College honors highlight return on investment

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. Rottweiler

Cochise College has fared well on numerous national rankings in recent years. Most recently, the college earned the notice of for the economic mobility of its students, and WalletHub named Cochise the second best community college in the nation, based on an analysis of 14 indicators in the areas of Cost & Financing, Educational Outcomes, and Career Outcomes.

The methodology used to develop these rankings makes it clear that Cochise College stands out on a student’s Return on Educational Investment. For a cost that compares well with other institutions, plus an outstanding faculty and staff that are committed to student success, graduates are able to transition from being a student, seeking skills and knowledge, to a graduate, seeking employment opportunities or advanced degrees. Cochise College graduates are ready to enter the workforce and contribute to the economic well being of themselves, their family, and the community. It’s not just that Cochise is affordable and accessible. It’s about student success! It’s the instructional quality, support services, and culture of caring that helps shape a graduate who is prepared for their next step, whatever that may be.

Living examples of Cochise’s positive return on investment are neither few nor far between.

There’s Melissa Wendl (‘17), who has seen many benefits related to her financial situation, not to mention her own self-esteem. Melissa finished registered nurse training in May and began working in intensive care at Canyon Vista Medical Center in July. She covered the cost of her training out of pocket and with loans and scholarships. Her income allows her young family to experience things like the theater and zoo, expenses that she previously would have questioned. “It’s incredible to be able to do that without thinking about whether it’s affordable. It’s also an amazing feeling to be able to use the knowledge I gained for such a small investment to be able to help people, teach them things they don’t know about their bodies, and make a trip to the hospital, which is usually a horrible day, a little bit better.”

There’s also Linda Barker (‘06), a faculty member in sociology at Coconino Community College in Flagstaff who is pursuing an Ed.D. in educational leadership with an emphasis in higher education and community colleges. Linda credits her time at Cochise with helping her find her voice and develop critical thinking processes that she believes have made her a greater citizen, voter and human being. “My confidence and ability to ‘not know’ and ask questions comes from the faculty, staff, and administration that truly supported not just students but each other. That leadership is more rare than I knew then. I love (love!) what Cochise College offers and how it opened doors for me that were not even on my horizon! I speak of my alumni experience often and hold myself to a standard of integrity and ethics that was present to me from my experience at Cochise. I try to remember that spirit as I teach at my college.”

Tombstone native Charles Escarcega (‘89) credits a former drafting faculty member with taking the time to show him university programs. Charles was a member of the 1984 Apache baseball team, earned an associate of applied science in mechanical drafting from Cochise College, then went on to Arizona State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology. Charles held a variety of engineering positions within the semiconductor, mechanical engineering, telecom and electrical engineering fields, taking him throughout the U.S. and Europe for work-related projects. “I am very thankful for meeting people like Max Schoenhals and Coach Bo Hall. These people had a very positive effect on my life journey.”

Kimberly Friend (‘88, ‘94) earned degrees in electronics and avionics, plus a certificate in building maintenance, and ended up with a career that ranged from Tucson International Airport to Southeast Arizona Medical Center, and from facility maintenance and management at Raymond W Bliss Army Health Center to command engineer and facility manager at the Fort Huachuca Electronic Proving Ground.

We are proud of our accomplishments and the accomplishments of our graduates. But we can do more! There are many individuals in Cochise County who need educational services but believe they are out of reach. That’s why we are implementing the Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee. The college’s goal of providing a scholarship to every Cochise County high school graduating senior is to provide more students with an opportunity to receive a return on their investment. We want to help position them for success and also impact state-level initiatives to increase post-high school enrollment and credential attainment, both of which are important workforce priorities.

We are passionate about creating opportunities for students to explore and achieve and equally enthusiastic to highlight the successes of alumni. If you’re a Cochise College alum who’s willing to share your story, contact us at You are part of an institution that is positioning itself to shine even brighter.

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at

Scholarship program aims to enhance workforce competitiveness

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. Rottweiler

There are three startling facts that must be addressed if Arizona is to remain competitive in the 21st century.

