My Interning Experience with GCC’S College Advancement Services

When it comes to school, I feel like we go into a lot of experiences not really having any concrete vision of what we’ll end up with in the end. Sure we know the basics. For instance, I’m just two classes away from obtaining my Associates in Public Relations. Do I completely have a grasp on everything correlated to Public Relations? Absolutely not. But that’s what’s so rewarding and eye opening about interning within your field. Slowly and surely you come closer and closer to learning more and more aspects of your field. Luckily, my internship was through my school—it was actually required for my degree, so I didn’t have to go through the leg work of searching for it. I interned from September to December.

Throughout my internship I got a closer look at the art of being pithy and timely; and just how crucial both of those skills are. You also have to be strategic when it comes to posting on social media to ensure that you get the most views and responses. One of my most favorite experiences interning with GCC’s College Advancement Services was having to be the face of the monthly video segment, “Gaucho Lowdown,” the entire experience was completely out of my comfort zone and the first time I did it, I felt completely unprepared and overwhelmed. I was on camera for the first time, reading off of a teleprompter for the first time, there were just so many firsts that I was so unprepared for. But it gave me a glimpse on how it could be in the real world. You never know when you’ll just have to rise to the occasion, and nine out of ten times it will be when you’re totally not expecting having to. I find those types of experiences the most fulfilling.

Anytime you’re thrown into situations that may feel utterly out of your comfort zone—instead of going with your initial instinct of running away from it, embrace all of those moments. Especially the ones that make you feel uneasy. That said, my internship experience was not only gratifying for me academically but also worthwhile for me personally. I learned a lot about my capabilities in such a short amount of time, I’m definitely excited to see what other boundaries I can break on my PR journey. The internship marks the beginning!

If you’re interested in seeing my infamous first foray with the “Gaucho Lowdown,” here it is in all its glory:

This post is part of the Looksharp Internship Blog Competition. To read more about the competition and view other posts go here.

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Leading by Example: Velvet Conklin Takes Pride in Army Career

Her dad wanted her to be a lawyer. Her mom saw a future doctor. But when Velvet Conklin was only six years old, she informed her parents she had made her own choice.  She was going to join the Army.

“I wanted to drive big trucks, blow things up, save the world and be a hero,” said Velvet Conklin, recalling her childhood motivation for becoming a soldier.

She was also taken with the impression of her father in his own Army photograph – especially, the sharpness of his uniform and the flashy, cool “stuff” that adorned it. (Her mother had tried the Army, as well, but blew out a knee in basic training and was medically discharged.)

Conklin never wavered in her aspirations. In September 2013, she celebrated the seventh anniversary of her enlistment in the Army.

Velvet Conklin stands tall in Army uniform.She was deployed to Iraq in 2009 as a military police officer in the U.S. Army National Guard.

Now 26, she was promoted to sergeant this year, and recently reenlisted for another eight years.

In addition to participating in active monthly drills and regular summer and emergency training and being on call for civil emergency-relief efforts, Conklin is a full-time student at Glendale Community College.

“I’ve gone to several colleges,” she said, “and when I started, ROTC was the only class I liked.”

Her higher education has spanned a university in Pennsylvania, her home state; a stint at a technical institute, where she trained to work on cars just prior to her deployment; taking classes at Cochise Community College when she returned from deployment; going to Estrella Mountain Community College, and finally, landing at GCC.

“I probably wouldn’t have come back to college if not for Veterans Services at GCC,” said Conklin. She cited the friendliness of staff members there who have helped her with everything from filing paperwork to questions about the computer.

“The Army is my family, and they have been since the day I joined,” said Conklin, who views it as a way of life. “There will always be a bond, an unspoken mutual understanding, with those people I deployed with,” she said.

She described that bond as going beyond friendships you make in the classroom or on the sports field.  “You spend every second with them, and you depend on them to get you home alive,” she said. “That’s a lot of trust.”

Conklin said she has learned a lot of leadership skills in the Army, among them:  lead by example; put the welfare of your soldiers ahead of yourself; maintain physical and mental fitness; pay attention to detail; promote teamwork.

Her Army career has helped her identify her own competencies, has challenged her to push outside of her comfort zone and has instilled confidence through meeting challenges successfully.

Majoring in nutrition at GCC, she plans to transfer to ASU in fall 2015 for a bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s degree, and finally, professional certification as a registered dietician.

She sees food as medicine and would like eventually to be in a position to help her fellow service members – for instance, those recovering from amputations or burns at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center – recover faster through healthful diets.

Conklin encourages others, both women and men, to consider a career in the military, saying the benefits – leadership training, secure income, educational opportunities and a range of career opportunities – outweigh the challenges.

Even so, she says, more than all of that, it’s a calling. “You have to have a sense of selfless service and pride; you have to want to be there,” she said.

Standing tall in her new Army dress uniform, Conklin exudes competence and confidence in her choice, a life of service to her country.

