Monday, December 10, 2018

Winter Break Closures and Special Hours

Happy Holidays poster featuring pine and holly

Happy Holidays, Queen Creek! 

The Communiversity will be closed Mon., Dec. 24, 2018 – Tue., Jan. 1, 2019 for the winter break. 

The Rio Salado College Testing Center will be open Wed, Dec. 26 - Sat., Dec. 29, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

We hope you enjoy a happy and safe holiday season-- and a prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Rio Salado College New VPSA Shares Vision for Power of Education with ASU

Rio Salado College's new Vice President of Student Affairs Greg Pereira will receive his doctorate from Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in leadership and innovation this December.

Learn about his educational journey-- and vision for the power of education to improve the lives of others in this ASU Now interview.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

ParalegalEDU Picks Rio Salado College as Top Paralegal Program

Ribbon/Seal from ParalegalEDU.  Text: BEST Pre-Degree Certificate 2018 has recognized Rio Salado College for offering the Top Entry-Level, Pre-Degree Paralegal Certificate Program in Arizona for 2018-19! 

Photo of Emily Klein Alice
The team interviewed our Lead Instructor Emily Klein Alice, who is a J.D.; Professor at Law, to share insights about what makes our program unique. Check out the interview now:

“Being an online platform that offers flexible start dates, Rio draws a diverse student body at various stages of their lives,” said Alice. “Our industry-specific curriculum accommodates any type of student regardless of their legal background or experience.”

Rio Salado’s Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal program was recognized for the following:
  • Helps Facilitate National Certification: National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) Certified Paralegal (CP) – Rio Salado aligns coursework with NALA certification competencies, and is considering the option of allowing incoming students to apply NALA certification toward credits for the AAS 
  • Provides Valuable Field Experience in the Form of an Internship 
  • Offers the Flexibility of an Online Option 
  • Provides Outstanding Career Assistance and Student Support Services logo
ParalegalEDU reviewed more than 250 regionally and nationally accredited community colleges, career and technical training institutes, state schools, private universities and proprietary schools offering basic, pre-degree certificates in paralegal studies and related fields.

Snapshot from Rio Salado's Paralegal web page.  Image of a woman smiling at camera.  Text: Fast-Track Your Career in Law.  Explore the paralegal program.  Rio Salado College logo

Rio Salado offers a certificate and associate degree in paralegal studies. Online classes start most Mondays. To learn more visit

Honoring George H. W. Bush

Photo of George Bush smiling.  Text: “We are a nation  of communities…  a brilliant diversity  spread like stars,  like a thousand  points of light  in a broad and  peaceful sky.”   – George H. W. Bush

We take pause to join you and the nation in saying goodbye to our 41st President George H. W. Bush-- and honoring his service to this country.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Rio Salado College Alum Awarded for Classroom Excellence

Educator Preparation completer Robert Upham (second from right) 

Bob Upham was ready to retire from a 30-year career as a civil engineer but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for the next 15 years of his life.

Bob Upham
“I couldn’t sit in a rocking chair on my front porch at the age of 52. I would go absolutely insane,” said Upham who worked for the Arizona Department of Transportation and the cities of Chandler and Phoenix.

“I was the guy who would stand in front of people at public meetings telling them why ripping up the street in front of their business for the fourteenth time was such a good thing,” he said.

But as uncomfortable as that may sound, Upham realized that it was during those public education meetings that he developed a passion for explaining things and ultimately, for teaching.

“Throughout that whole process, I found a love for education,” he said. So Upham decided to become a teacher and that’s when he learned about the Robert Noyce scholarship program through Rio Salado College’s Teacher Education program in Tempe, AZ (See related RioNews story).

Through the National Science Foundation, the scholarship provided a stipend to cover tuition, books and other needs directly related to the teaching program. "It's effective, and is making a difference," said Kimberly Tobey, Rio Salado’s Director of Field and Student Teaching Experiences.

National Science Foundation logo

The Noyce program is designed to train and certify K-12 teachers in the fields of Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math, or STEM. It requires them to commit to teaching in high-needs school districts, which typically include those that have a lack of teachers in certain subject areas, such as STEM.  Upham got a job as a math teacher in the Kyrene school district outside of Phoenix.

