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.


Why I Teach HIS 273: The U.S. and the Vietnam War

Guest post by GCC instructor Bonnie Saunders

There’s a good chance that I taught the very first course on the Vietnam War, way back in 1984 (yes, I’ve been doing this for a while). I have no personal connection to the Vietnam War but I have had strong opinions about it, opinions that have mellowed over the years to a much more rational stance than in the past!

Throughout the teaching of this course I’ve invited Vietnam veterans to talk to my class about their experiences- everyone from the veteran who finally won the court case against the Pentagon for his injuries from Agent Orange, to a nurse who worked in a M.A.S.H. unit, to soldiers who couldn’t tell the difference between a regular peasant and a Viet Cong insurgent.

Despite the terrible consequences Vietnam veterans live with, many have returned to Vietnam to help the Vietnamese people. Some have relocated there permanently and spend all of their time doing humanitarian work. Despite the length of the Vietnam War and the bitterness that followed it, many American tourists now take spectacular vacations to that country.

In HIS273 I teach students to explore why and how the U.S. become involved in the Vietnam War, to examine the consequences, and to ask what we have learned from the experience. One of the most interesting exercises is a written dialogue assignment to write letters between two veterans, one from the Vietnam War and one from either the recent Iraq or Afghanistan wars (real people or invented veterans created from readings and research). Most importantly, I ask them to think about its relevance today, especially as we mark, in 2015, the 40th anniversary of the end of the conflict.

I enjoy teaching and discussing this subject, and I welcome any comments or questions at

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.

Language Students Visit Japan – Group hones skills, experiences local culture and traditions

Buddhist temple in Kyoto; the inside is plated with gold

Buddhist temple in Kyoto; the inside is plated with gold

A peaceful Zen garden pictured on the front cover of a language textbook might lead to daydreaming about being there. For 19 GCC students of Japanese language, that dream sprung to life in May, when they found themselves contemplating that very garden – the stone garden of Ryoan-ji – in person.

The students, accompanied by Japanese language instructors Tomomi Hayashi and Shigeko Toyota, co-directors of the GCC Japanese-language program, travelled to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima and Miyajima on a six-day study trip.

The trip was made possible by a generous grant from the Japan Foundation’s Japan-American Collegiate Exchange Travel Program.

It was the fulfillment of a dream for Shigeko Toyota, who has taught Japanese language at a public high school and Arizona community colleges for 25 years. “Being in Arizona, my students rarely have a chance to converse with native Japanese speakers, so I was curious to see if they could communicate effectively in various situations.” Mission accomplished!
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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