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TMCC Teams Up with Grand Sierra Resort and Casino

people joining hands
Rebecca A. Eckland

Martin Rodriguez-Castro is a Digital Marketing Communication Designer at Grand Sierra Resort and Casino (GSR), and a participant in a new pilot program that is the result of a partnership with TMCC that brought a Fundamentals in Communications (COM 113) for-credit college class to GSR team leaders. 

“The class is a good start to my day, and it’s really refreshing to go in and learn about communication and then to go straight to my job,” said Rodriguez-Castro. “I feel motivated when I get to work. I’ve always enjoyed learning, and I can continue going to school and that makes me a happier person. So, when I bring that into my work, I feel like I’m not only more tolerant of different situations, but it also starts off my day on a positive note.” 

The communications class, which will be the first of a wide variety of class offerings from TMCC, focuses on developing skill sets that team members can apply right away. “Effective communication skills are so important not only in the hospitality industry but in all aspects of life,” said Shannon Keel, GSR’s General Manager. “We are so pleased to be able to collaborate with TMCC to offer this course and opportunity to our existing team members.”

Meeting twice a week in the Bowling Center Conference room, this course helps participants to develop appropriate and effective communication strategies and places an emphasis on analyzing and assessing the skills necessary to create and sustain effective communication in personal and professional relationships. 

“We are so thrilled to offer GSR team members the opportunity to attend for-credit college classes that support their on-going learning, and that meets them where they are, literally! I’m so grateful to GSR who is serving as a model for other local employers to consider adding a similar partnership to help employees gain knowledge and skills that they can apply to their professional and personal lives,” said TMCC President, Dr. Karin Hilgersom.

Setting New Goals Through Education

Rodriguez-Castro said he’s learning new insights about how people communicate, which is helping him to set new goals for himself. “I’m really enjoying the program. It’s given me a lot to consider when it comes to communication amongst people and communication in the work environment,” he said. Rodriguez-Castro, a graduate of TMCC’s Graphic and Communications Media Technologies Program, said that the class is helping him to take the next steps in developing himself as a communications professional. 

“That’s why the course really stood out to me, because part of graphic design and marketing is knowing how to communicate with your audience...which is why I feel like this class is really helpful in my career and my professional journey,” he said. Even though the semester isn’t completed yet, Rodriguez-Castro said he’s already learning communication skills and strategies that he can use in the workplace, and his personal life. “I’m applying this class to my everyday life as well to improve my relationships I have instead of just using it to focus on work and school.”  

The Goal of Taking a Communications Class

After all, these are the goals of any college-level communications class or degree. “It is important that students learn to develop communication skills and that they learn how to present their findings to others. The primary goal is for students to gain competence in a variety of interpersonal, public speaking, and small group communication situations,” said Rick Bullis, Program Coordinator for the Humanities Department, which includes Communications Studies.

Although the class is for-credit, Rodriguez-Castro said the course load and homework are manageable (even with a full-time job) and the group activities with his peers and the in-depth instruction offered by TMCC Communications faculty Rebecca Cobain have made the experience more than worthwhile.

Additionally, the opportunity to take a college class as the start to his workday is showing Rodriguez-Castro and his colleagues the value of continuing education and professional development—that the sky is the limit in terms of one’s personal and professional enrichment. 

“You shouldn’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, because if you do, it will push you in the direction you want to go,” he said.

For more information about studying Communications at TMCC, contact the Humanities Department at 775-674-7945.