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Bach to Basics Screen, Ink, Paper, Pull. And the Beat Goes On... Pianist pursues passion by training enthusiasts.

Lift, Repeat

Teaching assistant screen-prints way to small business success.

The Lancer Band is a nationally admired musical ensemble led by a spirited drumline.

Spotlight 2012

Pasadena City College

Out of the Shadows

Undocumented student unafraid to fight for her place in American history.

Spotlight Pasadena City College

From the Editors With the country dealing with record numbers of unemployed and our school reeling from drastic budget cuts, the past year was no picnic. As editors, we mentally prepared ourselves for a dark and despairing issue of Spotlight magazine that would focus on all the doom-and-gloom. Yet as our writers and photographers gained insight into the lives of students, staff and alumni for their stories, quite a different theme emerged. Though times are tough, talent is rampant on campus as individuals aspire to more fulfilling lives. Ambitious musicians pursue their dreams of piano, percussion and opera, while encouraging others to do the same. A champion runner breaks records and makes PCC history, but refuses to settle for just this achievement in hopes of one day competing in the Olympic Games. An artist finds light in the darkest of places as she discovers even cadavers can be inspiring. Despite great setbacks like drug abuse and imprisonment, determined individuals prove they can take back their lives and fight for a better future. This edition of Spotlight magazine is a testament to the strength and spirit of the PCC community as it stands tall in the face of adversity. It is our aim for it to serve as a symbol of resilience and encourage readers to persevere in times of diminished hope. Without the unabashed enthusiasm for storytelling from our staff, this issue would not be possible. Honoring their work is what motivated us to push through the tedious production phase of publication. For their heart and commitment, we’d like to shine the spotlight their way and thank them.


Editor-in-Chief Amrah Khan Photo Editor Gabriela Castillo Writers Vianka Alanis Ander Arostegui Cody Averett Jacqueline Baldwin F. E. Cornejo Erik Fontanez Amar Kasapovic Philip McCormick Raymond Pecson Autumn Quishenberry Tarra Singapan Jessica Valenzuela Photographers Ander Arostegui Megan Carrillo Louis C. Cheung Justin Clay Sam K. Lee Daniel Nerio Max Perez Alicia Ramirez Buren Smith Charles Winners Ryan Yamamoto Faculty Adviser Warren Swil Photography Adviser Tim Berger Editorial Office

Amrah Khan Editor-in-Chief

Gabriela Castillo Photo Editor

Spotlight Magazine Pasadena City College 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. Room CC208 626.585.7130 Spotlight 2012 is generously funded through the Vocational and Applied Technology Act. It is produced by PCC’s Journalism Department, a part of the Visual Arts and Media Studies Division.

14 16 23


4 Do That Conga!

Percussionist pushes students to fulfill their dreams. By Raymond Pecson

6 Distinguished Diva

Opera singer works her vocal magic, opening hearts to the arts and educating aspiring musicians. By F. E. Cornejo

8 Bach to Basics

Pianist pursues her passion by training enthusiasts. By Amrah Khan

10 Screen, Ink, Paper, Pull. Lift, Repeat Teaching assistant screen-prints his way to small business success. By Jessica Valenzuela

11 Out of the Shadows

Undocumented student unafraid to fight for her place in American history. Story and photography by Ander Arostegui

14 Back from the Brink

Alumnus credits martial arts training with saving his life. By Erik Fontanez

8 16 Giving Life to the Dead

Art instructor inspired by human cadavers. By Jacqueline Baldwin

18 And the Beat Goes On...

The Lancer Band is a nationally admired ensemble led by a spirited drumline. By Autumn Quishenberry

20 How to Dress for an Interview ... and get the job! By Vianka Alanis

22 Entertaining the Masses

Performer heads back to classroom to master essentials of music business. By Philip McCormick

23 As Fast as Lightning

Track champion runs towards Olympic dreams. By Amar Kasapovic

Front and back cover photos by Ander Arostegui. Front cover inset photos by Daniel Nerio, left, Louis C. Cheung, center, and Charles Winners, right. Editor-in-Chief and Photo Editor photos on page 2 by Buren Smith.


Do That Conga! Percussionist pushes students to fulfill their dreams.


By Raymond Pecson


erforming in the house band for a crowd of Alist celebrities at the 2011 Emmy’s, then immediately jetting off to an afterparty performance with Stevie Nicks is something aspiring musicians could only hope for. For PCC alumnus and music instructor Ramon Yslas it was a night to remember. He plays gigs like that when not teaching, and shares his experiences to inspire students. Yslas, or Ray as he’s better known by friends and colleagues, is called in by artists such as Christina Aguilera and Carlos Santana to add a percussive element to their performances and recordings. He compares percussion to cooking. “It’s like adding pepper…sometimes you want a little more

kick. It adds that extra spice to music,” Yslas said. Working with big names in the music industry is not intimidating at all as long as you got the chops, he explained. “It’s amazing. I got to step up to the plate and I got to work…you always have to be prepared.” Yslas grew up in East Los Angeles and has been playing percussion instruments like the congas, bongos, timbales and cajon since he was a child. He describes his music as Latin “East LA sound” mixed with African and rock ‘n roll influences. His big break into the music industry came while attending PCC in the early 90s, where he took classes from music to business. It was then when he was asked by the band Shadowfax to be a part of its U.S. tour. He still remembers some professors’ reactions when telling them he needed to drop their class in order for him to go on tour with a band they were fans of. His first major recording, which was nominated for a Grammy, also was with Shadowfax. Yslas’ music career and life has come full-circle. He now teaches classes at the

