College council discusses graduation, students survey on smoking

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Public relations Director Vanessa Torres discusses graduation rates, cap and gown pick-up dates and online graduation forms at College Council Tuesday in Room 120 of visual arts.  Photo by Tress-Marie Landa

Public relations Director Vanessa Torres discusses graduation rates, cap and gown pick-up dates and online graduation forms at College Council Tuesday in Room 120 of visual arts. Photo by Tress-Marie Landa

Dr. Jothany Blackwood, new vice president of academic success, formally introduces herself Tuesday to College Council.  Photo by Tress-Marie Landa

Dr. Jothany Blackwood, new vice president of academic success, formally introduces herself Tuesday to College Council. Photo by Tress-Marie Landa

Correction: March 5 is the deadline to be entered in a drawing for the Be SAC Proud scholarship.

Since the meeting in the story below, the rules have changed to allow students who complete the online application on ACES or submit a graduation packet to be eligible for the scholarship.

Welcome center slated to open after spring break.

By Richard Montemayor

President Robert Vela affirms positive new developments for student engagement and success to the College Council. "SAC's journey is not finished," Vela said.  Photo by Tress-Marie Landa

President Robert Vela affirms positive new developments for student engagement and success to the College Council. “SAC’s journey is not finished,” Vela said. Photo by Tress-Marie Landa

rmontemayor15@student.alamo.edu

A new scholarship competition will be open to students filing for graduation, and the college president will look into alternatives to a smokers’ corner at Belknap and Dewey, members of College Council learned Feb. 10 in the visual arts center at the first meeting of the semester.

Vanessa Torres, public relations director, said March 5 is the priority deadline for this college, and March 13 is the deadline to be entered in a drawing for the Be SAC Proud scholarship.

Student Government President Karen Elliot informs College Council about "Welcome Back Days," which includes updated maps of the campus, a survey for a potential new mascot and the responses to possible designated smoking areas on campus.  Photo by Tress-Marie Landa

Student Government President Karen Elliot informs College Council about “Welcome Back Days,” which includes updated maps of the campus, a survey for a potential new mascot and the responses to possible designated smoking areas on campus. Photo by Tress-Marie Landa

“We will have a week of events. Part of this will be the spring transfer fair culminating with the grad rally,” she said.

Graduation Push Week is March 2-5 in the mall.

“We are encouraging students to first complete the online application on ACES for graduation so students can be automatically entered in the Be SAC Proud scholarship to win $500,” she said. “The scholarship funds could be used to transfer to an institution or for work-related materials.”

Torres said students will have through spring break to apply. The application can be found on the ACES portal.

Joe Jacques, associate director of admissions and records, is ready to receive graduation packets that students must complete along with advising and all of the documentation that supports it by March 20.

Students can submit graduation packets to counseling and advising departments, Torres said.

Graduation cap and gown pick-up is April 6-10. If students do not pick up their cap and gown, they may not walk the stage in the graduation ceremony, she said.

Jeff Hunt, chair of the department of fine arts, suggested Torres be a spokesperson on the process at a district level to emphasize how confusing the process is.

He said students mistakenly sometimes think filling out the online application is sufficient.

“I understand that there’s some confusion,” Torres said. “We are trying to communicate as much as possible all of the different steps.

“In this year, we are going to be doing it a little differently to help remove some of that confusion, but it’s going to take all faculty and department heads around the table to really vocalize the process and the steps as well,” she said.

Another issue was this college’s smoker’s corner near the Methodist Student Center at Belknap and Dewey places.

“The majority of the students want to have a designated area on campus,” Kim-Briana Lorine, parliamentarian for Student Government Association, said of a recent survey.

Out of 2,090 students who completed the survey, 50 percent voted for the addition of a smokers’ area.

President Robert Vela, who met with students on the smokers’ corner last semester, is taking those concerns seriously.

“The one thing that dawned on me when I walked over there is that the students are sitting on the sidewalk and they’ve got their legs over in the street, and I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” he said. “I don’t want this perception that those students are not part of the college.”

The council also discussed another way to make students feel like a part of the college.

The grand opening for the new welcome center, 1515 N. Main, is set for some time after spring break. Along with the welcome center there will be a tech store, Vela said.

An Apple store will be in the space in the beginning, but may change later as the tech offerings are expanded.

“It will be embedded in the center so that we can also offer different technologies and equipment for students and faculty so that they can go and make a purchase at a educational discount,” he said.

The tech also will provide on-site technical support.

“We are really looking at a learning company model where our students can work in the tech store to give our students that work experience that they need before they graduate,” Vela said.

The tech store will be part of Phase 2 expected to open in August.

The council usually meets the second Tuesday of each month; however, the March meeting will have to be rescheduled because of spring break March 9-15.

Robin Collette, special projects coordinator in the president’s office, said no decision has been made on a date for the March meeting.

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