Camille Source Corner cropped 2016

By Camille Nicolai, MATC director, admissions and financial aid

Two changes in financial aid procedures are expected to streamline and expedite the process used to apply for and use financial aid.

Estimated Financial Aid Awards Ease Book Store Backups

The first is a change in Milwaukee Area Technical College’s financial aid procedures. As the result of a study to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of MATC Student Services operations, the Office of Financial Aid is now providing estimated financial aid awards, which allow students to purchase text books using a financial aid book deferment.

In the past, students randomly selected by the federal government for financial aid verification did not receive financial aid award notices until verification was complete. This caused delays in the college Book Stores because employees needed to contact the financial aid staff and enter textbook fund information manually. With the estimated award process, once a student submits all required verification documents and meets all financial aid application requirements, the student will receive an estimated award based on information listed on his/her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

The Financial Aid Office also is now expediting the notification process by emailing financial aid verification requests instead of notifying students via U.S. mail.

Federal Changes to FAFSA Allow Students to Apply for Aid Earlier and Expedite Awards  

FAFSA is the application students must complete to apply for federal student aid, which can be used to attend an eligible college, trade school or university. Federal student aid includes federal Pell Grants, federal student loans and work-study opportunities. In addition to determining eligibility for federal student aid, many states, private organizations, colleges and trade schools rely on information from the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for other sources of aid.

Last fall, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that two major changes to the FAFSA would take effect for the 2017–18 school year (July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018).

  • The FAFSA will be available earlier. (Students can apply as soon as October 1, 2016, for aid to be used during the 2017-2018 academic year. Previously, students would have to wait until January 1 of the upcoming academic year.)\
  • The FAFSA will collect income information from the tax year two years prior to the application instead of requiring students to wait for tax forms for the prior year. (Referred to as “prior prior year,” this means that students can use 2015 tax information for 2017-18 financial aid.) In the past, applicants often had to wait till April to gather tax information to apply for financial aid. Now they can file as early as Oct. 1 for the next academic year, using information from the tax year two years earlier.

Note: Applicants for 2016-17 financial aid still need to use the prior year tax information until the policy officially changes on October 1, 2016.

What Does Prior-Prior Year (PPY) Mean?

The change allows students to report tax information from a prior-prior tax year (PPY) using tax information from two years ago.

These changes are designed to allow students and their families to fill out the FAFSA form earlier so they can received financial aid packages before making decisions about attending college.

The following chart compares the current FAFSA, which operates with prior year (PY) data compared to changes beginning October 1, 2016 to prior prior year (PPY):

Prior Year (PY) (Current Policy till October 1, 2016)       Prior-Prior Year (PPY)
• Only allows taxes from previous year • Allows taxes from two years ago
• File FAFSA, must make corrections to data once taxes are filed • Taxes already filed, data is correct from previous year
• Poorly aligned with college application calendar • Better aligned with college application calendar
• Difficult to meet priority filing deadlines, which must be met to qualify for some forms of financial aid • Removes conflicts with priority filing deadlines, which must be met to qualify for some forms of financial aid
• Financial aid information available nearing college decision deadline dates • Financial aid information available further in advance of college decision deadlines
• Close timing causes stressful and less-informed college and financial aid decisions • Allows for more at-ease, informed college and financial aid decisions

Have questions? For more information, visit MATC’s Office of Financial Aid at http://tinyurl.com/j4yf2wa or call (414) 297-8875.

 

Anne Sheridan 2016

By Anne Sheridan, MATC coordinator, employee wellness and risk management

Heat illness can happen to anyone at any time, indoors or outdoors. When the body cannot dispose of excess heat, it stores it. When the heat is stored, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. Factors affecting a body’s core temperature are:

  • Air temperature
  • Humidity level
  • Air speed
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Fitness
  • Medical condition
  • Acclimatization to heat

The body reacts to high external temperature by circulating blood to the skin. Skin temperature rises and heat flows out through the skin. However, if muscles are being used for labor, less blood flow is available to the skin to reduce the heat. Sweating reduces the internal body temperature, but only if the humidity level is low enough to permit evaporation and if fluids and salts lost are replaced.

Types of Heat Illness

Heat rash is sometimes called “prickly heat.” It can occur in hot and humid environments where sweat is not able to be removed from the skin. The rash usually disappears when the person returns to a cool environment.

