable experience.”

For more details about Rio Salado’s HSE prep program, GED ® testing services and other college bridge pathway programs and services, visit or call 480-517-8110.

#GED #RioGrad

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Read & Learn More Effectively

graphic of SQ3R strategy outline, which is presented in full text at

Inundated with facts and having difficulty with retention?  You're not alone. The SQ3R reading method is designed to help you read and learn more effectively.

Visit Study Guides and Strategies and Mind Tools for details on how to apply and make SQ3R strategies work for you.

Shared by Rio Salado's Counseling Services, helping students with their personal, educational and career goals.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New AZ IBEST Energy Systems Program

Flier for Energy Systems Technology Through Arizona IBEST.  Text: Rio Salado College now offers a certificate in Energy Systems Technology through the Arizona IBEST program for those who want a career in building energy management. You will learn how to control building operational systems including computer, electrical, HVAC and security. Classes also cover energy management, conservation concepts and building codes. What is IBEST? Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (IBEST) is for students who are studying for the high school equivalency (HSE) exam while also receiving career-specific training to help with future employment opportunities. Learn more at one of the upcoming information sessions: Wednesday, Feb. 18 9-11:30 a.m. or 5:30-8 p.m.   Start your career in energy systems technology today. Classes begin March 2, 2015 Call now to reserve your seat. 480-377-4050 Sessions take place at Rio Salado College Downtown, 619 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix.  Made possible by Rio Salado College, Maricopa Community Colleges and Phoenix Workforce Connection.

Rio Salado now offers a certificate in Energy Systems Technology through the Arizona IBEST program-- to help students launch a career in building energy management,  while preparing for the ‪GED‬ ® test. 

Classes begin March 2 at RSC Downtown.

Through this program, you will learn how to control building operational systems including computer, electrical, HVAC and security. Classes also cover energy management, conservation concepts and building codes.

What is IBEST? Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (IBEST) is a program designed to provide students who are studying for their GED® test an opportunity to receive career-specific training to help with future employment opportunities.

Interested in learning more? Join us for two, free information sessions: Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • Meet the Rio Salado Faculty Chair who created this exciting new program.
  • Learn how industry leaders participated in the formation of the program.
  • Share in a discussion about the opportunities for employment and potential career pathways.
For more details, contact Student Success Coach Salina Bernal at 480-377-4074 or

To learn more about our new Energy Systems Technology certificate, check out this blog post or visit

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Counseling Stories: New Eyes

image of glasses sitting on top of a book

Rio Salado Counselor Amberly Lebeck-Brown experienced a recent victory with student Ancita Yazzie, who attends Rio Salado’s Northern location.

She noticed Yazzie using two pairs of glasses, which provoked concern. Yazzie revealed that she was using the set of non-prescription glasses because she could not afford the glasses she needed. Lebeck-Brown intervened.

Ancita Yazzie
Lebeck-Brown tried traditional resources used to assist students with discounted rates but they were also beyond Yazzie's financial means.

Lebeck-Brown found New Eyes, a non-profit organization that purchases new prescription eyeglasses for U.S. residents in financial need. Lebeck-Brown helped Yazzie acquire a voucher and now she has a new pair of glasses.

Lebeck-Brown's intervention exemplifies how critical it is to remove barriers in students' lives and to network with community agencies and organizations. 

It is just one example of how Rio Salado’s counselors seek to make the lives of their students better as they go through their educational journey. It also demonstrates the significant role counselors play in student success.

Rio Salado's Counseling and Career Services connect students with a variety of vital resources that can make a profound impact on their overall well-being.

Yazzie is enrolled in Rio Salado's High School Equivalency program, which prepares individuals for the GED® exam. Despite her personal challenges she has been diligent about her studies.

The HSE prep program is one of several Rio Salado College Bridge Pathways initiatives, which are designed to help adult learners transition back into the classroom, strengthen academic skills, build confidence and begin a college career. Services include personalized advisement; start-up scholarships; assistance with financial aid registration as well as orientation to college life and online learning.

For more details about Rio Salado’s HSE prep program, GED® testing services and other College Bridge Pathway programs and services, visit or call 480-517-8110.

For more details about Rio Salado counseling services, visit or call 480-517-8785.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rio's Testing Services Make Valley-wide Impact

photo of Linda Lukey at testing center in Tempe

Tucked away in each of Rio Salado College’s nine locations are testing centers serving thousands of Valley residents and visitors including U.S. Military personnel, U.S. Postal Service workers, FBI agents, GED® test-takers and yes— lots of college students. They also offer IT exams like the one passed by Ayan Qureshi, the five-year-old boy from the UK who recently became the youngest Microsoft certified IT professional in the world.

