Free Tax Service Available to the Community

students getting tax helpSan Juan College will offer FREE income tax preparation through Four Corners Tax Help again this year.

Four Corners Tax Help, a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, was created in 2016 when San Juan College was awarded the IRS VITA Grant.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax help moderate and low income taxpayers, persons with disabilities, San Juan College students and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance.

Assistant Professor of Accounting, Katherine Elliott and recent San Juan College Accounting graduate, Carol Hrebin, assisted the community with current year, prior year and amended returns last spring and secured over $1.9 million in federal and state refunds.  These services are provided to the community at no charge.  Electronic filing is also offered free of charge.

Required Documents:

  • Valid photo identification for you and your spouse
  • Social Security cards or ITINs for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Copy of last year’s tax return
  • All forms – W-2 and 1099
  • Forms 1095-A, B or C (ACA Statements)
  • Information for all forms of income
  • Information for all deductions/credits
  • Total paid to day care providers and their tax ID number
  • For direct deposit of refund – proof of account and bank’s routing number.
  • WebAdvisor statements for each semester- Only for San Juan College Students

A free drop-off tax preparation service is also available and encouraged for added convenience during open hours only.

The hours will be on Fridays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The walk-in clinic is located at San Juan College’s Quality Center for Business at 5101 College Boulevard.

For more information about Four Corners Tax Help, visit or call 505-566-3314 and leave a message.

San Juan College hosts SkillsUSA Automotive Invitational Skills

student competing at the SkillsUSA competitionSan Juan College students, along with approximately 80 others from high schools and colleges in New Mexico, Colorado and Texas, came together in November to test their talents when San Juan College hosted SkillsUSA Automotive Invitational Skills competition. Participants included those enrolled in Automotive Technology, Auto Body and Diesel Technology programs.

SkillsUSA is a national membership association serving middle school, high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.  SkillsUSA offers local, state and national opportunities for students to learn personal, workplace and technical skills.

One of the participants, San Juan College student Kanna Yazzie, competed as a first semester student.  “While it was open to all students, Kanna was the only first semester student who decided to participate,” said Jason Hayes Diesel Technology instructor. “He walked into it not knowing what he was up against, but stepped up to the challenge to better himself. I applaud him, as well as all of the students who are willing to put themselves out there to compete and test their knowledge and skills.”

Instructors organized the event, while current college students served as judges. Hayes added that the competition was extremely well received by the visiting schools.

Individual and team awards were given. Winners from this event will be competing at the SkillsUSA New Mexico State Leadership and Skills Conference in Albuquerque on April 4 -6. State winners will then represent New Mexico at the National Skills Contest in June.

Sponsors for this annual event included Aztec Speedway, Fast Signs, Dunkin Donuts, Summit Trucks, Meritor, Auto Parts and Equipment Company, Valencia Insulation, Western Tool Crib, Stotz Equipment, Cummins Rocky Mountain, Matco Tools, Snap On Tools, Fleet Pride, O’Reilly Auto Parts, North American Coal – Bisti Fuels, Inland Kenworth, Lone Star Truck Center – Farmington Freightliner, and Bruckners Truck.

Endowed Scholarship Inspires Future Nurse

Gayle Dean, Kandice Duvall, Diane Searle and Toni Hopper Pendergrass
Pictured left to right: Gayle Dean, Kandice Duvall, Diane Searle and Toni Hopper Pendergrass

Devoted to the welfare of those committed to her care. This was Leslie Donovan Stewart’s legacy and it will live on through a San Juan College Foundation memorial endowed scholarship.

Stewart, a fourth generation nurse, passed away following a helicopter crash while serving as a Flight Nurse in October of 2014. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from New Mexico State University. Following her education she served as a critical care nurse as well as an Emergency Flight nurse.

The endowed scholarship was created by Diane Searle, Leslie’s mother, with contributions from family and friends. “Nothing was more important to Leslie than caring for others,” says Searle. “Her passion was to save lives.”

“Because of the rich history of nursing in this community I decided to place Leslie’s scholarship in the care of the San Juan College Foundation,” continues Searle. “My Mom, two of my sisters, myself and Leslie worked at some point in nursing careers at San Juan Regional Hospital. I received my LPN and RN from San Juan College. We have a lot of time invested in this community taking care of people. I know Leslie would be pleased to know she is still helping others.”

The first recipient of the Leslie Donovan Stewart Memorial Endowed Scholarship is Kandice Duvall. She is a San Juan College nursing student who received her Associates degree in Nursing in December.

Duvall and Searle share a unique bond – both have lost children. Ten years ago, Duvall tragically lost her 13-year old son, Dallas. She turned to San Juan College to further her education in Dallas’ honor. Duvall plans to follow in the footsteps of Stewart, working in critical care nursing.

“Diane has inspired me through this process and I hope to one day endow a scholarship in my son’s name in order to inspire others that might be facing adversity,” says Duvall.

