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El Camino College

WARRIOR LIFE Spring 2011

GIRLS IN THE GARAGE Getting Dirty PG. 16





Editor-in-Chief: Samantha Troisi

Copy Editor: Nelson Amaya

Design Editor: Samantha Troisi

Photo Editor:

Sylwia M. Ozdzynski

Page Designer: Samantha Troisi

Staff Writers:

Nelson Amaya, Evyn Blair, Mike Botica, Ashley Curtin, Donn Gruta, Candice Helderle, Danielle Hutton, Erica Martinez, Stephanie Perez, Nicholette Raecke, Alma Zazueta

Staff Photographers: Anna Ashkinadze, Jose Flores, Shiggy Ichinomya, Andrew Kang, Roger Morris, Patrick Osborne, Valerie Rodriguez, Mike Williams


Kate McLaughlin, Lori Medigovich Published by El Camino College Student Publications. To advertise, contact the Student Publications Advertising Office: (310) 660-3329 or

Never judge a book by its cover. It’s such a simple concept that for many is extremely difficult to follow. In a society that is constantly passing judgment on its neighbors based on appearance and wealth, the true gems of EC often go unnoticed. Ours is a diverse campus, and there’s no way to know by looks alone just what each student or faculty member brings to the table. I’m proud to have produced a magazine that steps away from the trite and superficial ideas that society clings to and to bring a magazine to you that represents our campus and student body. Firefighters, nurses and volunteers who may have grown up in a rough part of town decide to dedicate their lives to helping others. A student who has lived nearly her entire life without a home finds success here and receives scholarships to continue her education. A rapper and lyricist plans to take a seat one day in Congress to bring a voice to those who don’t have one. These are the real stories, the real heros, of EC that no one would otherwise have known. With the help of my amazing staff and instructors I am thrilled to present the spring 2011 edition of Warrior Life, a magazine that is the heart of El Camino. I hope you all enjoy the magazine and get as much from the experience of reading it as we did from the process of creating it.

Warrior Life is published every fall and spring by El Camino College journalism students. The office is located in Room 113 of the Humanities Building at 16007 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance, CA 90506. Single copies of Warrior Life are free to members of the campus community and visitors. Additional copies cost 25 cents and may be requested from the office or by calling (310) 660-3328 during the fall and spring semesters.





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MIXED MARTIAL ARTS By Donn Gruta Keith Lincoln faces his first mixed martial arts match.

ENERGY DRINKS By Nicholette Raecke The truth about caffeine and its dangerous effects on the body.





By Ashley Curtin One man’s trash is another woman’s art exhibit.

By Stephanie Perez A traumatic experience inspires one student firefighter.

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MUSIC AND POLITICS By Nelson Amaya A rap artist tells of his plans to one day join the world of politics.

WOMEN AND CARS By Nicholette Raecke “Girls in the Garage” pass on their knowledge of mechanics.





By Erica Martinez Students pursue a health care career in EC’s top program.

By Alma Zazueta Keythema Bush finds academic success through life’s trials.

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FROM PERU IN LOVE By Evyn Blair A young couple marries and travels to the United States for college.

FACEBOOK FURY By Danielle Hutton A social media addict gives up Facebook for one week.

GEOFFREY’S COMICS By Mike Botica A Local comic book store houses more than just books.

SERVICE LEARNING By Candice Helderle Giving back does more than just raise students’ grades. WL SPRING 2011



The sound of his name being announced echoed in his eardrums. It sent a tinge of electricity up and down his spine. He felt too calm. He wanted adrenaline, he wanted butterflies, he wanted to be nervous. With more than 300 people lined around the cage, he made his way to his assigned corner, nonchalantly patting his gloves against each other. He took a deep breath, let himself become consumed by the crowd’s screaming, and basked in his moment of glory. The fight did not start out the way he wanted it to. He got sloppy with his stand-up exchanges. When he threw a kick, his left hand dropped and the opponent connected with a solid left hook to his jaw. His whole body dropped. The impact shook him a little, but it didn’t knock him out. There were still a few seconds left on the clock and he could not give up now. He instantly got back up and finished with a three-punch combination to his opponent’s face. Keith Lincoln, 26, fire science and technology major, fought his first amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) fight Jan. 4


21 after three years of training at the Gracie Jui Jitsu Academy. “That moment was so surreal. I walked out with Rener Gracie who in the back of the room all the other corner men were just in awe of. The Gracie family is pretty much synonymous to MMA,” Lincoln said. “It felt great to hear my name announced and to have everyone in my corner scream for me.” Once banned for exhibition in some states, MMA, also known as cage fighting or ultimate fighting, is a full contact sport that allows fighters of many different martial arts backgrounds to compete. Although Lincoln has participated in grappling tournaments in the past, this was his first MMA fight. He couldn’t fathom why his body was so casual and relaxed that day. “I fought ninth and everybody else who went before me was adrenaline-pumped, but I still don’t understand why I was so calm,” Lincoln said. “A friend even told me, ‘You look like you’re ready to sit by the fire and read a book.’” Only seven weeks prior to that day, Lincoln received a

call from one of his training partners, a but was proud to have provided his op“My mother was the most worried professional fighter, offering to set up a ponent with good competition. about me before my fight,” Lincoln fight with him through All-Star Promo“I lost a decision, but anyone who said. “But she calls me and tells me she tions and Kaboom MMA. was there would tell you the fight could has watched the video 10 times now “They’ve had a lot of big fighters have gone either way,” Lincoln said. and always tells me she’s proud of me.” go through them and it was an honor “Now I’m just training to get ready for Aside from a slightly swollen jaw for my partner to think of me,” Lincoln my next one.” after the fight, Lincoln boasted to have said. Lincoln grew up in St. Louis, Mo. never had any serious injuries. Training in kickboxing, Lincoln has and had planned to live in California af“The closest thing to an injury I a blue belt from Gracie Jui Jitsu Acad- ter visiting here during his sophomore have ever gotten was a gash from my emy. year. Upon graduating high school in skin getting caught on the stitching “We had been talking about getting 2003, he found a place in Santa Mon- of my training partner’s gloves while into a fight for a while. This is a step- ica. He took a few years off of school training before the fight,” Lincoln said. ping stone in trying to become pro,” to work, became settled and then found As a working college student and an Thiago Caristo, Lincoln’s friend, 23, his way to EC. amateur MMA fighter training almost said. every day, Lincoln has The two trained somehow managed rigorously the folhis hectic schedule. lowing seven weeks. “I work on the “We did pull-ups, weekends teaching lots of sit-ups and young children how tried to go as hard as to play soccer, go to we could, but not too school on Monday hard. We’re not trynights and train rigoring to be body buildously at least every ers; bigger muscles other day,” Lincoln require more oxysaid. gen,” Lincoln said. “I’m lucky my “We don’t want to girlfriend understands run out of breath easand supports me. ily.” Somehow, we still Lincoln normally make time to see each weighs 172 pounds, other,” he said. but had to be in tip- Keith Lincoln, 26, fire science and technology major, fought his first amateur mixed Jackie Hanson, top shape and drop martial arts fight Jan. 21 after three years of training at the Gracie Jui Jitsu Academy. Lincoln’s girlfriend, down to just 155 promised to support pounds for his fight. His curiosity about Brazilian Jiu Jit- his cage fighting endeavors all the way “I was on a strict diet,” Lincoln said. su began in his youth and was spawned through, but would constantly remind “My friends were tempting me saying, by seeing videos of Royce Gracie fight- him to stay safe. ‘Oh, look at this cookie!’ They were ing using martial arts techniques to beat “The last thing we need are repermaking fun of me because of my diet.” men almost twice his size. cussions from his MMA training and When the day of the fight finally “I was very young, but I remember his fighting to interfere with his studies came, Lincoln faced a major ordeal be- clearly how this little guy took down and his firefighting,” Hanson said. fore he was even able to get into the guys who were probably 100 pounds Lincoln is well aware of his goals cage. The gloves ordered for him were heavier than he was,” Lincoln said. and his love for the sport. a size too small and cut off the circulaWhen he discovered Gracie Jui “I always try to apply what I learn tion in his hands. Luckily, Caristo was Jitsu was right around the corner from in MMA to real life,” Lincoln said. scheduled two fights after him and let the EC campus, he wanted to try mixed “Last semester, I struggled so much him borrow his larger gloves. martial arts out for himself. in my EMT class. I had to memorize “I let him wear the gloves. They When he told his family he would every bone, every vein—stuff doctors were faux leather gloves and they were want to test himself in the cage one day, and nurses need to know. I ended up stiff, so it really took some strength to they stood behind him all the way, even passing the class with an A. That is just even close your fist,” Caristo said. coming out to California to show their the motto of MMA. Keep on going and Lincoln did not win his first fight, support. never give up.” WL SPRING 2011