very school he attended, part of a packed schedule that has him playing shows in Atlanta and Montreal. Paul Kilian, former dean of performing arts, says he hired Yslas years back to become the new Latin percussion instructor. “[Yslas] was an excellent performer with a great attitude and I was personally quite fond of him,” Kilian says. Along with percussion, Yslas now also teaches music business and said when approached with the opportunity, his first thought was simply, “I would love to teach music business [because] I’m living it, I’m experiencing it.” Yslas’ students are definitely fans of his teaching style. “It’s cool, it’s more like mentoring than teaching,” said Prentice Deadrick, a student in his class and aspiring producer. “He’s knowledgeable and knows what he’s talking about,” singer Katrina Balian said. “[His class will] help me decide what I really want to be involved in.” Yslas wants students to walk away feeling that it’s time to stop dreaming and time to start making things a reality. “It’s about getting off that chair and doing it…you have to know what to do and how to do it. You are your own business, know how to maintain that business,” he said while clutching his iPhone and gesturing to his iPad, showing that his business is with him all the time. He is constantly working and learning to stay on top of things before sharing or teaching it. Musical director and guitarist Tariqh Akoni with whom Yslas has played for artists like Patti LaBelle and the Backstreet Boys, jokes that he still asks Yslas for advice. “Very rarely in the classroom do students get to interact with real world professionals who possess knowledge and practically applied techniques,” Akoni said. “Ray’s years of working in the music industry provide a rare glimpse and a safe environment to learn [in].” Yslas calls PCC a “music gem” where students can create a musical education that can set them off on their path to success. He also advises aspiring musicians to stay focused. “I love being on stage and making music…but the main focus is the music, not the moneymaking business it can be. Don’t let that get in the way of you moving forward,” Yslas said. Like his students; Yslas says his own voyage is not over. “It’s an ongoing journey…the more knowledge you have, the more success.” If his accomplishments as a musician are any indication of how Yslas is as a teacher, then students are in good hands. “Ray is someone that I just enjoy being around and I’d hire him on any gig, seven days a week and twice on Sunday,” says Akoni.

“It’s an ongoing journey. The more knowledge you have, the more success.” Ramon Yslas, Music Instructor

Music Instructor Ramon Yslas, at his home studio in San Gabriel, plays percussion at starstudded events throughout the country when he’s not teaching music business at PCC. Photos by Alicia Ramirez 2012 SPOTLIGHT 5

Distinguished Diva Opera singer works her vocal magic, opening hearts to the arts and educating aspiring musicians.



By F. E. Cornejo a Voix Humaine (The Human Voice) is a onewoman opera about an emotionally delicate lady, named Elle. She struggles to keep her relationship alive over the telephone, but the call is repeatedly interrupted by a faulty the system. Like the character she once played, Anne Marie Ketchum has struggled and maneuvered through economic, educational and social systems to keep opera alive and bring younger generations into the art world. She is a leading lady of the Los Angeles’ classical music scene and a PCC Instructor. According to officials, all California Community Colleges are facing budget reductions. Art programs are typically the hardest hit with cuts, Ketchum said. “We know that… We have to get very clever,” she said. “Over the last several years it has been really tough. I go out and solicit donations.” Ketchum wove with hand gestures as if casting a spell, while discussing the complexities of opera and teaching. She was draped in a long, flowing skirt comprised of multiple layers of short fringe with an intricate black and white pattern. A lingering application of a brown-red lipstick framed her instrument. As she intermittently chuckled at her own cleverness, a pair dangling earrings poked out beyond her shoulder length, reddish dark brown hair. Her entire essence channeled a less demure opera character, Bizet’s Carmen. Ketchum’s duality is completely intentional and fruitful. “A full-time professional [music] career is extremely volatile,” she said. “I figured out a way to do a duo-career.” As an academic, she taught part-time at colleges all over Southern California until 1981, when she became an associate professor of music at PCC. As a musician, her recording of Morten Lauridsen’s Cuatro Canciones earned a Grammy nomination, and she has premiered numerous works by composers such as Ernst Krenek, Aurelio de la Vega, Schulamit Ran, Lori Laitman and Hans Werner Henze. Chris Pasles, of the Los Angeles Times, wrote that in a concert at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “[Ketchum] sang… with poise and intensity…with deadly seriousness, and [she performed] de la Vega’s “La Fuente Infinita” with controlled lyricism.” She seems to inspire her young students to see beyond their immediate environment. “Anne Marie [Ketchum] opened my eyes to the world of opera. I was still in high school while attending her Vocal Repertoire class at PCC,” said former student Nicholas Cacarnakis, who later became an opera major at USC. “She exposed me to countless singers and genres, but her passion for opera was contagious and inspiring.” She has also inspired older generations

Left, photo by Ander Arostegui

Left, Anne Marie Ketchum sings with John Atkins, tenor for the Verdi Opera Chorus during rehearsal. Photo by Megan Carrillo