STEM candidates are in high demand across the country and the National Science Foundation utilizes the grant opportunity for higher education to impact the critical teacher shortage. Upham says he probably would’ve become certified at his own expense even if he had not received the scholarship, but said that being part of the Rio program made it a much better experience than if he had gone it alone.
“I had a bunch of people around me [at Rio] that cared about my success,” Upham said. "I wasn’t just a student at a school. I was part of a program that supports and cares for their students. And that continued when I was teaching in the classroom.”
Upham has already fulfilled his two-year commitment to teaching in a high-needs area and could choose to go anywhere in the country now. But he says he has no plans to leave the Kyrene middle school classroom. “I like what I do. I like where I teach and I like my students.”

Upham presents progress report to Rio Salado faculty as new 
Noyce grad and teacher during summer 2016. Click to see video

His commitment has not gone unnoticed by school officials. Based on improved test scores in his classrooms, Upham has been recognized as one of the top educators in the Kyrene district.

Kim Tobey
Tobey says Upham’s decision to stay in Arizona is a plus for the Rio Salado post-baccalaureate program. She says the program to certify adults who already have a bachelor’s degree flies somewhat under the radar. 

“Most of the time in Arizona you don’t think about Rio Salado as having a post-baccalaureate certification program, even though we’ve had it for 18 years,” says Tobey.

People like Upham can get certified in a high needs area like STEM “and not have to go into debt to do it,” says Tobey. “What Bob’s award shows is the quality of Rio’s Educator Preparation Program, and more importantly its program completers, are impacting local classrooms, preparing a strong STEM workforce, and meeting a nationwide shortage."

"I'm preparing the future generation of engineers," says Upham. "What could be better?"

By Rio Salado College Sr. Project Manager and Brand Journalist Mark Moran

Learn more about Rio Salado’s Teacher Education programs at

Friday, November 30, 2018

Rio Salado College Addiction Studies Re-accredited by NASAC

Snapshot of NASAC web banner, featuring NASAC logo, image of students in a classroom and text: National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC) is an academic accrditation organization for higher education addiction studies programs.

We are proud to announce that Rio Salado College’s Addictions and Substance Use Disorders program was granted full re-accreditation by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC) through October 1, 2027.

Image of a globe in a classroom, NASAC logo keyed into globe.
NASAC is an academic accreditation organization for higher education addiction studies programs. Accreditation is awarded to institutions that meet and maintain a set of credentials. NASAC accreditation is specialized and not institutional— and designed to help addiction and counselor faculty members prepare for institutional, regional accreditation like the Higher Learning Commission accreditation process, which reviews an entire university or college. 

Dr. Kirk Bowden
“We work diligently to develop coursework that is relevant and up-to-date, to meet the needs of students who are entering into the field— as well as career professionals who are seeking continuing education opportunities,” said Kirk Bowden, who serves as Rio Salado's Faculty Chair for this program. 

Dr. Bowden is a national leader in the Addiction and Substance Use Disorders field, who works with a team of faculty members who are also experts in the field, to create engaging educational content to help professionals stay informed and connected. 

Rio Salado serves as one of Arizona’s top educators of addictions counseling professionals, offering online classes, certificates and an associate degree in Addictions and Substance Use Disorders.

Rio Salado also offers a series of non-credit, online seminars to help addictions and counseling professionals stay informed about the latest industry developments and strategies, and to meet continuing education requirements. Look for spring offerings soon.

“Many of our students are parents, teachers and social workers, who, through their daily lives and jobs, encounter people with addiction issues,” Bowden said. “They complete our seminars and courses for a variety of reasons. As such, we are committed to providing quality instruction that will educate and empower professionals and students alike,” said Bowden.

close up image of a woman's face staring at camera.  Text: Help Make Recovery Possible. Rio Salado College logo.

For more information about Rio Salado’s Behavioral Health/Addictions and Substance Use Disorders programs, visit or call an academic advisor at 480-517-8580.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

My.Maricopa SIS Outage Dec 1-2 & Dec. 7-10

snapshot of Maricopa maintenance page.  Image of a little drone at work.  Text: System Maintenance

The Maricopa Community Colleges Student Information System (SIS) will not be available during these scheduled maintenance times:
  • Sat., Dec. 1, 6 p.m. – Sun., Dec. 2, 12 p.m.
  • Fri., Dec. 7, 6 a.m. – Mon., Dec 10, 6 a.m. 
This means you will not be able to register or pay for classes, request official or unofficial transcripts, check grades and financial aid status or access to-do list items and message center notices. Please plan accordingly.