Fainting can be a problem for people who are not acclimated to heat. If you feel dizzy or faint, sit or lie down in a cool place. Slowly drink water, clear juice or a sports beverage.  It usually takes four to seven days of regular heat or cold exposure to become acclimated to the climate.

Heat cramps happen when performing physical activity in a hot environment. They occur most commonly in the arms and legs. Muscle cramping also can happen after the person has stopped working or exercising. Whenever you are physically active in a warm environment, you need to drink water every 15-20 minutes. Drinking an electrolyte replacement (such as Gatorade) can help.

Heat exhaustion places extreme stress on the body, especially the circulatory system. Possible symptoms include:

  • Flushed face and neck
  • Clammy skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid pulse and breathing
  • Headache, dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting

People suffering from heat exhaustion should not be left alone. Get them to a cool place to rest; remove excess clothing and rehydrate them with water or an electrolyte drink.

. The person will die if untreated. The survival rate is only 50 percent.

Heat stroke is the most serious stage of heat illness. The person will die if untreated. The survival rate is only 50 percent.

Symptoms are:

  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Red, hot and dry skin
  • Very little sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Seizures
  • High body temperature (105 or higher)

Call 911 immediately. While waiting for help to arrive, get the person to a cool area, apply cool water to clothes and reapply as necessary.

Mary Walgren

By Mary Walgren, MATC interior design instructor

As the weather gets warmer, our thoughts (and our lives) move outdoors. A recent trend in home design creates beautiful outdoor living spaces showcasing upholstered furniture, fireplaces, exterior kitchens and even oversized televisions!  But, how realistic is this concept for those of us living in the “frozen tundra?”

We can all embrace the dream of sipping a mojito, lounging on a crisp, white-cushioned sofa, binging on Netflix, all while surrounded by softly billowing sheer drapes protecting us from that summer sunshine. Unfortunately, in a typical Wisconsin summer, that mojito glass would be dripping, leaving water marks on the sofa. And let’s face it, that white cushion would be slightly grey from construction dust, and may even sport a few black walnut stains. Those billowing drapes would be tightly wrapped around the posts of the pergola from the high winds that triggered a recent tornado watch. And, the outdoor Netflix binge would be quickly replaced by the summer sport of swatting mosquitos!

But truly, all is not lost. Creating an outdoor oasis that can withstand a Wisconsin summer is as simple as the ABC’s.

A.  Location, location, location!

Select a spot in your yard that takes advantage of natural shade and wind barriers.  Placing outdoor entertainment space against an existing building wall gives protection from the wind while providing structure to mount an exterior, waterproof television. (Yes, they do exist!)  Natural shade, when combined with a pergola structure, will protect outdoor furniture from the heat and UV rays that can fade, dry and crack fabrics, plastics and woods.

B.  Be materialistic (in a good way)!

Exterior materials need to withstand the elements.  Is it sturdy enough to stay in place on a windy day? Can it handle rain and humid conditions, as well as sunshine? Teaks and treated lumber work well, but new resins have a similar look without as much maintenance. Indoor /outdoor fabrics are specifically designed to resist fading and have water impermeable qualities.

C.  Mix it up!

Select heavier quality pieces for your primary furnishings – the exterior dining table and the sofas. Dining chairs, occasional tables and chairs should be lighter weight so they can be easily moved around the space. Use an indoor/outdoor rug to define the space, while creating a cozy retreat on the hard concrete of your patio.  Don’t be afraid of color! Keep larger, more expensive furniture pieces in darker neutrals – it will hide dirt and have staying power as your decor changes over time.  Bring in bright, fun summer colors through accessories. Throw pillows, accent tables and flower pots can add an inexpensive splash of color throughout the space.

Finally, use what you’ve got! The Wisconsin landscape provides you with lush green grasses, fabulous perennials and colorful annuals to create a perfect backdrop to your summer oasis. And if you add an outdoor fireplace or fire pit and a few throw blankets, you can extend that outdoor season well into the fall months.

Delisa White

Delisa White

By Delisa White, MATC landscape horticulture instructor 

Do you enjoy a sweet apple, crunchy almonds or a juicy tomato? If so, you owe a debt of gratitude to the hardworking insects who pollinated the flower from which your produce developed. Pollinating insects are crucial to our food supply. Most of us who read the news are aware that our pollinators are in peril.