First, only 42 percent of Arizona residents 25-64 years of age have completed a 2- or 4-year degree or received a postsecondary certificate. But by 2020, 7 out of 10 jobs in Arizona will require more than a high school diploma. In fact most will be “middle skills jobs,” requiring education/training beyond a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.

Second, the college going rate for Arizona high school graduates is 53 percent, putting the state 40th in the nation; the highest college going rates are approximately 75 percent. The percentage is slightly lower (52 percent) in Cochise County, causing one to wonder what recent graduates will be doing, now and in the future.

This leads to the third fact: today, 15 percent of youth age 16 to 24 are neither in school nor working. According to one recent count, that’s about 2,300 Cochise County “opportunity youth,” so named because they represent economic potential.

To encourage educational attainment, increase college going rates, and decrease the percentage of “opportunity youth,” the college will provide a scholarship to any Cochise County high school graduating senior who meets basic academic requirements and enrolls full time the semester after high school graduation. The scholarship is renewable with continued academic achievement for up to four consecutive semesters of full-time enrollment.

If you are the family, friend or influencer of a member of the local Class of 2018 – or subsequent classes – this column is for you and we need your help in getting the word out! The high school seniors who will graduate next May are the first to be eligible for the Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee at Cochise College. Award amounts will be based on students’ official high school GPAs. Thanks to the sheriff’s office and American Southwest Credit Union, scholarship opportunities for students who might not otherwise be eligible for merit-based financial assistance will be provided through the 5th Annual Cochise County Sheriff’s Charity Ride scheduled for Nov. 4. We encourage all to support this important initiative!

Funds raised at the Cochise College Foundation’s event “An Evening at the Races,” future endowment earnings, and an employee giving program also support the scholarship guarantee. If you, too, want to help impact the economic competitiveness of Cochise County, I would encourage you to contact the Cochise College Foundation at

Education levels are linked to quality of life indicators like crime rates, population wellness, civic involvement, and financial security. Cochise College is working hard to support initiatives aimed at addressing workforce and economic competitiveness through various student success efforts. These include outreach to schools and a community awareness campaign; streamlined enrollment processes; redesigned developmental education curriculum in math, English and reading; and a student success component that places those who need it in an Academic Success Seminar. Cochise College is already accessible, and it is working to better enable students to achieve and complete. Over time, the college intends to extend its reach to lower grades to help students get on a path to earning the highest possible GPA and, therefore, the largest possible scholarship. It also intends to grow award amounts.

The Graduating Senior Scholarship Guarantee is now being promoted in schools. Deadlines and details are available at Encourage your graduating seniors to sign up now and your underclassmen to begin preparing for their future.

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at

Accessing and advancing the ancient

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerOn a recent morning walk along the Cracchiolo Pathway to Higher Education, which meanders across Cochise College and connects Cochise with the University of Arizona South and Buena High School, I was struck by the contrasting realities of education.

On the one hand, at the ribbon cutting of that very pathway several years ago, I spoke of education and its relationships to connectivity (bandwidth) and of the power of knowledge. The SSVEC and CenturyLink facilities that exist along the path inspired those remarks, which fit well with where we are as a modern society and how education can help us as we increase our connectivity to others and leverage the power of knowledge.

During that same stroll, I thought of a letter I recently received thanking the college for the opportunity to examine its archaeological collections. Researchers participating in Archaeology Southwest’s “Edge of the Salado Project” funded by the National Science Foundation examined ceramic pottery fragments and pieces of volcanic glass from seven regional sites. The pieces are housed at the college and curated by faculty member Rebecca Orozco; you can see some of them in displays funded by John and Rosaline Pintek at the Douglas and Sierra Vista Campuses.

The researchers’ findings were used to determine with whom prehistoric inhabitants traded (connected), where and how they made ceramics (knowledge), and when they were there. The information also was used to understand how local groups during the period A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1450 reacted to immigrants from northern Arizona that led to the development and spread of the “Salado” culture, which the researchers now believe was both political and religious.