Faculty and staff will not have the ability to complete assignments or enter grades.

Maricopa email and Canvas/RioLearn portals will not be impacted by these changes and will remain available to students and faculty.

Get the latest details by visiting this web page.

We appreciate your patience as we update our systems to improve our service to you.

Thank you.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Stay Safe with Rave Guardian Mobile App - Free for Maricopa Community Colleges Staff and Students

Flier for new Rave Guardian listing features.  For full text visit:

Safety at your fingertips! 

Take advantage of our Rave Guardian mobile app—free for Maricopa Community Colleges students and staff! Learn more about the features at and then download the Rave Guardian app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Please note, staff and students are automatically opted in to receive RAVE Alert Text Messages about college incidents. Please take the time to confirm that your current mobile phone is listed and that it is tagged as a cell/mobile device to ensure you receive messaging. Students should use and staff should use HCM to confirm or update their RAVE status.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Thanksgiving Week Hours and Closures

Image of a rustic table with fall fruits and veggies.  Text: Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Holidays, Queen Creek. Please take note of these special hours for the week.

The Communiversity will be closed Thu. – Sun., Nov. 22-25 for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

The Communiversity will also close early, at 5 p.m., Wed., Nov. 21. 

The Rio Salado College Testing Center will be open Sat., Nov. 24, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Friday, November 16, 2018

November is Native American Heritage Month

Image of a dream catcher hanging in a desert landscape

The Rio Salado Library is proud to celebrate Native American Heritage Month and has compiled a resource guide for you to explore the rich heritage and history of Native American communities. Check out the guide now.

This commemorative month gives us a chance to enjoy the traditions, music, crafts, dance and culture of our country's indigenous communities. It is also an opportunity for Native Americans to educate the public about their tribes, the unique challenges they have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

Image of a native american dancer.  Text: Native American Heritage Month

Maricopa Community Colleges Celebrations
Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with dance, food, storytelling and more at these events.

Kick off the Holiday Season with KJZZ and Storytelling, Dec. 1

snapshot from event web page, featuring storyteller on stage and KJZZ Holiday Story Fest event logo

Celebrate the holiday season with KJZZ Phoenix, KBACH, Sun Sounds of ArizonaSoundbiteaz and their friends at the Holiday StoryFest & Authors Showcase, Dec. 1!

Get your tickets now at

🔊 Be entertained by expert storytellers
🔊 Discover Glendale HOTSPOTS and discounts
🔊 Meet Authors
🔊 Record your holiday memories with KJZZ's mobile production studio, Soundbiteaz

This event is made possible by KJZZ 91.5, a community service of Rio Salado College. Additional support is made possible by azcentral, The Storytellers Project, ASU's Virginia G. Piper Center for CreativeWriting, South MountainCommunity College Storytelling Institute

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Explore a Career in Senior Living Management

Image of a Senior Care specialists engaging with a group of seniors.  Rio Salado logo and Arizona ALFA logo.  Text: Make a Career Out of Caring

Become the "You," you want to be with Rio Salado College's Senior Living Management program. 

We can help you begin or advance your senior living career with an online program that combines business management with caregiving-- and allows you to quickly move into executive-level positions. Classes begin most Mondays! 

Reach out to get started now:

Possible Career Paths:

  • Executive Director 
  • Business Office Director 
  • Director, Sales & Marketing 
  • Director, Health & Wellness 
  • Lifestyle & Leisure Director 
  • Memory Support Director 

Get the latest program news by visiting this Senior Living Management Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Rio Salado Hosts Tempe Tamale Workshops this December

snapshot of Fall Culinary Workshops flier, featuring a stack of tamales.

The holiday season is nearly here, which means it’s Tamale Time

The Rio Salado College Cafe at Rio team still has a few openings for these Tamale Making Workshops in December:

🌯 Dec 8, p.m. session: 2 openings
🌯 Dec 15, a.m. session: 5 openings
🌯 Dec 15, p.m. session: 7 openings

Work with a professional chef to make green chile chicken and red chile pork tamales—and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Register now:

$24.99 for singles, $45 for parties of two.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Exercise Your Freedom & Liberty with Your Vote!

