Earth Day Service Project 2019

On April 22, 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day. And on April 27, 2019, eight dedicated environmentalists from Arapahoe Community College—some seeking Service Learning credit—joined Denver Audubon’s Master Birders, Naturalists, and other volunteers to learn more about various species sharing our planet.

ACC’s Earth Day Service Project began at 7:30 a.m. when Cristina Duke (an ACC student from Joan Anderssen’s ECON class) arrived with her young daughter Kaelyn, then Juliet Hubbell (ACC’s Humanities faculty member) joined us with her daughter Rachelle. Dylan Goodman (from Diana Hornick’s online Interpersonal Communication class) and Lisa Asbill (from Karen Browning’s online Interpersonal Communication class) also attended early that Saturday to help pull weeds, cut back some Rabbitbrush, and rake leaves and branches from the Garden Circle just past the entrance to Denver Audubon’s Nature Center, south of Chatfield State Park in Littleton.

Left to right: Dylan Goodman, Audubon Master Birder Mary Keithler, Trina Wilson, Rachelle Hubbell, Juliet Hubbell, Lisa Asbill, Diana Hornick

At 9 a.m. Trina Wilson (an ACC student from one of our science classes taught by Celia Norman) met up with Team ACC to begin the Denver Metro Nature Challenge BioBlitz. What’s a BioBlitz? It’s an event that brings together natural resource experts, community volunteers, and members of the public to inventory all species in a specific area over a specific time period.

A lone grasshopper rests in dried and fallen Cottonwood leaves. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Pycnoporellus, a genus of fungi, grows on the trunk of a tree near Audubon’s Nature Center. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Poison Ivy berries can contain oxalates, needle-like crystals that cause pain and swelling in the lips, face, tongue, and skin. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Vertebrae of a mammal found during our BioBlitz hike. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Our Naturalist guide, Dave Erickson, alongside Master Birder Mary Keithler, pointed out native plants and called our attention to many birds, including a flock of six American White Pelicans soaring overhead and some Hummingbirds whirring by us at ground level. We hiked the trails adjacent to the beaver ponds, majestic Cottonwoods, and Audubon’s ever-popular springtime bird banding station.

Audubon Master Naturalist Dave Erickson (in the middle with hat) talks about Rabbitbrush and various other native plants at Denver Audubon’s Nature Center in Littleton. Note the ACC backpacks that were filled with goodies and provided to all volunteers, complements of ACC’s Student Life Office.

Between 9 and 11 a.m., and after the morning turned from cloudy to partly sunny, Team ACC helped create a snapshot of 50 different local species of plants, mammals, birds, insects, and fungi, better understanding our beautiful natural world.

Red-Winged Blackbird perched and observing BioBlitz participants. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Wild Plum blooms in late April on nature trails at Audubon. (Photo courtesy of Trina Wilson)

Since 1970, National Earth Day has not been considered a national “holiday.” But if we want to continue breathing fresh air, drinking clean water, observing mammals, enjoying bird songs, and appreciating every plant we see and smell and eat, then Earth Day needs to become a national holiday in order to bring even more awareness to all of the species we share this planet with. Join us right now by signing the petition….and see you next April to celebrate our wondrous planet!

by Diana Hornick, ACC Communication Department Faculty
 & Service Learning Center Coordinator

Picking The Degree That’s Right for You

At ACC, our goal is to help you to move mountains. Everyone’s mountain is as unique as the peaks of the Rockies, and our degree and certificate programs are designed to reflect that. But with so many options to choose from, picking the one that lets you move your mountain can be a daunting task. To help you decide which path is right for you, here’s a look at the degrees that we offer here at ACC.

Associate of Arts (AA)

An Associate of Arts degree is a first step towards earning your Bachelor of Arts degree. This transfer degree will help you satisfy the core requirements needed for your intended 4-year major, as well as allow you to pick elective courses that can diversify your knowledge and skill sets. If you already know what liberal arts program you want to major in, your course work will allow you to get started on that path. If you are unsure which subject you want to pursue, or wish to try out a wide range of subjects, our AA General degree will give you the chance to explore your interests while earning you credit for when you transfer.

Areas of focus: Arts, Business, Communication, Criminal Justice, Education, Languages, Social Sciences

Associate of Science (AS)

The Associate of Science degree is your portal into the sciences. Like the AA, the AS will help you satisfy your core degree requirements when you transfer, with a stronger emphasis on STEM-related coursework that will prepare you for laboratory work and research. Whether you have decided on your intended major or not, there is an AS degree that will satisfy your curiosity and interests.

