Get Ahead On Your Degree Plan By Taking ACC’s Summer Classes

Registration for the 2022 summer semester began on April 4 for all current or returning Austin Community College students. As of April 18, new students can register as well.

Written by Morris Haywood

Edited by Pete Ramirez

ACC will be providing over 2,400 open sections across eleven campuses this summer so students can continue their education and pursue their academic goals. 

Summer semester classes will begin on May 31 and end on August 8.  Depending on the student’s major and schedule, ACC offers 10- week, 9-week, or 5-week courses with varying start times. 

In-person classes will be offered on campuses across the Central Texas area and virtually as well. While class times are still available, students should consider what days fit into their schedule. The time length of each class is necessary to review also. 

“Timing can be a bit longer,” ACC’s Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Engagement and Academic Success, Guillermo Martinez said. Martinez, who has been working in education for eleven years and with his current department for 6 years, said class times vary but there is a need for students to continue their education. 

“Depending on the days chosen, classes can be only an hour but be every single day, which is different from the normal 16-week session. So there are different options for students,” said Martinez. “Evening and weekend classes are popular, but you have people that come in from work and the day may be a little bit longer for them”.

Due to the pandemic, there are many more virtual options this summer compared to years past. 

Online classes for students range from regular online instruction, synchronous virtual class meetings, hybrid distance, hybrid classroom, and hyflex – a face-to-face (F2F) synchronous course section that allows students to attend virtually on any given class day. 

With all these options students can continue to learn without much interruption to their summer plans.

“More and more we are trying to do the regional approach,” Martinez said. He explained that ACC is trying to institute ‘destination campuses’ based on the size of the class and specific courses. For example, the destination campus for the North is Round Rock, the central destination is Highland, and the South Campus destination is Riverside.  

“But we try our hardest to spread out and that is also the positive with the growing distance learning courses and that is more opportunity to take classes from anywhere,” Martinez said.

As always, support for students is available during the summer as well. 

From financial aid, student support service, and free tutoring the usual opportunities will still be present for students looking to continue their academic goals during the summertime. 

This also includes students attending or enrolled at a university.  

“How can we provide the support that is needed?” Martinez said. “Let’s figure it out and talk that through.”

Martinez emphasized the many ways students can find support without added stress, by noting that counselors and staff are still present during the summer months. 

Martinez believes that students’ time and mental health need to be prioritized and education should not be another stressor in their lives. 

Students enrolling for summer classes can get ahead on their degree plan and even graduate earlier than expected. 

“With summer registration it’s a great opportunity to keep going. It takes time to grow a habit,” Martinez said. “Students tend to get in the flow in the fall and spring and then if you take two months off, you can forget things.” 

Martinez mentioned that many students disappear after the spring sessions, but by just taking at least one class the academic momentum can build.  

“If you enroll in one course in the summer, it can go a long way to keeping the habit going,” Martinez said. “I think it’s helpful going to school so the student can finish.” 

“[Summer courses are] slightly different, but don’t forget to ask for help,” Martinez said. 

Students can still register for classes until May 16.

Schedules for the summer semester as well as financial aid, admission help, and contact information can be found at https://start.austincc.edu.

How To Write A Successful Scholarship Essay

Scholarships are the easiest way to receive financial help when it comes to college. Austin Community College’s fall 2022 semester deadline for their general scholarship application is May 1.

Written by Jonathan D. Gonzales

Edited by Pete Ramirez

With ACC’s general scholarship, students can be considered for more than one hundred different scholarships by submitting one application. 

All of these scholarships are funded by the ACC Foundation which raises money throughout the year to ensure that all members of the community get an opportunity to pursue their dreams. In the past year, the foundation has handed out over $2.1 million in scholarships to ACC students.

Being awarded a scholarship can usually cover the majority of expenses a student would need for classes and can also be used to improve a resume. 

ACC’s general scholarship and most others require applicants to write an essay about themselves and why they deserve to be selected for the award. 

