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News from Merced College

Solar eclipse becomes a campus party

Students flooded the Merced College quad with their eyes turned towards the heavens on Monday, Aug. 21.
Professor Robert Davies and his astronomy class hoped random students would take advantage of their booth as they spent the morning setting up various equipment to view and document the rare solar eclipse.
As the height of the eclipse neared at 10:15 a.m., the lines to use the provided equipment ran a few hundred students deep. The crowd was so impressive that multiple staff members commented they’d never seen so many students in the quad.
“The turnout definitely exceeded my expectations,” Davies said. “If we had it to do over again, we’d talked about making it a big community event. But with it falling on the second week of school and parking already being an issue, we decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to bring in more people.

“It was a great turnout of students and staff, though. I’m really pleased how many took advantage of it.”
Davies and company provided a number of ways for spectators to enjoy the celestial event. The Coronado solar telescope allowed people to see the eclipse through a cell phone. There were also a pair of Celestron telescopes that projected the sun’s image onto a poster board and projection screen. Davies also had a handful of solar eclipse glasses that students and staff took turns using.
“It’s always neat to see everyone have that same look of awe when they watch something like this,” Davies said. “Some of the staff brought their kids to enjoy it, which was cool for them. But whether it’s 9-year-old kids or students or professors, everyone looks at it with a child-like wonder.”
The library reported that 75 students took advantage of their pinhole-camera-making station and dozens of other students joined the gathering with their own glasses.

“The media did a great job advertising this event, so the students came with a lot of information and asked a lot of good questions,” Davies said. “I think the biggest confusion was they thought they’d see a 100-percent blackout. We only got an 80-percent view here in Merced, but it’s still a neat event that we’ll only get to experience a couple times in our lifetimes.”


Students Flock to Transfer Day/College Night

Representatives from over 40 different four-year schools descended upon the Merced College campus on August 31 to give students valuable information about possible transfer destinations.
The annual Transfer Day was a rousing success with students flooding the quad throughout the morning to speak with schools like Fresno State, Cal State Stanislaus and UC Merced.
While the Merced College staff that facilitated Transfer Day were pleased with the showing, the group was blown away by the participation in College Night later that evening. Hundreds of high school students from Merced County and abroad filled Don Reid Court to the brim for a chance to speak with universities from all over the country.
“The Transfer Day stuff is something that’s been going on for years,” Director of Office of Relations with Schools Anne DiCarlo said. “It’s run by the state, so all the representatives are on a circuit. They were in Modesto the day before and Fresno the day after.

“I think it went well. The turnout was pretty much the same as last year. It’s always nice to see students really excited about some of the programs. I heard them talking about everything from digital art to archeology to graphic design, so there’s a little something for everyone.”
While Transfer Day followed the status quo, the subsequent College Night far exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“We were not prepared for that,” DiCarlo said. “There were probably 100 to 150 more kids than we were expecting. Students were bused in from Dos Palos, Livingston, Hilmar, Gustine and Denair.
“It was a really nice atmosphere. It’s very satisfying to see so many kids excited about going to college and realizing what their options are.”


Veterans Resource Center Remodel Completed

The idea behind the remodeled Veterans Resource Center was to give Merced College’s veterans their own place on campus.
Whether they needed someone to talk to or just a quiet space to be alone with their thoughts, the hope was to provide a little of everything.
Vice President of Student Services Michael McCandless believes the school has achieved just that. The First Lieutenant Peter Joseph Gallo Veterans Resource Center completed its remodel in August and is fully servicing over 150 veterans and their dependents across campus.
“We worked with the (Peter) Gallo Memorial Foundation, President (Chris) Vitelli and of course our students to come up with a plan that would best serve our veterans here on campus,” McCandless said. “We wanted a space that veterans could use inside and outside and serve as an anchor to attract them to a place where they’d have the resources to be successful.

We have the outside study area where they can get some space, and on the inside they can get peer mentoring, a place to meet and counseling.
“They’re the kind of wrap-around services that provide the peer-to-peer interactions and support network that give our veterans their best chance to be successful when matriculating into school.”
The Peter Gallo Memorial Foundation donated $80,000 to the project, which took just about a year and a half to complete. Working with Darden Architects out of Fresno, the College allocated an initial $50,000 towards the interior offices, which were completed in January. The remaining $30,000 went towards the construction of the patio area and the new sign.
Peter J. Gallo, whom the center is named after, won a number of medals as a combat veteran in Vietnam.
“The Gallos were looking for a way to memorialize (Peter), and this was a good way to also help Merced College students that are fellow veterans,” McCandless said.