ENERGY DRINKS The harmful effects of that extra caffeine boost PHOTOS by ROGER MORRIS STORY by NICHOLETTE RAECKE

The computer screen starts to get blurry as you’re typing out an overdue research paper. Eyelids begin to flutter and your head feels like it weighs a million pounds. A long yawn passes through your lips and grabbing an energy drink from the fridge seems like the only way to get through the night awake. If you’re reaching for a way to get through the day and it turns out to be an energy drink, be prepared. A drink today may turn into two tomorrow and if it becomes a habit, you may be in danger. Energy drinks are fine when used sparingly. But if you’re sensitive to caffeine, which gives the “energy,” you could have a problem. Vanessa Medina, 30, real estate major, said she believes that energy drinks have definitely impacted her. “First it was one, then two a day, and when I didn’t drink them I’d get a headache,” Medina said. “I even tried to switch to soda. Now I think I’m addicted.” Caffeine affects the central nervous system, as well as the heart, Sean Sheil, physical education lecturer, said. He continued to say that student athletes use the drinks with the belief that they will extend their physical capabilities, particularly when it comes to sports performance. “Energy drinks have caffeine which is a stimulant,” Deborah Herzig, nurse practitioner, said. “It increases heart rate and causes you to be nervous if you are pre6


disposed to that. People assume it’s OK to drink energy drinks because they sell them in the store but they do have an effect on your system.” Athletes who consume energy drinks can experience a change in the rhythm of their heart if involved in strenuous sports. Dehydration occurs and the electrolyte system is thrown off unless liquids are quickly restored, Sheil said. Hydration is the key to maintaining a safer balance for successful usage. Many college students have turned to popular energy drinks as a way to extend their day. However some choose not to reach for a can that claims to have the solution for fighting fatigue.

Teresa Palo, biology professor, has noticed that people seem to be pushing themselves more lately and may turn to energy drinks. “People don’t like feeling tired, people want to be as productive as possible. You look at the college population; they’ll consume those drinks because they want to stay up late, or because they want to go to a party,” Palo said. Energy drinks are full of sugar and students should consider not using them, Tamara Lindsey, certified trainer and physical education major, said. She suggests that students use alternatives like Vitamin B which is a natural fat burner and is great for boosting energy throughout the day instead of a one-punch boost from energy drinks. Sherman Watson Jr., 29, public policy major, has a different reason for his disinterest in energy drinks. “I don’t drink them because of the calories, I don’t need them. They’re empty calories anyway; look at the stuff they’re made of,” Watson said. There are no warning labels on the can to suggest that abuse of caffeine can lead to problems. There is no age limit to purchase energy drinks, so they can be sold to anyone. The American Academy of Pediatrics website states that 30 to 50 percent of adolescents

consume energy drinks. They also recognize that safe consumption of stimulants such as caffeine has not been established in most adolescents. “Any ingredient in anything you drink that you can’t spell or pronounce means you’re consuming chemicals, and chemicals consistency is not good for the body,” John Featherstone, professor of physical education, said. “No one has done any tests and energy drinks can cause great problems. They can put strain on a young person’s heart.” The popular drink, Red Bull, contains 80 milligrams of caffeine in an 8.4 ounce can. Red Bull introduced a resurgence of energy drinks in the U.S. 20 years ago. “Small doses of caffeine can be beneficial,” Lindsey said. “But overdoses of caffeine can do major damage to your kidneys.” Prior to that, Jolt Cola emerged onto the market as an energy drink by offering a larger amount of caffeine, 192 milligrams, than in many other sodas. “Caffeine is a very powerful stimulant; it’s not without side effects, so you have to weigh the evidence. There’s an implied safety assurance from the manufacturer,” Herzig said. Gia Song, Middle Eastern studies major and rock climber, said she believes she’s figured out how to handle energy drink usage without a problem. “I take energy drinks for two reasons, one is to stay awake. I’m carrying 16 units right now. I also rock climb. I use energy drinks for that because it definitely gives a boost,” she said. Song began drinking Red Bull at 18, now 33, she’s cut back quite a bit. “When I was younger and wanted to stay out and hit the clubs, I’d drink three in a row. But I never had a physical problem with them. I made sure to drink a lot of water when I used them. So I never had headaches, crashed or felt bad when I didn’t drink them. Now I only drink them about twice a week,” she said. Song also urges people to pay attention to how hard they’re pushing themselves, and knows that the drinks don’t make up for abusing their bodies. “Caffeine levels of two cans of (energy drinks) is like eight cups of coffee,” Charles Cowell, chemistry professor, said. “From what it seems one-a-day is not bad in moderation and two energy drinks is maybe excessive.” WL SPRING 2011



PHOTOS by JOSE FLORES AND SHIGGY ICHINOMIYA STORY by ASHLEY CURTIN It started with patriotic colored plastic bottle caps. Then it grew to rusted lighters littering the sand. Eventually, it expanded to anything plastic washed up along the water’s edge on the sandy shores of Long Beach. On her leisurely jogs along the coast, Betsy Lohrer-Hall, installation artist and printmaking instructor, came across objects she would never expect to find washed up on the beach. She started collecting plastic objects littering the sand ranging from children’s toys, pacifiers, Visine bottles, syringes, toothbrushes, plastic hair rollers and alcoholic nips bottles. 8


But the more Lohrer-Hall looked, the more she realized lost.” For some people it was “nostalgic” but many people the local beaches were trash dumps. Making a bold state- were ashamed of the “littering behavior.” ment about the state of the environment, the litter was the “I chose her installation as one of my exhibits at the Galcenterpiece of her installation art, “City,” a landscape made lery because her work is very sensitive,” Meiers said. “It is of plastic objects showcased at the Art Gallery. thought-provoking and fascinating.” “Collecting is a study of an accumulation of moments,” Lohrer-Hall gravitated toward plastic because of its conLohrer-Hall said. “Because on the one hand, some philoso- troversial existence. Plastic is a petroleum-based toxic prodphers say that time is an illusion and I kind of get that, but uct which takes decades to breakdown, Jeanne Bellemin, zoat the same time, if it is an illusion, why are these things ology professor who focuses her studies on marine life, said. accumulating?” Since it is non-biodegradable, plastic lingers in the environPlastic objects from the beach filled boxes and bins ment and never disappears; it just breaks into smaller plastic stacked high in Lohrer-Hall’s particles and flows into oceans. studio when she realized someBellemin also said plastic is a thing must be done with the colhuman invention and plastic lection. But with “City” and her pollution is a human behavior. other art, Lohrer-Hall starts a She went on to say that polluproject and never knows how it tion initially starts on land and will end. has since become a growing “My art is comprised of little problem for our oceans. tiny acts,” Lohrer-Hall said. “I “We treat sewer waste at like to put the stuff out there and (a wastewater treatment facilpeople can think whatever they ity), but all the storm water want but there it is.” and trash from the storm drains “City” was a compact, flow right into our oceans,” multi-layered collection of inBellemin said. dividual objects not connectA study conducted in 2008 ed physically or figuratively by the Long Beach-based Albuilt on a platform high off the galita Marine Research Founground. Red bottle caps credation and the Costa Mesaated city roads, children’s toys based Southern California stacked high as tall buildings, Coastal Water Research Project syringes and pill bottles created showed the negative effects litthe landscape, plastic utensils ter has on marine life. Plastic and lighters outlines passagewas found in the stomachs of ways as toy dolls, baby bottles one third of the fish in the Paand bubble containers colored cific Ocean. The colorful packin the remains. aging attracts fish and other “The installation changes marine life, which mistake it the way a person feels in the for food. “About 35 percent space or the way they move Trash, love letters, figurines and baby dolls collected from of the fish swallowed plastic, through the space,” Lohrer-Hall Long Beach bring Lohrer-Hall the inspiration for her artwork. averaging out to two pieces said. “To me, that is the most of plastic per fish,” Christina appealing thing about installaBoeger, marine researcher at tion art.” Algalita Marine Research Foundation, said. “It’s a world Susanna Meiers, director and curator of the Art Gallery, problem, but out of sight out of mind, until a person’s family said she enjoyed the wide spectrum of responses Lohrer- gets sick from eating polluted fish; then it will be a big deal.” Hall’s installation, brought to the Gallery and the way it While all of the plastic objects Lohrer-Hall collected from touched each person individually. The first week the show the beach were disturbing, she said the syringes and mediwas up, a child screamed “toys” as he walked over to the cine bottles were the most intrusive objects used in “City.” installation. Another viewer was disturbed by its nature and Many of the syringes were still equipped with needles. As could “barely breathe” while staring at “City.” One person she separated them from the rest of the plastic objects as not compared the installation to “a hoarder in the third grade,” to poke herself, she finds it unsettling to know people walk while another viewer said it resembled a “candy shop.” The barefoot on the beach. objects in “City” reminded one viewer of “things that get “In my mind, I don’t get littering,” she said. “It doesn’t WL SPRING 2011


