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

Kids Need to Play

A new summer program provided for children interested in the STEM field

 

Starting this summer is a federally funded program called Kids Need to Play, where kids can learn, create and have fun using science. Kids Need to Play will provide opportunities like learning about new things within the STEM field such as animals or creating robots; there are even events for gaming, all for ages between 6-14.

 

This is an opportunity for children to get up and stretch their legs and learn to create something new. This program is also not worth a grade, it’s just for those interested in robotics and science. There are different camps for different ages, but spots are filling up fast.

 

Each day there are different events. On July 6-9 at 9:00 a.m. to noon the Snapology Jr. Scientist: All About Animals STEM camp will be held. Kids aged 4-6 can go and learn how caterpillars become butterflies. Children can also analyze how butterflies get to where they are and examine their cycle

 

For older kids, there is Game Bots robotics on July 6-9 at 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in the same place. But this time the event is for kids 7-14, where kids who like to play games online get to build a game. Game Bots robotics will allow preteens to see how games are made and learn all the math needed in order to make games.

 

Another robotics camp is about building the strongest combat robot that can fight other robots built. Kids not only have to focus on building the coolest one, but also what makes a robot work. This will help kids look at the bigger picture and learn to use lab resources. 

Sign up for this opportunity by visiting their website to learn more about Kids Need To Play.

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

Tacoma Mural Project

Tacoma is a city with a vibrant art scene, from its Art Museum and Glass Museum, to its Musical Playhouse, and the dozens of family owned boutiques and jewelry stores in between. Still, some of the most prominent pieces of Tacoma’s local art (as well as history) comes from its colorful murals decorating downtown Tacoma. 

The murals in Tacoma mix culture, advocacy, and tradition into art and with the help of Downtown on the Go and Spaceworks Tacoma, the legacies and meanings of these murals can be explored and discussed via a virtual 1.1 mail tour.

The first mural the tour shows you is titled Working Forward Weaving Anew, and according to the guides this mural “is designed to honor cultural traditions, the natural environment, and our need for new harmonious and sustainable paths into the future.” Painted by Esteban Camacho and Jessilyn Brinkerhoff with the help of a team of nine Native American artists, this mural was handpainted in only 6 weeks and is part of the Prairie Line Trail Project and reminds us to respect the land we share with others and nurture those relationships. 

A recent mural that was shown during this tour was a solo painting done by Tiffany Hammonds in honor of the 2020 protests, this mural isn’t painted directly on the storefronts and instead was painted on the boards during the protests in response to the death of George Floyd and the ongoing police brutality. In an interview with Chase Hutchinson of the News Tribune, Hammonds talks about the message behind this piece. 

“The message is hope,” says Hammonds. “If it’s our vision, that means we are capable of doing it.”

A more diverse twist on the usual painted murals on the tour was one done by David Long and Al Pikart who took screenshot images from webcam chats and turned them into an art piece drawing attention to the mistreatment of people detained at the NW ICE Processing Center. The words “Queremos Libertad” translates to “We want Freedom” and pushes Long and Pikart’s message that no human should be treated illegally. 

The final mural shown on the tour was a beautiful tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The artist, Nori Kimura painted this mural with four of his middle school students as he said it would be more meaningful to him. It was RBG’s work for equal rights, activism for women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community that inspired Kimura to paint this mural as a tribute to her work and legacy as an advocate and activist.

My takeaway from this tour was that our state is steeped in history and culture and although it may not always be pleasant we must remember it and keep it with us, for me, the art displayed on this tour is a reminder to embrace who we are, who we live with, and where we come from so that we might pave the way towards a better future.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pierce County enters phase 1 for a new trail in Tacoma

A breath of fresh air is being given to nearby residents of Tacoma and South Hill, with a newly planned trail being headed by Trails Coordinator Brianne Blackburn. Designs have been completed for the current pipeline trail in Tacoma to be extended to reach South Hill, with projections to start construction in 2022.

The Pierce County website stated their intent for the trail is to provide residents with expanded non-motorized commuting and recreational opportunities, while supporting healthy, active living.

“The long-term connection has long been a vision of Regional Trail advocates with the “Tahoma to Tacoma” vision connecting communities from Commencement Bay to Mt. Rainier National Park,” Pierce County website stated.

Pierce County’s pipeline trail will be a paved trail running along the Tacoma water pipeline between 72nd St E and 94th Ave E. This will connect Chapman Memorial Trail in South Hill with the newly constructed trail in Tacoma.

