What Do 2 TIA Alumni Recommend for Future College Students?

Nixy Salcido and Maria Carmella Ocaya are TIA alumni and freshmen college students at the University of Arizona. Nixy is majoring in nursing. Maria Carmella Ocaya is majoring in Biomedical Engineering. They both met in the 6th grade at TIA and become good friends.

How Did TIA Prepare Nixie and Maria to be Good College Students?

They feel that TIA prepared them for college life by teaching them the basic fundamentals of being a successful student. Examples are: turning in quality work, leadership skills, communication skills. All very important for succeeding in college. TIA also helped them prepare for college by not settling for less. They never turned in work at TIA that wasn’t almost perfect. What they also loved about their years at TIA was how their small school was very family-like with their relationships with the teachers. 

Why Did the Girls Choose U of A?

Nixy and Maria chose to go to the University of Arizona because of the scholarship opportunities that they got. It is also very close to home, which they both like. They are both family-oriented people so when picking a college, it was important to them to be able to be close to their families, at least for the first few years. One of the things that Nixy and Maria liked about the U of A is how nice and approachable the professors are. They have been able to bond with the professors, even in an online format during the pandemic, the same way they would when coming in-person to classes. They also really like the environment on the campus. People at the school are friendly and approachable. The projects that they do with their groups in the classes really help them be able to make friends. 

What Does the Upcoming Semester Hold For Nixy and Maria?

For the returning semester, they are able to attend classes in person. They are both very excited about the clubs that they will be able to join. Also, being able to walk to class, rather than everything being online will be another plus.  Maria is excited about this next semester with the research opportunities that the college will provide. Also, she is looking forward to joining clubs that are geared towards engineering. This will give her more experience than what she could get during the pandemic.  Maria and Nixy are both very glad to have had each other to lean on for their first year at the U of A. Since so many of their classes were online, it was harder to make friends. But they knew each other well from all their years together at TIA. That helped a lot. Now they are looking forward to attendant U of A football games and getting into the school spirit.

What are Their Future Plans?

After Nixy graduates from the U of A, she will be a Labor and Delivery nurse and work in a hospital.  When Maria graduates with a Biomedical Engineering degree, her ultimate goal is to work in the field of cancer research or other possible areas would be cardiac and diabetes research. 

Nixy and Maria Recommend for Future College Students

The girls recommend to other TIA students to go to a college like the U of A. You will have an adult life but still have your parents to live with if you chose (if you go to a college in your hometown). And if you go to a college out of town, that is good too. At any college, you will still make many great connections for your future, in addition to all that you learn. Link to their YouTube video

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Nixy Salcido and Maria Carmella Ocaya are TIA alumni and freshmen college students at the University of Arizona