make any sense to me at all. You are not throwing it away; even if you throw it in a trash can, it’s not really going away and that is the troubling thing about plastic.” Since she can’t fix the planet, Lohrer-Hall makes little changes in her own life. She considers herself, on some level, an environmentalist; she reuses a ceramic coffee cup, drinks out of a reusable steel water bottle, uses her kitchen scraps as compost and recycles just about everything she can. Lohrer-Hall said she makes an effort to buy local products and seasonal produce as well as avoiding plastic packaging as much as possible. “I love nature and I love the environment, so I am really disturbed by our distance from the environment in most of our lives,” she said. Concern for that distance is what inspires some of her artwork. Lohrer-Hall gravitates toward things overlooked within her surroundings. She is interested in reclaiming things that are disregarded by others and integrating them into her life.

“What’s most important to me is sharing and discovering through art: my discovery together with someone else’s discovery when they experience it,” Lohrer-Hall said. Lohrer-Hall said she finds a notion in collecting; it is her way of gathering information and clues about her environment. Currently, she is accumulating book pages and grape stems to use in her artwork. She is attracted to the beauty of the stems once the fruit is picked from the vine. Some of Lohrer-Hall’s past collections include empty cigarette boxes she found littering the ground; each box was painted white and resembled little sculptures used in an installation. She also found handwritten paper notes, ranging from grocery lists to personal love letters, which she has used as inspiration in her art work. “I am presenting (someone) with a situation or an object and then that person brings his or her life experience to it and we meet somewhere in the middle,” she said. “The art is just a vehicle to make a discovery and a connection.”

“My art is comprised of little tiny acts,” Lohrer-Hall said. “I like to put the stuff out there and people can think whatever they want, but there it is.”

FAMILY AND FIREFIGHTING One student dedicates his future career to helping those around him


Pieces of trash found along the Long Beach shoreline are the centerpieces of Betsy Lohrer-Hall, installation artist and EC print making instructor’s, installation art, “City.” It is a landscape made of plastic objects and trash showcased at the EC Art Gallery in March. 10


A loose string, a dirty shirt or even an unshaven face is grounds for punishment. Buttons on the shirt must be aligned with the button of the pants. The class greets its instructor with a fresh pot of coffee while in straight line formation. If one person isn’t ready, the whole class is punished. The Fire Academy is not just about discipline, but about opportunity. Students are given the skills and knowledge to help them pursue a career as a firefighter. For David Castellanos, English major, becoming a firefighter has been a long-time goal. “One of the instructors there told us one day, ‘Not too many things can change your life in such a short span of time.’ You’re here for 16 weeks and those 16 weeks can change the rest of your life in a positive

way,” Castellanos said. EC’s Fire Academy which is approved by the California State Fire Marshal. The academy is offered every spring and fall semester, either part time or full time. For the spring semester, Castellanos is a part-time student. Fire training is 16 weeks, four days per week with an alternating Sunday. There are only 25 people per class. “The one thing I like about the training is the brotherhood you build there,” Castellanos said. “People depend on each other; it’s similar to a sports team.” Sports were a big part of Castellanos’ life. Fiddling around with a paper in his hands, Castellanos lists all the sports and accomplishments he has received since he was a child.



As the years progressed, he played sports such as football, volleyball and basketball at Hawthorne High School. He was the first in his high school in three years to be given the title of first team all-league offensive tackle. “There was only time for school and sports; there was no time for trouble making,” Castellanos’ father, Samuel Castellanos said. Although he enjoys football, Castellanos chose to pursue the Fire Academy instead of playing football at EC. Castellanos grew up in a big family with four brothers and three sisters, all of whom had to share a two-bedroom house in Lennox. “Unity and family are very important. When we are together we all joke around, have fun and eat,” Gloria Castellanos, his mother, said. “We were sad to see the older ones leave for college and begin to have their own families,” Samuel Castellanos said. Castellanos’ mother would cry every day when someone left. “If we would even leave for more than a few hours, she would cry because she missed us so much,” Castellanos said. The goal of becoming a firefighter stems from Castellanos’ childhood. He remembers the sirens and gunshots sounding in his neighborhood while he was growing up. Castellanos also remembers the close knit community in his apartment complex. Neighbors would look out for each other. A traumatic incident in Castellanos’ life left him wanting to help others. He remembers vividly the trip to Costco with his family when he was 6 that ended up with two men robbing an armored truck full of money. While being whisked away by his brother, Castellanos heard the shots as the Costco doors closed, leaving those outside banging the doors to get in. Through the windows, Castellanos saw “a look of fear” in those left outside. After 15 minutes, everyone was allowed to go. While walking with his family toward their car, Castellanos 12


saw the armored truck driver doused in blood as the paramedics put him in the ambulance. “I never knew if the driver made it out alive,” Castellanos said. “All I remember is the ambulance coming. That’s when I figured that I, too, wanted to help people.” Castellanos’ career choice to help people is not new in his family. Two of his brothers are sheriff’s deputies for the cities of Carson and Compton. His older brother, Adrian Castellanos, is a firefighter for Santa Barbara County. Castellanos’ brother has given him advice about what to expect in his career choice. His brother has also helped him financially ever since Castellanos

medic as well. Although his main interest is in the Fire Academy, he also wants to pursue an English degree. “I love writing; that’s why I’m an English major,” Castellanos said. As an English major, Castellanos wants to transfer to UCLA or UC Santa Barbara. With the exception of the youngest still in high school, all six of Castellanos’ siblings went to college. Their parents tried to help them in any way they could. “We told them right away that we wouldn’t be able to help them as much as we wanted financially, but they all found a way. They went to EC and

“I never knew if the driver made it out alive,” Castellanos said. “All I remember is the ambulance coming. That’s when I figured that I, too, wanted to help people.” quit his job to focus on his studies. “He’s taught me how to do important procedures such as tying a proper knot and recently, when I quit my job to focus on my studies, he’s helped financially,” Castellanos said. Aside from his brother, Castellanos has received mentoring from the El Segundo Fire Station. The station helped Castellanos with his first inventory project for his fire tech class. “They were really cool about helping me; they could have said no, but they were nice enough to help me get a good grade and went out of their way to show me procedures. They were very professional and courteous,” Castellanos said. He has already received his Emergency Medical Technician’s certificate from the county and hopes that after the Fire Academy he’ll train to be a para-

transferred,” Gloria Castellanos said. Along with his family’s encouragement to stay in school, the Fire Academy also has a strict grade minimum. “You can’t have a bad week in the academy; there is a quiz every lecture. Four failed quizzes and you are put on academic probation,” Castellanos said. Even on his day off, Castellanos still works out and studies. “It’s hard when everybody texts you or calls you to invite you to a party, but you can’t because you have class the next day at 6 a.m.,” Castellanos said. He believes giving up 16 weeks of his social life to pursue a career he enjoys is all worth it. “It’s never too late; as long as you work hard it’s attainable,” Castellanos said. “It’s all about work ethic, being humble, respectful, and having a willingness to help people.”