According to one of Austin Community College’s Strategic Programs Specialists Ann Schuber, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing your scholarship essay. 

  1. Answer every question thoroughly. This helps the reader understand what you’re saying in detail. 
  1. Make it a point to mention your major, classes and personal experience to make it unique and personal.  
  1. Don’t be afraid to tell your story and boast about your accomplishments. Other awards you may have received can increase your chances of receiving a scholarship. 

“The main thing that students struggle with in creating these essays is starting it,” Schuber said.

Starting an essay can be quite difficult for many students. One way to approach it is to break down the essay into parts and try to complete one part every day. Before you know it, you’ll have a solid piece of writing that you can work with and improve upon. 

Students who need assistance with any part of their scholarship essay should contact an ACC strategic specialist to guide them through the process. Email them at [email protected] or schedule an appointment with them here

For more information, please visit this website.

ACC’s Student Government Association and How You Can Get Involved

Story by Gloria Nguyen

Graphics by Kate Korepova

Edited by Pete Ramirez

The Student Government Association (SGA) is a student organization comprised of members who have been duly elected from the student body of Austin Community College District.

According to SGA’s constitution, their goals are to facilitate understanding of democracy in our college, promote involvement among all members of the college community, and most importantly, to make the interests of the student body heard in our college in academic, institutional and campus affairs.

“A strong, enthusiastic and well-trained SGA, is for the betterment of all ACC students”

Mohammed Elghoul, advisor for ACC’s Student Government Association

In order to fulfill their goals and ensure they are listening to students, SGA recruits students from all 11 campuses and from all aspects of life. 

Mohammed Elghoul, SGA’s advisor, says this approach improves the lives of the student body. “When ACC students have quicker access to an SGA member at their grade reviews or a more immediate place to express their concerns, student lives are better,” Elghoul said.  

A group of students stand out side and smile for a picture in front of a tall clock tower.
Members of Austin Community College’s Student Government Association stand for a picture with their advisor, Muhammed Elghoul, during the recent Conference on Student Government Associations. Photo provided by Muhammed Elghoul

In line with their approach to being an advocate for the student body, SGA is currently focused on a district-wide information-gathering campaign collecting feedback to better understand the needs and state of housing for ACC students. Their short survey has been shared by the school via email and can also be found here.

SGA tries its best to represent ACC students but COVID-19 has made it challenging to find opportunities to connect directly with the student body. 

“One of which, which is a bit challenging now because of the COVID, is to have fellow students come to a selected location and talk to them,” Elghoul said. “That way we can figure out what is important for fellow students.”

One off-campus activity that took a pause due to the challenges of the pandemic was the annual toy drive that is coordinated by SGA with the help of the honors society, Phi Theta Kappa. This event, which serves underprivileged youth in Travis County, is one of the student organization’s largest events of the year.

“We collect toys from boxes on most campuses,” Elghoul said. “Students bring the toys to the sheriff’s office. They have a list of families in need and want toys for the holiday and do an annual donation drive.”

The current president of ACC’s SGA, Isaiah Smith, is working with his team to develop more ideas for events and activities where students can connect with SGA members.

An young African-American man dressed in a suit and bowtie smiles for a photo with an American flag in the background of one side of the frame.
Austin Community College’s Student Government Association President Isaiah Smith. Smith and the SGA strive to advocate for all ACC students. Photo provided by Isaiah Smith

“We’re trying to get other departments at ACC involved in SGA activities,” Smith, said. “SGA is supposed to be representing our school as a whole, not just SGA members.”

Smith is leveraging his position within SGA and his expanding network of connections to improve the lives of all ACC students.

“I’m in the process of building a massive communication channel,” Smith said. “If any of our students have any issues, maybe with safety, we can easily get in touch with the ACC Police Department.”

Apply now to be a member during SGA’s 2022-2023 academic year.

As a member of SGA, students have opportunities to travel and meet other student leaders at other colleges, be invited to local exclusive events and represent their fellow students. 