2017 Career Fair Creates Job Opportunity Awareness

This spring, TIA students had the exciting opportunity to attend the TIA Career Fair. Booths from a variety of professionals from all sorts of career fields sent representatives to give talks, as small groups of students rotated from booth to booth to get a hands-on idea of what great career paths are available to them. All too often high school graduates have ideas of what they would like to pursue for a career, but they also have many uncertainties.  To start college and decide to change a major can cause wasted time and money. This was true for Randy Harris, who had a booth at this year’s career fair. In high school he loved math and science and wanted to be an engineer but had no idea what kind. After his first semester at the University of Arizona, he realized he was in the wrong place. Now a civil engineer, Mr. Harris went on to say, “What I want to do for these kids is to show them the different kinds of engineers that are out there, so they don’t make the same mistake that I did. To help these kids get a feel for what they want ahead of time.” Not Just a Job, But a Life-Long Vocation The students perform hands-on activities. They spend quality time at each booth with real professionals who work in the real world. They learn about what careers are out there for young people, which is the key goal for TIA in putting on this fair each year. As Officer Heather Mau puts it, “I like working with the students. Whether they work in law enforcement or not, they are our future. Here, they can learn anything. There are options.” Heather has been with the Tucson Police Department for over 10 years now and has participated in the TIA career fair for 6 years, putting on an impressive display of law enforcement personnel, vehicles, and equipment. She fully understands the importance of a hands-on, shoulder-to-shoulder experience for students. Officer Mau explained, “I didn’t plan on being an officer. The way TIA sets this up gives students huge options to go and learn all that they can ahead of time."  Knowing is Half the Battle Francisco, a client relations representative with Arizona Bilingual News shared, “It’s about the opportunities that TIA brings. They put these careers in front of you and you can match your goals with those. Most of us didn’t get those options, at least not where I am from in Mexico. It’s wonderful what TIA is doing for these students.” TIA’s plan for career day is that the kids come to the booths in small groups for a good taste of all that is out there. Students have a lot of opportunities to see a wide variety of careers. One career fair veteran was asked why he thought TIA stood out and why he’s been willing to host a booth every year since the beginning. “Their emphasis is on college prep," he said. "They cater to people who sometimes don’t know that they have the options for a good education.” It’s a Family Another Tucson United School District retiree and a regular at the TIA career fair said, “As an outsider, I can see that TIA has a special caring connection, a family feel to it. There’s a one-to-one relationship between the teachers, faculty and students.” When asked why he valued the job opportunity options students get at TIA, he responded, “The value comes down to these real applications. It’s not abstract, not academia. These are real examples. When the kids see these tables, they realize these people are doing real things in life and they get excited about it.”

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Athletics at TIA: a path to being a better student and maybe to a sports scholarship

When it comes to preparing students for college, TIA is at the top of its game. TIA volleyball teams were given the opportunity to get some skills- building time with 25 year veteran head University of Arizona Volleyball coach, Dave Rubio.  Coach Rubio has led the UofA to nineteen NCAA appearances with thirteen 20-win seasons, including guiding Arizona to its first ever Pac-10 title. With a history and reputation like that, it’s no wonder the exclusive free clinic for TIA created some excitement among our students as they lined up to enter the courts to start playing and learning. Many Midvale students explained that this is their first year playing, and had no idea what fun it was, or what opportunities athletics could provide for a future college education. In fact, for TIA’s west campus girls’ volleyball team, who are champs this year, several were already being observed by coach Rubio for possible future roles on the UofA team. Exciting! This goes to show that if you work hard and are disciplined, anything is possible. Sports scholarship opportunities “After this year, I wasn’t going to play volleyball. But when I learned how many benefits there are… ok, I got this!” said Jocelyn at Midvale campus. Jocelyn went on to say that getting to meet volleyball players from the UofA was the most exciting thing about the experience. I’m sure it was, as one UofA’s freshmen players said, “there’s a lot of money to go to school for women’s volleyball.” Desereè, TIA student and player who was also being viewed by coach Rubio, shared that she was looking forward to the clinic to see what opportunities were available to some day attend the UofA on sports scholarship. According to scholarshipstats.com, the national average volleyball sports scholarships awarded each year is about 13 per team. That’s an average of $31,000 per sports scholarship per team! Coached by our very own, DR J! Dr J explained that at TIA, it’s very important that kids stay motivated to do well in their academics, not just pass and finish, but excel. The research shows that sports are the number one way to help TIA students do this, as a fit and disciplined body helps build a more focused mind. “If kids can be motivated to do their best, if they can be motivated to discipline themselves and be fit physically, then they will be mentally fit.” Dr. J went on to share her high school experience playing varsity volleyball, “I’m short, I’m not your typical volleyball person, but I found my niche and served well.” Now Dr J coaches girls’ volleyball and shared how all TIA coaches went through extensive coaching training to be the best coaches they can be. Students learn to work together; they learn strategy and teamwork which translates to invaluable life experience. So, even if your goal is not to get a college sports scholarship, athletics plays a vital role in the heartbeat of a healthy school, and Dr J is there to see that TIA remains as vibrant as possible. Link to video on Facebook of TIA student Jocelyn sharing about the event

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TIA Supports Student Success!

