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Celebrate West on Sept. 16
Seeking Volunteer Shoppers
Alumni Spotlight
Change Your Life
Thrive During Change

 

Volume 6  |  Issue 3

July 2016

 
 

A NEW ACADEMIC YEAR
Join Us September 16 for West's Annual Celebration Reception

By Tracy Lorenz
President, Western International University (West)

The summer season is typically a great time of year to enjoy the weather, take a trip, or simply spend time with family. As we begin our new 2016-2017 academic year and prepare for our annual Commencement ceremony on September 17, I want to invite all of our West alumni to join me as we celebrate the Class of 2016 with our new graduates, faculty, administration, and board of trustees at our annual graduation reception on Friday, September 16 from 5-7pm at West’s Tempe Campus. Mark your calendar, and watch your email for details arriving early in September. It’s also a great time of year to reflect on and tell you about all that we’ve been accomplishing at West this past year to stay true to our vision and evolve with changing technology and student expectations.

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Looking back over the 2015-2016 academic year, we’ve continued to innovate at West to make a quality higher education more accessible and affordable for working adults. We restructured our faculty model to increase the number of full-time lead faculty positions to support our faculty members and ultimately, our students. We also hired two additional deans to oversee our program curriculum and assessment. These changes provide greater stability in the planning and development of curriculum and instructional activities and offer more dedicated support for both our faculty and students.

West also launched a new, innovative program that will benefit students whose employers provide tuition assistance. The Internal Revenue Service allows employers to provide up to $5,250 in tax free education assistance. Even with our low tuition fees, annual education costs may exceed $5,250. We believe that a quality education can also be affordable, so we built our EDGEucate program to cap tuition costs beyond the $5,250 tax exemption in any calendar year for students utilizing their employer’s tuition assistance benefits. You can learn more at West.edu/edge.

Our EDGEucate program and degree curriculum focused on workplace relevancy has extended our vision with several organizations in both degree and professional development programs. We’ve developed customized programs that focus on delivering industry-specific, in-demand skills for workers. This fills a need for workers to gain critical skills employers require and earn academic credit toward a degree should they continue their education.

We’re constantly focused on providing the best possible learning experience to our students. New changes and updates in our my.west.edu student website will be launched over the next several months. We’re redesigning several pages to create a more cohesive learning environment. Our goal is to provide a clear, structured path to navigate to information quickly and easily.

I am extremely proud of the determination and commitment our students and graduates have demonstrated throughout their programs, as well as the efforts by our faculty and staff to continue pursuing West’s mission and vision. I look forward to seeing you and celebrating with you at our annual reception and our commencement ceremony in September.

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SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP!
Volunteers Needed to Support Boys & Girls Clubs Back-to-School Efforts

Make a difference and volunteer today for our Back to School Shopping event on the morning of Friday, July 29. This is the third year that adult volunteers from West will be paired with youth or teens from Boys & Girls Clubs® of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS) to spend an hour shopping for back-to-school clothing and shoes for the upcoming school year. You can also drop off new school supplies at the West Campus from July 18-29 that will be distributed to BGCS youth. It's a great way to help the community by making sure kids are ready to start back to school with all they need to be successful.

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For the third consecutive year, the Western International University (West) community is invited to assist Boys & Girls Clubs® of Greater Scottsdale (BGCS) in providing back-to-school supplies and clothing for the youth they serve. For the annual back-to-school shopping trip, each student is provided a $100 gift card to Kohl’s. Their adult volunteer shopping partners get to see the students' faces light up as they receive a back-to-school backpack and clothing to start off the school year on the right foot.

WHEN: Friday July 29, 7:45am - 8:45am
WHERE: Kohl's Department store at Desert Ridge, 21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, AZ
RSVP: Please pre-register by emailing hue.haslim@west.edu, or call 602-429-1078 for more information.

Additionally, you can support BGCS July 18–29 by dropping off back-to-school supplies at the West campus. Click here for a list of items needed.

Many families would not be able to purchase these supplies or clothing on their own. Thank you for your help in sharing the joy of the back-to-school experience with a child.

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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT:
LUIS GARCIA
Software Engineer
Mundt & Associates, Inc.
Scottsdale, AZ

Luis Garcia started working with computers in high school, teaching himself to program and create a simple game on a borrowed computer when the home computer field was just emerging. After attending college in Mexico City to complete his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, he worked in various roles at different companies, mostly within the financial Industry. A 2001 West graduate who earned his Master of Science in Information Systems Engineering,* Luis is now putting his software creation skills to work manufacturing robotic laser workstations.