Below, a music instructor by day, Ketchum assists a student during class. Photo by Ander Arostegui

to band together and rope her in as their leader. Since 1983, she has been artistic director and conductor of the Verdi Opera Chorus. It is one of her greatest achievements, “she transformed a group of music-loving amateurs into a cohesive, exciting, first rate professional ensemble,” said composer de la Vega said. “The second is the creation of [the] PCC Opera Program, [which is] highly unusual [among] community colleges.” She founded the program in the midnineties after appealing to the administration on behalf of a group of students. “Students don’t realize this a lot, but if something comes from them, it’s got a lot of clout. If they get themselves organized, there’s a lot they can do,” she said. Classical music holds its value and importance in modern and even economically strenuous times “because it is a spiritual, up-

lifting human endeavor that pulls humanity out of the gutter,” de la Vega said. Ketchum agrees. She said there are many people in the Pasadena community who value the arts; it is just a matter of exposure. “Anne Marie brings a whole new world to PCC, and her vast network of extremely talented musicians to our local community. She brings style and panache. It is so rare to find this much exposure to opera at the community college level,” former student Cacarnakis said. Ketchum said that it is her mission at PCC to open some eyes. “People aren’t necessarily closed minded, they just don’t know,” she said. “What we can do is continue to develop young singers and young musicians and young audience members to become more and more a part of the art world in Los Angeles.”


Bach to Basics Pianist pursues passion by training enthusiasts.


W By Amrah Khan

hen Lilac Atassi first sat down in front of a piano at the age of 4, she was too young to understand how much of an impact the notes that followed would have on her future. Over two decades later, the PCC music major has transformed her life and taken her love of the art to the next level by running a successful small business teaching music enthusiasts how to play the piano. Up and running in La Ca単ada since 2009, the Lilac Atassi Piano Studio is more than Atassi could have dreamed of when she arrived in America six years ago. Though her primary and secondary education were completed with an emphasis in classical piano performance at the Arabic Conservatory of Music in her hometown of

Illustration by Luisa P. Castillo

Aleppo, Syria, Atassi lost touch with her musical roots after graduating due to university academics and athletics. Atassi studied French Literature at the University of Aleppo in Syria, but wishes she had gone a different route. “My major wasn’t my choice,” she said. “I wanted to study music and play Beethoven, Bach and Hayden, but my family told me not to because they didn’t see a future in it.” After completing her Bachelor ’s degree, Atassi worked odd jobs for nearly four years in Syria, France and America, trying to figure out what to do next. But finding work with a French Literature degree from a foreign university wasn’t easy for Atassi , who had decided to settle near her grandparents’ house in La Cañada Flintridge. Ultimately she chose to enroll at PCC. In addition to taking an English class, she followed her gut and signed up for a piano ensemble class. “I was going through some tough times and felt very disheartened,” she said. “So after six years, I went back to music.” PCC Music Instructor Mary Henses recalled Atassi’s first few sessions. “She was a bit rusty, but anxious to get back into it,” Henses said. “I was taken with her because of her enthusiasm to come back to learn and her desire to move ahead.”

Music major Lilac Atassi plays Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in E minor” on the grand piano in Harbeson Hall. Photos by Daniel Nerio

Atassi is grateful for her first instructor at PCC. “Mary pushed me to study music,” she said. Feeling better than she had in years, Atassi delved head-first into studying music at PCC. “It helped me with my low spirits,” she said. “I became happier. I was also glad I didn’t lose all those years of training.” She then took three semesters of private lessons with Music Instructor Phillip Young. “It was clear Lilac’s training wasn’t complete,” said Young.

“But she improved by studying. She was open to changes.” Young challenged Atassi. “He was supportive, but never easy,” she said. “That relationship between a teacher and students is extraordinary,” continued Young. “With music we carry on a living history. We hope that what we give to students is passed on to another generation.” With her studio, Atassi carries on the torch of a mentor. “Phillip taught me how to play

“I like to play on grand pianos. It’s like driving a Ferrari.” Lilac Atassi Music major

rhythmically,” Atassi said. “It’s something I try to teach my students.” Atassi took away many lessons from her music instructors at PCC. “They taught me new techniques, like being more precise when playing and being more goal-oriented when practicing,” she said. Implementing these tips, Atassi tickled the ivories in Harbeson Hall and received the competitive PCC Performing Arts Scholarship, as well as placing second in an Old Town Music Competition a few years ago. But for Atassi the best part about her award-winning performances was not the money. “I like to play on grand pianos,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. “It’s like driving a Ferrari.” Even with the economy in tatters, Atassi’s business is booming. She instructs 30 students a week, all with varying ages, skill sets and interests in music. Yet she finds that spending her days conducting lessons does not take away from her personal goals. “Teaching helps with personal practice,” she said. “I like to perform.” Atassi hopes to showcase her talents in a public recital soon, but for the time being, her students take priority. “I don’t look at this as a business,” she said. “My students are my family. I care about them improving.”


Screen, Ink, Paper, Pull. Lift, Repeat Teaching assistant screen-prints way to small business success.


