HLC Self Study
Chapter 6 Graphic

Co-Curricular Programs

Estrella Mountain Community College provides many opportunities for students to participate in co-curricular programs and activities that enhance and support their academic experience.

Student Life and Leadership

The Office of Student Life and Leadership supports the academic mission of the College through the offering of experiential programs that support classroom learning. Many clubs are directly connected to occupational and academic programs such as Drama, Social Awareness, STEM, Future Teachers of America, Pre-Pharmacy, Savings and Investment, and Psi Beta/Psychology. Club activities allow students the opportunity to expand their learning through attending conferences, hosting guest speakers and attending field trips.  Leadership in Student Government or any college club allows students a constructive place to practice important leadership skills, such as running effective meetings, communication, fundraising, community service, and conflict resolution. These important engagement activities build confidence and help to create the necessary relationships with staff, faculty and other students that lead to the completion of programs of study.

Additional opportunities that strengthen student academic, professional and social development are offered through more structured, in-depth student life learning activities. Annually, students are selected to participate in programs such as Leader Shape, Student Public Policy Forum and Student Leadership Retreats.  The following is a brief description of each of these valuable programs:

  • Leader Shape:  This is a week-long national leadership program that helps students become leaders with integrity. Currently, nine colleges within the Maricopa County Community College District participate in the program in the summer. Estrella Mountain sends students who will be returning to the College in the fall, allowing them to apply their newly acquired skills to various college initiatives.
  • Student Public Policy Forum:  Students apply to participate in this semester-long District program. The Student Public Policy Forum is a co-curricular activity that provides an overview of local, state and national public policy making, citizen influence and involvement. A focus is placed on experiential learning, leadership development and student engagement in public policy processes.
  • Maricopa County Community College District Student Leadership Retreat: Student Life offices across the District sponsor and facilitate this three-day retreat. The retreat is held at the Pine Summit Camp in Prescott, Arizona. The retreat provides Maricopa County Community College District students with a comprehensive concentration on leadership skills, emphasizing social and professional development. Students also have the opportunity to meet and build relationships with student leaders from colleges throughout the District.
  • One-Day Retreat: This one-day leadership retreat hosted by Estrella Mountain welcomes students from across the District to participate in a retreat that focuses on professional etiquette, résumé writing and interview skills.

Honors Program

The Honors Program at the Maricopa County Community College District provides intellectually stimulating learning opportunities for academically outstanding students. The features of the program include specific programs at each college, Honors courses, Speaker Forums addressing an annual theme, honors scholarships, and connections with Phi Theta Kappa.

Estrella Mountain’s Honors Program has been in operation since 1992. The Honors Program provides opportunities for students to enhance their educational experience, challenge themselves academically and distinguish themselves beyond simply a good grade point average. The Estrella Mountain program offers Honors courses, an Honor’s Research Expo, an annual speaker forum addressing a different theme each year, scholarship opportunities, and connections to Phi Theta Kappa and Service Learning.

Figure 50 shows number of Honors Program students, including Presidents’ Scholars and Collegiate Scholars, since 2003.

Figure 50

Fall 2010 represents a 21 percent increase over fall 2009 because of a surge in the number of Collegiate Scholars. Although the vast majority of students are female at 69 percent, the Honors Program consistently maintains an ethnically diverse population of students. During fall 2010, the representation was as follows:

Figure 51

Honors students may be eligible to receive either Presidents’ or Collegiate Scholarships.  The following outlines the criteria for each:

  • Presidents’ Scholarships are available for new students who have recently graduated from an accredited Maricopa County high school. Students must rank in the top 15 percent of their graduating class or place into ENG101 – Honors, into MAT120/121/122 – Intermediate Algebra or higher and be exempt from CRE101 – Critical Reading on the District approved placement test.
  • Collegiate Scholarships (also known as Fee Waivers) are available for continuing and transfer students who have accumulated a minimum of 12 credits in courses numbered 100-level or above and who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or better.

To retain Collegiate Scholarship eligibility, students must complete at least one Honors course each semester and maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher.  Various other scholarship opportunities also exist.

