April Good News: Part 1

Vietnam War veterans stand beside colorful flower wreaths inside the Student Center.
Jared Libby

Veterans Remembrance Day Honors Our Nation’s Heroes

On March 23, the Veteran Services Office hosted the Annual Vietnam War Veterans Remembrance Day Ceremony in the V. James Eardley Student Center, commemorating the fallen, uplifting the living, and celebrating their selflessness through heartfelt words. Iraq and Afghanistan War servicemen and women were acknowledged, too, their noble actions more recent but equally chivalrous. A display of over 7,000 dog tags hung heavy beside attendees, their metallic clanks a poignant memorial of those who died overseas.

J. R Stafford, President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Sierra Nevada Chapter, gave the opening message, comforting the families who’ve suffered a painful loss to reassure them that we stand in solidarity.

“Today, we reaffirm our memories of those Nevadans and all veterans taken from us over the years. We remember their smiles and the laughter they brought to our lives, which will not fade, nor are they forgotten,” Stafford said.

TMCC President Dr. Karin Hilgersom followed with a touching address to America’s Gold Star Families, an organization providing healing to those grieving any military loss while serving active duty.

“You are living testaments to the enduring strength and resilience of the human spirit. It is a privilege to honor your bravery and sacrifice and to recall those who have gone before. May this event serve as a reminder of the unwavering courage and dedication of our United States Armed Forces veterans during a time of unimaginable adversity,” Hilgersom said.

Hilgersom shared that TMCC has approximately 550 veteran students enrolled this spring and further expressed our commitment to their success.

Guest speaker Lieutenant Governor Stavros S. Anthony remarked on his love for them and their protection of our country with the utmost praise. It’s easy to take liberties for granted, the devotion of these warriors an afterthought as we slip into our daily routines, but this home wouldn’t be the land of opportunity it is without those who had the resolve to rise, refuse subjugation, and confront foreign oppressors. If citizens took time to impart gratitude for vets when they see them, it may save their lives. As often humble, damaged souls, a demonstration of kindness goes a long way.

The audience fell silent as Gunnery Sergeant James Hutcherson, Colonel Scott Hooper, Colonel K. Hooper, and Petty Officer First Class Rich Crombie reflected on their experiences in theaters of war, with gripping accounts of unforgettable comrades, civilians, and bases.

Major General Ondra L. Berry, the Adjutant General of Nevada, concluded the afternoon with a warm testimonial and inspiring sentiments, hoping those brave individuals find peace in this life or the next.

Felipe Gutierrez, a former Marine and TMCC Veterans Program Director, mentioned the admiration surging through the gathering like the stars and stripes ascending to its peak gold finial, an iconic symbol of freedom. An appreciation for the community’s departed as grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, and sons reminisced on those cherished moments with their loved ones.

“I enjoyed the strong show of community support for our veterans. The speakers at the event shared their personal stories and reflections on their time in service, which created an electric atmosphere in the room. They resonated with me. The overarching theme was they served for the benefit of those around them,” Gutierrez said.

Radiant, lush wreaths of flowers dappled the stage front, with pastels of cherry, ocean, and snow-colored roses blooming beside sunflowers. As veterans walked past, they snapped their heels to attention and respectfully saluted their late brothers and sisters. The foliage before them signifies fellowship, to march onwards in their journeys and heed the truth that as our existence takes, beautiful creations are born, too.

TMCC Marketing Awarded Two National Paragons

When it comes to knowing their audience, the TMCC Marketing and Communications Office (MCO) is one of the best in the nation – so says the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR), who awarded two Paragons to TMCC for their work in advertising and special events. The awards presentation happened during the national NCMPR conference in Seattle, WA.

“It’s a huge honor to be recognized with Paragon Awards because NCMPR focuses solely on community college marketing,” said Director of Marketing and Communications Kate Kirkpatrick. “Our MCO staff works together all year to ensure we follow best practices and trends while we seek our audiences in media across many platforms. To be honored from among our peers nationwide shows the successes that we’re having.”

Awarded a Silver Paragon in the “Successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Marketing Campaign” category for the TMCC Works For ad campaign; such digital ads focus on prospective and current students and appear in English and Spanish.

Kate Kirkpatrick and Barrie Fenton proudly show off the Silver and Bronze Paragon Awards.

Kate Kirkpatrick and Barrie Fenton proudly show off the Silver and Bronze Paragon Awards.

“Goals for the ads included demonstrating student success and representation across all diverse backgrounds, promoting a connection to students getting jobs, and showing continuity of branding,” Kirkpatrick continued. “We’ve been focused on reaching students where they are and ensuring they see themselves reflected in the images and language of the ads.”

Recognized with a Bronze Paragon in the “Government or Community Relations Campaign” category for the Day at the Legislature 2023 event, this aimed at state legislators to convey TMCC’s legislative priorities and underline the importance of community college access through telling stories of success.

