If there’s one thing Nora Luna is certain of, it’s that even intimidating challenges can be overcome.
That was part of her message to nearly 100 students and guests attending Cochise College’s first Cybersecurity Night last month. Luna (’16) served on an alumni panel that answered audience questions. An employer panel included representatives of the military and local contractors. All shared insights about what it takes to not only study cybersecurity, but also to advance in the field.
“There will always be challenges, but nothing that can’t be overcome,” Luna told the audience. “The sky is the limit, and age is but a number. Anything is possible.”
Luna’s perseverance in balancing work, family and school was noted and applauded by a fellow panelist who witnessed the effort she put into it.
A 1995 graduate of Tombstone High School, Luna is a single parent who worked three jobs while attending college. Now she’s “down to two” jobs, one as grants specialist with Tombstone Unified School District, where her new knowledge helps inform decisions about the confidentiality of student information. She also now works part time on Fort Huachuca for OSI Vision, a contractor that provides services in the areas of IT operations, cybersecurity, logistics and supply chain management, and systems engineering. At OSI, she trouble shoots and provides desktop support, assists users with specific accounts provided by the military, and is part of the quality management team. She also earned SEC+ certification and is trained to lock down and keep information secure to avoid spillage and other security risks.
Luna initially planned to study business. She switched to information security during the time the program was evolving into cybersecurity. The degree, she thought, would open the door to a variety of local employment opportunities.
Time management and related decisions were difficult, she concedes, as she temporarily sacrificed what she values most – family – in order to be able to accomplish something necessary – graduation and financial security. She graduated as a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society with a 3.76 grade point average. Supportive family, friends, and college faculty and staff played a significant role in helping her along the way.
“I would not have accomplished what I have so far without them,” she said. “My daughter, now a sophomore, supported me without question and helped me study. It felt like a team, as this was going to better both of our lives. I feel very humbled, as I hoped to be an example to my daughter. I wanted her to see that it can be done no matter what the situation.”
After a bit of a breather, if you can call it that, Luna plans to complete a second associate’s degree in business and transfer to the University of Arizona South, where she can pursue studies in either business or cybersecurity, or both.
If there’s any other advice she’d share, it’s that working less can allow students to take advantage of extracurricular opportunities she wishes she hadn’t missed.
“I would encourage anyone to work less if they can and put as much time and attention to school and learning as possible,” Luna said. “Learning is such a great thing, and to have the ability to learn new things and grow is its own reward.”
By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.
As investigations of interference in the U.S. election process make headlines, Cochise College enters its 13th year of educating students in the area of cybersecurity. Later this month, we’ll celebrate what we’ve been able to build by bringing our current cyber students together with industry experts and program graduates for an evening of networking and learning from the pros.
The cybersecurity program Cochise offers today evolved from an information security program that began in 2004. It falls under the computer information systems umbrella, which enrolls more than 1,500 annually and also includes Cisco training; computer maintenance, repair and programming; Linux; networking; and web development. Currently, 185 students have chosen cybersecurity as their major. Graduates have found positions with military contractors and government agencies. They’re often employable after just a few classes.
Graduates will share their experiences and advice in a Jan. 25 cyber event aimed at preparing current cybersecurity students both for their college education and the workplace. Some of them got a foot in the door by participating in auxiliary college cyber activities, which continue today. For example, 200 to 300 local youth annually participate in the Computer Challenge at the Sierra Vista Campus. Through a partnership with AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association), CIS faculty coordinate community volunteers and organize competitions and theory tests in computer fundamentals, information security, programming, digital graphics and desktop publishing, PC repair, speaking, and interviewing.
The college also is actively engaged with the Air Force Association (AFA) CyberPatriot program, in which high school students compete in exercises designed to teach them to remediate technological vulnerabilities. Twenty-eight of Arizona’s 71 CyberPatriot teams – or 40 percent – are trained here at Cochise College.
Important partnerships have helped fund progress in cybersecurity training at Cochise. A National Science Foundation Engineering Pathways Partnership Project grant has funded curriculum redesign with an industry advisory council. A $100,000 Youth CareerConnect Department of Labor grant funded opportunities for Center for Academic Success and Buena High School students taking cyber courses at Cochise. It also helped with the cost of equipment, primarily servers and removable solid-state drives.
In addition to two Sierra Vista Campus cybersecurity classrooms, an additional classroom will soon turn into a dynamic workspace for students to tackle cybersecurity challenges as teams. Students will work in a cyber range to test high-level cyber technologies and in an Internet of Things lab that includes connected devices that seldom are considered when developing a security plan for an organization. Think Amazon Echo devices that are always on and connected and waiting for a voice command.
Finally, Cochise has added a new full-time cybersecurity faculty position recently filled by former Engility Section Manager Mike McLain, who will facilitate the industry panel at the college’s cybersecurity event this month. The industry panel includes representatives from the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) and Fort Huachuca, NCI, Northrop Grumman, Engility and Raytheon, which is now offering a scholarship and internship for transitioning soldiers.
