Transferring Headaches

Courtesy of: Google Image

Published May 4, 2012 the Express. To see the actual article, click here.

I have spent the past two-and-one-half years at City College, and though I truly treasure my experiences here, friendships I’ve made, teachers I’ve gotten to know and the plethora of knowledge I’ve obtained, it’s time to move on.

It’s a mixture of excitement and dread all at once, every ounce of work you’ve put into obtaining that AA degree or getting good grades has led up to this one defining moment: transferring.

I applied to several schools and was accepted as a double major in psychology and journalism at several schools. Many schools were impacted, didn’t suit me financially or didn’t have all the elements I was looking for in both learning departments. Believe it or not, I settled on Sacramento State University and will be attending in the fall of this year with an AA degree in psychology in hand.

The last time I made an appointment with a random City College counselor was over a year ago. I made sure that we had a game plan of what I needed to do to before I transferred. I didn’t want to keep going back.

The following are suggestions I gathered from my experience for those of you who plan to transfer:

1. Applying was really the easy part looking back, all you have to do is pick schools out and fill out the applications. The site used for state school transfer is It is fairly easy to navigate and stores all your information as you fill out multiple school applications. Make sure you have your unofficial transcripts in hand.

2. After applying, it’s time to send off your official transcripts and SAT, ACT or AP test scores if you need to. I had to call College Board and ask them to send my AP scores to Sacramento State because I got unit credits for passing my tests in high school.  There was a low fee of $15 to send AP scores directly to my top-choice school, and a copy was sent to me, as well. Even though I no longer had any sort of identification number from my test from years ago, they were able to look me up with a few simple questions.

Your first two copies of official transcripts are free if you just go to the Admissions and Records office in Rodda North. They will send them for you if you just fill out a slip with the school’s address. If you need more than two, the charge is $1 per transcript. (If you are transferring to Sac State, you don’t even need to send them because they are sent over automatically.)

3. Then, the waiting game begins. This period can really be the most stressful if you are waiting to hear from your dream school, mainly because you are constantly second guessing if you sent all the right stuff and your whole life is waiting in the balance.

Around this time the school’s email gives you information about obtaining an email account that allows you access to the school site where you can check to see if you got accepted (even before you receive the letter in the mail).

Something to keep in mind:  If you have questions don’t be afraid to call the school you are applying to. During my waiting period I called multiple times, making sure I had everything in. Fortunately, at Sac State I was greeted by genuinely kind and helpful voices on the phone every time. (Joe Fisher is a very knowledgeable Sac State counselor to get in touch with.)

4. I logged on periodically to familiarize myself with the Sac State site and kept checking back until I saw the wonderful little words saying I had been accepted and the check box asking, “Would I like to attend in the fall 2012 semester, ‘yes or no?’”

After accepting I called the office again to clarify my next move and started receiving lots of letters in the mail letting me know what my next steps needed to be.

5. Sign up for orientation on time. Sign up for the soonest date possible, and pay the fee so that you have a better chance of getting the classes you need.

6. If you are graduating with an AA degree before your transfer like me, make sure to apply for your degree around the same time you are applying to transfer schools. I was contacted by Rosie Vevea, an evaluator in Admissions and Records, who emailed me that I had all the units I needed to graduate. After that good news I logged onto the City College site to sign up to walk at the commencement ceremony. Shortly after, I received an email from Kim Goff, Admissions and Records supervisor, verifying my presence and information about times and when/where to purchase my cap and gown.

At this point you are pretty much set to go just like me. The best thing to keep in mind is being very aware of deadlines. It is key to a smooth transfer during the annoying, drawn-out process. If you miss a deadline, you’re toast until next semester, and in this economy, maybe even longer.

Don’t wait till the last minute to do things. Stay on top of your game, especially because you don’t know all the ropes in your new environment yet. Most importantly, be proud of yourself. You are finally transferring to a university.

Here is the link to the graduation information and sign up page on the City College site.

Here are the contacts’ names and numbers I mentioned throughout: Rosie Vevea 558-2351 (City College), Joe Fisher 278-2223 (Sac State) and Kim Goff 558-2054 (City College).


