TMCC Students Receive Support from University Police Services in Time of Need
University Police Services recently donated $650 to the TMCC Foundation to support students who have been impacted financially by COVID-19. “We started hearing about the financial hardships through a lot of our student workers, and what they were facing during COVID-19,” said John Galicia, Lieutenant for University Police Services. “We started seeing that student workers were being laid off or deemed ‘nonessential’ across all the campuses. We thought we could do something to raise money, and we knew every little bit would help.”
Working in University Police Services is no casual affair. Whether you’re a commissioned officer, a reserve officer, or even civilian staff, there are usually strict guidelines that govern “grooming standards” that require employees to maintain a professional appearance while they’re on the job. However, during the shutdown period, the department came up with an idea to accommodate those who might be inclined to “let loose” (with relaxed grooming standards) which came at the “cost” of supporting TMCC students in need.
For $40 a month, each member of the department could opt to express themselves a little more freely than they normally would. According to Galicia, some female officers sported blue or purple streaks of color in their hair or were able to wear sparkling nail polish. Male officers were allowed to grow facial hair. Civilian department members expanded “casual Friday” wear to every day of the workweek.
Although not everyone opted into the program, Galicia was impressed by the number of department members who participated in support of TMCC students. There are plans for future fundraisers with similar requirements.
“Given the success of this fundraiser, we will probably do something like it again,” said Galicia. The future fundraiser would happen later this year, in October or November. Funds would be used to support the Honor Guard, which provides funding for officers to attend the funeral services of line of duty deaths.
For more information about University Police Services, contact the department at 775-674-7900.
Wizard’s Warehouse Re-Opens for Fall 2020
When TMCC closed its physical locations last March, Wizard’s Warehouse—our student and community food pantry—closed, too. This semester, though, Wizard’s Warehouse is opening its doors to students and community members who face food scarcity.
Wizard’s Warehouse kicked off its reopening during the SGA Welcome Week, where Counseling Center Coordinator and leader of Wizard’s Warehouse Cameron Tuttle prepared bags of packaged food to hand out to students. “Welcome Week went really well. We gave out over 60 bags of food to students who came to the Dandini Campus for the SGA Welcome Bags,” Tuttle said. “Many students came up to campus specifically for the pre-packaged bags of food.” In addition to food items, the bags also continued information packets, referring students to other food pantries in town, and the Mobile Harvest distribution calendar.
“There was a higher turnout of students in need than I thought there would be,” said Tuttle, who began investigating the possibility of opening Wizard’s Warehouse for the fall semester.
This week is the first week that Wizard’s Warehouse is open at the Meadowood Center and the Dandini Campus with health and safety protocols for COVID-19 in place.
“We’re trying to maintain the healthy pantry model,” said Tuttle, who explained that fresh produce and perishable items are available at the Meadowood Center only. These include avocado, squash, tomato, limes, milk, coffee creamer and juice, to name a few examples. The Dandini Campus will offer prepackaged food and snacks.
Students and community members do not have to make an appointment to stop by a Wizard’s Warehouse location. The food pantry at the Meadowood Center is open Monday–Friday 8 a.m–5 p.m., and the food pantry at the Dandini Campus is open Monday and Friday from 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
“I’m so glad we were able to open Wizard’s Warehouse because so many people have lost their jobs and are struggling,” said Tuttle. “We are trying to help so people have access to food. Moving forward, food pantries might be the only place where our students can access food.”
Interim Budget Director Receives Award
Elise Bunkowski, Interim Director of TMCC’s Budget and Planning Office, received a Student of Distinction Award from the Paul & Virginia Engler College of Business at West Texas A&M University where she was recently awarded a Master of Science degree in Finance and Economics. It was a degree that would allow her to professionally advance in her career while enabling her to study economics, a subject she finds interesting. Only one student in each program from the College of Business is eligible to receive this award.
Bunkowski completed her advanced degree in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdowns this past spring, while still performing in her leadership role in the Budget and Planning Office.
“My last semester at WT was an experience I will never forget as my state was locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While finishing my degree, I was transitioning into my new role as Budget director with unprecedented budget cuts to my institution, and I was suddenly homeschooling my four kids,” she said. “It was a really big balancing act.”
Despite these challenges—including her final comprehensive exam which she had to take at 4 a.m. to accommodate other students in the program in different time zones—Bunkowski graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
“Now, I am focused on applying my knowledge to advance higher education in my community,” she said.
It hasn’t been easy, but Bunkowski’s team in the Budget and Planning Office continue to work together toward meeting departmental and institutional goals and have been aided by the guidance of Fred Egenberger, who retired from the department this past August. “We really are working to make sure the institution has everything it needs to meet the needs of our students and staff,” she said.