The Top Cross Platform, and Free, apps for Students

BestAppsIf you have a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer you’ll definitely want to get them prepped and ready for the school year! What better way than to add these eight, totally free, totally cross platform apps. They’ll work on your Android or iOS phones and tablets, as well as your Windows and MAC OSX computes. They’ll even work from the Internet so you can access the apps from anywhere, anytime.  Continue reading

Timeless Strategies for College Success

By Dr. René Díaz-Lefebvre

photo of Dr. Rene Diaz-LefebvreIn a few weeks thousands of Arizona students will be embarking on one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of their lives, beginning a journey through the world of higher education. Exciting, daunting, challenging, and downright stressful may be adjectives permeating the thoughts of those seeking an avenue to pursue vocational dreams and become productive members of society. They will attend a community college, a public or private university, or other educational/vocational choices. Having worked with many students who have successfully maneuvered and completed college, I am often asked by parents and students for advice and recommendations in preparation for this life-changing opportunity. In this day of instantaneous information (e.g., Internet, Facebook, Twitter, apps, etc.), it is tempting to suggest to them that they review various websites and apps available for information and orientation on college and university life. Even college catalogs are a thing of the past. If you want your own copy of a catalog, you can download it from the institutions official website. Continue reading

What So Proudly We Hail: Embracing the rights and responsibilities of citizenship

Isaac Rivery and FamilyDoes the intensity of freely expressed political speech in the United States sometimes feel overwhelming? Just imagine the opposite:  a place where you could be sent to prison for sharing viewpoints outside the privacy of your own home:  Cuba, for instance.

Though Cuba has changed over the past few years, the changes have been limited. According to a recent article in The New York Times, “The Castro government has not allowed professionals like lawyers and architects to work for themselves. And its efforts at political repression have focused over the past few years on innovative young people seeking space for civil discourse in public and online – the blogger Yoani Sanchez, or Antonio Rodiles … who was arrested in early November … .”

Like these young people, Isaac Rivery, born in Cuba and now a student at GCC, knows freedom of speech is more than just a concept. Now 28, Isaac has worked hard to earn that cherished freedom. In December 2012, in an emotionally moving ceremony at the Sandra Day O’Connor United States Courthouse in downtown Phoenix, Isaac became a U.S. citizen.

He’s building his success from the ground up, bit by hard-won bit. Since enrolling at GCC in 2008, Isaac has worked a full-time job during the day and attended school at night, taking one or two classes at a time. “My schedule is tight, but learning is not an option, he said. You find the time if it’s important, and my education is important.”

“When I left Cuba in 2007, I thought I knew English, but there was still so much to learn,” he said. Family members who had taken classes at GCC encouraged him to enroll in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program.

“My first day in the classroom was terrible,” said Isaac. My head hurt for two weeks. After that I got used to it, and everything has been fine since then.”

Isaac credits some of his success to GCC’s wide range of classes and helpful instructors. “They never say “no,” but always “yes, what do you need?” he said.

After improving his English-language skills, Isaac enrolled in general-studies classes. He is now taking prerequisites for mechanical engineering, and eventually plans to transfer to continue his education.

Why all of this work, so far from his country of origin? “As a child, I always wanted to be in the U.S.,” said Isaac. There were so many things that attracted my attention; I wanted to see Las Vegas, New York, the lights.”

But bright lights and big cities were only the beginning. As he matured, Isaac understood what was needed for a better life, and central to that were the privileges of democracy. In Cuba, he was unable to vote, because they don’t have free elections. “I don’t want to just talk about my positions on the street corner; I want my vote to count,” he said.

He also wanted a stable family. “I didn’t want to be jumping around, dealing with immigration processes — one day here, and then another day gone,” he said. He is well on his way; he and his wife, who was born in Phoenix and who teaches photography in a local high school, have a seven-month-old daughter, Akira – Japanese for “intelligent.”

Edward James, who taught Social Work 292 (“Social Work in a Diverse World”), said Isaac’s experience as an immigrant from Cuba added an important dimension to class discussion by bringing concepts to life for students who have grown up in the U.S. and have had little experience with oppression, for instance.

“I could see light bulbs go on when Isaac described seeing Cuban police arresting a homeless person –  not because of any crime, but simply because the person was considered a nuisance to society,” said Edward. As Isaac described the arrest to his classmates, one student started to cry.

When Isaac arrived in the U.S., he wrote down goals he wanted to accomplish in his first 10 years in the U.S. Securing citizenship was one of the first. “I wanted to get married, to have a child, a house, a car… I wanted to be living the American dream,” said Isaac. Through dedication and persistence, Isaac has accomplished all of these goals according to schedule, and is embracing the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship with gusto.

He continues to focus on his career, and on another big goal:  seeing his mother again. The last time was in 2006. Since Isaac cannot legally return to Cuba, the only opportunity to reunite is to bring family members here. Now, as a newly minted citizen, Isaac is raising money to help his mother and stepfather immigrate to the U.S.

“My mother is eager to see the new baby, who is her first grandchild,” said Isaac. He and his wife have a running joke that it took Isaac many years to become a citizen. He had to learn the language, study U.S. history and civics, pay the fees, take the exam, attend the ceremony at the courthouse, and finally, take the oath of allegiance.

While his tiny baby girl, Akira – who doesn’t speak a word of English (yet!) – is already a citizen, simply by birth.