Durango visits Morton College

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Last week Morton College had a visit from a group of students from Durango, Mexico. Several members of Phi Theta Kappa were very enthusiastic about advising and informing the students about what the American education system is like, what our school/campus is like and much more. It was very uplifting to see how well our PTK members not only served the group by answering any questions they had, but also made them feel welcomed by being genuinely friendly, what our campus is all about!

The event started out by having Jaime Lopez introduce himself and some opening remarks about Morton College. Afterwards, one by one, all PTK volunteers introduced themselves, their academic/career goals and something interesting about themselves, to break the ice.

There was an instant personal connection, seeing that many of our student’s come from Mexican heritage. Even some of our volunteers came from the same pueblo or rancho as some of the Durango students!

After telling a little about ourselves, as volunteers, we spread out to sit with the Durango students in separate groups and had some interpersonal communication. In our groups, we were to talk about different topics regarding education, our school, our experience and more. We then shared to the entire room our questions and important ideas from the discussion.

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Considering that a lot of what we talked about could be of help to many of our new students, I’d like to share some Q and A’s;

Q: How is college completion measured?

A: Here, we measure the number of accumulated credit hours.

This explains why two people can be taking the same class on different schedules, even though one person can go on MWF for 50 minutes, and another person goes TTH for 1 hour and 15 minutes, at the end, it accumulates the same time, thus the same credit hours. The number of credit hours needed to graduate depends what degree you are focusing on.

Q: What different academic programs does Morton College offer?

A: We offer certificate programs that can get you an entry-level job, such as nurse assisting, automotive service and more.

Furthermore, we offer different Associates degrees for those that wish to pursue a Bachelor’s degree once they transfer to a 4-year university. The associate’s degree will generally cover the general education classes and electives necessary for undergraduate students.

Q: What’s the difference between a 4-year and a 2-year school?

A: The difference between both is that in a 2-year school, usually, one would have to transfer out to receive a bachelor’s degree, and the options in the school programs are limited.

Although, there is benefits to a 2-year college; lower tuition, usually smaller class size (Morton College has a Student/Faculty ratio of about 22:1), which makes it easier to get 1-on-1 help.

Q: How can I pay for college?

A: Financial aid is available to those who are U.S citizens, and the amount varies, depending on your (or your family’s) income. Morton College does offer payment plans and school scholarships as well.

Q: Why is it important to apply for scholarships?

A: Scholarships are money that you won’t have to pay back, unlike loans. Except for certain scholarships, there is usually not a limit on how many you can apply for and some scholarships are even renewable. Applying or being accepted for a scholarship won’t exclude you or limit your chances for other scholarships. Remember to do your research and look for scholarships that you meet the requirements/criteria for.

After sharing some ideas and answering questions, each one of our PTK members mentioned some words of wisdom for our visitors to keep in mind, some ideas mentioned were;

“It’s okay to not know what you want to study, of course it can be challenging and even intimidating to feel the pressure of having to choose a career, but remember that the first classes you take are general education courses and electives, so that gives you more time to explore various subjects.” –Karen Ferrel

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“Never feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help! Use the school’s resources, like the Individual Learning Center, Student Success Center and Peer-Tutoring. After all, the school offers these to help you become a better student.”

-Iris Rodriguez

cropped-morton-student-center1.jpg“Remember to never let anyone deviate you from what you are passionate about, follow what makes you happy” –Jacquelin Padilla

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“Work hard and remember to have fun along the way.” –Gerardo Arias

 

After the words of wisdom from each PTK volunteer, there was a lunch held in the Student Union where both our students and Durango students shared ideas about college and their life experiences. Seeing the success and magnitude of this event, I  hope it continues to be something Morton College can keep doing next year and after that, hopefully in the future with various groups of international students!

Special thanks to the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Derek Shouba., Mrs. Avalos., Mr. McLaughlin., Mr. Fields., Mr. Drury., Jaime Lopez for being our host/speaker., and all of our PTK volunteers that did an amazing job at portraying Morton College as the friendly and caring environment that we are; Cintya Ruiz, Giselle Castaneda, Yaritza Sosa, Jacquelin Padilla, Karen Ferrel, Gerardo Arias, Karina Pina, Fanny Xelhua, Clarissa Marmolejo, Ana Ibarra.

 

 

 

 

 

LETS STAND UP TOGETHER

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Responses from Morton College students to a survey question concerning gun control.

