Haylie Ellison

Haylie Ellison has 21 articles published.

How to maintain mental clarity through the stresses of everyday life

in Health by
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    llustration by Christina Morrow

After a term ends, it’s easy to lose your mental focus and to maintain a sharp brain. Life can get busy and finding time to take care of yourself can be really difficult, especially in an increasingly rushed society. However, if you don’t take care of yourself, it won’t be long before exhaustion kicks in, your brain suffers from mental fog, and you become burnt out. Here are some tips to keep you on your A-game throughout summer and the remainder of your college experience.


Perhaps one of the best things you can do for your body and mind is to meditate. A Forbes article described how meditation helps decrease levels of anxiety and depression while improving attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being. According to Forbes, in a UCLA study, scientists found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. The study stated that “people who had meditated for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain than non-meditators.” Even though life can get busy, take 10 to 20 minutes a day to meditate by relaxing your body and mind. Sometimes doing simple breathing exercises or chanting “ohm” helps as well. Focus on clearing your mind and destressing before your busy day.

Eating Healthy

Certain foods can help keep your brain sharp, scientists say. Food is fuel for the body and can aid in keeping you focused throughout the day. Dr. Josh Axe, who is a clinical nutritionalist, says that stress forces the body to release inflammatory cytokines which prompt the immune system to cause inflammation throughout your body, as if fighting off an infection. However, the right types of food keeps the inflammation and immune system’s responses under control. Foods rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals also provide energy and aid in protecting against brain diseases, Dr. Axe says. Therefore, foods such as avocados, beets, blueberries, and broccoli all aid in providing the nutritional support your body needs. In turn, you will have increased energy, mental clarity, and less stress by simply eating these nutritiously dense foods.


Reading can be a healthy way to escape from the stresses of everyday life while maintaining a sharp intellect. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68 percent. In addition, scientists say that mentally- stimulating exercises, such as reading, are important in helping you preserve concentration, intellect and memory.

Brain exercises

Dr. Stephen Brewer, a medical director at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, writes in a Huffington Post article that improving your memory and mental clarity is all about stimulating your senses. He provides several unique ways for improving brain function and stability. For one, he suggests turning pictures upside down in your home or on your desk at work which will alert your brain to pick up other small details throughout your day. Another suggestion is to use your less dominant or opposite hand to brush your teeth which stimulates your senses and boosts brains creativity. In addition, puzzles such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles can help you achieve and maintain concentration throughout the day. Lastly, Brewer says to remember your favorite place and travel there, if possible. These memories stay with us in rich detail and traveling to these places or finding new places that help create memories of equal depth can also improve memory and brain function.

Craft Time! with Haylie and Kaya part 2

in Campus Life by
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    Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream

It’s that time of the year. Graduation is soon approaching as college students get ready to move on to bigger opportunities. Apart from reminiscing about earlier college memories, perhaps the most fun aspect of preparing for graduation is decorating the graduation caps.

Decorating graduation caps are your way to personalize them to your style. They can be a great form of self expression, which is exactly the reason many of us go to college in the first place — to learn who we are and where we stand in the world. Imagine walking on that special day, throwing your grad cap in the air, watching as your unique hat paints the sky. Here is an example of a graduation cap that anyone can make and easily alter to their style.


◦Hot glue gun

◦Scrapbook paper for a background

◦Scrapbook letters, stick-on flowers, bows, pearls, and any other decorative items.

◦Paint (optional)


  1. Buy some scrapbook paper with a colorful background from your local art and crafts store, cut it to the same dimensions as the top of your hat, then glue it to the graduation cap with a hot glue gun.
  2. If you are transferring to an out of state college, print off an image of the general shape of that state you are traveling to. If you are staying in state, like Oregon, then print off that state.
  3. Now, using the printed image of your state’s outline, cut out that shape from scrapbook paper, using the print off as a guideline. Glue it onto your background.
  4. Next, start adding stickers, stick-on flowers, and even words to your grad cap. You can even paint on a quote from your favorite movie or song in a unique font. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process.

