“TOM HANKS PUTS THE SPOTLIGHT ON CHABOT COLLEGE IN HAYWARD” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (January 21-27, 2015; page A7) (Photo credits: chabotcollege.edu; imdb.com)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona

For the week of Jan. 21-27, 2015


“I Owe It All to Community College: Tom Hanks on his two years at Chabot College.”

That was the title (and subtitle) of award-winning actor Tom Hanks’ op-ed piece for The New York Times which came out sometime last week. I read it through the Facebook post of the Hayward Promise Neighborhood (HPN) the day before the start of our two-day Winter Retreat at Chabot College. Yes, my college is the very same college that Tom Hanks was mentioning with a mix of nostalgia and a “get-real” point of view in his article. Welcome to Chabot College, located along Hesperian Boulevard in Hayward, Alameda County, California. (I mentioned our county since there is also a city of Hayward in Mariposa County, CA.)

So many changes have marked Chabot College since Tom Hanks studied there in the mid-1970s. There are many new buildings now and various construction activities are still going on. Parking is no longer free for those with cars but I ride the bus myself. Despite the changes, our professors are still topnotch in their respective fields. Our school catalog is still extensive, offering many artistic and scientific options to the searching student. The demographics of the student body in Hanks’ time still echoes in Chabot’s halls today, and he writes, “Classmates included veterans back from Vietnam, women of every marital and maternal status returning to school, middle-aged men wanting to improve their employment prospects and paychecks. We could get our general education requirements out of the way at Chabot – credits we could transfer to a university – which made those two years an invaluable head start.” These days, there are more and more straight-from-high-school students enrolling at Chabot because of the lower cost per academic unit and it gives them the leeway to explore their options before going on to a four-year university. There are still older adults, veterans, displaced workers, single parents, and an interesting mosaic of people in the halls of our college.

As a middle-aged adult myself who’s had a rather erratic educational history, going to Chabot College was a godsend. It was the relatively carefree college experience I never had when I was still in medical school in the Philippines 20 years ago. Don’t get me wrong – Medicine was my own choice and I remember being exhilarated at living out my dream to study it, but after a while the tremendous physical and emotional stress got to me. I was just barely passing my subjects, too. This time around, I got to pick the classes I want to take, excel in most of them, and now graduate with not just one but three certificates of proficiency. No, I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone anymore. I just want to wrap up my four years at Chabot College – yes, it took four years for me to get ready – and move on to the next chapter in my life which is looking for a job and holding on to it.

In terms of their passion for teaching, I would like to mention a couple of professors who have been so inspirational to me (and I didn’t even get A’s in their respective subjects): Prof. Ming-Lun Ho, my Fall 2013 teacher in Math 43 (Intro to Probability & Statistics) because his love of Math is palpable and his desire to help his students is sincere and far-reaching; and Prof. Dmitriy Kalyagin, my Fall 2014 teacher in Business 7 (Accounting for Small Business) for being so conscientious with his class reminders, being knowledgeable as an accountant who has real-world experience under his belt, and being so approachable. They and my other superbly expert and compassionate teachers made my stay at Chabot College thought-provoking yet enjoyable, challenging yet a thrill of a ride.

Now let me share with you some portions of an article about “The 10 Most Common Excuses for Not Going to College – and Why They’re All Wrong,” written by the College Prep Class Teachers at Tennyson High School, Hayward, CA.

According to this article, you don’t have to have a lot of money, straight A’s in school, or already know what your college major is going to be. “You do have to really want to go to college – and be ready to work hard once you get there,” the article states. Here are the 10 most common excuses for not wanting to go to college – and why they’re all wrong:

Excuse #1: Nobody in my family has ever gone to college before.
Why not be the first? It may be daunting or scary but you’ll be breaking a family “tradition” and establishing a new one by being the first to obtain a college education.
Excuse #2: My grades are not good enough for college.
You’ll never know unless you apply. Colleges don’t just look at your grades and test scores, but also your letters of recommendation, jobs, activities, talents, and interviews. In other words, colleges decide based on the whole person, not just a part.
Excuse #3: I can’t afford it.
There is a lot of financial aid available to help you pay for college – from the federal and state levels, from the colleges you apply to, as well as grants, scholarships, and work study programs. You must do the research yourself or ask for help.
Excuse #4: I don’t know how to apply to college, or where I want to go.
For this one, you must also ask for help from your school counselor, favorite teacher, or someone you know who’s gone to college. Look at college catalogs in your school or local library. With more than 3,000 colleges to choose from, there must be one that’s just right for you.
Excuse #5: I think college may be too difficult for me.
Not likely, if you’re willing to work hard. Tutoring is available from professors and fellow students, and counseling for personal problems is available on campus, too.
Excuse #6: I’m not sure that I’ll “fit in” college.
In college you’ll meet students from various ethnic backgrounds. Seek out your group, but keep in mind that college is also about meeting all kinds of people. This is your preparation for the real world after you graduate.
Excuse #7: I don’t even know what I want to major in or do with my life.
The greater majority of college freshmen don’t know these things either, but college is about giving you choices. You can take courses in different fields and see what you like and what you’re good at. Don’t think that your decision about your life and/or college major is already cast in concrete. It’s OK to change your mind.
Excuse #8: There’s no way I can go to college full time.
Then simply go part-time. There are evening and weekend programs. There are also correspondence courses in home-study programs. Explore your options in this regard.

Excuse #9: I’m too old to go to college.
Not true! You are never too old to learn. Almost half of all full-time and part-time college students in the country are adults older than 25 years of age. If they can do it, so can you.
Excuse #10: I just want to get a good job and make lots of money.
College will help you with that and more. Studies have shown that a college graduate will earn several hundred thousand dollars more during the course of his or her working life than someone who has only a high school diploma.

Now with President Obama hoping to make two years of community college free for up to nine million Americans, as Hanks’ NY Times article says, then this is a signal that the nation’s priorities are being shifted back to strategies for long-term gains. Let’s hope that what good the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did for health care, these two-years-of-community-college-for-free will do for education. Personally, I see health and education as government investments in our most precious resource: the people. Life and peace, not war and death.


Photo by Mary Gow-2015. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com

“A LISTICLE: THE 10 BEST JOBS FOR INTROVERTS” in this week’s issue of the MANILA MAIL (Dec. 17-23, 2014; page A7)

Pilipinasblitz Forever
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Dec. 17-23, 2014


First of all: what is as listicle? Apparently, a listicle is an article featuring a list of some sort, like: “6 Ways You Can Tell That’s He’s Not Into You” or “7 Things Not to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving,” and then elaborating on each numbered item in some detail. Why not join the bandwagon and come up with a listicle of our own?

Through serendipity – I was looking for something in my room and found something else instead – I found this list that I manually copied from “My Majors Transfer Guide Magazine,” Spring 2014 edition. The magazine was on a table near the Career and Transfer Center on the second floor of Bldg. 700 of Chabot College. The title of the article that caught my eye was: “10 Growing Jobs for Introverts.” To take a look at the article again, I used the search engine called http://www.goodsearch.com which donates 1 cent to the charity or cause of your choice each time you search for anything. For instance, I am supporting the University of Metaphysical Sciences-Wisdom of the Heart Church (www.umsonline.org) because I have met its founder, Dr. Christine Breese, at the 2008 New Living Expo in San Francisco, and I will never forget her kindness, empathy, and generosity toward me. I hope to study at UMS someday. It’s a distance learning facility so I can learn at my own pace.

Now let’s go back to our list. I actually have a couple of them, one dated 2013 and the other one is as I have described above. I am personally interested in these lists since, believe it or not, I am classified as an Introvert myself by no less than the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. My MBTI Interpretive Report pegs me as an ISFJ: Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging. This basically means that I tend to relate easily to the inner world of ideas and impressions; I am interested in what the five senses show me and what exists in the present; I tend to base decisions on values and people-centered concerns; and I tend to like to have things decided so my life is likely to be planned and orderly. The Myers-Briggs is a common corporate and academic tool to classify people into 16 different types depending on 8 factors: extraversion (E) or introversion (I); sensing (S) or intuition (N); thinking (T) or feeling (F); judging (J) or perceiving (P). You can use Goodsearch to look for “free Myers-Briggs tests” that you can take, and one of these can be found at http://www.humanmetrics.com.

How can we tell if someone is an introvert? Are you energized by a crowd of people, as in a party, or would you rather skip the festivities and retire to your room with a good book? Suppose that you attended the party. Can you go on and on until the wee hours on adrenaline in the exciting company of your friends or do you find that you crave alone time afterwards to breathe and regroup? Does the prospect of interacting with others face-to-face on a daily basis make you enthusiastic or anxious? You might be an introvert. Now this is not necessarily a negative thing. We all have our place in the world and true enough, there are actually lucrative careers for those of us who are not that hot about the human interaction thing.

