Keep You and Yours Cyber Secure

Video by Nathan Lu

Story by Pete Ramirez


The prominent role the internet plays in our world has highlighted an issue we’ve been dealing with since the creation of the internet: cybersecurity.

Every few months there is a new headline in the news about a prominent company or government organization that has been hacked such as the large-scale Solarwinds breach or the massive Twitch data dump.

Understanding that our ever-connected lives won’t be unplugging from the internet anytime soon, a few Austin Community College students and faculty are doing what they can to educate those around them about the many threats that are lurking online.

“More of our learning has moved onto the internet,” Austin Community College student and Phi Theta Kappa honors society officer, Arden Silva said. “Children are being exposed to the internet at a much younger age.”

Alya Mansoor, another ACC student and PTK officer, said that she works with young kids and has often witnessed them unknowingly download malware and ruin whatever technology they are using.

“A lot of what I see is kids being impacted and easily influenced by the technology, entertainment, and media out there,” Mansoor said. 

In order to educate people about the dangers of the web and promote healthy cybersecurity habits, PTK’s Honors in Action committee created a convenient, accessible website that contains eye-catching PDFs filled with tips and guides to keep you safe online.

“I hope that we can at least bring some awareness to these kids and help them in navigating their own lives through the technology that is available to them.”

Alya Mansoor, Austin Community College student and Phi Theta Kappa officer

“We researched in the spring and we found out that kids are being taught cyber security in school but that is not really being enforced at home,” ACC student and PTK officer Isabella Santos said.

The PTK members believe their new website will be a reinforcement tool that parents can utilize to help their families stay protected in the ever-expanding digital world.

“I hope that we can at least bring some awareness to these kids and help them in navigating their own lives through the technology that is available to them,” Mansoor said.

All of the recommendations that are found on PTK’s cybersecurity website are not only for children. Adolescents and adults can benefit from adopting the practices as well.

An ACC faculty member that is doing his part to spread the gospel of safe online practices to all ages is Dr. Michael MacLeod.

MacLeod is a professor working in the computer science department who has a background in cybersecurity.

“I was in information technology for 35 years,” MacLeod said. “I built the fourth-largest state-owned network in the state of Texas.”

Having seen how digital threats have evolved and increased frequency over the years, MacLeod said that most people don’t understand that we’ve been in serious cyber warfare since the early 2000s.

“Every day [hackers] get better,” MacLeod said. “So every day, our people have to get better.”

For those that are interested in entering the world of cybersecurity, MacLeod encourages learning as much as you can and exposing yourself to groups that work in this field.

When it comes to the average internet user who may not know the ins and outs of cyber security, MacLeod recommends purchasing a full suite internet security tool like Kaspersky, Norton, or Bitdefender to protect your devices.

“You’ve got to have something in place to protect yourself,” MacLeod said. 

The ACC professor also said that everyone should use caution with the apps that are downloaded onto their devices.

“Every one of those free software apps tracks every single thing you do,” MacLeod said.

Improving cybersecurity habits may seem overwhelming but there are many trusted tools and resources available to the average consumer to use to defend themselves from threats on the web.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in the quickness of the internet but investing in cybersecurity knowledge and skills is beneficial not only to you but others around you,” Mansoor said.


Mindfulness for Beginners

Story by Pete Ramirez

Graphic by Kate Korepova

Let’s face it, life is crazy right now and there is no sugar-coating it. In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to jump from one activity to the next, like a busy bumblebee flying from flower to flower collecting pollen. 

Don’t you just want to take a break to catch your breath sometimes? 

You can! 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to try one of these three simple mindfulness exercises:

1.

  • Find a comfortable, quiet space.
  •  Sit, stand, or lay down.
  • Take 10 deep breaths into your belly.
  • Don’t force it.

2.

  • Find a comfortable place to sit.
  • Set a timer for five minutes
  • Close your eyes if it’s safe to do so or leave them open.
  • Listen to the sounds around you.
  • Hear the layers of sound that surround us throughout the day. 
  • Let the sounds come and go.

3.

  • Take a ten-minute walk.
  •  Focus on the world around you. 
  • Try to take in the minor details that usually get overlooked. 
  • Feel the sunshine on your skin.
  • The wind through your hair.
  • The ground beneath your feet.

If you did any of the exercises listed above, guess what? 

You just practiced meditation! 

Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness meditations can have many beneficial effects on the body and mind such as decreased stress, improved sleep and improved attention span.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Don’t expect your thoughts to stop. Even master yogis deal with a never-ending stream of thoughts. A different way to think about it is telling each thought, “Hey! Welcome to the party.”

  • Be kind to yourself. However you show up to the exercise is the right way.