During my time here at Cochise, community and national demand for cybersecurity has increased tremendously and we have made every effort to ensure our cyber students are well-prepared to enter this dynamic space. It’s the passion and expertise of college faculty and staff who have not only helped the institution meet those needs, but also kept the college at the forefront of this increasingly important industry.
J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As 2016 comes to a close, we’ve gone in search of a historical image to share on the alumni blog. We found one in the old reliable resource “El Recuerdo.” The Cochise College yearbooks of yesteryear never fail us. Published from 1965 to 1971, and then, randomly, in 1988 under the name “The Heliograph,” you can look at them dozens of times and still stumble on something you’ve never noticed.
Ranging from the psychedelic to the conservative, the “El Recuerdo” covers, once opened, give some idea of what was going on in the life of the college. Year one (1965), for example, is hopeful about the future as the new college opened and shows a student body interested in the performing arts, particularly theater. A sign of the times, perhaps.
The 1969 yearbook creatively pictures student organizations at attractions across the county, a pipe-smoking president, and a “scandalous” photo of co-eds in the Douglas Campus gym holding up skirts to reveal “The End” spelled out underneath. Maybe you can help us identify them?
The 1988 “Heliograph,” whose name is a reflection of the college’s first student newspaper, focuses on the college more heavily from the Sierra Vista perspective, likely as enrollment there grew some 10 years after the campus was dedicated.
We’ve heard a yearbook may have been printed in 1972, but we’ve never seen one. And, we’re always amazed that a project of that type could be pulled off at all; we can’t imagine tackling it these days.
As it were, 2016 has been another enjoyable year for our work with alumni. We thank you for your ongoing interest in the college, and for all of the memories, success stories and accolades you have shared. Keep it up, and perhaps your story will be in a future issue of “Accolade” and will help persuade other students to commit to Cochise.
A Former Cochise Rodeo Facebook page established in May quickly landed 800 followers, who got right to work identifying and sharing photos and connecting friends. That level of interest told its organizer, college retiree and new Cochise College Foundation board member Dr. Mark von Destinon, that the appetite for rodeo is alive and well, if only the audience could remain engaged.
A former Cochise College registrar, faculty member, and co-sponsor of the rodeo team when it was still a club, von Destinon has a long history in Cochise County and is on the lookout for other ways to re-engage with alumni, former employees and supporters.
Former Cochise Rodeo followers were invited to a Meet the Rodeo Team event at the 2016 Cochise County Fair, where volunteers John Maisch and Kelly and MacKenzie Kimbro interviewed team members on live radio, organized team photos, made valuable introductions, and helped distribute Tshirts, buttons and bumper stickers, along with homemade cookies.
Von Destinon also recently met with former rodeo coach Beth Hughes in Sierra Vista and traveled to Texas with former rodeo club advisor Dr. Mary Lee Shelden to visit retired coach Frank Adams in August. College rodeo is supporting 2016 Rex Allen Days (website) with appearances at the parade and at the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame (website), where retired coach Don Kimble will be inducted.
The idea behind the renewed energy surrounding rodeo is two-fold. First, the college wishes to garner support for one of Cochise County’s best-kept secrets – its rodeo team. Coached by Rick and Lynn Smith, the Cochise College women’s team finished the 2015-2016 season eighth in the nation, with the third- and seventh-ranked goat tiers. The men’s team, which won its first rodeo of 2016-2017 a few weeks ago, finished last year with the 14th-ranked team roper and saddle bronc rider.
Another motive is to organize a group that is dedicated to preserving the Western way of life, in a sense preserving enthusiasm for all of the things that surround the sport of rodeo. That includes cattle operations and other farming and livestock management and related industries, in which Cochise County has a long history, and which appeal to travelers from across the globe.
Like many community colleges, Cochise’s communication with alumni has been sporadic. If the rodeo outreach project works, the concept could expand to other academic and athletic programs that unite a tight-knit group of participants and families while the students are enrolled, and which also often transfer students to universities. The effort is somewhat dependent upon volunteers, and if the alumni who reconnect with the college on their own are any example, former students tend to have very positive memories of their time at Cochise.
The next activity of the Former Cochise Rodeo group is a visit with Frank and Barbara Adams on October 9. Frank was the college agriculture instructor and rodeo coach from 1978 to 1994. Barbara was the nurse on the Douglas Campus from 1981 to 1998. They now live in Texas. Friends and former students are invited to visit with them at a no-host brunch in the Douglas Campus cafeteria from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, October 9. The cost is $7 per person. In addition, Cochise College’s second home rodeo of the year is expected to take place March 4-5, 2017, at Wren Arena on Fort Huachuca.