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Luis has found new challenges in building software to control a machine. “The machines we build are used to manufacture all kinds of devices, from pacemakers to parts used in very powerful turbines,” he says. ”I’m responsible for designing and developing Human Machine Interfaces that control custom made laser workstations.”

When he’s not writing software, Luis enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two children, rowing and kayaking, as well as hiking. West Alumni Connection was able to catch up with Luis indoors long enough for him to share some of his experiences at West.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree at West?
I worked as a business intelligence developer in Mexico City for several years. I wanted to enhance my career, so I enrolled in a Master of Science degree in Information Systems Engineering to get the skills I needed to effectively manage my projects and my clients. I selected West because I wanted to learn from experienced professionals, and West offered me a great curriculum and teachers with real-world experience.

What did you find most valuable about your West experience?
Teachers were always available to talk about my education and they always offered their help and advice.

What were the benefits to you of earning your degree?
A Master’s degree changed the way I approach problems in my day to day work. I believe my degree opened many doors and paths for me and that the tools and knowledge that I gained at West helped prepare me for the management position I wanted.

What are your plans for the future?
I would like to keep enhancing my career and eventually start my own business.

What would you tell a friend who is thinking of going back to school?
A degree is totally worth it. The best investment that you can make is to invest in yourself.

* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs and other important information, please visit: http://www.west.edu/online-degree-programs

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CHANGE YOUR LIFE:
It Can Be Done!

By Gary Carlisle, West Class of 2009
Bachelor of Science in Business

“Changing the direction of your life can seem like a daunting task and sometimes can even be a bit scary,” says West graduate Gary Carlisle. Gary recently not only made a life-changing decision, but also committed to making that decision a reality over the course of the past year. Below, Gary shares his story of how he did it with our West Alumni Connection readers.

I am a 45-year old West alumnus who recently made some significant changes in my life. I had allowed myself to get so out of physical shape that I couldn’t find my way back to a healthy lifestyle. I had tried to lose weight on my own with very little success, and every defeat I suffered chipped away at what little self-confidence I had left. I knew it was time for a change in my life’s direction.

My weight had gotten out of control and I found myself in another rut; one that seemed like I wasn’t going to be able to overcome. I began to think about some of the other times I found myself in a rut, and each time it took a life-changing decision to put me back on the right path.

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Becoming a student at West was one of those decisions. I had gone as far as I could at my job and the only way to advance was to get a degree. West helped me be a successful student so that I could earn my bachelor degree; now I found that I needed the same help and support with regard to my weight loss.

I followed some advice from my wife and made an appointment at a local medical weight loss clinic. Their physicians helped guide me to a healthier life. When I did my initial weigh-in, I was 396 pounds. Needless to say, that was by far the biggest I had ever been. As I sit here now and type this, I am at 215 pounds, following my weight loss goal to lose180 lbs. I hesitate to say that I “finished” the program, because it was not just a diet for me, but rather a change in the way I view food altogether.

Food for me was always a crutch; it was something I turned to regardless of the situation. I ate when I was bored, I ate when I was happy, and I ate when I was unhappy--well, you get the point. The doctors at the clinic helped me to see food for what it really is, just plain fuel. Now that I am more conscious of these simple things, it has helped me stay on track. I have been at my goal weight for six months now and I feel great. I ride my mountain bike 2-3 times a week and typically ride between 15-30 miles when I go out. No way could I have done that before the weight loss.

My educational program at West gave me food for thought, and the weight loss program at the clinic provided me with an education on how to eat healthy and how to have a healthy relationship with food/fuel. Earning a degree as a working adult with a family can be difficult, but thankfully West provided direction and support so that I could complete my education. In the same way, weight loss can also be difficult--but once you have done it, the benefits are wonderful. And having the support of the doctors and staff at the clinic also helped me achieve my weight loss goal. We can all have struggles with many areas of our lives, and selecting partners who can help, like West and the weight loss clinic, has helped build my confidence to feed both my mind and my body. No one knows what the future holds, but being healthy makes everything better.

Gary graduated from West in 2009 with his Bachelor of Science in Business.* He currently works as an Operations Manager with a local trucking company in the Phoenix, AZ area. Gary and his wife have been married for 26 years and have one son who is currently attending college.

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CAREER CORNER:
Thriving During Organizational Change

You see it all the time in corporate America: the dreaded organizational change. Restructuring can mean great things for an organization; it can save money, increase efficiency, or better align the company with industry standards. For the employees who are being impacted, it can mean uncertainty, stress, and decreased morale. That said, organizational changes can also offer an opportunity for career growth. Professional career coach Haley Foutch offers tips for successfully navigating organizational change.