Rio Salado Testing Centers aren’t getting that kind of international attention-- but they’re getting a share of local and national merit.

“Rio Salado College Testing Centers were the first in Arizona to become Nationally Certified Testing Centers by the National College Testing Association,” said Linda Lukey, Rio Salado director of testing and prior learning assessment.

Lukey, who has been instrumental in the development and growth of the testing centers, is proud of that distinction— and the national recognition from the College Board, which has recognized Rio Salado since 2002 as a Top 100 College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP®) testing center. It also recognized Rio Salado as a Top 25 Military Testing Center for CLEP exams in 2013 - 2014.

Each of Rio Salado’s Testing Centers offers 33 CLEP exams, which assess subject matter proficiency and provide an opportunity for students to receive college credit with qualifying scores. For example, Spanish CLEP test-takers can earn up to 16 college credits.

Students can apply knowledge they’ve gained through prior course work, independent study, internships, job training, professional development and personal pursuits.

There are testing services for IT professionals who need to keep certifications up-to-date, including Pearson Vue CompTIA Certification exams, which are recognized by thousands of companies as a predictor of employee success. All Maricopa students, faculty and staff are eligible for significant discounts on these exams. Students pursuing A+ certification save about 55%. Network+ certification students pay approximately half the normal rate. Rio Salado students may also receive college credit for their certifications.

The Testing Center provides proctoring services for other educational institutions so students can take midterms and finals at a location that’s convenient for them. “We are also part of the Consortium of College Testing Centers, offering proctoring services for students worldwide,” said Lukey.

The Pearson Vue GED® test has become quite popular. More than 10,000 people have taken the exam since the college began offering it in October of 2013.

There are a series of tests you can’t fail. ACCUPLACER exams are free of charge and help new students gauge their current skill levels for Reading, English and Math. Academic advisors use the results of the assessments along with details about students’ academic backgrounds to determine appropriate college courses.

Rio Salado Testing Centers also offer Adobe Certified Associate and Microsoft Office Specialist Certiport Exams; exams that assess English language skills and more.

For a comprehensive view of the types of services offered, the locations, hours of service, forms of identification required and other details, visit: 

Pictured above: Linda Lukey, Rio Salado director of testing and prior learning assessment.

This story can also be found in the December 6 edition of the Tempe Republic. By Annette Flores, manager of Rio Salado College media relations.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Congratulations to the 2014 AACE Class

We are pleased to share this Facebook album from Rio Salado’s Adults Achieving a College Education (AACE) Completion Ceremony on June 23 at the Rio Salado Conference Center.

This most recent AACE cohort included 47 completers, 37 of whom attended the ceremony with family and friends.

Eleven students also received a certificate for leadership, induction into the National Adult Education Honor Society, participation in the statewide I'm in Love with Learning contest and/or selection and training as a student ambassador.

Seventeen of the students were specially honored for achieving an Adult ACE GPA of 3.8 and above.

The AACE program offers a unique opportunity for students who want to start college level classes while simultaneously enrolled in Rio Salado College’s High School Equivalency prep program, which provides in-person and online classes and other services for students preparing for the GED® test.

The primary objective of AACE is to help students become more confident, improve their college and workplace skills, and lay the foundation for a better future.

Classes start each August and January.

For more details, call 480-517-8825, email or visit

Thursday, June 19, 2014

It Pays to Go to School

Stephanie Whitfield, Ezra Borquez and Melissa Mejia attend
HSE classes at Rio Salado Southern in Tempe.
According to an Arizona Department of Education report, a person with a high school diploma or equivalency earns approximately $8,500 more than someone without a diploma, which works out to nearly $350,000 in a person’s lifetime.

The pay increases significantly with higher learning. A Pew Research Center study published in February 2014 shows 25-32 year-old college graduates make about $17,500 more than individuals who only have a high school diploma.

Chandler resident Melissa Mejia is realizing what that could mean for her and her family. Mejia, one of approximately 750,000 Arizona residents who do not have a high school diploma, worked as a server for nearly seven years making minimum wage. “There was no chance for advancement especially without an education and it was just a dead end job.”

As a working, single mom, Mejia found it difficult to pursue an education. She tried for years to attain her high school equivalency (HSE) but time and circumstances kept getting in the way—until January, when she enrolled in Rio Salado College’s HSE prep program, which provides in-person and online classes and other services for students preparing for the GED® test.