By Jessica Valenzuela

BEY poster creator Shepard Fairey was once a student in the PCC screen-printing classroom where Jason Pasillas now works on a daily basis. When the doors are closed, the screen- printing lab can easily be dismissed on the long sidewalk outside of the V Building. When the doors are open, artists are to be seen busy at work. The plain white walls are concealed from top to bottom with eye- catching posters. Every color in the rainbow is used in the collage of handmade posters of pop culture subjects. The inviting aroma of fresh inks fills the nostrils of Pasillas daily. The skinny, fair-skinned 21-year-old is a teaching assistant to the screenprinting class. He stands tall on the black brick floor, splattered with dried paint. “I have had plenty of shirts get ruined,” Pasillas said as he looks down at his shirt. Instructor Kristin Pilon was Pasillas’ teacher and speaks highly of him. “He is devoted to screen- printing… he has always been clear and focused about his goals,” Pilon said. That devotion motivated Pasillas to start a small business named jpscreenprinting. He contacts customers through word of mouth and prints shirts for his customers which are mainly school clubs or sports teams. “I hope it takes off,” said Pasillas of his business. “It would be great for it to become a wellknown brand.” Currently, PCC clubs contact Pasillas for shirt designs and orders. Working and going to school at PCC is an advantage for Pasillas when it comes to looking for new customers. Pasillas charges $3 to $5 a shirt. Behind his thick, black Ray Ban spectacles is a passionate man who is a human encyclopedia when it comes to the art of screen- printing. “He


Photos by Ryan Yamamoto and Louis C. Cheung Screen-printing teacher’s assistant Jason Pasillas, 21, demonstrates the screen-printing process by meticulously dragging an ink-stained squeegee across a battered screen in the depths of the V Building screen-printing room at PCC. is really helpful,” explained screen-printing student Robert Abarta. In spring 2010, Pasillas’ first day as teaching assistant for the screen printing class was a test. “It was nerve-wracking, at the least…it was hard but it eventually got easier,” he explained. Instructor John Miner said Pasillas is a fast learner. “He moved up from the ranks quicker than most,” Miner said. In high school, Pasillas was introduced to screen-printing shirts. His instructor, John Haprov, became his mentor. Haprov is a graduate of the PCC screen- printing program. “[Haprov] was originally the one that got me into screenprinting in high school,” explained Pasillas.

His ink-splattered hands grabbed hold of a rectangular squeegee as he demonstrated the screen printing process. He opened a jar of black ink and plopped a tablespoon size directly onto a screen. Pasillas dipped the squeegee into the ink blot and rolled it towards and away from him in a continuous motion. He lifted the screen off the table and a small horse- shaped image appeared. He repeated this step until many copies were printed. “[Screen-printing is] quite a complicated process,” Pasillas said as he walked over to the stacks of rectangular-shaped screen boards used for screen prints. “Being able to multi- task is important for the job on and off campus.”

Out of the Shadows Undocumented student unafraid to fight for her place in American history. Story and Photos by Ander Arostegui “While I was sitting down there I knew I had a choice whether to stand up and not get arrested or just stay there and get arrested. But once I saw all those people supporting me, cheering [for] me and [chanting], my fear fell off. I was facing my biggest fear. I was basically in the dragon’s belly.” Martha R. Vazquez runs with other PCC students, holding her black folder in her left arm, rushing to class. She pants for a moment while her shoulderlength black hair covers her mouth. She looks like any other college student, so few could tell that this soft-spoken woman who tries to avoid direct eye contact was arrested... for fighting back. While she talks about the difficulties of activism, her dark brown eyes move around the room nervously, but when she talks about her own situation, she holds her head high and emanates a confidence rarely seen. Looking straight ahead, almost defiantly, she said,”Yes I’m undocumented and I’m unafraid.” Vazquez’s has no recollection of the first three years of her Continued on next page 2012 SPOTLIGHT 11

Undocumented Activist Continued from page 11 life in Mexico, where she was born 22 years ago, nor when she crossed the border while sleeping in the back seat of a car. She never felt different from her classmates until it came time to fill out college applications; her dreams of becoming a fashion designer were crushed because she could not afford tuition. It was then when she confronted the reality of being ‘undocumented’. Not being eligible to apply for financial aid made her depressed. “I let myself down,” she said. “I stopped fighting [for my future].” Recently, Vazquez saw a group of undocumented students fighting to pass the DREAM Act, and took a second to reflect on her situation. “Why am I not there? Why am I wasting myself and not pursuing my dreams?” she questioned herself. She realized that if she wanted change no one else was going to do it for her. It was not easy for her parents when Vazquez started becoming an activist. At first they were concerned and scared of the consequences but they understood her need to fight for her future. “After all, we were also fighting for a better future when we moved here,” said her mother, Martha Gar-


cia. The lack of a group that could help undocumented students in the PCC community moved Vazquez, former PCC student Jessica Ortiz and current student Isaac Barrera to create such a group. They soon decided they wanted to reach a broader community in the San Gabriel Valley. That was the beginning of the San Gabriel Valley Dream Team, a group created to support, educate and fight for undocumented students, as well as the beginning of a new chapter in Vazquez’s life. The head of a similar group, Pasadena Community Youth’s Jose Alvarenga noticed Vazquez’s transformation.“ She has changed tremendously,” he said. ”She has become a person that inspires people and pulls them together.” Vazquez’s activism with others from the SGV Dream Team and other groups drew media attention, but the battle expanded when Vazquez and other “Dreamers” decided to organize a protest in San Bernardino on July after several students who were detained for minor infractions ended up in deportation area. The next thing Vazquez knew, she was in a sit-in protest forgetting

all her fears. The cheers of others and certainty of being right made her think, “I knew I had to be there”. On July 13, 2011, Martha Vazquez was arrested along with seven other protesters. They were facing deportation after being taken to a holding center in San Bernardino that has a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain and deport undocumented immigrants. Those 12 hours in prison were an “eye-opening experience,” said Vazquez. The experience changed her perspective of prison. “Everyone was so respectful and understood my motive,’ she said. Her arrest also moved other members of the SGVDT. “Her example was a motivation for me,” said Alma De Jesus, now an activist thanks to Vazquez. “She was the only woman arrested amongst all males. Her determination moved me to come out of the shadows and speak out.” In an unexpected turn of events, the police didn’t proceed with deportations and freed Vazquez and the others on charges of disturbing peace. Vazquez has kept on participating in rallies and organizing events, not afraid and, “happy being an activist,” she said.