Quick Photo Tip: For the most optimal photo, have a friend or family member take a picture of your head from the back and tilt your head towards the camera. This allows you to capture your special day, with memories to look back on for years to come.

grad cap
Kaya Maliglig /The Mainstream


Sue Shaffer: A visionary leader for UCC, the community

in Campus Life by
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    Linework by Haylie Ellison Color by Christina Morrow

Former UCC Board of Trustees director Sue Shaffer passed away on April 12 at the age of 94. She was the first woman to chair the board and received a position on the Spirit of Umpqua “Hall of Fame” in Jacoby Auditorium in 1999. During UCC’s 53-year history, only 23 names have been listed in the Hall of Fame.

John McCafferty, the current business operations officer at The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, worked alongside Sue Shaffer on the governor’s Compact Negotiation Team.

“She was a very impressive lady,” McCafferty said. “It was obvious that she was a person of vision, that she was really focused, and that she is very determined. That is what stood out about Sue.”

Shaffer was well-known for her influence at Umpqua Community College as well as the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe of Indians.

Last year, the Board renamed the library in honor of Shaffer’s commitment to the community and education. The building now stands as the Sue Shaffer Learning Commons.

“I was raised in a household where honesty, moral integrity, education, work and helping others were high priority,” Sue Shaffer said in her personal philosophy as published on Portland State University’s Institute of Tribal Government website.

“My brother and I were taught that rewards in life came from work and reaching out to others. I have lived my life that way,” she said.

Shaffer’s unwavering dedication was a driving force behind getting Congress to formally recognize the Cow Creek Band in 1982. As a longtime champion of tribal rights, Shaffer served as the Cow Creek tribal chair for three decades from 1983 to 2010, a span of 27 years.

Her passion took the tribe to new heights. The tribe’s small bingo parlor later blossomed into the Seven Feather’s casino and resort in Canyonville, which now stands as the county’s third largest private employer.

Shaffer’s leadership led to new business ventures for the tribe that further contributed to the local economy. The Umpqua Indian Development Corporation now operates a multitude of businesses throughout Douglas County. These businesses provided jobs for 635 employees in 2016, according to a News-Review article.

In addition, the tribe has donated millions of dollars over the years to local charities, which is a representation of Shaffer’s vision, hard work and dedication.

Over the years, Shaffer served on numerous national committees, including being named a delegate to the National Congress of American Indians. She was a delegate to the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and the Indian Women’s Leadership White House Conference.

She is noteworthy for receiving a dozen other awards and serving on multiple boards during her lifetime. But, her ultimate legacy resembles a lifetime of achievements, driven by her determination to enrich community and preserve culture.

“Chairman Shaffer’s passing is a significant event for the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe.  Her leadership was remarkable to the Tribe’s success,” a condolence statement issued by the Cow Creek Tribe regarding Shaffer’s death said. “She was a beloved Cow Creek Tribal Member.  Her loss is deeply felt.”

“She touched a lot of people in a positive way and impacted everyone she met. To realize that person was no longer going to be in the community was a sad moment. Her hard work, perseverance, and success is her legacy. She will be missed.”

—John McCafferty, business operations manager of The Cow Creek Band of

Umpqua Tribe of Indians


Recycling Tips

in Campus Life by
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    Illustration by Peter Bordenave

Recycling options on campus, in the community

It’s easy to shove unwanted items in our backpacks or in a trashcan without regard to their recyclability, but not all materials should be treated the same. Some materials, such as certain plastics and glass, don’t easily decompose. Luckily, the campus and the community offer many recycling options.

Currently, there are approximately 19 recycling bins on campus – 17 around campus with 1 in every building that categorize recyclable plastic, cans, paper, and waste products. Additionally, 2 are behind the cafeteria where one holds cardboard and the other holds all recyclable material.

Every Friday, Sunrise Enterprises picks up the recycling and takes it to their shop where they separate they separate the items. Then, it gets shipped to different vendors around Oregon who buy the recycled products.

