Pride Month: Legislative Edition

By: Kyrios LoNigro

This year is seemingly the worst on record for LGBT+ equality. More than 250 anti-LGBT+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the U.S. Texas is the leading state with 12 bills being proposed this legislative session, targeting transgender youth. One banning a type of school sports participation and, another, health care access to transgender children. and another. Debates over transgender people living freely in the U.S. have been shown to have negative consequences on their mental health.

Mateo Marquez, theater student, says his K-12 experience was exhausting. In high school he encountered more than name-calling, just for being a transgender student.

“Freshman year I was threatened,” Marquez said. “I was harassed [by one specific classmate.]”

Marquez’s classmate told others at school that transgender people needed to die. Despite this harassment, Marquez says the school did not seek disciplinary action against the boy. This type of discrimination causes many transgender students to drop out of school.

The Trevor Project is the country’s biggest LGBT+ youth crisis phone line, focused on supporting suicide prevention efforts for those under the age of 25. Phone calls drastically increase when when trans-phobic rhetoric circulates and bills are proposed.

Missi Patterson an ALLY at ACC said, “I hear so many people in the lawmaking community say, ‘You’re either a man or a woman. It’s just science.’ I want them to understand that that’s not even true.”

Texas and Florida are the two top states with the most instances of Fatal Anti-Trans violence, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“It’s scary because your life is at risk here – they’re making fun of you solely because you’re trans.” Marquez said. “You don’t want to be hate-crimed for it, but you also want to stick up for yourself.”

Ari Thomas, a health science student who is also gay and non binary. Although they believe their sexuality hasn’t received negative responses at ACC, they have not come out as non-binary.

“I’ve never had anybody say anything to me just because I’m gay,” said Thomas. “People don’t know I’m non binary at ACC but that’s mostly because I’m doing online classes and haven’t gone to in-person classes yet.”

Thomas expressed that if they did encounter discrimination they wouldn’t know how to handle it due to lack of face-to-face interactions with instructors in remote classes and online information.

“I’ve never seen anything LGBT related on the website,” said Thomas.

Neither Marquez nor Thomas knew about ACC’s LGBT+ Equity Committee, whose aim is to provide education to faculty, staff, and students at ACC about LGBT+ issues.

A primary component of the committee is their advocacy for long-term systemic change that can be achieved by policy revisions and support networks through their ALLY program and events.

Despite one of the committee’s goals of providing support, the committee is not often easily accessible. A Google search brings you to their Facebook where little information is provided on the committee – only their email.

“You have to know how to search for us,” Matthew Campbell, co-chair of ACC’s LGBT+ Equity Committee, said. Campbell said the secrecy is due to bigoted language they have received in response to trying to reach students through ACC’s email contact lists.

“It’s usually on the lines of homophobic or religiously motivated,” Campbell said. “We don’t do that anymore.”

Campbell also shared the committee is working with ACC to require students to participate in sensitivity training to mitigate the issue after they expand their ALLY program. So, for the moment, the committee is building their own email lists and operating by word of mouth.

 “All organizations have to go through a chain to be able to access those email addresses,” Campbell said.

Interested students must opt into receiving their newsletters and emails. Campbell shared that the committee has been receiving more engagement recently, but the pandemic has made connecting to students difficult, being that information isn’t as easily found on posters on campus or other ways.

In her psychology class, Patters creates space for her LGBT+ students by asking them to put their pronouns in their zoom names. Additionally, she asks them to provide their preferred name at the beginning of class.

The Ally Program trains ACC employees to create space and support for LGBT+ students. Employees of ACC can become an ally by filling out an interest form. Interested parties will be notified when a training is available.

“[The training] wasn’t difficult at all,” Patterson said. “We had an incredible guest speaker from UT and it was really enjoyable.”

In addition to the ALLY training, Patterson recommends training on how to be an advocate through organizations like the Texas Freedom Network, Texas Rising, and Equality Texas.

Many LGBT+ youth and adults are not accepting of these bills filled with trans-phobic rhetoric being proposed into the Texas legislature.

“We don’t need people checking our genitals. End of story. We are who we are. We are just like everyone else,” Marquez said.


Mateo Marquez, Ari Thomas, Missi Patterson, Matthew Campbell
(left to right) Mateo Marquez, Art Thomas, Missi Patterson, Matthew Campbell

ACCENT On Air E00

ACCENT is launching a new podcast, called ACCENT on Air. This weekly podcast is created to be a one-stop-shop for the essential information that students at Austin Community College need.