The project schedule started with analysis in Nov. 2019, and will have 3 public meetings in between the process being held as virtual open houses on the Pierce County website due to COVID-19 restrictions. The plan for the trail is currently in Phase 1, which will construct 1.6 miles from 72nd St E and Waller Rd E through Orangegate Park.

A grant application has been submitted for Phase 1 funding and the project is seeking $2.2 million from state or federal aid. All future phases will be planned as resources are available.

In the meantime, residents have opportunities for input and to receive updates on the project by signing up for email updates.

Washington moving to Phase 3

On May 18, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Washington state is moving to Phase 3 and reopening June 30. If at least 70% of Washingtonians over the age of 16 begin to get vaccinated before then, the reopening date could be sooner; currently we are at 56%.

 

The list of permitted activities is on the Roadmap to Recovery. It includes 50 people at an outdoor home event, 50% capacity for indoor sports and fitness facilities and 400 people at outdoor entertainment establishments. 

 

The reopening was recently paused for two weeks, but hopefully it doesn’t need to be pushed back any further. Washington will go back to a lower phase if the statewide ICU capacity exceeds 90%. If all goes well, then Washingtonians should be able to enjoy the sun this summer.

 

To be up to date on Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcements, visit his website here.

A Competitor by Nature

Desirae Garcia / Staff Photo

The inspiring journey of Jordan Dowd, scholarship recipient and family-made soccer player

Jordan Dowd, 18, scored goals on the soccer field ever since he was three. He’s been through many exhausting practices and adrenaline-pumping games. However, soccer wasn’t just a game; it was a way of life that his mother instilled in him. 

Dowd’s mother began teaching him the fundamentals of soccer, helping him surpass his limits and inspiring him to reach his full potential. Then last summer, he reaped the benefits of his hard work when he received a partial scholarship to play soccer at Pierce College.

After receiving the scholarship, Dowd realized how dedicated he was and the effort it took to get there. Playing for Pierce only confirmed that his passion for soccer can go so much further. “It’s really cool to see it pay off during the season in our games and practices. It’s something that I want to keep doing even in life after Pierce or after college.”

Though Dowd was born in a small fishing community in Gig Harbor, he was more adept at defending the goal than he was at trailing bait. As an infant, Dowd was strapped to his mother and lulled to sleep by the sound of cheering fans and blaring horns. 

His mother, a high school girls soccer coach, played the sport for a couple of years in high school, but she still had the determination of a professional. She coached Dowd’s recreational team when he was in elementary school, during which he remembers his mother telling him to put his best foot forward; otherwise he’s only cheating himself. “I feel like my mom was pretty hard on [our recreational team], in a good way, because she knew our potential and wanted to get the best out of us,” he said.

Dowd shared the same passion as his mother, chasing his own dreams in soccer. As his love for the sport grew, so did his competitiveness. He signed up for a local team, Harbor Premier, making friends, perfecting his craft and creating memories that will forever remind him of why he plays. 

During Dowd’s freshman year of high school, he switched teams, which allowed him to get out of his comfort zone and get mentored by professionals. He chose Washington Premier Football Club, which had coaches with years of experience either playing professionally or for a club post-college. That was exactly what he was looking for someone who can help him grow his zeal for the sport.

Traveling all over the nation and playing teams of various levels, sometimes playing one to three times a week can seem like an arduous journey, but Dowd said his love for the game kept him going. Dowd said that he loves to showcase how much he’s invested and how passionate he is for the game. “I feel like it’s an opportunity to express who I am, who I want to be, and just show my love for the sport and show off all the hard work that I put into it.”

As much as Dowd loves the game of soccer, he said the connections he makes with his teammates on the field are more valuable. “You work with the same guys day in and day out, and you really have each other’s back on the field; you have a great love for the sport, and you share the passion with each other. That’s something that’s carried on with me from elementary school now to college.” 

Not only is Dowd passionate about his love of the game, but he also wants to write about it professionally. He’s now pursuing a sports journalism degree at Pierce College and playing on their team. He said he’s happy how it all worked out for now, and he plans to continue his soccer career at a four-year university such as Whitworth University, Gonzaga University or an institute in California.

As much as he loves to play the game, he wanted to follow a path that allows him to capture his love for sports and creative storytelling. “My career goals after Pierce is something related to journalism on the sports side of things or politics,” Dowd said. “I loved sports ever since I could remember, and I guess I’m decent at writing, so I thought I’d put those two together.”  