One insect, the non-native European honeybee – the backbone of commercial food crop pollinators – has experienced a devastating decline in numbers in the past decade. Students in MATC’s “Plant Healthcare” class have read many scientific reports on the plight of the European honeybee. They have learned about the many pressures and conditions that, when combined, have caused a dramatic decline in the honeybee population. Some of these include extreme winter conditions, summer droughts, poorly managed commercial hives, lack of dietary diversity and a specific type of mite.

Another critical factor impacting the health of honeybees and native pollinators such as bumblebees, flies, wasps, butterflies and moths, is our society’s love of – and overuse of – chemical pesticides. One specific class of insecticide, called neonicotinoids, has been associated with the deaths of honeybees and bumblebees, and is now being removed from some insecticide products.

In mid-April, Ortho, a major producer of garden-care products, announced that it will begin to transition away from using chemicals that may be linked to the death of pollinating insects in its pesticides.

This is a step in the right direction. But as MATC’s students have learned, there are many other pesticides that have negative environmental and human health consequences, and specifically impact bees. Recent studies have found that pesticides such as herbicides (weed killers) and fungicides (used to control plant disease) have a direct impact on the health of bees and other insects, although they are not specifically targeted by the pesticide application.

Throughout all of their coursework, MATC landscape horticulture students learn that they must take a broad sustainable approach to stewarding our environment in order to preserve not only the European honeybees and native pollinators, but also our food supply and our own health and well-being.  By following some environmentally friendly recommendations, we can help create a better world for pollinators and for ourselves.

  1. Don’t strive for perfection! Learn to be okay with some weeds, a bit of plant disease, and many insects that find their way into your yard and garden.
  1. Appreciate those creepy crawlies! Only three percent of all insect species are “pests.” That’s right! For every 100 different kinds of bugs you see, only about three of them might cause damage.
  1. Put down the spray bottle! Or at least make better chemical choices. When controlling a garden pest becomes necessary, choose organic or less toxic methods.  If choosing a chemical, look for OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute)-approved garden chemicals.
  1. Go native and be diverse! Plant a wide diversity of flowering plants, minimizing lawn grass area. Include many native flowering plants in your gardens and landscapes. A variety of native plants will not only give honeybees diversity in their diets, but also will attract native bumblebees and other native insects that were pollinating plants long before their European honeybee cousins arrived with the early settlers.

Each of us needs to become more conscientious of our own personal impact on the environment and do all we can to help bring back the numbers of pollinating insects. Our diets and our planet depend on it!

For more information about bees and other native insects, check out the Xerces Society at:  http://www.xerces.org/ .

Michelle Harrell Washington

by Michelle Harrell Washington, MATC manager, library and information services

Each April, libraries, library workers and librarians join in a celebration of National Library Week. This year’s celebration is April 10-16. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is an observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country.  It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

As in years past, the MATC Libraries will join that celebration.  This year, however, we feel a special connection to National Library Week, because the 2016 theme is “Libraries Transform.” That theme very closely aligns with the new MATC brand tag line of “Transforming Lives, Industry and Community.” It is absolutely true that libraries transform lives, industry, community and beyond.

These days, you often hear individuals remark that they didn’t know people still went to libraries. You also hear that no one needs the library for books because you can download them to your Kindle!  However, with the downturn of the economy, more people than ever are using libraries to find jobs, for entertainment, to brush up on computer skills and to support their educational endeavors. Considering that more than a quarter of U.S. households do not have internet access, libraries are important for all of these reasons, as well as activities associated with running a household, such as paying bills and accessing services.

In our MATC Libraries, we work with students to help them be successful in their academic lives, but we also help them with activities related to their everyday lives.  I like to think of it as providing holistic information services. Many of our students have families, jobs and other responsibilities in addition to their school work. Since every aspect of their lives is interrelated, helping them meet school deadlines often also helps them meet personal deadlines or goals. If these goals are not met, it can have a negative ‘domino effect’ on their entire lives.

Libraries also work to transform the lives of those in their communities by planning and hosting cultural, informational or literary events.  These events allow participants to learn about aspects of their community they may not be aware of, services that can enhance their lives, community resources that can help them on their educational journey and entertainment options in their neighborhoods.

