Category Archives: Learning

La Sierra University 8th In Nation For Value Added Education

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Darla Martin Tucker and published in La Sierra University News/Events on July 20, 2015.)

Dr. Rob Thomas, chair of La Sierra's Health & Exercise Science department converses with a student. (Photos by Natan Vigna)
Dr. Rob Thomas, chair of La Sierra’s Health & Exercise Science department converses with a student. (Photos by Natan Vigna)

The university ranked eighth in the nation on a list of 50 universities and colleges lauded by the magazine for adding the most value to students’ education. “What’s impressive is when a college can help students do far better than you’d expect based on their academic and economic backgrounds and the mix of majors at their schools. These 50 schools do just that,” the magazine said.

In their specific analysis of La Sierra’s placement, the magazine noted the university’s six-year graduation rate of 59%, “which is 18 percentage points higher than comparable schools,” its 50 majors including the relatively recent additions of archaeology, criminal justice, environmental science, film production, neuroscience, and physics, and the high achievements of the university’s Enactus team which has won six national titles and two world cups. “Community service also plays a big role on campus, and students can take international mission trips,” the magazine commented.

La Sierra University students conduct lab research.
La Sierra University students conduct lab research.

La Sierra is the only Seventh-day Adventist institution on the top 50 list, and one of three recognized in the Inland Empire region. The University of California, Riverside placed 11th on the ranking and the University of La Verne placed 46th.

In addition, La Sierra ranked 216th on Money’s Best Colleges list of 736 higher education institutions around the country rated on the best value for tuition dollars. La Sierra was one of two Seventh-day Adventist universities to make the cut – Andrews University placed 367th on the ranking. Local faith-based institutions ranked by Money include the University of Redlands at 361, Azusa Pacific University which ranked 458th, Point Loma Nazarene University which came in at 516, Chapman University which placed 608th,  Biola University which came in at 620, and California Baptist University which placed 656th.

“I am grateful for the manner in which the university family continues to encourage our development as a learning community. It is indeed a wonderful thing to see that our university is being  recognized for our commitment to our core mission,” said La Sierra University President Randal Wisbey.

The Money Magazine Best Colleges list can be accessed at this link:

The Money Magazine list of 50 colleges that add the most value can be accessed at this link: 

La Sierra strives to nurture and develop its students through programs that include the Center for Student Academic Success which helps first-year and continuing students identify goals, strengthen study habits, plan careers, and manage money, and through the Career Services Center in the Zapara School of Business which offers individual career counseling, assessment and preparation including mock interviews and salary negotiation strategies. Additional programs also propel students toward graduation and success such as the business school’s Meet the Firms event which links seniors with regional businesses, and Student Life’s annual Ignite program for freshmen in which new students are organized into family groups led by upper-level students.

The list of college rankings is the second edition for Money Magazine, which joins a rankings pool dominated by U.S. News & World Report. According to a July 13 column in the Washington Post, Money strives to provide the most relevant information desired by prospective students and their parents, such as graduation rate, net tuition price, and level of career preparedness offered. “Money tries to crack the code on answering the ROI question,” wrote contributor Jeff Selingo, “and of all the rankings out there, comes the closest.”

This ranking helps La Sierra and Riverside become ‘location of choice for students seeking a great education at an affordable price.

Forty-One Students Awarded A Total Of $41,000 In Scholarships

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Anne Marie Walker and published in the Press Enterprise on July 22, 2015.)

Photo Credit:  Altura Credit Union
Photo Credit: Altura Credit Union

Forty-one high school students were recently awarded $41,000 in scholarships from Altura Credit Union. The Altura Scholarship Foundation gives out the $1,000 scholarships.

Twenty-three students received general scholarships. Five scholarships were given to students in the AVID program and three memorial scholarships were awarded. In addition, 10 scholarships were given to students who are going to UCR.

The winners of the 2015 AVID Scholarships are Caylynn Godoy from Ramona High School, James Goldsmith from West Valley High School, Jennifer Munoz from Cathedral City High School, Kevin Torres-Dominguez from Ramona High School and Nancy Valencia from Vista Del Lago High School.