Numerous students and staff visited the state legislature, along with the mascots and a newly designed table display, to share their experiences. The success of the event was apparent not only in making connections with elected officials but also on social and owned media, where TMCC shared photos and information about this advocacy work.

“Day at the Legislature was a fabulous opportunity for legislators to hear about the successes and challenges straight from community college students themselves,” said Social Media and Events Coordinator Barrie Fenton. “This year was extra special because students spoke on the floor of the state Senate, and we made connections.”

Fenton and Kirkpatrick attended the conference and accepted the awards. “I’m so proud of the MCO team’s dedication this year. Being recognized in these two areas shows our commitment to student success,” said Kirkpatrick.

“Seeing what’s happening in community colleges nationwide is truly inspiring. And being acknowledged for collective efforts and creative strides is a motivating reminder of the impact we can achieve together,” expressed Fenton.

Dianne Cheseldine Wins Gold Award for 2023 Solas Best of Travel Writing

Congratulations go to Dianne Cheseldine, TMCC Faculty Emerita, for winning the Gold Award in the 2023 Solas Best of Travel Writing competition in the “Travel and Healing” genre. Her short story Coming Home Again: The Balm That Healed My Spirit is an intimate tale of her beloved father and teenage youth spent in Ethiopia, a return after 60 years to a world she fondly remembered. Enchanted as her feet step onto the tarmac, Cheseldine is scenic with her language, and the reader teleports to the airport in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital. Filthy roadways lie before her in all their elegance, goats and donkeys, cloven hooves or otherwise, clop through the streets, and Somali women wearing alluring golden bracelets in robes dancing with tangerine and crimson hues stroll the city. Her adventure is about to begin.

First, on this divine, nostalgic trip, she visits her previous homes in Dire Dawa and Haramaya. Already breaking ground, she’s invited to dinner by a woman named Samrawit, the travel agency director, talking openly with Ethiopians and gaining rewarding experiences. She’s honest with her purpose: to honor her parents. Believe it or not, the next day, a man named Dr. Amare compliments her father’s wisdom and regard for his students. Even though he had never met him, his positive influence still ripples after his duration teaching English and Humanities at Haramaya University. A smile ribbons across Cheseldine’s face, grateful her family’s connections to this country have left optimistic, lasting impressions.

As fate would have it, another person has ties to Cheseldine’s past, a manager gentleman who helps her take cash out when she finds a broken ATM. His wife is the granddaughter of Dagaga, their cook, bringing a flood of dormant memories now joyfully activated. She shares tales of being stuck in heavy rains and falling off camels and how she saw him as her protector. The proprietor hands her the money, but not before saying they are family.

Dianne Cheseldine reunited with her gardener and dear friend, Sahli, on her trip to Ethiopia.

Dianne Cheseldine reunited with her gardener and dear friend, Sahli, on her trip to Ethiopia.

As she arrives at her first home, a young lady who opens the gate a crack to peek out after knocking greets her. Cheseldine explains she lived here in the 1950s, and an invitation inside follows. Her name is Meryan, and she introduces her brother, Suhaybe, and two sisters, Muna and Ezera, with a burning curiosity lighting their eyes as the scene unfolds. She recognized the dining room layout and her bedroom, which opens into an L-shaped veranda. She recalls a funny instant when her father was calling out to Dagaga to pump more water from their tiny roof tank while showering. They insist she stays for the evening meal, and she accepts excitedly, happy to break bread once more in the residence she treasured as a teenager. She’s welcome to spend the night after and wonders what it would be like to sleep once more in the household where she and her parents built their new life together. A peaceful sensation washes over her, and she rests soundly.

“My father would be extremely proud, which warms my heart. He died before completing a book he wanted to write about our lives in Ethiopia. He would be overjoyed to know I was attempting to follow his dream. He is an important part of this path. Although I am writing with his influence in my heart, it’s my journey and story,” Cheseldine said.

To her surprise, while visiting Haramaya University, their gardener, Sahli, rushes to embrace Cheseldine at first sight. He kept a photograph of her father in his wallet since 1967, another memento evoking the splendid relationships they fostered in Ethiopia. Before she boards the bus to the small town of Axum, she glances at the hill where her mother planted trees as a tribute to him. Her pilgrimage has nearly reached its end. Promptly in the morning, she and her guide rush to meet the guardian, the only one on earth allowed in the presence of the revered artifact, the Ark of the Covenant. With a gentle air, he voices that her father was a light for Ethiopia through his acts, and she will follow in his footsteps. In that instant, she relives the pain of losing her father, but instead of fear, she lets go. Serenity renews her as she slips her father’s ring back on. Home was on the horizon.

A love letter to her father and an outstanding accomplishment, Cheseldine continues to thrive by traveling the globe, connecting with cultures, and relishing fulfilling days, enthusiastic at the possibilities the future brings.

For more information, please visit the Veterans Services Office, Marketing and Communications, English, and Humanities websites.