Category: Galveston College

Joe Aragon

Galveston College lecture to focus on experiences of Native American tribal leader

Galveston College will continue its 2020-2021 lecture series on Diversity, Inclusion and Empowerment with a presentation by Joe Aragon of the Acoma Pueblo Nation titled “Bridging Two Worlds” at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, via Zoom videoconference.

With a career in education spanning almost four decades, Aragon most recently served as first lieutenant governor of the Acoma Pueblo Nation, a traditionally appointed tribal administrator for the Pueblo, where he had oversight of the Pueblo of Acoma tribal governmental policies, laws and general operations. For a comprehensive bio, click here.

In this presentation, Aragon will share his personal experiences on preserving traditions of the Native American culture while being a part of a very diverse modern American society. 

“We are very excited and fortunate to have Joe Aragon as a speaker for the lecture series, sharing his experiences about the importance of preserving cultural traditions of Native American nations and, at the same time, being a part of the modern world and modern American society,” said Dr. Laimutis Bytautas, chair of the Faculty Professional Development Committee. “This subject is fascinating and it fits perfectly into our theme this year focusing on Diversity, Inclusion and Empowerment.”

In 2017, Aragon served as a member of the Pueblo of Acoma Board of Education, Pueblo of Acoma, New Mexico. From 1981 to 2011, he served as a level III educational instructional leader in the Grants-Cibola County Schools in Grants, New Mexico, where he taught students physics, physical science and astronomy. He also taught all levels of mathematics – from pre-algebra through differential and integral calculus. In 2003-2004, his school was one of 13 high schools in the U.S. to participate in the Athena Student Intern Program at the Mars Exploration Rover Mission Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. From 1989 to 2001, he was an instructor and participant in the American Indian Science and Engineering Society Pre-College Enrichment Programs and Teacher Enrichment Programs in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also served as a National Science Foundation Young Scholars Program and Early Alert Initiative Program grant proposal reviewer for four years.

“As his curriculum vitae indicates, Joe has basically spent his professional life working with a broad range of tribes and youth, not just Acoma Pueblo, about what it means to live in two cultures,” said English faculty member Michael Berberich. “We look forward to welcoming him virtually to Galveston and Galveston College.”

To access the event, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86930041468?pwd=RlA2VGxJc0djT0NmMjlKOURkZjNXQT09. The meeting ID is 869 3004 1468. The password is Galveston.

For more information, please contact Dr. Laimutis Bytautas, chair of the Faculty Professional Development Committee, at lbytautas@gc.edu. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Apply now for spring 2021 graduation

Galveston College students who plan to graduate in spring 2021 can apply now in Admissions and Records by visiting their whitecaps portal at whitecaps.gc.edu.

General graduation requirements can be found in the Graduation section of the Galveston College catalog. Additional program requirements for graduation can be found under the Degree Plans and Programs of Study section of the catalog.

In addition to general course requirements, students must also meet the following requirements to be eligible to graduate from Galveston College:

  • Grade-point average must be 2.00 or higher.
  • At least 25 percent of certificate/degree requirements must be completed in residence at Galveston College.

In addition, any outstanding financial or other obligations to Galveston College will prevent the student from receiving a copy of his/her diploma. All students are strongly encouraged to visit with an advisor in the Counseling and Advising Center prior to applying for graduation to ensure all graduation requirements have been met. To make an appointment, contact advising@gc.edu. In-person, telephone and email appointments are available.

Food for Thought

Final fall Food for Thought distribution draws 79 cars to Charlie Thomas Family ATC

The last free drive-through Food for Thought food distribution for the fall semester on Nov. 17 at Galveston College drew 79 cars to the Charlie Thomas Family Applied Technology Center.

Food for Thought is a partnership between Galveston College, the Galveston County Food Bank and the Houston Food Bank through its Food for Change food scholarship initiative.

Over the course of the semester, the program served hundreds of Galveston College students and their families by providing them with access to fresh produce, meats and other groceries on the Galveston College campus, enabling them to save money for other necessities and to maintain their focus on school. All currently enrolled Galveston College students are eligible to participate.

A very special thanks to the volunteers from the Texas Army National Guard, Galveston College faculty, staff and students, and friends of the college who assisted in distributing the food this semester.

For more information and to volunteer to assist with the program, contact Jose Martinez at jmartinez@gc.edu or (409) 944-1234.

