Monday, April 14, 2014

Patterns of Exchange: Navajo Weavers and Traders

Teresa Wilkins, Professor of Anthropology
will be honored on April 23 at
President Robert Frank’s annual reception
for 2013 published authors. Dr. Wilkins’
book Patterns of Exchange: Navajo Weavers
and Traders was recently released in paperback

Change Labs

                The idea for the “Change Labs” event at Dine College on March 28th came from the Rural Entrepreneurial Expo pioneered at UNM-Gallup by Lecturer Al Henderson.  While the Expo has been very successful, Mr. Henderson wanted to take the event to a new level by creating a more hands-on event.  The library at Dine College in Shiprock provided the locale for Change Labs which offered interactive workshops to about 100 young entrepreneurs and business people.  The goal of the event was to provide assistance in overcoming obstacles faced by entrepreneurs trying to start or expand businesses on the Navajo Nation.  Representatives from companies such as Facebook and Google came together to instruct young entrepreneurs in areas such as web design, small-scale agriculture opportunities and creative funding options.

                Co-organizing the event with Henderson was Heather Fleming, CEO of Catapult Design, a design firm located in San Francisco.  Originally from Tuba City, Arizona, Fleming would like to see members of the Navajo Nation benefit more from technological innovations such as interactive websites and smart phone applications.  The creative team of Henderson and Fleming sees enormous potential for young business people on the Navajo Nation.  They hope to instill a philosophy of positive change that will harness resources and talent and help overcome many of the challenges faced by young Native American business owners.

Medical Lab Technician Program

                Corine Gonzales, Instructor in the Medical Lab Technician Program at UNM-Gallup, may be relatively new to UNM-G, but she hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since she took charge of the MLT program.  Shortly after her arrival in the summer of 2012, Ms. Gonzales was tasked with initiating the accreditation process for the MLT program.  In fact, she found out about the accreditation timeline on September 27, 2012, and was notified that the self-study was due on October 1, 2012!  Ms. Gonzales was able to get an extension and faced the challenge with her usual quiet determination. 
                Once the intensive self-study report was completed, Ms. Gonzales had to prepare her students for the site visit that occurred this past October.  According to her, “the site visit was the best part of the accreditation process.  It was very positive, and nearly perfect.”  During the site visit, the accreditation team reviewed curriculum, lab facilities, equipment, safety procedures, and talked with the faculty and the advisory board.   The team also met with MLT students and Ms. Gonzales stated that the students were able to clearly demonstrate the positive impact the program has on their lives.  The team also had the opportunity to meet with local lab directors.
                UNM-G received a recommendation letter from the review team recommending accreditation for five years which would be until 2019.  There will be an official meeting in April which should grant final approval. 
                Ms. Gonzales is allowed to admit a maximum of 12 students at a time into the 3-semester MLT program.  She said it “breaks her heart to reject any of the applicants as they are all great, but our current lab facilities can only accommodate 12 students.”  The class size is also driven by accreditation regulations regarding student to faculty ratio.  According to Ms. Gonzales, “The employment rate will drive any future increases in class size.  We must be aware of the workforce needs.”
Students are in the classroom/lab setting for 2 semesters, and then are required to complete a 1 semester clinical practicum.  Students then sit for the national certification exam (ASCP).  The current pass rate for UNM-G students who take the exam is 100%.  It is anticipated that most of the program graduates will quickly find employment.  Ms. Gonzales coordinates with all of the local lab directors and says that “All hospitals are in need of lab techs.  The Fort Defiance hospital is hiring most of our students.  Our students are all really good and I have high hopes for them.”
Ms. Gonzales wanted to give special thanks and recognition to Michael Nye who is the Director of Laboratories for Rehoboth McKinley Christian Healthcare Services.  Mr. Nye, former instructor in the MLT program, was hired to assist with the accreditation process.

