From GED to NASA

FCR Team Template with 2 Patches

Paul (center right, wearing purple polo) worked with this group during Orion’s EFT-1 launch in December of 2014. He helped to prepare the control center architecture for launch and also wrote a program that flew on the spacecraft.

My name is Paul Hamilton and I was once sitting right where you’re at: at Northwest Vista College. Those days were tough, I remember. I was working full-time at a Chinese delivery restaurant making minimum wage just barely scraping by. Thankfully FAFSA came through and NVC was affordable!

I spent two-and-a-half years at that campus, starting in the spring of 2011. I took all of my basic prerequisites before I transferred to UTSA’s engineering college.

During my tiLR_Job_0048.jpgme at NVC, Math Professor Dennis Gittinger and his College Algebra course really gave me the confidence to pursue engineering. I didn’t really have a “plan” so to speak but by the end of my first semester, having spent it with Dennis, I was convinced of my own potential and declared as a pre-engineering major. From there, I was accepted into the NVC’s MIM (Math-Intensive Majors) calculus program where I did Calculus I & II. This program helped me tremendously in preparing for the intense math that awaited me at the four-year university. I was fortunate to be a part of MIM and I greatly appreciate the dedication that NVC Professors Claudia Verdin and Manuel Escobar provided through the wonderful program
. Beyond that, I think it was the easy-going feel of NVC and the small classes that helped me the most in transitioning.

Transitioning to the university was tough for me but my time at NVC made that easier. I didn’t have the greatest GPA, or scholarships, or anything really. I was just very ambitious when starting at UTSA and I made it a goal to shake hands with as many professionals as I could. I quickly made contacts in various research programs and volunteered my time to help them with their events to illustrate my work ethic and willingness to sacrifice my free time to better myself.

I did a few different research programs at UTSA, starting with the Transfer Academy for Tomorrow’s Engineers. This is an excellent summer bridge program that introduces STEM majors to higher order mathematics while also allowing them real research experience (which is excellent to have on your résumé). That program helped me get familiar with the campus and the faculty during the two-week in-class portion of the program. From there I continued networking and volunteering my time until I received a job as a tour guide at UTSA. I continued applying for as many programs as I could, with little luck. I was finally accepted into the LSAMP research program where I spent one semester working with one of the doctors at UTSA. That program was very good to me and ultimately took me to Florence, Italy, for the whole summer in 2014, all expenses paid. When I returned from Italy, I continued taking classes while also participating in UTSA’s Air Force ROTC detachment as a contracted cadet.

I half-heartedly applied to NASA’s Pathways program in the fall without the expectation of even receiving a phone call back. To my surprise, I was accepted into NASA’s Pathways program and spent the better part of two years, intermittently, working for the agency. And I am so thankful and humbled to say that just three weeks ago I was offered a full-time position with NASA’s Johnson Space Center. All this to say, it doesn’t happen overnight. And, it’s not easy. It’s just not! But that’s something that makes it worth the time and the struggle to get there. And I promise you that if I can do it, so can you.

I made it out of a minimum wage job and a GED program to one of the premier engineering entities in the world. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. Make up your mind that you’re not going to hit that snooze button, then roll out of bed and make it the best day you can! Consider how privileged you are compared with some of the other people around the world. Humble yourself and network. Smile and shake hands, even if it feels awkward. It gets easier. You’ll meet a lot of great people throughout community college and the university you choose to attend. Keep in touch and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You choose the life you lead. Choose carefully!

– Paul Hamilton

Note: Paul received his associates in pre-engineering from NVC in the spring of 2013. He is currently finishing his Bachelor of Engineering at UTSA and will start with NASA as an engineer when he graduates in May. As an undergrad student, Paul was able to join the NASA Pathways program, which offers federal employment for students and and graduates.


NVC Female Students: Apply by Nov 4 for Spring 2017 Scholarship

scholarship480Eligible women attending Northwest Vista College may apply for a $500 scholarship from Network Power/Texas. The deadline to submit applications is Nov. 4. Applications are available in Manzanillo Hall, Room 104D.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a female student currently enrolled at Northwest Vista College
  • Have a current 2.5. or higher Cumulative GPA
  • Student must have a minimum of nine (9) credit hours already completed
  • Must submit completed application, transcript (can be unofficial) and typed essay by the Nov. 4, 2016, deadline.

Applicants should deliver a hard copy of the completed application, transcript and essay to Manzanillo Hall, Room 104D by 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4.

Questions should be directed to





Your Vote is Important

Vote ButtonOur nation’s voting season is upon us. Daily we are hearing about our presidential candidates through television, news, radio, and social media. Individuals are already starting to form their opinion on who they will vote for in November.

According to “Young-Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections,” it’s typical that in American elections, “young people have stood out for their consistently low levels of electoral participation.”

The importance of us voting is critical. By not casting a vote, we are not helping ourselves, and doing a disservice to our own country. If we want to see change or have our rights remain the same, we need to go out and vote. Regardless of whether or not, you agree with the candidates 100 percent, we need to find our common ground this November during the election. We spend too much emphasis on not voting rather than understanding and getting to know our candidates in one form or another.