By: Zeus Enole

First Episode of our new Spotify Podcast

ACCENT is launching a new podcast, called ACCENT on Air. This weekly podcast is created to be a one-stop-shop for the essential information that students at Austin Community College need. Each episode includes announcements or reminders about upcoming events. Additionally, every episode will have a guest speaker help us take a closer look at a service or resource that the college  provides.

The first episode, E00, is a pilot introducing this new project. It includes an interview with Multimedia and Social Media Coordinator for Student Affairs Communication, Halie Ramirez, as well as information about ACC’s Community Resources page. You’ll also hear about the following announcements and events:

  • The college was closed Sunday, April 4.
  • The priority deadline for ACC’s General Scholarship has been extended to May 1. Visit https://www.austincc.edu/students/scholarships for more information on how to get started. 
  • Summer Registration opened  April 5 for current students. For new students, registration will open on April 19. 
  • The last day to withdraw from classes this semester is April 26.
  • ACCENT Student Media hosted a Kahoot trivia event with Student Life on April 5. Attendees were able to test their knowledge on 2000’s to 2010’s pop culture.  
  • Student Life hosted  a Leadership Development Workshop called Building Your Personal Brand on April 7 at 4 p.m.
  • Riverbat Success Programming  is hosting the virtual event: Poetry for Take Back the Night on April 9 at 5 p.m.
  • Join Student Life for their virtual watch party of “A Mile in His Shoes” on April 12 at 3 p.m.

In the interview with Halie Ramirez, we discussed her role at ACC as well as her position as faculty advisor to ACCENT. When asked about her involvement in ACCENT, she talked about her experience in student media while she was in college. 

“That’s where I got to build my network for my career,” she told us, “which, I like to say [that] every job I’ve ever had–I would not have gotten there without having someone from my network to help me get there. Every student should be involved in a student organization in some way; you never know who you’re going to meet. That’s a part of higher education, is building that professional network.”

 Listen to the full interview on IGTV or Spotify. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

You can find more updates on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Have an announcement you’d like us to include in future episodes? Email us at editor@austincc.edu

Volunteering During a Time of Isolation; What Students Can Do?

ACC staff and community members provide different perspectives on volunteering in isolated times.

By: Renata Salazar

As a college student, volunteering is essential when seeking to become involved in your community and craft better relationships. With hundreds of volunteering options and resources, it can be overwhelming to take initiative and find the best option for you. ACCENT spoke to Austin Community College’s Service-Learning Program Coordinator Sabryna Groves, to get a better understanding of the steps students should take to find volunteer opportunities and what it means to become an active community member. ACC student, Olivia Cruz,also gives us insight on what she gained from her experience volunteering through ACC.

As COVID continues, Groves gives us her thoughts on how the pandemic has affected community involvement. 

“I have seen a lot of volunteer organizations are pivoting to work virtual opportunities and safe socially distant options into their agenda. Virtual volunteering is great but I think we will still see a demand for in-person volunteering.” 

Groves believes that our social climate has played a part in the increased demand of students in search of volunteer opportunities. Movements such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate have encouraged students to get involved within the community.

“There is a lot of motivation for people to become involved in their community I think now more than ever, and there is a serious demand for us as ACC faculty to make opportunities as visible and accessible to students,” Groves said.

Before the pandemic, Cruz volunteered through Student Life by participating the monthly food distributions that are partners with Central Texas Food Bank. 

“I very much enjoyed volunteering for student life at ACC. I wish I had the opportunity to do it again. I felt like I really had a place and all the people around me had the same intentions to help out,” Cruz said.

Since COVID, Cruz feels that there has been a tremendous decline of volunteer work. Due to safety protocols, gathering in groups and social interaction is not as common as it was before. Cruz shared that she feels that ACC should bring more awareness to virtual volunteering opportunities for students. . 

Groves gives us her top three resources for volunteering through ACC. First would be for students to start at Student Life and look for volunteer work there. Next would be Riverbat Reach, a website that includes 30 different community partnersj that the college has. Through Riverbat Reach, students can join the volunteer program and find work suitable to their needs.. As the final resource, Groves recommends givepulse, a website that provides multiple opportunities. Here students can create a free account with their ACC email and find up-to-date information on volunteering options. 