HIT RECORDS TO CAPITOL HILL Avoiding the gang life, Brandon “STIX’ Salaam-Bailey looks beyond his music career to a future in the political realm as a congressman. PHOTOS by ANNA ASHKINADZE STORY by NELSON AMAYA WL SPRING 2011


A notepad. prised when I told them,” Salaam-Bai- thanks.” To many people it’s nothing special. ley laughed. “You hear other kids and Along with the advice from the Yellow pages with blue lines, pressed they say things like ‘I want to be a fire- people around him, it was also Salaambetween two pieces of cardboard bound man.’ They had no idea I wanted to be Bailey himself that kept him from by spiral wire. a congressman.” avoiding what so many others his age To 21-year-old Brandon “Stix” Before making his way to success, fell into; gang life. Salaam-Bailey, however, it was an es- Salaam-Bailey had to overcome the “It was also self-resistance,” Sacape. laam-Bailey said Growing up in about avoiding Watts, there were gangs. “I wanted few opportunities. to aim for some“There were thing better.” about 10 gangs surOnce while atrounding the area tending an event where I lived,” in Watts, SalaamSalaam-Bailey Bailey witnessed said. “Around the a tragic scene that corner, across the was all too familstreet, you can see iar. them hanging out. “I was at a hipIt was an everyday hop show; it was a struggle; you never summer festival in knew what could Watts. Some guys happen. They’d approached some pick and choose other guys, words their days.” were exchanged, Raised without and a 16-year-old a father, guidance kid ended up getwas limited and a ting killed,” he gang seemed like said. “You get two one of the only gangs together and ways out. that’s usually all it “One day I was takes.” in a car listening to Even though some music with Salaam-Bailey my friend, ‘Bad grew up with Lucc,’” he said. “I many friends inhave always been volved in gangs, a fan of music and he said he never I told him ‘I wish I let it become a could do that.’ He part of him, never Brandon “STIX” Salaam-Bailey works on his music projects at the Scratch DJ Academy in just gave me a pen let it define him. Los Angeles. His latest project with Tyrese Gibson is scheduled to be released in June. and a notepad and “You don’t said, ‘This is how need to be in you write rap songs.’” struggles of growing up in Watts. this,” former gang members around Six years later after taking that Salaam-Bailey, one of three chil- the neighborhood who learned the hard notepad, Salaam-Bailey, now 27, owns dren, was raised by his mother and said way about gangs, would always tell shares in two magazines; he’s released she worked hard and sacrificed a lot to him growing up. albums, has written songs for several make sure they lived the best life pos“You are different, Brandon,” their artists and is scheduled to tour with sible. words echoed in his mind. well-known artists. And in his spare “She did a great job of putting food Salaam-Bailey’s first success came time, he has aspirations to one day be- on the table and clothes on my back,” in helping develop the artist Ak’sent. come a congressman. Salaam-Bailey said. “I buy her some“I helped write her first few songs,” “My family and friends were sur- thing every now and then to show her he said. “She ended up getting a deal 14


with Capitol Records and one of the songs I wrote for her, “This One” was part of the “Coach Carter” film’s official soundtrack.” “His personality stands out the most,” David Deville, Salaam-Bailey’s friend and business partner, said. “He is very, very outgoing.” Deville met Salaam-Bailey about six years ago when he was just beginning his music career. They’ve been good friends ever since. “He will go out of his way for anybody,” Deville said. “He’s the man. Honestly, he is one of the best (artists) in California.” Salaam-Bailey released his first solo album, “Late for Soundtrack” in 2005. He would then go on to release “The Next of Both Worlds” in 2009, a collaborative album with R&B artist Bobby Valentino. “Both the albums combined generated 70,000 units sold worldwide,” Salaam-Bailey said. “It was pretty cool considering they were only released on an independent level.” Salaam-Bailey also worked with Mizz Nina, the No. 1 recording artist in Malaysia. He wrote some of the songs for her album, and continues to work with other artists. “I’m still working with Mizz Nina on her next album as well as with Ak’sent,” he said. “I’m also working with Tyrese Gibson on his album which is coming out in June.” Salaam-Bailey will also be touring with some major artists. “I’ll be touring with Lady Gaga and Akon around the beginning of the summer,” he said. “I’ll also be headlining along with some underground artists in August. We’ll be touring at different Marine bases in August. There is so much going on; every month is a new challenge.” When he’s not busy touring or writing music, Salaam-Bailey can be found on campus, busy pursuing a degree in journalism. “I always heard of EC as one of the

top JC’s in the state,” Salaam-Bailey said. “I want to get my degree and one day work in broadcasting for CNN.” Even with the success he has had in music, Salaam-Bailey said he knows it won’t last forever. “The life expectancy in this business, making my kind of music, is short. You always have to have a plan B and C,” Bailey said. “Hopefully, by the time I am 65, I will be a millionaire.” “I was very surprised about the music thing; I downloaded some of his songs on iTunes and he’s really good,” Brent Isaacs, assistant professor of English, said. “I’m doubly surprised that he’s thinking beyond music and into politics.”

throughout his entire life, including rebuilding a great relationship with his father, who left early on in his life. “I have read the Torah, the Bible and the Quran, and they all have a similar message,” Salaam-Bailey said. ‘“Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’” It also helps that, for as long as he could remember, Salaam-Bailey said he got along with everybody. “I have always been popular, ever since I was in day care,” he said. “I was always a leader. I was the captain for my recreational basketball team, voted most popular by classmates. I want to use my popularity for good.”

“He is a friendly, funny guy. I can totally see him going around shaking hands and kissing babies,” Brent Isaacs, assistant professor of English, said. “You can tell he is genuine and not an act. He’s going to be more than just a suit and a smile.” Isaacs was Salaam-Bailey’s English instructor last fall semester, and said he was a very good student with a lot of positive energy. “He is a friendly, funny guy. I can totally see him going around shaking hands and kissing babies,” Isaacs said. “You can tell he is genuine and not an act. He’s going to be more than just a suit and a smile.” That is the biggest reason SalaamBailey said he wants to become a congressman; he just wants to help people. “There’s more to helping people than just giving money and donations,” he said. “I read a lot. I want to share the knowledge I have gained and my time with everybody.” Reading has helped Salaam-Bailey

As to how far he’d like his political career to take him, Salaam-Bailey said for now, he’s not looking past becoming a member of the House of Representatives. “People my age don’t think it’s cool to know politics, but I want to bring that cool, smooth, uncut swag and show them otherwise,” he said. “Of course, I have to be conservative enough though to win,” he added, smiling. And for children who are now facing his same situation growing up, Salaam-Bailey said the answer is simple. “I would tell them to follow their heart, never lie to yourself,” SalaamBailey said. “That’s where God is; don’t ignore it. It’s up to you to listen to it.” WL SPRING 2011


Lori Bentley, 43, is checking an oil leak on an old Studebaker owned by Kristin Martin. Martin has recovered the upholstery with an art deco print she found online and discusses car maintenance on her blog Grease

girls in the garage Poised with legs crossed underneath the carriage of a car, the young woman looks as if she could be lying out by the pool. Instead she’s lying in a pool of transmission fluid. Patricia Fairchild, auto collision and repair instructor, passes on her knowledge of car maintenance and repair for the “Girls in the Garage” workshop. The event is geared toward women who are interested in car maintenance and performance. “As a child, I played with dolls and cars. I love all aspects of a car; I think it’s just great fun,” Fairchild said. Kristin Martin, a member of “Gasoline Girls,” an all female car club, owns a ’55 Studebaker and is a guest of Fairchild’s event on campus. “When I first got this car, I knew I wanted to take care of it,” Martin said. “I write about it online to let others know of problems I’ve had.” During this event, she is under the carriage, checking on a transmission leak. More than 35 participants dropped in to find solutions to caring for their own cars. Fairchild’s workshop was held in conjunction with Women’s History Month. The group consisted of students, faculty as well as homemakers. Most in the crowd were women, with the exception of a young teen who had been brought in by his mother, due to his interest in cars. He said he showed up to “See what girls were up to.” As Fairchild spoke of her passion for cars, she mentioned she was drawn to the older classics. Behind her podium ran a slide show with before-and-after pictures of her work, some cars dating back to 1939. Fairchild, with her long blond ponytail and shy smile, doesn’t brag, but her work is seen by so many that it keeps her busy just by word of mouth. The “Girls in the Garage” meet the first Saturday of every month through June. “Nothing makes me happier at the end of the day than beating loudly on a hard piece of metal,” she said. PHOTOS by JOSE FLORES STORY by NICHOLETTE RAECKE



Patricia Fairchild shows how to change a tire using weight as leverage, along with the jack, without relying on the strength of your arms.