The 10 best jobs for introverts, according to the Sept. 18, 2013 issue of http://www.businessnewsdaily.com are: 1. Translator 2. Market research analyst 3. Lab technician 4. Long-haul truck driver 5. Computer programmer 6. Accountant 7. Technical writer 8. Graphic designer 9. Medical records technician 10. Paralegal. I just want to give you a general feel of what was out there in terms of “jobs for introverts” last year.

Now let’s go to the more recent list in “My Majors Transfer Guide Magazine (Spring 2014)” because the article includes the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, http://www.bls.gov) Annual Median Salary and projected growth within that field by 2020. Another source for this list is CBSnews.com that featured the listicle authored by Suzanne Lucas for “MoneyWatch” in March of this year. A company called CareerCast was the one that chose careers for this lineup. So here they are: the “Ten Growing Jobs for Introverts.” Please note that this list is alphabetical, not according to annual median salary or job growth rank. We will do that analysis later.

1. Animal care and service worker – Some people prefer to care for and interact with animals rather than socialize with people. If so, this option is for them. BLS Annual Median Salary: $19,970 (caretakers)/$25,270 (trainers); Projected Growth by 2020: 15 percent
2. Archivist – This is an ideal job for someone who appreciates history and has a knack for organization. BLS Annual Median Salary: $47,340; Projected Growth by 2020: 11 percent
3. Astronomer – This is perfect for someone who wants to study the stars or work with satellites. BLS Annual Median Salary: $96,460; Projected Growth by 2020: 10%
4. Court reporter – Believe it or not, you also need to hone your listening skills for this one, aside from transcribing court proceedings with your stenotype machine. BLS Annual Median Salary: $48,160; Projected Growth by 2020: 10 percent
5. Film/video editor – This job allows the introvert to be “quietly creative,” as listicle author Lucas puts it, while putting together film and TV projects. BLS Annual Median Salary: $51,300; Projected Growth by 2020: 3 percent
6. Financial clerk – This job fascinates someone who wants to crunch numbers and keep financial records organized. BLS Median Salary: $46,920; Projected Growth by 2020: 17 percent
7. Geoscientist – This is an ideal job for the introvert with a yen for the outdoors. Study rocks and minerals in the field or in the lab. BLS Median Salary: $90,890; Projected Growth by 2020: 16 percent
8. Industrial machine repairer – This entails working with heavy duty machinery in a factory or a construction site. BLS Median Salary: $46,920; Projected Growth by 2020: 17 percent
9. Medical records technician – Another one for the organized introvert, this involves keeping files in an orderly fashion. BLS Annual Median Salary: $34,160; Projected Growth by 2020: 22 percent
10. Social media manager – This is actually a promising job for introverts since it allows them to interact with others without having to go face-to-face. BLS Annual Median Salary: $54,170; Projected Growth by 2020: 12 percent

Therefore, in terms of the BLS Annual Median Salary, the top 3 jobs are: astronomer ($ 96,460), geoscientist ($90,890), and social media manager ($54,170). However, at least for the first two, you’d need a specialized college degree for an entry-level position and you must really be interested in either astronomy or earth science. In terms of projected growth by year 2020, which means the percentage of demand for these jobs, the top 3 are: medical records technician (22%), industrial machine repairer (17%), and geoscientist (16%).

According to CareerCast, introverts overcome their nature just enough to land them a stable job with a routine and minimal exposure to new people. They may prefer a steady, quiet job to the prospect of career advancement. They tend not to seek promotions that require travel or meeting with new people. The thing here is that if a new job opening comes up, their fears may prevent them from taking on a new challenge that will increase their knowledge and skills and broaden their horizons. For most of the jobs on the list, it’s the intersection of new technology and stable career paths offered by these options that make young, shy professionals gravitate towards them.

Truly, there’s nothing wrong if you have identified yourself as an introvert. Welcome to the club, I say. What’s important is that you and I find a comfortable niche in the work world where advancement is not as crucial as contentment and peace of mind. “Ora et labora” – prayer and work – will still prove to be the salvation of us all in this work-oriented yet spiritual society.

Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: blessingsandlight725@gmail.com

My column in the MANILA MAIL for the week of Jan. 22-28, 2014


Stars. Lots of stars.