Tucson International Academy has teachers, administrators and office staff like every other school. But did you know that TIA created a unique position that most schools don’t have? Because staff at TIA takes their role as a college prep school very seriously, they created the position of Student Success Coordinator. The person in this position has basically one goal: to give individualized attention to each and every TIA student on the way to college. That navigation starts as early as the student's freshman year but culminates in the actual college and financial aid application process during the senior year.

Again 100% of the Senior Class have been Accepted to College!

With a record number of students in the graduating class this year, the importance of the Student Success Coordinator has truly been appreciated. Every one of the 26  seniors has received at least one, if not multiple, acceptance letters! This continues the rich tradition TIA has of 100% of its graduating seniors being accepted to college. That is an amazing statistic! Compare it to a study conducted by The Arizona Board of Regents a few years ago which  found that only 57% of Arizona high school graduates went on to college.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

What makes these numbers even more impressive is that most of the students are the first generation in their family to go to college. Financial challenges along with other barriers are being hit head on and TIA students are breaking family tradition in the best way possible! The impact on the families and the community in general is awe-inspiring. For many families, these college-bound students are taking the first steps out of a poverty cycle that has been in place for generations.

Student Success Coordinator

Virginia Watahomigie, TIA’s current Student Success Coordinator, believes that the individual attention given to each student and his or her particular circumstances, abilities and interests is what makes the difference. The key is to make certain each student is given the assistance needed to fill out applications, write the required essays, and explore the financial and scholarship options. The students are given class time to prepare, which not only allows for hands-on assistance from TIA staff, but is also vital, as many students do not have access to a computer or the internet at home.

College Campuses Field Trip

TIA students were also given the opportunity to travel all over Arizona to visit college campuses. They of course visited the University of Arizona right here in Tucson, but also visited Arizona State University and Grand Canyon College in Phoenix and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. While in Flagstaff they even headed over for a side trip to the Grand Canyon!  This trip helped the students to visualize themselves on a college campus, making the whole dream that much more real.

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We Make Dreams to Attend College Come True!