The application period has started and will end on April 13. 

Find the application here.

Elections run from April 15 to April 25. 

There are many positions that can be filled by students and they are all up for election. A full list of positions can be found here.

Only prior SGA members can run for executive board positions. Senate positions are open to all.

All applicants are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.

“We used to [hold the election] over the course of 7 days, so by 10 days, people will have more time to prepare and encourage people to vote for them,” Elghoul said. 

As the student leader of SGA, Smith points out some characteristics that members of SGA should cultivate. 

Smith said members should be assertive, flexible and caring. 

For future members of the organization, Smith’s advice is simple: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” 

A group of students stand inside and smile for a picture next to large letters lit up in lights that spell "COSGA."
Members of Austin Community College’s Student Government Association stand for a picture during a recent Conference on Student Government Associations. Photo provided by Muhammed Elghoul

Elghoul is committed to continuing to guide the SGA to better understand and serve the ACC student body. 

“If you want to represent the students, you have to know the students,” Elghoul said.

For more information about SGA, check out their website and follow them on Twitter and Instagram. If you have any questions about SGA, you can reach out to Elghoul at [email protected]

Revealing Different Layers of Pedro “Pete” Ramirez, Editor-in-Chief of ACCENT Student Media

The writer’s ever-changing journey to his current position has been a chart of restlessness and recklessness. 

Story by Angelica Ruzanova

Edited by Pete Ramirez

Growing up in the border town of Edinburg, Texas in the Lower Rio Grande Valley known for its multicultural populace and immigration controversies, Pedro “Pete” Ramirez’s curiosity about his community and people prospered at an early age. 

From orchestrating theatrical productions on stage at Texas State University to weaving his developed interest for photojournalism and writing on his personal email newsletter, Frontera Free Press, Ramirez embarked on an intuitive path to finding his “beat.”

“I would like to develop a beat which I can really focus on and potentially turn into an expertise,” he said. “I have a lot of different interests, and that’s really what fascinated me about journalism from the start. I love learning, and journalism allows me to learn a little about all the things I want.”

The mindset of the lifelong learner was cultivated after he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theater from Texas State University, and began yearning for something greater than the resemblance between what he sees of himself and what his sharpened awareness told him others expected him to be. From being a brand ambassador for an energy drink beverage company to going into third-party logistics in the freight industry and later working as an assistant manager at one of the properties owned by Austin’s Housing Authority, it was new and different each time. 

“I didn’t know what I wanted out of life,” Ramirez said. “And especially by this time, I have come to accept it. Everybody’s path is different and I am just going to enjoy the ride, learn as much as I can, and take care of people that are around me.”

Frontera Free Press, although overshadowed in the midst of his current positions, played a crucial role in developing his career in journalism after his involvement in an opportunity with the Google News Initiative which he stumbled upon while listening to a tech podcast. 

“[Frontera Free Press] was geared towards community-oriented news about people, events, and different kinds of situations people went through which were diluted by these big scandals on immigration on the news in that area of the state,” Ramirez said.

The door of the unwelcomed pandemic opened a glimpse of new turbulence. Ramirez, having once again redirected his career towards property tax law working as a paralegal, found himself at a standstill. 

In early 2020, as Ramirez made an impulsive decision to quit his law firm job to pursue a newfound job in culinary arts, Ramirez was thrown into the abyss of unemployment and became distraught as he watched the COVID-19 pandemic embed into daily life. “Here we are, in 2020. I was about to start a new career, and it all got whacked away,” Ramirez said.

At this point in life, Ramirez started taking journalism classes at Austin Community College, where he was referred to ACCENT, a student-led media organization. He began as a volunteer writer – taking any assignment that was thrown his way. The following semester, it seemed his superiors noticed the rushing enthusiasm to take on greater responsibilities. Ramirez was appointed as the editor-in-chief in the summer of 2021. 

