Transfer Features

Jennifer Vehon

Transfer Student Looks to New Horizon               June 2017

Monica Moore, Coordinator of Transfer Services

This month's Transfer Feature shines light on Jennifer Vehon, recent NWACC graduate who earned her Associate of Science in general business in spring 2017.  I first met Jennifer when she was a work-study student in the Career and Transfer Center.  I was immediately impressed by her level of engagement, her eagerness to learn, and her professionalism.

During our recent interview, I discovered some of Jennifer's many other qualities.  For example, Jennifer uses insights gained from her former professional life, and her experiences as an NWACC student, to inspire the trajectory of her education and future goals.

Of the many students at NWACC, Jennifer falls into the "non-traditional" student category.  She is married and has a child, and she is not, as they say, "fresh out of high school."  Though she entered Eastern New Mexico University as a traditional freshman many years ago, she encountered obstacles that prevented completing a degree at that time.  With only a few "basic" courses earned, Jennifer left college.  It was not until 2014, when she relocated to Northwest Arkansas with her husband and son in tow, that she began to finish what she had started.

With newfound freedom to continue her education while her husband worked, Jennifer enrolled in college prep courses offered through Adult Education, including Pre-Algebra, Beginning Algebra, and Intermediate Algebra.  At the very same time, she enrolled in NWACC courses and began working toward an associate's degree.

Jennifer said that she went back to college because she understood the value of "the piece of paper."  What held her back when she was a working professional was not her inability to do the job or lead as a manager, but rather the inadequate compensation she received in relation to the tasks she performed.  She was, in fact, extremely skilled with doing management-type duties in the health insurance field.  However, when the time came to advance, she found herself stuck without a college degree.

Although Jennifer will soon begin anew as a full online business student attending Missouri Southern State University, there are many things she will miss about NWACC, including the setting.  Moving to a full online program means a different way of life for students.  Although MSSU's online classroom experience is what she needs at this time, Jennifer says she will miss the physical class time and the face-to-face interactions with fellow students and faculty.

When I asked Jennifer about favorite teachers, she simply said, "They are all great!"  She did give special credit to Professor Bryan Aguiar for devoting extra time to making complex subjects that are "very confusing for people who are not good with math" more accessible, more like "common sense."  Because Dr. Aguiar was able to break things down "level by level" so well, Jennifer took every class she could with him.  Overall, she feels confident about enrolling in MSSU's business program because of the strong education she received from NWACC faculty.

Both the two-year and four-year degrees will be instrumental in helping Jennifer realize her current dream of becoming a small business owner.  This entrepreneurial spirit flourished when she joined NWACC's chapter of ENACTUS.  When I asked Jennifer about ENACTUS, she explained, "It is an international entrepreneurship club that teaches students how to improve the world around them by giving back."  Her involvement came about, she said, because of Cathy McCall, fellow classmate and NWACC employee.  "Cathy recruited me," and, "as a result, I have seen how people can work together to enrich the life of their community through business endeavors."

Because of Jennifer's diverse experiences at NWACC, she plans to use her education to improve her family's prosperity while also improving the life of her community.  Currently, Jennifer and a former classmate are working on ways to open small businesses within Northwest Arkansas that contribute to family life.  One part of the overall mission would be to create a business that helps "bring back quality family time."  With clear goals and a rich educational foundation, Jennifer is poised to begin living that dream.

 

 

Fatima Vazquez

Posted January 4, 2017
For Love of Nursing:  Expanding Horizons for NWACC Alumnus
By Monica Moore

 

Recently, I met up with a former NWACC student who had utilized NWACC's Transfer & Transition Services in Fall 2015. Fatima Vazquez reminded me that she found her way to my office when she learned she did not get into NWACC's nursing program. At the time, it felt like a door had closed, and she was looking for answers about how to open it back up.