The “Girls in the Garage” talked cars and parts while walking through the Auto Shop on campus. They circled WL SPRING 2011 around Kristin Martin’s ‘55 Studebaker as part of the 17 event.


ship at a hospital. “My most memorable experiences of the program are from the clinical work,” Laurent Wagner, 39, nursing major, said. “I had a female patient who was going through some mental health issues like depression. She had grown up in the 1960s and I was talking about music and Woodstock with her. She told me it had made her day and put a smile on her face.” During clinical hours, the students are assigned real patients and are expected to perform tasks like checking the vitals of the patient, giving the patient the medicine that the doctor prescribes, all while under the supervision of a registered nurse. “Being hands on and working with patients on all levels during clinical is incredible stuff,” Wagner said. “You have to be organized and love what you’re doing, really understand what you’re learning instead of just memorizing everything.”

Students have to complete 16 to 24 hours per week of clinical work. “We are taking an individual who has no knowledge at all, or very basic knowledge about health, and we are moving them towards the ability to take care of people who have complex and multiple health care issues,” McGinley said. “They learn about disease process, human reaction to disease process, and learn how to communicate with patients, families, and all the health care providers; they’re learning to think like a nurse.” The program also has a simulation lab that simulates real patients in a hospital. With the use of the control center, any dummy can have any symptoms of a patient that one would find in a hospital. “The simulation lab is great because you can really hear the dummies breathe in the lungs, and it really helps you prepare for clinical,” Sam Gundel, nursing major, said.

In the past two years, the department has focused on faculty training and a basic simulation laboratory set up, including the ability to record and playback scenarios. With a new building in the works, students will have access to four simulation labs, a separate control room and a new debriefing room, Baily said. “Students will be able to see what they did wrong during the simulation so they can improve in those areas,” Baily said. Making mistakes and not knowing the proper diagnosis or responses are real fears for some nursing students like Meghann Flaherty, 26, nursing major, but having the chance to help others outweighs those fears. “There is not enough money on the planet to pay for what we do,” McGinley said. “Nursing is a fabulous profession, and I can’t think of another profession that has so many opportunities. I’m very proud to be a nurse.”

PHOTOS by SHIGGY ICHINOMIYA STORY by ERICA MARTINEZ A stethoscope is firmly placed against his patient’s back as he counts the heart beats pounding in his ears. Even the slightest hiccup could mean life or death and according to EC’s nursing students, there’s nothing more satisfying than the right diagnosis. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since high school,” Ugonna Nwobi, 25, nursing major, said. “There’s peer pressure from other guys, since I’m a male nurse, but that doesn’t matter as long as I’m making a difference in people’s lives.” Founded in 1962, the EC nursing department offers a two-year associate degree nursing (ADN) program and an Upward Mobility Program for Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) transitioning to registered nurses (RN). 18


“We have a multi-criteria screening process where we look for a wellrounded individual; we don’t just accept on grades,” Patricia McGinley, assistant director of the program, said. The nursing department currently has 228 students. Approximately 90 students graduate annually. For spring 2011, 140 people applied for 50 spaces. In fall 2011 there will be only 40 spaces available per semester due to a drop in grant funding. The number of graduates from the program now totals more than 3,000. “These graduates have been successful in transferring to major universities, receiving rewards and praise for excellence in service, working in positions of authority, and being employed in a variety of health care settings

worldwide,” Kim Baily, director of the program, said. The college also offers degrees and certificates in Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Care, Emergency Medical Technology and Paramedic Technology. “This program offers good quality training, so when the students graduate, they are prepared to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) which, if they pass, gets them their license to be registered nurses,” Martha Smith, assistant of the program, said. While in the program, students need to be dedicated and to have no distractions. They are given homework in the classroom and they are also required to do clinical hours, similar to an intern-

Students from the program work in simulation labs which mimic real hospital rooms and puts them in possible situations with human dummies. They can practice procedures such as checking vitals and administering medication, under the supervision of registered nurses. WL SPRING 2011



PHOTOS by ANDREW KANG STORY by ALMA ZAZUETA Crackers and peanut butter; that’s all she had for dinner that day. She was alone in her room listening to music, trying to escape the discomfort that had taken over her life, when the door suddenly opened and her dad stormed in. His cursing words echoed in the room and were only broken by the sound of him smashing her new headphones against the 20 WL SPRING 2011

wall. He was furious, and perhaps there was a reason for his anger, but she just didn’t know what it was. She grabbed her pillowcase and began packing some of her clothes and her book collection, laughing as her dad sarcastically helped her pack. And then she was gone.

A lot has changed for Keythema Bush, 21, business major, since the day she ran away from her parents’ house in Maryland five years ago. “People laugh when I tell them this; they say ‘They were just headphones.’ But when he broke them, I realized he was never going to let me be my own person,” she said. “After a lot of serious mental stress, and then of course physical, I just couldn’t take it anymore, I had to leave.” Bush grew up with barred windows, rigid rules and abusive parents. “At the time, they were really young and didn’t really know how to parent,” she said. Feuds with her stepmother were especially tense. She can still recall a fight between them that was so intense they ended up strangling each other. Like many other times, the words of her stepmother rang in her head telling her, “You’re not my daughter; I never liked you.” “I would get offended for her to sink that low and say that, but at the same time, I felt sorry for her more than I did for my own situation because she just didn’t know how to be a mother,” Bush said. While living with her father, she kept little contact with her biological mother and that side of the family. “My dad never liked my mother,” Bush said. “He kept me 60 percent out of love and 40 percent out of spite.” However, when she began to struggle for a place to stay, she decided to reach out to them. Through MySpace, she was able to contact her cousin, who later got her in touch with her grandmother on her biological mother’s side. For about a year, she lived with her grandmother in a modest house in Baltimore, Md. “That side of my family is the stereotypical, welfare receiving, ‘baby mama drama’ type,” Bush said. “She thought that I would get caught up with boys, end up getting pregnant and not do anything with my life, like everyone else in my family.”

After a few months, her grandmother asked Bush to pay rent, but getting a job in Baltimore wasn’t easy. Oftentimes, the only way of getting some cash was through stripping or prostituting, something that many of the women in her family, including her biological mother, had been involved. “I didn’t want to strip. I had always had this rule of not wanting to be like my mother. She danced for 17 years,” Bush said. Despite having no experience she

“The courts said she couldn’t keep me because she was a bad mother,” Bush said. When she first arrived in California, Bush didn’t attend school. Instead, she was working washing people’s hair and making around $200 a week. “I actually didn’t want to go to school; I figured I was above the system,” Bush said. But while working, it was her employer who convinced her she could do better and fired her.

“I considered that period of my time being in survival mode,” Bush said. “Everything was about where am I going to live? What am I going to eat? How am I going to do this to stay in school? I was getting really tired.” begin filling out applications, but received no response. Desperate for money, Bush threw herself into Baltimore East Street, a place popular with strip clubs and prostitution. “I actually filled out an application,” Bush said. “But then, I was like you know what? I can’t do it.” Unable to pay the $150 a month her grandmother demanded, and without any place to go, Bush decided to move to California with her biological mother. “I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay with her long because she is unstable, but I needed a place to go, so I figured, I’ll make it work,” Bush said. “I fully trust in my instincts and think they would never lead me wrong. My instinct said, you’ll make it; just go to Cali.” Bush had lived with her mother before; in fact, she grew up with her until she was 6 years old and was taken away from her and put into her father’s custody.