“This worked out well and we have a good relationship with Sunrise,” Jess Miller, director of Facilities and Security, said.

Recycling is important for reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills, which in turn reduces the amount of harmful emissions into the earth’s atmosphere. In addition it helps save energy and conserve natural resources, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Apart from UCC, many recycling centers are offered around Douglas County as well. Sunrise Enterprises, the Roseburg transfer station, Roseburg curbside services and thrift stores such as Goodwill or Heartwood all take certain materials, depending on their recyclability and the types of acceptable materials each place will take.

Sunrise Enterprises, Roseburg Disposal Co. and the Roseburg transfer stations take the largest variety of materials.

“Every glass bottle that is recycled saves enough energy to light a 100 watt lightbulb for 4 hours. Oregon recycles 54 percent of its glass bottles,” the Roseburg Disposal website states.

The Roseburg Disposal Co. collects recyclable materials from recycling bins each week on a regular garbage pick-up day. Their curbside services allow people to recycle a variety of materials from newspaper, motor oil, aluminum, plastic, and glass, to name a few.

Sunrise Enterprises is another viable option for people who want to drop off their unwanted items. It has four station locations around Douglas County at Carnes Road in Green, Diamond Lake Boulevard, West Harvard in Roseburg, and Thompson Street in Winston.

Sunrise recycles cardboard, plastic types 1-3, mixed paper, electronics, and metal or tin. They don’t take glass due to safety hazards. Plastic types are often found at the bottom of the product, such as a plastic water bottle, with a number representing the type.

Rich Tuin, recycling manager at Sunrise Enterprises, said that recycling is important because “it keeps the landfill from getting filled up and it’s a reusable resource that puts money back into the community.”

He added that recycling is especially important for the environment and he encourages everyone who has extra unwanted items to take them to a recycling center.

For more information about recycling options throughout Douglas County, visit


Around 50 million tons of electrical waste are disposed of annually. That equates to nearly 4 million double decker buses, enough to stretch to the moon more than three times. —OVO Energy

Plastic will take 700 years before it will even start to decompose. Recycling one ton of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space. —Roseburg Disposal Company

Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 12 foot high wall from Seattle to NY. —

Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for

three hours or the equivalent of half a gallon of gasoline.

Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, and 2 barrels of oil.

Turning adversity into strength Jennifer’s Story

in Campus Life by
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    Nursing student Jennifer Hagerty inspires other students to conquer challenges. Haylie Ellison / Mainstream

All Jennifer Hagerty ever wanted was to help others succeed in life. After years of neglect and abuse from her parents, Hagerty wanted to treat others differently than how she was treated. As a result, nursing became her lifelong passion.

“My dad left when I was four and never came back. My mom faced addiction when I was a young child. The best way I know how to describe it is that they loved the high more than they loved themselves and more than anything else in this world,” she said. That’s why nursing provided her “the opportunity to have an impact without having to be in the spotlight. To be there for someone else.”

Hagerty is a 36-year-old pre-nursing student at UCC who hopes to work at OHSU as a nurse. As a mother of two children, 8-year-old Joshua and 6-year-old Jaxon, she has found it’s the precious things in life that bring the most joy.

Her children became part of the motivation and inspiration in pursuing a nursing career. But, life wasn’t always easy for the Hagerty family. Blissful moments were often met with great trials and tribulations.

With a crackle in her voice, Hagerty recalls the complications with the birth of her first son, Joshua.

“He was born without 80 percent of his skin,” she said. “It looked like someone had just dragged him across the pavement.”

Joshua’s situation is unique. He was born with ectodermal dysplasia, a skin disorder where the tissue that anchors the epidermis to the dermis is loose, causing the skin to easily slide off. As a result, Josh is prone to severe skin infections.

At birth, he contracted both MRSA and pseudomonas, both deadly skin infections. He also suffered from heart problems, kidney issues, and a cleft lip and palate.

