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

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

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

Spring 2019 – Learning Community Courses

What is a “Learning Community?”

A learning community is two ACC classes that are paired with a common theme. Two professors, one from each class/subject area, work closely together to offer students an opportunity to learn content in a strategically-connected manner. Each course has at least one shared assignment. Students complete the assignment, and then both instructors grade it based on established learning objectives in their individual course.

• Students must enroll in both classes.
• Students earn full credit for both classes.
• Grades are given for each class, independent of the paired class.

All of our spring Learning Community Courses are guaranteed to transfer.

Spring 2019 Learning Community Courses

Literature and Psychology of the Apocalypse

LIT 115-102 and PSY 102-103 (Intro to Literature & General Psychology II)
Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. and 1:00-2:15 p.m.

A fully-integrated course in which students read, write, and learn about the end of the world while considering how real people would respond in apocalyptic situations.

Both courses are part of the Great Books program.

Sex and cinema: it’s more than porn!

PSY 217-101 and HUM 103-101 (Human Sexuality & Intro to Film Art)
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00-2:15 p.m. and 2:30-3:45 p.m.

A fully-integrated course in which students explore sexual identity, sexual health, and sexual behavior through the stylistic and narrative systems of film.

Great Debates

ENG 122-109 and HIS 101-102 (English Composition II & Western Civ: Antiquity-1650)
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00-11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

A linked course that will look at the events, peoples, groups, ideas, institutions, and trends that have shaped Western Civilization from the prehistoric era to 1650. By studying the direct writing of this period as well as modern modes of historical and argumentative writing, students will analyze, evaluate, and construct their own arguments and writing.

ENG 122 is part of the Great Books program.
HIS 101 includes a 6-week gaming component.

Arguments and Astronomy

ENG 122-110 and AST 101-102 (English Composition II & Planetary Astronomy with Lab)
Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00-2:15 p.m. and 2:30-4:45 p.m.

A linked course that will apply advanced composition research, rhetorical analysis, and writing skills to the study of the universe within the solar system.

Both courses are part of the Great Books program.

For more information about learning communities courses at ACC, contact Erica Henningsen at 303.797.5786 or erica.henningsen@arapahoe.edu.

ACC Instructor Spotlight: Laura Kjosen

Laura KjosenLaura has been teaching at ACC for eighteen years. Her discipline is in English composition and literature, while also tutoring at the ACC Writing Center. The main reasons she has taught at ACC for so long are the rewarding professional relationships with colleagues and our fantastic, inspiring students.

She observes how important it is that different services of the college all work together to help students succeed. As an instructor, Laura can count on the many college services that ACC offers, such as the librarians, tutoring, advisors, Veterans Services, and Student Life to help her students achieve their goals.

The opportunity to work with a diverse body of students, is just one of the many benefits Laura has experienced here at ACC. The availability of professional development opportunities offered by the college and the opportunity to work a flexible schedule that has allowed Laura to raise her two sons while working at ACC are the reasons why she values ACC. “It has been my privilege over these past several years to work with the professional staff and faculty at ACC, and it has been a joy to see so many students grow as learners and progress in their career goals,” said Laura.

To fellow professionals, she would say that ACC is a rewarding environment in which to teach. To parents and students, she would say that ACC is a great place to explore different interests and possible career paths. ACC is a place for students to gain confidence and work towards goals in a supportive environment. Laura is ACC!

by Karen Browning, ACC Marketing Project Manager

Alumni Spotlight: Oliver Brainerd

ACC Alumnus Oliver Brainerd – From the ACC Faculty and Staff Perspective

by Monica Fuglei, Debra Goldberg, Juliet Hubbell, and Josie Mills

FROM PROFESSOR MONICA FUGLEI

ACC Alumnus Oliver Brainerd

ACC Alumnus Oliver Brainerd

It’s been nearly two years since Oliver Brainerd graduated from ACC, but many of his instructors can still remember him fondly. I think my first encounter with Oliver was in a summer Introduction to Creative Writing class, and he quickly became an active presence on campus, taking a wide variety of ACC classes, working with Phi Theta Kappa, and serving in the Student Success Center as a peer tutor. Oliver may have graduated, but in some ways he’s still around: I assign an article he wrote about writing for my Introduction to Composition students to read. He jokes he’s creating a career in reverse: not famous, yet, but being taught in schools. He is currently shopping his novel and continues to write short fiction as well. Recently, he has begun working on a project called Sobremesa. This will be a multimedia publishing engine that includes writing, podcasts, and even videos. Sobremesa is a Spanish word that, roughly translated, means conversation after dinner, and Oliver envisions this project as a curated space that would allow people to take part in larger conversations about academics, culture, or the world at large as well as sharing new creative writing and essays.

Any instructor or student interested in contributing to Sobremesa is welcome to contact Oliver via email or visit the Sobremesa page.

