Written by Phil Cerroni
Thirteen area community college students who demonstrate leadership potential and the determination to succeed have been named 2012-2013 Muse scholarship recipients by the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) Foundation. The recipients also are selected on the basis of their focused educational goals and work ethic, along with proven leadership skills and academic achievement.
Initiated and funded by longtime DCCCD Foundation supporters Lyn and John Muse of Dallas, the Muse Scholars Program pays for each scholar’s college costs at DCCCD – including tuition, books and additional fees – to meet the requirements of his or her certification program or degree. Recipients may receive the Muse scholarship for up to six consecutive semesters.
“Determination and potential are key characteristics we look for in our Muse scholars,” said Betheny Reid, associate vice chancellor of development and president of the DCCCD Foundation. “Lyn and John Muse believe in those traits, as well as a strong work ethic and clear educational goals. Each recipient exhibits those characteristics, and we are excited to have them as students at DCCCD. They are future leaders, and we hope to help them reach their educational and professional goals.”
This year’s new Muse scholars, their home towns, colleges and intended majors, are:
Mussie Abraha Abed of Richardson, El Centro College, nursing;
Everardo Amaya of Dallas, Eastfield College, renewable and sustainable energy;
Ernesto Banuelos of Irving, North Lake College, business administration and engineering;
Martha N. Barajas of Garland, El Centro College, nursing;
Courtney Belcher of Mesquite, El Centro and Eastfield colleges, nursing;
Domitila Lico Guevara of Rockwall, Richland College, international business and trade;
Rachel Slagel of Little Elm, Brookhaven and El Centro colleges; echocardiology technology;
Chukwuka John Umeojiako of Addison, Brookhaven College, psychology.
Returning Muse scholars include:
Ahmed Rashad Elhelw of Addison, Brookhaven College, petroleum engineering;
Sharon Ji of Dallas, North Lake College, biology;
Michael W. Packer of Richardson, Richland College, accounting;
Erika Quinn of Garland, Richland College, architecture; and
Stephan B. Sawin of Glenn Heights, Mountain View College, business management.
Source: Dallas County Community College District
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 September 2012 17:33
Written by Phil Cerroni
Last Updated on Sunday, 09 September 2012 17:31
Written by Phil Cerroni
At the 15th Annual Transportation and Infrastructure Summit presented at the Irving Convention Center Aug. 14-17, one of the most widely discussed topics was the plan to install a high-speed rail in Texas … by 2020.
Irving City Council Member, Roy Santoscoy, enumerated on the benefits a high-speed railroad would have on Irving.
“I think because of our location here in Irving being right next to an international airport, being halfway in the middle of the state of Texas, halfway between the two coasts, we have a logistic spot that transportation and infrastructure both are interested in. Whether it’s commuter traffic automobile or airplanes or rail line or waterways, I think Irving needs to stay abreast of everything that’s going on. By having the summit here we’ve been able to bring leaders from across the country and even internationally, which gives us a perspective that’s not just national and also it exposes Irving to people from across the country.”
Travis Kelly is the director of Lone Star High-Speed Rail, LLC. To date, the company has not laid any rail, and they are using their time to educate government officials and potential partners of the benefits of building a high speed railroad in Texas.
“We think it’s a great solution for Texas,” Kelly said. “At the end of the day we don’t expect to put the auto out of business; we don’t expect to put the airline out of business; we just want to provide a third option that will meet the travel demands as Texas continues to grow.
“High speed rail is a huge driver of economic development, and this has been shown in countless markets around the globe. Transit oriented development is something that is really starting to catch on in America. When you fly into Washington, D.C. you can see there are clusters of economic growth all around the metro stations, and we would expect the same thing for our major terminals in Texas.”
High speed rail not only brings economic benefits with it, but it is perfect marriage of efficiency and sustainability.
“It’s all electricity; it can be a completely free transportation system,” Kelly said. “You can essentially plug the system into nuclear power or renewable energy, or it can also run off the existing grid.”
The summit’s opening address was given by Paul Priestman, Director of PriestmanGoode, a consulting firm that designs the interiors of trains and airplanes. His plans for high-speed rail go far beyond simply adding a new, convenient means of travel. He wants to create a completely new way to travel.
In his opinion, the greatest hindrance to current rail travel is rail travel itself.
“A lot of the railroad design you see currently is very agricultural. It’s very strong and quite crude when really it could be much more elegant,” Priestman said. At the conference, he presented some very interesting concepts to make rail travel more appealing to travelers, in particular, businessmen.
“Here you have a first class area that’s also a lounge,” he said while showing a slide of a very well-appointed cabin. “It’s more like a lounge you get at an airport – to appeal to the business customer, probably the one sector we have to appeal to most because they tend to drive around in cars, alone, taking up a lot of space.”
Rail travel is not only about comfort and efficiency, however. Priestman says it is a national symbol.
“Trains can be an absolute beacon of a country’s presence, an example of great design and engineering,” he said.
This is not just some ideological selling point. Priestman brought up examples of how an eye for national identity makes trains more attractive to travelers.
