Never too late to do what you were born to do

GCCHeliosScholar_20130522_0020Convincing your kids you have to do your homework before you play with them? A tough sell, especially with four active little ones clamoring for your attention.

Yet for the past two years, that’s exactly what Debbie Healey has done. “I want my kids to see you have to do your work before you can play,” she said.

Her reward for holding fast to her “work first, play later” rule? A 4.0 GPA and a prestigious scholarship. This spring, Healey became GCC’s most recent Helios Scholar.

The scholarship gives her a paid, eight-week summer internship in biomedical research at the prestigious TGen research facility in central Phoenix. Continue reading


Threat on Life Triggered Flight to Freedom, New Opportunities

Animation of human eye by Gilbert KakoFor Gilbert Benjamin Kako, it was a long and challenging journey from a tense wartime environment in Iraq, to the clean, quiet campus of Glendale Community College, where he recently earned an associate degree in digital media arts.

Gilbert, now 29, lives with his mother, older brother and younger twin sisters in Glendale, Arizona. But just four years ago, the family arrived in the United States as refugees – the move prompted by a threat on Gilbert’s life. His father, a soldier, was killed in the Iraq-Iran war in 1987.

Gilbert was born in Kirkuk City, about a three-hour drive from Baghdad. Kirkuk is known for its mixed culture and multiple ethnicities, including Christians, Arabs, Kurds and Turks. Gilbert is fluent in four languages.

screen shot of animated GCC logo by Gilbert Kako

With an associate degree in Computer Information Systems, Gilbert started his career working for Kirkuk TV, translating, designing, editing and doing some animations. Then began a new job:  working with the American army provincial reconstruction team (PRT) coalition forces. His job was to help screen local citizens who wanted a permit to carry weapons legally.

Gilbert met with applicants, did background checks, evaluated their qualifications and most importantly, checked whether they were affiliated with the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein’s regime – a dangerous role, since certain factions considered it a betrayal for an Iraqi to work with the U.S. Army.

The job was short-lived. After one year, Gilbert received a letter from an Islamic group, threatening to kill him. He and his family fled first to Syria, where, after a year and a half, Gilbert received an offer from the United States government to move and live in U.S. with his family. He was 26 years old when they arrived in Arizona.

Always interested in getting a higher-education degree, Gilbert decided to pursue his interest in multimedia. It was too expensive for him to enroll in a four-year program, so he researched other multimedia programs in the Phoenix area. He found only three available, and selected Glendale Community College. “I chose GCC because it was affordable and close to where I used to live,” said Gilbert.

animated gcc logo designed by kako

Simultaneously working to help his family pay bills, Gilbert was required to be a full-time student to satisfy financial-aid requirements. It took him two and a half years to finish his AAS degree. His GPA was 3.62.

Recalling the challenges, Gilbert said, “When you work very hard and never complain, meeting challenges becomes a habit.” He also credited his mother for consistent support and many good teachers, including Casey Farina from the Digital Media Arts department.

Gilbert recently worked on a Center for Teaching, Learning and Engagement (CTLE) animated logo and is now helping to produce a video on accountability.

animation of human brain designed by Kako

The wide-open spaces, diverse population, and tidy GCC campus proved to be a nurturing environment for the young man who, only a few short years ago, faced a death threat. He’s now looking at options for his future, including the possibility of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in visual effects or digital motion from a leading art institute or online school.


Single Parent’s Guide to Surviving College

Being a full time student is stressful enough, but adding single parenthood and a full time job to the mix might just send someone through the roof. So how do students survive such a hectic schedule, without having to constantly email their professor to apologize for not turning an assignment in on time? While some of us experienced students may have different tricks, I am pretty sure we can agree on a few essentials to ensure the survival of such a chaotic schedule.

Time management
For those of us who decide to brave the journey of a chaotic life to get a degree, we know time management is key. Organizing your time and having a day planner handy might save you from overbooking events and over committing. Juggling bills, meetings, class times, and homework is not an easy task. It can get a little tricky when you attend several different campuses and must drop your child off at school before you attempt to tackle your “to do” list. I have learned to block out time and stick to a pre-scheduled plan. Of course there will always be times when things fall out of place and I am playing catch up. We all know you don’t get a “pass” card because your child was vomiting throughout the night the day before a big final. Prioritizing your time is the key to getting through the chaos. Remind yourself that it is ok to delay outings with your friends if you have work to get done. A real friend will understand.

It’s my life, and I will cry if I want to.
There have been plenty of times I have had to break down and cry on the car drive from work to class. I am sure I am not the only one. You may lose your composure and be completely stressed out. No one said getting an education while raising kids was a walk in the park. So, if you are like me, a few tears every now and then are simply expected. If you don’t stress out, quite frankly, you just may not be human.

You may not always get the grade.
Single parents may not have the luxury of fully diving into their studies and spending countless hours on school projects. You have to remind yourself that life may prevent you from handing in your best work, but don’t get discouraged. With some planning and personal understanding, you will survive the chaos and reach your goal to graduate. Just remember that several single parents have successfully completed their degrees and you can too.

REVIEW: Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3

On January 20, 2012 I took my children to see “Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3” at US Airways arena, it was such an amazing trip for my children. First, we jumped on the lightrail at Christown Mall and rode it all the way downtown to the US Airways Arena. While on the light rail my son was so excited to see us zooming past the cars, he kept saying “look Dad we’re passing that car now.”  My daughter was so amazed to see all the people getting on and off the train, and kept asking “Dad is it our turn to get off,” I had to keep saying not yet.  Once we arrived at the arena and entered the building they saw the stand with all the Toy Story character toys (which they wanted one!) so my wife and I bought our children one each.  My son wanted a spinning “Woody” toy, while my daughter got a “Jesse” princess wand.

We finally got to our seat (which was in the upper deck area) and the kids were playing with their new toys when the lights shut off and the play began.  Cheers and clapping rang out all over the stadium when the characters were being introduced.  They were so happy to be able to see all the characters from the Toy Story 3 movie.  Both my children would yell as loud as they could at each character that came out, trying to get their attention to look up at them (unfortunately they couldn’t hear my kids).  During the show the characters made it a fun and entertaining atmosphere for all the children that were at the event.  The characters would say things and do things to make the kids laugh, and for the children that were able to sit down close to the ice, some of the characters got up close and personal to the fans.  Sometimes interacting with them making the kids feel welcomed at the play.  It was a great event to take the kids to and I’m not going to lie it was even entertaining for the adults, if you are into the whole Disney movies like I am.

I would recommend for anyone that loves Disney movies or have children, if there is an event that comes to a stadium near you take your children it is well worth the money and experience.

I have come to learn that there will be a few representatives from Disney itself here on campus on February 9, 2012 if you are interested in learning more about the company and how things are ran.  They will also be talking about how they will be accepting applications for anyone interested in an internship with the company.  I will be attending this event myself so when I go and get more info on the event I will be sure to post it for everyone, just in case you are not able to make it out.