Illustrated image of a hand casting a ballot.  Box sign says vote

Tomorrow is Election Day! If you did not mail in your early ballot, you can drop it off at any polling location by 7 p.m. tomorrow. And yes, please remember to sign it!

Banner for KJZZ Arizona Elections coverage featuring AZ and American flag.  Click here.

Still unsure about how to vote? Get the facts and learn about the issues with 91.5 KJZZ--- your Arizona election headquarters, and a service of Rio Salado College.

snapshot from Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes web page
Find the nearest Maricopa polling place at

Learn How to Earn Your MBA From Queen Creek -- Free Virtual Information Session Nov. 8 with @BenUMesa

Poster for event.  Image of a female grad standing next to a loved one.  Text: The Benedictine 18 month $10K MBA. Cohort forming now for all fall semester at both Communiversity at Queen Creek and BenU Mesa. RSVP to attend: Visit or call 877-9622.  Phone and internet required.  Login information will be forwarded upon RSVP with instructions to join the meeting.

Take part in a free, virtual Information session Nov. 8 to learn about Benedictine University Mesa's 18-month, $10K M.B.A. program! 

Application deadlines are quickly approaching and cohorts are filling up fast. 

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to earn an affordable, attainable M.B.A. degree-- from the comfort of your Queen Creek hometown.

Learn more now.

Veterans Day Closure and Celebrations

Image of American Flag, with text: Honoring all who served.  Veterans Day.

The Communiversity at Queen Creek and the Maricopa Community Colleges will be closed Mon., Nov. 12 in honor of Veterans Day.

We look forward to celebrating this national holiday with Arizona veterans and their families.

Thank you for your service!

Image of people attending a veterans day parade, clapping at oncoming paradeJoin us for these family-friendly Veterans Day celebrations with the Maricopa Community Colleges.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Combine Your College Credits to Earn an Official Associate Degree with the Maricopa Community Colleges!

snapshot of YouTube viceo: Maricopa Community Colleges Reverse Transfer Initiative.  Text: Get What You've Earned.

Maricopa Community Colleges students and alumni can combine their community college and university credits to meet the requirements for an associate degree! 

See if you qualify for our Reverse Transfer Program by visiting

An official associate degree is a valuable credential, which can give you a competitive edge when you’re applying for internships and jobs! 

Finish What You Started-- and get the Credit You Deserve!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Nanotechnology: Where Small is Big!

Montage of images of students working with instructors in nano labs and other college settings.  Graphic with text: Nano Knows No Limits

Sometimes you need to think small to do big things! With Rio Salado’s Nanotechnology program, you’ll get a chance to see how nanotech is a part of our daily lives—and how to pursue a dynamic career in the industry, which projects a need for more than two million technicians! 

Get a glimpse into the program now with Maricopa Community Colleges Television Reporter Lisa Acquafredda by watching this special Maricopa Now feature.

Snapshot from Youtube video featuring still image of Caitlan McGough in a lab setting

Included are interviews with Rio Salado STEM Faculty Chair Rick Vaughn and Rio Salado’s first Nanotech grad, Caitlin McGough.

Poster for Nano.  Text: Nano Knows No Limits

Learn more about the ways nanotechnology can improve your life with Rio Salado College—where Nano Knows No limits.

Classes start most Mondays and we can arrange for you to apply what you learn at Arizona State University's NanoFab and other ASU research facilities-- at a time that’s convenient for you! 

Learn more about ASU's NanoFab:

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Rio Salado College Extends All-Arizona Academic Team Scholarship Deadline to Oct. 29!

Shot of ALL-AZ seal over Maricopa Community Colleges Building and flag.  Text: Deadline Extended. All-Arizona Academic Team Scholarship Applications Now Due Oct. 29, 2018

Regret missing the All-Arizona Academic Team Scholarship application deadline? Here's your second chance to apply. We're extending the deadline to Oct. 29!

This generous scholarship includes tuition to one of Arizona’s three state universities; Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, along with a cash award in the range of $500-1,000.

Tuition and scholarships will be issued as a two-year, full-time award or a four-year, part-time award. Candidates must have a 3.5 GPA during the past five years and have demonstrated leadership or community/school involvement.

