Abraham: An ACC “Success Tori”

Tori AbrahamThere was a time when Arapahoe Community College student Tori Abraham wasn’t certain about how to move forward with her academic and career aspirations.

Now, not only is she on target to graduate from ACC this May (Associate of Arts in Psychology), she’s already moving mountains in the lives of youngsters throughout the south metro Denver area.

The Mountain Vista High School graduate, who began attending ACC in August of 2014, currently works as a Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT) at Trumpet Behavioral Health in Centennial, and also as a nanny for two different families.

“Not all children are fortunate enough to have a strong support system,” stated Abraham.  “I feel like it’s more beneficial to build strong youth rather than to mend adults. I love brightening the lives of children and seeing them smile. It’s very fulfilling to watch their lives improve and see them grow.”

Abraham has taken three courses with ACC Psychology Faculty Allison Hagood, looking forward to each and every class session. She credits Hagood with advancing her interest and passion for psychology, alluding to how the Abnormal Psychology course in particular has been instrumental in giving her perspective about obstacles that others – as well as she herself – may encounter.

“Tori is a delight to have in class,” said Hagood. “She’s thoughtful and engaged, both with her professors and with other students. I am looking forward to the great things she’s going to accomplish in the future.”

Abraham praised her younger sister, Ellie, for being influential in her success at ACC. “She, unlike myself, has always been passionate about school,” Abraham said about Ellie, who will be attending CU Denver next fall. “Ellie has been such an inspiration for me ever since I first enrolled at ACC nearly three years ago. I’ve grown into a student who loves to learn. I’ve had great professors and I’m passionate about Psychology. I’ve been able to succeed at ACC like I never dreamed possible.”

Abraham is a recipient of both the Thom Sorensen Psychology Scholarship and the All-American Scholarship, and was inducted into ACC’s Sigma Phi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society in the fall of 2015. Earlier this spring, Abraham was named to the PTK All-Colorado Academic Team.

“I’m very proud to have been part of PTK,” said Abraham. “It’s been exciting to be a part of something so prestigious, and it has opened so many doors for me.”

Abraham will transfer to CU Boulder next fall to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She aspires to work in the field of clinical psychology with a specialization in youth counseling.

by Jeff Duggan, ACC Communications Coordinator

In Phi Theta Kappa your potential is limitless

Tasha EsteinIf you catch a bee in glass, you’ll find the bee will hit the top of the glass a few times–trying to fly away–before stopping. If you take that same glass and flip it right side up (without removing the bee), you’ll find that the bee won’t try to fly away any more. In fact, it’s usually quite a while before the bee even realizes that he can fly to reach his full potential. We, as humans, create these same kinds of limitations for ourselves every day. We see how expansive the sky appears to be, but because we have fumbled along the way a few times and hit the glass– maybe because we were under-prepared, were told that we couldn’t do better, or it simply wasn’t the right time – we think of that small, limited glass as our best lot in life. I’m here to help you realize that the sky is the limit – there are no glass limitations except those that you set for yourself. Phi Theta Kappa can help actualize that.

For those of you that know me, hi! For those that do not, I’m Tasha Estein – Phi Theta Kappa, Sigma Phi chapter’s historian for this year. I have a secret to share with you all: I’m completely mediocre. I didn’t learn how to read until I was almost 10 years old. I had to retake my senior year of high school. And I had to wait seven years just to get into community college. I have fallen more times than I can count and I have fallen harder than I ever thought I could recover from.

When I started classes at ACC last fall, if you asked me then where I thought I would be in a year’s time–I would have had very low expectations for myself. I came to this school wanting to be invisible: to get my credits and go. I never expected to do anything that I would be proud of, and I certainly didn’t expect to be in a position where people would care who I was. In this last year, however, I have won several awards, been selected for noteworthy positions, and accomplished many things that anyone would be proud of. I will not bother you with the boring specifics, but to give you a bit of perspective: this time last week I was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida working with NASA scientists and 40 exceptional community college students from all over the US. The real kick that I get out of those community college students? Almost all of them were Phi Theta Kappa members and some of them are even intending to run for an International Office for next year. This trend is not limited to NASA either.

Over the past year, I have attend many events, always with a large variety of students. But almost always I have found that the most exceptional people are involved with PTK. And while there are successful students outside of PTK, this organization is a culmination of the best and brightest. Why? Because if you are reading this, you have already proved to be a hardworking individual. If you are reading this, you know that PTK has something important to give to you: the ability to go farther than you ever thought you could go before–a means of becoming the person that you were meant to be.

Although we all have different backgrounds and come from different walks of life, we have joined here because deep down we want to strive for greatness. Perhaps, some of you have already realized it or perhaps some of you are where I was a year ago–when I thought I wouldn’t amount to anything. No matter where you are, it’s important to remember that you will get what you give. If you are willing to work like you did to get to this point the only way out is up. From working with PTK I have gained confidence, found life changing opportunities, made friends and memories, and had a blast while doing it.

I want to personally encourage you to learn more about Sigma Phi. You have reached the edge of the glass. From here, you only need to remember to fly. I can’t wait to see where we will go from here. Thank you.

by Tasha Estein, ACC Student

What I Chose When I Joined PTK

Mark D'Agosta in parkour move on ACC campus

Mark D’Agosta participating in Parkour Club at ACC.

Consequence of Choice

I never tell anyone that I think they are talented, because I believe in the golden rule. To me, every talent is a consequence of a series of choices made. The choice to train results in fitness, the choice to spend time with a loved one results in a healthy relationship, and the choice to study results in academic excellence. Yet with each action we choose, another action is left undone. In this way, the life of a college student is brimming with choices. Do I get straight As, or do I enjoy my free time? Do I spend the money for extra classes, or do I upgrade my failing car?