As we talked, other doors came into view. We discussed the University of Arkansas' course offerings for students majoring in Public Health, and we worked on a scholarship application to the UA in light of this possible shift in her educational goals.  She also considered other nursing programs. During that exploratory process, I told Fatima about the nursing program at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.  Fatima applied to UAFS and for a transfer scholarship at the UA. Although she was chosen to receive a UA scholarship, she opted for the nursing program at UAFS instead.

When I asked Fatima why she chose nursing, she said the care she received as a child by her mother made a lasting impression. Fatima spoke of her mother's ability to nurse her back to health whether the illness was serious or little more than a common cold. "She always knew how to alleviate my discomfort," she said. These experiences not only amazed Fatima, they shaped her academic and professional aspirations.  

For Fatima, nursing means helping others who often cannot help themselves. Her mother now struggles with a very rare form of rheumatoid arthritis. She needs an advocate when doctors say and prescribe things that are difficult to understand. Fatima feels that the knowledge gained through nursing will ultimately help her do for her mother what her mother once did for her as a child.

Fatima offered up many insights about the UAFS nursing program. Classes are hard, she acknowledged, and self-discipline is essential. To do well, you must study constantly, there's also no room for last-minute cramming, unless you want to fail.

In the UAFS nursing program, Fatima's life now revolves around her nursing lectures, labs, and on-site nursing clinical practices. In reflecting on her experiences at UAFS, she spoke glowingly about the library's 24/7 access. She also appreciated the midnight breakfast UAFS provided for students who were preparing for finals week. 

Concerning long-term goals, Fatima said, "I can't think about long-term right now.  I'm about achieving what is right in front of me. Once I pass that hurdle, then I'll look up for the next one, work to pass it, and then move on from there." When we began this interview, Fatima was unsure if she would progress to her third semester of nursing school.  She was stumped by her Pharmacology class, one with rigorous math exams that require 100% perfection.  She said that there's a lot to know about pharmaceuticals, including their brand and generic name, their purpose, side effects, benefits, etc.

 group of nursing students

No matter what, Fatima was not of the mindset to give up. She explained how UAFS nursing students have the opportunity to reapply to the program if they do not pass a class.  Her determination to succeed was quite evident.  Though she was sad to think about leaving her current cohort of classmates because of the camaraderie and experiences that bonded them together, she was not opposed to starting again to achieve the ultimate goal of graduating with her nursing degree before entering the workforce as a licensed nurse.

In the end, Fatima deeply appreciated the help she received from NWACC's Transfer & Transition Services.  Without the assistance, her future would have been quite different.  Doors opened, horizons grew, and opportunities she had not considered became concrete possibilities.  By exploring alternatives for the future, she discovered UAFS, a place for her that would permit the continual pursuit of her professional goals. 

Since writing this article, I learned that Fatima passed all of her classes and will be going on to the third semester of nursing school.  She and her mother must share a mutual pride in knowing her dream is still very much alive and moving forward.

 


 Brenda GreenPosted August 06, 2015
Brenda Green Makes a Difference
By Monica Moore

 

Brenda Green has been a member of NorthWest Arkansas Community College for many years--20, to be exact.  Her tenure almost spans the life of the college.  A business graduate from Southwest Oklahoma State University, Green began working at NWACC in Business Services, taking care of payroll and accounting tasks.  During these years, she also attended the University of Arkansas to obtain a Master's of Education in Higher Education.

Working while attending school is something Green knew about, for she earned her bachelor's degree as a part-time student working a full-time job at a local community bank.  Her graduate studies at the UA taught her about the role student services can play in the lives of students, and this newfound knowledge reinforced her decision to move to the Student Services Division with NWACC.

That decision and the college administration's willingness to welcome her interest led her to perform many duties along the way to eventually becoming Associate Dean of Off-Campus Learning.  Green was later appointed to be the Dean for Washington County Centers.