During National Library Week 2016, visit a local library and take a look at all that is offered. Libraries offer more than just books!  Take some time to participate in activities at your community library.  You can learn more about National Library Week at http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek, and get involved with the ALA’s Libraries Transform initiative by visiting their web site at http://www.ilovelibraries.org/librariestransform/get-involved.

Veronica 2

By Veronica Neumann, Milwaukee Area Technical College microbiology instructor, School of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Neumann joined the MATC faculty in 2002. In 2007, she created a course at MATC called “Plagues, People & Power” about the historical impact human activity has had on infectious disease outbreaks and how they have, in turn, shaped human society. The course also examines emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Prior to coming to MATC, she worked for 10 years at PowderJect Vaccines, based in in Madison, Wis., and Oxford, England, where she conducted vaccine research and development.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) confirmed the first case of Zika virus infection in Brazil; before this, Zika virus was not present in the Americas. It is thought to have arrived in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. The Zika virus can now be found in Mexico, Central and South America and several Caribbean island nations. To date there have been 107 travel-associated cases of Zika virus reported in US states and 39 cases of locally acquired Zika virus infection in US territories (including Puerto Rico).

What is unusual about the outbreak in Brazil is that it appears to be associated with cases of microcephaly. Microcephaly occurs when a baby is born with a small head and may be associated with developmental delays if the brain has not fully developed. The outbreak also coincides with an increase in the number of cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which can lead to paralysis, which usually is temporary. Zika virus infections are typically associated with mild disease symptoms and only one in five infected people develop any symptoms at all. Typical symptoms include fever, rash, joint pains and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

 

veronica in plague doctors outfit

Neumann poses in her “Plague Doctor’s” outfit. These were worn in Europe in the 17th century during outbreaks of the plague. It was an early form of personal protective equipment. A doctor would wear a wax-covered robe, boots, gloves, a cowl, a hat, goggles and a mask which looked like a bird’s beak stuffed full of spices and oils which were meant to cover up the smell of dead, decaying tissue and was also thought to protect the wearer.

 

The Zika virus is named after the Zika forest in Uganda where it was first isolated in 1942. It is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. The virus also can be transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy, but not through breastfeeding. It also can be transmitted through sexual contact and blood transfusions. Currently, there is no treatment or prevention available.

One species of mosquito that carries Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, can be found in South America, Central America, the American southeast and parts of the southwest (including Texas and part of California). Another species, Aedes albopictus, can be found in the American southeast and as far north as southern Illinois and New York. Neither of these species of mosquitoes is found in Wisconsin. Both species of mosquitoes can also transmit yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Other Viruses Entering the Americas – Chickungunya and Dengue

Although it hasn’t drawn the attention which Zika virus has, chikungunya (which means “that which bends up” because of the way people bend up with pain) is another virus that arrived in the Americas in 2013. Although up to 90 percent of people infected with chikungunya will develop symptoms, it is rarely fatal. Infection with the dengue virus is sometimes referred to as “breakbone fever” because of the severe pain in the joints it causes and has a higher fatality rate than Zika or chikungunya. The symptoms of Zika can resemble those of chikungunya and dengue.

It remains to be confirmed whether the Zika virus is responsible for the increase in cases of microcephaly and GBS in Central and South America given that these symptoms have never been associated with Zika virus before.  However, there was a hint that Zika virus could lead to GBS when Zika virus was first detected in French Polynesia in 2013. Given the increase in cases of microcephaly in Brazil, a look back at cases of microcephaly in French Polynesia seems to have also occurred with the arrival of the Zika virus. One theory as to why Zika virus may be causing microcephaly and GBS is that the disease is more severe in an immunologically naïve population which has never been exposed to the disease before. This is what happened when Europeans first arrived in the Caribbean and the Americas – approximately 95 percent of the native people were killed by measles, smallpox and influenza — diseases to which the Europeans had built up immunity. Another theory is that it may be due to co-infection with another disease-causing organism. Or could it be that the virus has mutated.

If you are planning on traveling to areas in which the Zika virus occurs, or if you are planning on traveling to Brazil to attend the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends covering exposed skin, using insect repellents and sleeping in air conditioned rooms. Women who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant should consider postponing travel to areas with an ongoing Zika virus outbreak.