“It can be really scary,” she said. “As a student and being his mom, in the back of my head I am always wondering ‘What do I do if he gets sick or hospitalized?’ and I would have to put school on the backburner because my son is always a priority before anything else.”

Joshua has endured over 30 surgeries and 100 hospitalizations during his short lifespan. His condition foreshadows a life of intense medical care and exhaustive daily routines.

“We have to give him bleach baths three times a week for ten minutes to kill bacteria and maintain his PH balance,” Hagerty said, reassuring that the bleach doesn’t hurt his skin. “He also has to get lathered with olive oil at night time when he falls asleep because he doesn’t have natural oils in his sebaceous glands.

Playing outside presents its own difficulties for Joshua who suffers from cold urticaria, a condition where his skin welts when in contact with cold temperatures and falls off. However, in extreme warm temperatures, his capillaries dilate, causing bleeding through the skin.

“He doesn’t sweat, so when he is on the playground he brings a water bottle,” Hagerty said.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of Joshua’s disease, his small, frail body, pale skin, and short, patchy hair make him an easy target for bullies. But that hasn’t stopped the 8-year-old from being a playful and active child.

“One day we were at McDonald’s here in town. We walked in, getting ready to order, and a lady said, ‘Wow, that’s a funny haircut,’” Hagerty recalled. She added (in a heart felt tone), “Joshua looked at me as if saying, ‘Is that alright to answer?’ and I looked at him like ‘Go ahead,’ and he said, ‘I have ectodermal dysplasia and you called my hair gross, but I am glad I made you laugh.’ ”

Then later on that night, Joshua asked his mom, “Why would someone who is a grown up ask me that, mom? They should know that that is not okay.”

He further added, “It’s not that she asked about my hair; it is how she asked about my hair. You just have to know how to approach a situation.”

And, in her soft reassuring tone, Hagerty answered, “You handled that perfectly.”

Two years after the birth of her first son Joshua, Hagerty became pregnant with Jaxon. A moment of sheer bliss turned into a new set of overwhelmingly difficult challenges. Although Jaxon managed to avoid his brother’s disease, another one became prominent.

“The day Jaxon was diagnosed with autism was very difficult,” Hagerty said. “I felt lost and confused. I already had a child with medical needs, and now my other child who somehow avoided the genetic diagnosis of ectodermal dysplasia has a completely new diagnosis.”

She didn’t know how to handle it. Autism was something she had experienced only a handful of times. It is a disorder that is still yet to be fully understood.

She would often ask herself, “Will he require 24 hour care for the rest of his life? How will I balance Joshua’s hospitalizations with Jaxon’s sensory needs? How can I possibly parent both boys with two very different diagnoses and still have some sense of self? Who can I depend on for help?”

She decided to turn her fears into strength as she surrounded herself with people knowledgeable on the subject. She reached out to Autism Speaks and local disability services for helpful resources. Additionally, Hagerty found Early Intervention and Autism Behavioral Analysis services that could be able to educate the Hagerty family about Jaxon’s needs.

“I knew that I couldn’t give up. When I chose to become a mother, I knew that it came with risks and benefits, blessings and struggles, and together we would get through this,” she said. “Disney’s ‘Lilo and Stitch’ reminded me ‘that Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.’ So after a good, long, hard cry all the way home from the hospital, I picked up my broken heart and put the pieces back together.”

Hagerty’s children have been the driving forces of her life. Although college can be difficult for her with the intense medical care required for Joshua and Jaxon, she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Caregivers have been especially hard to find, but Hagerty uses her strength as fuel to persevere.

“I feel like I had two paths to choose from. I could either be a victim of a circumstance or I could be a victor over the burdens and struggles I have faced in life,” she said. “I choose to be a victor! I hope that some day someone will look at me and my story and say. . . because of you, I didn’t give up.”