When Green was asked to assume responsibilities of the Associate Dean for Off-Campus Learning in 2006, she seemed a logical choice given the many roles she had performed along the way, including Coordinator of Co-curricular Activities, Interim Coordinator of Disability Services, Student Information Center Supervisor, etc.  While working in New Student Relations, Green became well versed in matters related to recruitment, advising, orientation, and registration.  She developed an understanding of NWACC's student information system as a team member of BANNER support.  And the list goes on.

When asked what benefited her most from her past jobs, she remarked how many of the tasks she once performed or oversaw are currently executed by her staff at the NWACC centers throughout Washington County.  She possesses insight as a result of her many roles at NWACC, and she is a better supervisor because of it.  Green appreciates the importance of how one task and one employee fits into the larger picture of getting work done in the name of serving students.  The many tasks, duties, and employees that comprise Washington County Centers are important to Green.  She wants her team to know that their mission is to serve the Washington County community, and she encourages them to work on behalf of this mission every day.

With The Jones Center for Families and Washington County Center, both in Springdale, and Farmington High School in Farmington, NorthWest Arkansas Community College is able to reach out to the Washington County communities.  Between these centers, NWACC houses 15 classrooms and one science lab facility, and this means that students can combine courses offered at Washington County Centers with full online course offerings to complete either the AA or ASLAS general transfer degree.

In October 2014, updates regarding NWACC's plan of building a new instructional center in Springdale, located near Arvest Ballpark, hit the news.  This coincided with the formal unveiling of the NWACC sign marking the new site.  The historical day was a happy event that was well attended by members of the NW Arkansas community, including NWACC President Evelyn E. Jorgenson and members of her Cabinet.  This new center will house state-of-the art classrooms and include a mobile design to accommodate many constituents who find they need to utilize the facilities for continued education and outreach for the community.

Dean Brenda Green is leading the way in the effort to continue the strong presence and services provided at the Washington County Centers, and she commends her staff for holding down the fort while she works with NWACC leadership to administer the way forward.  Green has seen a lot of change and growth since coming to the NWACC community.  If there's one thing she knows it's that things do change, and she wants to be a part of that.  Her goal is to keep her staff motivated for these days ahead--days that will not always be easy because of the transition--but days that are defined by continuing to build upon the services the College has provided for the community.

As I wrapped up my conversation with Dean Green, I asked her to share a tidbit about herself that most people don't know.  She couldn't think of one.  We talked some more, and then something occurred to her.  She sees her life is sweeter because she realizes the purpose of her work through the eyes of her grandchildren.  Now, that might not be the way Green would put it, but it's what I inferred from her revelation about how society is in need of care.  Green mentioned how her grandchildren live in a different world when compared to the one she grew up in.  Most of us who have been around a while understand this all too well.  Because of these young ones, Green is a clear thinker who gets things done with an eye for improving society in mind, in general, and for serving members of Washington County to the very best of her ability, in particular.

At the close of our conversation, Green said how we wouldn't be seeing each other for a few months, even though I hold office hours there each Tuesday.  I came to understand just why that is over the course of our conversation.

Green is a doer, and she was ready to get back to the tasks of the day, and prepare for all the days ahead that help bring about the move toward a new center.  This something new is exciting, but Green understands that her job as a member of the NWACC community is to remind her staff and community that we must remember who we are, pay attention to something that remains constant, and that is this: NWACC is the same college she joined 20 years ago with a mission that has not changed--it is to provide educational support for members of Benton and Washington Counties so as to make the world a better place.  

 

 Laura Ortega, outstanding studentPosted June 29, 2015
NWACC Student Rewarded for Outstanding Effort
By Monica Moore

 

Laura Ortega began her studies at NWACC with plans of eventually transferring and majoring in art.  She had developed her artistic skills in high school, and this major seemed to be a good fit, that is, until she enrolled in Ms. Ellen Turner's biology course.  Turner's passion for her subject was infectious, and her inspiring lectures led Laura to see science as a possible major.  Because Laura found concepts like photosynthesis so fascinating, she decided to study science.