FROM PROFESSOR JOSIE MILLS

A couple weeks before the semester began in the summer of 2012, I got a call from one Oliver Brainerd very politely introducing himself and telling me he would be a student in my English 121 class. Only a few times in the 25 years I’ve been teaching have I received a call of introduction prior to the semester. I pictured Oliver Brainerd as an older man with little round glasses and a bow tie, an upstanding traditionalist who had a special penchant for writing. Only the last part turned out to be the case. Instead, day one of my class in walked Oliver, a friendly young man with hair down to his waist, in no way a conventional guy except in his love of standard English grammar and good writing. Oliver knew his way around a comma like no one else—we would together debate the merits of a parenthetical comma before certain restrictive and non-restrictive phrases. Oliver had great ideas including a plan to bring poetry to local coffee houses. He was a strong writer, an engaging presenter, and a great student. The following semester, Oliver started tutoring English in our Student Success Center, and I was so glad I could refer students to him by name when they needed a little extra help on a paper. Oliver went on to become a professional writer, and I’m so excited for his success.

FROM DEBRA GOLDBERG, DIRECTOR OF THE STUDENT SUCCESS CENTER

For three years, Oliver Brainerd served as one of my most talented Peer Tutors here in ACC’s Student Success Center. He specialized in composition, literature, communication, philosophy, and business. Oliver was an incredible asset to students as he provided a variety of learning strategies, study techniques, and other resources they needed to be successful in their courses. He is an enthusiastic learner who relishes the challenge of understanding difficult material in order to help others. Oliver made sure students did not just memorize facts, but more importantly, understood the concepts. His incentive to work as a tutor comes from a strong desire to help others see their potential and give them insight into new ways to approach problems in learning and life. His compassionate nature, remarkable creativity, and insightful sense of humor made him an outstanding student and role model to everyone he encountered.

FROM PROFESSOR JULIET HUBBELL

Oliver was in my Brit Lit course, and he always had tremendously fresh and insightful remarks to make about works that were over 200 and 300 years old. His writing reflected this distinct and almost quirky view of classic works, and it made the entire class sit up and take notice of what might otherwise have been a dry or flat text. Even more importantly, Oliver always listened carefully to his classmates’ remarks and would take a few moments to reflect on them and later respond with a thoughtful and expansive comment. A young man with long hair (at least back then) disguising a totally plugged-in intellectual.

Alumni Spotlight: Yu Jung Choi

Former ACC Student, Yu Jung Choi

Former ACC Student, Yu Jung Choi

“Fifteen hours of sitting in the flight to USA on May 2008 with blooming ambition, I finally landed with both feet to an unfamiliar place where it was a 16 hour time difference from my homeland…”
–Yu Jung Choi

Former ACC student Yu Jung Choi came to America from Seoul, Korea in May, 2008.
A few months later, she was sitting in my ENG 060 Language Fundamentals class, and I could tell from her first days in class that she was an exceptional writer, student, and individual.

Here is a small sample of Yu’s writing from that first English class she took at ACC:

“Especially in summer a class is humid, and there is rainy smell because summer in Korea has a spell of rainy weather. Whole classes are silent except for the teachers and the light, which is winking. After all classes are done, every student goes back home. A class is empty, and what I do and hear during the day is like a dream. Lights are turned off, and chairs and desks are arranged in a row. The blackboard is clean, and there is no sound. It feels lonely.”

Yu laughs when she looks at this paragraph and says that at this point, she barely knew how to describe things in English. To me, Yu’s early writing in English already showed signs of her strong powers of observation and her skill at conveying a unique perspective.

Yu took ENG 060, ENG 090, ENG 121, and ENG 122 at ACC along with a wealth of biology and chemistry classes.  Her chemistry professor Kim Stasiewicz remembers Yu as an exceptionally intelligent and hard-working student.  Stasiewicz comments, “Yu was so curious about the material she studied, and it was a delight to have her in class.”

Yu transferred to University of Colorado at Denver in 2012 where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She now works in a lab at the University of Colorado at Denver with Dr. Marino Resendiz.

I tried to convince Yu to become a writer because of her command of English and her poetic spirt, and she does hope to write in the future and has even talked of doing a translation into English of the  modern poetry of Korean poet Han, Yong-Un.
Yu is now a published author in the field of chemistry: her article, co-written with Dr. Resendiz, “Biophysical Properties and Thermal Stability Oligonucleotides of RNA Containing 7, 8-dihydro-8 hydroxyadenosine” was published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Yu hopes to go to medical school and also eventually to earn a Ph.D. in medicine. She hopes to work in a hospital laboratory this year and has previously volunteered at Swedish Medical Center serving as a comfort to patients and their families and helping the medical technician and the nurses.

Eight years after she first set foot on American soil, Yu Jung Choi has made many of her ambitions a reality. She has earned a Bachelor of Science degree from a great institution and been able to work in the field of her dreams. She has also found many friends, warmth, and love in our country. I’m glad to have been one of Yu’s first teachers, and I’m inspired by her achievements. I wish her success and love!