Gender-neutral bathrooms, safe spaces: the fight for transgender rights

in Campus Life by
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    Teddy Harris eventually found the courage to come out as transgender or trans-masculine. Haylie Ellison/ The Mainstream

After a life shrouded in uncertainty, a time of feeling out of place, Teddy Harris found his true identity as a trans-masculine male.

For years, Harris lived a life of constant battles among peers, friends, and even family members over his true gender identity. On the outside, he looked like a girl growing up; however, Harris always knew in the back of his mind that didn’t feel right.

“I knew I didn’t like being a ‘girl’ since I was really young. Never really considered myself one. But, my family saw me as a girl, so I followed that mold,” he recalled.

With a gleam in his eye, Harris now proudly declares his identity with  boldness, but this confidence was not always prominent. It wasn’t until early this year that everything changed for him. Tired of feeling out of place, Harris, previously non-binary, eventually found the courage to come out as transgender, or trans-masculine.

He has since been met with an abundance of acceptance, yet many people still don’t understand the struggles he faces.

“In school, I struggle with misgendering. While most people get it right, people still slip up–thats fine. But it’s still painful,” Harris said.

He fears for the rights and acceptance of transgender children in other states, where schools may not be supportive of the LGBTQ community. Harris relates to the struggles of other people who experience the same issues of misgendering, nonacceptance, or misunderstanding of rights as a transgender person.

“In society, I struggle with acceptance. I struggle with using the bathroom that I want to out of fear for my safety, especially in a conservative county like Douglas County and a small town like Roseburg,” he said.

In light of recent political events, transgender rights have become a staple for public discourse among the UCC campus community. A letter from President Debra Thatcher on Feb. 24 addressed  Trump’s policies to recall previous guidelines for protecting transgender students from discrimination, especially regarding bathrooms.

Thatcher further explained in an interview that she is positive of the direction UCC is going in being inclusive to all people.

“We want to create an inclusive culture on campus, one of respect, embracing people’s differences and valuing them for who they are and not their gender identity,” she said. “Regardless on your gender identity, you have something to contribute to, and that’s what we need to value. There is a lot to be learned from people who are very different from ourselves, and helping us understand that will help us understand ourselves as well.”

Currently Title IX of the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice prohibits discriminatory practices at schools, including “discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes.” That means people of any gender can go into whichever bathroom they choose. The UCC campus also uphold these guidelines.

Despite these  efforts, questions still arise on what basic services transgender students, such as gender-neutral bathrooms, have on campus.

Although hidden out of sight, there is, in fact, a gender-neutral bathroom on campus. It is located in the library, but students have to make a trek through the middle of the building and walk down a narrow hallway to find it. Additionally, there is another bathroom in the Bonnie and Ford Health Nursing and Science building that was constructed last year.

Farrington said the library bathroom was built in the early 1970’s, but it didn’t become a gender-neutral specific bathroom until 2014 as the former library director David Hutchison and the former reference librarian Katie Cunnion were behind its transformation, according to Carol Mcgeehon, the current director of Library and Tutoring Services.

Other campus services for all students, including transgender students, are safe spaces that provide open discussion, education and awareness of LGBTQ issues. These spaces are free of discrimination, ignorance and bigotry by providing an inclusive environment for all people. Colorful signs displaying “safe space” are often found in some offices or public areas on campus.

In addition, safe space training workshops are available for allies and others who would like an open discussion and educational information regarding challenges the LGBTQ community faces.

Roger Sanchez, testing coordinator and QSA advisor, said the purpose of safe space training is to provide a campus-wide network of allies who agree to provide support and assistance to LGBTQ individuals at UCC.

Illustration by Christina Morrow

“I hope what people take from this is the urge to know more, to learn more, to step outside their comfort zone and get to know someone that’s different from them,” he shared. “As humans, we tend to be afraid of things we don’t understand, but the more we get to know someone that’s different from us, the more we find out that we are not so different after all…That we are pretty much the same.”







“In society, I struggle with acceptance. I struggle with using the bathroom that I want to out of fear for my safety” —Teddy Harris, Psychology Major

Revised March 3rd – fixed spelling errors.