Lobo Nerd Days at Area High Schools

                Insisting that school can be cool, some UNM-G faculty members are stressing the importance of math, science and English to area high school students by taking their tutoring program on the road with Lobo Nerd Days.  According to Faculty Senate President, Erica McFadden, the Lobo Nerd project is being piloted at area high schools to give students some extra assistance with their studies and also impress on them the importance of continuing their education beyond high school.  The first Lobo Nerd Day was held at Miyamura High School and according to Ms. McFadden, “It was a huge success!  We tutored a total of four classes.  One teacher commented that he had never seen the group of students as productive as he saw them that day and then later told me that the students asked when we were going to be coming back because they enjoyed it so much.”  Gallup High is next on the schedule for Lobo Nerd Days.  The current Lobo Nerds are:

  • Dr. Frank Amankonah, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
  • Ms. Ann Elizabeth Jarvis, Principal for the Center for Career and Technical Education (CCTE)
  • Dr. Carolyn Kuchera, Assistant Professor of English
  • Ms. Erica McFadden, Assistant Professor of Transitional Studies/English
  • Dr. Matt Mingus, Assistant Professor of History
  • Cindy Ogden, Director of Zollinger Library
  • Dr. Bridget Ray, Assistant Professor of Biology

UNM-Gallup Donor Event

Mr. & Mrs. Joe DiGregorio (right) are joined by Al Henderson, Ken Van Brott and
the recipients of the Basilio Di Gregorio Business Scholarships

          The Commons area of Gurley Hall was hardly recognizable the evening of Thursday, March 6th due to its transformation into an elegant banquet hall.  The Donor Appreciation Dinner, the first of its kind at UNM-Gallup, was organized to recognize and thank contributors who have supported UNM-Gallup from its earliest days to current time.  Since its beginnings in 1968, UNM-Gallup has benefited from the generosity of many local citizens who have provided support that ranges from the donation of land to the funding of the many student scholarships available.  

          Beginning in 1969, the Gallup Lions Club donated their 5000-square-foot clubhouse for use as classrooms and offices and Lions Hall still stands high on the hill overlooking UNM-Gallup.  In that same year the Gurley family donated 52 acres of land to be developed as a community college.  Another example of the generosity of Gallup citizens came in 1981 when John & Martha Zollinger donated $50,000 to the library (now named Zollinger Library) in honor of their daughter Mary Ann.  UNM-Gallup students have been the beneficiaries of locally-funded scholarships such as the Allen and Leone Rollie Nursing Scholarship, the Mary Ann Zollinger Memorial Scholarship, the Julia Palmer RN Memorial Scholarship,  the Santana Andrade Memorial Scholarship, and the Basilio DiGregorio Business Scholarship, just to name a few.

          According to event coordinator, Ara Green, “Feedback from the event has been very positive.  Students were honored and privileged to meet the donors and for many it was the first time they had the chance to be introduced to their scholarship sponsors.  The whole purpose of the event was to convey Dr. Dyer’s vision of a true community college.  The turn out from the community was a big indication of the support we receive.”

          UNM-Gallup was honored to host Regent Jack Fortner, President of the UNM Board of Regents as one of the banquet guests.  Mr. Fortner flew from his home in Farmington to represent the Regents at this event and enjoyed many opportunities to connect with UNM-G supporters as well as students.  Also in attendance was Bill Uher, Vice President of Development of the UNM Foundation, who had the chance to visit with donors, students and community members.

          UNM-Gallup was clearly represented as a “community” college in every sense of the word as past, present and future supporters and beneficiaries gathered to celebrate the successes of our students and our institution.  The first annual Donor Appreciation Dinner gave UNM-Gallup the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the philanthropy of many who share our history, our vision and our mission. 

(Written by Marilee Petranovich, Marketing and Communications Officer)    

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Welcome to new Director of Student Services