Major life decisions

Photo by: Evan Duran

Published April 18, 2012 the Express. To see the actual article, click here.

Choosing a major is one of the first steps toward laying down the building blocks of an educational future. From undecided to biological sciences, the process of choosing a major can be confusing, lengthy and says a lot about a person’s character.

And it’s a choice that often comes with a story.

“Before I had my son, I didn’t plan on even going back to school,” says 21-year-old City College student Soledad Jimenes. “Now I plan on being a teacher or running a day care.”

Jimenes, who is majoring in early childhood development, is currently a freshman and working on her general education requirements.

She says her son inspired her choice to major in child development.

“[I want to] learn because I see how much my son is learning,” says Jimenes. “I saw how my parents were, and I want to know how to help my son because I had to do everything on my own. I didn’t have support.”

Many students choose their majors based on interests and people who have influenced them in their lives. The City College Career Center on campus offers resources such as Eureka, which provides information on more than 800 career options and more than 1,500 career specialties.

“We want to help students understand their priorities, talents, interests and values,” says City College Career Center job services student personnel assistant Poonam Kelkar. “We use assessment tools with the students, not tests, because it’s based on their interests, not necessarily their abilities.”

Communications major Loi Pho, 51, says he chose his major based on his own experiences after moving here from Vietnam just two years ago. Then, he says, he barely knew any English.

“In English, when you read, you know the words, but when you speak to someone, you don’t know how to explain some things,” says Pho. “In communications you get to make a lot of connections with people. I like that.”

According to the Office of Planning, Research & Institutional Effectiveness, in the 2010-2011 school year, the top five degrees/certificates obtained by City College graduates are social sciences, which came in at first with 303 graduates, followed by nursing with 98 graduates, liberal arts in social/behavioral sciences with 55 graduates, and math/science with 51 graduates and administration of justice with 49 graduates.

Sometimes it is hard for students to choose just one major, and they decide on double majors. Sophomore Regina Sharma, 21, says she is currently interested in both radiology and criminal justice and is trying to decide which major to choose.

“I can’t decide which major I like better or want to do more because they both mean a lot to me,” says Sharma.

Her own life experiences, she adds, influence her decisions.

“Growing up, I went through a lot of stuff that I never want other women to have to go through,” says Sharma. “Rape, domestic violence—I want to stop that.”

Some students will be able to finish their studies at City College in about two years, earning associate degrees and certificates. Others will transfer to a four-year university, and some will transfer to trade schools, such as ITT Technical Institute.

Austin Ikeda, 19, is planning to do the latter so that he can work toward becoming an automotive technician.

“Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to work on cars,” says Ikeda. “I like everything about them, and the engine would be my specialty.”

Ikeda says he was influenced by a family member who led him to decide his career path.

“My dad used to work on cars, and he’s the reason I got into it,” says Ikeda.

Criminal justice major Andre Ware, 18, credits his uncle in helping him decide what to major in because of the example his uncle has given him.

“I want to be a cop because my uncle is a cop,” says Ware. “He really promotes it because he knows I want to do it, and he just wants me to be happy. I like that they [cops] help people, give back, make it a safer place for everyone and kids really look up to them.”

Journalists Laura & Lisa Ling to speak at April 2 fundraiser

Courtesy of: Evan Agostini

Published March 26, 2012 the Express. To see the actual article, click here.

Authors of “Somewhere Inside,” journalists Laura Ling and older sister Lisa Ling, will be speaking at the Strive for Strength retreat on April 2.

The Lings will be talking about their experiences and successes as American journalists, who grew up in Sacramento, with an emphasis on “informing, educating and empowering female participants.”

Lisa Ling is best known as a co-host on ABC’s “The View”, hosting “National Geographic Explorer,” reporting on “Channel One News” and being a special correspondent on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and CNN.

Laura Ling has worked for “Current TV” as a correspondent/vice president of the “Vanguard Journalism Unit” which also produces the Vanguard TV series. In June 2009 after crossing into North Korea illegally, Laura Ling and another journalist were sentenced to 12 years in a labor prison. She was pardoned and released a few months later after former President Bill Clinton intervened.

