Fit-Cats: CNM participates in Healthier Campus Initiative

By Stephanie Stuckey, Staff Reporter

CNM is the only community college so far that has been an active partner with Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America by participating in the Healthier Campus Initiative, said Dean of Students Dr. Rudy Garcia.

Partnership for a Healthier America reached out to Dr. Garcia about a year and a half ago after being referred by the American Association of Community Colleges to see if CNM would like to be the first community college to participate in such an initiative, said Dr. Garcia.

The Healthier Campus Initiative is the first-of-its-kind, making commitments with colleges and universities to make their campuses healthier by adopting guidelines around food, nutrition, physical activity, and programming.

Dr. Garcia said he wanted a little more information before jumping into the project because the Healthier Campus Initiative had only been working with four year institutions.

Four year institutions are different from two year community colleges in the way they house and have meal plans for students, Dr. Garcia said.

CNM does not have that type of community and there are no dorms or meal plans to choose from, he said.

“Our students are very transitory – they come and they go; this is very different from a four year university where the student spends most of their time on campus,” said Dr. Garcia.

One of the advantages of CNM participating in the Healthier Campus Initiative is that the community at CNM is everyday America, he said.

Our students are very busy dealing with life that often times health and the choice to make healthier choices are often neglected, he said.

Changing behaviors and habits are the most important when it comes to trying to be healthier, he said.

The Healthier Campus Initiative officially began at CNM this fall term, said Dr. Garcia.

Albuquerque has an estimated 352 days of sunshine per year and he wants students to engage in physical activity such as riding their bikes more, he said.

CNM offers a free bike valet, so that students will want to ride their bikes and feel confident that their bikes will be there when they get out of class, said Dr. Garcia.

The wellness path is currently under construction and should be completed in about a year; that should allow for more space for students to walk, jog or bike, he said.

CNM agreed to participate in about 12-15 guidelines from the Healthier Campus Initiative and those guidelines are things like creating opportunities for students to be more active, having more pedestrian friendly walkways, and having signs for pedestrian awareness around campus, said Dr. Garcia.

Switching the vending machines to healthier options is something that CNM may consider, but the main focus for CNM and this initiative right now is to change the habits and behaviors of the college’s population – students, faculty, and staff, he said.

Even the smallest of changes are worth the effort, such as parking farther away from the building and getting a little exercise by walking to class rather than circling the parking lot to get the spot in front of the building, he said.

Dr. Garcia said he is working with the school of Health, Wellness, & Public Safety to help with the Healthier Campus Initiative and they will be having Fun Fridays out on the lawn of the SRC where students can participate in different physical activities such as yoga and volleyball.

He is also going to be meeting with Lisa Gurule from the nutrition department as well as the culinary school to discuss the possibility of coming up with culture oriented, nutritious recipes.

“We have three different schools working together to create opportunities that students as well as faculty and staff can take advantage of,” said Dr. Garcia.

He is also speaking with the finance operations department about the possibility of building volleyball and basketball courts on campus.

Dr. Garcia also said he is a firm believer in mental health as well as physical health.

“I believe if a person is fit mentally then the rest seems to come a little easier,” he said.

Some of the benefits offered for mental health are going to be yoga, stress awareness and reducers, creating a relaxing environment around campus by planting indigenous plants to New Mexico, and having Curandero workshops, said Dr. Garcia.

Another great benefit toward mental health awareness is that there is training available for a three-year-certification in mental health first-aid on how to recognize mental health issues and learning how to help, he said.

Dr. Garcia said that this initiative is a three year project and he thinks that they will accomplish the bulk of the guidelines.

“We live in a society where we do not choose to be healthy until something serious happens and it leaves us no other choice,” he said.

CNM is honored to be participating in the Healthier Campus Initiative where healthier habits and behaviors are formed that will hopefully follow the student throughout life, he said.

CNM offers fully-online Liberal Arts degree

By Whitney Oliphant, Staff Reporter

CNM has a new and streamlined online liberal arts program, said Program Coordinator Lissa Knudsen.

The program is completely online and students never even have to step foot on campus, Knudsen said.

In sixteen months students can have their associates’ degree in liberal arts, Knudsen said.

The entire program is laid out in advance so students do not have the normal hassles of registration and scheduling, Knudsen said.

The program is ideal for students with 9 or less credits completed in liberal arts and who want guaranteed online classes, Knudsen said.

All of the coursework is integrated which means that the classes support each other, she said.

So in some cases students could have one comprehensive assignment and have it evaluated for three different grades, Knudsen said.

“It’s super efficient, it’s real world, and it’s inexpensive,” Knudsen said.

The program is set up into seven blocks with each block containing three classes, Knudsen said.

The classes in each of the blocks are integrated and must be taken in order, she said.

Students who are interested in signing up for the program still have time, she said.