In the meantime, fans and alumni can show their support by:
- Purchasing Cochise College Rodeo T-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers (see below). Shirts (S, M, L, XL) cost $13 if they are mailed and $10 if purchased at an event or at the Cochise College Foundation office at the Douglas Campus. Buttons and bumper stickers cost $1.50 by mail and $1 in person.
- Emailing email@example.com to RSVP for the Oct. 9 brunch with Frank and Barbara Adams
- Joining Former Cochise Rodeo on Facebook
- Planning to attend the March 4-5, 2017 Cochise College rodeo on Fort Huachuca
Contact the Cochise College Foundation at (520) 417-4735 for more information.
I, Frank Marcell, am a proud 1972 graduate of Cochise College, Douglas Campus. I wish to share my experience at Cochise College and explain what that education has meant in my life.
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. The area where I grew up in the 1960s was rough, plagued with gangs and drugs. Yet, despite this environment, I identified that I wanted to be in law enforcement at around the age of 14. Contrary to how my “rowdy friends” felt, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers were my heroes.
Upon graduating from high school I enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving a year in Vietnam and discharged in 1969. After discharging from the military, I tested with the LAPD, but it was not meant to be. I was devastated, uncertain of ever achieving my goal of becoming a police officer. I did not know then, but there were new and valuable things waiting for me at Cochise College.
Soon after, my father suggested I take advantage of the GI Bill. I searched the local library to find community colleges within the Southwest that were offering a police science/criminal justice curriculum. Once I read the literature, Cochise College stood out. I knew I was best suited for a small, hands-on, rural college. Having ridden horses growing up, I was interested in the rodeo program and the agricultural offering. Cochise College waived my out-of-state tuition so I packed up and drove to Douglas. Never having been to Arizona, I will never forget that first drive thinking “Where is this place?”
My initial impression during enrollment was how helpful and nice the registrar and staff were, as well as the quaintness of the Douglas Campus. Being a veteran and a few years older than most of the students, I was asked to serve as a dorm monitor, which drastically reduced my housing costs. During my first year I became the freshman class president and became active in student council. A few veterans and I also started a Veterans’ Club. We directed our efforts toward the youth in Bisbee and Douglas. We initiated a summer program for them and followed through with a few other outreach projects. My second year I was elected student body president. Most importantly I met my wife, Alma, at the college; we are married to this day.
I thrived in the atmosphere at Cochise College, much different than that in which I’d grown up. The instructors offered me more than just content knowledge. They each took a personal interest in my academic and social success. My belief was the administration, staff, instructors, and student body, were motivated together toward providing the best education and positive life lessons.
Upon completing my associate’s degree, I received a scholarship to Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff. I could not have received that without the mentoring of Dr. John Edwards, Cochise College president. He always showed kindness and confidence in me. I also owe a great deal to the efforts of Dr. Mary Lee Shelden, my first English teacher. She provided me with skills in reading, studying, and writing so I stopped running two sentences together. A friend to this day, she still encourages me to write my professional experiences as a law enforcement officer into a memoir.
I did graduate from NAU and had a successful 42-year career in law enforcement/corrections. I counseled many young offenders I met when they were in prison, and I tried to explain how they, too, could turn their lives around.
I attribute any acclaims or successes to the foundation I built as a student at Cochise College. My time on the Douglas Campus opened my eyes to what is possible in life. I will forever be endeared to the college and to all those who helped me achieve success. My time at Cochise College became some of the best years of my young life.
Cochise College was delighted several years ago when a pair of former students – John and Rosaline Pintek – took an interest in its long-hidden collection of archaeological materials. The Pinteks helped fund the creation of two displays of locally-relevant pieces that were either donated to or excavated by the college in its early years. Located in the Douglas Campus Administration Building and the Andrea Cracchiolo Library on the Sierra Vista Campus, The Prehistoric Peoples of Cochise County exhibits are used in class and accessible to all visitors.
Now, someone else has caught the archaeology bug.
Cochise College student Lindsay Romo was featured in the Sierra Vista Herald website in April when she was one of 15 students selected to attend the Preservation Archaeology Field School (website) sponsored by Archaeology Southwest and the University of Arizona. The unique six-week program provides students with an opportunity to learn excavation, survey, and analysis methods in a beautiful, remote, and archaeologically rich part of the American Southwest.
The program wrapped up this month. In June, Lindsay published the essay “Chasing the Past” website about her experience on the Preservation Archaeology blog. The essay describes the weight of interpreting history and Lindsay’s struggle with the idea that nothing learned is truly objective.
Lindsay, a work study student with the college registrar, is considering a career in psychology or anthropology.
Archaeology Southwest has practiced a holistic, conservation-based approach to exploring the places of the past for three decades. By exploring what makes a place special, sharing this knowledge in innovative ways, and enacting flexible site protection strategies, it fosters meaningful connections to the past and safeguards its irreplaceable resources.