Groves is currently working with ACC students in the visual communications area of study  to learn how to make volunteering opportunities more accessible to students like Cruz in the future. Students can fill out this survey and participate in helping ACC encourage and present more opportunities to students to give back.

“When you’re working with people within your community and you’re having conversations about social issues, and working together to make a change it’s a very fulfilling feeling,” says Groves. “It gives you a reason to care about Austin and like being able to give back to the community.”

Alumni Highlight

Austin Community College produces some of the hardest-working, talented alumni in the world. ACCENT met with ACC alumni, Antonio Cueto, to learn more about their experience with the college.

By: Pete Ramirez

Meet Antonio Cueto

Cueto graduated with their degree in Psychology and Journalism in May 2020. They now work as a freelance journalist for NPR affiliates. Cueto has melded what they learned at ACC, such as photojournalism, into multidisciplinary art for galleries in Texas and in a new Austin-based streetwear brand named Civil Unrest

Watch our Q&A segment with Cueto

The ACC Experience From An Alumni Perspective


Q: What is your experience with ACC?

A: I went to ACC a semester after graduating high school. I had started to go to UTSA but it wasn’t working out.

I went to ACC because it was the best vehicle to explore different career paths and it was good school to feel comfortable in a smaller classroom setting.” 

“At the same time, it’s a really good vehicle to explore different interests and get support from professors and all the resources ACC provides.

My experience with ACC was fruitful. I started out as a psychology major but during my last semester I took a journalism class with Professor Paul Brown and it honestly changed me.

I took News Reporting I and the first assignment was to go to an event and write an article about it. Being in the field, interviewing different people, and structuring a story by what you get, felt like a rush and a calling.

I fell in love with it.

Q: Did ACC meet your expectations?

A: Yeah, definitely. I went to ACC because I knew it was the best option to learn about myself and in the end, I really found out what “my purpose” was.

Q: What was the best part about your time at ACC?

A: I think making all those connections that led me to bigger things. Especially working with Professor Paul Brown in general. He changed my life.

He’s a very passionate professor and he has so much experience. The way that he teaches about his profession is so contagious. It really makes you fall in love with journalism.

I started the ACC Star with him, which is the newspaper for the journalism department. I was the founding editor and that was super cool.

I think those are the best parts of ACC because it put me on a path toward the career that I wanted,.

Q: Were you involved with any other student organizations during your time at ACC?

A: Yeah, I was the Hispanic student senator for a year with student government. I was also the campus vice president for Riverside in Phi Theta Kappa for a semester and a member throughout my time at ACC.

Both organizations are pretty influential at ACC. Especially student government. Student government exists at ACC but not a lot of students know about it so it was interesting to be in an organization that has some power. I think it’s the most power that students can hold at ACC to change things and make policy.

Phi Theta Kappa was great too. They also helped me a lot with becoming a more responsible, motivated student.

They emphasize leadership a lot and that really gave me a lot of experience for leadership roles and confidence that I need in journalism.

Q: What would you say to someone who might be unsure about attending ACC?

A: If they have a clear path toward what they want to do, then go for it. ACC is great for students that aren’t sure of what they want to do.

It really opens up so many opportunities and helps you find whatever you’re missing to make that leap forward in your life or career.

Q: How has ACC changed your life?

A: It made me realize that life isn’t so linear. There is no structure or handbook that tells you, “this is what you’re supposed to do”. 

ACC taught me that life isn’t like that at all. Sometimes you’re in classes with people who are way into their careers and want to switch things up.

You don’t have to commit to one interest only, you can intertwine interests. You make up your own handbook.

Empowering Black Communities Beyond One Month

ACC will be celebrating Black History Month and the importance of what it means to the College and Austin.

By: Kimberly Dalbert

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.”

Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History

African American or Black, do you worry which one is correct? Do you speak up or stay silent when talking about racial injustice and inequality with another race? If so, you’re not alone. With so much racial injustice and inequality, it can feel like a very uncomfortable subject.
Austin Community College will be celebrating Black History Month and the importance of what it means to the ACC and Austin community.

ACCENT met with Dr. Khayree Williams, Director at Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center (TRHT), and Jason Brown, Manager at Black Representation of Achievement Through Student Support (BRASS), to discuss Black History Month, events, places to reach out for help or questions, and what Black History Month means to them.

View Our Segment on What Black History Month means to the ACC Community


Q. When thinking of Black History Month what is the first thing that comes to mind? 

“Pride, proud to be a black man every day, proud of ancestors’ accomplishments,” Brown said.