Areas of focus: Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Psychology

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

With an Associate of Applied Science degree, you can get started in the field that you pick as soon as you graduate. These specialized professional degree programs are designed to teach you the skills that you need for a wide range of fields that include business, computers, emergency services, healthcare, management, media, and technology. If your goal is to get out into the world and make a difference in your community, the AAS will give you the training that you need to help you accomplish that goal.

Associate of General Studies (AGS)

If the Associate of Applied Science is the degree for the specialist, then the Associate of General Studies is the degree for the generalist: it allows you to build up the technical skills that you want without constraining you to a particular field. With the widest range of elective coursework available, the AGS will allow you to combine course work from multiple Associate programs into a new program that you envision. Whether you want to combine courses from multiple specialties in the same field, or combine courses from multiple fields to build a foundation for a specialty of your creation, your imagination is the only limit to what you can do with this degree option.

Certificates

Certificates prove that you’ve got the proficiency to do a job and do it well. With a certificate from ACC, you can bolster up your resume to new heights, improve your prospects on the job, and prove to your employer that you have the particular set of skills that they’re looking for. Combined with your degree, you won’t just move your mountain: you’ll smash right through it.

ACC now offers two Bachelor’s degree programs for Emergency Service Administration and Nursing.

Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS): Emergency Service Administration

If you’re looking to advance your career in emergency services, our newest degree option will prepare you for leadership roles in both the public and private sector. The training that this degree provides will teach you how to formulate solutions to ethical and legal issues, collect and analyze data for decision-making, and employ the appropriate course of action for all phases of the cycle of emergencies. This degree is an option for students who have already earned their AAS in Criminal Justice, Emergency Management & Planning, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Science Technology, Homeland Security/Emergency Management, Law Enforcement, Paramedicine, Public Safety, Wildland Safety, or a closely related degree, from a regionally accredited institution. You will also be able to earn college credit for industry certifications through the National Fire Protection Association, Peace Officer Standards and Training board, and the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion Program (RN-BSN)

If you’re interested in furthering your nursing career, our BSN program is available to RNs with an associate degree or diploma, and students currently in an Associate-level nursing program. You’ll be able to build on your nursing skills and increase your perspective of current clinical practice while enhancing your leadership abilities, and because the program is online, you can fit your education around your own schedule. Dual enrollment is available for students applying to or already enrolled in ACC’s Nursing AAS program, and there are transfer options for Colorado Universities with a BSN track of their own. This program is approved by the State Board of Colorado Community College Occupational and Education Programs, so you know that you’ll be receiving a quality education that will let you move mountains in the nursing field.

Learn more about ACC’s degrees and programs.

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

Muscles Needed! – A Student Service Learning Project

House in the snowRecently, I had the opportunity to move furniture for a local non-profit. The task seemed easy! But when I arrived at the house I saw this as the back yard and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to back my truck up to the door. We were going to have to carry the 400-pound cabinets inside!

fridge and shelving in houseThe doorway was standard and not very wide. My friend that helped and I had to adjust the cabinets (and ourselves) through the door to get the cabinets inside. Luckily, once inside we didn’t have to go far.

Cabinets in houseFinally! After some rearranging, the cabinets were set up in the proper place!

Moving furniture is something I have done countless times but this move was different. I had to communicate with not only my helper so we stayed safe, but I also had to maintain a positive line of communication with the residential group home workers and residents! The residents at the Arc of Crawford County–a nonprofit agency that provides services to adults with intellectual and/or development disabilities–were excited about the new cabinets and were eager to see what they could store in them. I have always heard about the agency I volunteered for but never had the opportunity to see what they do first hand. The residential home these folks live in, is just like your home. They truly take pride in the home.

From this experience, service learning to me, is having the opportunity to learn and grow from a hands-on opportunity. To learn from experience provides a deeper understanding of the educational point of view while also providing assistance within your community. Throughout this Communication course’s service learning assignment, I learned that I have so much to give to others, even if it’s merely moving furniture!

by Gerald “Hutch” Hutchison, ACC student

Why You Should Take English and Math Classes First

Before your first semester began at ACC, one of the tasks that you accomplished was to take placement tests for English and math. Whether you scored high or low on those tests, you established a base level of ability in those two subjects that determined which classes would be suitable for you to take. Maybe you’re enthusiastic about words and numbers, or perhaps you dread one or both of these subjects and would rather avoid it. Like them or not, they are important subjects that you should take early in your college career for the following reasons:

English and math are required for your degree

No matter which degree you’re working towards, there’s an English or math course listed under its requirements. All of our degrees require that you take English Composition I or an alternate higher numbered English course, and many of them require a math course at the 100 level. Taking these courses in your first semester or as soon as you’re able to will earn credit hours that apply to your general education courses, whether your degree indicates that it’s for written communication, mathematics, or general coursework. The skills that you learn in those courses will also help you with your other classes, whether you need to write a psychology paper in APA format, or calculate the correct dosage of insulin to administer to a diabetic patient for your nursing exam.