For additional scholarship details, visit this web.

The few hours you spend on a scholarship application will be well worth the investment-- at the very least, a good learning experience and practice at mastering the application process.

2018 ALL-AZ Scholars
Crystal Roberto and Jamie Peredo
If you are selected for the All-Arizona Team, you will have the opportunity to apply for more scholarships, including the prestigious All-USA Community College Academic Team.

We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity and call on our Student Life team if you require assistance, have questions or simply want to talk about the process calling 480-517-8050 or emailing

We look forward to reviewing your application!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Communiveristy at QC and Testing Center Closed Friday, Oct. 26

Image of Comm QC building and sign.  Illustrated banner above that reads closed.

The Communiversity at Queen Creek and Rio Salado College Testing Center will be closed Friday, Oct. 26 for staff meetings and training. 

Testing services will be available Saturday, Oct. 27.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Be a Leader College Fair is Sunday, Oct. 21!

Poster for Be a Leader event. Image of an illustrated calendar with an arrow pointing to 10/21 date. Black and white image of young people walking.  Text: Join Us at Civic Space Park 8:30 a.m..  Be a Leader Foundation Taking Steps Towards College Success.  FAFSA APPLICATION SUPPORT.  OVER 50 COMMUNITY PARTNERS.  OVER 200 COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES.  Logos for sponsors: Cox, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Sullivan Foundation, Univision.

Don't forget about the Be A Leader Foundation Taking Steps Towards College Success Resource Fair, Walk-a-Thon and College Fair on Sunday, October 21

Register now!

Students will have a chance to meet with representatives from 200+ colleges from across the country.

New This Year! Be A Leader and its partners will provide one-on-one support with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the event. If you need help completing the FAFSA, you should register online to receive further information on what to bring.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Take a Selfie Stand Against Cheating Today!

Alt text: collage of three student photos, each student carrying a white board with a statement about why they don’t cheat.  Statements: 1. Because Cheaters Never Win! 2. Because I would probably get caught. 3. Because I believe in honesty and integrity

Today is International Day Against Contract Cheating! Rio Salado College encourages you to show your support for academic integrity and ethics-- and to take a stand against cheating by sharing a selfie with a statement that completes this sentence: 

“I don’t contract cheat because ___________.” 

Share your statements via social media using hashtags #RioSaladoCollege #defeatthecheat #excelwithintegrity.

Look for shares on Rio Salado's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts later today.

Rio Salado is a proud member of the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), which is leading the International Day Against Contract Cheating effort.

Banner for International Day of Action against Contract Cheating, featuring illustrated images of two young bandits exchanging answers to test in a clandestine alley.

Excuses, Excuses 
While there are no excuses and the consequences are great, the stress and pressures of school can make it tempting and sometimes irresistible for students.

What is Cheating?
photo of a student holding up white board with her statement, I don't cheat because a smart student doesn't need anything else but themselves to answer
Most of us are familiar with cheat sheets and copying homework, but there’s a new kind of cheating called Contract Cheating.
Contract Cheating is a “form of academic dishonesty where students get academic work completed on their behalf, which they then submit for academic credit [and/or advantage] as if they created it themselves,” according to

Examples of contract cheating include:
  • Purchasing an assignment from an online site 
  • Sharing answers to an assignment on a file sharing site 
  • Posting or purchasing answers to an exam, assignment, or other assessed work 
  • Paying someone to write a test or exam 

photo of a student holding up white board with her statement, I don't cheat because the struggle is part of the journeyTools to Help You Succeed
We encourage Rio Salado students to take advantage of our Resources for Academic Success toolbox, Student Success videos, Tutoring services and Counseling teams.

Learn more about Contract Cheating by visiting or contacting Rio Salado’s Academic Integrity team

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sustainable Soap Making Workshop Oct. 18

bars of colorful soap wrapped in a variety of ribbon and paper.

Any plans this Thursday? Why not make it a date night and take a Soap Making 101 workshop Oct. 18 with the Cafe at Rio team!

Register now:

Use code FALLSOAP for 15% discount.

No tests, no grades-- just fun!