Q. Do you feel we need to change the narrative of Black History Month this year focusing more on people like Carter G. Woodson and his creation of Negro History week in 1926, and its origin to help understand inequality today instead of commonly known figures like Dr. Martin Luther King jr., Rosa parks and Harriet Tubman?

“We shouldn’t change the narrative or downplay sacrifices of our civil rights heroes. Black History should be more year-round not just the shortest month of the year,” Brown said. 

Williams shared a mutual feeling with Brown’s statement that Black History should be discussed all the time and not just during Black History Month. 


Q. How do you feel about discussions of psychological distress and mental health being addressed during Black History Month?

“I love that we as people discuss mental health openly. Growing up mental health seemed tabooer, especially in my family, along with a lot of other black households. Acknowledging and discussing mental health helps us heal as a whole,” Brown said. 

Williams admits that it is something that has for far too long not wanted to be addressed in the black community. 

“Speak up and be honest when we are struggling, this is something that should be discussed all the time not just during Black History Month,” Williams said.

Q. What would you say to ACC students experiencing uncertainty about how they feel regarding recent events of racial injustice and inequality, and also might be afraid to talk about it.

“You should have support in safe places, allies, and clinical counselors,” Brown stresses. 

“All of us are afraid because it is not an easy conversation to have. We do not want to say the wrong thing or come off as awkward, or offend someone, so it is easy to shy away. That is what TRHT is there for, ACC campuses and the community,” Williams said.


Q. Black History Month was created to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans. Do you think too much time is spent on the struggle and not the accomplishments?

“It has to be a balanced conversation, if you do not understand the progress you have made, then you will make some of those same mistakes again,” Williams said. 


Q. What does it mean to have a diverse environment, and do you think Austin Community College has this?

“Diverse people have their own characteristics and they are unique from each other. Austin Community College is a champion at diversity and makes sure everyone has a seat at the table,” Brown said. 

“Diversity is not just on paper and in numbers, it goes beyond that regardless of make-up everyone has an equal say, and wants everyone to feel cared for and loved in the Austin Community College community,” Williams said. 

To learn more about BRASS or TRHT visit the sources below: 

BRASS 

Black Representation of Achievement Through Student Support (BRASS) is a community dedicated to support interests and needs of Black students through higher education. BRASS strives to “produce a pipeline of successful future professionals who are Black representations of achievement prepared to be the next generation of corporate and community leaders.”

TRHT

The Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center (TRHT) at ACC is a partnership with our community to build cross-racial relationships that lead to racial healing and an exploration of ways to transform the college and community for greater inclusion and equity.

Dr.Khayree Williams "Diversity is not just on paper and in numbers, it goes beyond that regardless of make-up everyone has an equal say, and wants everyone to feel cared for and loved in the Austin Community College community."

What Students Need To Know About the ACCelerators Reopening

ACCENT met with the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Shasta Buchanan to get more insight on this transition for ACC. on reopening the ACCelerators for student use.

Written by Marissa Greene

Austin Community College reopened three locations for students to utilize the ACCelerator. As of Oct. 26, students can schedule an appointment to have a quiet place to study, technology, and internet access. All things necessary for student success during virtual learning.

Q: How have the operating hours changed at the ACCelerator? 

A:  The operating hours for the ACCelerator are now Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm. We’re on three campuses [the ACCelerator} so the Highland, Round Rock, and the Hays campus library. We want to be mindful of the best use of our facilities as well as being safe. 

Q: Are services such as private study rooms open for student use? 

A: Not at this time. But that doesn’t mean we won’t start to transition and open those different opportunities. We wanted to start small. We heard from our students in our campaigns in May and one of the things that really was at the top lists for students was a quiet place to study, access to technology, and the internet. 

So they have a whole pod to themselves. Now there is a specific space that they have to sit in just to maintain social distancing. But there are no other people in the pods with them. We are also only in a certain zone of the ACCelerator. Again, we know students want this access but we also know that they still want to be safe in that space. So we wanted to be mindful of that before we slowly start to open up other spaces. 

Q: What does it look like to walk into the ACCelerator now? 