English and Math are required to take other classes

If you look up the course descriptions on ACC’s website, you’ll find what classes we offer along with a brief description of the class, the number of credit hours the class is worth, and a list of any prerequisites and co-requisites needed before you can take the course. Many classes require that you take College Composition and Reading through the English department, Quantitative literacy through the Math department, or an equivalent or higher level course from each department. Taking these courses early on makes you eligible to take other classes that are required for your degree. Certain courses also have higher level prerequisites, such as algebra- and calculus-based physics, so if you’re planning on taking those or other classes like them, it’s highly recommended that you take their prerequisites early on.

The material in these courses is useful in your day-to-day life

There are people who say that their greatest skill is that they’re grammatically gifted. However, if those people mixed up there, their, and they’re, it would be difficult to take them seriously. This is true whether you’re writing out a recipe for pie, or an equation that includes pi. English and Math skills are essential to our everyday lives, so you should prioritize learning them early. People will have an easier time understanding what you’re trying to say when you use correct grammar and punctuation, and you’ll be kinder to your finances if that online payment you’re making is entered as $100.00 instead of $10000.

Get them out of the way so you can focus on major-related courses

As I mentioned earlier, maybe one or both of these subjects isn’t your forte. While you may be tempted to put them off until later, the prospect of having to take them in the future can be a cause of unnecessary stress. If you know that you’ll have to take them anyway, take them sooner so that you can focus on the classes that you care about most. On the other hand, if you are an English or Math major because you do like working with words or numbers, taking care of the basic courses will allow you to take the more interesting advanced courses. Learning how to craft a compelling story for your first novel or calculate the trajectory of SpaceX’s crewed rockets to the ISS is much easier when you know the basics of English and math.

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

HOSA International Leadership Conference

Two concurrently enrolled students from Colorado Early Colleges Parker (CECP) have qualified to represent our schools and Colorado at the HOSA International Leadership Conference this June in Orlando, Florida. Kimberlee Butts and Alex Silverhart, along with five of their CECP classmates, competed in the HOSA State Leadership Conference on February 14-16, where they tested their knowledge on a range of healthcare subjects that included clinical nursing, human growth and development, medical law and ethics, and medical math. Four of these students, including Kimberlee and Alex, went on to place in the top ten in the state for their selected categories; Kimberlee placed second for clinical nursing, and Alex placed third for medical math.

Kimberlee chose to compete in the Clinical Nursing competition at the State Leadership Conference because she would like to work as a family practitioner in the future, while Alex’s love of math led him to participate in the Medical Math competition. Kimberlee found the conference to be a great bonding experience with her peers and others who shared similar life goals. She is most looking forward to getting to meet people from around the country and bonding with the other members of her HOSA chapter at the International Leadership Conference. Alex is excited about attending the conference because he’ll have the opportunity to travel and see Disney World, where the conference will take place, and looks forward to hearing from the conference’s guest medical speakers, who in the past have included the Surgeon General.

Kimberlee’s interest in the healthcare field stems from her parents: Her father is a battalion chief with Castle Rock’s Fire and Rescue Department who has a paramedic background, and her mother runs the pediatric department at Sky Ridge Medical Center. “Seeing the way they helped people and brought people joy by saving lives inspired me to want to do something just like them to make a difference in people’s lives,” she says. She is already making a difference in people’s lives as a lifeguard, and plans to join the Navy as a medical officer. She is working on her Associate of Science degree in Biology, and hopes to attend Harvard or Johns Hopkins University. Once she has attained her medical degree and completed her military service, she wants to open up her own medical practice. She says that attending ACC has opened many doors for her and has jump-started her medical career. Her favorite part of ACC has been “The great professors and exceptional staff”.

Alex has loved the idea of helping people since he was young. “Being a part of the healthcare field gives you the skills that one needs to help improve and save the lives of those around you,” he says. After he earns his Associate of Science degree, he wants to transfer to a four-year university before enrolling at Johns Hopkins University’s medical school to become a surgeon. Since coming to ACC, Alex has enjoyed the many different math courses he’s taken, and feels that the teachers are really nice, intelligent, and understanding. “Even though I am a high school student, I am treated with respect and integrity,” he says, “I feel that I belong as much as every other student.”