“The reaction to its completion is just a general excitement. The students are really excited for the space itself, but also for the support the College has shown them.
“They’re pleased that we recognize we can provide some of these services and we’re pleased that the students are accessing them. We think it’s made a big impact on them.”
Veterans services clerk Dustin Thompson echoed those sentiments.
“I think everybody is extremely happy with how it’s turned out,” Thompson said. “The renovations went well. It took a little bit longer than expected, but the end result speaks for itself.
“The hope is that the more we put the resources that we have out there on campus ¬– whether it be the computers, print services, copying or our lending library that we started this past semester – that more people will start to flow into the office.”



The Merced College Foundation has provided almost $14,000 in mini grant funds for eight projects that will enhance the teaching and learning environment. Some of the funded projects will produce direct benefits for students, while others seek to build and foster college and community relationships.
“The Foundation has provided grant awards for several years, and our purpose is to assist staff with resources that are unavailable through the general fund,” said Merced College Foundation Executive Director Robin Shepard. “These projects represent opportunities for the Foundation to provide direct support for unique and important initiatives.”
The projects include providing funds for 10 lifeguards seeking additional certification. With additional certified lifeguards, this project will expand the hours available for community use of the College’s pool for lap swim classes.
In addition, grant awards will support the development of a Merced College Performance and Lecture Series in which college faculty and staff will offer cultural and educational experiences for the local community. The series will be free and open to the public.
Student Services staff will also benefit from a grant to improve employee engagement and boost morale. This is a team-building initiative for counselors and other front-line staff who work directly with students. The project will provide a higher level of customer service, and increase innovation and collaboration across several departments.
The Foundation will also support the purchase of 10 plastic primate skull cast replicas to be used in the Introduction to Biological Anthropology labs. The project will provide students with much needed three-dimensional skulls that will help them understand the important anatomical differences between primate groups.
One of the more unique projects to be funded will digitize and preserve a treasure trove of physics films. Many of the films are more than 50 years old and represent a major historical archive of great importance. The project will preserve the films while making them available on the internet for physics instructors and scholars around the world.
Two events associated with the worldwide celebration of Geospatial Information Systems Day (GIS Day) will be funded. In April 2015, Merced College will host an undergraduate research event titled “Discovering the World through GIS.” Area postsecondary educational institutions, as well as area businesses and employers are expected to participate.
A high school math competition and college-level Integration Bee through the College’s Math Department will also be funded. Area high school and college students will compete in two events in March 2015. In addition, students will gain knowledge about career opportunities requiring strong mathematics skills.
Finally, the College’s Child Development Center was awarded a grant to enhance technology used in a variety of assessment programs. Portable computer tablets will be purchased to replace inefficient “pencil and paper” assessments. This project will enhance the learning environment through an online assessment system.
“The Foundation’s mini grant program is supported by our donors and our ability to raise funds in support of education,” Shepard said. “In addition, the program is supported by our own employees who make monthly unrestricted contributions.
“The Foundation is proud to support our faculty and staff who are working hard each day to meet the needs of our students and our community,” he said.
For find out how you can support Merced College, contact the Merced College Foundation at 209.381.6470 or visit



Thanks to the continuing support of the Merced chapter of AARP, scholarship awards for Merced College students will continue well into the future.
According to Robin Shepard, Merced College Foundation executive director, AARP Chapter 282 has pledged $25,000 to create a permanent endowment that will provide awards to deserving students.
“Our friends at our local AARP chapter have supported our scholarship program for many years,” Shepard said. “With this new commitment, we will be able to guarantee awards in perpetuity.”
AARP will continue to provide $2,000 in annual scholarships while building its endowment over several years.
According to Norman Vaughn-Hulbert, president of Merced’s AARP Chapter 282, the organization is dedicated to community service while advancing the interests of the area’s senior citizens.
“Our motto is ‘To Serve -- Not to be Served,’ and this is one way our members can make a difference in the lives of young people attending Merced College,” he said.
The Merced College Foundation was established in 1973 as the non-profit fundraising arm of Merced College. The Foundation is dedicated to ensuring a high quality, affordable, and accessible education for every member of our community. With a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors guiding these efforts, the Foundation supports Merced College through the acquisition of private gifts and through public advocacy for the College’s programs and services.
AARP is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people age 50 and over. AARP is dedicated to enhancing quality of life for all as we age. Members lead positive social change and deliver value to members through information, advocacy and service.
The Merced chapter of AARP meets at 9:30 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Merced Senior Community Center, 755 West 15th Street. Local annual dues are just $6 per year. For more information, visit their website at