PCC student and DREAM Act activist Martha R. Vasquez speaks to Spanish language media in front of the mirror pools in November. Representing the San Gabriel Valley Dream Team, a group created to support, educate and fight for undocumented students, Vasquez spoke in support of two undocumented students who were detained in New Orleans earlier in the month.


Back from the Brink Alumnus credits martial arts training with saving his life.



By Erik Fontanez

r l a n d o Sanchez was a PCC student who enjoyed the college life. He played fullback as part of the PCC football team that won the conference title in 2001, and remembers the experience as if it were a mini-NFL team. Shortly after leaving PCC, Sanchez moved on to finish his college years at Azusa Pacific University. While there, however, he discovered things beyond education. What many refer to as the ‘party life’ began to rear its ugly head and consume the student’s time outside of the classroom. Once the fullback graduated, it was all down hill from there. “It was one of those things that, once football is over and school is done, I just kind of got into a place where it’s party central,” Sanchez recalled. Personal training remained the legitimate business face for his income, but Sanchez had other ways of making money. The insane lifestyle, as he referred to it, opened him up to substance abuse and made him part of a world that kept a stranglehold on him. According to Sanchez, he was a disaster. This stemmed from the fact that his parents moved away to Florida, which had a serious impact on his emotional state. The PCC alumnus says his mother prayed every day for him and feels it was those prayers that saved him. On top of his mother’s faith, Sanchez had a realization of his own and knew he was in a horrible place. When he thought he was going to die, he realized he needed to make a change. Death came knocking on Sanchez’s door and his better judgment kept the deadbolt locked. “I remember laying in bed… thinking I was going to die right then and there,” he said. Sanchez then recalled his more formative years as a young athlete and how the competition used to be his addiction. When there were no more sports to occupy his time, his attention turned to other things that weren’t conducive to his wellbeing. In an effort to fuel his competitive nature again, Sanchez a n d a

friend began training in kickboxing together at a gym in Pasadena named Sityodtong. At first, it wasn’t so easy because his substance abuse addictions still had a strong hold on him. Through training at Sityodtong, Sanchez discovered a style of fighting that would change the pace of his life. Brazilian jiu-jitsu grabbed a hold of Sanchez tighter than other addictions he had throughout college. He trained with fighters schooled by the Gracies, who, for anyone who’s familiar with the famous Brazilian family, pretty much made Brazilian jiujitsu what it is today. Training with people who were so well-schooled in the art form surely put Sanchez on the receiving end of some serious beatings by his instructors. But that was all right, according to the PCC graduate. He’d get caught in chokeholds, armbars and other techniques

Photos by Sam Lee Former student Orlando Sanchez, right. takes on William Wheeler, beating him seconds into the first round by way of TKO. Below, Sanchez demonstrates his ground game with a TKO against Wheeler. The referee stopped the fight after a flurry of hammerfists from the victor. made popular in fighting style, and sure, it was painful, but it didn’t match the pain that substance abuse caused, he said. In fact, the constant beatings Sanchez succumbed to doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu were his new

addiction. The drive to learn as much as he could ultimately led him to kicking aside the damaging habits, he said. Four years later, Sanchez is 30 years old. He is on the verge of becoming the quickest to earn

a black belt in North American history. More importantly, he’s clean. He’s taken what he’s learned and applied it to the time he has with training partners like Artin Saginian at Gracie Barra in Pasadena. “You can tell he loves what he does,” Saginian said. “He’s a real positive role model.” The party central that Sanchez frequented before is now an afterthought. There’s something to be said about being on your death bed, according Sanchez. He says it’s not about being some big tough guy; that doesn’t mean anything when you’re about to die. Instead, focusing on bettering oneself can lead to greater pastures in the valley of life. “It’s this that saved my life,” Sanchez claimed. “If it wasn’t for Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I would be dead.”

“If it wasn’t for Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I would be dead.” Orlando Sanchez Mixed Martial Arts competitor


Giving Life to the Dead

Art instructor inspired by human cadavers.