  • Allow yourself a few minutes to take a break everyday. Things will be ok.

Now, all together. Let’s take a deep breath in…

And release.

You got this.

The Company Fighting Food Waste

Start saving food with surprise bags at a lower price.

Story Gloria Nguyen

Edited by Pete Ramirez

Too Good To Go International was founded to make a powerful movement against food waste all over the world. This company has developed an app called “Too Good To Go,” which has become the No. 1 anti-food waste app.

The Too Good To Go app provides an overview of shops and restaurants in your area that have surplus food which is put in a bag and sold at a lower price, which is called the “surprise bag.” Users can order a “surprise bag” right from their phones using the app.

The app is Editor’s Choice and has received 4.8/5 stars review on Apple Store

Since Too Good to Go’s U.S. launch in 2020, the company has expanded over 12 major U.S. cities, including Austin. 

“We have over 1.5 million Americans on our app and have saved over 1.3 million meals in just over a year,” Too Good to Go’s U.S. public relations specialist, Allie Sale said. “In 2022, we plan to hit 3 million meals saved.”

Allie Sale, U.S. public relations specialist at Too Good To Go, has been an active “Waste Warrior” for years.

The most difficult thing the company has been facing is awareness. 

“On the first day launched in Austin, our biggest issue was let’s get out there and let people know we’re here, so they know there is a solution for food waste and an option to get great food at great value,” Sale said. 

To date, the company has established about 300 food business partners in Austin. According to Sale, since July 2021, Austin has saved over 30,000 meals. 

“That’s such a growth to see in the city that we’ve just launched in. We’re very happy with the amount of welcome we received,” Sale said. 

Too Good To Go, a company based in Europe, has expanded to 17 countries and is still counting.
Too Good To Go, a company based in Europe, has expanded to 17 countries and is still counting.

Sale provided these tips and tricks that Austin Community College students can use to become “Waste Warriors”. 

First, download the app and start saving meals. 

Second, plan your meals ahead. Be mindful about how much food you buy and make sure to go to the grocery store with a purpose.

Sale also shared her two favorite tips to minimize food waste. 

“When you organize your fridge, try to move the things that are going to expire first to the front,” Sale said. “And if there’s anything that’s fresh-produced, for example, meat that you know you’re not going to get to, throw them in the freezer. It’s the best tool to save food from going to waste.”

“Changing your habits is never an overnight change,” said Sale. “Start with small changes. In 3 months, 6 months or a year, you’ll be amazed by how much less you waste, and also how much less money you’re wasting.”

Too Good To Go has also created a knowledge hub about food waste and its impact on the planet which you can find on their website at Too Good to Go.org. According to their website, the company is currently looking to fill two positions in Austin, Texas.

How To Register To Vote


It’s 2022 which means another midterm election is upon us. While President Biden won’t be on the ballot this year, his ability to further his plans and agenda will be at stake. It is our responsibility as engaged citizens to ensure our voices are heard at the ballot box. 

Story by Ky Duffey

Edited by Pete Ramirez

How Do I Register to Vote?

Voter registration is simple for those who have not yet registered. All you need to do is:

  1. Meet the requirements listed below 
  2. Complete a voter registration application
  3. Submit your completed application to your county election office no later than 30 days prior to the election date

However, if you want to vote in the Texas state primary elections for statewide positions on March 1, 2022, you will need to submit the application by Monday, January 31, 2022

In order to register to vote in the State of Texas, you have to meet the following requirements:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be a resident of the county where you submit the application
  • You are at least 17 years and 10 months old, and you are 18 years of age on Election Day.
  • You are not a convicted felon (you may be eligible to vote if you have completed your sentence, probation and parole)
  • You have not been declared by a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be either totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.
People casting their ballots in a row, each covered by privacy cubicles.
Voters casting their votes on Election Day. (Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

What Are Midterm Elections?

They are called “midterm” because they happen in the middle of a presidential term. 

Apart from the general and special elections, the midterm election refers to the type of election where the people are given an opportunity to elect their congressional representatives and other subnational officeholders such as the governor and members of the local council. 

Every two years, every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is up for re-election. In the Senate, Senators serve 6-year terms. This year, a little over a third of the Senate is up for re-election, with 14 Democratic Senators as well as 20 Republican Senators. 

Both Texas Senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn will not be up for re-election this year. 

Because most states schedule state elections along the same lines as Congressional elections, Texas’ governor, Greg Abbott, and members of the state Legislature will be on the ballot this year. 

It is essential that you research more on which members at the state level will be seeking re-election as well as the state laws that will be up for a public vote at the ballot box.

