Pierce Pioneer

Highs and lows of quarantined mental health

Students have had their share of mental ups and downs during quarantine and though some saw the lockdown optimistically others weren’t so sure how to feel.

Having an extrovert or introvert personality had an impact on the mental stability of students as they managed schedules, family, friends, work and solitude. 

“It’s a rollercoaster, where it kind of depends on what I am thinking about,” said Zakariah Swanson ASPCP president of Puyallup student life. “If I can look at the silver lining or not.” 

College life is never really stress free even for the “best” student. There are students that are faced with more than just the usual issues and have added strain due to already having underlying mental health concerns.

“Every day felt like bricks on my chest, the amount of stress I felt,” said Vanessa Garcia, student engagement coordinator. 

Garcia was candid and revealed she has Asperger’s Syndrome and told of the difficulty she was faced with during the pandemic. She also said her favorite part about the quarantine was getting to wear sweatpants for events.

Some students looked at what was lost but also looked at what could be gained. Still the longer it went on the more tiring and the less motivated students were to put up with the status quo.

“The pandemic amplified my mental health,” said Nathan Haueter, student organizations coordinator. “When I was doing really good it made it even better and when I was doing bad it made it worse.”

Finding a solution to manage the highs and lows of mental health seems to rely on relationships and being around people for the motivation to do good. Not having the usual net of people around has made the pandemic more difficult for some students while others were able to stay motivated.

“Celebrate small victories,” said Madison Rannow, vice president of student organizations, commenting on what she would likely tell her past self before the pandemic.

Looking back, many students will have learned many different lessons through diverse struggles, each as hard in its own way as the other. The world turned small for students, both foreign and domestic and all the possibilities that once were within reach were somehow taken and placed a little further out of reach.

Equity Diversity and Inclusion Senator Jessica Xu, finds having an adaptive mentality to be beneficial. Being an international student who has not been able to go home in over a year has built frustration, especially not being able to have family around as a support system.

For some students, the pandemic felt easy at first but harder as it went on. Time out of school kept expanding and became more strenuous. Along the way most students learned to not be hard on themselves and found a way to thrive in the midst of this moment in history.  

“I got used to it and got into a system where my mental health is not based on the circumstances, but on what I decide it to be,” said Karen Nunex-Michel, vice president of activities board.

 


Things to Do This Summer

Where are all the student resources?

Students feel uninformed of the available resources Pierce College has to offer due to lack of advertising

While Pierce has gone through many lengths to make the abrupt transition to online learning as easy as possible for both its staff and students, one issue remains prevalent. As Pierce discusses returning to in-person teaching the issue of advertising available resources remains.

Pierce College students are saying they’re not fully aware of the college’s resources available to them virtually. This is largely because Pierce hasn’t advertised these resources, they say, leaving it up to students to search websites to find what they need. There are useful tabs of info and help that students are missing, most likely because they are unaware it even exists.

Student Heather Schlaht used online resources for her English classes but not for other classes. Schlaht wouldn’t use resources from the library unless it was necessary, as she would prefer to act independently as a student.
“Depending on a specific assignment, [professors] usually tell us, ‘Hey go to this thing on the Pierce website,’” Schlaht said.“[But] I think the biggest problem Pierce has is the multiple layers of websites. When you go to a resource, it’s kind of cluttered I would say.”
Unless the school or a professor specifically guides them to a needed resource, there isn’t much reason to dig further to see what other resources are available. On top of this, some of the pages on Pierce’s site require you to visit multiple links just to get to a specific section. Because of this, it is assumed that many students act independently in their classes when searching for resources.

“I remember there was one thing like the Ctclink [and] trying to get to it; they have this thing where it’s like [you go to] the Pierce website and then it goes to some other website, then you have to click a link to get to your Ctclink,” Schlaht said.