Adrienne Bankert from KCRA 3 will be emceeing the event, and youth speaker/positive role model Julie Marie Carrier will be speaking earlier in the day.

The event will be hosted by the Sacramento Asian Sports Foundation (SASF)’s Strive for Strength Bel Air Wong Family Community Center located on 9040 High Tech Ct. in Elk Grove from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (check in is at 1:30 p.m.).

Advance tickets are $25 for students and seniors and $40 regular price, but need to be ordered by March 25. Tickets bought at the door will be $30 for students and seniors and $50 regular price.

To buy tickets and to find additional information go to or call 916-595-5999.

Standing Tall

Photo by: Tony Wallin

Published March 14, 2012 the Express. To see the actual article, click here.

Story by Tony Wallin, additional reporting by Online editor in chief Taylor Miles.

A domestic violence survivor and City College student gave a presentation on how she is now a survivor March 9 in the Cultural Awareness Center.

Tamara Knox is a domestic violence survivor of eight years, a published photographer and author,  and a former member of the Express campus newspaper. Knox spoke to a diverse group of women about her struggles and determination to escape her situation. She also discussed her two published books, “My Journey” and “Standing Tall.” Both are photography books that dive deep into the triumph of surviving domestic violence and her journey through her experiences.

“Her books speak volumes and speak to her reinventing herself and becoming a stronger women,” said Victoria Henderson, Cultural Awareness Center coordinator. “You feel sense a of joy when you read her book…she’s a role model to women and men who find themselves in those types of situations.”

Knox said she lost three children during her struggle. Two were miscarriages from the beatings she endured while with her husband.

On Jan. 12, 2009, Knox said she was the victim of her husband’s violence in front of her son. When she asked him to stop and he did, Knox says she “heard a voice” and said to herself, “Lord, I found my beginning.”

She was able to get help from social services and Hope Inc., a domestic violence agency in West Virginia, where she was living at the time. They rescued her from what she calls the “dark times” in her life. Her father and brother moved her to California for a new start.

“She has found great ways to heal through the lens of a camera and is an amazing photographer and a great edition to the Cultural Awareness Center,” said Henderson.

Knox is now taking classes at City College and living with her parents on her road to a normal life. She says she is on her way to achieving her photojournalism degree.

“I think she is certainly a survivor who has decided to live and to grow and to give back not only to her son but to the community,” said Henderson.

Recently, Knox won the Soroptimist Sierra Nevada Region Women Opportunity Award in Reno.

“I wanted to be strong for [my son,] Jamal, he is the reason for my strength and my reason for moving forward,” said Knox during her acceptance speech in Reno. “He inspired me to get on the right path to a better life.”

Dare to DREAM

Illustration by: Cody Malick

Published September 29, 2011 the Express. To see the actual article, click here.

All students know that a good education is hard to come by. Choosing the right school, playing the waiting game in the application process and watching fees rise make it almost impossible to complete a bachelor’s degree in just four years. Undocumented students have even fewer options and more challenges to overcome.

The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), proposed by President Barack Obama, would help change that.

If passed, it would provide conditional permanent residency to certain undocumented students who arrived in the United States illegally as minors, graduated from U.S. high schools or lived in the country for at least five years before the bill’s enactment. Students could obtain temporary residency for six years if they completed two to four years of higher education or served two years in the military.

“I know undocumented students, and one of their biggest fears is not knowing they are undocumented until they try to go to college and finding out they can’t get the funding—it’s really not their fault,” said political science major and Brown Issues club member Demond Richardson.

Irvis Orozco, 23, is completing his final year at UC Davis and is currently involved in many community outreach programs. Orozco was not born in the United States but was brought here by his family when he was seven months old.

“We have been lobbying for the passage of it—we are sending support letters from different organizations, people in the economic sector, labor organizers, teachers, student unions and religious leaders,” Orozco said.

According to Orozco, Gov. Jerry Brown said he would sign the bill into law when he debated Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in Fresno last year.

“It is important for him to keep his word to Latinos, especially since there is a big upcoming election, and the Democrats need the Latino vote,” Orozco said.

Not everyone believes the state or the federal government should support undocumented students, but the truth is that undocumented people pay more than $2.72 billion in income, sales and property taxes to the state of California, according to the Immigration Policy Center. Orozco said they are denied drivers licenses, health insurance, state school grants and many other benefits.