News Update

GCSO and GPD respond quickly to ‘stray bullet’ incident at college

At approximately 12:28 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, a stray bullet from shots fired from an off-campus location impacted the Galveston College Cheney Student Center while students, faculty, staff and campus visitors were enjoying an early Thanksgiving lunch. No one was injured or harmed.

“Law enforcement officials with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and Galveston Police Department responded quickly to the incident,” said Carol Langston, director of public affairs. “We are so grateful and blessed that no students, faculty, staff or guests were harmed.”

The campus community was placed in shelter-in-place mode while campus security system tapes were reviewed. Shelter-in-place is typically used when law enforcement officials are engaged in an operation nearby. The goal is to keep students, faculty and staff safe and indoors. During a shelter-in-place faculty, staff and students are instructed to stay inside their classrooms and offices. The shelter-in-place action was lifted at 1:15 p.m.

The investigation is ongoing. Please contact the Galveston Police Department or Galveston County Sheriff’s Office with questions concerning the investigation.

Early registration underway at Galveston College

Early registration for the spring 2021 semester is underway at Galveston College. Students are encouraged to register early to get the classes they need – when they need them. The spring semester begins Jan. 19.

Registration hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday in the Counseling and Advising Center on the first floor of Moody Halllll. Returning students can register on their Whitecaps portal at whitecaps.gc.edu.

To view the spring 2021 schedule of classes, https://gc.edu/admissions/course-schedule/.

Students have five course-delivery options that fit their preferred learning styles and comfort levels:

  • face-to-face instruction,
  • hybrid synchronous (a combination of face-to-face and Zoom meetings),
  • hybrid asynchronous (a combination of face-to-face and traditional online instruction),
  • online synchronous via Zoom,
  • traditional online internet instruction, or
  • a combination of the options.

Not all classes are offered in all five course-delivery methods.

To meet with an advisor, contact the Counseling and Advising Center at advising@gc.edu or schedule an appointment on the QLess app on a mobile phone or on the kiosks in Moody Hall to avoid the wait.

Financial aid and Galveston College scholarships are available. Contact the Galveston College Financial Aid office at gc.edu/financial-aid for information.

Students registering now also have access to a new FACTS monthly payment plan option. Payments may be made via e-Cashier by automatic bank payment or credit card. Additional information is on the Whitecaps portal.

For more information, call (409) 944-4242 or email advising@gc.edu for details.

2020 Signing Day

Two Whitecaps sign with Division 1 universities

Two Galveston College pitchers on Nov. 11 signed National Letters of Intent to play with universities in Texas and Louisiana.

Kurt Dillon of Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada, has signed with Louisiana Tech University. His parents are Kathie and Mark Dillon. His sister is Meghan Dillon.

Travis Phelps, of Alvin, Texas, has signed with Texas State University. He is the son of Cassie and Todd Phelps. His siblings are Joseph and Andrew Butler and Kasey and Darby Phelps.

“We are proud of Kurt and Travis’ opportunity to go play Division 1 baseball. It is part of the reason student athletes continue to choose Galveston College as a springboard for their academic and athletic careers,” said Whitecaps head coach Kevin Lallmann. “We wish them the best as they move on, and we look forward to seeing them play at the next level.”

During Coach Lallmann’s five years at Galveston College, the Whitecaps sent 30 players on to the NCAA Division I level, had three players drafted in the MLB draft and had another player sign as a free agent.

The Whitecaps also have continued a tradition of academic excellence each year, with an impressive cumulative team grade-point average in excess of 3.0.

Nov. 11 marked the first day of the early signing period as athletes across the country signed their National Letters of Intent.  To view a list of Galveston College transfer achievements since 2013, visit https://gc.edu/athletics/whitecaps-baseball/4-year-college-transfer-achievements/.

Above: Galveston College Whitecaps pitchers Kurt Dillon (left) of Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada, and Travis Phelps of Alvin, Texas, sign their letters of intent to play baseball at Louisiana Tech University and Texas State University, respectively, as volunteer coach Kyle Thomason, head coach Kevin Lallmann and assistant coach Kyle Giusti look on.

Galveston College Theatre opens 2020-2021 season with H.G. Wells’ ‘The Invisible Man’

“And I beheld, unclouded by doubt, a magnificent vision of all that invisibility might mean to a man—the mystery, the power, the freedom. Drawbacks I saw none.” — H.G. Wells, “The Invisible Man”

The Galveston College Theatre Department will kick off its 2020-2021 season with the classic science fiction radio drama, “The Invisible Man,” by H.G. Wells and adapted by John de Lancie from the script by Nat Segaloff and John de Lancie.

