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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Artist brings creativity to the look of SLCC messaging

As seen in the "You Know Us" Convocation video.

When you see Amber Giles standing while working at her desk, you might notice a wire coming from one ear and the fact that she’s probably not standing still.

If you’re in a meeting with Giles, you’ll see her doodling, which actually means she’s paying attention.

And if you followed her around after she leaves work at Salt Lake Community College as a digital designer, you’d see her painting with acrylics or putting on ballet shoes in a dance studio or you’d hear her singing, playing the piano or violin.

It all helps paint a portrait of a creative person whose job it is to ‘get the word out,’ so to speak.

“If I don’t do my job, nobody knows about anything,” Giles laughs.

As a designer in the Marketing and Communications Department at SLCC, a place she considers a second home, Giles assembles emails that go out to staff, faculty and students, incorporating words and images in a way that hopefully compel and catch the eye.

“People will see them and will be like, ‘Oh, did you send that out?’” she said about the visual impression her work leaves on readers. “People will say, ‘I really like how that was organized.’”

She also helps maintain the look of the College’s web site and designs flyers, postcards and posters that are displayed throughout SLCC’s multiple campuses.

Giles, 25, earned an associate degree in Graphic Design from SLCC and is working toward a bachelor degree. That academic path started with one web design class in high school.

“And it was something I liked to do,” she said. “I think it’s like a mental thing. When I design something, I don’t focus on the design. My mind wanders, so I can just come up with something. It’s not a structured process. It’s just whatever happens, happens.”

And in the seven years she’s been working at SLCC, Giles has been quietly gaining a reputation for doing her job well and for being a go-to problem solver, kind of like a techno wizard.

“I don’t know where I get that from,” she said.

Maybe, she added, it comes from being the youngest of eight children in a house with two volunteer-minded parents, who both still work at SLCC and did while Giles was growing up in a home two minutes from campus. Her mastery of all things technical around the office – and willingness to share that knowledge – is an example of how she describes herself: equal parts right and left brained. The right side takes over when it’s time to dance.

“When I walk through the doors of the studio, everything else just goes away,” she said. “I can’t explain it. It’s something that comes very naturally to me.”

She’s a ballerina, who also happens to play soccer and, especially during World Cup action, can be seen glued to a TV for all of the action – no doubt with one or both legs jumping.

“I like to move,” she said.

And sing. Doodle. Dance.

And, to the benefit of SLCC, create.

Convocation 2014: Here we go.

Scenes from the 2014 Convocation held at SLCC's Taylorsville Redwood Campus.

Food trucks lined the sidewalks!

Ready? Set. Here we go.

Even Odie was into it.

SLCC student body officers are ready!

Chad Erekson was ready to eat his Korean BBQ.

Some added a little spice to the event!

Some made dining by the Chow Truck a social affair.

A sweet time was had by all.

Beautiful first day of class at Taylorsville Redwood Campus!

The rains came and went overnight, making way for a picture-perfect first day of class. Here we go.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

SLCC film student gets grant to document ‘coverage gap’

Salt Lake Community College film student Paul Gibbs rattled a few cages with the documentary “Entitled to Life,” which looked at the lives of six Utahns who fall into a “coverage gap” by not qualifying for Medicaid or subsidized insurance.

Courtesy photo - Paul Gibbs

Gibbs, 39, pursuing a film production degree at SLCC’s Center for Arts and Media, recently received a grant from to fund another similar project that will examine the coverage gap in two other states. He said he plans to start production for that project around Labor Day.

In June Gibbs wrote a letter that appeared in a Utah daily newspaper, chastising Utah lawmakers for not responding to emails asking them to view “Entitled to Life.”

“Sadly, our Legislature seems determined to shut out the poor people of Utah who want to speak up and share their stories,” Gibbs wrote in his letter. “For many, the decision of whether or not to accept Gov. (Gary) Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan will determine whether they live or die, and they deserve to have their voices heard.”

After the letter, Gibbs was invited by the Legislature’s Health Reform Task Force in July to show portions of his film to legislators at the group’s meeting. He said afterward that lawmakers still seem resistant to implementing Herbert’s plan, but that if the film didn’t actually sway a few opinions it at least made them more aware of the coverage gap’s impact on actual people.

“I think that it went well,” Gibbs said about showing the film to Utah lawmakers. “They listened and paid attention.”

Gibbs’ film “Entitled to Live” debuted in June at Broadway Centre Cinemas and is currently available to view on YouTube, where it has been played more than 2,000 times. Voices for Utah Children and Utah Healthy Policy Project have been promoting the film and its stories toward changing lawmakers’ minds.

SLCC helicopter pilot student helps save family after plane crash

Steven Sedlacek was unconscious in the pilot seat of a small plane that, after crashing in a West Jordan soccer field, was smoking and about to catch fire when Utah Army National Guard S.Sgt. Robert Kelley approached.

Sedlacek’s wife Kathleen was, as Kelley described it, conscious but “out of it” in the passenger seat next to her husband. And their daughter, Anna Looper, was in the back shaken and in obvious pain.

Kelley, who this fall will finish his education at Salt Lake Community College toward becoming a professional helicopter pilot, was one of the first few people to reach the scene this past Sunday.

His training in the military and experiences serving in Iraq and Afghanistan told him that he had to remain calm, focus and help the family out of the plane, or they might die.