The American public has become desensitized at these occurrences because we’ve seen this cycle before. The cycle is, there’s a shooting, we grief and pray for the families of those injured and passed, we call for action from politicians for gun control, nothing gets heard, nothing gets done and eventually, it happens again. The cycle repeats.

I wasn’t surprised about the news until I saw the videos from some of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. What I  saw, was a phone recording by a student that was huddled with other classmates for protection. There were loud gunshots, but what made me realize that this was something horrific, were the frightened screams from the trapped victims. Piercing screams far worse than those in scary movies. These demonstrated helplessness, and a desperate plead for mercy. That video wasn’t a minute long, yet it made me feel uneasy. I cringed at the thought of being there.

In an interview by ABC News, Jonathan Blank, who was seen in that video, laying on the floor, cowering, said, “I saw them on the ground after they were shot, there was blood everywhere, it was horrible.”

After seeing that, I began to imagine how terrifying it would be to witness a day in celebration of love and affection, turn into a nightmare. To watch, as it turned into a day where they prayed and pleaded to not die. To make it out alive. A day that these victims  began saying their goodbyes via text or call, almost accepting that they might die there. Ultimately, a day that would change their lives forever.

“No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” -President Donald J. Trump

 WHAT WE KNOW

“Blood is being spilled on the floors of American classrooms”         

 -David Hogg (victim).

As reported on TIME magazine, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel stated that gunman Nikolas Cruz (19), after taking an Uber car ride to the high school, began to “fire into five classrooms across three floors of the building at 2:21pm.”

According to CNN, “On the third floor, he dropped his rifle and ammo. Ran out of the building, blending in with students and staff who were pouring out of the school, many with their hands in the air.”

Officer Michael Leonard, said Cruz “looked like a typical high school student,” and was walking on a nearby neighborhood. From there, he was brought into custody without resisting. Cruz is now being charged with 17 accounts of premeditated murder. Currently held without bond.

THERE WERE SIGNS OF TROUBLE

Cruz has been reported by The Star to have been a member of The JROTC marksmanship program used air rifles special-made for target shooting, typically on indoor ranges at targets the size of a coin. The program had received $10,827 in non-cash assistance from the NRA’s fundraising and charitable arm in 2016. This was only one out of 18 schools total in just the state of Florida, more than any other state.

Another member of the JROTC program who gave Cruz rides to shooting competitions said, “He was a very good shot, and he would tell us about how fun it was to shoot a riffle, shooting pistols and owning an AR-15 at home.” Not knowing he would shoot up their school one day with that same gun he spoke so profoundly about, “as if it was therapeutic to him.”

“Why does a teenager legally have an AR15? Somewhere along the line, these guys (politicians) forgot they work for us not the NRA.”

-Jimmy Kimmel.

Cruz, a former student of the school had been expelled for disciplinary problems. Math teacher Jim Gard reported to TIME magazine that at one point Cruz wasn’t allowed to school with a backpack after making threats. Ultimately, shattering his plans of joining the Army after graduation. His peers described him as a loner, troubled kid, outcast and with violent tendencies.

It was also reported by various sources that he used to kill animals for entertainment.

HIS SUPPORT SYSTEM WAS GONE

Also, reported by TIME magazine, his mother passed away in November 2017. He and his younger sibling were legally living with a couple, family friends, who referred to his as a “monster” in an interview and mentioned they felt betrayed. They also stated there weren’t signs, other than “he seemed depressed.”

The Miami Herald stated that Florida’s Department of Children and Families had previously investigated Cruz after he posted Snapchat videos of cutting his arms. They reported that he was victim of medical neglect and inadequate supervision but was identified as “stable”.

BLAMING MENTAL ILLNESS

Cruz’s attorney argued that he had brain development issues, as well as mental illness. TIME revealed the response from The President of the American Psychological Association, Jessica Henderson;

“Framing the conversation about gun violence in the context of mental illness does a disservice both to the victims of violence and unfairly stigmatizes the many others with mental illness. Most important, it does not direct us to appropriate solutions to this public health crisis.”

I interviewed Morton’s psychology professor, Mr. Wood on his opinion, he responded;

“I agree, because mental illness has a broad range of different illnesses… if we could just pinpoint those who are pre-dispositioned to be violent…”

On February 15th at 6:12 AM, President Donald J. Trump tweeted:

“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior, neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

Once again, President Trump reiterates what we already know and blames. He always blames mental health to deviate from the real problem, guns. Even if he thinks mental illness is the cause, he’s a hypocrite for de-funding mental health care.