The Hayward Promise Neighborhood (HPN) “Chabot Promise” Program at Chabot College began in 2010 with President Barack Obama’s Federal Promise Neighborhoods initiative and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of HPN is to improve academic outcomes and increase student success for Hayward students, especially for students who live in or attend school somewhere within the Jackson Triangle. The target schools for this area are Harder Elementary, Park Elementary, Winton Middle School, Cesar Chavez Middle School, Hayward High School, and Tennyson High School. This area, bounded by Jackson Street, Harder Road, and Whitman Street in South Hayward, is considered to be the poorest and most dangerous section of Hayward, with underperforming students, families with a lot of health issues, and a high crime rate. (I live in this very Triangle – now does that give me street cred?)

Despite these difficult challenges, the residents of the Jackson Triangle are renowned for their ethnic diversity and their willingness to do everything it takes to improve conditions for their families and the entire neighborhood. Considered as a gateway community for new immigrants whose desire is to realize the American Dream, Hayward and the students and families with ties to the Jackson Triangle are the real stars of the HPN/Chabot Promise Program.

CSU East Bay is the lead agency for this initiative in collaboration with many community-based partners like government agencies, businesses, educators, and nonprofit organizations, all working to ensure that the children and residents of the HPN are supported and assisted. So the leaders for the HPN are stars in their own right, too.

At Chabot College, the executive stars are Ms. Marie C. DeLeon, the HPN Grant Project Coordinator together with her hardworking and friendly staff. The Chabot Promise Program has many wrap-around services such as: tutoring and academic support, individual advising, career and financial aid workshops, field trips to cultural event sites and university campuses, access to faculty mentors, a $100 voucher to the Chabot College Bookstore, enrollment into PSCN 20 (The College Experience, a 2-unit transferable course), and participation in the 3-day HPN Winter Retreat.

Now the 3-day HPN Winter Retreat already happened last week at Chabot College from January 15-17. I and my fellow program participants got to know each other through some group dynamics activities and attended orientations geared toward introducing us to the many academic support programs in the campus, like Puente, TAACCCT/Career and Transfer Center, Aspire/Excel, and others. On our last day, Ms. Marie guided us through the crafting of our personal “30-second elevator speech” and then we took turns speaking and giving feedback. My fellow participant Obyed, who wants to be a firefighter and criminal justice major, particularly did pretty well with his speech. This mini-workshop, I think, was a fitting ending to our retreat since one of the goals of the entire program is to help us with our academics so that we can transition into careers. Ergo, we must start feeling confident in presenting ourselves to a potential employer even if we theoretically only have 30 seconds with which to do it.

However, for me, another experience during the HPN Winter Retreat that I will never forget happened during Day 2. In the mid-afternoon, we students were asked to attend a presentation at Building 1900 which houses the Science Lecture Rooms and – wait for it – the Planetarium! Prof. Scott Hildreth, who has been teaching Physics and Astronomy at Chabot College for 25 years now, is a very cool, low-key guy but he was obviously proud of his planetarium gadgets with which he can perform magic with the music of the spheres. We were ooohing and aaahing as we looked up to behold a very all-encompassing view of the sky/the Milky Way/the panoramic view of Chabot alternately as projected onto the dome above us. What galactic magic! How fantastic! It was all so beautiful that it almost moved me to tears. The good professor asked us to look for a couple of things that night: the full moon and Jupiter. I told him that I already saw Jupiter the night before, and he agreed when I said that it was a wonderful sight. When he projected a certain constellation onto the dome, I correctly identified it as Orion with his three-star belt. When we were filing out of the planetarium, my fellow student-participant Wobo asked me if I have already taken Astronomy before. I said no, but then I told him that I was an astrologer so part of my learning is to study the heavens, too.

So we have stars above via the Chabot College Planetarium, and we have stars here below in the form of all the people involved as administrators and participants of the Hayward Promise Neighborhood/Chabot Promise Program.

The prime Hermetic Principle is: As above, so below. One is a reflection of the other. If it’s turbulent above, you can bet that there’s also unrest going on below. As a corollary, if all is well in the heavens, then we on earth are in a good place, too. This is a fluid, not static, truth. Everything is in a state of flux, but there is a certain point at which all the forces are in blessed balance.

I’m on a roll now, so I’d just casually quote something from one of my favorite British bands, Coldplay, “Look at the stars/See how they shine for you/and everything that you do.” (This is from their song, “Yellow,” in their 2000 debut album, “Parachutes.”)

Then may the stars continue to shine above for those of us here below. Any which way I look at it, the outlook is spectacularly stellar!

Contact Bles Carmona at pilipinasblitz@gmail.com, via Facebook at http://facebook.com/pilipinasblitzforever.org, or follow her on Twitter.com@BlesildaCarmonaHayward-20140122-00231 Hayward-20140122-00228