This is the first year that CECP has participated in HOSA, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, thanks to a student-led effort that included the support of CECP Instructor Uma Venkitanarayanan, and school psychologist Dr. Betsy Basch. HOSA is an international student organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education (HSE) Division of the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE). HOSA’s two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people.

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

A Degree of Love – Patsy’s Story

Patsy StocktonPatsy Stockton is completing her final class at Arapahoe Community College this semester – Mathematics for Liberal Arts – and will graduate with her Associate of General Studies in May.

You might know her from the 2018 study abroad trip to Japan, her work with Progenitor, her work-study job in the Colorado Gallery of the Arts, or even her involvement with Phi Theta Kappa and the National Society of Leadership Success.

For Patsy, now 73, the conclusion of her studies at ACC will signify so much more than academic achievement. It represents her strength and courage to persevere, and just as importantly, her commitment to her late son, Michael.

A native of Golden, Patsy attended the University of New Mexico after high school. She departed UNM after just one year to return to Colorado, working at a pair of car dealerships along the western slope. Patsy moved back to Golden shortly thereafter, and it was then, while working at a local auto dealership, when she met her future husband, Bill Stockton.

Patsy enrolled in her very first class at ACC – Accounting – in 1981. She was already working in accounting, and took the course for occupational enrichment. Patsy also took non-credit classes at ACC in 1988 and 1989 for personal enjoyment. She and Bill raised their sons in Littleton. Kevin graduated from Mullen High School in 1985 and went on to attend West Point. Michael was a 1991 graduate of Columbine High School and proceeded to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Bill, an independent carpenter/contractor, fell into a coma in the fall of 1997 and passed away that October. He built the home where Patsy still resides to this day. The loss devastated the Stockton family, particularly Michael, who lost his dad, best friend and employer all at once.

Michael’s sadness, depression and anxiety led to upwards of a decade of alcohol abuse. He became addicted to painkillers prescribed to treat his ensuing pancreatitis. Michael also used heroin for a year as a means to suppress his ever-increasing physical and emotional pain.

A successful year in rehab paved the way for 18 months of sobriety, gainful employment and independent living in north Denver for Michael. He was laid off, however, when his employer sold the business. Michael turned to drinking again, resulting in more than a dozen hospitalizations over the next year.

He relocated to Littleton in the summer of 2009 and enrolled in classes at ACC that fall. Michael, who aspired to pursue a degree in English, had always been passionate about poetry and hoped to become a well-known poet. Patsy took a few classes of her own at ACC that same semester solely to inspire and support Michael in his academic endeavors.

Despite being enrolled in a local rehab program, alcohol dependency resurfaced for Michael, resulting in his death in July of 2011. Within a year of Michael’s passing, Patsy resumed classes at ACC as a means to begin her healing process.

“I was too sad to even go into ACC for a time,” Patsy says. “I thought, ‘he should be attending classes here, not me’. I had always encouraged my sons to get involved, meet friends and try new things. All of a sudden, I found it was time to follow my own advice. When I came back for the spring semester in 2012, I felt close to Michael – almost as if I could feel his presence.”

Three-and-a-half years later, during the 2015 holiday season, adversity found the Stockton family yet again. Kevin, 48 years old at the time, was diagnosed with a malignant glioblastoma brain tumor and the prognosis was grim. Patsy planned to drop her upcoming classes in the spring of 2016, but was encouraged by Kathryn Winograd to stay, hoping it would help to take her mind off of the situation.

“There are so many professors, administrators and support staff who’ve made a positive impact on my life,” says Patsy, who has also earned a Creating Writing certificate from ACC. “Kathy (Winograd), Trish Sangelo, Vic Sauber, Andrea Mason, Lindsay Lewan, Juliet Hubbell, Perri Cunningham, Elijah Dicks and C. “Noi” Watanakul just to name a few. I’ve been encouraged and supported every step of the way.”

An ongoing clinical trial has since provided Kevin with increased hope, and Patsy has remained enrolled at ACC. Semester after semester, her classes and credits have added up. Ultimately, it was one of Patsy’s academic advisors who noticed that she was approaching the necessary requirements to earn a degree.

“We figured out that a degree was well within reach, so I decided to go for it,” Patsy explains. “My original intent in resuming classes 10 years ago was to support my son, not to obtain a degree.”