 Effects of Climate Change on Spread of Viruses

The current outbreak foreshadows the impact climate change may have on insect-borne diseases which favor warmer climates. Scientists were surprised to find the mosquitoes which carry Zika, dengue, chikungunya and West Nile Virus could be found year-round around Washington, D.C. Previously it was thought that the mosquitoes could not survive year-round so far north. The range of Aedes mosquitoes has expanded greatly, not just horizontally, but vertically as well as higher altitude areas are increasingly invaded by mosquitoes. Global warming may not only increase the range of these disease-carrying mosquitoes, but warmer temperatures also speed up their life cycles.

In the 1960s and 1970s, it was thought that with an arsenal of antibiotics and vaccines at our disposal and improvements in hygiene, the war against infectious diseases was over. However, the current Zika virus outbreak is just the most recent example of how the battle between man and microbe will never be over. On the contrary, human activities such as increased urbanization, increased travel, deforestation, overpopulation, climate change and overuse of antibiotics will most likely accelerate the rate at which new outbreaks occur.

 

 

 

 

 

Blades and Espinoza Source CornerBy Lamonte Blades and David A. Espinoza, instructors, MATC Early Childhood Education Associate Degree Program

Winter days keeping you inside the house with young children full of energy? Here are some ways to keep your children entertained while helping them to learn and grow.

Children need the opportunity to do what they do best – play. At the same time, we want to encourage their physical, verbal, emotional, social and cognitive development.

We would like to share ideas used in MATC’s Early Childhood Education Associate Degree Program that you can try at home, using washable paints, construction paper and household utensils.

You will be surprised at how long your children will enjoy these activities! You can have fun watching them develop language skills as they talk to you, their siblings or friends. They will utilize fine motors skills as they cut, measure and glue pieces of paper. These projects will help them demonstrate social skills as they learn how to wait their turn, as well as learn politeness and respect for mom or dad. They will spur cognitive development and reinforce concepts of colors, textures, problem solving, teamwork and much more.

Here are some activities to try with your children at home:

Soap Bottle Tops – Painting

soap bottle tops Blades

Use bottle tops from different sizes of liquid laundry detergent containers to make designs on the construction paper. Place the construction paper on a table on top of newspaper or any material that will protect your table from paint and other stains. Open the paint containers and then design! When they are finished, you can hang the paintings to dry and have the children plan how they would like to display their work or show it to other family members.

 

Potato Mashers

Potato Mashers Blades

Dip different types of potato mashers in paint to make designs on the construction paper.  Use primary colors so the children can see how mixing colors creates new ones.

 

Tissue Paper Art

tissue paper art

Use children’s scissors to cut tissue paper to desired sizes or tear the pieces of paper.  Using glue or glue sticks, attach the pieces and shapes to the construction paper.

 

Newspaper Face collages

Newspaper Face Collages Blades

Collect newspapers, magazines, mailers, etc.  Cut out the faces with children’s scissors and talk with your children about expressions on the faces.

 

Color Duct Tape Collage

Color Duct Tape Collage Blades upright

Use children’s scissors to cut different colors or designs of duct tape into small pieces or shapes. Glue pieces to construction paper.

 

Make Your Own Silly Putty

Ingredients: equal amounts of glue and liquid starch; food coloring.

Procedure: Mix glue with food coloring until the color is even throughout.

Pour the liquid starch into the colored glue mixture.

Stir and let it sit for five minutes.

Take the putty out of the mixing bowl and set it on a paper towel.

Knead the putty in your hands for five to ten minutes.

 

How to Make Play-Doh

Play-Doh is a classic childhood toy everyone can have fun with.

Basic ingredient ratios: 2 cups flour, 2 cups warm water, 1 cup salt, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity), food coloring (liquid, powder, or unsweetened Kool-Aid or similar drink mix), or scented oils.

Procedure: Make the colored water; set aside.

Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar in a medium-sized pot.

Add oil and colored water and stir until ingredients are well blended.

Place pot on the stove over low/medium heat.

Allow the dough to cool slightly.

Knead for a minute.

Store in an airtight container.

Winter is a great time to spend having fun with your children while watching them develop in many ways!

(All craft photos from Blades’ early childhood courses.)

For more information on the Early Childhood Education Associate Degree Program, visit: http://www.matc.edu/las/degrees/early-childhood-education.cfm

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.