“We’re being treated like [the way] African Americans were treated during Jim Crow days, paying into the system but with no representation. This bill would only make it fairer and give a bit of what we already pay to the state of California back,” Orozco said.

When and if the Dream Act does become law, it is important for citizens to remember that they are not losing out on their own benefits, but that other law-abiding, hard-working citizens will benefit, too.

More education means more educated people, creating a stronger workforce and society.

Doughbot invasion

Photo by: Taylor Miles

Published September 6, 2011 the Sacramento Press. To see the actual article, click here.

Doughbot Donuts, a business originally run from home, provides both innovative donut recipes and healthy vegan options. Bryan Widener, 25, and wife Dannah O’Donnell, 26, had their grand opening in their new building at 5 a.m. on Sept. 3 located in midtown at 2226 10th St., selling 700 donuts opening day, and 1,000 the next.

“People were waiting here at 5 a.m., and there was no downtime until probably like 8 a.m.,” O’Donnell said. “We sold out.”

Opening in a hip small shop downtown has been quite the life change for Widener and O’Donnell, who made most of their donuts solely for family and friends from their home since May 2010. To see how it all got started click here.

“Right now, I can’t think of a reason why anyone would want to do this. It is the most exhausting job I’ve ever had and we’ve had to completely change our sleep schedules. Between selling out within like three to five hours and trying to make enough donuts to fill demand with just the two of us, it is just really hard,” O’Donnell said.

According to O’Donnell, their new building used to be a sushi restaurant, and the dumpster outside was completely full of stuff they removed from the inside as they were renovating it for opening day. The couple said they gave up their other jobs and are completely dedicated to donut making now.

“So far, just getting open and making it this far makes all the lack of sleep and everything else worth it,” Widener said.

According to Widener, most of their customer base found them on Facebook and by word of mouth.

“As much as I like donuts, I often feel like I ate something insubstantial and there was no point. I ate a Doughbot donut and had a cup of coffee and it felt like breakfast, even though it was technically a treat,” customer and Facebook fan Ally Krumm, 26, said. “It’s because I know they are made from quality ingredients.”

Widener prepares most of the donuts himself, but O’Donnell has recently been contributing more in that area too. In the past O’Donnell had been a part of every aspect except the actual baking, which was more of Widener’s responsibility because he graduated from the Institute of Technology’s culinary school.

“We basically have all the same type of equipment that we’ve always had: a deep fryer that is both shallow and wide, a proofing box that provides a humid environment for the dough to rise in and a giant mixer,” O’Donnell said.

Three of Doughbot Donuts’ crowd-pleasers are the bacon maple donut,“The Dude,” which is a heavy white Russian Bavarian cream-filled donut with a vodka Kahlua glaze and the Meyer lemon creme filled donut.

“Right now I’m sick of our doughnuts, but I’m sure as things slow down a bit I’ll be stuffing my face again,” O’Donnell said. “One of our best ones I’d have to say would be our bacon apple fritter because it has both apple pie spices and bacon – I mean, what’s better than that?”

Some of their other regular donuts still include vanilla bean glazed, red raspberry, spicy cinnamon chocolate glazed, a variety of fritters and a new chai glaze donut. Most of their donuts also come in a vegan option and are made with almond milk and egg replacer and are completely made from scratch (besides the chocolate and bacon).

“We started making vegan donuts because when Bryan worked at Magpie (Cafe), he would bring donuts we’d made to work, and all his vegan coworkers would ask for it,” O’Donnell said.

Many of their ideas come from suggestions from fans on Facebook. For instance, someone posted an idea for a sriracha and peanut butter donut recently that they are planning on trying to make in the future.

“Everything we do is a team effort. We think of new things all the time too, like we have a peanut butter and jelly donut and a s’mores donut in the works right now,” O’Donnell said. “I’ll come to him with a new idea a lot of times, and he’ll be thinking about doing the same exact thing. It’s weird.”

Doughbot Donuts’ hours will be from 5 a.m. – 2 p.m. or until they run out of donuts every day except Tuesday, but are subject to change. Their prices range from $1.50 to $2 each.

