Student Life, our catch-all term for student clubs, student government, advocacy and other enrichment opportunities, is critical to the development of students at PCC. During office hours at West Campus last week, I sat down with Advanced Program Manager Dr. Daisy Rodriguez Pitel, Support Technician Shawn Graham, Student Life Coordinator Jennifer Wellborn and Bécalos Program Coordinator Yvonne Perez to talk about the role that co-curricular activities have in fostering a well-rounded student.
Student Life encompasses a broad range of initiatives involving civic engagement, service learning and cross-cultural awareness. Student Life improves students’ ability to work well in a team, obtain leadership skills, and communicate effectively. It also has a key role to play in achieving greater diversity, inclusion and global education, a key goal for PCC. That is the impetus, for example, behind the requirement that the 50 college students from Mexico studying at PCC this semester join one of the more than 30 student clubs at West. Interacting in a variety of settings with people who are not like you benefits everyone. [The West Campus community, including the President’s Office, the International Student Services Office and Student Life, has given a great welcome to the students from Mexico, whose semester here is being supported by the SEP-Bécalos-Santander Universidades International Program. I will be writing more about this great international initiative very soon.]
My West Campus office hours also included a tour of the classrooms and industry-standard labs of our Photography program. [I’d like to thank Photography Instructor Ann Simmons-Myers, Lab Specialist Karen Hymer and Acting Dean of Arts, Communications and Humanities Trina Felty for the tour.] PCC offers an Associate of Applied Arts degree with a concentration in Photography, as well as an Associate for Fine Arts for transfer. Students taking our classes are pursuing a variety of education goals. Some intend to transfer to The University of Arizona to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the discipline. Others are budding entrepreneurs who hope to open their own studios. Still others are taking photography courses as part of their Digital Arts or Fashion Design studies at PCC.
Excellence in photography has been a hallmark of PCC for more than four decades. The renowned Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery is named for the father of photography education at PCC, who died in 1989. The program has since been expanded and enhanced to stay ahead of the technology curve. Our community partners include UA’s Center for Creative Photography, the Tucson Botanical Gardens and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, among others.
One of the fascinating aspects of the tour: It revealed that even in this digital age, the relevance of “old-fashioned” photography – creating art with the help of darkrooms and chemicals – remains strong. Our students, while learning cutting edge digital photography, are also exploring 19th-century techniques such as cyanotype printing. They are even experimenting with printing that requires neither chemicals nor camera. [The accompanying photo is by student Ryan Dillon, a former Bernal and Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship winner currently enrolled in our Radiologic Technology program.] And they are mixing digital and darkroom photography to produce a wealth of creative mash-ups.
One student said she finds photography stimulating because it pushes her to change the way she looks at the world. And, when you come to think about it, that’s an eloquent description of what we at Pima Community College, through our classroom and extracurricular offerings, seek for all our students.