UNM-Gallup bids a warm welcome to Jeannie Baca who joined our campus on February 24th as the new Director of Student Affairs.  Ms. Baca comes to UNM-G from Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque where she was the Associate Dean of the School of Applied Technologies.  In her new position, Ms. Baca will oversee all functions of student services including enrollment, registration, advisement, financial aid and student life.
                In an effort to become acquainted with the campus, Ms. Baca has introduced herself to her staff and all those she encounters on campus and has been asking lots of questions.  “Marcus Largo and a couple of outgoing and friendly student ambassadors gave me a first class campus tour and shared their perspectives on student life,” noted Ms. Baca who has also made it a point to meet with each of her direct reports, the faculty division chairs, the Dean of Instruction and the local advisory board members.  In her first staff meeting with Student Services staff, she shared background about herself and used it as an opportunity to highlight “bright spots,” teamwork and customer service.
                In her new role, Ms. Baca has several main goals for UNM-Gallup.  “My top priority is to work with staff and faculty to ensure that students and the UNM-G community receive exceptional and efficient service and to create a welcoming and supportive environment that fosters student engagement, personal growth and student success.”  Secondly, Ms. Baca would like to enhance and build positive interdepartmental relationships through collaboration and open communication.  She would also like to promote UNM-G to our community through active outreach efforts by providing information about the incredible programs we offer.  “Additionally, I look forward to working closely with staff to examine processes and share best practices as well as assess training and support needs to ensure we provide optimal student service.  Much exciting work ahead!  We will work hard and have fun!” adds Director Baca.
                Ms. Baca would like potential UNM-Gallup students to know “UNM-Gallup is a great choice!  We are here to help you achieve your educational and career goals.  We want you to succeed and are here to lift you to new heights.  We are here to serve you and provide you with an exceptional learning experience.  Allow us to be your resource.”
                When asked about challenges and opportunities for the campus as a whole, the answer was characteristically positive. “Staff, faculty, and students have been extremely welcoming and friendly and are sharing ideas on ways to improve departmental communication and collaboration.  I am listening and will continue to seek collective input to ensure we provide exceptional customer service and information to support all aspects of student academic success, safely and student life.”
                Ms. Baca’s office is in the Student Services Technology Center, Room 276.  

(Written by Marilee Petranovich, Marketing and Communications Officer)    

Hero Twins Workshop

The UNM-Gallup campus provided the backdrop for the Hero Twins Workshop which was held in the Calvin Hall Center on Saturday, February 22, 2014. Approximately 200 young Navajo men and boys were instructed in native traditions through a series of workshops presented by the Miss Navajo Council, Inc.  Lectures and interactive workshops were presented in an atmosphere of respect for native cultures and positive life attitudes.
                The Miss Navajo Council, Inc., a non-profit group, is comprised of former Miss Navajo Nation title holders who encourage Navajo communities to become educated in their native traditions and preserve the Dine/Navajo language and culture.  One of the event organizers was Dr. Jennifer Wheeler, assistant English professor at UNM-Gallup, who promotes educational endeavors both inside and outside the classroom.  As a former Miss Navajo, Dr. Wheeler noted that presenters volunteered their time for the event which involved a series of workshops, demonstrations and lectures.  Students, family members and other supporters were encouraged to attend to learn about their Navajo traditions and culture within a supportive environment.

                Workshop Topics and presenters included:
·         Self- Identify of Warrior Twins – Wilson Aronilth, Jr.
·         Importance of Navajo Clans & Kinship – Joe Kee, Jr.
·         Traditional Fire-Making Methods – Gino Antonio
·         Life Principles in Horsemanship – Josephine Tracy & Jaime Begay
·         Respect within the Family & Home – Valonia Hardy, RN & Dr. Michael Tutt, MD
·         My First Hunting Experience – Waunekanez Wheeler
·         Geological Features in and around the Navajo Nation – Dr. Paula Watt

Dr. Lamont Yazzie was the keynote speaker for the morning session and spoke on “The Value of Navajo Heritage, Language & Culture in Education.”  The afternoon session included a presentation by Professor Joe Kee, Jr. on the “Adaptation & Dubbing Process of the Navajo-Dubbed Star Wars Movie.”  Professors Kee and  Wheeler were instrumental in the translation and production of the Navajo Star Wars movie.
                Life principles and Navajo traditions were woven throughout all of the presentations and demonstrations.  All presenters emphasized the importance of learning, recognizing and appreciating the culture and history of the Navajo people.  This is the fourth workshop conducted by the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. and the first one held on the UNM-Gallup campus.  

(Written by Marilee Petranovich, Marketing and Communications Officer)