By Jacqueline Baldwin

he sight of dead bodies is class. “She taught me to think abstractly of During graduate school Huxley was algrotesque to most, but to some the body, then to go back and refine and lowed to observe medical students during they can be beautiful. build up the body.” class in science labs and started sketching A freshly dissected cadaver Death is relevant in Huxley’s art but her cadavers there. is just that to artist Dawn Hux- paintings are not about dying. They are about “Anatomy professors frequently menley. Jars filled with curled up fetuses, boxes a life experience that everyone can relate to. tioned the beauty in a recently dissected cafull of brains and skeletons ranging in size “Although I am referencing death, which daver,” Huxley said. and age are just a few of the images she has many people think of as dark, I often look at “In her cadaver drawings and paintings recreated. my paintings of bodies and think back to the she responds not only to the beautiful engiDrawing dead bodies may seem taboo, amazingly beautiful structure of the body or neering and complexity of the human body, but the artist has a different view. the beautiful temperature shifts in the muscles but to it’s frailty, the poignant beauty of the “I have always machinery after life been fascinated by has departed from anatomy, so I never it,”said Cretara. lose interest in the subThere are several ject matter,” Huxley different images of said. “The body as cadavers, skeletons shown by dissection and embryos on may seem distasteful Huxley’s website, at first, but [it’s] also but one of her more surprisingly beautirecent paintings of a ful”. man’s head sliced Huxley, life drawhorizontally into seving teacher at PCC, eral pieces stands had once planned to out. Each layer of teach bio-medical ilflesh shows so much lustration but always detail that one can felt that was dry. She easily imagine what wanted to make art this life- less face that was more personlooked like alive. al. Having a fascinaHuxley’s art stution with anatomy, a dent Chris Freeman cadaver series seemed says, “I’ll have troulike a good idea for ble drawing a certain her to pursue as an part of the body and artist. she can spot it out Photo by Louis C. Cheung before I mention Huxley has displayed her work at a Art instructor Dawn Huxley helps a student capture the human form during her life drawing which part it is. She long list of solo and class at PCC. Huxley refers to herself as a realist painter. understands the group exhibitions body really well.” mostly in local art galIn addition to leries and community colleges. Among them of a fresh cadaver,” Huxley explained. sketching in labs, Huxley sketches from phoare Lankershim Art Center in Hollywood, The thought of being so close to dead tographs and occasionally hires models to Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara and bodies seems like it would be eerie or scary, pose in her Costa Mesa studio. During breaks Viento y Agua, a small eco-friendly coffee but Huxley’s paintings don’t reflect those from teaching she spends time in Oregon house and gallery in Long Beach. feelings in any way. painting landscapes with her mother, who is When teaching in her figure drawing “Her paintings of the dead are clearly also an artist. classes, she shows students how to accurately about life”, said Domenic Cretara, art pro“As an artist I never feel like I am comdraw living subjects, focusing on gesture, fessor at CSU Long Beach and one of Huxley’s pletely satisfied with a painting or drawing. measuring, value, anatomy and composition. former instructors. I always try to learn something new from a “Anatomically, she is incredible,” said “Her preoccupation is never about horror work and try to apply it to the next piece,” Alec Bickelhaupt, a student in her drawing or disgust or fear,” he added. Huxley said.


Right, Huxley is seen at her studio in Costa Mesa. Fascinated with anatomy, she decided to pursue a series of artwork inspired by human cadavers. Photo by Max Perez


And the Beat Goes On...

The Lancer Band is a nationally admired musical ensemble led by a spirited drumline.


By Autumn Quishenberry itting side by side they looked at each other and laughed as if amused by an inside joke. Melissa Fuentes, the PCC Band pit captain, is tall and thin. She has shoulder length brown hair and big brown eyes. Esteban DeLeon, the band drum major, has a medium build and is of average height. He has brown eyes and dark brown hair, almost black. Fuentes stops and says, “Drumline is nothing like the movie. West coast style is more militaristic.” DeLeon puts all joking aside and adds, “technique reigns supreme.” Few community colleges have bands, according to Kyle Luck, the current PCC Band director. What sets PCC apart from other colleges, Fuentes says, it is the fact band members are following a passion. “People are here because they want to be part of the band,” she says, “It’s not like high school where you have a mix of students [who either enjoy it or don’t].” Even fewer community college bands are given the opportunities that the PCC band has had. The band has a renowned history in the band world. This year marks 83 years of the PCC band participating in the Tournament of Roses parade. It has traveled to China, performed in movies,

Photos by Charles Winners


commercials, music videos, and festivals state wide, according to the PCC website. “When I was in the PCC band, there were all of 25 members, but we were having a great time,” says Luck, as he sits in his office filled with boxes of sheet music gearing up for a show. Now, 148 members strong, the Pasadena Community College Lancer Band may be the school’s largest student organization on campus, says Tad Carpenter, director of percussion studies and assistant band director. The drumline is part of the band. Drum playing is one of the oldest shared music making activities says, Karole Stout, noted historian. A smile fills Fuentes’ face as she says, “I’ve always enjoyed music…percussion stood out because it wasn’t just one instrument played.” The PCC drumline is taught and directed by Carpenter. It is made up of 37 members; seven snare drum, five tenor drum, five bass drum, eight symbols, and 12 pit members. Each winter session the drums take a “Marching percussions ensemble” class preparing for spring contests. “Percussions Theater, best describes [the class],” says Carpenter. It has won the last seven out of ten championships, says Car-

“Drumline is nothing like the movie. West Coast style is more militaristic.” Melissa Fuentes Band Pit Captain Photo by Justin Clay The Lancer Band’s drumline practices at Robinson Stadium.

penter. The Tournament of Roses drumline, scheduled to perform in January, was made up of 31 members. In 1930 the band marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade for the first time as the official honor band. The Lancer Marching band students and 225 students from Southern California high schools were scheduled to march this year. Drum Major DeLeon said that the moment he realized how important the parade was, was when he turned onto Colorado Boulevard. “When I turned [with] no one in front of me, I got a full shot of the parade route,” he said. The parade is watched by thousands in person, millions on

television and, is covered in over 200 international territories and countries. On average, a picture is taken every three seconds, according to The drumline performs at PCC Welcome Day and Lancer football games played at home, as part of the pep band. Becoming part of the PCC drumline is no small feat. Sixty applicants auditioned for the position in 2011 according to DeLeon. To those who don’t make the drumline, Carpenter encourages them to take his technique class, to hone up on skills. Drumline is the heart of the band; “It keeps the beat.” Fuentes says “It’s hard work but definitely very rewarding.”


s s e r D o t How an Inter view for ... and get the job!


Story by Vianka Alanis Photos by Gabriela Castillo and Ryan Yamamoto

Art Studies major Wendy Ortiz, is dressed for a casual interview, sporting a blouse with a jacket. Sunny Cannon of the fashion department cautions that the blouse should be modest. “If you’re going to offend your grandparents, don’t wear it,” she said.


ith unemployment still unseemly high, getting work has become a job unto itself. It is not enough to simply show up at interview, hand in a resume, and expect to get hired. If one is lucky enough to find potential work, the candidate must show he or she is a cut above the rest. “You can exhibit the characteristics wanted on your resume, but the way you present yourself at interview goes a long way,” said PCC Fashion Instructor Hollie Luttrell. She and fellow fashion instructor Sunny Cannon shared their fashion insights on the “do’s” and “don’ts” for preparing how to dress for your interview. Whether dressing for a casual interview at a chic retailer, or dressing for a more formal interview for a classy restaurant, Luttrell and Cannon advise adjusting for the occasion. When dressing for an interview, Cannon said, “It’s important to know if you’re going to be dressing casual or formal, so contact the company’s human resources office to find out.” “Be careful if applying at a clothing company,” Luttrell said “If the company has an apparel line make sure to wear something from it,” she said. “You should never spend too much money on your outfit. Make sure whatever you buy you are able to re-wear. H&M,J-Crew, Banana Republic, and Forever 21 is where you can find great deals for your outfit.” For both men and women there are two categories of attire, casual and formal. Luttrell explained, “Rarely do men wear a full suit; a collared shirt without worn-out elbows or ratty cuffs will do for either formal or casual interviews.” “For a casual interview,[men can] wear jeans,” Cannon said “The ideal jeans should fit well and look crisp- skip both the baggy and worn-out look.” Luttrell adds, “For slacks, make sure they have a half-inch break and overlap your shoes

Education major Christopher Paiz, wears jeans with a sports jacket for a casual interview. For footware, Fashion Instructor Hollie Luttrell says, “Black leather shoes are the safest bet.”

but not too much or they’ll hit the floor.” “Shoes are also important,” Luttrell said. “Black leather shoes are the safest bet,” she said. “Make sure they are clean and do not smell,” insists Cannon. “As a guy, its always hard to figure out what to wear for an interview since you never want to be to underdressed or overdressed,” said freshmen PCC student Phillip Oganesyan, who works at Golden Heart Health Home Care. He told what got him most confident preparing for this job. “Knowing I would be working in a completely professional environment, I decided to dress the part” he said “Very professional, clean cut, and, most importantly, I had a confident look on my face.” For women the question of what to wear at either a casual or formal interview is not as simple. Both Cannon and Luttrell warn against wearing T-shirts and jeans at either interviews. According to Luttrell, black pants and pencil skirts are the ideal bottoms for casual interviews, and a blouse is the ideal top. Cannon cautions that the blouse should be modest. “If you’re going to offend your grandparents, don’t wear it,” she said. “For formal interviews, wear an a-line style skirt that is around the knees with nylons, and either a blazer or cardigan would do,” Cannon said. Shoes play an important part in women’s attire, too. “If you are able to walk in heels without looking like you’re about to fall, you should wear them,” Cannon said. “They should be no higher than three-inch heels.” Caitlin Cunningham, a freshmen PCC student, used her fashion insights to land her job at Lette. “My outfit was what gave me (the) confidence to walk through the door tall and proud,” Cunningham said. “I never really knew how important image was until I realized how much I wanted a job, and I needed be sure to make a lasting first impression but also fit in.” Interviews can be very intimidating, but the advice from Luttrell and Cannon, will help make it successful interview. Students Cunningham and Oganesyan were able to land their jobs because they were able to dress appropriately for their interviews. Now you have the knowledge to dress successfully for your interview.

Adriana Mireya, is ready for a formal interview. The Communications major is comfortable in a blazer and heels. “If you are able to walk in heels without looking like you’re about to fall, you should wear them,” Cannon said. “They should be no higher than three-inch heels.”

Phillip Oganesyan is dressed to the nines for a formal interview, with his collared shirt and black slacks. Luttrell adds, “For slacks, make sure they have a half-inch break and overlap your shoes, but not too much or they’ll hit the floor.”


Entertaining the Masses Performer heads back to classroom to master essentials of music business.


By Philip McCormick

e turns heads and gets noticed by the likes of Stevie Wonder and John Mayer. If he keeps on the road he is on, he may end up where they are someday. Singer and songwriter C. J. Emmons has opened up for stars like Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Celine Dion and Little Richard. Emmons has also written and composed for Rihanna. In the fall, he returned to the classroom at PCC. “I came back to school to broaden my knowledge on the business part of music,” said Emmons. “Being an independent artist, I figured that I had to learn about every part of the business to help better my career.” Last summer, Emmons released his latest album “Whatever Happened to Christopher Jermaine?” (Christopher Jermaine is Emmons birth name). A few of his singles can be played on his Myspace page. Emmons said his style of music is ‘Opera/Pop/and Funk’. Birgitta Johnson, who has a PhD. in Ethnomusicology (the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts) and is currently teaching at Syracuse University, has known Emmons for about eight years. Johnson said that she didn’t think anyone could place Emmons into a single genre and that he and his music are very unique. “C. J. has such great stage presence, and is completely in the moment when he is up there singing. The way he performed, you would have thought


he was headlining the show!” said Johnson. She added that people had “thrown money” on the stage at one of Emmons’ concerts, taking him by complete surprise. At the age of 20, Emmons headed to California, from his hometown Houston Texas, to see where it would lead him and his talents. He found himself in a few plays and one of them would lead him to a 2004 N.A.A.C.P. theater award nomination. He appeared in the play “If you don’t believe” starring Tatyana Ali, and his rendition of

Deneice Williams hit song “Do What you Feel” is said to have been the most talked about performance of 2004. In 2007, Emmons was cast in a new show on NBC called The Singing Bee. “At that point, I was meeting all the right people, and everything was just coming together for me,” said Emmons. “That opportunity really let me get my foot in the door.” Shortly after that, Emmons went into the studio, and wrote his first EP (a musical recording which contains more than a single, but not enough tracks to qualify as a full album.) He started touring the U.S. in 2010. Emmons started performing as a toddler. “My mom placed me in a talent show around the age of three after some family friends had heard me sing and thought I sounded wonderful,” said Emmons, chuckling at the memory. “After that, things were sort of just… set in motion.” Much of his passion for performing had come from his grandmother, Emmons said. She was “loving and humble” and he inherited those traits he said. “C. J. has always been a very good friend to me, and he has always been there whenever I [have] needed him,” said Johnson, the Syracuse professor Emmons wants to be a singer/entertainer for the rest of his life and will use the knowledge he learned at PCC to make sure he didn’t get “overwhelmed” by the business. One step back, two steps forward. “We are never through learning,” said Emmons. “Even now, being a successful artist, I still have a lot to learn about music business.”

C.J. Emmons takes center stage as he sings at a jam session at the Los Angeles offices of SESAC, a performing rights organization, in November. Executives from various recording companies were in attendance while various artists performed for them. Photo by Buren Smith

As Fast as Lightning Track champion runs towards Olympic dreams.


By Amar Kasapovic he drive to be a champion will never go unnoticed and many say it’s the shy and quiet ones that seem to be the most dangerous of them all. PCC track star Tracee van der Wyk is no different. Often hiding in the corner and keeping her thoughts to herself, Van der Wyk is far from being a typical misfit. A 20year-old running icon, Van der Wyk has been involved in many sports, mostly soccer and softball, and always enjoyed being involved with competitive sports. In 2011, Van der Wyk did something that has never been done before in PCC history. For the first time in women’s track and field history, Van der Wyk captured first place at the state championship running event. She won the 1,500 meter event which ended a 34 year drought in women’s track and field at PCC for state meets. The first place medal was also the first time in 10 years that PCC won a state title and it was the fourth overall. Van der Wyk, whose mark is second in the nation, ran a 4:36.67, an eye popping 3.55 seconds better than Sarah Toberty’s second place finish. Toberty, ran the nation’s fastest community college time in the event earlier that season, and for Van der Wyk to beat her by this big of a margin was unbelievable to some, but not her coach, Armand Crespo. “She’s a complete runner and she has the ability to put fear in her competition,” said Crespo. In track and field, she is a three-time conference champion, two-time regional champion, and also a state title holder. In 2011, she held the state’s fastest time in the 10,000 meters, second fastest in both the 800 and 1,500, third fastest in the 3,000, and fifth fastest in the 5,000. Van Der Vyk stopped running for PCC after her second year to focus more on school work and her career in kinesiology and to transfer to a different school, she said. But don’t expect Van der Wyk to slow down with her running.

“I always find time to run. There is no excuse not to run,” she said in an interview. “Running is the first thing I do every day. I’m still training and racing. Just because I’m not running at PCC doesn’t mean I’m not running. I still have to train for bigger and better things.” Van der Wyk has always dreamed of being an Olympian. “I dream of becoming an Olympian, but I know I have a lot of hard work and many miles and more experience to make it to that level,” she said. Van der Wyk overcame many obstacles on her way to success. She was raised by a single mother after her father passed away at a young age. Her mom was only 30 years old when her husband died and she was left with raising five athletic children. “They are all polite kids and you would never hear foul language coming from any one of them,” said Van der Wyk’s former track and field coach, and a very close family friend, Mike Tomaluso. Van der Wyk started running in her sophomore year of high school at Temple City High. She started as a sprinter for the school and by her junior year she decided to run distance for track, which turned out to be one of the best decision she has made, according to Tomaluso. Tomaluso saw the potential in Van der Wyk and he thought that she might have a better advantage against her competition in longer races. Van der Wyk’s competitive drive and willingness to become a better runner is what defines the heart of a champion. “I was and still am really competitive. When I started running and improving, the more I started winning made me inspired to run and be more into the sport,” Van der Wyk said. She is fully committed to running in June 2008, and she hasn’t stopped running ever since. Photo by Ander Arostegui


Spotlight Pasadena City College


Spotlight 2012  

Spotlight Magazine 2012

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