The 2015 Memorial scholarship recipients include Chynna Porrata of Canyon Springs High School for the Kimberly Jean Flores Memorial Scholarship; Tatiana Su of J.W. North High School for the Terry Ferrone Memorial Scholarship and Stephanie Martinez of Arlington High School for the Bonnie Gail Polis Memorial Scholarship.

Altura Scholarship Foundation is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

CBU’s Department Of Aviation Science Signs Agreement With Ameriflight

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in CBU News & Events on July 14, 2015.)

Photo Credit: CBU News & Events
Photo Credit: CBU News & Events

California Baptist University recently signed an agreement with Ameriflight LLC, that will provide additional career opportunities for aviation flight graduates.

Students who meet a list of requirements will be guaranteed an interview with Ameriflight, a regional cargo carrier based in Dallas, Texas. The requirements include completing CBU curriculum and flight training, maintaining a 3.0 cumulative GPA and attaining a position as a certified flight instructor.

Ameriflight-final-map.jpg“This agreement is another vote of industry confidence for our department of aviation science,” said Dr. Daniel Prather, chair of the department of aviation science. “Ameriflight is a well-paying regional airline with a great need for pilots.”

CBU Aviation Science program already has a similar partnership agreements with SkyWest Airlines and Express Jet Airlines.

A recent article by AINonline indicates that Ameriflight raised its pay rates by 20 percent last November, and another increase took effect recently. A senior Embraer EMB-120 captain now makes $89,000 per year and a Piper Chieftain pilot $43,000 (up from $28,000).

The company’s website describes Ameriflight as a fleet cargo service, with more than 2,000 weekly departures and 90,000 flight hours annually. The agreement also includes an opportunity for CBU graduates to land a guaranteed interview with Allegiant Airlines after three years as an Ameriflight captain.

The CBU Department of Aviation Science opened in fall 2013 with 25 students and has grown to almost 60 students currently enrolled. The program has 11 flight training aircraft and an operations center with a flight simulator. This program also operates the CBU Flight School, which provides flight training for anyone who has an interest in learning how to fly at university-level standards.

CBU’s efforts and commitment to education certainly illustrate the Seizing Our Destiny pillar of intelligent growth.  For students, one of the greatest challenges they meet is finding a career path after graduation.  Providing students with the opportunity of future employment while they are completing their training at Cal Baptist holds great value to aviation science students.   This is just one example of how Cal Baptist University promotes intelligent growth by collaborating to build a stronger community for future Riversiders.

UCR Professor Named One Of The Coolest Women In Science

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Mojgan Sherkat and published in UCR Today on July 20, 2015.)

Sonja Lyubomirsky“A large portion of our happiness is in our power to change by the way we think and act in our daily lives,” professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky said.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – She’s making the world a happier place. Well, she’s trying her hardest to. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside has devoted her research career to studying human happiness. And it’s earned her a spot in Business Insider’s list of “The 15 Most Amazing Women in Science Today.”

“I’m so honored and completely humbled to be in the company of such amazing women.  I couldn’t have accomplished this research without the fantastic contributions of my graduate students and collaborators,” said Lyubomirsky upon hearing about the recognition.

Exemplifying Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, the educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas.

The list of 15 women was pulled from Business Insider’s list of top 50 scientists, both male and female. “In the science and technology industries, women are often massively underrepresented. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t making some of the most important and inspiring contributions out there. We’ve highlighted 15 female scientists who are doing amazing things, pulled from our recent list of groundbreaking scientists who are changing the way we see the world,” the article stated.

Lyubomirsky’s research addresses three critical questions:

  1. What makes people happy?
  2. Is happiness a good thing?
  3. How and why can people learn to lead happier and more flourishing lives?

In her book “The How of Happiness,” Lyubomirsky explained that people are in control of much of their own happiness. The other determinants of happiness are a mixture of genetics and their environment. To explore how individuals can be happier, Lyubomirsky has studied the well-being benefits of such positive activities as expressing gratitude, doing acts of kindness, and savoring the present moment. An intervention to increase happiness by “living this month like it’s your last month” was featured on the TODAY show earlier this month.

Read more:

Turning Dry Milk And Rice Husks Into Homes

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sean Nealon and published in The Press Enterprise on July 10, 2015.) 