“Pete became ACCENT’s editor-in-chief at the most confusing and rough times,” said Kate Korepova, the Art Director of ACCENT Student Media. “He never thought of leaving the organization, but rather did everything possible to keep the staff happy and positive, only hoping for the best. He sympathizes with every member and is always willing to help.”

Ramirez’s future goals are pragmatic, as he strives to build a steady portfolio and carries hopes to one day move onto his dream job working as a reporter for the Texas Tribune. “I would like to be a better journalist, applying the AP style and distinguishing between ethical and unethical scenarios as there are a lot of gray areas.”

Ramirez’s journey, though rugged and unpredictable, echoed a portentous road of new beginnings. 

“I approach it as never being able to stop growing and developing. Really, nobody ever does,” Ramirez said. “We are always changing. That’s the only constant in life – change, within everybody and everywhere in the world around us.”


This story was produced in Professor Paul Brown’s spring 2022 News Reporting class and a nearly exact version can be found on their class website, ACC Star. In collaboration with Professor Brown and with his express permission, we published the story here on ACCENT’s website.

Learn How to Go Green with ACC’s Green Team

Story by Georgina Barahona

Edited by Pete Ramirez

Have you ever wondered what you could do to protect the natural environment around you? Have you ever tried to calculate and lower your carbon footprint? 

Austin Community College’s Office of Energy & Sustainability can help you address these questions and discover how you can get involved in creating a more sustainable world through green initiatives led by their Green Team.

The large and ever-growing department’s Green Team consists of ACC faculty, staff and students who volunteer to improve environmental sustainability on campus and throughout the surrounding city.

The office and its Green Team work to continuously elevate the knowledge of sustainability to those they have the opportunity to work with, students and community members alike.

The Green Team welcomes all volunteers with open arms, no matter what community they come from. 

Inspired by the work of the Office of Energy & Sustainability, Angelica Ruzanova, a first-year journalism major at ACC, decided to join the Green Team last fall.

“Our ACC Green Team works by offering particular activities, advocacy and action,” Ruzanova said. 

The organization has a calendar of events accessible to anyone who wants to join their movement in ecological restoration, including events offered by The Trail Foundation.

“The Trail Foundation is a beautiful place to start with hands-on projects,” Ruzanova said. “We do planting, weeding, invasive species removal, trash clean-up, mulching, and other ecological restoration activities on the Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail.” 

Angelica Ruzanova works with other Green Team members to spread mulch at the Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail. Follow the foundation’s Instagram account @thetrailfoundation.

You can find the organization’s events calendar by clicking this link. The Green Team provides a wide variety of events curated to teach individuals how to take that first step towards environmental awareness.

One of the upcoming events that is open to ACC students is the Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability on Monday, April 4, 2022 from 1 pm to 5 pm. 

The event is a free student virtual summit with the theme being student empowerment and climate action. If you would like to attend the conference, send an email to the Green Team at [email protected]

If you get involved with ACC’s Green Team, they’ll introduce you to the seemingly endless possibilities to learn new and realistic ways to combat climate change.

From helping to implement sustainable living ideas into a conference like Adulting 101, to acquiring access to off-campus events where other like-minded individuals share ideas about approaching ecological restoration, there are countless opportunities to get involved.

Jasmin Rostamnezhad, Sustainability Manager at ACC’s Office of Energy & Sustainability, works with her teammates and volunteers to find new and creative ways to make fighting climate change accessible and achievable to the everyday person.

“My passion is working with each person & getting them to understand that the little things you do have a big impact,” Rostamnezhad said. “I do that by tabling with students at ACC and creating resources for people to use after their time at ACC.” 

Jasmin Rostamnezhad, Sustainability Manager at ACC’s Office of Energy & Sustainability, speaks to ACCENT reporter, Georgina Barahona, about her office and the Green Team’s recent work.

Ruzanova says the Green Team is a place where you can share your ideas about sustainability and work with the team to turn those ideas into reality.