A:  Good question! One, it’s a little different because they can’t just walk into the ACCelerator they have the schedule an appointment for a pod space or a space in the Hays library. We also ask all of our students and employees to watch a video. It really walks them through what it is like and what it feels like to walk on campus. Every employee and student has to fill out the ACC health screener app. This allows us to make sure that they are not experiencing any symptoms and we constantly remind our students and staff that there is just a personal responsibility about this and I am just so proud of everyone.  And then to wear a face mask, wash your hands, we take your temperature at the door, and then everyone gets something that certifies them that they can be in that space. The student will have two hours of time allotted in their appointment. 

Q: How many times can a student use this facility? 

A: They can schedule as much as they want but again it is by appointment only. That allows us to maintain the percentage of people that should be in the building between students and employees. And again, it allows us to practice social distancing and follow those protocols that allow students the things we know they need to be successful. 

Q: Are tutoring, academic coaching, and other services open at the ACCelerator at this time?

A: The ACCelerator, as we transition to opening it is really what students told us what they needed most. That was a quiet place to study, access to technology, and the internet. So that is all that we are providing at the Highland, Round Rock, and Hays library right now. We will work across the college partners as we’re monitoring the virus and know what’s happening. We want to keep everyone safe, we want to be mindful in terms of what is happening with the virus before we say “okay what is the next thing we can bring into that space?” 

I hope that our students understand that we respect them. We want them to be safe. And so, while it may seem slow, slow means that we are being cautious. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t planning for the future; it just means that it is very important for us to be cautious. 

Q: How do students make sure their opinions are heard about ACC’s transition? 

A: We send surveys out, we cal students, and what I’ve learned is that our students become way more responsive and they’re looking at emails, newsletters, and whatever the different means we’ve been communicating with them. They are very responsive and paying attention because they are wanting to be in the know. So through all of those levels of learning, I hope our students know that we are not just asking questions to ask questions sake. We’re hearing them. And then our plan of action is to plan and prepare. And how do we meet the needs of our students 

Q: Any final comments or takeaways? 

A: The biggest thing is that if students see emails or other means of communication or they see that we’re calling them, please pick up or call us back. We understand that they are in the class too so sometimes when we call them it might now match when they’re in class. But please to return our call, please respond to our emails because their voice is what we are trying to gather and to know what do you need. And if there is any takeaway, it is that we are trying our best to meet their needs in the virtual and what would come back but we need to hear from them.   

Getting Remote Career Ready with ACC Career Services

We talk to ACC Career Service about the best ways to adapt to a tumultuous job market.

By Adam Cherian

Need help preparing for the job market during a pandemic? We talk to ACC Career Service about the best ways to adapt to a tumultuous job market.

In the turbulent job market that COVID-19 has created, it’s essential that college students adopt the best qualifications for remote or online work. Given the volatile nature of this pandemic, it’s been stated as the safest option to search for work is remotely. Because there is no conclusive end to this pandemic, remote work seems to be the norm. That being said, there are new sets of skills that students need to adopt with such a shift in conditions. Career Services provides the best ways for ACC students to prepare for a career, remotely.

  1. Check Out the Job Search Page on the ACC Career Services Page
    • The best way to start your job search during a time when most things are remote is with this helpful page. ACC Career Services realize that the pandemic has hit working ACC students hard. So to help those who have lost their jobs, they created a page where you can look for job listings in your area. There is an excellent amount of positions ranging from in your field of study, to entry level jobs. Give it a look to help you find the best remote career opportunities.
  2. Read the Career Essentials Student Reference Guide (2019/2020)
    • This guide is a game changer! You will be given the most essential steps in how to prepare for applying for jobs. This guide is extensive, with sixty pages of extremely helpful information. It details everything from resumé tips, to Linkedin profile checklists. Better securing a good remote job is made easy with this guide, as it gives you the best tools to make you stand out. Consider giving this a read when applying for jobs to better prepare yourself, and to impress your future employers!
  3. Take a Glance at the ACC Resumé Guide
    • Need more help making your resumé stand out? During a time where remote work is becoming more necessary, a resumé that exceeds your employers expectations is a crucial step in securing a job. ACC Career Services has a resumé guide that is filled with tips, instructions, and examples to make sure you secure that remote position! Give this a read if you want to give your resumé a professional finish.
  4. Consider Practice Interviews using Big Interview
    • The interview process is always nerve-racking. With the added pressure of remote interviews and technological barriers, this process can be scary. Thankfully, ACC Career Services provides us with a platform where you can practice interviewing in your specific field. You can use this to practice at any time because the questions are pre-recorded. Give this a try and see how helpful practicing real world interviews virtually can be.
  5. Schedule an Appointment with a Career Counselor
    • Once you have visited all the other resources ACC Career Services has to offer, it’s time to visit with a career counselor. Career counselors will offer you with the best advice on how to get, and prepare yourself for a new job. Speaking with professionals on how to better suit yourself for a remote job is priceless, and ACC offers it for just that! If you want to understand everything you need to know for remote work, schedule an appointment with a counselor today! 