UC Riverside engineering students won awards at an international competition for creating a less costly, more environmentally friendly and termite resistant alternative to particleboard. The Husk-to-Home team, from left, includes Chris Yang, Lamees Alkhamis, Colin Eckerle, Jeniene Abugherir and Joel Sanchez. Photo Credit: UC Riverside
UC Riverside engineering students won awards at an international competition for creating a less costly, more environmentally friendly and termite resistant alternative to particleboard. The Husk-to-Home team, from left, includes Chris Yang, Lamees Alkhamis, Colin Eckerle, Jeniene Abugherir and Joel Sanchez. Photo Credit: UC Riverside

A team of students from the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering recently won two awards at an international design competition for a material composed of rice husks that they created as a less costly and more environmentally friendly alternative to particleboard.

In the students’ design, the rice husks, which contain termite-resistant silica, replace wood chips found in traditional particleboard. The students then use environmentally friendly binding materials instead of traditionally used glues that contain formaldehyde, known to emit harmful gases into the air.

Initial cost estimates compiled by the students show four-by-eight-foot rice husk boards would cost about $18. Currently, four-by-eight-foot particleboard sheets sell for about $25 in the United States. While the main focus of the project is to create a building material for relief structures in the Philippines, the students believe there could be a market in the United States to use the boards for furniture.

“What we are creating is a really a win-win situation,” said Joel Sanchez, a senior chemical engineering major and a member of the team. “It will last longer, be environmentally friendly and cost less.”

In addition to Sanchez, the team consists of Lamees Alkhamis, Colin Eckerle, Jeniene Abugherir and Chris Yang. All except Eckerle expect to graduate in June. They are advised by Kawai Tam, a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering; Michael Rust, a distinguished professor at the Department of Entomology; and David Kisailus, an associate professor at the Department of Chemical and Enviornmental Engineering.

The team, called Husk-to-Home, won two awards, including the Intel Environmental Innovation Award, the top award, and $5,000 at the WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development competition in Las Cruces, N.M.

The idea for the project came from one of Tam’s former students, whose father-in-law’s brother runs a nonprofit, the International Deaf Education Association, in the Philippines that builds temporary housing after natural disasters.

One problem the nonprofit has is that its building materials, such as coconut wood, bamboo and plywood, are susceptible to termite damage.

Since the Philippines is one of the world’s largest producers of rice and previous research has shown that rice husks and rice straw are termite resistant the idea was to develop a particleboard-like material with the waste products of rice.

Photo Credit: UC Riverside
Photo Credit: UC Riverside

Initially, this was a makeshift project, in large part because the students didn’t have much money to put into it.

That wasn’t a problem with regard to the rice husks, which they purchased at a feed store. A 45-pound bag sells for $12. The rice husks are typically used as bedding for farm animals.

But the students needed $10,000 for a hot press that would allow them to assemble the risk husk boards in a uniform manner. They improvised, using a combination of nine-by-thirteen baking pans, spring form baking pans, ovens and blow torches.

They also built a makeshift humidity chamber to simulate conditions in the Philippines. The team built the chamber using a plastic container the size of a large shoebox, small fan, heating lamp, humidifier and humidity and temperature sensors. They drilled holes for air and the sensors.

The other challenge the students faced was acquiring termites. They said they were more expensive than expected – $1 to $1.50 per termite – if ordered through the mail and there was no guarantee they would arrive alive.

So the students worked with Rust to collect termites. But, they faced an additional problem: termites are dormant from roughly November to March.

Initially, the students used epoxy, a not-so-environmentally-friendly material, as the binding agent. Now, they are focused on using tannin, a compound naturally found in plants, and casein, a protein found in milk. For the casein experiments they use nonfat instant dry milk they buy at a grocery store.

By March, the students had raised $10,000 to buy the hot press. Once the press arrived, they immediately began experimenting with risk husk boards made with tannin and casein.

Initial results show that tannin boards are strong enough but not water resistant, while casein boards are water resistant but not strong enough.

The students are experimenting with adding coatings or other materials to the mixture. Options include adding shrimp shells, which are abundant in the Philippines. They also plan to add a water resistive coating to eliminate problems with the particleboard falling apart in the humid environment. In addition, they want to incorporate rice straw, which could increase strength and flexibility.

Creating a new way to make particle board is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial idea, research, products, and scholars. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

UCR Admits Many First Generation Students

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Bo Kovitz and published in The Press Enterprise on July 2, 2015.)