We need to not only look at our presidential candidates, we also need to consider our local candidates to be tomorrow’s leaders. I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Javier Salazar. He is the current Democratic candidate running for Sheriff in Bexar County.

tnI got to know that he is a 23-year veteran San Antonio Police Officer. When I asked what qualities he can bring to the county and the job, Salazar replies that he wants to build a foundation in Bexar County.

“What I would like is to have a relationship between law enforcement and the residents.”

It is this type of understanding, we as students, need to be doing more. I listened to what he had to say for an hour, and it gave me an understanding of what issues are happening around our beautiful city.

If we can just take the time and pay attention to the upcoming presidential debate this evening and listen to what our local candidates have to say, then we can certainly be a little bit more educated on issues, rather than solely just plain saying no to voting.

If you are not registered to vote, you have the opportunity to get registered tomorrow at the Cypress patio from 9 am to 2:30 pm.

By NVC Student Jay Jimenez

Ready, Set…Graduate


Hello NVC students, hope everyone is doing well and attending classes regularly. I just wanted to give reminders to our students who will be graduating this semester. This is definitely an exciting time and what better way to end the year than with your associate’s degree.

A few tidbits to keep in mind: 1. An advisor is necessary for anyone who needs to fill out a graduation application. 2. The deadline for this application is October 31st. (So that should be an easy date for you all to remember so you can go ahead and schedule your appointment). 3. The application is free!

This is your time to start looking into which college you would like to transfer and start the application process. The cool thing about NVC is that there will be an event called “Gradtober Fest” on Wednesday and Thursday October the 19th and 20th. This event will give you the opportunity to apply for graduation and meet with transfer schools. It is definitely a win-win solution to have questions answered and avoid long lines. You want to make sure your transfer will have a smooth transition especially before your Christmas break.

Secondly, being it is mid-year for financial aid. Give yourself extra time to make sure you make any updates or corrections to your financial aid file at their website: This is imperative to ensure funds will be ready for you to register come this November if you plan to attend the spring semester.

Lastly, if you do belong to an organization like Phi Theta Kappa, The National Society of Leadership and Success or Psi Beta you will need to do your own research if there are any fees applicable to wear their cords at the graduation ceremony. Each club has their own set of guidelines if you plan to walk in the graduation ceremony in spring 2017 with their respective distinguish cords.

Follow these quick, simple steps above and you will be closer in attending your school of your choice with your associates degree in hand. Congratulations to our future leaders from NVC!

By NVC Jay Jimenez

Vista Runners Have Great Season Opener

14291824_10210641034768621_6243063681392821317_nThe Northwest Vista Cross Country team had a great showing at their season opener hosted by Our Lady of the Lake University.

The race took place at Windcrest Golf Club with the boys running an 8K and the girls running a 5K. There was some good competition as Texas A&M Kingsville, Trinity, Incarnate Word and Sul Ross were all an attendance, to name a few schools.

The Vista men’s team placed 6th place beating out Schreiner University and Sul Ross!

Finishing first for the Wildcats was Freshman Nelson Vila, coming in 35th with a time of 31:32. Javier Ramirez was 43rd with a time of 33:00, Vincent Del Pino wasn’t far behind in 47th with a time 33:24, Adam Soto was 49th with a time of 35:54, Aaron Beattie was 50th with a time of 36:16, and Micah Florence was 52nd with a time of 37:25.

The girls didn’t have a team but still had great finishes. Karla Presa finished in 28th with a time of 21:53 and Yaritza Sandoval was 45th with a time of 26:50.

The student athletes have been training really hard for the last three weeks and can’t wait to see improvement at their next race on October 1st in Uvalde.

“First Week Done…Now What?”

IMG_5747So your first week has passed, and you now have a better understanding of the parking situation. Hopefully you have made at least one new friend in each of your classes. So now what?

Well you would be happy to know that it does get better. I cannot tell you countless thoughts I had about questioning my professors or my own abilities. Did I choose the right professor? Is it too late to drop? Can I handle these assignments? I have these thoughts every semester.

What I can tell you is that I take each course week by week. Make sure to communicate a bit more with your professors and peers in your class because by doing so, it will expand your horizons, and believe me at NVC this is what professors appreciate. Plus getting the conversation going helps you when doing your group assignments because that awkward silence is no longer there.

By attending classes, you will start to feel a sense of accomplishment throughout the semester. It feels good when you have a purpose. You will start to notice that you will get better at managing your time too. You will want to try to avoid becoming complacent because it’s not beneficial for you when you need to turn in assignments.

So pat yourself on the back, you made it the first week. Be mindful of resources available to you around campus. Ask questions, this is your time. Let’s make it a fun semester and participate in activities around NVC so you can learn about all the cool things NVC has to offer.

By NVC Student Jay Jimenez

If you plan to Complete your Degree/Cert

If you plan to Complete your Degree/Certificate this summer, you MUST go through Graduation Advising by June 30.