We recently conducted an interview with TIA alumni, Victor Figueroa. Victor graduated from Tucson International Academy-Midvale in May of 2014. Victor’s dream to attend college has become a reality as he prepares to begin his second year at the University of Arizona. How many years did you attend TIA? I attended Tucson International Academy since 7th grade, so 6 years in total. Since I was one of the students that was there for a long time, I experienced the expansion of TIA Midvale which allowed me to be involved in the growth and changes. One of the changes I saw was that we went from having only two teachers teaching all the subjects to multiple teachers teaching various subjects. Have other members of your family attended college? In my immediate family no one has been able to pursue a higher education before, so I am the first generation to attend college. To which colleges did you apply and where did you end up deciding to attend college? When I was in high school I had a very vague idea of college. In my senior year at TIA,  thanks to the dual enrollment program they offered, I was able to take classes at Pima Community College. I knew that I wanted to attend and have the full college experience. However, I always thought that it was out of our family’s financial reach. I had heard terrible stories about students that go to college and obtain a degree, but then end up having so much loan debt that they cannot afford to live on their own. I did not want to end up drowning in debt, so I had to constantly evaluate my goals and my financial status to decide whether college was a viable choice for me. I decided to research schools that were close to home that offered generous scholarships. I found that our very own Northern Arizona University was on the list. Therefore, I decided to apply to NAU. The problem however is that I am a not a person that likes extremely cold weather or snow in the winter! So while I was happy that NAU accepted me with a very good scholarship, I was not sure that the Flagstaff weather was something I wanted to put up with for the next four years. However, I was relieved that the path to paying for college seemed brighter. I knew I wanted to stay in Arizona, so I also decided to apply to Arizona State University and University of Arizona. I received acceptance letters from both, although both colleges offered less aid than NAU. After weighing all the information, I chose to attend college at  University of Arizona. I chose U of A primarily because their computer science program rated higher than NAU and because I had already started an internship there. Did you do anything different to prepare the summer prior to starting college? Since my major is math intensive, I wanted to be more prepared for college level precalculus. Therefore, I decided to rent a trigonometry/precalc book and studied and worked on the questions in the book. Since I was doing an internship with the Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN) at the College of Optics, I asked my mentor whenever I had questions or concepts that I did not understand. By taking this initiative, once the semester started I was much more confident about my math skills. Can you remember your feeling the first few days of college? The first few days of college were challenging. I can still remember how out of place I felt coming from a small school into a student body of 35,000. At first I was so intimidated I felt like I may never fit in. However, I did not let that bring me down and kept striving. As each day passed I felt like I belonged there more and more. What have you found to be the biggest difference between high school and college? I would say that the biggest change between high school and college is the rigor of the work load and the freedom. In college there is no one setting up schedules for you or telling you where to go. Instead you have to decide on what’s best and manage your own time. The freedom that college allowed was a big change. While all that freedom is amazing, with bad judgment and or poor study and planning skills, it can become poison. It is ultimately up to the student if he or she wants to succeed. Tell us about where you are living. Are you living on campus? Since I chose a college that is close to home, I live off campus with my parents. However, from what I’ve learned, living on campus is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. What is your major? Minor? My major is Bachelors of Science in computer science. My minor  is Spanish. What have you found to be the most challenging part of college? What I have found most challenging about college is learning how to manage my time. Sometimes it feels as if there is no end to the amount of work needed to be completed. It gets even more stressful when there are multiple tests in one day. Thankfully, time management is a learnable skill and I have learned how to manage my time much better now. What is the best thing about attending college so far? The connections that you make and the material that you learn. While science and math are very challenging subjects, I also have the general education classes to cushion the rigor.  I like the fact that the options to learn whatever you want are limitless. Have you made a lot of new friends? Where did you meet most of them? College is about making connections; therefore, making friends is one exciting aspect that every student should look forward to. Most of my friends I have met through study groups and clubs. Clubs are a great way to make friends. How do you feel TIA best prepared you for college? I think that TIA really helped me prepare for college by offering the dual enrollment classes. Even though I only took 3 dual enrollment classes, it really helped me my first year and I had a pretty good idea of the rigor of college classes. I also think that the college and career fair helped me to ask questions and explore different career options and colleges. What final thoughts would you like to share with your friends back at TIA? I want to tell my fellow schoolmates back at TIA to work hard and don’t let anything make you quit. It is fine if you have no idea what you want to do or where you want to go, but don’t let your uncertainty hold you back from applying for internships, scholarships or colleges. I encourage every student to apply for as many scholarships as they can while they are still in high school no matter the award amount. They really do add up and help when you’re in college. I know I applied to over 50 scholarships while I was in high school and I only ended up getting 3, but those three scholarships put me through my first year of college without debt. I would also share with students that developing good work habits now will really help you to go a long way through college and beyond. Just keep being persistent! The journey to attend college may seem long and hard at times but before you realize it goals have been reached and it was all worth it! TIA makes dreams of college come true! Contact us today!
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TIA 2014 Career and College Fair

This year’s Career and College Fair was a huge success, with over 250 students in attendance. The keynote speech was given by Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and the first woman to fly a combat mission (she is now running for the US Congress). Then the students had the opportunity to  choose among the booths of 27 different local businesses and organizations, and listen to their 20 minute demonstrations on what such a career would be like. After lunch, the final part of the day was to visit the college booths; close to a dozen colleges participated.  Their representatives talked to the students  about their college options in light of  the students’ interests and future career plans.

History of TIA Career Days

Mr. Montemayor and Mr. Von Croft started the TIA Career Days six years ago with 20 students in Mr. Montemayor’s class. Each student who was interested would be paired up with a local business person to shadow on the job for 2-3 hours. The next year Mr. Montmayer offered the shadowing option to two of his classes. It was so successful that they decided to offer the program district-wide. The overwhelming number of students interested in the program made it impossible to provide shadowing opportunities for them all, so four years ago the Career & College Fair was born. Now local businesses, organizations, and colleges come to the students in one place.

Local Businesses That Participated

Some of the local businesses and organizations that participated this year were; Costco, Target, Tucson Airport Authority, F.B.I., Sandoval Creative, R.O.T.C., Tucson Sheriff & Police Departments, and Arizona Public Media.