University of California, Riverside
University of California, Riverside

According to preliminary UC admissions data released Thursday, July 2, 49 percent of new admissions to UCR were first-generation students, compared to 42 percent systemwide.

UCR admitted 19,237 California residents, which had one of the highest rates of resident admissions systemwide, second only to UC Merced.

UCR spokeswoman Kris Lovekin praised the incoming class.

“We know they will be talented and diverse,” she said in a statement. “We serve large numbers of first generation, low-income students — we are at the forefront of America’s race to regain its educational edge and increase economic opportunity and mobility.”

The UC system admitted 92,324 freshmen and 20,921 community college transfer students. UCR admitted 21,582 freshmen, and 5,500 community college transfer students.

UCR admitted 63 percent of community college transfer students who applied, the highest percentage of the nine UC campuses.

About 45 percent of UCR’s new admissions are Asian-American and 32 percent are Latino. UCR admitted 516 more Asian-American freshmen, 377 more Latino freshmen, 75 more African-Americans and 60 more white students than in 2014.

About 42 percent of freshman applicants admitted to UC Riverside were from low-income families, compared to 36 percent across the UC system. UCR’s rate was the second highest, behind UC Merced.

UCR has always been a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. They strive everyday to offer opportunities for people of all cultures, backgrounds, and interests to receive a great education at a great price.

Riverside Box Art Project Uses Historical Art To Enhance A Sense Of Place

(This article contains information accessed from the webpage on July 9, 2015.)

Potential art sample from the Wallace J Miller Collection and Citrus Label Collection contained in the Riverside Public Library Local History Collection

Art and history come together as several utility boxes in the downtown area are “wrapped” with art reproductions from the early 1900s reflecting our singular history. Themes include our citrus heritage, social justice exemplified in the preserving of the Harada House, military history remembered by Camp Anza, the Gage Canal, and Riverside’s thriving business and educational interests. All art work is derived from the Library’s archives. Sponsored by a local business, each box displays a digital code referring the viewer back to our website detailing the background of the historical images represented on each box. Each box displays a small map showing the location of the other box’s in the area. An online map enables virtual and actual walking tours. The exhibit is planned to be unveiled in November 2015—just in time for the Festival of Lights. An inventive addition to this project is the creation of a “how-to manual” for others who may be interested in creating similar thematic box art in Riverside. This project will serve as a 3-year pilot to pave the way for beautiful public art throughout Riverside, enhancing a lasting and attractive sense of place.

Become a sponsor today! Learn How.

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Here are some box art samples from other cities:


UCR Medical School Achieves Second Step In Accreditation Process

(This article contains excerpts from the article written Kathy Barton and published in UCR Today on June 26, 2015.)

UCR’s School of Medicine Education Building. Photo Credit: Ross French, UCR Today

The School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside has been granted provisional accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting body for educational programs leading to the M.D. degree in the U.S. and Canada.

Provisional accreditation is the second of three steps that all new M.D.-granting medical schools must complete, culminating in full accreditation. The UCR medical school was granted preliminary accreditation by the LCME in October 2012, which permitted it to recruit and enroll its first class of 50 students in August 2013. This coming August, the UCR medical school will enroll its third class of medical students.

“This is tremendous news, not only for the School of Medicine and UCR, but for the entire Inland Southern California community which is served by this medical school,” said UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox. “It is a credit to hard work of both the leadership of the School and the community that we have reached this milestone.”

“Achieving provisional accreditation is a major objective for the UCR School of Medicine,” said G. Richard Olds, UCR vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the medical school. “Meeting the rigorous educational and infrastructure standards of the LCME demonstrates that this medical school has built a strong foundation for expanding and diversifying the physician workforce in Inland Southern California and improving the health of people living here.”

A survey team appointed by the LCME conducted a site visit of the UCR medical school in February, and the school was notified of the LCME decision this month.

The UCR School of Medicine, one of more than 15 new medical schools established in the U.S. over the last decade, is the sixth medical school in the University of California system. Establishment of the UCR School of Medicine was approved by the University of California Board of Regents in July 2008 and Olds, the founding dean, was appointed in February 2010.