“She said, ‘I think you’re too smart for this job so I’m actually going to fire you. But before I fire you, I want you to go down to Southwest (College) because you can go to school for free out here,’” Bush said. Bush then attended Southwest College, Los Angeles Trade Tech and finally EC. But juggling school and work drove her into problems with her mom, who asked her to leave the house after about a year. “She kicked me out; she called the police and said that I hadn’t been there in 30 days, so the police actually dragged me to a place called New Image Shelter,” Bush said. “I stayed there for a day. I was actually crying because that was my first time ever being in an official shelter.” New Image in Downtown L.A. shelters people with mental problems, people who are strung out on drugs and people who are prostituting. Not teenage runaways, Bush said. WL SPRING 2011


However, living in a shelter did not deter her from pursuing an education. Now a student at EC, she has been accepted into Clark Atlanta University, which she will be attending next semester. “I had made a choice when I came to EC; I said I don’t care what happens, I’m going to get my associate degree and I’m going to transfer and get out of California,” Bush said. Throughout this process she has received the help of many people, one of them Dexter Vaughn, Extended Opportunity Program and Services counselor. Vaughn has no doubt that Bush will be successful because of all her hard work, he said. Aside from her financial aid, Bush has been able to obtain a variety of scholarships due to her story and good grades. On campus, Bush joined the Christian Club where she met Jonathan Hemphill, 31, club adviser. “Keythema is an outgoing person. I’ve watched her grow into someone who really wants to be successful,” Hemphill said. As a pastor, he was used to stories

like these, but he saw in Bush more than just a woman with a sad story. “What amazes me the most is that she had the courage to say I don’t need to be in this (situation) and she did something about it,” Hemphill said. After New Image Shelter, Bush continued to move from place to place. She stayed for a few months in a shared house run by two men who harassed her until she got out. She then continued to look for a place to move to, one where she could feel safe. “I considered that period of my time being in survival mode,” Bush said. “Everything was about where am I going to live? What am I going to eat? How am I going to do this to stay in school? I was getting really tired.” After a long search for a place, she found the YMCA Brighter Future program, which offers young women a place to stay for 18 months, but they can petition to stay longer. This transitional housing helps women ages 18 to 35, single or with no more than two children, who are homeless, Kendra Guyton-Sheppard, case manager of the program, said.

Here they are given their own bedroom and a computer and TV room, among other benefits. “I don’t think there are enough resources for women who are in very desperate situations, and an 18-month or two-year program may not be long enough for some women,” GuytonSheppard said. Bush has been living there for almost two years and takes the 210 bus to EC every day. “One thing I like about the commute is that you don’t forget what you’re trying to accomplish,” Bush said. Bush said she has a great relationship with her parents now, and is forgiving of their past. Not forgetting where she comes from, she hopes to one day create her own program for women who are out on their own. At Clark University, she will get her business degree, so she can one day run a successful business. She said she looks forward to inspiring other young women to better themselves. “To everyone else, my story is amazing,” Bush said. “To me, it is just life.”


Keythema Bush, 21, business major, once without a home, now has her own bedroom, computer and TV as part of the YMCA Brighter Future Program. The program provides housing for women ages 18 to 35, and has been a home for Bush for more than two years. 22 WL SPRING 2011

Standing in front of 50 people in a private room at the Castaway Restaurant, Celina and Jorge Matsumura stared at one another waiting for the moment that would bind them together forever. Happy emotions erupted from inside their chests. The eyes of parents, family friends and other relatives, a few who had flown all the way from Peru, watched the nervous couple. Classical music echoed throughout the room and everything was decorated peach, purple and turquoise. The dress

Celina wore was a radiant pearl color. The arch above the couple was covered with flowers and hanging candles. “It was beautiful,” Marilena Flores, Celina’s mother, said. It was in the fall of 2010, along with attending their first semester at EC that Celina and Jorge Matsumura celebrated their wedding day. She was only 18 and he was 23. “I cried and was deeply moved,” Flores said. When she reminisced about the moment when her daughter entered the room, Flores described her

child as looking “radiant with joy and so, so happy.” She said it made her feel proud and thankful to God for her many blessings. After the ceremony, the cake was brought out and the festivities began. “Peruvians love dancing,” Flores said. So, Celina Matsumura’s younger brother, Jose, plugged his laptop into an amplifier and played traditional Peruvian music. The bride and groom, along with their family and friends, danced and celebrated the wedding until 1 a.m. The couple had been together for WL SPRING 2011


two years prior to their wedding in California. “We met back in Peru when we both took the same Japanese class in school,” Celina Matsumura said. “It was, I believe, October of 2008.” “We started dating after a month that we met,” she said. “We just simply

After the two met, Jorge Matsumura decided he wanted to join her in her travels to California. The couple would have to wait longer than hoped to be together. “He was applying for a scholarship to Japan a long time before I met him,” Celina Matsumura said.

“I always knew I loved her and wanted to be with her and if we had to speed up things and get married sooner than we thought, then it was OK,” Jorge Matsumura said. “We were sure of what we were doing and what we really felt.” clicked.” In 2009, Celina Matsumura moved to California, and in May 2010, Jorge Matsumura joined her. They had moved here from Lima, the capitol and largest city in Peru. “In Peru, we have extreme poverty and rich people,” Flores said. “We were in the upper level so we enjoyed all the privileges of having large supermarkets, 3-D cinemas, a large house with a swimming pool and all the amenities.” Coming to America meant that they would have to give up all of their luxuries and start back at a lower level of income. Since she was young, Celina Matsumura had always dreamed of coming to the United States to continue her education following high school. Because this was what Celina Matsumura really wanted to do, her mother said she would make it her first priority. Even if this meant leaving their comfortable living situation, they would still travel together as a family to help her reach her goal. 24 WL SPRING 2011

He had applied to become a trainee in cooking Japanese cuisine. He loved to cook and wanted to be a sushi chef. “I started studying Japanese for this very reason and I was accepted for the scholarship while dating Celina,” Jorge Matsumura continued. At this point, the couple had no idea where their future together would lead. “We just knew that we wanted to be together,” Celina Matsumura said. “We decided that during his stay at Japan we would find a way so that he could be in California, too.” Eventually, the day came when the two would have to part ways from not only each other, but most of their family as well. “If you had been there, you would have felt more like you were at a funeral than a bon voyage gathering,” Flores said. “There were lots of people. All of our relatives were crying. I think the only one laughing at everybody else was my mother, but she is like that.” For Celina Matsumura, one of the most difficult parts of the move was

parting ways with Jorge Matsumura. “It was really hard even though it was only for six months,” Celina Matsumura remembered. As he headed off to Japan to pursue his goal of becoming a sushi chef, Celina Matsumura was beginning her journey to California with her mom and younger brother. “I was afraid,” Celina Matsumura said about the big move. “I felt all alone in a new country where I knew nobody and it was still hard for me to communicate with people.” Celina Matsumura had only been to the U.S. once before, when she had come to visit Boston to check out Boston University’s campus. This time, her trip to the U.S. would be for a much longer period of time. “I was really excited because I was finally accomplishing my dream of continuing my studies in the U.S., but at the same time, really sad of leaving my friends, family and Jorge too,” Celina Matsumura said. She had been studying English throughout her schooling in Peru, but admitted that the language was still difficult for her, even now. “It was the first time for me to speak it so regularly every day, which was a challenge for me, and still is, because I struggle to find the words to describe my thoughts,” Celina Matsumura added. As Celina Matsumura began her adjustments to California, Jorge Matsumura was training hard at school in Japan. “Work in Japan was really hard. The training was really strict,” Jorge Matsumura said. “I missed Celina very much,” he added. “However, I knew it was all worth it.” The time apart from one another was equally as upsetting to Celina Matsumura. Often, she said she would cry because she felt alone. It was during this time that they decided to come up with a plan to get Jorge Matsumura to California so they could be together.

“We decided that by marrying, he would be able to get his green card so that he could stay here with me,” Celina Matsumura said. “I knew he was the one, so I didn’t have any doubts about it.” There were no doubts in Jorge Matsumura’s mind either. “I always knew I loved her and wanted to be with her and if we had to speed up things and get married sooner than we thought, then it was OK, since we were sure of what we were doing and what we really felt,” he said. When Jorge Matsumura’s training came to an end, he returned to Peru for about three months and then packed his belongings and headed to California. “My friends were surprised that I would go to such extremes of moving out of the country because of the person I loved,” Jorge Matsumura said. Though people were shocked at their announcement, Celina and Jorge Matsumura said everyone gave them support until the end. Jorge Matsumura arrived here in May 2010. Finally, he and Celina Matsumura were reunited. “I was so happy to see how much love was between them,” Flores said. Often times, she said, that Jorge Matsumura will calculate the time of Celina Matsumura’s lunch break just so he can cook her food and take it to her so that they can enjoy a nice lunch together. Jorge Matsumura’s life was constantly filled with practicing his passion for cooking. “The first month Jorge arrived was delightful,” Flores remembered. “It was nice to have a chef in the house; he did all of the cooking so we were eagerly expecting with what delicious plate he was going to surprise us with.” After moving to California, both Celina and Jorge Matsumura had immediately found jobs in order to begin saving for their future together. “I work part-time in a restaurant. I like it very much since I have always loved cooking,” he said. Jorge Matsumura works in a fami-