Show dates and times are Friday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 15, at 2:30 p.m. 

Please contact director Liz Lacy, program coordinator for the Performing Arts, via email at llacy@gc.edu with preferred performance date(s). A link to listen to the requested performance of this radio audio drama will be emailed by Thursday, Nov. 12, at 10 p.m.

Described by H.G. Wells as “a grotesque romance,” “The Invisible Man” remains as remarkable and frightening today as it was upon its publication over a hundred years ago. This thrilling adaptation by John de Lancie brings one of H.G. Wells’ most terrifying characters to life with the power of imagination in the style of a classic radio drama.

The story begins on a bitter winter evening, when a mysterious stranger arrives in the remote English village of Iping in the dead of winter, his face swaddled in bandages. The stranger is Griffin, a scientist who has discovered the secret to invisibility but cannot find a way to reverse it. Freed from the constraints of physicality and rejected by a society that fears him, Griffin descends into madness, violence and brutality.

Company members include Dorion Alcantar, Eva Arita, Elijah Barrie, Daniel Bourque, Alyssa Gudz and Benji Shelton. “The Invisible Man” is produced by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois. For additional information, please contact Program Coordinator for the Performing Arts Liz Lacy at (409) 944-1398 or llacy@gc.edu.

Noviz Nevarez

AAPC Medical Coding curriculum leads to healthcare career for Galveston College student

Noviz Nevarez always wanted to follow in her sisters’ footsteps and pursue a career in healthcare, but she needed a career pathway that would accommodate her busy schedule as a full-time sales manager at a Galveston hotel, the mother of a four-year-old and wife of a longshoreman at the Port of Galveston.

“Most of my sisters work in a medical field, and they inspired me. Originally, I wanted to become a nurse, but I needed more flexibility. When I found out about medical coding and administration, I decided it was the right career path for me.”

Nevarez enrolled in Galveston College’s new American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) medical coding curriculum last spring, completed her Medical Coding certificate and passed the national Certified Professional Coder (CPC) on her first attempt.

She landed a job with Signify Health and started working remotely this month as a coding specialist.

“Medical coding and billing specialists play a crucial role in the healthcare industry,” explained Donna Swartz, program director at Galveston College. “It is their responsibility to make sure that health claims are processed and coded accurately so that insurance companies and healthcare providers are reimbursed correctly. They also want to make sure they code correctly so patients are not over-charged for routine appointments.”

Nevarez said the communication, supervisory and management, and resume and cover-letter writing skills she learned at Galveston College were essential to preparing her for a new career.

“This is the first job I applied for since I earned my certificate,” Nevarez said. “I used the resume writing tips I learned from Ms. Swartz to align my skills with the position description. I had two phone and video interviews. It was a great experience.”

Galveston College’s program prepares students for national medical coding certification exams and provides focused instruction in health information management, health records management and advanced medical coding and billing.

“At first, the program is very challenging, especially for those without a medical background,” Nevarez said. “My advice to future students is to never give up…to believe in yourself. Join social media groups to network and keep up with what’s happening in the field. No matter what, keep going. It is worth it.”

Nevarez is continuing her studies at Galveston College and is now pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Administration. Her new job and work-at-home schedule will also give her husband an opportunity pursue his Associate of Applied Science in Welding Technology at the college.

“I’m grateful to my husband, my parents, my mother-in-law, and to my bosses at the hotel for their support,” said Nevarez. “I try to give my best to everything I do. I’m so grateful to Galveston College for this program.”

Laimutis Bytautas

Galveston College professor is American Chemical Society Two-Year College Award recipient

It’s not difficult to see why the American Chemical Society Greater Houston Section chose Dr. Laimutis Bytautas, assistant professor of chemistry at Galveston College, as the 2020 recipient of the Two-Year College Award for excellence in teaching, leadership and service to the profession.

His resume boasts a robust list of academic accomplishments – from research published in prestigious publications to service with professional organizations. But it’s his love for teaching that truly stands out among his numerous accomplishments.

Originally from Lithuania, Dr. Bytautas received a degree in physics from Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1990, and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1996.