On Wednesday, May 15, Patsy Stockton will walk across the Magness Arena stage during ACC’s 2019 Commencement Ceremony at the University of Denver’s Ritchie Center. Kevin and his daughters, Reilly and Paige, will be in attendance. Academically, Patsy will have earned her associate degree, but it will also signify the culmination of an inspirational journey she embarked upon out of dedication and love for Michael.

“The guidance and camaraderie I’ve found at ACC have helped me cope with the grieving process and navigate a path to a brighter tomorrow,” said Stockton, who yearns to posthumously honor Michael by publishing his collection of 400+ poems. “Finishing the degree has kept me going and given me a purpose. ACC has meant the world to me.”

by Jeff Duggan, ACC Communications Coordinator

What’s New in Biology at ACC

Looking for an interesting biology class to fulfill your course requirements? Want to get credits faster? Check out a couple of great options for the biology courses this fall at ACC.

BIO 204 – Microbiology

ACC A&P students working in classDo you need to take Microbiology (BIO204) this fall? Here is an amazing opportunity! The human body is colonized by a vast number of microorganisms, especially in your gut, that profoundly shape your health. Our understanding of how these 24/7 house guests contribute to us being healthy, or not-so-healthy, is the focus of many recent on-going research projects, from autoimmune diseases to identifying criminals! If you are interested in learning more about how scientists can identify the microbiome of a person and compare between other people to learn about disease progression, then sign up for Bio 204 102 for fall 2019. In this Integrated Research section of Microbiology, you will review and understand current research projects in this area as well as use biotechnology to identify your own gut flora!
Space is limited for students interested in a research based Microbiology course.
BIO 204 102 CRN: 22089

BIO 201 and BIO 202 (Anatomy & Physiology I & II)

New for Fall 2019! Do you need to complete BIO 201 and BIO 202 for your degree requirements in Nursing, Paramedicine, or Mortuary Science? Now you can complete them both in one semester and be on your way to your career goals that much faster. The quantity and rigor of content will be equivalent to a traditional class, but it will meet 4x/week (Monday through Thursday) to allow for the accelerated pace. BIO 201 will run from the start of the term to mid-October, and BIO 202 will run from mid-October until the term ends. For questions or more information, please contact jessica.blatecky@arapahoe.edu.
Take advantage of the great new things happening in biology and register today!
by Rachel Willard and Jessica Blatecky, ACC Biology faculty

Getting Through the Stress of Finals

Students studying at tableThe end of the semester is approaching, and that means final exams are on the horizon. This can be a very stressful time for many of us, since exams often count for a significant portion of the final grade, and there’s everything else going on in our lives on top of that. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your stress levels that won’t only keep you sane; they might even help you do better on your exams. Here are some of the ways that you can reduce your stress while preparing for final exams.

Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise include strengthening your bones and muscles, managing your blood sugar and insulin levels, and reducing your risk of heart disease, to name only a few things. Did you know that exercise can also lower your stress levels? According to the Mayo Clinic, virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever, and it does this in a few ways:

  • It increases your body’s production of endorphins, which are the feel-good neurotransmitters commonly attributed to the runner’s high.
  • It causes you to concentrate on your body’s movements, driving out the thoughts that are stressing you through singular focus, similar to meditation.
  • It can increase your self-confidence, relax you, and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety, all of which will improve your mood.

If you want to use exercise as a stress reliever, the main thing is that you find an exercise that you enjoy doing. Whether it’s running, weight training, yoga, playing a sport, or even dancing, if it’s an activity that gets your body moving, it will aid in reducing the stress you’re feeling. If you’ve got the time and are on the main campus, you can visit the ACC Fitness Center in the Annex building, which has equipment that students can use for free when you swipe your student ID card.

Diet

Having a well-balanced diet, one that contains a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. While the occasional fast food outing or snack run isn’t going to ruin your diet, reaching for a cheeseburger or bag of chips might not be the best option while you’re studying. In fact, according to UCLA’s Explore Integrative Medicine site, there are certain foods and other supplements that can aid in lowering your stress levels by strengthening your immune system, stabilizing your mood, and reducing blood pressure. Here are some nutrients that can help to reduce your stress, and some foods that contain them:

  • Vitamin C – lowers your levels of cortisol (a major stress hormone) and your blood pressure during high-anxiety situations.
    • Citrus fruits, pineapple, broccoli, tomatoes.
  • Complex Carbohydrates – Increases serotonin production (which contributes to well-being and happiness) and stabilizes blood pressure.
    • Whole grains, fruits, vegetables.
  • Magnesium – Useful for avoiding headaches and fatigue, relieving premenstrual mood changes, and improving sleep quality.
    • Leafy greens, salmon, soy beans/edamame.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Reduces surges of stress hormones and promotes protection against heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome.
    • Tuna, salmon, pistachios, almonds.