Gratitude event brings positivity to UCC campus

in Campus Life by
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    The gratitude event throughout February invokes positivity to the UCC community. Photo provided by Haylie Ellison

The 30 days of gratitude event through the month of February on the UCC campus highlights the importance of remaining positive through life trials and tribulations. Its focus is to provide students with the motivation to remain physically and mentally healthy through mindfulness practices.

The event, held by the Student Life & Campus Engagement office, is a call for students to practice being grateful and positive through the month of February. Anyone can participate by joining the month-long challenge or by submitting what they are thankful for in a “gratitude jar.” This is a large vase for the UCC community to place written notes into; it can be found at the Information desk in the Laverne Murphy Student Center with pencils and paper readily available for students. The notes will be publicly displayed at the end of finals week.

There are endless benefits to being grateful for what you have, Marjan Coester, the director of Student Life and Campus Engagement, said.

“People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems,” she said.

Coester said she believes gratitude is important for mental and physical health by relieving stress, fear, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression and heart disease. By having a positive outlook on the world, people can be relieved of the burdens taking hold of their life.

According to The National Institute of Health, gratitude leads to multiple physical and mental health benefits. A study they published demonstrated how gratitude corresponds with an increase in gray matter capacity in areas of the brain known as the right inferior temporal gyrus and posteromedial cortices. The study states, “Individuals vary in how grateful they tend to be, and those who are more grateful show enhanced psychological well-being.”

The inspiration behind the event came from Coester’s own battle with health issues for five months in 2016. She recalled being in a dark place at the time with little hope to rise from the ashes

“People that know me well, know that is not really my true nature,” Coester said. “It was a scary place to be.”

Since then she has been part of a Facebook group called The Gratitude Circle which has daily prompts that members from all over the world can reflect upon and use for a boost of positivity. Additionally, the group holds a 40 days of gratitude event which sparked UCC’s version this year.

UCC student, Jennifer Hagerty, said gratitude means living every day with thankfulness and treating others the way they hope to be treated. Additionally, she thinks that when someone is thankful they tend to be more confident which reflects positive emotions onto others and uplifts them.

Hagerty recalled a time when she went through a dark phase in her life and how gratitude pulled her out of the ashes and into the light.

“I have seen my fair share of challenges in my life. Staying focused on the positives and the little victories, being grateful for those moments tends to create a momentum that launches me in the direction of my goals. It’s like that old saying you have two choices in life. You can be either the victim or the victor; you decide,” she said.

Rachael Brock, a freshman at UCC, takes time out of each day to stop and reflect on the things that matter the most to her. Gratitude helps her remain positive and stay energized throughout the day, she said. Therefore, Brock said she is thankful that the school is putting on this event.

“I think this event is an awesome idea. If they can help promote and keep up a positive attitude, it can get everybody more into learning and excited about the classes they are taking, especially through midterms,” Brock said. “At this point in the year we could all use a refreshing boost of positivity and sense that all of our hard work is appreciated.”

Phi Theta Kappa competes

in Campus Life by
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    Hanya Vargas, Jantyne Bunce, Tanya Williams, Brittany Eggers, Logan Neptune, Tyler Gustafson, KC Perley

UCC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society is looking forward to see if they will win one of the highly anticipated Hallmark awards coming in April. Chapters that win must exemplify excellence in leadership, service, fellowship and community involvement. UCC’s chapter is known as the Alpha Sigma Upsilon chapter.

Several criteria needed to be accomplished before the club could compete for a Hallmark award. The Honors in Action award and College Project award entries revolve around their on-campus projects.  Requirements for the Honors in Action Hallmark includes a 2600 word essay on a summary of their project and its objectives. The essay revolved around a central theme Phi Theta Kappa chose the “Natural and Engineered” theme and the project itself focused on landfill, recycling and waste management.

Additionally, the College Project Hallmark includes a 1200 word essay about the planning process and objectives for the project the club is actively working on. This project focuses on improving the UCC campus garden.