Honors Program enrollment has more than doubled since 2009, yet budget constraints continue to limit program support through part-time staffing and lack of available meeting spaces large enough to accommodate growth. Growth has enabled the program to offer an increasing array of Honors-only cohort classes in various disciplines. When there are not enough students to fill a cohort, spaces within regular classes are reserved for Honors students, allowing them to earn Honors credit by doing extra work determined by the faculty member. Students may also request an Honors project in any other class at the discretion of the instructor. An Honors Advisory Board consisting of faculty members from all of the instructional divisions advises the Honors Program Coordinator.

Every fall, the Estrella Mountain Honors Program offers an Honors Research Expo. The expo is an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding scholarship of students in a public forum. Students display their scholarly work via a poster board, laptop, oral presentation, or video presentation. This provides an excellent opportunity for learning as students are judged by faculty according to a rubric. Students with the top projects are awarded scholarship funds and may be invited to present at the Western Regional Honors Conference. In fall 2010, Estrella Mountain held the 5th Annual Honors Research Expo, where 49 students presented research projects.

Figure 52

During the 5th Annual Honors Research Expo, the following student projects were recognized and awarded with scholarships. Two of the scholarship winners were also able to attend the Western Regional Conference in Park City, Utah to present their projects.

  • 1st Place: BIO205 – The Role of Lactobacillus Acidophilus in Health and Disease ($500.00 scholarship)
  • 2nd Place: PSY230 – The Relationship between Perceived Religious Affiliation and the Perception of Effectiveness in Child Rearing ($400.00 scholarship)
  • 3rd Place: POS220 – Past the Politics: Arizona’s SB 1070 ($300.00 scholarship)
  • 4th Place: AJS101 – Brazen Bail: The Injustices of the American Bail System ($200.00 scholarship)
  • 5th Place: PSY101 – The Relationship between Appearance and How One Views the Self and Others ($100.00 scholarship)

As one more example of student excellence in the Honors program, an Estrella Mountain Presidential Honors Scholar was accepted into a program hosted by the Washington Center called Top Secret: Challenges to National Security in a Global Society. The program explores national security topics such as the evolving international security environment and the effects of increasing globalization, technological advances and demographic shifts.

Phi Theta Kappa

Estrella Mountain Community College’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, Beta Alpha Xi, is a very distinguished and successful academic service organization. 

Opportunities for growth and development occur outside the classroom through voluntary involvement in college and community activities. Increasingly, through an online environment, growth and development opportunities are becoming available. For example, there is a specialized leadership development program that Beta Alpha Xi students can access and pursue at their own pace (e.g., Competitive Edge, or a Facebook-based Humanities Approach to Leadership). Other online programming offers assistance with transfer planning and scholarship searches. This is particularly beneficial to those taking classes online, in the evening and/or on weekends.

Chapter members have earned a number of individual and chapter awards for their efforts that demonstrate successful learning. Estrella Mountain students have served as chapter, regional and international officers within the Phi Theta Kappa organization and have won regional and national recognition for their service. Team development skills are demonstrated by regional and international awards in service, scholarship and chapter management. The chapter has earned Five-Star Status, the highest ranking a chapter can achieve, for its entire 15-year history, and has been named a Top 100 Chapter (out of over 1,250 chapters worldwide) for the last four consecutive years. The Beta Alpha Xi Chapter was named Arizona’s Most Distinguished Chapter for 2010.  A record 163 students were inducted in fall 2010, most likely due to the introduction of an online membership acceptance through the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society Headquarters.

In 2007, the College’s Phi Theta Kappa Faculty Advisor received an International Paragon Advisor Award for the numerous chapter accomplishments achieved during her tenure. In 2011, she was once again recognized with the Distinguished Chapter Advisor award at the Annual International Phi Theta Kappa Conference in Seattle.

One of Estrella Mountain’s Deans of Academic Affairs received the 2008 Administrator Award of Distinction at the Annual International Phi Theta Kappa Conference in Philadelphia.  The Administrator Award of Distinction is awarded to community college Vice Presidents, Deans or leaders, other than college Presidents/CEOs, serving a community college in an administrative capacity, who have demonstrated a strong level of support for Phi Theta Kappa.  Up to 25 individuals receive this award annually. 

Undergraduate Research

Faculty welcome opportunities to have individual students join them in research projects, and instructors incorporate research activities within their lesson plans. Estrella Mountain seeks to become known for its commitment to undergraduate research and, as such, has sought membership in the Council for Undergraduate Research, which provides support to undergraduate institutions seeking to develop undergraduate research programs.