Schools That Participated

Among the schools that participated this year were University of Arizona, Tucson College of Beauty, ITT Technical Institute, Grand Canyon University, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, Tucson College, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, The Drawing Studio, Inc., and The Art Institute. For more pictures, click here to go TIA’s Facebook page. Enroll Your Child Now    Article written by Kim Murphey~TheJ3Effect
Martha McSally & Dr J Career & College DaysTIA Career & College Day 2014TIA Career & College Days

TIA Shines at Language Fair

Our Pint-Sized Ambassadors Perform at the Language Fair 2013

Good things really do come in small packages! For all those in our TIA family who attended the 2013 Southern Arizona Language Fair a few weeks ago, that truth came alive as they watched six of our precious Midvale girls dancing and singing in the performance category of the competition. Our six young ladies, dressed in their beautifully hand-sewn Chinese costumes, sparkled like little gemstones as they danced across the stage. Even though TIA was one of the smallest of the 25-30 schools participating in the event, we were strongly represented by our pint-sized ambassadors and won second place out of over two hundred other participants!

Language Fair is an Annual Event

This Language Fair is an annual event held at the Confucious Institute of the University of Arizona (CIUA)Participants representing schools from all over southern Arizona can compete in any of four categories: Poetry, Drama, Instrumental and Performance. One school alone brought 200 students! Yet our six little girls shone as they sang a classical Mandarin Chinese song while performing a dance choreographed by their TIA Chinese instructor, Mrs. Sun. Their beautiful gem-tone costumes were hand-sewn by the grandmother of one of the girls.

TIA Families Show Support

Many TIA Midvale families attended the five-and-a-half hour program, even some who did not have a child participating. As is common in our TIA family, they came to show their support and school spirit. Also in attendance were Mrs. Sun, and Midvale Principal, Mrs. Valerie Enriquez. Mrs. Enriquez was the only principal of all of the 25-30 participating schools to be present at the language fair with her students. The girls got to meet State Superintendent John Huppenthal as he presented them with their beautiful trophy.

Congratulations to our award winning TIA ambassadors from Midvale

to the 2013 Southern Arizona Language Fair! Alana F. 2nd Grade Anna F. 3rd Grade Michelle F. 3 Grade Emmasofia V. 3 Grade Eliana N. 4th Grade Scarlett F. 5th Grade

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TIA Shines at Language FairTIA Shines at Language Fair

Last Weeks Graduation Ceremonies 2012

Last week’s graduation ceremonies were emotional events for many Tucson International Academy (TIA) students and families celebrating various milestones. For Kindergarten graduates, 5th graders moving up to middle school, 8th graders being promoted to high school, and seniors finishing their time at TIA, it was a moment to reflect on past achievements and contemplate future opportunities.

Seven Seniors Graduated!

Seven seniors graduated and gave speeches at their respective campuses. Two of them—Alejandro del Hierro and Christian Robles—received the Pima Merit Scholarship, a full two-year scholarship to Pima Community College awarded to the top eight percent of seniors in Pima County. At the East Campus, where no seniors graduated, 8th graders gave speeches, sharing what they liked about their school, teachers, and friends. Other featured speakers at the ceremonies included TIA Superintendent Dr. Herrera, affectionately known as “Dr. J”. She congratulated parents for helping their children succeed, and reiterated the school's commitment to guide each of them toward college. Terri Martinez of the University of Arizona spoke at the Broadway and West Campuses, adding her voice to Dr. J’s in encouraging all students—not just the seniors—to make college their goal after graduation. This year’s seniors are already tracking with that goal, all of them being accepted at Pima Community College and having applications in at the University of Arizona.

Awards Given

Graduation was also an occasion to confer several awards: Perfect Attendance, Chinese Student of the Year, Spanish Student of the Year, and Global Citizen. Criteria for the Chinese and Spanish Student of the Year includes grades and participation in class projects and school events such as the Language Fair, Cinco de Mayo, and Chinese New Year. The Global Citizen award is the highest honor bestowed by TIA, encompassing all the school’s philosophies and objectives. Teachers nominate students on the basis of their grades, participation in the classroom, social interaction with their peers, and travel they have done.