“Starting small, on an individual level is what makes it special,” Ruzanova said.

“You can go from so many angles with sustainability because it’s a universal movement acknowledged throughout the world, with people from different demographics and different socio economic levels bringing something to the table by sharing their stories,” Ruzanova said. 

“Having organizations such as ACC Green Team, who work so hard to organize these events, is a step towards widespread sustainability in our community in Austin and a realistic example of what action is capable of,” Ruzanova said.

But ACC did not always have sustainability in mind. As the consensus around climate change reached a tipping point during the 2000s, the college moved to change with the times.

The blueprint to enact college-wide sustainability policies was created and adopted by ACC in 2009 with the C-9 Sustainable Practices Policy and the Sustainable Construction and College Operations Guidelines/Procedures. In the same year, ACC joined the Carbon Commitment, which is a public pledge for the school to take steps to make the entire college carbon neutral. 

As these initiatives were put to the forefront of the college’s taskbook, the steps to creating climate neutrality among the college were put into full effect.

But wait, what is climate neutrality? 

In simple terms, it means reducing greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide, which is created by burning fossil fuels, as soon as possible by balancing those emissions so they are equal to or less than the emissions that get removed through the Earth’s natural absorption. Fundamentally, it means we reduce our emissions through climate action.

Rostamnezhad realizes that her work is cut out for her but she is driven by the hope of building a better world for all of Earth’s inhabitants. 

“Ultimately what inspired me to get into this field is the impact that our climate issues and environmental problems have on certain communities as well as low income communities and disadvantaged communities that are unfairly targeted by our behaviors everyday,” Jasmin Rostamnezhad said. “I think that should inspire everyone to want to change the way that they live.” 

Explore Inside Austin Community College’s Dental Hygiene Program

Video and story by Gloria Nguyen
Edited by Pete Ramirez

Dental hygiene is a growing field and in high demand in Austin.

With the goal of producing competent entry-level dental hygiene professionals to meet the market requirements, Austin Community College’s Dental Hygiene program strives to provide future dental hygienists with the best education and training program in town.

ACC’s Dental Hygiene program is proud to be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation – the national programmatic accrediting agency for dental and dental-related education programs at the post-secondary level.

Students accepted into this program work with faculty who hold an average of 26 years of experience working in the field.

One of the main reasons for the recent growth of dental hygiene is the high pay grade. According to Indeed, the average base salary for dental hygienists in Austin is $39.22 per hour. 

“A lot of our students can be independent financially just by working part-time,” Professor Sima Sohrabi, the clinic coordinator of the program, said. 

“The pay is very compatible with engineers, but it takes only two years for our students to be able to work,” Sohrabi said.

Sima Sohrabi, the clinic coordinator of the program, poses in front of the administration desk.

Sohrabi also mentioned that usually her students start looking for jobs before they graduate. By the time they graduate, they already have job offers lined up. One of the biggest hurdles for the students in the process is obtaining their license. 

The license pass rate for students in the program so far is 100%.

ACC’s Dental Hygiene program is highly selective. “There are about 80-100 applicants per year, but we only take 18,” Sohrabi said. “Lots of students couldn’t get in on their first try.”

To be qualified for admission, applicants are required to get a minimum Test of Essential Academic Skills score of 58.7 on both the Reading and English sections of the exam. 

“On a scale of ten, I’ll give the hard level of that exam a six,” Christina Marie Kumar, a first-year student in ACC’s Dental Hygiene program, said. 

First-year student Christina Marie Kumar prepares to see her patients.

Kumar was accepted into this program on her first attempt. Sharing about her experience, she underlines the importance of studying actively. 

“It’s important to fully understand the subject matter of the exam and your testing style,” Kumar said. “Then, I’ll do a self-assessment. How confident do I feel with the Reading and English sections?”

Because the program is compressed into two years instead of four, the course schedule is tight. 