Interested students can call 505-224-4321 or send an email to

If students miss block two they are still able to register for block 3 and that block starts January 19 2016 and goes through March 5 2016, Knudsen said.

Students who join the program during the 3rd block will be allowed to take blocks 1 and 2 at the end of the program, Knudsen said.

Students can use financial aid to pay for the degree.

Students can fill out a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and contact a financial aid advisor.

There are multiple people involved to help the students succeed online, she said.

An entire team of instructors, academic advisors, and achievement coaches are dedicated to helping students succeed in the online setting, Knudsen said.

“They care and they are technologically savvy,” Knudsen said.

CNM also has a partnership set up with Western New Mexico University so that students can transfer the liberal arts degree directly over to their university to begin work on an online bachelor’s degree, Knudsen said.

The partnership helps the transfer to a four year institution go a little more smoothly because students do not have to worry whether or not their credits will transfer, she said.

The remaining 2015-2016 block schedule is as follows:

Block 2: October 26-December 12, 2015

Block 3: January 19-March 5, 2016

Block 4: March 14-April 30, 2016

Block 5: May 16-July 2, 2016

Block 6: August 29-October 15, 2016

Block 7: October 24-December 10, 2016

For more information about the liberal arts program please call 505-224-4321.

Students can also apply online at

For more information visit:

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Letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The staff at the Chronicle would like to thank all of our readers for bearing with us while we are in the process of working out a new contract for printing our publication. Our last issue (volume 21, issue 9) was our first attempt at producing our publication in a fully digital format. It was a new experience for myself and most of the Chronicle staff but it was also very educational and entertaining to see if we were able to rise to the challenge. From the response we have received, evident by the increase of views to our Facebook and WordPress pages, it seems that we just may have pulled it off.

I would like to take the time to thank all of our readers for their participation in this somewhat unorthodox experiment. I would also like to add that if this was or is your first time checking us out online please continue to do so. Once we have our publication printed again we will continue have the full issue available on WordPress and accessible through our Facebook page. Again, the Chronicle would like thank all of our readers for their continued support.

Thank You,

Daniel Johnson

Editor in Chief

Parking Ambassadors hit the pavement

By Stephanie Stuckey, Staff Reporter

The Parking Ambassador (PA) position at CNM is “student focused” said Parking Services manager, Nicholas Aragon.

Parking Ambassadors patrol the general and paid parking lots at CNM, check permits and look for suspicious behavior, Aragon said.

The Parking Ambassadors can be spotted walking around campus wearing yellow shirts and the Parking Services Department currently has four PAs, he said.

Aragon wants to stress that the main focus of the PAs and the Parking Services Department as a whole is the students.

“We want to change assumptions people may have regarding Parking Services – we are here for the community at CNM, not against them,” he said.

There is no quota on the amount of citations that are issued, the PAs job is to create a welcoming environment at CNM where people will want to return, Aragon said.

When Parking Ambassadors attend trainings, customer service is most important; “it is about the students, not the tickets,” he said.

PAs issue citations in general parking lots two weeks after the first day of the beginning of the semester, Aragon said.

Students, faculty, and staff using the general parking lots have a two week grace period in which to pick-up their general parking lot permits, he said.

There is no grace period for paid permit parking lots and PAs begin to issue citations on the first day of the semester, said Aragon.

“People pay good money to pay for those parking spots and they should be available to them when they are at CNM,” he said.

Aragon said that CNM does not tow vehicles due to outstanding citations.

PAs do pay close attention to handicap parking spots and fire lanes, Aragon said.

Students, staff, and faculty should feel comfortable talking and interacting with PAs – they are available to answer questions regarding general campus information as well, he said.

PAs are required to read the Suncat Times in order to have the most recent, up-to-date information, Aragon said.

Parking Ambassadors carry radios and are able to communicate with security in the instance they run into a situation which they are not trained to handle, he said.

PAs are only trained in dealing with parking issues – they are constantly being trained in communication skills as well as verbal judo, Aragon said.

Parking Ambassadors will also respond to various calls throughout the day dealing with issues such as hit and runs or several cars being parked in paid parking lots without permits, he said.

“The community at CNM is great about speaking-up when there is a problem,” Aragon said.

Something to keep in mind, Aragon said, is that the first citation is voided for everyone.

The person who received the citation may not know where to pick-up the general parking lot permits – Parking Ambassadors and Parking Services can educate that person by informing them of where to pick-up the parking permits, he said.

“It takes a special type of person to be a Parking Ambassador because not everyone is able to effectively communicate with such a diverse population,” Aragon said.

TRIO helps students succeed

By Whitney Oliphant, Staff Reporter

TRIO hopes to have a new program that will allow them to set up TRIO services for students at CNM Montoya campus, said achievement coach, Rob Carriaga.

They were awarded the opportunity for the new program a few months ago and hope to have it up and running by November or December of this year said, Carriaga.