Some common comfort foods can also give you benefits. A bit of dark chocolate not only relieves stress, but can improve your cognitive function and mood, while oatmeal can reduce your levels of stress hormones and boost your serotonin. If you enjoy drinking tea, you can benefit from chamomile, which relieves stress-induced symptoms, mint, which relieves stress and induces calmness, and barley, which relaxes the body by improving serotonin synthesis. If you’d like to pick up a healthy snack or some tea ahead of your finals, the Espresso Yourself Café on the Main Building’s first floor offers a wide range of items that have stress-relieving benefits, and will be open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm before and during finals week.

Meditation

According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, meditation as a practice is used “for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance…and enhancing overall health and well-being.” In trials and studies, it has been determined that a particular form, mindfulness meditation, shows evidence of improving anxiety, depression, and even insomnia. Here are a couple of ways that you can practice mindfulness meditation:

  • Remain aware and present in the moment – don’t let the past or future concern you, pay attention to your current surroundings without judgment.
  • Breath awareness – take slow, deep breaths, count the number of seconds you spend breathing, and ignore any thoughts that enter your head. Focus only on your own breathing.

Meditation has an advantage in that it can be done just about anywhere, and you can employ some of the breathing techniques while you’re taking your exams. One technique, called 4-7-8 breathing, is to slowly breathe in for four seconds, hold that breath for seven seconds, and then slowly exhale for eight, and repeat at least three more times, or until you’re feeling relaxed.

Sleep

Sleep and stress both influence each other. When we get the necessary amount of restful sleep per night, our stress levels on average are lower, but when we’re stressed, it becomes harder to get that good night’s rest. On top of that, stress can lead to insomnia, further making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. So what can you do to get the sleep that will help lower your stress and get you well rested for exams? The National Sleep Foundation offers these tips:

  • Exercise – releases both physical and mental tensions. Recommended at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Downtime – avoid electronics and work-related, stimulating, or stressful activities. Do calming activities such as reading, light stretching, or listening to calming music. Recommended 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.
  • Decompression techniques – deep breathing, guided imagery, or progressive muscle relaxation. Recommended five to 10 minutes before bedtime.

Other ways that you can get to sleep more easily include not eating within one to two hours before bedtime, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening, drinking herbal teas containing chamomile, valerian, or lavender, and aromatherapy.

Time Management

Between school, work, social time, and personal time, we’re trying to juggle a lot of events both in our lives and with other people’s lives, which contributes to a lot of our stress. Knowing how to effectively manage that time can help to eliminate some of that stress. The McGraw Center for Teaching & Learning at Princeton University has come up with ten principles derived from research on time management, motivation theory, and experience working with university students that can help you effectively plan out your time. Here is the abridged version:

  1. Commitment – Only schedule tasks if you’re going to do them.
  2. Pursue fun – Make time for the things you enjoy doing, and organize your academic and other obligations around those commitments to fun.
  3. Time vs. task focus – Devote time to important tasks, and set your purpose for those tasks.
  4. One thing at a time – Current research shows that what we consider to be multi-tasking is actually switching back and forth between tasks, which takes more time and energy.
  5. Block out time – Devote chunks of time to specific classes, and make those chunks a part of your regular schedule.
  6. First things first – Schedule the most important tasks to do first thing in the day, or as early as possible.
  7. Routine – With good habits in place, you don’t have to make as many hard decisions, and are less likely to make unproductive ones.
  8. Flexibility – Leave empty time slots for when your schedule changes, and schedule in recreation time.
  9. Respond vs. react – When faced with a decision to diverge from your schedule, pause and take a moment to think about it, then remember what’s most important to you and do what will help you get it.
  10. Organize your environment – Minimize distraction, maximize focus, use physical reminders, enlist the aid of friends for studying, and ask them not to call or text you when you need the time for your tasks.

Since study time should be on your agenda, here are some tips when studying for exams:

  • Review your notes often to familiarize yourself with the content.
  • Give yourself short breaks every 20-30 minutes to give your brain a chance to process the material.
  • Avoid cramming right before your exam.

Lastly, be sure to include enough time in your schedule to get to class at least five minutes early. Take into account how long your commute time is in the worst-case scenario so that you can don’t find yourself stuck on the road when your exam starts.