“We submitted our Hallmarks to encourage team growth and learning,” said Jantyne Bunce, Phi Theta Kappa chapter president.

In fall 2016, adviser Marjan Coester suggested the [Alpha Sigma Upsilon] chapter begin their research project with encouragement of advisers Diana Kelly and Mary Stinnett. This is a first in 10 years for their chapter.

The projects that teams complete in order to apply for Hallmark awards provide them with growth in leadership, team building, scholarly research, recognition and accomplishment.

According to the Phi Theta Kappa website, “The Hallmark Awards Program, which reflects the scholarly ideals of Phi Theta Kappa, serves to recognize superior individual and chapter achievement in Society programs. In this program, chapters compete against one another. Participation encourages excellence, reflects fairness, recognizes quality and leads to enhanced student, advisor, and chapter development.”

The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society was founded in 1918. Since then, the Honor Society has branched out to become a global organization with 1,285 chapters internationally and 25 chapters in our region alone.  UCC has approximately 100 members involved in its honor society.

“The Hallmark awards are a way for members of Phi Theta Kappa to keep record of their yearly accomplishments on campus and in the community. At the same time, they also act as a form of competition between chapters at the regional and international level,” KC Perley, lead UCC peer mentor, said.

“It will demonstrate our resolve, determination, commitment and resiliency to the community as well as our dedication to the tenets of leadership, service, scholarship and fellowship.”

“It will demonstrate our resolve, determination, commitment and resiliency to the community…” —KC Perley, lead UCC peer mentor

Incomplete mosaic still stands as symbol of strength in honor of UCC Nine

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    Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream
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    Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream

A colorful mosaic tribute, displayed on a wall behind the fine arts building, stands as a symbolic memorial to the eight students and one teacher who lost their lives on Oct. 1, 2015. Eight blue and one red-colored dragonfly embody the spirit of those individuals.

“We started it in November of 2015,” Susan Rochester, head of the fine arts department said. “It’s a monument to the idea of community, but I also think the beauty of the mosaic is important. It stands as a reminder that no matter how difficult life is, we are only guaranteed this one single moment that we are in right now, and that’s a beautiful gift.”

One of the nine victims, teacher Larry Levine, was enthralled with a red dragonfly he came across on one of his fishing trips and had discussed it on the morning of the shooting. Therefore, in Levine’s memory, Rochester and former UCC student Kindra Neely decided to create a red dragonfly to contrast with the other eight blue dragonflies displayed on the wall.

Neely, who graduated in 2016, drew the dragonflies and came up with the main concept. She was inspired by Levine’s story as well as the symbolism behind dragonflies representing transformation in Native American culture. Both Rochester and Neely worked 20 hours a week on the project.

To date, the project is approximately 40 percent completed. The finished product is expected to contain approximately 750,000 tiles. Although the cost of almost a million tiles seems daunting, ASUCC provided approximately two-thirds of the funding, while donations through the art gallery covered the rest.

The mosaic was planned to be finished within a year, but the deadline met with some setbacks.

Since Rochester works full time and a lack of volunteers often creates delays in the mosaic’s progress, the responsibility of this enormous project rests on her shoulders.

“We still need to get the rest of the tiles laid and grouted. The grouting will be labor intensive,” Rochester said.

Additionally, extreme weather conditions can degrade the glue that binds to the tiles, ultimately causing them to fall, which is another challenge. Rochester explained how in order for the adhesive to be flexible in cold weather, it must be mixed with an acrylic medium. If the medium fails to mix proportionally, the tiles fall off. Therefore, minor repairs are still needed before the project is complete.

Despite these setbacks, the mosaic still stands as a monument commemorating the nine lives lost in the tragedy that struck this community in 2015. Some of the tiles on display were laid down by the families of these victims, who came to honor and remember the lives of their loved ones.

“It stands as a reminder that we were really fortunate that these nine souls were with us and touched our lives,” Rochester said.