“This semester in particular, my schedule is Monday through Thursday,” Kumar said. “Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday are clinic days. Those are days I’ll be seeing patients in the clinic. And the rest are lecture days.”

“When you hear about dental hygienists, you automatically think of teeth, but we’re so much more than that,” Kumar said. “There are so many people who come to the dentist when they’re in pain. I get to see these people and assess things like blood pressure and cancer screening.”

ACC’s Dental Hygiene program also offers good-quality dental services to patients. “When patients come here, they get a head and neck cancer screening, extraoral and intraoral screening, dental X-ray and a very thorough teeth cleaning,” Sohrabi said.

Sohrabi explained that after coming through the screening process, patients will be assigned to students based on their scale level.

Patients can get complete cleaning with everything included for as low as $20. More deep and complex cleaning, if needed, is $40. 

Patients are required to have a flexible schedule. They should have time in their schedule for three to five appointments that are three hours in length.

“We need time to do faculty checks, paper work, and they’re still students,” Sohrabi said. “But consider the fee, it’s worth spending time.”

ACC’s Dental Hygiene program is currently accepting patients. The department is located at Eastview Campus, 3101 Webberville Road, building 8000. Call (512) 223 – 5710 to find out more and schedule your first appointment. 

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.


ACC’s Rio Grande Campus Reopens After $49 Million Renovation

Story by Jonathan Gonzales

Edited by Pete Ramirez

Austin Community College’s Rio Grande campus reopened for the fall 2021 semester in a limited capacity after undergoing renovations that began four years ago during the fall of 2017.

The building that makes up ACC’s Rio Grande Campus has been around for more than 100 years and with an injection of $49 million worth of renovations, has been reconfigured into a high-tech home for higher learning. 

The upgraded building sits on a rectangular block in downtown Austin off of Rio Grande Street and 12th Street now boasts 60 classrooms and an ACCelerator similar to the one at ACC’s Highland campus.

A large three story building that was built in the early 1900s fills the frame. This is ACC's Rio Grande Campus' rear entrance.
The rear entrance to ACC’s Rio Grande campus faces West Street in downtown Austin. Photo by Pete Ramirez

An interesting challenge that the architects and contractors tasked with renovating the building had to overcome was what to do with the two open-air courtyards that sit in the middle of the structure. They decided to use a hybrid Teflon material to create tent domes over the courtyards and add air conditioning which created two beautiful, large spaces inside of the building.

The Rio Grande building first opened in 1916 and served as Allan Junior High. In 1925, the building became the home of Austin High School, and later in 1975, it became another of Austin Community College’s campuses.

After hearing about the upgrades planned for the campus, Dr. Roy Casagranda, an ACC professor in the government/history department, was ecstatic. Dr. Casagranda has been teaching for 20 years and has seen many changes come to the school.

A view from inside an empty classroom at the Rio Grande campus. Through the window you can see a sunny afternoon and the Texas Capitol dome.
The view from one of the newly renovated classrooms has a sightline directly to the Texas Capitol. Photo by Dr. Casagranda

When Casagranda took his first steps into the campus to check on the status of the redesign, he said he was “speechless.” The interior was exquisite and completely new.

 Casagranda loved the new library, the well-equipped labs and the spacious pristine classrooms. Casagranda’s favorite thing about the entire renovation was the exterior which now includes multiple areas where students and faculty can use to study and lounge. According to Casagranda, the campus faculty has plans to create a garden outside and display art from students within the halls of the school.

An image of an empty classroom. The room is clean, has large windows and new furniture.
ACC’s Rio Grande campus features 60 classrooms each filled with brand new furniture and equipment. Photo by Pete Ramirez

The Rio Grande campus is open from 7 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and closed on Saturday and Sunday. Students can park in the parking garage located one block to the west of the Rio Grande campus by the No-Comply skate shop. The ACC Bookstore is not available at this campus yet and the ACCelerator is not yet ready for students to use either.