We’ve heard this from President Trump before, after the Texas Mass shooting in a church that left 26 killed and many injured, he said;

“Mental health is your problem here” called the shooter a “very deranged individual.” As a response to that, Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, the gun control group started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said to NBC News.

“Blaming mental health is a tactic straight out of the gun lobby’s playbook that’s meant to paralyze Congress. Donald Trump’s goal is to make people think our leaders don’t have the power to prevent gun violence.”

Yet as reported by NPR’s Scott Horsely nearly a year ago, The Trump administration signed a bill that “rolled back an Obama-era rule that would have required the Social Security Administration to send records of some beneficiaries with severe mental disabilities to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”

This is what NRA’s spokesperson Dana Loesch blamed at CNN Townhall when meeting with shooting survivors,

 “He passed the background check because the system is flawed… it is not federally mandated to report those that have convictions and have been adjudicated mentally unfit…that’s how this madman passed the background check.”  

Not to mention, President Trump’s 2019 budget is expected to cut spending for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration by $665 million. Additionally, Bloomberg reported the National Institute of Mental Health would see a 30 percent reduction in funding — a half a billion dollar decrease — in 2019.

THIS IS DIFFERENT

In the article, “The Righteous Anger of the Parkland’s shooting’s Teen Survivors” author Robinson Meyer, editor for The Atlantic, focuses on the importance of this shooting not only because it is the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary (2012) but because it’s the largest high-school shooting in the social media age. The survivors not only grief and tell their stories but are also calling for political action because they “understand the tragedy as adults but are as blameless for it as children.” Meyer writes that many of the victims were talking about the happenings as something that “just happens, not as an unforeseeable tragedy” because they have “visualized something like this before” and now we all visualize something like this happening to us. This cycle seems almost normal now. “Preventable, therefore political.”

I agree with Meyer, this shooting brings back the importance of stricter gun control. Myself, being a young adult and a student, I felt connected to these victims as they spoke of their lost peers and faculty. Watching the interviews of the survivors, reading their social media posts made me realize that we never think about this happening to us, until it does to us or someone we know.

Teens all over the country went back to school and felt scared or worried. Colleen Lance (16), told The Washington Post,

“It’s very anxious to go to school after a school shooting. It makes you more aware that you’re not safe.”

STUDENT OPINIONS

From personal experience at Morton College, I always feel safe in campus. That’s only because we have our very own campus Police Department, located in Building C, which we can dial (708) 656-8000 Ext. 2200 for any in-campus emergencies, and able to use one of over 30 emergency phones around campus. Although, reality is that we may never know when something like this could happen to our schools.

I began to question how other Morton College students felt about the subject. I asked the question; After hearing about the Florida high school shooting, do you think there should be stricter gun control? Which would include thorough universal background checks, more paperwork, various monthly and yearly examinations to obtain and keep a weapon(s).

I received a total of 68 anonymous votes.

57 voted yes, while only 11 voted no.

I originally asked for only a “yes or no” answer, although I received some comments on their opinions.

One student answered NO, but believes “the government, or schools themselves, should put more safety regulations.”

Another student, answered YES, and believes that “there should be fees added with the application process.”

A student that answered YES offered that, “besides stricter gun control, the government should provide more Americans with mental health awareness/help programs.”

STUDENTS STAND UP

Students of Stoneman Douglas demand action. Even when being interviewed by local news, shooting survivors like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez were quick to call for action, and have been in various interviews. So far, they forced a CNN town hall and got new commitments from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. There have been millions of dollars raised for protests such as The March for Our Lives and there’s a National School Walkout and many more to come according to Vox. Whether you think guns or mental health is the primary factor of mass shootings, whether you think the police and FBI failed for missing tips and taking action from that; it’s worth speaking out on. Let’s share our opinion, not simply ignore it. Bringing awareness to these issues is of extreme importance because these tragedies will keep resurfacing over and over if congress doesn’t act. Laws need improvement and that starts with raising our voices and concerns.

Perks of Being a Bookworm

By Mara Galeno

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“I don’t like reading” is probably a common thing we hear from others when bringing up the topic of reading. Why do people not read? Why don’t they like reading?

It all goes back to our education. In school, we are always taught to analyze and read between the lines of every single book. Some of us are told to keep a reading log and read a certain number of books in a certain amount of time to keep up with our grade.

I, for one, loathed reading back in 6th grade when I had to keep a reading log and write a page summary of every single book I read–a total of about 40 books for the whole school year.