Governor Greg Abbott is up for re-election this year. His primary challenger is former US Representative, Beto O’Rourke SOURCE

Why are Midterm Elections Important?

In order for a President to enact an agenda, they need a majority vote in both the House and Senate. Without a majority, much of a President’s agenda can be stalled or blocked completely, which can affect the administration’s standing among the public. 

If a President has a majority of members of their own party in the House and Senate, that President has a better chance of delivering on their campaign promises. 

Unlike the President, the House and Senate are voted in by popular vote. Depending on which party you support, your participation in midterm elections can determine which laws make it to the President’s desk or not.

When Are The Midterm Elections?

The midterms will take place on November 8, 2022

As a resident of Texas, you’ll be able to vote for your respective House Representative, the Governor and certain state Legislature members as well as any laws that may be up for a public vote in your area. 

Use this link to find who represents you in the House of Representatives.

Use this link to find out who represents you in the state Legislature.

Call your county election office for further questions or concerns about this year’s elections.

The late civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis once said, “The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool or instrument in a democratic society. We must use it.” 

ACC Students Take Control of Their Finances with Help from Student Money Management Office

Graphic by Kate Korepova

Story by Gloria Nguyen

Edited by Pete Ramirez

College can feel like the void between childhood and adulthood, but once a young person graduates high school and advances to the higher tier of their education, they are considered adults and must become more responsible for the decisions they make regarding money. 

However,​​ an ING Direct study found that 87 percent of teens surveyed knew little about personal finance. 

Understanding how complicated and frustrating money management skills are, Austin Community College’s Student Money Management Office (SMMO) is here to help students take control of their money. Money management skills are even more crucial for students who plan to transfer to a four-year university, as the financial burden is much heavier in most cases. 

Shannon Pinales, an ACC student who just got accepted to the University of Texas at San Antonio, shared that she was never taught about money in her teenage years. At ACC, she sought help from the Peer Money Mentor Program (PMMP) offered by SMMO. 

Shannon Pinales and her acceptance letter from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Photo provided by Shannon Pinales

“Before I was in that program, even talking about the word ‘budget’ was enough to get me anxious. It wasn’t a territory I could speak about,” Pinales said. 

However, having been in that program for one year, Pinales is now confident that she is at a good place with her budgeting. She has also helped the office with some scholarship workshops behind the scenes. Pinales has learned valuable information about the money sources, where to find them, and how to apply for them. 

“The whole application process is overwhelming,” Pinales said. “But the office has helped me have a better idea of what I need to do on a weekly basis, monthly basis, and so on.”

Pinales, who will be transferring to a four-year university, said that she did not wish to take out any loans and would spend her weekends working on scholarship applications. 

“At ACC, I was able to not take out any student loans and always had a refund every semester,” Pinales said. “My budget would look completely different as I’m transferring to a new school. I don’t want to put any loan pressure on me.” She said she is grateful for learning how to take control of her finances before transferring to a four-year university.

Amber Rodriguez, like most young adults, would spend all the money she had in her bank account because she did not know any better. 

Amber Rodriguez representing her new school, Texas State University. 
Photo provided by Amber Rodriguez

But now, that’s all in the past. Rodriguez now has savings she is building on and extra money in case of emergency thanks to the Peer Money Mentor program.

Rodriguez took part in the Rainy Days Saving Program of SMMO, which has an incentive of $25 in cash to maintain a balance of $475 or more for 30 or more days.

Participating in this program changed Rodriguez’s relationship with money. 

“I had almost $500 in my bank account, which I had never had before,” Rodriguez said. “Having that much money really helped change my mindset and started making it fun for me to save money.” 

What bothers Rodriguez the most regarding transferring are transportation and food costs. When she was at ACC, she had a free transportation card on the bus and train. 

Now studying at Texas State University, Rodriguez takes the bus from North Austin to San Marcos every day. 

“Since I’m at school all day, I’m spending way too much eating out,” Rodriguez said. “I realize I have to start packing more than one meal to save some money.” 

Arjana Almaneih is studying at the University of Texas at Austin and living in North Austin. She does not worry about transportation costs since her husband picks her up after school. 

Arjana S. Almaneih throws up her horns in front of the University of Texas at Austin. 
Photo provided by Arjana Almaneih

However, Almaneih has spent much more on textbooks and food compared to when she was at ACC. She said that professors at ACC were more likely to minimize course materials, so she did not have to spend too much buying textbooks. She has also spent quite a lot of money on eating out since it is inconvenient to pack her own meals.

“Participating in the Student Money Management Office during my two years at ACC completely changed my financial situation, and not to be dramatic, but my life as well,” Almaneih said. “I went from constantly going negative in my accounts and zero savings to living very financially stable. I have three different savings accounts and feel very confident and comfortable with my financial situation.” 