The year 2020 has thrown everyone for a loop. Hopefully these resources will help ACC students better prepare for the remote job market. These are the best for career readiness, and ACC students are privileged enough to get this for free!

National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month actually started off as only two days. During the 1960s civil rights movement, Californian Congressman George E. Brown California wanted to recognize the role Hispanics played in the United States.

 by Melanie Laporte

National Hispanic Heritage Month actually started off as only two days. During the 1960s civil rights movement, Californian Congressman George E. Brown California wanted to recognize the role Hispanics played in the United States. He was behind a law stating the president would issue annual proclamations for September 15 and 16 be observed with “ceremony and activities.” 

President Lyndon Johnson issued the first week-long proclamation in 1988 then President Reagan signed off on a full month of National Hispanic Heritage lasting until Oct.15. Every president thereafter has annually signed the proclamation.  

Mexican bread of the dead on clay dish with candles and flowers

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions, achievements, and histories of men and women of Hispanic origin as well as recalling the work of the early Spanish explorers and settlers.

Now, National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The observance starts in the middle of September to commemorate anniversaries of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua as well as Mexico’s independence.

In everyday life, people on the East Coast tend to identify as Hispanic whereas West coast residents use Latino according to the US Office of Management and Budget. But what is the difference between Hispanic and Latino/LatinX? 

Latino is anyone of Latin origin or ancestry in the Western Hemisphere including Brazil where Portuguese is the official language. 

The Census Bureau categorizes Hispanic is anyone with lineage from a Spanish-speaking country regardless of race: Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Nicaragua, Argentina, and Cuba.   Hispanics are linked by similar traditions of music, food, dance, culture, and one language: Spanish. Note, LatinX is the gender neutral term.

According to the Pew Research Center, there is a tendency to not identify as Latino as children assimilate into the US cultural melting pot. To not identify as “other” or foreign and the first thing people let go is language. It happens in almost every immigrant group. 

When a community loses what makes them different and unique, the entire country loses. It’s important to keep a strong identity and rich traditions then teach others about culture through music, dance, and pop culture to foster understanding and appreciation. 

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for all people to celebrate Hispanic history and community, culturally and economically. Firstly, start by supporting local Hispanic small businesses such as restaurants and speciality stores. Develop your spanish speaking abilities and donate to philanthropic groups like CASA and Somos. 

How to observe National Hispanic Heritage Month or Learn about the LatinX Community

 Austin Community College 
City of Austin
  • Meals on Wheels help deliver meals to hungry seniors as well as keeping them company.
  • CASA be an advocate volunteer to help abused and neglected children.
  • Latinitas give to or volunteer with the first digital magazine made by and for young Latinitas empowering all girls to innovate through media and technology.
  • Mexic-Arte Museum walk around the Official Mexican + Mexican American Museum of Texas to buy Made in Mexico embroidered Covid masks and see modern Latin art expositions. 
  • Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center – watch films from Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema like Cantinflas, browse impactful art exhibits, make sugar skull masks, and learn from the online courses about Hispanic culture such as Lowriders: All about Austin’s Chicano Lowrider Culture.
  • Puerto Rican Cultural Center join them for Fiesta Boricua and the Paseo podcast with highlights from the Puerto Rican community 
  • Esquina Tango take Spanish language and Argentine tango dance classes.  
  • Somos Austin contact them to celebrate the city’s vibrant Latio community. 
  • Young Hispanic Professional Association of Austin gain leadership and professional development opportunities as well as scholarships and mentorship programs withYHPAA.
  • Hispanic Impact Fund give what you can or volunteer to the fund helping lift Hispanics in early childhood education, health and wellness, and develop critical job skills. 

ACC Fashion Design makes COVID-19 Masks for Essential Staff

Written By Emily Pesina

Aspiring, stylish, and essential一the fashion departments at Austin Community College have cultivated Austin once again. From bringing awareness to heart health with the Red Dress campaign, to an expected Corset-making for Breast Cancer Awareness, this year’s big project: to create COVID masks for essential employees who continue to work on campus. ACCENT sat down with the working riverbats who were there that day to reminisce over their experience with the face cloth that was to be produced, times a thousand. 