Wanting to get over the irksome assignments, I decided to scan through the books instead of taking my time to read; ultimately, killing the joy of reading.

Unlike myself, two of my best friends loved reading. They would often read a book and discuss it in my class with each other. Feeling left out, I asked what book they were reading. They immediately handed me a copy of “The Hunger Games” followed by an enthusiastic look on their faces saying, “You have to read it!” and so I did.

I’ve never felt so much thrill while reading a book. It was exhilarating. I continued reading the trilogy and became intrigued. I wanted to pursue my new-found love for reading.

I became a frequent reader and was known as a “bookworm” in high school. My peers would often catch me walking in the hallways reading a new book or two every week (and witnessed my knack for walking without tripping as I would read).

By reading, I noticed a change in how quickly I would read, gained an extensive vocabulary, developed remarkable spelling and grammar skills, and most importantly:   a tremendous method of entertainment and stress-relief.

So why read? Reading can help for a vast amount of reasons such as improving in your academics, your work environment, health, and entertainment.

A great way to improve academically is by reading. When you read, you are reading a book the author wrote–a professional with an extensive knowledge on language arts and proficiency in writing. You tend to see words you aren’t familiar with and you create a definition from the context given. You develop the author’s use of vocabulary, and you witness how sentences are formed and how they use punctuation.

A vital skill you pick up from reading a book is comprehension. As you read, you discover what it is the author wants you to know, how certain topics and ideals made you feel, and summarize the book in your own words with your own opinion on it.

Being able to gain all those skills can really help when you’re put to the test. According to the American Library Association, “Fourth grade students who read for fun every day score the highest on reading assessment tests.”

Reading can be very beneficial when it comes to working. Before you even apply for a job, you must write a résumé. With your acquired knowledge of reading and absorbing the author’s writing skills, you can be able to write your résumé to seem more appealing in comparison to those of other job applicants.

Reading can also improve your speech and communication skills–which is essential in the workplace, while in an interview or speaking with your boss, co-workers, or customers.

Reading can help you sleep. When you create a habit of reading every night, you condition yourself to sleep–especially if you struggle sleeping. Once you pick up a book at night, your brain will automatically relax and subconsciously get ready for slumber.

Picking up a book and reading can benefit your health. Stress reduction is one of many. Figuratively, reading has the ability to mentally transfer you to another place and escape from your surroundings.

Reading may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation website, “Reading books and magazines, writing and participating in other mentally stimulating activities, no matter your age, can help to keep memory and thinking skills intact. The findings of a new study add to growing evidence that mental challenges like reading and doing crossword puzzles may help to preserve brain health and stave off symptoms of Alzheimer’s in old age.”

Lastly, my all-time favorite reason to read is for entertainment reasons! There’s no better feeling than getting sucked into a book. After reading for hours and hours as I use my imagination based off the words displayed on a book. Reading is one of the best methods for entertainment, especially when one starts binge reading and can’t put the book down (like Netflix when you can’t stop watching a show, but better, I promise!)

There’s so much detail and so much imagery in a book that you can’t quite catch when you’re watching TV.

“If you don’t like reading, you haven’t found the right book.”

(J.K. Rowling).

I guarantee that there is a book out there for you yet to love and enjoy.

Now that you know the benefits of reading, you may be wondering how you can start developing it as a hobby.

Visiting a library regularly or a bookstore can help increase your chances to read. You are offered a wide selection of books as well as a quiet space to concentrate while reading.

Keeping your book in hand, on your phone, or tablet and taking it to places with you helps promote reading; especially when you’re waiting in a long line, in a bus, train, or Uber, at a waiting room, or even when eating lunch.

Having a friend or even a blog to express your thoughts and ideas can also keep you motivated to keep reading and even gain more book suggestions from people who enjoyed the book you did.

You can also reward yourself by reading. If reading has been a struggle of a hobby you’ve been wanting to pick up, you can always treat yourself to something you want to propel reading.

Remember, don’t force yourself to read a book if you don’t like it. Read the first 30 to 50 pages of a book, and if it doesn’t catch your interest, simply put it down and search for another book.

If you really need motivation to read, check out 4-year- old Daliyah Arana’s story about reading over 1,000 books before entering preschool and hopes to read another 500 more before she starts kindergarten.

Reading is a habit worth picking up and the benefits that come with it are countless. Creating it a habit can be easier than you think, and it is a good investment of your time. Improve your test scores, gain communication skills, relax and unwind, and simply entertain yourself with a good book of your choice; you won’t regret it.