Family and Alumni Support All

Turnout was great at each event, according to Administrative Assistant Arlene Canez, who attended all four graduations. For her, the highlight was seeing how much support the kids had: “For each grade that was featured, the families came out in droves.” In addition to family, each campus also had a good showing of alumni who came back to encourage their graduating friends. And now the students can enjoy a well-deserved summer respite from the textbooks. But not for long, because there’s an exciting new chapter of learning ahead for everyone.
graduation ceremonies 2012

University of Arizona Campus Tour

For many kids, thinking about college can seem a little like planning a trip to the moon: it’s far off, mysterious, and a little intimidating. Fortunately, educators at Tucson International Academy (TIA) have found a way to bring the idea down to earth. The annual University of Arizona Campus Tour.

First Glimpse of College Life

Each spring, TIA offers two tours of the University of Arizona campus, one for middle school students and one for high school students. In each tour, approximately 100 students from the four TIA campuses travel by school bus to get their first glimpse of college life. The tour is led by University of Arizona honor students. The guide leads them to campus hotspots such as the dorms, library, sports complex, and student union, pointing out tidbits of university history along the way. For Middle School Students For the middle school kids, the goal of the tour is to eliminate the fear of the unknown. “Familiarity with the campus goes a long way to break down the intimidation factor,” says Renee Arakaki, Chief Operations Officer for TIA. For High School Students For high schoolers, the tour aims to give students a feel for normal campus life, from where they might get a haircut to where they can find an ATM. Being guided by an actual college student, and seeing other students come and go helps convey a sense of excitement about living on campus. “They see that college is not a drag, but something to look forward to,” says Arakaki. At the end of the tour, students watch a short film which gives an overview of how and when to apply for scholarships and financial aid - another helpful element, according to Arakaki: “Teachers can tell them about the application deadlines over and over, but when they hear it from the college, it’s motivating.” The Tour is a Great Tool  Regardless of whether students choose to attend University of Arizona or another school, the tour is a great tool to help kids visualize themselves as college students, and to make them feel that college is not a distant planet, but just their next step.
University of Arizona tour

Credit-Wise Cats on Board

Today’s economy may be rough waters, but one offering at Tucson International Academy (TIA) is equipping students with the knowledge and skills they need to chart a steady course.

What is Credit-Wise Cats All About?

Credit-Wise Cats is a program of the University of Arizona which aims to improve the financial literacy of Arizona youth. Each month, students from the University of Arizona who have been trained in personal finance and presentation skills teach workshops at each TIA campus. The seven workshops integrate valuable financial principles and practical life skills. Workshop titles include Spending Plans, Savings, Credit Reports, Credit Cards, Invest in Yourself, Identity Theft, and Paychecks. One of the of the most popular workshops, according to TIA Educator Jonathan Basurto, is "Invest in Yourself," which compares the long-term differences between earning a wage now versus completing school and earning a higher wage later on.

Free Program Open to All

The workshops take place once a month during the last hour of the school day. They are open to all grades, and are an Economics course requirement for Juniors and Seniors. The program is free, but parents must attend at least one workshop. Typically however, parents attend more than one, surprised by the personal benefit they receive. This year, TIA is excited to participate in the Arizona Financial Faceoff for the first time. A competition for the whole family, the event includes fun activities such as “Financial Football” and “Budget Ball” where teams build a financial portfolio. And the thematically appropriate prize for the winning team? You guessed it - money.

Program Impact Beyond Academic

It's easy to see that the program's impact is beyond academic. "Every single day I hear students talking who are excited about what they're learning. They tell me stories about how they talked to their cousin about saving for college, or shared with their parents something they learned about budgeting," says Basurto. “It comes up everywhere - whether it’s a word problem in math or a discussion in economics, the ideas stay fresh in their minds.” There’s a new wave of Credit-Wise Cats at TIA. Wherever the financial winds blow, they’re on board.  

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Credit-Wise Cats on Board