Whether you try one of these methods or all of them, each method has a positive influence on the effectiveness of the others, so try whichever ones fit your wants and needs and experiment. There are many other ways that you can reduce your stress as well. One such way is through the Denver Pet Partners Therapy Dog event, being held this May 6th from 11:30 – 1:30 in the library on the second floor of ACC’s main building. The library will also be offering healthy grab ‘n go snacks and extending their hours that week, giving you more opportunities to practice beneficial stress relief before finals begin.

Good luck to all of you on your exams!

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

Winners of the 2019 Writers Studio Literary Contest Announced

The Writers Studio Literary Contest is an annual contest held by the Creative Writing department at Arapahoe Community College, in conjunction with our literary and arts journal, Progenitor. While we try to advertise, we rely on word-of-mouth to keep our contest and the Writers Studio Author Series going.

The contest is competitive and open to all Colorado residents. It is $12 to submit, $8 for students. Competitive genres include fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

We are pleased to announce this year’s winners from a highly competitive field:
Fiction: “El Gato” by Kate Niles
Poetry: “Contact” by Heather Wheat
Creative Nonfiction: “In a Teacher’s Shoes” by ACC student Renata Dolz

The winners receive a cash prize, a Pushcart Nomination, and publication in the 2019 Progenitor, ACC’s Literary and Arts Journal.

Save the Date! The release party of the Progenitor is Tuesday, May 7th, at 3:30pm in the Colorado Gallery of Arts at ACC.

Please read below for judges’ comments. Judges’ bios and qualifications follow that.


1st place Fiction: “El Gato” by Kate Niles

Judge Christopher Merkner’s comments:
“El Gato” concludes with three striking words, which the speaker attributes to the famed American poet, May Sarton: “Let me in.” This request, this beseeching, this imperative is just a lovely way to end any story, honestly, but it is particularly meaningful in this powerful slice-of-life story of humanity’s inability to fully connect or know itself or its world. In eight deft, gorgeously shaped pages, “El Gato” brings us intimately close to the American West, to American history, to American industry and capitalism, to an American disconnect with its people — and somehow this story manages to do this all through one sad and sick and dying cat who prowls through the lives of this story’s characters. It’s a remarkable feat to use an animal so wisely, so strategically, in short fiction, and the speaker of the story seems to fully understand this. She sees — as the author must — the sick and dying cat in all of us, as we desperately seek to be let into the lives of others, and as we hope that others will ask us to let them into our own.

Kate Niles Bio: I live in Durango, CO and hold an MFA from Vermont College. I’ve published two novels, a book of poetry, and numerous pieces in magazines throughout the country. I am the recipient of the Colorado Individual Artist Fellowship and ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award for fiction.


1st place Poetry: “Contact” by Heather Wheat

Judge Joe Hutchison’s (Colorado’s Poet Laureate) comments:
“Contact” presents a mildly dramatic external situation—a mother (the poem’s speaker) giving her daughter cosmetic assistance by stripping hair off of the girl’s upper lip—alongside the mother’s intense inner drama. The inner drama keeps pulling the mother out of the physically and emotionally painful present into even more painful moments in her past. These flashbacks illuminate the present pain and hint at a larger reality: the fact that the daughter, like the trees the mother sees out the window at the end, is beginning to bloom. The blooming is both painful and beautiful, and so is the poem.

Heather Wheat’s Bio: 
Heather Wheat is a mother, wife, daughter, writer, teacher, book-lover, reader. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry Quarterly, Long Exposure Magazine, on GFT Press’s “Ground Fresh Thursday” web series, in GFT Press: One in Four, and in Broad! Magazine; her other work and essays are on BUST.com, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, in Richmond Magazine, and on The Washington Post’s education blog.


1st Place Creative Nonfiction: “In a Teacher’s Shoes” by Renata Dolz

Judge Steven Dunn’s comments:
To quote the story: “Here is the joy of teaching interspersed with equal parts pain and frustration.” The narrator accomplishes this through the use of the first-person-present tense, which places the reader in “real-time” so we can feel the joys and frustrations without the filter of rose-colored wise retrospection. We are in the mess, at the moment, just like the teacher. Another aspect I appreciate about this story, is that the narrator isn’t as important as the students—the students share the space on the page as they would in the classroom. In this way, this story and the narrator doesn’t feel the need to center themselves and/or their whiteness in such an ethnically and racially diverse classroom. This story is not the same old white-savior teacher narratives we’ve seen so much of over the decades. Such a joy to read for its personal and political intimacies. Thank you for your service, honor, and vulnerability.

Renata Dolz’s Bio: Renata (ACC student) is a mother of two college-aged daughters, a former marketing executive, artist and writer who believes in the power of the written word to inspire, teach and heal. 