ly-owned restaurant. His mom’s uncle is the owner, but he had never met any of this side of his family before because they had always been in California. Celina Matsumura also found work quickly after settling into her new home. “I work at Kohl’s,” she said. “I started working there after a month.” Celina Matsumura is a sales associate and works an average of five days per week. “I’m on campus all day Tuesdays and Thursdays and the other days I work as much as I can,” she said. With a busy work and school schedules, Celina Matsumura said they don’t get to spend as much time together as they wish they could. “I don’t see Jorge too often because he wakes up really early in the morning to go to school, and then he goes straight to work,” Celina Matsumura said. At this time, they are currently living with Celina Matsumura’s mom. “I think they could have waited another year to move until they were

for the goal of moving out.” They also plan to stay in California for several years before making any other big moves. Celina Matsumura is currently studying business at EC and said she hopes to transfer to the University of California at Berkeley, USC or UCLA in order to complete her schooling. “If I could, I would like to get my doctorate in business and then after that decide if I want to stay here to keep working or return and put my own business in Peru,” Celina Matsumura said. Jorge Matsumura, too, plans to stay in California for a while. He is studying business here as well, but says he may not be able to continue with school and may just work instead. “I am not sure if I will transfer,” Jorge Matsumura explained. “I am currently paying as an international student which is really expensive and I’m not sure if we can keep affording it.” Tuition for an international student can be $3,000 per semester he said. This cost does not include the price of textbooks, supplies or insurance.

“My friends were surprised that I would go to such extremes of moving out of the country because of the person I loved,” Jorge Matsumura said. more settled, but if Celina thinks they are ready then I have to give them my support and let them experience life by themselves,” Flores said. Though marriage can be difficult at any age, Jorge Matsumura said he was happy to finally be fulfilling his dream of being with Celina Matsumura but he found working and going to school to be one of his biggest challenges. “I am mostly working, so I don’t have enough time sometimes to finish my homework or do it with patience,” he said. “I am always rushing. I see Celina Matsumura mostly at nights, but she understands that we are doing this

With a lot of money going toward school and other bare necessities the couple needed, a huge, elaborate wedding was out of the question. “It was a really small wedding,” Celina Matsumura said. Both Celina and Jorge Matsumura said that they would love to have a bigger, fancy wedding one day when all of their family and friends can attend. “I am really happy of having met Jorge,” Celina Matsumura said. “He has changed my life and taught me a lot of things. Right now, even if the situation is hard, I have never been happier in my life. WL SPRING 2011


Day 1:

Everyone is most enthusiastic about kicking an addiction at the beginning. So, I logged out of the sites on my phone, my iPod and finally my computer before bed, removing all temptation to sneak a quick peek. The next day I thought being campus would have provided a welcome distraction, However, since I contracted a rhinovirus the previous weekend I lacked energy to move from my bed. When I realized I just wasn’t going to make it to school, I turned to the latter immediately, ready to open up a tab and check any overnight developments I may have missed. It took more effort that I’d care to admit to quash the urge, but left me feeling all the more better for it.


the tale of a social networking addict

It’s been a long day. Every lecture has dragged on, work was tedious and now you’re faced with a towering stack of homework. Sitting down at your desk, you automatically turn on your computer, deciding a few minutes spent checking your Facebook account would help you unwind. Maybe a quick check of your Twitter dashboard, then you’ll get started on your homework. The next thing you know, you’ve casually glanced down to the right-hand corner of your computer screen to check the time, mid-instant message, and are horrified to discover that it’s nearly midnight. Your textbooks are still in your backpack, your binder is still closed and you haven’t even moved from your seat. Essentially, you just wasted your entire evening. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. As of Jan. 4, 2011, an estimated 45 million people in the 18 to 24 age group in the U.S. have a Facebook account, according to That number amounts to 30.9 percent of the total amount of Facebook users in the U.S. making them the largest age group on the site. 26 WL SPRING 2011

I’m one of them. I am addicted to the Internet and social networking. Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter? They’re among the ‘most visited sites’ in my Internet browser. My phone and iPod can also be found with more than one e-mail account linked to my phone. I’m guilty of it all. I also admit I am most likely suffering from social anxiety disorder. The idea of public speaking nauseates me or even simply striking up conversation with a complete stranger leaves me shaking. So, being linked into social networking to the extent as I am is the best way for me to keep in touch with someone. I also find myself to be a professional procrastinator. My blog holds endless lists of things I need to do, to pretend like I’m at least doing something productive. Naturally, very little of it gets done, but I just can’t get away. College students are obsessed with social networking. So when I took on the challenge of giving up social networking in its entirely for a week, none of my friends believed I could do it. I don’t take well to be people undermining what I can and can’t do, so I decided to take on the challenge.

Day 2: Being without social networking has left me feeling cut off from the world, as a good deal of my knowledge involving events, both nationally and worldwide, comes from my blogging. Being forced to turn to online news websites and watching the news on television has been a trying experience for me. KTLA has a habit of spamming YouTube videos as if they have discovered the Holy Grail of Internet entertainment. Day 3: Why do malls even offer a free Wi-Fi connection? I love and fully embrace the practice of an omnipresent Internet signal when it benefits me. It’s such a tease for me to be in the presence of a mall-wide Internet signal, with my phone notifying me that an open network is available. Is it really imperative that we’re able to pull out our Wi-Fi capable cell phones, and post a picture of the new shoes we’re trying on? Does the business man with his Chick-fil-A honestly need to pull out his netbook to flip between his e-mail and Facebook accounts while enjoying his meal? Most importantly, does the Girl Scout honestly need to be so absorbed in her phone that she can barely

pay attention long enough to tell me how much a box of Thin Mints will cost me? Apparently so.

Day 4: This has been the most difficult day without social networking for me. Normally, I do not do well with cell phone calls, even for my best friend. I’d rather wait a week and try to catch her on Facebook chat, before I’d make a phone call. She knows this and doesn’t judge me for it. However no Facebook is equivalent to no best friend, so, I decided to brave a phone call. My aforementioned cold has come back to attack, however, as I have no voice. But I needed someone to sympathize with my suffering. My croaked “hey” gave way to a 15 minute rant about how everyone was sick, leaving me to mumble in agreement or dissent, and was quite possibly the best conversation I had all week.

ing on campus just isn’t providing the break I thought it would have. Especially since the girl to my left is on Twitter, while the guy on my right is on Facebook, and I’m in the center, forever alone.

Day 7: Knowing that I’m just 24 hours away from being able to connect via social networking makes the wait all the more difficult. Having a twohour block between classes makes it even worse. However I actually found it within myself to strike up a conversation, and had a pleasant conversation in class. Once I got over the initial feeling of self-consciousness and the awkwardness of talking to a person I don’t know, it was actually a nice experience. Not one I’d have actively looked for on my own, but enjoyable. Despite that I’m very excited that this week is nearly over and that I’ll be able to return to social networking

Day 5: Do you want to know how I know I’m truly sick? I’d rather be in class, taking notes, than at home with nothing to do, and the Internet teasing me. The lack of Internet signal in the classrooms would be a welcome gift at this point, especially after my slipup this morning. Happily drowsing in a cloud of over-the-counter medicine, I fell into my usual habit this morning and nearly fell off of the bandwagon. I woke up, turned on my computer, opened the Internet Browser, clicked on the Facebook tab, and stopped to wonder why I wasn’t signed in. It was like a crack to the back of the head, when I realized exactly what I was doing.