“Our future goals would probably include, first off, getting a bathroom for our customers, and then eventually expanding so that we can stay open 24 hours,” Widener said.

Presently, there is little seating inside the shop but there is a small drawing area for children.

“Not only are they bringing a really high quality product to the region, they’re providing a colorful storefront to our landscape of midtown and I will do whatever I can to support them,” Krumm said.

For current updates and news visit Doughbot Donuts’ Facebook.

Artober celebrates Sacramento artists

Courtesy of: Kati Garner

Published September 2, 2011 the Sacramento Press. To see the actual article, click here.

October was officially declared as National Arts and Humanities Month by President Obama back in 2009. Artober is a month-long event starting Oct. 1 that highlights the talents and art resources in Sacramento and celebrates the meaning of the month. It will include local artists, businesses, art walks, festivals, workshops and other special events in Old Sacramento and the downtown area.

Last year, Mayor Kevin Johnson announced that the For Arts’ Sake Coalition would be introducing a new action plan for the Sacramento area. A team of 20 artists and art enthusiasts worked to bring resources together such as getting organizations and businesses involved in the process of making the public aware of the power of the arts. Last year, “Arts Open October” was held, which was a test run and smaller idea of what will be going on this year.

“This is our first year doing it quite like this (bigger than ‘Arts Open October’), and we are trying to rally everyone together, from individual artists to big names like the Mondavi Center,” Artober spokeswoman Veronica Delgado said.

According to Veronica, Sacramento alone holds about 30 museums, a professional ballet company and opera company, music groups and more than 125 theater companies.

“We have different stages of how people are involved,” Delgado said. “We’ve been sending out letters and making phone calls because we want small and big event supporters. We’ve also been offering businesses the option of doing an Artober indulge product such as a signature drink or meal.”

The businesses that agree to this will be donating 50 percent of the proceeds to the art organization of their choice, or giving a $200 minimum to it.

“We got enough positive feedback and support to come back and do it again,” Delgado said. “We started with two pages of scheduled events, and now we have almost seven full pages – it’s really great that so many people want to jump in and help.”

Some big names that are sponsoring and involved are the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, For Arts’ Sake, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, Sacramento365, Downtown Sacramento Partnership, Midtown Business Association, the city’s Department of Convention, Culture and Leisure, The Sacramento Bee and the Sacramento News & Review.

“We want individuals to get active also, and we are giving them the option of doing artist ‘hot spots.’ They can team up with their biggest collector and have an in-home art show. The same goes for musicians. It doesn’t have to be big, but if two people bring 10 friends and host it in their backyard, that is giving them a great opportunity to market themselves,” Delgado said.

There is a variety of ways to get involved, and every style of art is included. Fashion designers, singer/songwriters and private dance or theater companies are all welcome.

Clemon Charles, 47, is a local artist who moved from Barbados 20 years ago and has been performing in the United States ever since.

“I’m a very busy singer/songwriter, and I also play guitar,” Charles said.

Charles will be in the global village set up in Old Sacramento on the “Storytellers Stage” (set-up location not yet announced) doing Caribbean-style storytelling for children on Oct. 1 (he does not know his official time yet).

“Children are my favorite (audience), but everybody is welcome,” Charles said. “I do a lot of folk songs with Jamaican and Indian dialects that people won’t understand, so I tell them what I am singing about.”

The World Music and Dance Festival in Old Sacramento will be kicking the month off for the first two days of October.

On Oct. 9, there will be the Arts Open House, which is an entire afternoon of theater performances at the Community Center Theatre that will also include an art fair.

On Oct. 26, Synthia St. James will be the guest artist at the For Arts’ Sake Coalition Meeting at the Guild Theatre located on 2828 35th St. It will be an opportunity for the public to learn about the For Arts’ Sake implementation and hear what’s going on around the region with Artober activities.

The Artober calendar will be finalized in the coming weeks.

“We are not only raising awareness for art, but we are helping local (forms of the) arts build up their potential customer base and giving them the ability to take action into their own hands and make new opportunities for themselves,” Delgado said.

For more information, visit Artober’s website or Facebook page.