“It has to have the right characteristics, the right cultural understanding. If you’re designing a train in China, you always have to have hot water in the vestibules at the ends of the trains because everybody likes drinking tea. When designing a train in New Zealand, we weren’t designing bike racks, we were designing surfboard racks,” Priestman said.
Last Updated on Sunday, 26 August 2012 19:51
Written by Phil Cerroni
Community organizations join forces to help children most in need
Over 2,000 students and their parents benefited from the school supply initiative spearheaded by the Irving Community Action Network (ICAN) at Irving High School Aug. 18.
“When it is all said and done, we will give away almost 3,500 backpacks to the kids,” said Doug Fox, Executive Director of the Irving YMCA and Chairman of ICAN. “Last year, we did it at the Irving Mall to maximize our number of partners. We gave away 1,500 backpacks last year, but there was a flaw in the way we did it at the mall. We identified Irving High School as a place where we can get more kids through safer and quicker.
“We’ve worked with the school district in a number of different departments to put this event on,” Fox said. “Our committee has focused on making sure those who need the backpacks the most are the ones who receive them. We have 70 partners this year; we had 35 or 40 last year.
“Irving Bible Church has been a huge supporter both financially and with volunteers,” Fox said. “The Irving Las Colinas Rotary Club gave $5,000 to buy back packs. Chase Bank and a long list of others have helped. Today, what has been really impressive is, besides the number of adult volunteers, we have all of the ROTC students from Irving High School. They are helping with the check in and handing out the supplies. They have just been outstanding. The future is bright looking at these kids the way they are helping out the adults today.”
The Irving Senior Arts Program (ISAP) provided 30 volunteers.
“I was contacted by Thelma Cantu, coordinator of Partners in Education with the Irving Independent School District (Irving ISD),” said Kitty Baker, founder and director of ISAP. “All of our members love giving back to the community for all that we receive from the community and all the ticketing that we get.”
When parents arrived, they presented their ticket to the ISAP greeters, who gave them their golden passport and told them how to begin the process to receive their backpack and school supplies. They had to visit at least five vendors and exhibitors at the information fair before going to the dental and vision screenings.
Jennifer Dickson attends Irving Bible Church and is an assistant principal at Johnson Elementary in Irving ISD.
“I think it’s neat to see the different groups come together, the churches and the different volunteer groups, partnering with the district,” Dickson said. “Our kids who really need school supplies are able to get their needs met whether it’s vision or medical or school supplies. It’s just really neat to see the community come together, and it’s fun to be a part of it.”
Wendy Gibson, a Senior Executive Assistant with Chase Bank in Irving, said they have handled filling the backpacks for the last two years.
“We stuffed about 1500 of these backpacks and arranged to have them picked up from our building and brought over here,” Gibson said. “Our volunteers are here today handing the backpacks out to the children. We also collected supplies from other businesses, and we did a backpack drive our self, and donated about 200.”
Several departments throughout Irving ISD were involved.
“This is a business and community partnership with Irving ISD to bring backpacks with school supplies to the children most in need in Irving ISD,” said Erin Yacho, Coordinator of Parent Involvement for Irving ISD. “There have been different events and activities that have gone on at different places like Irving Bible Church, Chase Bank and other churches and businesses and organizations. We wanted to bring everybody together and not only get the synergy that will bring and be able to serve more people but also to bring them more.
“So we added an informational fair with close to 30 booths who are talking about social services for the needy in Irving. We also added visual and dental screening run by volunteers from the community.
“Excess backpacks will be distributed to the campuses, and the schools will give those to the most needy,” Yacho said. “There is an event called Back to School Fiesta at Irving Mall every year, and the initial reason for that event was to give vaccinations and backpacks. But what we wanted a venue that would be just for Irving ISD kids.”
“Over 100 volunteers are here from the companies and churches that donated the supplies. We used the free and reduced lunch list and went to the bottom of that list and invited those families. We plan to do 6,000 next year.
“Food services provided breakfast or lunch for the children,” Yacho said. “(Students and parents) went through the informational fair, then the medical, then received their backpack and picked up breakfast or lunch on their way out, all free of charge. Volunteers from all over the community came: Irving ISD’s Security Department, Communications, Parent Involvement, and Teen Court came.”
Vision and Dental
Dr. Stephen Crane from Baylor College of Dentistry, four dental students, two students from the University of Texas at Dallas, and Dr. Rena Cuba, who graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 2004, performed the dental screenings. In three hours they had examined 90 children and expected to examine about 150 children by the end of the day.
“We are doing a visual, oral screening,” Dr. Crane said. “We’re looking to see the condition of their mouths and if they are getting good dental care. If we see any problems, we write it down on a sheet, and we inform the parents that the child needs to have certain things in their mouth addressed and fixed. We have information about how to become a patient at the dental school and the Community Dental Care Clinics which accept Medicaid and CHIP.”
Irving Lions Clubs were on hand to do the vision screenings.
“We are doing very preliminary eye exams,” said John Stare with Irving Noonday Lions Club. “If we notice a problem, we let the parents know that the student needs to see the nurse at school to have their eyes reexamined. We have a vision clinic set up for Sep. 19 and another one in November where the children can see an optometrist. They can pick out frames, and they will get their eyeglasses at no charge.”