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To take advantage of potential opportunities, you first have to understand what career growth looks like to you. Is it a step up the career ladder? Is it a completely new career? Is it new responsibilities or mastering new skills? If the next step you envision does not fit with the path your current company is taking, it is the perfect time to begin a new job search. If you want to stay with your company, it is time to develop an action plan to thrive during your organization’s changes.

Change Your Perspective
Have you evaluated your position and found that it doesn’t align with the changing direction of the company? Are you struggling to stay busy at work each day, or to feel like you are making strong contributions to the organization’s goals? If you are answering yes, look to add additional responsibilities to your role. Talk to department managers and find out the needs within their areas. Determine where your skills can be well utilized, and make a case for yourself. This can lead to involvement in new initiatives. It is even possible that an entirely new position could be created for you based on a conversation. If that doesn’t work, seek out a new internal role. Don’t limit yourself to looking at your company’s online postings. Talk to people in your organization to find out positions that may be up and coming but haven’t yet been advertised.

Assess Your Skills
Have you been considering a new certification? Is there a topic in which you have interest that could also benefit your company? Now is the time to jump on it! After you complete it, be sure the right channels (your manager, human resources, or perhaps someone else in your organization) are aware of your new credentials. Ask how you can utilize your new skills in the workplace, or even make suggestions if warranted. Additionally, begin tracking your achievements at work. You can’t expect others to pay attention to all of your accomplishments. Instead keep a record yourself and be ready to discuss it when and where necessary, such as your performance evaluation.

Network
It is time to start getting involved within your company. Join committees, participate in events, and do anything you can to meet other employees and develop stronger relationships. Making yourself known can help when decision-makers are reviewing and making changes to current positions. Outside your company, participate in professional gatherings at organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce or an industry-relevant professional association. Don’t discount personal interest activities, which can also provide a great opportunity for cultivating relationships. Someone in your local running club or interest group could be a valuable addition to your network. You can’t expect opportunities to fall in your lap, but you can potentially discover your next venture through your network.

Don't Panic
If you do your very best and still end up with a change that doesn’t fit your needs, such as a completely new role (or worse, being laid off), try not to let it get the best of you. It is natural to go through a grieving process, but you can bounce back! You have been assessing your needs, building your skills, and networking. Through this process, you developed an understanding of the types of positions that fit your background and future goals. Take some time to determine how you want to move forward. When you feel ready to find that next opportunity, don’t let anything stop you!

Haley Foutch is a professional career coach, outplacement consultant, and university faculty member who has devoted the past 6 years to helping people better their lives through career planning and advancement. She focuses on working with clients to position themselves for transition into new ventures through exploration, career decision-making, self-marketing, and individualized job search strategies. Haley has an MS and EdS in Career Counseling and is a National Certified Counselor.

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CHECK OUT WEST NOW
Take a moment to visit our new microsite, west.edu/now.You'll find the latest compelling and engaging content from all of our West community members--faculty, students, graduates, staff, and guest contributors--on a variety of relevant topics concerning business, globalization, entrepreneurship, leadership, education, personal interests, career/professional development, community engagement, and more. If you would like to contribute an article, email hue.haslim@west.edu.

REFER & REWARD:
Savings for Alumni & Referrals
West offers our graduates who enroll for a new West degree program—and new West students referred by a West grad—a tuition reduction of $250 per course, upon successful completion of each of your first eight courses ($2,000 maximum).** Just make your introduction, and we'll take care of the rest.

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JA DAY A HIT!
West partnered with Junior Achievement of Arizona in April to present the JA Day economics curriculum at a local Tempe elementary school. West staff, faculty, students and alumni taught students in grades K-5.
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CONTACT US
Hue Haslim
Alumni/Career Resources &
Senior Director, University Engagement

602-429-1078 or hue.haslim@west.edu

Alumni Reenrollment
866-948-4636 or inquiries@west.edu

602.943.2311

866.948.4636

west.edu


* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs and other important information, please visit: http://www.west.edu/online-degree-programs

** New students who have not attended a Western International University (West) course in the past 365 days and are referred by a West graduate, and West graduates enrolling for a new West degree. Western International University is unable to enroll residents of Massachusetts or Delaware at this time. Certain programs are not available in all locations. Please verify program availability with a University representative.

Western International University is a registered service mark of Apollo Education Group, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

Western International University, 1601 W. Fountainhead Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85282

Boys & Girls Clubs® is a registered trademark of Boys And Girls Clubs of America.
Junior Achievement & JA Day are registered trademarks of Junior Achievement.
Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc.
LinkedIn is a registered trademark of LinkedIn Corp.
Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.

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