She hopes that with enough volunteers, and warm weather temperatures, the mosaic will be completed within a year.

“It’s a monument to the idea of community” —Susan Rochester, Head of Fine Arts Department


Overcoming financial aid barriers

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    Jennifer Smith aiding students with Financial Aid Haylie Ellison / The Mainstream

Other options still available

Danielle Risley, 19, had vividly seen the type of person she wanted to be after finishing a UCC degree. It had been her passion since a young age to become a psychologist or missionary and travel the world while helping those in need. This term would’ve furthered her education toward those goals; however, with little money and no financial aid, she was forced to drop out of school.

“My parents can’t help me . .we are barely living paycheck to paycheck,” Risley said.

Like many students, Risley was forced to use her parents’ tax information on the FAFSA. Since they barely make over the minimum financial requirement, Risely receives no aid despite the financial hardships of living in a house of six.

“We have too much debt where we are living and we are barely making it.”

Risley’s story isn’t uncommon. Another UCC student who shares similar issues is Jessica Ruehlen, 22, who lives independently with her boyfriend and works a minimum wage job. Yet, her parents’ tax information is still required on the FAFSA, which makes her ineligible for aid.

“My parents don’t claim me on their taxes; I am a full independent, and that’s whats frustrating for me. I am an independent on my taxes and have been for three years now,” Ruehlen said. “There are all of these families just like me who have middle-class parents that can afford to live, but that doesn’t mean they can afford to send their kids to community college, much less a university.”

Ruehlen said extra class fees for supplies and materials can be costly as well, especially when an extra few dollars could mean a month’s worth of food for someone with a low income stream.

The government doesn’t consider someone completely independent for financial aid unless they meet one of thirteen qualifications including: being 24 years of age, being married, having been emancipated or having had children. These stipulations force many students to use their parents’ income on the FAFSA, which could result in lack of aid eligibility if the parents make over the minimum requirement.

finacial aid graph
Provided by UCC Institutional Research Department

According to a report conducted by UCC’s Institutional Research Department, total financial aid funds have declined in the past few years from $15,247,513 in 2013 to $12,474,028 in 2014 to $10,867,069 in 2015. Total financial aid to students (from all sources) decreased by $1,606.96 or -12.88 percent from 2014 to 2015. Additionally, the number of applicants decreased by 424 or -7.54 percent from 2014 to 2015.

Michelle Bergmann, UCC financial aid director had personally been affected by issues concerning lack of financial aid.

“It doesn’t always work out fair; I have a son who is currently in college right now and is not eligible for financial aid, so I also feel the pain,” Bergmann said, while adding, “Anyone who wants to try and make a change can reach out to their local congressman to make college education more affordable.”

Despite these issues, students who lack financial aid still have many options to help with monetary need.

Honey McNamara, scholarship and donor relations coordinator, said over 100 different foundation scholarships are provided for students to choose from. The application process opens Feb. 1 and ends March 15. The maximum award mount is $4,000. OSAC scholarships are also available starting Nov. 1.

“We have some students who get two or three OSAC scholarships and two or three Foundation scholarships, which is more than enough to pay for their schooling,” McNamara said.

Job options are also available for people who lack the financial support to pay for books and supplies.

“If the student doesn’t have a job, I would recommend coming in and seeing Ben in our Job Placement office. He has Douglas County employers contacting him about openings,” Bergmann said.

She also recommends students apply for on-campus work study. It’s minimum wage and students can work in between classes. Often if a student is eligible for financial aid, but doesn’t qualify for grants, they can do work study.

Starting next year, Bergmann plans to open a work study job fair where all supervisors who have job opportunities on campus can come together in one place and sign students up on the spot. Currently, students have to be awarded work study which can take some time. Bergmann hopes the job fair will provide a quicker alternative and encourage more people to apply for work study.

For more information, contact the Financial Aid office at 541-440  -4602 and Honey McNamara from the Scholarship Office at 541-440 -7674.

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