When the ACC district closed its doors due to the pandemic, Victoria Taylor, professor and head chairperson for the fashion and design department at ACC, immediately reached out to campus operations. “When this pandemic started, I was reaching out right away to my dean and my vice president saying ‘we have fabric, I have stitchers [and] students who can make masks. How can we help?”” said Taylor. It turned out that the head of campus operations, Sharrion Jenkins, had the same idea. Both women, having worked together before with their knowledge in the fashion lab and its equipment, were connected in thought when this idea was emerging. Taylor and Jenkins put their resources together. The space and equipment was already there, now all that was needed were working hands for the project. 

Victoria Taylor, one of the working riverbats for the thousand-mask creation.
Victoria Taylor, one of the working riverbats for the thousand-mask creation.

“The way the project came along was, it had to do with the need. We could not find masks when it became apparent that COVID had hit the U.S… being in operations, we were responsible for the COVID response”, said Jenkins. At the start of the project, Taylor juggled the needles of meeting her students’ needs and being available for the mask-making project, and Jenkins faced a shortage of thread. However, supply of thread was found in the most unlikely places, which was necessary in order to produce quality masks. With the fabrics already there, which were provided by donations from the fashion and design department, the mannequins were set aside and social distancing guidelines were put in place to create a safe and working environment. Once the facility support, under Jenkin’s wing, clashed in the working space, then it was time to get started. 

With challenges overcome, the project was on the road in no time.
With challenges overcome, the project was on the road in no time.

“Even though it was stressful because we didn’t really know what was going on with this virus, we felt like we were doing our part”, says Jenkins. Sitting a machine apart and working one person at a table, she noted that her workers kept a positive attitude in this. Jenkins explains that many of the workers knew how to legitimately sew, and everyone was excited about this project because they got to do different things rather than the same procedures everyday, which made the experience not monotonous at all. 

All kinds of fabric flooded the tables. The working riverbats were the hardworking wheels for this project.
All kinds of fabric flooded the tables. The working riverbats were the hardworking wheels for this project.

With the working women sewing inside, other employees, notably the campus managers across the district, wanted to help. Packs to make ten masks were placed inside a plastic bag with all the pieces included, and were safely distributed to helpers who would come pick it up. They would then take it home to sew all the pieces together, and bring it back to campus once all the pieces were joined together. “Everybody was amazed at the end… there was never a time when we said we couldn’t do it”, mentioned Jenkins. Summing up the experience as “fun” and “togetherness”, she mentions that even though nobody knew how the project would end up, the initial goal of one-hundred masks, which then turned into five hundred masks, became a long and hardworking thousand for essential employees who continue to work on campus today. 

An ACC helper picks up a packet of masks to sew at home.
An ACC helper picks up a packet of masks to sew at home.

For Victoria Taylor, she sums up her experience assisting with the masks as “proud”. Taylor pushes her students to not only keep your focus on what’s on your desk, but extend your vision 

into the world to be aware of what’s going on, and how you can give back to the community. That is the oath that student Isabella Collins went through. Collins, a second-year Fashion Design student and employed by the Fashion Incubator, has aspiring ambitions to start her own brand. After being left jobless for several months since she had quit her salesperson job to fulfill an internship that would be interrupted by COVID, Collins was called in for a project that involved lots and lots of facemasks. Having prior experience in crafting and selling masks on the side as a means to make some cash, becoming part of the Fashion Incubator’s thousand-mask creation一a separate project than the Fashion & Design’s department一threw Collins into a cycle of sewing, mistakes, frustration, ripping seams, starting over, sticky needles, and surprises that put her skills, equipment, and patience to the test. Fortunately, her understanding boss allowed her to produce masks on site at the Fashion Incubator, which was a real improvement as far as her progress. 

 Victoria Taylor and Isabella Collins, a second year Fashion Design student.
Victoria Taylor and Isabella Collins, a second year Fashion Design student.

“I’m a very determined person,” says Collins, “but I do get frustrated doing the same thing every day, so it definitely taught me to stick with it and to have self-control… even when you’re good at something, mistakes still happen.” After being able to transition from working at home to on site, her new durable equipment that could produce masks much faster still posed challenges to her and her team. Her mental and physical health, as well as her schedule, were put to the test. Yet she was able to stick to a schedule that allowed her to balance her schoolwork and her job. Keeping herself motivated through exercise and her teammates, the stress that the team felt was worked through to meet their daily goals, which in turn became a three month project with a thousand and one masks produced. 