Salt Lake Community College student Robert Kelley

Kelley, 29, was born and raised in Park City. He tried college when he was 20, but just wasn’t ready. He joined the Utah Guard and has since had four deployments, including Hurricane Katrina, the border of Mexico, Iraq and Afghanistan.

His specialty overseas as a combat engineer has been to search out improvised explosive devices (IEDs) ahead of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit. In Afghanistan his unit was in a “ton” of firefights. While in Iraq he earned a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained when his truck hit a landmine, exploding directly underneath where he was sitting.

Kelley has “good and bad” days after enduring a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during the explosion that hit his truck in Iraq. He is an instructor for the Utah Guard’s 640th Regiment Regional Training Institute (RTI) at Camp Williams.

Kelley, who lives in West Jordan, was dressed in his military fatigues and on his way to work at the Utah Guard RTI on August 10 when he was at a stoplight near South Valley Regional Airport, located at 7365 S. 4570 West. He noticed a small plane taking off but having trouble as it banked left while the plane’s landing gear came down.

“As soon as he did that, I knew he was going down,” Kelley said.

Robert Kelley

He gunned the gas on his own vehicle at the quiet intersection, running the stoplight, and sped out on to a nearby soccer field where the plane crashed. He was put on hold with 911, “Which I thought was funny on a Sunday morning,” as he neared the crash site. Kelley could see smoke already coming from the engine.

Still on the phone with 911, Kelley calmly assessed the scene as the dispatcher told him to wait for emergency responders.

“I told myself, ‘I don’t care, I’m going in anyway,’” said Kelley, whose adrenaline and instincts began to kick in.

He unbuckled Kathleen Sedlacek from her seat, pulled her out and carried her to safety.

Kelley opened a back door to the plane and asked the daughter, Anna Looper, if she could get out on her own.

“I said, ‘Come to me,’ but as soon as she took one step she collapsed,” Kelley said. So, he and another rescuer helped pull the woman out of and away from the plane, with an engine now in flames, in the green grass of the soccer field.

He ran back to the plane to help rescue the unconscious father, Steven Sedlacek.

“By this time the flames were getting bigger and bigger, almost to the cabin of the plane,” Kelley recalled.

With help from another rescuer, he pulled Sedlacek from the plane within seconds, Kelley noted, of the cabin becoming engulfed in flames.

“It was just perfect timing,” Kelley said.

Police arrived next, and then firefighters. Kelley pounded an energy drink he had in his car, knowing he’d experience an “adrenaline dump” in the coming minutes.

Life this past week hasn’t been quite the same, with local and national media calling him for interviews. He’s being called a “hero.” The Army has put in for a Utah Cross award for Kelley.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to talk to me,” he said.

In the days that followed the crash, Kelley visited each family member, very much alive and healing, in the hospital.

First, Mom.

“She didn’t recognize me at first because I was in my civilian clothes,” he said. “She started crying and was so excited to see me.”


“As soon as I walked in the door she started crying,” Kelley said.

The father was still in an Intensive Care Unit with a tube down his throat, but he could write – and with a sense of humor mixed with tears in his eyes.

“He wrote, ‘No more flying,’” Kelley said. “Everyone kind of chuckled.”

Kelley, however, has not changed his flight plan.

“That’s the risk you take when becoming a pilot,” he said about crashes.

Kelley is focused on finishing at SLCC with an associate degree in the Aerospace/Aviation Technology program’s rotor wing professional pilot track. He hopes of someday becoming a pilot for a search and rescue outfit or a hospital’s emergency medical unit.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SLCC and Make-A-Wish Utah surprise boy at 'project house'

A new home built in Herriman Towne Center was more than a project to help construction trades students from Salt Lake Community College gain valuable experience. It has been fully furnished during a staging to show off the home, which is currently for sale.

But one of the rooms in the home was decorated in honor of a 6-year-old boy who has muscular dystrophy. Make-A-Wish Utah previously sent the boy and his family to Disney World. Dovetailing off of that experience, one of the bedrooms on the main level was outfitted with toys and decorations with a Disney theme.

That room was revealed to the boy, named Max, on Aug. 12. Max was allowed to keep several items in the room as gifts, among them a small guitar that he held on to and played with while looking wide-eyed around a room full of toys. He was also given a few items bearing the SLCC and Bruins logos.

SLCC project home wins Parade of Homes awards

A home called “The Graduate,” built by Salt Lake Community College construction trades students, won two awards in the Salt Lake Homebuilders Association’s recent Salt Lake Parade of Homes.

The 4-bedroom, 3-bath home in Herriman Towne Center won the Best In Category award for homes in the $250,000-$350,000 price range, beating out four other homes in the Salt Lake Valley.

“The award speaks to the quality of our programs and the expertise of our faculty in helping students learn the construction trades,” said Ralph Tasker, SLCC trades programming manager.

The Energy Star home also won a blue ribbon for having the best cabinets, which were made of cherry wood and built by students under the careful direction of SLCC instructor Chaid Fail. Tasker said about 75-80 percent of the 3,000-square-foot home was constructed and finished entirely by students, except for the foundation, sheetrock and painting.

The last time SLCC entered a home into a Parade of Homes was in 2002. SLCC construction trades students build one project home each year. Student construction efforts on “The Graduate” began in August 2013 and concluded by summer 2014. Any profits from the sale of the home, which is currently on the market for $340,000, will be put back into the construction trades program for use in future student project homes.