The new program will allow an additional 140 students to be a part of TRIO, Carriaga said.

TRIO is a program designed to help first generation or low income students succeed and aid in their transfer to a four year institution, Carriaga said.

Some of the support services that TRIO offers include: one-on-one tutoring, career and academic coaching, a private computer lab and a study area in the TRIO building, Carriaga said.

If students would like to be a part of TRIO they must apply and meet at least one of the following requirements: be a first generation college student, be a part of a low-income eligible family, or have a documented disability, said Magda Martinez-Baca, director of TRIO Student Support Services.

To submit an application students can go online to and click on the TRIO application link.

The new program will try and mirror the one on Main Campus but at Montoya campus they will  offer additional tutoring in biology and chemistry, Martinez-Baca said.

“Once you’re in TRIO, you stay in TRIO” said, Carriaga.

Students don’t have to continually reapply to stay a part of TRIO, Carriaga said.

The TRIO staff is there to help guide students through deadlines and help students make the transition process to a four year institution go more smoothly, said the TRIO staff.

Some other services TRIO offers include walkabouts, time management workshops, and help in finding and applying for scholarships.

Jimi Sanchez, TRIO tutor, holds walkabouts for TRIO students and takes groups of 5 or 6 to UNM to tour the campus.

On the walkabouts Sanchez also ensures that each student knows the specific buildings that they will be attending classes in, he said.

“We ask what our students’ needs are and how we can help them meet that objective,” Sanchez said.

Workshops that are available to all CNM students can be found on the CNM events calendar, Martinez-Baca said.

The TRIO staff is there to help students succeed, Sanchez said.

“We are going to work with that individual and troubleshoot with them,” Martinez-Baca said.

For more information on TRIO call (505)-224-4375.

To submit an application to become a part of TRIO visit and click on the blue link that says TRIO Application.

Suicide Prevention and Awareness

By Whitney Oliphant, Staff Reporter

CNM Westside Campus held a suicide prevention talk for students and staff on September 30, 2015.

The workshop is designed to help everyone understand warning signs and how to get someone help, Brown said.

The guest speakers included Mike Hillard, who is a full time psychology instructor, and Jenn Brown, who works at Agora Crisis Center.

Jenn Brown has volunteered at Agora for two years and has been on staff for three years and she now goes around educating the youth on suicide prevention.

New Mexico is a very at risk state for death by suicide and attributes and this is due to New Mexico being a very rural state and the poorest state in the country, she said.

“With New Mexico being rural this means that we are very isolated,” she said.

New Mexico is ranked 3rd nationally for death by suicide, she said.

For every one person who dies as a result of suicide around fifty people are then affected, Brown said.

The most at risk include older white men who are over the age of 60 but that does not mean that others are not also at risk, she said.

There are many different reasons as to why a person may be depressed, she said.

Agora Crisis Center is a confidential and free service for those who need help and need someone to listen, Brown said.

To reach someone at Agora the number for the Albuquerque area is (505)-277-3013 or statewide it is 1-866-HELP-1-NM.

Depression is a major factor in suicide, she said.

Depression is a chronic physical illness that affects our bodies and our brains, she said.

It is different from other illnesses in that it is not something that people can see, Brown said.

Chronic depression can last from months to years at a time, she said.

Depression can also lower your immune system and your ability to fight off infections, said Michael Hillard, CNM instructor.

“Imagine being in the deepest, darkest, moss covered well that you can’t get out of, that’s what depression is like,” Brown said.

Some of the warning signs of depression can include weight changes, lethargy, not leaving the house, and avoiding friends, she said.

Depression really is different for everyone, and will affect everyone in a different way, she said.

“Depression is not a one size fit’s all shoe,” Brown said.

It is important to realize if a behavior is abnormal or out of the ordinary for that specific person or there is a sudden change in what the person is interested in then that individual may be suffering from a form of depression, she said.

For instance if they have always enjoyed dance and now they want nothing to do with dance, then that may be a sign of depression said, Brown.

Self-injury types of behavior such as pinching, slapping, or hitting oneself could be a sign of depression as well, said Hillard.

It is important to recognize the behavior changes and warning signs and try to get that person help said, Brown.

There is a stigma behind asking someone about suicide or depression said, Brown.

It’s important to ask a person if they are thinking of killing themselves no matter how uneasy it may make the person asking feel, she said.

“It’s important to remember that you asking about suicide will in no way cause someone to commit suicide,” said Brown

Instead of asking someone if they are thinking about hurting themselves ask them instead if they are thinking about suicide, she said.

There a few different ways to help someone who is in that kind of a situation, she said.

You can tell them about Agora which is a confidential free service available to anyone who needs to talk or just someone to listen, she said.

Agora can help refer people to regular therapy sessions if the individual is interested.

“It’s also important to make time for yourself and to spend time with those that make you feel better if someone is going through a hard time,” Hillard said.