Collins’ workspace before she transitioned on site. The dresses hanging on the window are her original designs.
Collins’ workspace before she transitioned on site. The dresses hanging on the window are her original designs.

With unique materials to create this two-color sided mask, Collins says that even though it was mentally challenging, the experience in working with the Fashion Incubator to create its own thousand-mask creation definitely toughened her up, which is why she sums up her experience working in the fashion incubator as “perseverance.” After months spent producing the same mask, Collins is grateful to have been part of this project and challenge, as she calls on others to take similar steps. “Take opportunities that may not be what they seem. You can learn so much from jobs that you don’t expect will help you… me getting a window sales job, that does not seem like a job that a designer would want, but I learned so much about the process…” Collins believes that every opportunity and job that you go through can benefit you in some way. “Don’t look down on yourself because you can’t get that high end job, because everything you go through will help you later on.” Life is a teacher and we are its students embarking on our own journey. 

The masks produced at the Fashion Incubator by Isabella Collins and her team.
The masks produced at the Fashion Incubator by Isabella Collins and her team.

Visit the ACC Fashion Design Website for more details about the area of study. 

University Transfer Tips for ACC Riverbats

Written By Grant E. Loveless

Hello Riverbat! Ready To Leave The Nest & Transfer?

Students every day attend community college for a number of reasons, but one of the top reasons is to better prepare themselves to attend and get a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university. If this is your ultimate goal, then you’re probably wondering whether the process of transferring will be difficult or easy and the answer is that it is simple with planning, preparation and patience.

As said above, students attend community college for a number of reasons and most of the time the reason is to use their time as a stepping stone and learning opportunity for the next step up towards a 4-year degree. If you want to take this path, here’s what you should do:

  1. Do Not ‘Go With The Flow,’ Create A Plan!
    • Talk to an academic advisor.
    • Find resources, tools and more on ACC Transfer’s website! (Do not forget to schedule an appointment!)
  2. Decide If You Want To Obtain An Associate’s Degree
    • Obtaining your associate’s degree can prove quite useful and fulfilling in the long run helpful for a number of reasons:
      1. Degrees often transfer more easily than individual courses
      2. An associate’s degree certifies that you have completed all of your general education requirements (be sure you have a basic understanding of the general education requirements at the school to which you are transferring).
      3. An associate’s degree provides you with a credential to fall back on should you need to put your bachelor’s work on hold for any reason.
  3. Do Your Research & Search For A New Home!
    • Research the university you want to attend and speak to an admissions advisor. Let them know you’re interested in transferring and see if there’s any information they can provide to help. It could also be helpful to network with professors and see if there are any programs you could participate in to make yourself stand out.
      1. Define your educational goals. (i.e: What kind of degree do you want to get? What do you want to major in? What kind of career and job do you want after you graduate? … etc.)
      2. Think about which universities you’d want to transfer to. It’s important to plan for this ahead of transferring because every school has different requirements. You want to make sure that everything you do during your time at community college will help you get accepted to your university.
      3. Talk to your community college advisor and tell them about your plan to transfer to a university.
  4. Communication Is Key!
    • Communicate with your community college advisor (and university transfer advisor) regularly to make sure you’re taking the right classes and doing the right things to make your transfer possible.
  5. Apply for FASFA or TASFA Before Application Deadline!
    • Apply for financial aid when you’re in community college and when you plan to go to a university. Your school might have scholarships available specifically for transfer students, so make sure you know about them.

All this information can look stressful or make you anxious about transferring to a university from a community college, BUT you will succeed if you follow these tips and head over to view ACC Transfer’s website! It will be a smooth and easy process if you follow these tips and do well in your classes, good luck and I assure you that you will be great.

Student resources listed on austincc.edu

Advising-Area of study advisors will help you select your classes, stay on track for your degree program, and make decisions about your educational and career goals.

University Transfer & Equivalency Guides Alist of four-year institutions with links and guides to help students plan their transfer to a four-year degree.

Transfer Services– There are many ways to transfer to a four-year university via ACC. Transfer Services will help you navigate the possibilities. The department can also answer your questions about earning some credits here while you’re enrolled at another institution.