A key draw for Mejia was flexibility and access. “I can come in the morning, the afternoon or the evening. I can choose to do four days a week or two-- or take classes online.”

Mejia chooses in-person classes because the engagement has become of great importance. “I like a lot of the one on one… it not only helps me attain my education but it’s also helping me with my people skills. I’m a little more closed in and shy. Here I’m doing more things, there’s a lot more interaction. I made friends right away.”

Mejia was trying to complete all four of her GED® tests in time to take part in the May 13, 2014 HSE Graduation. “I was hoping to graduate by now, but of course life happens. I'm not letting it get to me; however, it just means I'll get to walk with my friends and fellow classmates next year.” The goal now is to complete her GED® tests this summer and look into an educational and professional career in early childhood and development.

Mejia attends classes at the Rio Salado Southern location in Tempe, one of several Rio Salado sites offering HSE program services throughout the Valley.

The HSE prep program is part of Rio Salado’s College Bridge Pathways initiatives, designed to help adult learners transition back into the classroom, strengthen academic skills, build confidence and begin a college career. Services include personalized advisement; start-up scholarships; assistance with financial aid registration as well as orientation to college life and online learning.

HSE Students pay a registration fee in the range of $25-70 per trimester, based on a sliding scale, which is determined by a student’s household income and the number of family members in the household.

Rio Salado College is one of the largest providers of adult basic education in Arizona. Nearly 600 students have already completed Rio’s HSE prep program and passed their GED® tests during the 2013-14 academic year.

For more details about Rio Salado’s HSE prep program, GED® testing services and other college bridge pathway programs and services, visit or call 480-517-8110.

This story can also be found in the June 7 edition of the Tempe Republic. By Annette Flores, manager of Rio Salado College media relations.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dreams Really Do Come True

Gloria Bauerle lives on the sunny side of the street and takes a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down. It works. She radiates. She emanates joy.

Attendees of Rio Salado College’s 2014 High School Equivalency Graduation are bound to get a dose of Bauerle’s energy when she takes center stage as Student Speaker.

Rio’s HSE graduation committee chose Bauerle because of her academic and civic achievements and her ability to inspire.

Knowing her life story and the challenges she has overcome makes her all the more captivating.

Bauerle was born in 1979 into a family of ten in Salem, Oregon. Her parents were part of a religious cult, which compelled them to do some erratic things-- like move the family nearly 30 times throughout her childhood. She describes the experience as unstable and traumatic.

Her troubles didn’t end with childhood and became debilitating over time.

“All my problems seemed so huge," said Bauerle. “Homelessness, shelters, a single parent… I really remember it being a time of shell shock. Like a bomb goes off in your life and you’re disorientated and lost, unable to hear or understand what is going on around you. Yet sometimes the dust would settle and I would catch my bearings and remember that deep in my heart lay a big dream.”

Bauerle finally found the help and stability she needed. Along the way, she fell in love and created a family that embodied what she always thought a family should be. She became a stay-at-home mom and began volunteering as a community organizer and mentor. Through the years she has mentored women affected by sexual abuse and domestic violence, hosted self-help workshops and started a food bank that continues to serve people in need.

Life was good; she was living the dream-- until last summer.

“After my son had passed away this past June I was deeply struggling,” said Bauerle. “I had not worked in over six years but needed desperately to get out of my own story.”

Without a high school diploma, Bauerle figured the prospects of employment were slim but was pleasantly surprised to find a job as a career coach. She also found a new sense of confidence.

“I discovered quickly that I am just as smart as anyone,” said Bauerle.

She also came to realize it was time to pursue higher learning and enrolled in Rio’s HSE Preparation program.

“I am a very creative person and have tried every way to accomplish my dreams without an education,” Bauerle said. “Education opens doors that will forever remain closed without it.”

With that in mind, Bauerle is taking the next step as a college student to pursue a degree in communications. She has been accepted into Rio’s Adults Achieving a College Education pathway-- a scholarship-based college and career preparation program.

Bauerle is one of 594 students who have already completed Rio’s HSE prep program and passed their GED® tests during the 2013-14 academic year. She will be joined by more than 200 other graduates and their guests during the HSE Graduation on May 13 at Comerica Theatre in Phoenix.

This story can also be found in the May 3 edition of the Tempe Republic.
By Annette Flores, manager of Rio Salado College media relations.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Clock Is Ticking For GED Students

This story can also be read in the November 23 edition of the Tempe Republic

Blair Liddicoat, Associate Dean
College Bridge Pathways
The GED test is changing! The Department of Education is releasing a new GED exam with stricter requirements and a much higher fee effective January 1.