Among his many professional achievements, he has performed scientific research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University, Rice University, the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Chemistry is Fun

Passionate about teaching, Dr. Bytautas encourages his students to become engaged in the process of learning.

“First, I try to convince my students that chemistry can be a lot of fun. I must say that it is not always an easy task. Sometimes I try to encourage my students to achieve a ‘black-belt’ mastery level in chemistry. Successfully teaching natural sciences or any other subject requires a lot of passion from a teacher,” he said. 

“The best way to teach is to get students thinking deeply about the subject.  I say to my students: ‘Try to look at solving chemistry problems like you are trying to solve nature’s mysteries.’  Sometimes, I also try to encourage my students: ‘Who knows, maybe one day you will get a Nobel Prize in Chemistry as an additional reward to having fun with chemistry already.’”

His efforts have not gone unnoticed by his colleagues.

“Dr. Bytautas’ extraordinary patience, love for teaching, and effort helping students to develop profound knowledge and competency in the chemistry and physics fields are highly recognized by his students and peers,” said Dr. Ana Sanchez, division director of science and business.

“We are so fortunate to have Dr. Bytautas here at Galveston College,” added Dr. Cissy Matthews, vice president of instruction. “He is committed to our students and committed to remaining current in his field so that he can be the best faculty member that he can be.”

Research is Important

A member of the American Chemical Society since 2001, Dr. Bytautas is no stranger to the spotlight. His most recent research in quantum chemistry has been published in the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry and Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, both of which are leading professional journals.

He has also been published recently in The Journal of Physical Chemistry, Journal of Chemical Physics, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Molecular Physics and Croatica Chemica Acta.

He served as co-principal investigator for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Technology Instrumentation Project at Galveston College and as co-organizer of an international symposium on the “Present, Future and Applications of Ab-initio Atomic and Molecular Electronic Structure Calculations” in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

“Having ongoing research projects helps in teaching sciences to students who often like to ask questions that go way beyond scheduled lesson topics. Also, keeping track of scientific discoveries is essential in teaching natural sciences at the college level,” Dr. Bytautas said.

“I like to share my research findings with my students. Sometimes I get a question from a student like ‘Is this going to be on the next exam?’ Learning that my latest research findings in quantum chemistry will not be on the next exam in their chemistry course reduces students’ stress levels considerably.”

Life is a Chemical Reaction

“Of course, teaching chemistry has its fair share of challenges. It is not always easy to convince my students that chemistry is fun when heavy computations are involved. Students much more readily appreciate chemical reactions and visual effects associated with chemistry experiments like color changes.  It takes quite a bit of effort and practice in problem-solving to achieve deep understanding in chemistry and develop critical thinking skills.  Clearly, it helps when students realize that chemistry is everywhere in their lives,” Dr. Bytautas said.

“In fact, it is sometimes said, ‘Life is a chemical reaction.’ Of course, mastering chemistry is highly rewarding, especially when at the beginning of the semester chemistry appears to be a hard subject for many students.”

Passionate about service, Dr. Bytautas has chaired the Galveston College professional development committee lecture series committee since 2016, bringing distinguished speakers to campus in order to engage the college and community in compelling and purposeful discussions addressing contemporary issues and events.

The committee will host Dr. Kourtney Moore of Cape Fear Community College in North Carolina on Monday, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. via Zoom videoconference for the first lecture in its 2020-2021 lecture series on Diversity, Inclusion and Empowerment titled “I Still Love H.E.R.: Hip-Hop and African-American Culture Concerning Systemic Racism and Oppression.”

The ACS Outstanding Chemistry Teacher at a Two Year College Award is designed to recognize, encourage and stimulate outstanding teachers of chemistry at a community college in the American Chemical Society – Greater Houston Section. Selection is based on the nominee’s teaching, including unusually effective methods of presentation, a professor’s ability to challenge and inspire students, extra-curricular work in chemistry, keeping up-to-date in the field, and evidence of leadership and/or active involvement within the profession.

“This award from the American Chemical Society Greater Houston Section recognizes the contribution and hard work of all people at Galveston College in making a difference in students’ lives so that they can pursue their dreams, career goals and be able to take excellent care of their families,” Dr. Bytautas said. “I would like to thank all faculty, staff, administration, and of course, our students because they all contributed to this award.”

Dr. Bytautas received the award on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the 2020 ACS Greater Houston Awards Ceremony, which was conducted virtually this year.

Above: Dr. Laimutis Bytautas