Luckily the decisions we make are more complex than the arithmetic of choice A or choice B. Like a great investor, a great person puts up a large investment when the return is guaranteed, yet they also make small investments that have the potential to pay out big. The strategy involved in such investments is rarely a simple matter to predict; there are risks and nothing is certain. However, good strategy involves identifying patterns, calculating odds, and making the right move.

I made a choice to join the Arapahoe Community College Sigma Phi chapter of the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). It was not an ignorant decision, it was a calculated move based on some particular ideas gleaned from my previous career.

PTK Can Help You Stand Out In The Job Market

I have interviewed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people, and I have to say–screening applicants is difficult. I learned three things from my experience. First, in the world of mass applicants, two extra seconds of attention make all the difference. Second, there are some triggers that attract an experienced reviewers’ eyes: anything extra! Most applications are very similar, they have the same types of information, in the same order, said the same way. If you break the pattern you get noticed. Finally, once face-to-face with applicants, the interviewers appreciate having something to ask you about. So, providing the interviewer with additional fodder for discussion can make a difference in an interview situation.

PTK Can Give You A Stronger Narrative

While being a member of Phi Theta Kappa gives me the slight edge in applying for schools, scholarships, and jobs, I find the benefit runs deeper. I chose to be involved in PTK to develop a stronger narrative and a richer college experience. When an interviewer asks me to give an example of a specific experience, I have an answer. I explain how I sat down with a Senator to address the issue of failing depleted water resources. I talk about how I initiated new systems at the college and in the community, and how my follow PTK members made those systems work. Thanks to PTK I have success stories, not because I am talented, but because I was supported by others who wanted to achieve as much as me. Interviewers love this type of response, because it predicts success. Involvement in PTK makes me look like a better applicant, because it makes me become a better applicant. Being a member of PTK gives students access to a community that is dedicated to excellence. Just to be associated with this community brings esteem, and my involvement binds me to success. This is what I chose when I joined PTK.

by Mark D’Agosta, ACC student

The Political Frontier of Free Community College

Transcript:

The members of Sigma Phi interviewed students and administration on the political frontier of free community college.

Why did you choose to pursue a community college education?

“So I decided to go to community college so that I could save some money and then transfer to get my four-year degree. It’s a lot cheaper.”

“Uh, save a little money because I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do after high school.”

“It’s a smaller class and you can really interact with teachers and professors.”

“I want to get a strong footing in order to pursue a four-year degree.”

How would the free community college initiative benefit you?

“It would make me want to go to community college more instead of taking out loans and paying more money for the rest of my life.”

“I would be able to cut my student loans.”

“It might take stress off of me in the future if I decide to have children and want to pay for their education.”

Joan Anderssen, Professor of Economics [at Arapahoe Community College]: “Last year, seventy-one percent of US college graduates had student loans to pay off with a whopping $33,000 in debt per student. Americans now have more collective student loan debt, 1.3 trillion, than any other kind of debt. Right, it’s more than credit card and auto loan debt. These high levels of student debt are also serving to perpetuate an even worse economic inequality here in the US, undercutting the opportunity and social mobility that higher education has for a long time promised.”

Do you think post-secondary education is a public or private good?

“Public, for sure.”

“I honestly think it’s both, actually. The reason why I think it’s public is because it is open for anyone of any age to really join. But I do see it as a private because it’s a choice.”

Dr. Diane Hegeman, Vice President for Instruction [at Arapahoe Community College]: “I believe that has a many-perspective response. But, bottom line, I do believe that everyone has the right to access post-secondary education, but I also believe the public has an accountability aspect to this complicated question.”

What are some obstacles you see in the free community college initiative?

“The first and foremost is how is it getting paid for, where is it coming from.”

“I think some people might try to take advantage of it.”

“I think the biggest obstacle would be market saturation.”

“I’m afraid some students will not try as hard.”

“Too many people filling the system and straining the resources of the community colleges.”

Dr. Lisa Mayte Edwards, Vice President of Student Affairs [at Arapahoe Community College]: “I do see capacity issues, making sure that the classes are available for student to take in a meaningful way and in sequence.”

Dr. Diana M. Doyle, President, Arapahoe Community College: “Well, certainly funding is going to be an issue. Someone has to pay for it. And that is going to be a complex resolution. Does that start at the federal level? How does it flow through at the state level? What is the obligation of the colleges themselves, both public and private? And then the students. I think accountability on the part of the students is important as well.”

What kinds of services do you need to succeed in community college?

“I really have benefited from the math lab and the Student Success Center.”

“A good library and good advising services.”

“I think that access to tutors…it’s crucial.”

“I think there needs to be good sources of technology that students can use.”

Rachel Weir, Assistant Director, Disability Services [at Arapahoe Community College]: “And I think to prepare, here at a community college in particular, we would definitely need to assess how we are managing our time. Where are we really invested in, and can we make a shift?”

Dr. Diana M. Doyle, President, Arapahoe Community College: “First is we are going to have to be more creative in how we advise students. We’re going to have to restructure our advising processes. Secondly, colleges need to rethink how we deliver education. The days of the traditional sixteen-week course are probably going to have to change quite a bit. These are all adjustments that colleges will have to make in order to accommodate an increased student population.”

Joan Anderssen, Professor of Economics [at Arapahoe Community College]:”Thomas Jefferson said, ‘An education is an all-important part to participatory democracy. This would help advance our democratic goals for our society.'”

Produced by the Members of the Sigma Phi Chapter and Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society [at Arapahoe Community College]