Schlaht often looks on her own to find needed resources online, especially when the college has multiple platforms for information to search through. Students such as Cannon Combs, however, said he didn’t use the suggested resources at all.
“I heard about the Writing Center in English,” Combs said. “I heard about the Tutoring Center from a friend and all the other resources I learned about in English, but I didn’t end up using them,” Combs said.
Combs did in fact sign up for tutoring but didn’t want to wait for the scheduled time, and found the answer he was looking for himself instead. He ended up asking a friend to help out and canceled the session.
Students like Combs question whether they should use Pierce’s available resources such as the Tutoring Center, or use a more direct approach and search for their answers right away, rather than wait for a session.
Pierce provides many resources that can help with school, and counseling is also available to help students with what’s going on around them personally. Some resources students should know about include the library’s website, Writing Center and Tutoring Center. All these resources help with homework or anything students are having trouble with.
The Tutoring Center is a place where students can receive help with homework and understanding their course work. Kannika Armstrong, a Pierce tutor, used to be a college student last year, but now sees both the students’ point of view and the tutor’s point of view.

Tutors like Armstrong are helping students get access to resources like the Tutoring Center by encouraging them to come to a session. Even if students are scared to ask questions she guides them through it.

”Tutor is not a teacher,” Armstrong said. “We don’t teach you, we just come to work together. I can’t grade you, so it’s ok to make a mistake and to say “I don’t know”. [Tutors] support you.”

Armstrong encourages students to seek help in any way and continues to help make that resource as accessible as possible. “I asked the professor to set up the Homework Help form in the module so if they have a question or ask [one] the tutor would go to them and help. But I will guide them, not give them the answer,” Armstrong said.

”You can ask in the Homework Help form, but you have to wait for the answer. But, if you come to the session you get help right away.”

Students who would prefer to receive help through messaging, rather than verbally have that option as well. “I have a student that just messages me all quarter,” Armstrong said. “It’s ok [for them] not to come to the session because [they] still message and contact me and get help through messages.”

Keith Kirkwood, the program manager for the Writing Center, further explains how the Writing Center is a resource available to assist students as well as the Tutoring Center. The Writing Center has an online course on Canvas where students can enroll to get help.
“It gives more information about who we are and of videos explaining how we do things, and resources we create in the house for students about particular assignments,” Kirkwood said.
The resources you need are all on Canvas under the Student Support tab. There students can find the Tutoring Center, the Writing Center and even the library. These can be accessed by clicking on the required tab needed to take you to the resources information.

With the resources in the student support center, students can find amazing people to contact and get help from. Tutors like Armstrong, for example, are there to encourage you and guide you through the answer, rather than having to rely on friends. Many more are ready to help students as well.

Don’t be scared to ask for help; these resources are here to aid students, not to judge or grade them. The resources may not be advertised in the most resourceful way to find them, but they are there and with many resources currently that could greatly aid students in need.


Links to resources from Pierce:

 

Online Library “Ask” Desk: Link

Writing Center’s general page: Link

Tutoring Center page: Link

CtcLink sign-in page: Link

Bookstore homepage: Link

Veteran Services homepage: Link

International Education homepage: Link

Financial Aid homepage: Link

Tuition Installment Plan: Link *(If you need to break up your quarterly charges for classes into increments)

Other Financial Aid Resources: Link

Scholarships homepage: Link

Work Study homepage: Link

School Calendar: Link

 

 

This one goes out to all the fathers out there. I know it’s not easy, I’ve seen my dad struggle with the best of them. I wasn’t always appreciative as I should be to my dad, but as time goes on I realize how much he sacrificed. It took time, but I realized sometimes showing appreciation comes in the form of just growing up and trying to shoulder the same burden our dads did. That journey of self-growth, becomes the catalyst to the only on-going relationship some of us will have with our dads.

I never had a great relationship with my dad. He provided for me, I never went hungry or cold, and he told me stories. But talking with him wasn’t a normal thing by any means. The relationship I have with my dad is non-verbal, and the ways in which I grow to be like him are from the non-verbal parts of myself that not only learned from him but came from him.