Her piece, “In a Teacher’s Shoes”, was prompted by a recent, first-time experience as a guest teacher in a Title 1 DPS school – during the recent teacher’s strike. It is her belief that no one – be they a parent, a state representative or administrator, can fully appreciate the challenges and educational needs of our public schools until they have walked in a teacher’s shoes.


JUDGES

The judges for each genre, listed below, were also presenters at ACC’s Literary Festival, “A Day with Denver’s Stalwarts and Rising Stars,” which took place on Saturday, April 13th.

Fiction Judge: Chris Merkner

Christopher Merkner is the author of the story collection The Rise & Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic, winner of the Colorado Book Award 2015 (editor’s note: and also—hilarious). His stories have been reprinted in the O. Henry Prize Stories and Best American Mystery Stories anthologies, and most recently in the W.W. Norton anthology, New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction. Merkner is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Colorado Denver.

Creative Nonfiction Judge: Steven Dunn

Steven Dunn is the author of the novels Potted Meat (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2016) and water & power (Tarpaulin Sky 2018). He was born and raised in West Virginia, and after 10 years in the Navy, he earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.

Some of his work can be found in Columbia Journal, Granta Magazine, and Best Small Fictions 2018.

Steven is integral to Denver’s writing community, highlighted by his reading series, The Art of Storytelling at Prodigy Coffeehouse. Mr. Dunn is also a member of Mile High MFA’s faculty.

Poetry Judge: Joe Hutchison

Joseph Hutchison, Colorado Poet Laureate (2014-July 2019), is the author of 17 poetry collections, including The World As Is: New & Selected Poems, 1972-2015; Eyes of the Cuervo/Ojos del Crow (a bilingual limited edition), and a collection of three longish historical narrative poems entitled Marked Men. He has edited three poetry anthologies, translated the flash fiction of Mexico City author Miguel Lupián, and published poems, fiction (short and flash), creative nonfiction, and literary essays in over 100 journals in five countries. At the University of Denver’s University College, he directs two Master’s programs, Professional Creative Writing and Arts & Culture Management. A native of Denver, Joe lives in the mountains southwest of the city with his wife, Iyengar yoga instructor Melody Madonna.

by Jamey Trotter

Take Advantage of Summer Classes

woman working at computerWe’re intimately familiar with taking classes from the fall through spring. For most of us, this has been the way we’ve gone to school since we were children, and most likely, you looked forward to the summer break eagerly. It was the time where many of us were free of the obligations of homework and were able to pursue our own interests, whether it was group activities, hanging out with friends, relaxing at home with a video game, movie, or book, or for anyone at least aged 16, starting your first job to earn some spending money. For many students though, summer was a time to take extra classes.

There are many reasons why we might have taken summer classes in high school: improving our grades, taking specialized classes, and very commonly now, to prepare for college. These are valid reasons at the high school level, but why should you take summer classes at the college level? Unlike high school, in college we have greater flexibility in choosing which classes we take, and when we want to take them. So let’s examine some of the advantages of spending time in the classroom during the summer.

  1. Spread the workload

    If you’re planning to get through school in the 2- to 4-year time frame, that means you have to average 15 credits a semester; in other words, up to five classes per. But let’s say you take two of those classes during the summer? That would reduce your average semester workload by a fifth, giving you more time to study for the other four classes and potentially increasing your grade in those classes, which can open the way to GPA-based scholarships and grants. More free time during regular semesters also means more opportunities to earn income, if you’re working while attending school.

  1. Earn your degree faster

    This is not an undertaking to be taken lightly; summer classes are typically shorter than fall and spring classes, but they also contain the same amount of course work. However, for dedicated students working to get their Associate of Applied Science degrees to enter the workforce, taking summer courses on top of a regular class load can potentially let them graduate a semester early. This means more time spent in the profession of your choosing, leading to greater opportunities for advancing your career.

  1. Save some money

    If you’re attending a 4-year university, you know that the cost of classes is much higher than attending a community college. Fortunately, earned credits can transfer, and with Colorado Guaranteed Transfer Courses, summer courses at a community college can also be a great way to take care of your general education classes while spending less at your home institution. As an added advantage, this allows you to focus more time on the courses related to your major while you’re at university.

Whether you’re going to a 2- or 4-year institution, attending college is a great way to advance your career and your life, and summer classes are one of the ways to help you do this. If you’re interested in taking summer classes at ACC, registration opened March 26 for Maymester, 8-week, and 10-week classes.

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter