TAKE THIS JOB – I LOVE IT!

Sharon Plump is a Groundskeeper with the Facilities Department at Cerritos College.  When she is mowing, edging, and trimming, Plump is smiling – even when no one is looking.  This woman’s mantra is, “I love my job!”

Johnny Paycheck’s Country music hit “Take This Job and Shove It!” chronicles an employee who hates his job, has had enough of the boss, and tells him so in no uncertain terms.  This song became the battle cry of the American blue collar, white collar, no collar worker in the 1980s.  Plump’s  uniquely positive, upbeat attitude toward her work makes her the antithesis of Paycheck’s antagonistic employee.

Passion for gardening and the outdoor life began when Plump was eight.  She learned her gardening and landscape skills from her grandmother.  When she graduated high school, Plump took a job as a bank teller.  It took one day for her to realize she was in the wrong business.  Even though she is a people person who is eager to serve, she found it very difficult to deal with difficult people and their money.

Plump left the world of high finance and took a job with a landscape company.   She likes to challenge her body so being a groundskeeper allowed her to be outside, gardening, and interacting with people.  “Gardening is a free stress reliever,” says Plump.

Plump was serious about her new career, taking classes and obtaining certificates in landscape maintenance.  Even when she was employed at other southern California colleges, she always had her eye on Cerritos.  She knew about the college because her mother was a Cerritos College graduate.  When an opportunity to work with the Cerritos Facilities Department was posted, Plump did not hesitate to apply.

Sharon Plump was the first woman groundskeeper hired by the Cerritos College Facilities Department.  Facilities Manager Tom Richey is very proud to have been the one to hire her.  “Sharon is one of my best hires,” says Richey.  The boss is also proud to let you know that Plump was awarded Employee of the Month after only six weeks – faster than anyone else in the department.

Richey recognized a special spirit in Plump.  He assigned her to the college Quad so that she could interact with students who hang around the Student Center, especially the athletes.  Plump may be maintaining grass and flowers, but garden fairy is also scattering the spiritual pixie dust of her positive attitude and timeless wisdom.

 

 

Plump and fellow teammate Donnie Hawkins believe it is important for employees to make the effort to reach out and show students and teachers respect by developing relationships.  Students often thank them for their hard work, letting them know how much they appreciate what it takes to make the campus clean and attractive.  “One little girl brought me a box of my favorite chocolates,” Plump revealed, “just because she thought so much of what I did for her campus.”

The Facilities Department company jackets are emblazoned with the words Facilities Team.  Richey says it takes a lot of work to communicate the vision of the department to employees these days, “Everyone has a different idea of what the work is.”  Older people have a different view of the job than younger people.  Communication is the key to getting the job done.  Not only does Richey have to communicate his vision to his team, but he also has to get the college instructors and Trustees to realize the vital role of his department.

 

 

Plump and Richey share a core vision – that their facilities department is the foundation of the education process at Cerritos.  Without the work of custodial, plumbers, groundskeepers, painters, and tradesmen, the campus would not be well-maintained, would not be a comfortable work and study environment, and no one would want to be there.  Plump points out the people judge the inside of a college campus or restaurant by the way it looks on the outside.  She believes that people make snap judgments based on appearance.  “Sometimes, they don’t even make it inside because of the way it looks on the outside.”

Sharon Plump and the Facilities Department Team work very hard to make sure everyone who steps on the Cerritos College campus will like what they see, want to come inside…and decide to stay.

 

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SUICIDE – You Cannot Come Back

Ask anyone, either they have been personally affected by suicide or know someone who has been affected by suicide. Since 2010, suicide has been the number one cause of death among middle-aged Americans. Over half of the suicides are completed with a firearm. It is estimated for every suicide completed, there are almost  25 attempts – an average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes. There are also three female suicide attempts for each male attempt. It is suspected that the emotional state of women often leads them to attempt suicide as a cry for attention rather than a true desire to end their life.

Suicide has typically been viewed as a problem of teenagers and the elderly.  However, the surge in suicide rates among Baby Boomers is surprising.  From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans age 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people.  That was up from 13.7 percent. Although suicide rates are growing among both middle-aged men and women, men are far more likely take their lives. The suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000. (The New York Times)

Family members of suicide victims are left behind feeling hurt, confused, angry, betrayed, and guilty. Most blame themselves for not being able to stop the suicide from taking place. “I just wish I could’ve talk to him one last time,” said Rosanna G. in response to her brother’s suicide by hanging. The families of suicide victims feel they were robbed of their loved one.  Many blame the loved one for being selfish for taking their life and not thinking about how that single, final act will ultimately affect those left behind. “It’s been four years and I still haven’t recovered,” Osiris B. admitted about losing her best friend to suicide.

The signs are usually there, if we really look for them. If any of the behaviors listed below occur, reach out and do all you can to help prevent the person affected from taking their life. Not every who is depressed will take their life, but they do need a helping hand to overcome the stresses of their are under.

Listed below are a few signs to look for according to suicide.org.
• Appearing depressed or sad most of the time.
• Talking or writing about death or suicide.
• Withdrawing from family and friends.
• Feeling hopeless.
• Feeling helpless.
• Feeling strong anger or rage.
• Feeling trapped — like there is no way out of a situation.
• Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
• Abusing drugs or alcohol.
• Exhibiting a change in personality.
• Acting impulsively.
• Losing interest in most activities.
• Experiencing a change in sleeping habits.
• Experiencing a change in eating habits.
• Losing interest in most activities.
• Performing poorly at work or in school.
• Giving away prized possessions.
• Writing a will.
• Feeling excessive guilt or shame.

DO PEOPLE DO THIS AT HOME?

WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES!

I admit it – I am a clean freak.  I’m not Felix Unger freakish, but I love clean things, especially clean public restrooms.  What I encountered at a Cerritos College Learning Center restroom was an offense to my senses, and plain old common sense.  I was so physically disgusted that I loudly remarked to anyone within earshot, “Really?  Do people do this at home?!”

I have been at Cerritos College since January and I am impressed with the cleanliness of the entire campus, especially the restrooms.  When I saw two stuffed toilets, Starbucks cups, trash, and toilet tissue on the floor, I was shocked.  However, when I closed the door of the lone, semi clean stall, I knew strangers had been in our house.  The back of the normally clean door was covered with a juvenile missive in bright red ink, complete with graphic.

The amount of spent hand towel paper on the floor usually tends to increase at noon, causing me to wonder why people cannot pick up what they just dropped.  I also wonder what the heck their house looks like.  I have adjusted to this, but when I saw the other, I went looking for a possible source of the interlopers who trashed our territory.

I didn’t have to look far.  Opposite the restroom is the first floor Teleconference Center.  On the glass door was a sign: New Student Orientation – Here.  A young female student helping facilitate the event informed me that there were high school students on campus.  I told her that I suspected they had trashed the restroom and escorted her across the hallway to show her why my knickers were in such a twist.  She was visibly disgusted.  With a grimace on her face and intent in her walk, the young woman stomped down the hallway in search of a facilities person to help restore normalcy to our world.

I walked home that afternoon trusting that someone would give those high school animals a good talking to about respecting the property of others, and behaving like ladies at all times, in all places.  My work there was done.

 

A picture is worth a thousand words so here are a few thousand words more.

 

Cerritos College Learning Resource Center.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Calif.

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif.

 

 

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library, first floor restroom. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

 

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  Toilets are stuffed with trash, paper and Starbucks cups are discarded on floors.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library, first floor restroom. Toilets are stuffed with trash, paper and Starbucks cups are discarded on floors. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  Text has been scratched into wall tiles.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library, first floor restroom. Text has been scratched into wall tiles. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

 

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  Graffiti scrawled onto the back of a stall door with red Sharpie.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library, first floor restroom. Graffiti scrawled onto the back of a stall door with red Sharpie. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College - Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center restroom.  The Teleconference Center is opposite first floor restrooms.  April 24, 2014.  Norwalk, Caif.  (Samii Taylor)

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center. The Teleconference Center is opposite first floor restrooms. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

NEW STUDENT ORIN

Cerritos College – Wilton Michael Library and Learning Resource Center. First floor Teleconference Center hosted New Student Orientation. April 24, 2014. Norwalk, Calif. (Samii Taylor)

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEHIND THE WHEEL Are You Distracted?

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  Students from Cerritos College admitted to driving while texting, eating and searching for the perfect iPod beat.  Not everyone had an accident, but they knew someone who did.  Even Det. Carl Anna from Norwalk Sheriff Department has reached for that pesky cell phone or turned to correct his kids.  Distractions that affect drivers range from riding with Fluffy on their lap to reaching into the back seat to check a pizza receipt.   Angela Hoppe-Nagao provided stats on the emotional aspects of the worst driving distraction – road rage.  Her advice is to not take the mistakes of other drivers so personally.  “You never know what the other person is going through.”

Someplace That’s Green

As I was wandering the Cerritos College campus during my break between classes recently, I came across a flower bed with some of the most beautiful Birds of Paradise that I have seen in a long time.  I was so struck by their brilliance and beauty that I spent the next hour roaming around campus finding beautiful little niches of green and splashes of color.

I confess, I thought the campus was pretty dull looking until I saw the variety of flora on display.  Daniel Becerra from Facilities said that Cerritos College maintains a wide variety of trimmed shrubs, well-manicured grass, rock gardens, desert plants, and an assortment of shade and sun plantings tucked away in little areas around the campus.  Caring for the greenery is a full time job.

When I finished my photo safari, I was refreshed and mentally revived.  That is the gift nature gives us every day.  Trees and flowers live to not only purify our air and provide oxygen for us, they offer us free beauty.  Most people probably never even notice the beautiful growing things in their path every day.  Maybe I can change that with a few photos.

A wide expanse of well manicured grass provides a refreshing green belt on the quad between the Athletic Department buildings and the newly renovated gymnasium at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

A wide expanse of well manicured grass provides a refreshing green belt on the quad between the Athletic Department buildings and the newly renovated gymnasium at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

 

This beauty keeps its branches low for sitting on, but he branches reach skyward to provide cool shade on a sunny day.

This beauty keeps its branches low for sitting on, but he branches reach skyward to provide cool shade on a sunny day.

A large rock resembles the shape of a Golden Grizzly, the California state animal, in a rock bed outside the library at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

A large rock resembles the shape of a Golden Grizzly, the California state animal, in a rock bed outside the library at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

Outside the Student Center dining area, a tree with a split trunk offers shade on a sunny day at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

Outside the Student Center dining area, a tree with a split trunk offers shade on a sunny day at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

A large rock resembles the shape of a Golden Grizzly, the California state animal, in a rock bed outside the library at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

A large rock resembles the shape of a Golden Grizzly, the California state animal, in a rock bed outside the library at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

A spent flower is poised for the perfect moment to shed its seeds and start life all over again at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

A spent flower is poised for the perfect moment to shed its seeds and start life all over again at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

The planter bed around the water feature in the middle of the Quad is bursting with color at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

The planter bed around the water feature in the middle of the Quad is bursting with color at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

The variegated Mock Orange bushes outside of the Student Center are kept well manicured at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

The variegated Mock Orange bushes outside of the Student Center are kept well manicured at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

Sword ferns about to drop the last of their bright red berries in a flower bed at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

Sword ferns about to drop the last of their bright red berries in a flower bed at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

A gnarled tree trunk offers tone and texture, light and shadow to students passing by at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

A gnarled tree trunk offers tone and texture, light and shadow to students passing by at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

Late season camellias are in full bloom at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

Late season camellias are in full bloom at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

Delicate red, feather-like flowers offer tasty sweetness to bees and humming birds on campus at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

Delicate red, feather-like flowers offer tasty sweetness to bees and humming birds on campus at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

Giant Birds of Paradise make a bold display on either side of the walkway of the Athletic Department at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

Giant Birds of Paradise make a bold display on either side of the walkway of the Athletic Department at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

A tree trunk grows sideways, offering it's rugged beauty for all to see behind the Student Center at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

A tree trunk grows sideways, offering it’s rugged beauty for all to see behind the Student Center at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

A large alligator lizard pauses to express his annoyance at being disturbed while sunbathing on the steps of the Student Center at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014.  (Samii Taylor)

A large alligator lizard pauses to express his annoyance at being disturbed while sunbathing on the steps of the Student Center at Cerritos College, Norwalk, Calif., April 15, 2014. (Samii Taylor)

Let’s All Tweet Like The Birdies Tweet – Or What The Tweet Is That?

It is official – I have now joined the masses of Twits out there in Social Media Land.  As near as I can figure, I have tweeted well over 100 individual and unique entries.  Is that twittered unique Tweets?  I’ll get back to you on that.

Initially, I was resistant to signing up for an account.  I really did not want to be one of the flock.  However, it was mandatory for my Journalism – 121 Multimedia Reporting class so I did it.  Besides, my instructor, Alicia Edquist, made it look so fun… in a strange sort of communication-based way.

