Friday, March 11, 2011

Two Phoenix College students are named to the All-Arizona Academic Team

Phoenix College students Tyler Olsen and Victor Carrasco joined college presidents, legislators and other dignitaries during a celebratory luncheon at the Fiesta Inn on Thursday, February 23, 2011 where they were honored for making the 2010-2011 All-Arizona Academic Team.

Victor Carrasco, Third Team
The academic competition is sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, the American Association of Community Colleges, and USA Today, and recognizes outstanding community college students for their commitment to academic achievement, leadership, and community service.

Olsen and Carrasco are among an elite group of 66 outstanding students from community colleges across Arizona to receive this honor. All-Arizona team members are placed into First, Second or Third Team positions, and are automatically considered for the All-USA Academic Team and additional scholarship and award opportunities.

Olsen, named to First Team, and Carrasco, named to Third Team, will both receive a two-year tuition waiver to the Arizona state university of their choice, a medallion, and cash scholarship.
Tyler Olsen, First Team 

Tyler Olsen, as the top scorer in the state of Arizona, has also been named a Coca-Cola New Century Scholar. He will be presented with a $2,000 scholarship and plaque from the Coca-Cola Foundation and Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

New Century Scholars will be featured in AACC's Community College Times and Community College Journal and on the national Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society website. The Scholars will also be listed in the April 11th issue of USA Today featuring the Coca-Cola New Century Scholars.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Meet the Artist and Preview the Exhibition: Wildlife Photographer Willis Peterson

Photographer Willis Peterson will showcase his spectacular photographs of the natural world at Phoenix College’s Eric Fischl Gallery from March 7 – 25, 2011. The public is invited to meet the artist and preview the exhibition, entitled The Glory of Nature’s Form, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 7 during a free event at the college, located at 1202 W. Thomas Road.

Peterson’s exhibition at Phoenix College will feature images from the Southwestern deserts and the Arctic region. The photographs represent a portion of a larger exhibit of Peterson’s work that premiered at the Valley’s Heard Museum in 1973. Since then, it has graced museums and galleries nationwide, including the Museum of Natural History in New York, the National Wildlife Gallery in Washington D.C., and the Wildlife Experience Museum in Colorado.

Peterson, who is also a teacher and author, has spent the better part of his 87 years photographing wildlife and nature in locales all over the world, from the Arctic tundra to World Heritage Sites in Central America.

His passion for photography began at age 14 when he received a box camera from his mother as a birthday gift. He had been “collecting” wild animals in a makeshift backyard zoo, and his mother believed the gift would re-direct the young Peterson’s energies.

“That opened up a completely new venue for me,” said Peterson, who grew up in Colorado and took an avid interest in nature from a young age.

Peterson applied himself to achieving an education as passionately as he pursued his talent for photography. He enrolled at Phoenix College, and found his time there to be pivotal in his personal and career development, thanks to the encouragement of faculty and staff. He graduated in 1947 and went on to attend Arizona State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and, later, a master’s degree in visual technology.

“Phoenix College will remain as a place where figuratively I grew up,” said Peterson, who remains connected to the school by providing an endowed scholarship for talented students who demonstrate insight into seeking the beauty of nature and environmental issues through photography.

Peterson was a photojournalist for many years and later became a feature writer for the Arizona Republic. As a successful full-time freelance photographer, his work has appeared in National Geographic, Time/Life Encyclopedias, National Wildlife, Audubon Magazine, Natural History and Arizona Highways.

In 1968, he was selected to build a photography program at Glendale Community College, creating the college’s photographic curriculum. He taught there for 18 years.

“It was a super time,” said Peterson. “A number of my students went on to be professionals after they left my classes, working for publications such as Arizona Highways.” Peterson found that teaching was an ideal fit for him, leaving his summers free to take “treks” with his wife and children to various locations and photograph the wildlife and scenery.

Peterson’s artistic intuition and exceptionally high standards have been major influences in the teaching of photography in the Southwest. In 1975, he was named Journalism Teacher of the Year at the community college level by the Western Newspaper Foundation.

Peterson is also an accomplished author. His book Colorado Kid: A Swedish American Boy Goes West tells of his life as a seven-year-old moving from Minnesota to Colorado Springs with the hope that the dry mountain air would help his severe asthma attacks. He covers the gamut from a small town boy’s backyard zoo, the cultural significance of his Scandinavian heritage, teachers who influenced his life, and the impact of the Great Depression and World War II.

Asked if he has a favorite image, Peterson cited a photograph he took during an Arctic excursion. The photo features a white Dall ram with curved yellowish-brown horns standing in a bed of wildflowers.

“Making pictures like that is something that stays with you,” he said. “There isn’t one image that I can’t remember. You become attached to those things – it’s part of you. You react with your subject and you capture something on film that will never be captured in that same way again.”

Peterson, together with his wife, Roberta, continues to travel and take photos. Among his goals is a trip to India to photograph tigers. He resides in Clarkdale, Arizona.

“By using the camera in an artful manner, I can contribute to people’s knowledge in a small way. I want to show that there’s a glory in every form of nature,” he said.

For more information about The Glory of Nature’s Form exhibition or the Willis Peterson Photographic Scholarship at Phoenix College, contact Frank Luna, Phoenix College Director of Alumni and Development at 602.285.7667 or

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Phi Theta Kappa to Host “Pledge to Completion” Signing at Phoenix College

Phi Theta Kappa to Host “Pledge to Completion”  Signing at Phoenix College

Statistics show the surest way for anyone to land a job in their chosen field is to finish college and earn a degree or certificate.

And that's exactly what students at Phoenix College are promising to do --  signing a mass pledge to complete their degrees and certifications before leaving community college for transfer or to enter the job market.

On Monday, March 7, 2011 between the hours of 9am and 12pm in Sophomore Square, students are invited to sign the completion pledge, part of a national community college movement. The event is being held in conjunction with the Phoenix College Transfer Fair and is being hosted by the college’s Phi Theta Kappa Rho Pi chapter. Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members are serving as the student arm of The Community College Completion Corps, a national education initiative.

In April 2010 leaders of six national organizations representing the nation's 1,200 community colleges signed The Call to Action, a pledge to increase student completion rates by 50 percent over the next decade. Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society was the only student organization asked to participate.

In October 2010 the first White House Summit on Community Colleges was hosted by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and a community college professor. President Obama, philanthropist Melinda Gates and a host of speakers praised community colleges for serving almost half of the nation's college students and playing a pivotal role in educating the workforce.

The President has called for community colleges to produce an additional 5 million degrees and certificates in the next 10 years, part of his goal to restore the United States as the world's leader in college graduates.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,250 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. More than two million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 100,000 students inducted annually.