To help narrow things down, Laura Ortega's academic advisor, Paul Kirkpatrick, recommended Dr. Bates' class introducing students to academic disciplines within agricultural, food, and life science.  Laura gives high praises to Dr. Bates after having been given the advice to take his class.  She said, "Thanks to him I found crop science and horticulture."  She went further to say that, "because of Dr. Bates, I was able to figure out what major best fit my interests, in addition to learning about how to get involved with the Undergraduate Research class."  Finding this right formula was a valuable key to the development of Laura's future goals.  Because of her experiences in Dr. Bates' class, Laura discovered how she could maintain her interest in beauty and art as seen in the natural world, while also developing knowledge to help her contribute to the world of science.

Though Laura aspires to be a research scientist within a lab, using her findings to bolster and improve crops, she intends to maintain her connection to artistic expression as an eventual graduate student minoring in horticulture.  That minor will permit volunteering for botanical societies as a way to give back to her community.  Choosing this path is how Laura hopes to demonstrate the often overlooked interrelationship between art and science.

As a UA Chancellor's Transfer Scholarship recipient, and a recipient of the Delta Scholarship for majors in crop, soil, and environmental science in the U of A Dale Bumpers College, Laura is well on her way to becoming a standout student at UA, just as she was at NWACC.  In fact, one day soon, Laura will be commuting, by way of Ozark Regional Transit, doing her homework on the bus, and planning for days when she can benefit the local and global community through her knowledge and perseverance.

If Laura could give one piece of advice to students who wish to follow in her footsteps, it would be to "stay on top of things, plan ahead, and build connections with people who have insights about how to achieve success, including acquiring scholarships."  These are the things that made a difference for Laura, and she is confident that students who heed her advice will be able to say the same. 

 

Posted June 29, 2015
 Shelly WisecarverThe Road Less Travelled:  One Student's Non-traditional Path to a College Education
By Monica Moore

When Shelly Wisecarver received news that she had been chosen as a Chancellor's Transfer Scholarship recipient at the University of Arkansas just two days before graduation, she felt the need to pinch herself.  Though she had worked hard to write the essay, and even harder to get the grades that demonstrate excellence, she couldn't believe that her hard work had finally paid off.  Two days later she walked across the stage, shook Dr. Evelyn Jorgenson's hand, and received a diploma noting completion of a degree she'd been working hard to achieve for the past two years.

Shelly is not your ordinary student.  She is not a graduate from a high school in NW Arkansas, and it's been years since she received her high school diploma.  Originally from Berlin, Wisconsin, Shelly's path to Northwest Arkansas and life as an undergraduate student was certainly not representative of what we would think of as an average journey.

After years of self-employment, Shelly and her husband, Roy, decided to relocate to Rogers, Arkansas. The relocation was a chance to begin anew, and that is when Shelly decided to pursue higher education.  At first, she leaned on her business background and chose to buttress her practical experience with an academic education.  That proved less satisfying than Shelly had hoped, and so she decided to change her major.

The process of changing her major was not easy.  She had an idea of what she wanted to do—work with people and help them communicate their ideas for their business clearly--but she didn't know how to go about pursuing a degree that would simultaneously make that happen and make her happy.

To explore her options, Shelly found herself at the door of the Transfer Center at Northwest Arkansas Community College.  Having someone who would work through various options was encouraging.  After talking with Monica Moore, Coordinator of Transfer and Transition Services, Shelly decided on Communication as a possible major.  But that was only the beginning.  It wasn't until she visited with her J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences advisor at the UA that she realized Public Relations in the Lemke Department of Journalism was the right path for her.

Shelly is very excited about entering the next stage of her education.  Remembering the encouragement of past instructors, like Lorraine Bach, English instructor at NWACC, and how other NWACC faculty members pushed her to do her very best, will carry Shelly through her days at UA.  She knows that she will meet other helpful people along the way, but she credits those from her past for helping her learn, for believing in her, and for making her the best student she could possibly be.