The Merced College Foundation awarded more than $137,000 in scholarships to deserving students during its Scholarship Sunday Ceremony on May 18. A total of 246 individual awards were given to 139 students.
According to Foundation Executive Director Robin Shepard, scholarships help meet the financial needs of Merced College students.
“You can’t imagine how important scholarships are to our students,” Shepard said. “Not only do scholarships recognize outstanding academic achievement, they often provide that extra financial cushion that allows students to stay in school.”
The Merced College Foundation’s scholarship program is made possible due to the generosity of donors, Shepard said.
“We have a great many friends and supporters who believe it’s important to help students achieve success. We are very grateful for their support.”
Below is a list of scholarship recipients for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Veteran scholar Michael Szabad was awarded several scholarships during the Merced College Foundation’s Scholarship Sunday Ceremony on May 18. He is joined here by the Merced College Veterans Club Advisor Dr. Cary Coburn.

Firdavs Abdunazarov (Associated Students of Merced College Outstanding Member; Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union); Christian Aguayo Perez (ASMC - LB Campus; Jim & Lu Edmonson UC Merced); Kashifa Ahmed (McConnell Honors Trust); Nicole Alexander (Arnold, Ione & Brynhild Grasmoen Memorial); Suzanne Alvernaz (Catherine & Ted McVey); Araceli Anguiano-Reyna (Administrative Office Management); Jasmine Atkins (Jim & Bernice Kidd); Elizabeth Avelar (Ferrero Family Trust; Taher); Manuel Baez (Castle Air Force Base Officer's Wives' Club); Crestina Batchelor (Chrysalis/PEO Chapter UC Mary Cedarholm Memorial); Edwin Betady (George A. Fuller Memorial Aviation); Lori Boesch (John Deere Agriculture; Fraternal Order of Eagles#2194; McConnell Honors Trust); Jenna Boesch (Merced/Mariposa Retired Teachers); Chuck Bradshaw (Charles Edwards Trust Agriculture; Merced Garden Club; Yosemite Farm Credit); Taylor Brass (Iver K. Brand/Stanislaus Farm Supply; California Women for Agriculture; Arnold, Ione & Brynhild Grasmoen Memorial; Ken Randol Memorial/Merced Rotary; Bill & Tom Kirby Agricultural; American Legion Post #83); Joseph Brazil (Estanislao 58 Historical Foundation Jack Brotherton Memorial; Rahilly); Julia Brewer (California Women for Agriculture); Kerry Brooke (Jeanet Barker Memorial); Brittany Brown (McConnell Honors Trust); Ursula Castellanos (May Grant Robbie); Gildardo Castillo-Llamas (Associated Students of Merced College Natalie Banuelos Outstanding Student; Bob Edminster Memorial; Los Banos Campus Science); Elizabeth Cendejas (McConnell Honors Trust); Sara Cervantes (Glen Sheesley Memorial); Linzee Chapman (Vivian Grace Reyburn Broddrick; Dance Teachers Cooperative; McConnell Honors Trust); Cheyenne Chavez-Velarde (Marianne & Susan Spevak Memorial; Emily Coate (Elmo Giampaoli Ag Business and Accounting); Michael Cooper (James E. Shepard Memorial); Jessica Correia (Lillian Baxter Nursing; Vivian Grace Reyburn Broddrick; Lakireddy Family Foundation; Merced College Pre-Medical Club; Merced United Methodist Church); Crystal Cummings (Don Stewart); Ismaeel Davis (Don Odishoo Memorial); Mandeep Dhaliwal (Lillian Baxter Nursing Scholarship; Lakireddy Family Foundation); Micha Diele (Merced/Mariposa Retired Teachers Scholarship); Seth Diemel (AARP Chapter 282 Merced; Crawford Family; J.W. "Doc" Preston Memorial; Hughes & Margaret Smith); Emily Dunne (John Deere Agriculture; Ellison Family; Fraternal Order of Eagles#2194); Cassandra Eskandari (Gateway Quilter's Guild; Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union; Maria Fajardo Mendez (AARP Chapter 282 Merced; Merced/Mariposa Retired Teachers); Leo Farias (Charles Edwards Trust Agriculture); Anton Fernandes (McConnell Honors Trust;Associated Students of Merced College Emerging Leaders); Mia Fleming (Merced County Republican Women); Joshio Flores (P G & E Merced Field Services; Frances Luxhoi White); Walter Fox (Louis P. Gonella Memorial); Marina Garcia (Janice Dryja Memorial); Pedro Garcia Carrillo (James and Barbara Cox; Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union); Daniel Gardner (Randy Nahas Memorial Trust); Michelle Gocke (Joylana Cardenas Memorial; Linda Tatum Scholarship; Fraternal Order of Eagles#2194 Ladies Auxiliary); Brontae Gomes (McConnell Honors Trust); Laurie Goodwin (AARP Chapter 282 Merced; Delta Kappa Gamma Zeta Gamma Ola Menke Memorial; Jose Gutierrez (Jim & Lu Edmonson UC Merced); Steven Hannah (Don Stewart); Daisuke Hatasako (Dean S. Lesher Trust); Erik Heikkila (James K. Kubo Memorial; McConnell Honors Trust); Kirsten Helfrick (Christine Coats Ichord Memorial); Yanel Hernandez (Ellison Family; Fraternal Order of Eagles#2194 Ladies Auxiliary; Araceli Hernandez (Dean S. Lesher Trust; (McConnell Honors Trust; Merced College CSEA Chapter #274; Mercedes James (AAUW--Merced Branch; Merced College Faculty Association); Christine Jargick (Bob Edminster Memorial; Humanities and Social Science; Catherine & Ted McVey); Rhonda Jenkins (Don Stewart); Reyna Jimenez (ASMC - Roy Savage; Haden & Dawson); Daisy Jimenez (Dean S. Lesher Trust); Dino Johnson (Merced/Mariposa Retired Teachers; Jenny Lee (Merced/Mariposa Retired Teachers; Morgan Lincoln (Dean S. Lesher Trust; Laures Lopez (Catherine & Ted McVey); Stephanie Mackey (Merced College Faculty Association); Madeline Madayag (Stephan Gray Memorial); Ruben Magana (Bud Stout Memorial); Ignacio Martinez (Merced Breakfast Lions Club; Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union; Loyd "Red" Prichard Memorial); Stephanie McGuiness (Foster Farms; Gateway Quilter's Guild; Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church); Brooke McParland (George Mack Memorial); Alexa Medina (Taher); Shea Mejia-Gomes (ASMC - Bob Lynn Memorial); Ginney Melchor (Merced College Faculty Association); Crisha Mendez (Social Science Club); Alexxis Mires (California Women for Agriculture); Quentin Mitten (Barnett Family Music/Art Scholarship; Michael Evans Memorial Trust; Merced College Music Department; Margaret Randolph; Jacqueline Weeks-Eck Vocal); Leleiga Moli (John J. Latorraca Law Enforcement); Sergio Mora (Charles Ostrander Memorial); Kayla Moran (Stanislaus Voiture 653, Society 40 & 8; Don Stewart); Katherine Morrill (Jeff Denham Future Leaders; Disabled American Veterans#31; Merced College Pre-Medical Club); Bianca Munsayac (Jim & Lu Edmonson UC Merced; Angela & Lisa Williams Memorial;); Samantha Murphy (Arnold, Ione & Brynhild Grasmoen Memorial); Juan Nava Mejia (Catherine & Ted McVey); Joseph Newman (AARP Chapter 282 Merced Scholarship; James W. Barger Memorial; Jim & Lu Edmonson UC Merced; Science, Math, & Engineering); Ayesaha Nunes (Jim & Bernice Kidd; Silva Family); Maricela Nunez (Merced County Continuity of Care; Pacific Bell Pioneers Merced Life Member Club; Don Stewart Scholarship); Irene Ormonde (Administrative Office Management); Richard Ornelas (Fraternal Order of Eagles#2194; Merced College CSEA Chapter #274; Yosemite Farm Credit; Daniel Ortega (Johanna Trust; Merced Breakfast Lions Club); Anthony Paulisich (Merced College Music Department); Brad Peltier (American Legion Riders Chapter #83; Castle Air Museum; Merced Sunrise Rotary-Field of Honor); Kristin Pereida (Delta Kappa Gamma Zeta Gamma Maude Edmondson Memorial); Saul Perez (Iver K. Brand/Stanislaus Farm Supply; Charles Edwards Trust Agriculture; Merced Garden Club Teresa Clauch; (Kimberly Petiti (Dance Teachers Cooperative; McConnell Honors Trust); Robert Poole (Don Avila Mechanized Ag; St John's Festa; Jerry Young Memorial); Estanislao 58 Historical Foundation Walter S. Hargrove Memorial); Cody Price (Merced County Historical Society); Tiffany Randolph-Vianueva (Juanita Dolores Burnett; Sarah Greene Memorial; Lakireddy Family Foundation; Don Stewart Family); Nancy Readd (California Women for Agriculture; Byron Cunningham Memorial); Emily Rench (Dance Teachers Cooperative; Arnold, Ione & Brynhild Grasmoen Memorial); Jodi Robertson (Jeff Denham Future Leaders; Merced College Pre-Medical Club; Merced Medical Clinic; Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church); Marvin Romero (Jane Edwards Trust Art Scholarship); Karen Romo-Vega (Merced/Mariposa Retired Teachers; Sonja Perret Emeritus); Rosamaria Rucobo (AAUW--Merced Branch; Delta Kappa Gamma Epsilon Psi;); Gabriel Rudich (Elmo Giampaoli Ag Business and Accounting; Randy Wittenborn Memorial); Maria Saldana (Badhesha Family; Fraternal Order of Eagles#2194; Reiman & Emus Radiological Science; EJ Rose Scholarship; Don Stewart Scholarship); Angel Sanchez (Merced College Music Department); Bryan Scram (Angela & Lisa Williams Memorial); Juan Silva Andrade (Merced College Faculty Association); Michele Smith (Lakireddy Family Foundation; Stanislaus Voiture 653, Society 40 & 8; Don Stewart Scholarship); Thomas Spankowski (Jim & Lu Edmonson UC Merced); Jennifer Sparks (Lakireddy Family Foundation); Shaunessy Stuart (Merced County Republican Women; Philosophy Scholarship); Mellissa Sutton (Humanities and Social Science; Social Science Club); Michael Szabad (American Legion Post #83; David Basmajian Memorial Scholarship; Sylvia Fennessy Memorial; Merced Sunrise Rotary-Field of Honor); Rosemarie Talactac (Christine Coats Ichord Memorial; Melissa Smith Scholarship); Teng Thor (Lakireddy Family Foundation); Madison Toel (Dance Teachers Cooperative; Jane Edwards Trust Art); Hector Torres (Don Stewart Scholarship); Esther Trenado-Perez (Badhesha Family; EJ Rose Scholarship; Don Stewart Scholarship); Charles Tyson (Disabled American Veterans #31); Megan Van Denover (Fraternal Order of Eagles#2194 Ladies Auxiliary); David Vang (Dr. Margaret Dale Memorial; Jim & Lu Edmonson UC Merced); Nancy Vang (Merced Breakfast Lions Club); Michele Varni (Bill Flowers Memorial); Jennifer Vega Romo (Fraternal Order of Eagles#2194 Ladies Auxiliary); Mildred Velazquez (Anne Johnson Memorial); Kristy Verma (Cynthia E. Garcia Memorial); Jocelyn Wagner (Associated Students of Merced College Academic Excellence: Arnold, Ione & Brynhild Grasmoen Memorial Scholarship); Kate Wallace (Jane Edwards Trust Art; A.H. Tony & Delores Rose Memorial); Autumn Washington English (Barnett Family Music/Art); Troy Watson (Merced College Faculty Association); Megan Westbrook (Taher Scholarship); Riyn Williams (Delta Kappa Gamma Zeta Gamma Joyce Payne Memorial); Rebecca Wood (Castle Air Force Base Officer's Wives' Club); David Wright (PG&E Merced Field Services); E Xiong (Chrysalis/PEO Chapter UC Mary Cedarholm Memorial; Schelby Agricultural Advisory Committee); Melinda Xiong (Ellison Family Scholarship); Emily Xiong (McConnell Honors Trust); Melinda Xiong (McConnell Honors Trust); Jose Zarate (Fraternal Order of Eagles#2194; PG&E Merced Field Services).


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