Almaneih is grateful for being a part of and learning from the PMMP. 

“Because of the knowledge I gained, I am attending the number one public university in Texas and the tenth best public university in the United States on a full-ride scholarship as a first-generation student,” Almaneih said. “Because of my time with the PMMP, I will receive my bachelor’s degree with zero debt.”

Almaneih shared practical advice for students at ACC who are trying to build a solid foundation for their finances. 

“I would highly suggest any and all ACC students to get involved with Student Money Management,” Almaneih said. “Whether that’s through a workshop, a financial coaching session, the Rainy Day Savings Program, the peer money mentor program, or just paying attention when they come to your class!”

The PMMP will return in Fall 2022. ACC students can easily find more information and waitlist their names at the SMMO’s website. Information about scholarships workshops and Rainy Days Saving Program can also be found on their website. Students can reach out directly to them by calling 512-223-9331.

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

Career Searching: Landing Your Dream Job

ACCENT multimedia reporter, Pete Ramirez, interviews Trish Welch, Career Services Director at ACC, Pam Fant-Saez, Digital Skills for Today’s Jobs Director at ACC, and Gloria Walls, an ACC student who just started an I.T. apprenticeship with the help of Career Services.

By: Pete Ramirez

As the 2021 spring semester comes to a close, Austin Community College is doing all it can to give its graduates the skills to snag the jobs they want. This often-overlooked work is driven by the Career Services Department, which offers free tools and career coaching to any current or former student in need of help navigating the current job market. 

“Job postings have increased,” said Trish Welch, Career Resources Director at ACC. “The number of employers who are interested in hiring ACC students has dramatically increased.”

Welch believes the challenges students are currently facing revolve around preparing for employment. Through career coaching and innovative technology, Career Services may be able to help relieve some of the stress that comes along with looking for a job, while improving the chances of an applicant landing an interview.

In the current hiring market, artificial intelligence is heavily relied upon by companies to filter through the thousands of applications they receive. These technologies are programmed to search for keywords within resumes to find solid candidates for the position. Career services’ solution to this problem is Jobscan. 

Jobscan is a way for students to optimize their resumes by comparing their resumes against a specific job posting. The platform then awards a score to the resume which indicates if the applicant is a good match for the position.

“We don’t consider that resume complete until it has a score of 85%,” said Skills for Today’s Jobs Director, Pam Fant-Saez. “[With that score], we know that the chances of it getting through to see human eyes escalate way up.” 

Fant-Saez said that the platform can do the same with a student’s LinkedIn account to optimize their profile so that it doesn’t slip through the cracks either.

Career Services also offers assistance in preparing for interviews by utilizing another piece of technology: Big Interview. Big Interview allows a student to practice being interviewed by an avatar to alleviate some of the potential pressure of being put in the hot seat by another person.

With each recorded session, the student can continue practicing until they’re comfortable with what is being asked. The questions the avatar asks can also be changed depending on which industry the student is attempting to enter.

“Students don’t realize how amazingly powerful this is,” Fant-Saez said. “And then they get hired in 10 days as opposed to eight months.”

Students interested in improving their job-seeking skills can access these tools by applying to the free, monthly classes Career Services offers, Strategies for Today’s Jobs.

One student who completed these classes and credits them for her success is Gloria Walls. Walls recently started an Information Technologies (IT) apprenticeship at Saber Data, a local tech company in Austin.

These classes taught Walls the t-chart strategy, one used for writing a cover letter. To use the strategy, place the job description in a column on the left and on the right column, describe how your qualifications match what the employer is looking for. 

Walls said, “I think it also helps to prepare you for your interview because it helps you think about what skills you have.”

Fant-Saez is also a fan of cover letters and encourages students who have something compelling to say to take the time to write a cover letter. She feels it can allow an application to shine brighter among the rest.

“When you don’t have a lot of experience, it might be good to express immense enthusiasm,” Fant-Saez said.

Walls said that any ACC student who is looking for a job should take advantage of this free career training course.

“I think it helps you organize your materials, think about what your skills are and helps you to really get that thing that is going to make you stand out from other candidates,” Walls said.

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.”

Self Defense 101

Learning self-defense extends far beyond just discovering how to protect yourself. It also boost your confidence and self esteem. ACCENT spoke with former Austin Community College students Kevin Walter, and Carla Crisostomo, who have gone through the self-defense program at Austin Community College, and Kaci Kai, the co-owner of Krav Maga Atx to get their input on tips to help you feel safer.

By: Kimberly Dalbert