Currently, students are allowed to take the five-part exam over time in their choice of paper-based or computer-based format. The new test has four sections and will only be available in a computer-based format. Students taking the new test will not receive credit for sections passed under the old testing process.

"As of January, the new 2014 GED tests will be required and at that time, test scores for the current GED tests will become invalid," said Blair Liddicoat, Rio Salado College Associate Dean of College Bridge Pathways. "This means students will have to start over with the new tests."

According to Liddicoat, students should not wait until the last minute if they want to finish their GED before the changes take effect.

"All students who are pursuing their GED diploma need to remember that they only have until the end of December to take the current GED tests," Liddicoat said. "Additionally, some test centers may be closed over Thanksgiving and during the holiday week in December, so it's important to plan ahead."

As the largest provider of adult basic education in Arizona, including GED classes and college pathway programs, Rio Salado College has noticed a significant increase in the number of students showing up to complete their GED tests.

“We’ve already seen an increase in the first two weeks of November and are expecting even higher demand as the holidays approach,” said Linda Lukey, director of testing and prior learning assessment at Rio Salado. “We want to make everyone aware that wait times may increase as we near the deadline. We also want to remind students that Rio Salado College testing centers will be closed during the college’s annual winter break.”

Rio Salado testing centers are available at the following locations:
  • RSC Tempe
  • RSC Northern
  • RSC Avondale
  • RSC Southern
  • RSC Thomas
  • RSC Luke
  • Communiversity at Surprise
Test centers at RSC Northern and RSC Tempe will remain open during the college’s winter break for online GED testing only.

Walk-in, paper-based testing is available only at the Northern location and only until November 26. All other locations require an appointment for paper-based testing. Wait times for walk-in testing can be significant, and students are encouraged to plan accordingly.

Computer-based testing is available at all test center locations. Students must register for the exam 24 hours before testing through

All Rio Salado College test centers are approved to offer the computer-based 2014 GED tests as of January. For more details about GED Testing services and hours of operation, or call 480-517-8000.

Friday, September 13, 2013

RSC Northern Hosts US Department of Education Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier

DoEAssistant Secretary  Brenda Dann-Messier and
Rio Salado College President Chris Bustamante
 listen as students share their experiences.
US Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier visited Rio Salado College Northern last night to sit down with students, adult education leaders and policy makers. Dann-Messier's visit was part of the 2013 "Strong Start, Bright Future" Back to School bus tour being conducted by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Dann-Messier began her visit by observing and visiting with students in a Student Success Seminar. She then led a roundtable discussion by asking each participant about the challenges they faced and the type of support they needed to be successful.

"I am here to listen and learn," Dan-Messier said.

Rio Salado College Bridge Pathway students, Ashley Haas-Bazzi, Darrellen Birzer, and Stephanie Carroll were the first to share their experiences.

Haas-Bazzi is a recent graduate of the Integrated Basic Education Skills Training (IBEST) program in Dental Assisting Technology. She earned 24 credits in dental assisting technology while simultaneously preparing for her GED.

"There were a lot of ups and downs," Haas-Bazzi said, "but with the help of other students and the instructors I was able to make it through."

Birzer is a participant in the Adults Achieving a College Education (ACE) scholarship program as well as an IBEST graduate. Birzer is currently working in a dental office and plans to become a dental hygienist.

"I got started when my kids were in school," Birzer said. “I’m now working toward an associate degree and hope to get in a dental hygienist program."

Carroll, who was Rio Salado’s 2013 GED Graduation speaker, stressed the importance of being a role model for her children and the opportunity to have a second chance.

"I am pursuing a degree in elementary education, and my kids now want to go to college too," Carroll said.

Dann-Messier also heard from adult education as well as local community and government leaders on the importance of collaborative partnerships, education funding and the future of adult education in Arizona.

As the meeting came to a close, Dann-Messier shared her own thoughts on the matter.

"We need to view education as an investment, not an expense," Dann-Messier said. “We need to increase the capacity to provide high quality services. We need to make sure the message is clear that there are pathways for adults to go on to college."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Technical Training Allows Students to Smile

Rio Salado College’s innovative IBEST program gives students a leg up by helping them develop skills in technical fields. IBEST stands for Integrated Basic Education Skills Training program. Current students in the IBEST program are focusing on dental assisting technology.

“The IBEST program is designed to prepare students to take their GED exam,” said Kristina Kidd, dental assistant facilitator at Rio Salado College. “It also prepares them to work in the field of dental assisting upon completion of the dental assisting technology program.”