Day 6: I could be a productive, socially-integrated member of society right now. I could be organizing my notes, or maybe even striking up a conversation if the opportunity presented itself. Instead, I’m spending my block of time between classes pining over my separation from social networking. Be-

For me the week without social networking was a positive thing. It forced me out of my shell just enough to realize I need to stop depending on my computer every time I want or need to talk to someone. There’s an element that comes with face-to-face communication that I just wasn’t getting. While I won’t say that I’ll give up social networking permanently, I have definitely cut down on my usage of it and feel much better. The past week has been a trial for me, one that has driven me to the edge, and half a step past it at one point, but it was worth it. I got to reconnect with the world. This doesn’t mean that I’d do another week without being able to use social networking. As it was, I was up bright and early Wednesday morning, signed back into all my social networking sites within five minutes of my ban being lifted, and have been happily connected ever since. WL SPRING 2011


GEOFFREY’S COMIC BOOKS Bringing students superheroes since 1978

PHOTOS by MIKE BOTICA VALERIE RODRIGUEZ and JOSHUA SHERMAN STORY by MIKE BOTICA Kryptonite and evil villains are no match for the superheroes at Geoffrey’s Comics. With more than 90,000 comic books lining its shelves, three decades worth of figurines and a van painted with Superman’s logos, it has become an EC staple. Geoffrey’s Comics, located across the street from the campus, is run by a father and son duo, both EC alumni, who have brought fantastical comics and rare merchandise to its patrons since 1978. Behind the main counter sits Geoffrey Patterson Sr. and his son,Geoffrey Patterson Jr., founders of Geoffrey’s Comics, men with years of experience and knowledge about comics and merchandise. “Some guy was reading a psychological study that everybody has three places that they always go to, and that’s home, work and a third place that helps 28 WL SPRING 2011

them escape from the other two. He told us that his third place was us,” the younger Patterson said. Elder Patterson didn’t enjoy working for someone else, and he wanted to be his own boss. “I wanted to have a job that was something I would do anyway,” Patterson Sr. said. “I wanted to have a job that was not just for money, but something that had to do with a passion.” The elder Patterson was then influenced to start a comics store in the 1960s. The younger Patterson’s desire to one day own his father’s comic book store also coincided with his desire to be self-employed. His enthusiasm for comics is a huge part of why he chose to follow his father’s role. “It’s great entertainment and there’s just as much variety in comic books as there is in movies or television,” Patter-

Geoffrey’s Comics offers a wide selection of exclusive merchandise that is solely found at its store, such as weekly collector editions of famous comics by the more prominent names in the business. Geoffrey’s has more than 90,000 comic books in the store and 70,000 more in storage. Their most famous comics, Amazing Spiderman #1 and Fantastic 4 #1, are both worth more than $1,000 . Collectors’ items like the Superman figurine and Jessica Rabbit statues decorate the inside of the store while a van painted head to hubcap with the iconic Superman symbols guards the parking lot outside.

son Jr. said. “With all the comic books, you have so many things to choose from. There’s really great action and adventure and there’s great serious books too.” Many EC students and instructors, such as Matt Cheung, English professor, have visited Geoffrey’s Comics for many years. “We offer a bit more of an interactive experience,” the younger Patterson said. “Some people just like to be social, and come out and talk to people with similar interests.” Fernando Villa, 21, a pre-med student, visits Geoffrey’s frequently for its cheap and eclectic Magic: The Gathering cards. He has been shopping at Geoffrey’s for more than two years. “I like the atmosphere,” Villa said. “I like that Geoffrey’s is a one-store kind of humble thing. I’m glad that it’s here, and that’s why I support it.” WL SPRING 2011


PHOTOS by ROGER MORRIS STORY by CANDICE HELDERLE When Monica Smith, 22, physical therapy major, signed up for English 82, she had no idea she’d be helping elementary school children with their English and math homework. But after working with the children at Maria Regina Catholic School, she said the experience was better than she thought it would be. “I thought it was going to be a horrible experience,” Smith said. “But so far, I’m wrong and it’s been pretty cool.” Nancilyn Burruss, English instructor, gets the same reaction from her students each semester when she tells them they have to volunteer. They roll their eyes and ask, “Why do we have to do this?” “Last year I had two people give me sad faces on and I was devastated and it was because of service learning,” Burruss said. Many instructors have incorporated service learning, volunteering as part of 30


STUDENTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE a course requirement, into their lesson plans based on the proven benefits students gain. According to “Understanding the Effects of Service Learning: A Study of Students and Faculty” sponsored by UCLA, research on course based service-learning demonstrates that it can strengthen interpersonal skills, selfefficacy, and feelings of social responsibility. In 1994, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) began promoting service learning programs with educational tools and resources that get students involved in activities that identify community needs as well as growing their own skills. “A lot of students may volunteer regularly anyway,” Gail Robinson, program director for service learning with AACC, said. “But the difference that service learning makes, is that it really helps them link what they’re learning in the classroom to real world applica-

tions and it helps them figure out what kind of job they want to do.” Research has also shown that service learning, as opposed to general volunteering, has “a unique impact on outcomes such as commitment to activism, GPA, growth in writing skills, critical thinking, and promoting racial understanding,” according to “Understanding the Effects of Service Learning.” Members of EC’s Alpha Gamma Sigma (AGS), the Honors Society Club, are examples that the benefits from service learning are real. Members are required to have a 3.0 GPA or higher and to be involved with the community. Ashley Arikawa, 20, math and global cultures major, is one of the fundraising chairwomen for AGS and is currently nominated for the AGS Kathleen D. Loly Scholarship which requires a student to have a 4.0 GPA and an excess of volunteer hours completed

to be eligible. “When I came to EC, I was looking for an outlet to kind of make my time here worthwhile; I wanted to get involved somehow,” Arikawa said about joining AGS. With her volunteering background, AGS was a good fit. “I’ve volunteered all throughout my life. I actually started because I had to go with my dad, then eventually I just really enjoyed helping out wherever I could,” Arikawa said. Volunteering every summer at Nisei Week, an annual festival celebrating Japanese American culture and history in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles, Arikawa discovered an interest that would later become the subject of her double major when she transfers to a university. “That’s kind of how my interest in Japanese culture and other cultures came about,” Arikawa said. Students who are required to volunteer tend to “choose something that appeals to them in the moment but might find a new life path,” Jeannine Barba, AGS adviser, said. “They start to do it because they’ve been asked to do it and we give points, but I’m hoping the lightbulb does come on, and it really does inspire them in a different way,” Barba said. Initially, students react differently when finding out that they have to participate in service learning as a course requirement, with some being apprehensive and others intrigued. “My first reaction was more of a ‘Do I really have to do this?’ Feeling,” Daniel Ventura, 24, chemistry major, said about his Political Science 1 class assignment. “Once the professor explained how many hours we had to do, it didn’t seem that bad.” “I had a mixture of emotions,” Smith said about first finding out she had to volunteer for her English class. “I was a little excited because I’ve never volunteered a day in my life, and a bit confused about how it relates to reading.” Shante Stoneman, 31, criminal jus-

tice major, embraced the idea of service learning in her Political Science 1 class. “I love to do volunteer work. It makes me feel like a better person. It’s my way of giving back to the community,” Stoneman said about participating in Operation Teddy Bear Backpack Program that gives needy children supplies for school. Many of the advisers and organizations directly associated with service learning have witnessed first-hand the differences in students before and after they volunteer by conducting focus groups. Elaine Ikeda, executive director at California Campus Compact, said that finding out “all the wonderful things they’re doing out in the community and bringing it back to me is saying ‘OK, we’re doing something important,

thing and being exposed to it.” Another one of Burruss’ students felt the benefits from service learning being directly applied to her education. “Volunteering has helped me with my schoolwork,” Smith said. “I’ve learned to be a little more patient when it comes to my studies.” The benefits from service learning are not only for students but for the faculty and administrative staff members too. Robinson said that a veteran English professor raved about the program, pointing out that it made class more interesting for the students but also for him; he incorporated service learning into his lesson plan. Instructors who included service learning as an assignment were no longer reading the same research pa-

“You don’t just learn that from a textbook,” Nancilyn Burruss, English instructor, said. “That’s a realization that comes from doing something and being exposed to it.” we’re really getting students engaged with their communities.’” Burruss said the difference she sees in her students is that they become more mature compared to that first meeting after hearing they had to volunteer. “I start getting some comments back like ‘Wow, this is amazing’ or ‘I didn’t realize that there was such a problem with this in our society,’” Burruss said. One of Burruss’ former students had made a relation between her experience volunteering at an animal shelter and wanting to volunteer at a senior home seeing the two institutions as being “caged up.” “You don’t just learn that from a textbook,” Burruss said. “That’s a realization that comes from doing some-

pers on the same topics semester after semester. They were reading personal experiences and real reactions to the volunteering programs in which their students participated. Ikeda described it as “feeling like we’re really developing the next generation of leaders for our democracy, and I think that’s really important to do.” Whether the results are on a national level or just on a small scale, service learning programs have made a difference in students’ lives and is an alternative to regular projects like reports. “I think it beats a book report anytime,” Smith said, of taking another class with service learning. “I get to meet new people and to get involved with the community around me.” WL SPRING 2011



Warrior Life Spring 2011  

Warrior Life Spring 2011