After three months of having a Twitter account, I can honestly say that I see where it can be a tattle tail’s best electronic weapon.  If I had this kind of technology when I was a kid, I would have snapped pictures everything my little brother did and tweeted my mom.  He would have been so busted!

Things I learned from being a Tweeter, which sounds like an old audio joke, but I digress.  My observations from the Twitter wire:

  • The first TWEET is the hardest
  • There’s a lot of TWEET out there
  • Not all tweets are the same
  • Some people should never TWEET selfies… trust me, I know
  • Double spell check before hitting TWEET
  • It’s easy to go one TWEET over the line
  • You are what you TWEET…now and forever
  • A well-crafted TWEET will get retweeted
  • A well-crafted TWEET will get retweeted – and favored
  • Hashtags are your friends
  • Only @ the ones you love
  • You can TWEET till you’re blue in the beak and still not get a lot of followers
  • Avoid Twitter Rehab, TWEET responsibly, fellow twitterers… twits… whatever.

 

The most important thing to remember, if you are gonna TWEET, get one of those cute little battery chargers, ’cause live TWEET sucks up the juice.  See you on the wire!

 

P.S.    Jimmy Fallon – your HASHTAG Wednesday’s ain’t got nothin’ on my journalism class.  Just sayin’.

Wait, he’s got a #.  I can TWEET that!

Do The Math – Cerritos College Needs More Classes Or Student’s Fail

April 2 – Norwalk, CA

The Cerritos College Board of Trustees meeting tonight was anything but dull.  It was standing room only and the line extended out the door into the courtyard.  Tonight’s Hot Topic: whether or not to add 100 extra classes to the Summer Semester.

One reason for the capacity crowd was the large number of Social Equality Club members and concerned students who turned out in support of adding extra classes to the upcoming schedule.  Club President Jennifer Ovalle and co-founder Jimmy Valdez presented an impressive PowerPoint outlining the cost of added classes and the various funding resources the Board can utilize to overcome any lack of funds required to make the classes a reality.

Several board members stated that adding classes had already been done with little or no effect on the problem.  Scott O’Neil, Chairman of the Mathematics Department, revealed that while he has capacity classes, the Department also has a 50% failure rate.  That means students are required to take the class again or they will not matriculate to the next level.

Several current Cerritos College students recounted that they have been at the campus between three and seven years, but are unable to graduate because they cannot get the Math and English classes required to transfer to university.  One girls said she shows up every semester, standing in the back of a capacity classroom only to be turned away – again.  A former gang member named Johnny felt that coming to Cerritos College saved his life.  For him, not being able get the required classes to complete his education means he cannot move on with his life to get further away from a deadly past.

Ian Adams, editor of the campus magazine Modern Corsair, came out to support the Social Equity Club and protest recent tuition increases.  Adams believes the Board has raised the cost of tuition beyond affordability for most students. “If they (students) can get Financial Aid,” Ian said, “it still won’t cover the cost of tuition, books, fees, transportation and housing.  They need that education to survive!”

Many students entering Cerritos College directly out of high school are unemployed.  Add the ever increasing cost of transportation and housing to the normal costs of education and it becomes clear that higher education is now beyond the reach of most students.  The current Catch 22 at Cerritos College is an unexpected nightmare for them.

While the Board listened politely, they seemed unprepared to deal effectively with an issue that continues to present itself.  Apparently, nothing they heard was news.  They even requested information from the Social Equity Club that had already been presented in previous meetings and documents.  The Board’s resolution for tonight was to resolve to have additional information to present in two weeks at the Wednesday, April 16 meeting.

 

http://www.talonmarks.com/news/2013/11/18/social-equality-club-seeks-to-address-social-inequalities/

Just One Hour At Cerritos College

Dashing madly across campus, Grester and I met some really interesting people. From Super Cerritos Fan Alexis, to Professor William Brown (Business Law), to a couple in the Student Center, we asked hard questions and got some unexpected answers. A couple relaxing in the Student Center talked about the importance of school spirit. Montana (track and field) thought school spirit is important and feels very proud running for Cerritos. On the other hand, Keiyon said school spirit is very difficult to maintain because, “I plan on moving on from here.” Working hard to make the transition to university, he is not forming attachments that make up the bonds of strong school spirit. Keiyon’s response was straight up reality on the rocks.