Learn How to Be a Teacher at Free, In-Person and Virtual Orientation Sessions

Young man smiling at camera.  Text: Learn how to be a teacher

Take part in a free orientation session to learn about the educational pathways and employment opportunities available to help you succeed as a teacher with Rio Salado College!

Rio Salado offers Arizona Department of Education approved Teacher Education programs that provide convenient and cost-effective ways for undergraduate students and working individuals with a bachelor’s degree to transition into teaching.

Our Post Baccalaureate courses are designed for individuals who have a bachelor’s degree or higher (in any area) from an accredited university and would like to become a teacher.

Orientation Agenda: 
  • Rio Salado College's Educator Preparation Program requirements
  • Program expectations and support
  • Registration process and requirements
  • Answers to questions you may have

Hand writing on a green chalkboard.  Text: Make a Difference Become a Teacher.  Learn more about Rio Salado College's Teacher Education Programs.  Rio Salado and Maricopa Community Colleges logos

Choose an in-person or virtual session that works for you!

Post-Baccalaureate Orientation Schedule:
November 5 - Virtual
November 28 - In-person
December 10 - In-person

Post-Bacc sessions take place 6-8 p.m. In-person session will take place at the Rio Salado College headquarters Conference Center in Tempe.

Teacher-in-Residence Orientation Schedule:
November 29 - In-person
December 10 - In-person

TIR sessions take place 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. In-person session will take place at the Rio Salado College headquarters Conference Center in Tempe.

Eager to learn more now? 
Check out this RioNews blog, Expert Advice on How to Become a Teacher by Rio Salado Teacher Ed Field Experience Coordinator and Coordinator of Marketing Paulina Ngo.

Visit or call 480-517-8140 for additional information about our Teacher Education programs and services.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Rio Salado Culinary Workshops Begin Oct. 18 with Soap Making!

Poster for Fall Culinary Workshops featuring images of tamales, pizza, appetizers, soap and tortellini

Looking for a culinary adventure? Join the Café at Rio and Sustainable Food Systems teams for a series of community education workshops to learn how to make soap, tortellini, pizza, holiday appetizers and tamales!

Register now:

Your first adventure begins Oct. 18 with a lesson on how to make soap! Use the code FALLSOAP for a 15% discount on this workshop!

No tests, no grades-- just good old fashion fun!

10th Annual Be a Leader Resource Fair, Walk-a-Thon and College Fair Oct. 21!

Snapshot from Be a Leader web site page for event.  Text: Register now! Taking Steps Towards College Success.  Oct. 21, 8:30-11:30 a.m.

The 10th Annual Be a Leader Taking Steps Towards College Success Resource Fair, Walk-a-Thon and College Fair is Sunday, October 21!
The event kicks off with the college Resource Fair, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. at Civic Space Park in Phoenix.

The College Success Walk-a-Thon begins at 11:30 a.m., starting from Civic Space Park and ending at the Phoenix Convention Center, where the College Fair will take place.

Students will have a chance to meet with representatives from 200+ colleges from across the country during the College Fair, 12-3 p.m.

Snapshot of Be a Leader FAFSA registration form at

New This Year! Be A Leader and its partners will provide one-on-one support with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the event. If you need help completing the FAFSA, you should register online to receive further information on what to bring. Register here:

Photo of walk-a-thon from past years featuring dozens of students holding a banner that reads "I'm taking steps towards college success because..."

This event is great for parents and teens who want to explore their college options-- and educational advocates who want to support a good cause.

Rio Salado is a proud sponsor of this event. Stop by our information booth to say hello!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Get Your Share of $2.5 Million in Scholarships

Poster featuring a pink piggy bank wearing a graduation cap.  Text: Spring 2019 scholarships available.  Deadline Oct. 14, 2018.  Text: Thanks to the generosity of our donors the Foundation will award more than 2.5 million in scholarships during the 2018-19 school year

Time is running out to apply for spring 2018 Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation (MCCCDF) scholarships!  The deadline-- Oct. 14.  The prize-- more than $2.5 million in scholarships.

Apply now:

Do the Math! 
The few hours you spend on a scholarship application will be a good investment.  Don't discount those small scholarships!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Café @ Rio -- Made with Love!