As construction nears completion in 2023, the campus will continue to provide many opportunities for students to gain their education. It has brought joy to Austin-area students and faculty for more than 100 years and it’s now well prepared to continue to serve the community for another 100 years.

An outdoor image of the side of ACC's Rio Grande campus. There are large steps of limestone that lead into an outdoor lounge area for students.
A new outdoor space at Austin Community College’s Rio Grande campus where students and teachers can lounge and study. Photo by Pete Ramirez


Valentine’s Day For All

Story by Gloria Nguyen

Graphic by Kate Korepova

Edited by Pete Ramirez

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! 

Americans have been celebrating Valentine’s Day since the 19th century but the holiday became ubiquitous early in the 20th century. 

Nowhere in the world is Valentine’s Day celebrated as wildly as in the U.S. Much like during the Christmas holiday season, stores are filled with rose-colored products weeks beforehand.

Contrary to popular belief, Valentine’s Day is not just for romantic love. Your best friend, grandpa, teacher, or even your favorite colleague from the office may participate in exchanging valentines.

Valentine’s Day is ultimately about celebrating love – which at its heart involves the connection and unconditional acceptance of another.

One thing about Valentine’s Day that is slowly starting to change is that historically, there hasn’t been much room for the LGBTQ community at the table.

Supervising editor at National Public Radio, Arnie Seipel, wrote about how the origins of Valentine’s Day are heteronormative itself. 

Seipel writes that the early Romans would celebrate the feast of Lupercalia during Feb. 13 to 15 which would culminate in “a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar.” The new couple would be paired up for the duration of the festival or longer if the match was right. 

Even though our society seems to slowly make progress LGBTQ couples may feel like they are not able to be affectionate in public because of the recent surge of anti-LGBTQ laws being passed and toxic rhetoric coming from some mainstream media entities.

According to NBC News, recent FBI data suggests that “crimes based on bias against trans and gender non-conforming people continued to increase.”

The ramifications of these threats against the LGBTQ community are even being felt in colleges across the U.S. In a recent survey of LGBTQ college students published by Intelligent, 61% said they’ve experienced more discrimination since Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special aired last year, which features transphobic and homophobic jokes. 

Although Valentine’s Day does not directly help fight the day-to-day inequalities of our society, we can choose to participate in the holiday while continuing to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.

Here are some ways you can celebrate Valentine’s Day and support your local LGBTQ community.

Make Your Own Valentine’s Gifts

One way to avoid the commercialization and heteronormative standards of Valentine’s Day is to make your own valentines gifts. 

This does not necessarily need to be about your partner. Your gifts can be sent to members of your family or your chosen family and friends.

Batman & Robin illustrated on a Valentine's Day card in a kissing embrace.

Valentine’s Day has been traditionally been a holiday that companies like Hallmark have used to target straight couples with products and advertisements. In recent years, companies have begun to make their products and ads much more inclusive to the LGBTQ community.
Photo by: @proyectoalegria

Shop At LGBTQ-owned Businesses

Shopping and hanging out at LGBTQ-owned businesses is another way to directly support your local LGBTQ community. Hotel San Jose, Tamalitoz and FLAVNT are a few in Austin you can consider. Check out more at this list of queer-owned businesses in Austin that Do512 compiled.

Practice Self-care

Valentine’s Day can be triggering for people depending on their dating history. If you were in a bad relationship or experienced trauma because of your dating history, Valentine’s Day can feel even more overwhelming. 

If this is the case for you, taking care of yourself is much more imperative on Valentine’s Day than usual. 

Be kind to yourself. Take time to look in the mirror and tell yourself “I love you.” Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you feel good about yourself while you’re doing it. 

Practicing self-care should be done for yourself every day – and not just on Valentine’s Day. Remember that Valentine’s Day is just another day. Regardless of how you feel about it, your relationship status, sexual orientation or gender identity, you are valid and you will get through the day.

Surround yourself with positive people and remind yourself that love doesn’t have to look the way it is commercialized to you. 

Keep doing you. You are loved!

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.