Monthly Archives: April 2011

Being Active in Student Organizations can be Motivating

Dina Jackson

By NVC Student Dina Jackson

College can be overwhelming, without a doubt. Many times I remember feeling all alone in my journey especially when I see no signs or reminders of the end result. This tends to slow us down and/or we lose focus of what we are trying to accomplish. I have found the remedy – becoming active in student organizations (especially those pertaining to your field of interest). Attending speech seminars, career fairs and other school sponsored events is definitely the cure.Student organization membership not only allows us to meet new people with interests and goals similar to ours, but it also exposes us to new ideas (ideas that would have never occurred to us otherwise). The experience offers a whole new perspective and allows you to grow as an individual.

I am a fanatic when it comes to attending school sponsored events. I must admit, if my schedule permits, I even attend those events that do not necessarily have anything to do with my major. Why? Simply because after each and every event, especially speech seminars, I have walked away with tons of new and useful information that I did not know before and that I can apply in my own personal life. I cringe at not being able to attend an event because I wonder what will I miss.

Recently, I attended an “Accounting Stars Luncheon” at UTSA’s College of Business. It was a great experience!!! Attending this event was definitely worth my while and more productive than I ever imagined it would be.

Part of the program included a panel of three former UTSA students whom are all now very successful individuals in the accounting field. The panel was made up of a gentleman happily working for KPMG, an accounting firm; Stephanie Davis, vice president of Corporate Tax for Valero and another lady who is chief auditor for Frost Bank. They talked to us about their experience at the UTSA Business School. They also talked about hurdles and their greatest obstacle(s) when they graduated and went to work in the field. They gave us advice and provided us with reassurance.

According to the panel, the accounting field is an area which provides new challenges almost every day; however, it is definitely rewarding. It was very inspiring to see and hear these individuals. I was also able to get a few great UTSA contacts relating to the accounting department, which will be very helpful in the near future:

Needless to say, I left this event with a new level of motivation and vigor to continue chasing my dreams. It was extremely motivating to meet successful people, working in my field of interest, that once stood where I am today. Hearing their testimonials, learning about their struggles and challenges as they moved through school and into their careers, but most importantly, witnessing their success today has definitely and positively influenced my life. I’ve always known that there would be challenges along the way, but after attending this event, I now know that everyone faces similar challenges and I’ve witnessed the success at the end of the tunnel through other people. I feel more confident than I ever have before; I am forever grateful.

Dina Jackson is graduating this May with an associate degree in Business Administration. She is transferring to UTSA in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.


Alamo Colleges Students Volunteer At Morgan’s Wonderland

By NVC Sophomore Dawn Thomas

On Saturday, April 9, the Student Leadership Institute students, led by Rodell Asher and instructors of the Alamo Colleges, descended on Morgan’s Wonderland eager to learn how they could serve and become volunteers of this extraordinary place that is the only park in the world designed with special needs in mind.

Volunteer coordinator Jere Delano greeted the students with a warm and energetic smile. After a short training session with Jere, whose name tag reads simply “Jere – Loves his grandkids,” the students participated in a ribbon cutting that was held in honor of the park’s 1st birthday celebration where General Manager Dave Force and Founder Gordon Hartman each spoke. The inspiration for Morgan’s Wonderland is 17-year-old Morgan Hartman, who grew up as a special-needs child. Morgan danced around in the background during the ceremony and greeted everyone with her contagious smile as well as handshakes and hugs.

The SLI students and instructors were given their assignments in the park and sent out for what would become a life-changing day for all included. Students volunteered at the park’s many different attractions such as the fully accessible Carousel, Sensory Village, Off-Road Adventure Ride, Wonderland Express & Depot, and The Wharf. To see pictures of the students, click here.

Jere reminded the student volunteers that this park was not only designed for the special needs visitors, but for all to come and play together.

“This is a place where families come for a rest from the daily routine,” explained Jere, “they know they can come here and not get the strange looks and stares that they receive out in the world because people do not know what to say or how to react to those with special needs.”

In the year since the park has opened, there have been visitors from 48 states and over 15 countries. Many visitors on that Saturday were there for the first time such as Tonya Sprowl who is from New York, but is stationed in San Antonio in the military. She and her husband have two daughters, ages 13 & 7. Their 13 year old is in a beautiful purple wheelchair and playing on the Butterfly Playground with her little sister as I spoke to her mother.

Mrs. Sprowl described her family’s experience as “Amazing. We are able to play as a whole family. My daughters are able to play together and do the same activities.”

The park has a huge impact on its volunteers as well. When asked what she hoped her SLI students would get out of the volunteer experience, instructor Veronica Rosas- Tatum from Palo-Alto College said, “My only desire is for all of the SLI students to experience the inclusiveness of this environment and gain an appreciation of how easy it is to interact with a special needs individual.”

My own personal experience at this magical place was something that I will never forget. I met so many lovely people like my new friend Renessa and her 11-year-old son Robert, and Clara, and Alice – our Duchess of Dance for our parade. My new friends all have a special place inside my heart now as do their parents and family members that I got to visit with. Their infectious smiles and sweet spirits will stay with me forever.

I must also include the park staff in my list of new friends as well. They all set fabulous examples and were so helpful and grateful for all of the volunteers there. As a matter of fact, I was so moved by my experience at Morgan’s Wonderland as a volunteer that I have cleared several dates on my calendar so that I can go back and volunteer again.

At the end of our long day, Park Director Peter Albarian, whose name tag reads “Hippie Bus Lover,” thanked the SLI student volunteers and the instructors for their time and hard work. He had warned us earlier that morning that we would leave with a different perspective.

“Outside these gates is the real world,” said Albarian. “In here is a wonderland where miracles happen every day.”

Please visit for info on how you can get involved and volunteer.

Dawn Thomas is also an NVC College Ambassador and in SLI Student-Tier I