Whether gift or a curse, fathers hold a major part in our lives, something I intend to continue to set further out on my life to understand.

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes new Vice President

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes its new Vice President of Learning and Student Success, Dr. Ilder Andres Betancourt Lopez, following an email announcement from PCFS’s President Julie White on June 3. Lopez is expected to join our Pierce community come August 2, 2021.

“[Lopez] brings a wealth of expertise to our work to create an anti-racist institution, in order to fulfill our mission at Pierce College: to provide quality educational opportunities to a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world,” White stated.

White further shares in an email announcement a biography provided by Lopez himself, which gives more insight into our new vice president. From his biography, it states that Lopez grew up in an impoverished area in Los Angeles, being born from undocumented, Latino immigrants.

“When Ilder entered Stanford University, he felt blessed but he also wondered how to best maximize the privilege,” White stated. “A career in the community colleges became the obvious answer. It was and still is the nexus of opportunity for many of his family members and peers.

“Throughout his career, Ilder applies an equity and social justice lens to all his leadership decisions. Ilder believes it is not our students that need to change but the institution that can change to better address the issues faced by our students. He has devoted his career working at the community college to fulfill this philosophy.”

Lopez is currently the Dean of Science at Bellevue College, where he has developed and overseen their division’s efforts to provide learning opportunities during the COVID pandemic. Some of Lopez’s work also includes providing culturally responsive teaching and services training to all employees through a partnership with Bellevue College and the national Puente Project.

Pierce College looks forward to welcoming its new vice president with open arms. In due time, students and staff alike will be able to get to know Lopez more personally as he becomes a part of the Pierce community.

Catching up with the Wadaiko Club

Two thunderous live performances and an interview with members of Pierce College’s Wadaiko Club

 

On Friday, April 30, six members of Pierce College’s Wadaiko Club gathered at the Sunrise building of Fort Steilacoom for a roaring and united live performance. The club performed two songs, “Amaterasu”, which translates to “God of the Sun”, and “Umi wo Wataru Sakura”, or “Cherry Blossom Across the Sea”.

Wadaiko, otherwise referred to as Taiko drumming, is the art of Japanese drumming. Introduced to Japanese culture decades ago, taiko was first utilized in military combat, but would later find its place in the Imperial court and theater.

For members of the Wadaiko drumming club, performances and practice give space for community and creative expression.

The second song performed, Umi wo Wataru Sakura, symbolizes the club’s members in the United States and Japan. This can be heard in the song’s polyphonic melodies, separate and distinct but joined to create a beautiful sound.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wadaiko club has not had the opportunity to resume practice on campus, however online practices are hosted every Sunday with additional information available on the groups facebook page, linked here.

This performance was brought together and made possible by the official Pierce College podcast, PierceCast, which can be found here.

COVID-19 Self-Test Kits available at local libraries

On April 14, 2021, Tacoma Public Library and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department partnered up to offer free self-administered COVID-19 test kits, with library cards not being required. The kits can be picked up at any TPL location during their service hours, or by speaking with a librarian at one of their branches; it is unclear if the Eastside Community Center is included.

Afterwards, the kit can be registered online using the included instructions. Once that is complete and the test has been administered, the kit can be dropped off at a UPS store or UPS drop box. Postage has been included since it is required that the kit be mailed to UPS the same day it is taken. TPL advises those interested to not bring kits back to the library after picking one up.

This is a great way to give people more flexibility and privacy while also being safe. For more information regarding TPL’s pickup services and schedules, visit TPL’s Events calendar.

The student media teams are searching for creative co-workers.

It’s great opportunity for someone looking for part-time employment within the college that offers a flexible schedule. Students who work for the media teams will bring new voices to publications to give us fresh perspectives.

This is a work-from-home opportunity until campus reopens.

  • Starting pay: $13.94/hr
  • Starting hours: 10-15hrs/week

Positions begin in late August and will continue throughout the 2021-22 school year.

Positions Available:

Online Manager: The student responsible for the look and content on the website.