So far, data from Cochise College’s collections have been used by researchers in a recently finished dissertation; one book chapter and three soon-to-be-submitted journal articles; and several presentations geared toward the general public. You can view the presentations by Dr. Lewis Borck at

My point in this is that knowledge continues to be power and connectivity can unite peoples today just like it did in the past. Only today the power of knowledge and the connectivity of people is accelerated by and with technology. The data contained in Cochise College’s archaeological collection are now part of one of the Southwest’s largest databases and can be accessed by researchers across the globe to provide insight on how people lived, worked, worshiped and connected with others.

As Cochise College finishes up a quiet summer session and prepares to return for fall, I want to reinforce that knowledge is power, education transforms lives and shapes how we see the world, and thanks in part to modern connectivity, it’s more accessible than ever.

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at

Plan for your passion with purpose

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. Rottweiler

Pamela Faye Sanders’ life was dedicated to teaching. Once a Cochise College student, she taught for 35 years at Double Adobe School. When she passed away two years ago, she kept her passion alive by establishing a scholarship for future educators. She did it through planned giving, documented in a trust that legally defined her wishes. Some of her assets established the scholarship fund, and her friends donated in her memory.

Many people who wish to support education or their communities have made similar plans to leave a legacy.

Alexander Black’s passion for fire service led him to establish a fire science scholarship. Benjamin Blom and Virginia Thomas wished to support nurses. Dr. George Spikes, Henry Bollweg, Betty Starysky, Harold Pease and Margaret Kent established general scholarships that help make a Cochise College education accessible.

Cochise College is grateful for the opportunity to help carry out their wishes and joyful each time a scholarship is awarded.

We would be honored to help you keep your passion alive.

“To many people, having money for retirement is not an issue, but having a purposeful retirement is essential,” according to Cochise College Foundation Treasurer Karen Justice.

With planned giving in place, you can impact what is important to you, and it’s easy to do. A gift of cash, appreciated stock, or real estate may allow you to establish a scholarship or support a program. By making the Cochise College Foundation a beneficiary on your retirement account or insurance policy, or making a bequest, your passion is kept alive. Your investment in students is an investment in Cochise County.

Currently, the Cochise College Foundation is looking for donors interested in helping to provide a scholarship to every Cochise County graduating high school senior. Support of aviation students also is a priority as the college implements a new tuition model and also seeks to help pilots complete both flight training and degrees.

If you value your education and want to make a difference by giving back, I ask you to contact the Cochise College Foundation for assistance in the “discovery” phase of your plans. There are many worthy causes at Cochise College and beyond.

In the meantime, here are some questions to consider.

  • Is the Cochise College Foundation among the top three recipients of your charitable donations? Of your beneficiaries?
  • Have you updated your will to reflect your desire to help Cochise College?
  • Have you named the Cochise College Foundation as a beneficiary of your IRA, trust, will, or insurance policy?

Finally, everyone cares about something. What is your passion, and how will you plan for it?

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at



The other completion ceremonies

By J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

J.D. RottweilerMay brings an abundance of student success ceremonies. There are so many, in fact, that it’s easy for some of the more intimate and special celebrations to get lost in the festivities.

Around the time of Cochise College commencement, the college’s most celebrated event, it also hosted a ceremony honoring 24 new medical assistants, another recognizing 50 new certified nursing assistants, and another in honor of students who completed licensed practical nurse and registered nurse training. In the coming week, we’ll also recognize 39 individuals who have earned the GED since last year.

Though it’s understandable that not all ceremonies receive public attention, especially during “graduation season,” it’s no less inspiring and motivating for those of us who attend these events and reflect on the accomplishments of students.

The nursing ceremonies, in particular, draw crowds that rival those at commencement. That notice is merited in part because of the demand those rigorous programs place on students. The time nursing students put into school requires their families and friends to help provide support for a myriad of things, including financing, management of both school and home, childcare, reliable vehicles and more. There simply isn’t that much time for things to go wrong in the life of a nursing student.