Dowd said becoming a professional soccer player feels like a pipe dream, but if he got the chance, he would take advantage of it. “I’ve definitely thought about [playing soccer professionally] all my life. Sure after college, if the opportunity is there, I’d take it.” 

He hopes to inspire the next generation to pursue soccer professionally. “I dream to continue soccer, continue the game and to pass it on to friends and family and my future kids.”

Maker Space

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

Traditionally Underrepresented Clubs Voice Concerns, Ignite Change

Ty Phay / Staff Photo

Student Life hires advocate to support efforts in representing clubs

So you’re interested in starting a club at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom. 

To do that, you have to fill out a request form and submit it to the Student Life office. From there, Clubs and Organizations Senator John Shead has to organize it and send it off for approval. 

Whether or not it is approved isn’t up to Shead. While Shead can help clubs with issues they’re facing, he can only provide so much support alone. And unless you come to a Clubs Council meeting, which is held every other Monday, your grievances may not ever be addressed.

Student Programs Director Cameron Cox recognized some of the ongoing challenges that Student Life recently faced. “Last year, we were short staffed; it was a little chaotic,” Cox said. Not only that, but before this academic year, no one was appointed to support the club senator with club-related issues, including funding and representation. 

The Queer Support Club faced privacy and funding issues, while members of Indigenous at Pierce, before formally being ratified, said they felt unheard and unsupported by Student Life. 

Isaac Pennoyer, Queer Support Club president, said the group faced problems with getting transgender essential items, including binders and packers. These are items that can help transgender students with transitioning. Recently, the transgender essential items have been approved for purchase by Pierce College Fort Steilacooom’s president Julie White.

Pennoyer added that the Queer Support Club met in an open area, which he said did not provide them a safe space. Queer Support recently received a higher level of privacy when the Student Life club senator booked them a classroom. Even so, Pennoyer said the meeting place isn’t ideal.

“We were put in a room that is not optimal for what kind of club that we have,” Pennoyer said. “We need a place that is quiet and personal and [where you can] shut the door without a bunch of students needing to come in for a class, which is basically what we’re dealing with now.” 

Ty Phay / Staff Photo
Ashley Good(left) and Iopu Ignacio (right) are making fliers for awreness for MMIW: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Meanwhile, Indigenous at Pierce’s club president, Ashley Good, said she feels as though Student Life doesn’t do enough to help refer Native American students to the club. 

Good said that Indigenious at Pierce’s mission is to create a space for Native American and non-native students alike to share their experiences and be part of a community. However, she said she feels as though a lack of support and recognition from Student Life has made spreading their club’s goals difficult. 

“I think ‘unsupported’ is a good word for it. [There was] not really a lot of communication,” Good said. “If there is any communication, I feel like it’s pressured on the club to be able to have that, which is difficult for students sometimes.”

Clubs aren’t the only groups on campus that have faced issues. Members of ASPIRE – a grant-funded program whose mission is to support Asian, Pacific Islander, and low-income students – said that they feel as though their program is not taken seriously.

ASPIRE’s outreach assistant Iopu Ignacio said that when it comes to Student Life putting on cultural events, they wouldn’t collaborate with ASPIRE unless they asked. However, activities between ASPIRE and Student Life have gradually increased this quarter. 

Up until recently, Shead and Cox have attempted to handle most of the clubs issues. Now that Student Life has hired a Student Engagement Specialist, Walter Lutsch, he will work directly with clubs on their concerns. “I am here to support the club senator and make sure they are getting as much out of that time here in Student Government as possible,” Lutsch said.

Lutsch will oversee administrative work, support Student Life with campus events, and handle purchases and reservations. Lutsch said he hopes to bring his experiences and passion for clubs to Pierce. He wants to bring in the ideas, programs, and structural elements he learned at both Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College.

“I love clubs so much,” Lutsch said. “They are what started me on this path, and I feel I can bring this specific focus, and all my years working in clubs, and as a club leader to this.”

While the new SES settles into his role, Student Life is slowly improving their communication and organization methods. “For clubs, I am taking the steps to develop a plan to create an entire Canvas module, to help ease organization issues,” Shead said. “I don’t know how accounts will work, but I’m hoping this is something the new [SES] position can help with.”

While the SES was never an official position until recently, Student Life previously had an administrative assistant handling most of the campus club’s paperwork. When the assistant left in July 2018, Student Life chose to take their time looking for a new person for the position.

“[Student Life] recognized they needed a club focus [person],” Lutsch said. “Somebody who can really come in and focus on that and make it the best that they can be; I am honored and excited to be that person.”

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