Collage of images of Cafe at Rio staff, the Cafe at Rio Garden and a dish with grilled chicken, colorful vegetables and sides.
Pictured above are Café @ Rio staff members Michael Hodgins, Miana Spradlin and Thalia Martinez

Dash of Salt
By Rio Salado College Sr. Project Manager and Brand Journalist Mark Moran

A community college cafeteria may be the last place you’d expect to find a grilled panini, homemade soup or fresh sandwiches and salads made to order, with many of the ingredients grown just a few hundred feet away. In fact, most of the produce used at Rio Salado College’s sustainable café, called Café @ Rio is raised locally if not in the café’s on-site garden itself. Amid a clean and bright atmosphere, complete with digital menu screens and sparkling glass, waits an eager and knowledgeable staff ready to serve its patrons healthy portions of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, vegan options and lean proteins. The seafood choices all adhere to the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch standards for sustainable seafood

Café@Rio is unique among community college cafes in its sustainable approach to food

Café General Manager Michael Hodgins grew up in the restaurant industry. Literally. He started out washing dishes at a Country Club in upstate New York when he was 15 years-old, but it was enough to prompt his interest in the food industry. “I can tell you why I got out of doing dishes. It’s terrible staring down a pot sink,” Hodgins said chuckling. “Chef, can I peel five cases of shrimp? Anything to get me out of these dishes.” Once he got beyond the dirty dishes, Hodgins was hooked on the restaurant lifestyle. “I loved the camaraderie of the restaurant,” Hodgins said, “the adrenaline rush of the restaurant, the creativity component and the service.”

Hodgins working in the garden shoveling dirt in his office attire and sun glasses

Hodgins’ career took him from New York State to Arizona where he graduated from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and worked a series of jobs, including head chef for what was then known as Bank One Ballpark, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He learned about the sustainable food movement on the job with a company called Bon Appetit, a sustainable food services company. He was the corporate chef for the Intel properties in metro Phoenix, where he created a network of local farmers from scratch. “I found that there were so many more producers here in Arizona than I would have ever guessed.” One of the most important producers is Café @ Rio’s on-site garden. The café relies on it a lot, said Hodgins. Especially in the winter months when the garden can be at full capacity. “There are days when the lettuce on the salad bar was picked at 8 a.m. that morning and we open at 11,” said Hodgins. We have lettuce from November to April coming out of our garden.”

While providing healthy, fresh menu options for customers and adhering to the highest sustainability standards, Café @ Rio has a larger purpose, too. People who want to make a career in the sustainable food industry can earn an Associate’s Degree in Sustainable Food Systems, and the Café@Rio and its garden are the labs.

Café @ Rio is part of a much bigger sustainable foods movement in America. In Los Angeles, for example, Ron Finley, the former CEO of a volunteer group called LA Green Grounds, which plants gardens in what are known as food deserts. Those can be anything from a strip of dirt in a roadway median to a homeless shelter or a vacant lot. Despite some civic opposition, LA Green Grounds was able to get some city ordinances changed to allow for even more urban gardening, and it has grown into a force in the volunteer sustainable food community. “I got tired of driving 45 minutes round trip to get an apple that wasn’t impregnated with pesticides,” said Finley in a TED talk. “This has got to stop.” With LA Green Grounds now on firm soil, Finley has gone on to start the Ron Finley project and calls himself The Gangsta Gardner. He has released an independent film about urban gardening that documents the stories of four unlikely gardeners in high crime parts of Los Angeles. “The food is the problem and the food is the solution. Growing one plant will give you ten-thousand seeds. So one dollars-worth of green beans will give you $75 worth of food,” Finley said. “I refused to be a part of this manufactured reality that was manufactured for me by someone else.”

As part of Rio Salado’s degree program, students learn best practices for raising and using sustainable foods, what the “real food movement” is and the best ways to prepare and serve those ingredients. The college composts all of its food scraps and tree trimmings to create fertilizer, sells its fry oil to be made into biofuel, and offers nutrient dense food options on a daily basis.

You don’t have to have an eye on the food industry as a career, either. It may be that you’re simply thinking about a sustainable planet for the future. “I don’t want to be responsible for having my kids’ or my grandkids’ generation not being able to produce nutritious food for themselves,” says Hodgins. “With sustainability being one of the core values of the college, I’d say that’s kind of walking the walk.”

There is more information on Rio Salado College’s Sustainability Food Systems Program here