Social Media Manager: The student who creates the content for the social platforms.

Writers: The students who research, interview, and write stories.

Requirements:

Team members need to take 10 credits each quarter from fall to spring and maintain a 2.7 grade point average.

Contact adviser Teresa Josten at [email protected] for more information or detailed job position descriptions.

APPLICATIONS DUE MONDAY, MAY 24.
APPLY TODAY.

Littering in Local Wetland

EDI Cares Student of Color Empowerment Summit

On Feb. 25 and 26 students took time out of their evenings to enjoy a moment of positive thinking and self-improvement with Pierce College’s EDI Cares community. TheEquity, Diversity, and Inclusion College Access, Retention, and Engagement Services seeks to empower students to achieve their academic, professional, and life goals, according to their official page on the Pierce College site.

 

This mission is profoundly evident when attending their Students of Color Empowerment Summit, which provided holistic support and self-improvement methodology that is incredibly valued in our trying times.

 

The event was primarily hosted by the associate director of EDI Cares, Ciera Graham, and had a mission statement of discovering the power of you. EDI Cares seeks to build a structure that sees and hears students and how when nobody else is around for support, you will always have yourself. This is often not available to students of color at primarily white institutions.

 

For many students of color at Pierce College, the past 12 months have represented a period of bitter social unrest and political turmoil, which could be further compounded by the stress of starting a new school or re-adjusting to life on a digital platform. 

 

With a wide array of activities, from lessons on criminal justice to talent shows that demonstrate the multi-faceted creativity of the black diaspora, the empowerment summit’s strongest power is that it managed to balance moments of light-heartedness and fun with earnest stories of loss and the power of fighting on.

 

The event opened with an icebreaker from Pierce College’s community engagement specialist, Kiana Fuega. Each participating audience member was asked to name their real-life superpowers, before transitioning into words from EDI Cares Vice President, Charlie Parker. This was to demonstrate how we are people with multiple purposes on this Earth, and that our superpowers are not solely individual, but developed through lived experience. 

 

The other primary focus of the event was wellness and the things that we do to preserve our purpose and have conversations with ourselves. They developed the idea of Habits of Excellence , which refers to the actions that you take in your life that improve your physical and mental well-being.

 

The event coordinators used a mixture of fun and lighthearted activities, such as giving yourself a theme song or taking selfies to appreciate your image, with earnest expressions and stories of mental health struggles and rejuvenation. The result is a presentation event that is incredibly accessible to students at Pierce and representative of a minority group that is deserving of a safe space and community at Pierce College.

By the end of the event, students were left feeling more powerful and capable of taking on the world than they had before. The 31st Annual Students of Color Conference — “Hear Our Voices: Resilience Powered Change” will take place Thursday April 15 from 11am-3pm and April 16 from 10am- 6pm. More information can be found on their FaceBook, linked here.

Vice President of Learning and Student Success Debra Gilchrist parts ways with Pierce College after 30 years

Pierce College president Julie White announced March 3 over email that on June 30 will say good-bye to Debra Gilchrist, who is retiring after 30 years of service to the school. 

As the vice president of learning and student success for the last 9 years, Gilchrist has continued to gain the respect of her colleagues through her dedication to excellence.

“Throughout her time, she led the re-visioning of the library into an award-winning program, guided us through successful accreditations with the NWCCU, and collaborated on a district-wide model of academic leadership,” White stated. “Deb has been a strong, quiet, persistent voice for continual improvement.”

White commented on the difficulty to replace Gilchrist’s role as vice president for learning and student success, but the search for a successor will begin and the announcement will be given in the near future.

“Please join me in wishing Deb the very best,” White stated. “We will be sure to celebrate and wish her well before June 30.”

Kicking it with Q – Episode 3 – Food for Thought: Valentines Day

Quintin Mattson-Hayward and Daniel So go around asking students about their Valentines Day thoughts.

Editor: Quintin Mattson-Hayward

Logo: Jesus Contreras

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