The foundation of the UCR School of Medicine is the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences, which for more than 30 years has partnered with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to train physicians. The UCR medical school maintains the tradition of the former two-year program at UCR, with about half of the seats each year designated for UCR undergraduate degree holders through the Thomas Haider Program at the UCR School of Medicine.

“Achieving this second important step in the accreditation process is a testament to the dedication of the faculty and staff of the medical school in creating an optimal learning environment for our medical students,” said Paul Lyons, the school’s senior associate dean for education. LCME evaluation of the medical school for full accreditation status will be expected in 2017, the same year the UCR medical school will graduate its first class of medical students.

The medical school also offers a Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences, a long-standing graduate degree program at UCR.  The school additionally operates five residency training programs in the medical specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, general surgery and psychiatry, and partners with Loma Linda University in a primary care pediatrics residency training program.

Accreditation is one of the top priorities when students are choosing a school to attend. UCR School of Medicine provisional accreditation makes not only the school of location of choice for students, but the entire city.

Riverside Unified School District Partners With Local Women’s Prison To Give Hope To At-Risk Students

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in RUSD News feed on 7/2/2015.)

Photo Credit: RUSD
Photo Credit: RUSD

At-risk Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) students who successfully committed to improving their grades and attendance received bicycles at a special event on Wednesday, July 1 at the Central Registration Center, 5700 Arlington Avenue. The bicycles were refurbished by inmates and donated to RUSD by the California Institution for Women, working with the non-profit Correctional Employees Youth Group, Continuing the Dream.

RUSD Superintendent Dr. David Hansen, California Institution for Women Warden Kimberly Hughes, retired corrections officer Roy Mabry, chief executive officer for Continuing the Dream, Sue Lynn Jones from the Riverside Police Department and RUSD staff joined students and their parents at the bike giveaway. Four bicycles were awarded to members of the Ramirez family, who worked hard to get to school each morning and to improve their grades. The Riverside Police Department provided helmets and locks. The district has six more to give to other successful students throughout the year.

“In the face of varying circumstances, our students work extremely hard to stay on track. It’s great to know that we have community partners who care so much about the student families of Riverside that they would reward our students with a donation like this,” stated Dr. Hansen.

“The women [inmates] love giving back,” added Warden Hughes. “It’s a win-win situation. It allows the children to look forward to something and to have something tangible for their accomplishments of going to school and furthering their education.  We are always looking for innovative ways to give back to the community. “

The idea for the bicycle giveaway grew from School Attendance Review Board (SARB) hearings that Mabry and other corrections officers regularly attend. These hearings are held for chronically truant students – those who have more than 20 unexcused absences. Mabry’s 30 years of experience as a correctional officer told him that these students’ stories would not have happy endings. In fact, he noted, research shows that as much 82 percent of students who don’t graduate end up in prison. He’s hoping that something as simple as a bicycle can help to change this dismal statistic.

Working with the Continuing the Dream organization, Mabry and other volunteers are partnering with the California Institute for Women and other correctional facilities to provide an incentive for students to work hard to improve their grades and attendance.  In addition to helping students, the project also provides an opportunity for inmates to give back to their community. The program is now in Rialto, San Bernardino, Pomona, Chino, in addition to Riverside.

“Bicycles seem to really work for kids,” Mabry said. “It’s good to see them focus…they have a different reason to focus.”

“It’s independence,” added Child, Welfare and Attendance Manager Woodie Rucker-Hughes, who said that in many cases, students have no means to get to school and sometimes their families also do not have transportation.

Rucker-Hughes said she the bicycle program can make a huge difference in a child’s outlook for success. It’s empowering to let students know that if they come to school and work hard, they will have a reward. Students start to think, “I’m going to change my life,” she said.

Although the program is just the beginning of a solution to a larger problem, Mabry said, it’s a good start.

“I see the results,” he said. “I say, we all need to be part of it.”

Organizations such as Continuing the Dream are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

For more information about the Continuing the Dream organization, visit

Riverside Unified School District is the 15th largest school district in California, serving nearly 42,000 students in 48 schools in Riverside, California. The district serves the majority of the City of Riverside as well as unincorporated areas of Highgrove and Woodcrest in Riverside County and is governed by a publicly elected Board of Education consisting of five members who serve five different trustee areas. The district is led by Superintendent Dr. David Hansen.