Stare was keeping a data base of all the students they felt needed to be examined by the nurse, and he said they would send those names to Irving ISD.
More services for families with financial needs
Irving Bible Church: Ministries include medical, single parent, ESL, citizenship, food, student, and career transition workshops. Go to IrvingBible.org for a full listing of services.
Launchability, ECI and Supported Employment: These groups provide services to children and adults who have a developmental delay. They help adults with disabilities find jobs. They are funded by United Way and accept Medicaid and private insurance for the therapies for conditions such as autism.
Juice Plus: A whole food supplement that contains 17 fruits, vegetables and grains has a child study that will allow one child per adult in a family to take the product for free. Go to juiceplus.com for more information.
Earn It, Keep It Save It: A United Way program which offers free tax preparation for families with incomes below $50,000. Go to www.irvingcares.org/free-tax-prep-at-irving-cares.
Boy Scouts: Citizenship training and personal fitness. Go to beascout.scouting.org.
Last Updated on Sunday, 26 August 2012 19:50
Written by Phil Cerroni
Every year, TXU Energy, one of Dallas’ local energy suppliers, holds a special event for the children of their employees. It is called Solar Day, and it is meant to teach kids ways that they can help sustain our energy resources.
For the past four years, five dozen kids ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade visit TXU’s headquarters on Sierra Dr. in Irving to learn how solar energy works through workshops like using light to power a motor or experiments in reflective vs. absorbent surfaces. There were also just for fun stations where kids could get their nails painted with a polish that changed when it was exposed to the sun’s rays. Even the nail polish had a point as it demonstrated the energy transfer of the sun.
Juan Elizondo is responsible for corporate communication at TXU and was more than happy to elaborate on the importance of events like this to spread awareness.
“It’s a great way to connect our kids to what their parents do, and really help make a connection to the importance of power,” Elizondo said. “Our hope is that they bring it out to their friends. Most kids, especially this age, have science fair projects that they have to do, so we hope it gives them some ideas; and it gives them some good habits out into the community.”
Elizondo continued to share some of the way that adults can be sustainable as well, especially during a Texas summer.
“For most houses, fifty or sixty percent of the energy is going to your air conditioning,” he said impressively. “So by controlling the air conditioning, you can really get some great savings.
“We really advocate programmable thermostats, because even if you’re not going to waste any money by turning it off and turning it back on when you get home, you don’t’ want to get home to a hot house.”
Contrary to some opinions, cooling a house down when it is hot actually does save power.
“It does not take more energy to cool it back down. In some cases it might take less than leaving the air conditioning on all day. Generally speaking, you get home in the evening it’s not as hot as it is all day, and you haven’t been running it all day long. So the consumption is going to be equal if not less.”
Not all conservation techniques are equal, however, and Elizondo was quick to point out some of the most common urban legends about beating the heat.
“People leave fans on thinking that’s going to cool down their house. It really doesn’t. A ceiling fan or an oscillating fan makes us feel cooler, and the only way we feel cooler is if we’re in the room with it. It’s an urban myth that if you leave the fans on it cools the house and lowers your bill. It really doesn’t; it uses power for no good reason.”
One surprising fact Elizondo revealed was that energy companies want customers to use less of their product.
“To us it’s very important that our customers understand the power that they’re using - what they’re paying for, where they might be able to conserve,” he said. “Not only is that good for the entire state because of generation issues, but also because you don’t want to pay for power that’s not benefiting your family but is running in your home when you’re not there.
“We want to be a good advisor; we want to be somebody you can trust, and if we are helping you to conserve, we feel that creates a good relationship. A good, long relationship is better for us, is better for the customer.”
Michelle Due, a TXU employee, brought her son Nicholas to Solar Day for the second time. She says that he enjoys the activities, and she appreciates the information it teaches.
“They can learn what they can do with the sun, the energy they can create, how they can save other forms of electricity using solar power instead,” Due said.
They have already put some of these practices into place in their own home.
“We don’t use the lights during the daytime – we have lots of windows so we use the sunlight most of the time. We don’t’ even turn the light on till it gets dark,” she said.
Melanie Harper, a veteran teacher of 30 years, now participates in the NEED Program (National Energy Educational Development Program) which works with parents students, teachers, and government to build an energy conscious society that understands how to conserve so it is sustainable for the future.
“It’s important that they understand that they need to unplug their cell phone charger so that it’s not using energy when it’s not using the phone,” Harper said referring to the students at the event. “If we give them little tips like that, it teaches them conservation and sustainability for the future.”
Although some of these kids were just leaving grade school, Harper was adamant that these lessons were completely appropriate to them.
“We are not going to run out of the sun’s radiant energy, so it’s important to teach them that is a viable resource to use, that it’s renewable. That can help us not to use so many non-renewable sources of energy, which conserves natural resources for future generations,” she said. “They’re young. We’re planting seeds.”
Last Updated on Sunday, 26 August 2012 19:48