The program’s reputation for excellence, too, deserves attention. Though it’s not an online curriculum, it was recently named the top two-year nursing program in Arizona by the Community for Accredited Online Schools. In addition, Jennifer Lakosil, the dean who oversees nursing and health sciences, was recently honored as a Fabulous 50 Nurse by the Tucson Nurses Week Foundation. In the near future, faculty and staff plan a curriculum reorganization that will include a licensed practical nursing (LPN) program for students who wish to pursue only that level of credential, a separate registered nursing (RN) program that will focus on students whose goal is a two-year degree, and an LPN-to-RN program that will serve as a bridge for LPNs who wish to pursue an RN.

In the coming week, teachers and administrators will attend another of their favorite events of the year. The GED ceremony celebrates students who, for a myriad of reasons, did not earn a high school diploma in the traditional way. It wasn’t that long ago that English language learners in the program self-published the book “Our Stories: The Dream Makers.” This year, in addition to honoring those courageous individuals who have completed the GED, the Cochise College Foundation will award Aida Estellean Wick Scholarships to students transitioning to college-level courses.

As I remind Cochise College graduates each year, commencement is not the end of a journey, but a point of departure for the next phase of life. The same is true for those earning a GED or completing healthcare training programs. On behalf of the Cochise College Governing Board, faculty, staff and administration, I wish all of our completers much success.
J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at

Opportunity is yours to take

J.D. RottweilerBy J.D. Rottweiler, Ph.D.

In the midst of discussions about the annual budget, it’s easy to get excited instead about the bright light that is student success. The reality is that even when talking dollars, Cochise College’s passion remains student opportunity.

So it warms my heart to share a little bit about someone who recognizes the opportunities in our communities and who is balancing higher education and advanced high school coursework with an eye toward a career in biomedical engineering.

Angelica Calanog moved to America at the age of 9. Coming from the Philippines, she has appreciated and made the most of the resources and opportunities available here. Angelica received a scholarship to attend the Running Start program, which enrolls academically achieving high school students in college engineering courses. As of last fall, she had already earned 42 college credits and a 4.0 grade point average. She will graduate from high school in May but also was recognized recently as a member of the All-Arizona Academic Team, which awards the top Arizona community college sophomores with a waiver to attend an Arizona university. She is a member of the Science Club and has volunteered for Engineering Night, March for Mental Health, and Haunted Union. She makes solutions, gathers chemicals and scientific equipment and organizes materials as an aid in the science lab. Her objective is to prepare herself for success.

Learning to balance advanced high school work with college courses and all of her other activities has been Angelica’s biggest endeavor. How does she do it? Let’s just say she’s learned a great deal about what to expect from the college experience, time management, and her own strengths. I like to think the donor whose contribution helped fund the Running Start program – the late Margaret Kent of Bisbee – would be proud that the investment she made in Cochise College has opened doors for Angelica and others.

Participants in a recent 50th birthday party for the Cochise College Foundation learned some other things about Angelica, who was invited to speak to employees. She wants to pursue a doctoral degree so she can perform research and develop devices to assist those who have an injury, disease or defect, and she’d like to offer this service at no cost. Before she takes the next step, however, she wants to check out cybersecurity. In her free time, she runs. Part of the reason she applies for scholarships is that she doesn’t want to burden her family with the cost of college when it is within her power to earn money to help herself.

I almost wanted to adopt her!

There’s something students and parents should know, however, and that is that opportunities here at Cochise College aren’t just for super-students like Angelica. They’re also not limited to the classroom. You don’t have to earn top grades to take advantage of what’s here in your backyard. You just have to do what many think of as the hardest part, and that is to commit to your future and take the first step of enrolling. Once you’re here, the team at the college can help you decide on a major, apply for financial aid and scholarships, tackle library and tutoring resources, connect with peers who share your interests, and explore opportunities to enhance your educational experience. Students who make a commitment to invest time in themselves are the ones with the greatest chance of success.

There’s a scene in the 2005 movie “The Family Stone” when one character expresses to another a desire to see public art and a community’s reaction to it. Her response perfectly characterizes the opportunities at Cochise College.

“Well, it’s there for you.”

That means all of you.

J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at