IBEST targets people who do not have a high school diploma. To participate in the program, students must have an 8th grade reading level and meet other admission requirements.

Once admitted, students work hands-on and are taught a number of professional skills such as resume preparation, interview and communication techniques, as well as the practical technical skills that are required of the job.

“Students will have to work in the mouth of their peers and act as a patient,” said Kidd. “Blood is present in the dental clinic, as are needles and blood borne pathogens.”

After students have learned in class they go out and practice even more by completing a required internship.

“The program provides the students with one internship site. The student has to interview and be accepted by the site,” said Kidd. “Our goal is to place students in a general practice where they will have exposure to all types of dentistry.”

The IBEST program comes with some challenges that might be a little different than what some students are used to.

“The courses are very fast paced and students have to be mentally prepared to take on the challenge,” said Kidd.

Students have to abide by a mandatory attendance policy and also take time out to prepare for the course outside of the in-person portion of the curriculum. The time it takes a student to prepare can range from two to four hours per day.

“There are study habits that need to be formed,” Kidd said. “Sleep can be affected, and job and home settings may have to be adjusted.”

With so many adjustments to be made Kidd says it can be a tough challenge to overcome all of the educational and life obstacles.

“It typically is a very different pace for the students and it can create a lot of stress,” said Kidd.

To help alleviate some of that stress Kidd notes that the college is always ready to offer assistance but it is also the student’s job to seek out help if needed.

“We do offer services to help with many obstacles a student may face, including success coaches, advisors and counselors,” Kidd said.

With others there to help and encourage the students, the IBEST program is confident in the student’s abilities to succeed. “We encourage students to continue their education,” said Kidd. “There are so many paths to choose from in the dental assisting technology field.”

By Erica White, PR Intern at Rio Salado College
This story also appeared in the November 3 Edition of the Tempe Republic

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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.

Monday, May 2, 2011

General Education Degrees (GEDs) Empower Students

When nearly 200 graduates walk across the stage at Rio Salado's GED graduation, they will walk away with more than a diploma. They will take with them a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and the successful completion of a life goal.

"Receiving a GED has a tremendous impact on the lives of our graduates, said Lilybeth Brazones, adult basic education program director for Rio Salado College. "They will have choices in terms of education, to get a job or to add to their skills in their current job."

The graduates come from a variety of circumstances. Many GED graduates work full-time and take care of families. They range in age from young to old. Each graduate has overcome challenges unique to them and each graduate has their own story of triumph to share.

"I had to do something with myself for my life and for my kids, because I am concerned for their future," said GED graduate Jessica Hutton. "Getting my GED brings a lot of accomplishment. I am doing something good for my children. I don't want them growing up without an education."

Hutton, 23, has four young children, works as a fast-food restaurant manager and cares for her husband who has been battling leukemia.

"Our graduates don't give up even after dealing with life's adversities and challenges that they meet as they strive to achieve their GED diploma," said Brazones. "They have had to overcome personal challenges to finish their classes and have a lot of determination and willpower to achieve that goal."

Depending upon the background of the student, it can take as little as a month, or up to several years to complete the program and take the GED exam.

"Helping our GED students is challenging and very rewarding at the same time. Students need to improve their skills in reading, writing, science, social studies, and math in a relatively short amount of time," said Brazones. "The challenge for the instructor is to accurately determine the students' skills through our assessments, and make sure that the study plan for each student is appropriate for what they need to pass the GED exam. We also need to provide students with the additional resources and support that Rio Salado College offers so that they can transition to post-secondary education."

"It took me a year to complete my GED," said Hutton. "It was hard finding time for work, family and school."This year's graduation theme "New Horizons, New Beginnings" has special meaning for GED student graduation speaker Jean-Pierre Jordan.

"Getting my GED has made me feel like I can start all over again. I have gotten a second chance," said Jordan. "It has helped me focus and learn what it takes to have a career and made me realize that I love education and will continue on to college."

Jordan, 30, has plans to be a pharmacy technician and eventually a pharmacist.

Rio Salado's 2011 GED Graduation, a ticketed event, will take place at the Orpheum Theater May, 3. GED graduates for the 2010-2011 academic year total 457 with 205 participating in the ceremony. More than 10,000 students have received their GED preparation at Rio Salado since 1978 according to Brazones.

Rio Salado College offers GED preparation classes online and at seven Basic Adult Education locations throughout the Valley.

For more information about earning a GED, contact Rio Salado College.