“The unique circumstance of loss that brought these two women together, is not only inspirational, but has turned into an opportunity that will honor the legacy of their family members,” says Gayle Dean executive director of the San Juan College Foundation. “This scholarship will play a key role in enriching the lives of future nurses and transform their families for generations to come.”

The Foundation exists solely to support San Juan College students, staff and programs. Please join us in giving the gift of education.

For further information about contributing to the Foundation, go to, or call 505-566-3200.

A Tribute to Teaching Excellence

Henderson Teaching Excellence Award recipients
SJC President Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass invited SJC President Emeritus Dr. James Henderson to present The Henderson Teaching Excellence Awards to faculty who attained the highest academic rank of professor. Pictured from left to right, front row: Dr. Adrienne Forgette (Vice President for Learning), Sherry Paxson, Dr. Veronica Evans, Luke Renner, Cheryl Jordan, Michele Berkey, Dr. James Henderson, and Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass. Back row from left to right: Gordon DeSpain, Dr. Kate Fulton, Dr. David Bramhall, Dr. Andrea Cooper, Don Ellis, Dr. Julius Manz, Dr. John Burris, Dr. Callie Vanderbilt. Recipients not pictured: Eric Bateman, Carl Bickford, Dr. Andrea Ericksen, Bill Hatch, Dr. Eric Miller, Dr. Kelly Robison, Chris Strouthopoulos, Gerald Williams and Bart Womack.

San Juan College President Emeritus Dr. James Henderson’s dedication to excellence will continue to live on for years to come through an award that was recently established in his honor – The Henderson Teaching Excellence Award.

Created by San Juan College President Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass, an inaugural medallion award was presented at a reception to San Juan College faculty members who have attained the highest academic rank of professor. It was given in recognition of their achievements and commitment to excellence in teaching, disciplinary expertise, and service to the College.

The medallion was generously provided by the San Juan College Foundation to be worn at graduation.  Dr. Henderson personally presented each faculty recipient with their medallion.

“An excellent professor is not content with the status quo but strives to be the best teacher possible,” says Dr. Pendergrass.  “Professors are continual learners—they remain engaged with their field by continuing to develop knowledge and new skills, both as experts and as teachers. They model what they expect of students—a passion for learning, a quest for knowledge, and the skills to share that with diverse learners, and that’s exactly what The Henderson Teaching Excellence Award exemplifies.”

“Thanks to Dr. Henderson, there is no better place to learn, and no better place to teach than San Juan College,” continues Dr. Pendergrass. “This award pays tribute to his leadership and to our faculty who have achieved the highest academic honor for continuing his legacy of excellence.”

Dr. Henderson served as the President of San Juan College from 1982 until 2002 and has since served in the emeritus position and has remained active with several pivotal organizations in the community.  He began his career in education as a classroom teacher and then served many years as a county and district Superintendent of Schools in Arizona.  In 1975, he moved to Farmington to become the Chief Administrator of the San Juan Branch Community College, New Mexico State University.  Then in 1982, through a county-wide election, San Juan College became an independent community college, when he became president.

“Dr. Henderson guided the College to great growth and recognition during his tenure at San Juan College,” adds Dr. Pendergrass. “His legacy of excellence lives on through all of beautiful facilities and programs throughout this college. He taught us by example to learn, to lead and now we all bask in his legacy.”

Promoting a healthy lifestyle — SNAPP hosts drug and alcohol forums

SNAPP logoThe San Juan College Social Norms & Alcohol Prevention Program (SNAPP) recently hosted two informational forums, regarding issues of Underage Drinking and the Misuse & Abuse of Prescription Painkillers.

SNAPP, a grant funded program housed in the Student Activities Department, aims to promote healthy lifestyles free from alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.  They work closely with Student Activities and community organizations to educate San Juan College (SJC) students on the consequences of unsafe, excessive drinking practices, as well as the risks of providing alcohol to minors.

The primary goals of the informational forums were to provide education and prevention.  “The forums also provided a chance to inform the community and students about the serious risks associated with underage drinking and misuse of prescription painkillers,” says Nileta Pioche, director of the SJC SNAPP Program.

“The forums were designed to raise community awareness, deliver prevention messages and present collected data to community members, public officials, prevention professionals, parents, educators, students and youth,” continues Pioche.

The first session presented local and statewide underage drinking data and the risks associated when underage youth consume alcohol. The second session included information about local and statewide data on the misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers.

Students were encouraged to attend as part of the SJC Welcome Back Week. The free sessions were held in the San Juan College Henderson Fine Arts Center Performance Hall. The forums also marked the kick-off of the academic year for other prevention activities that SNAPP will host.

For more information, contact the San Juan College Social Norms & Alcohol Prevention Program at 505-566-3294.

Charlene Begay Crowned Ms. Indian San Juan College

Ms. Indian San Juan College, Charlene Begay
Ms. Indian San Juan College, Charlene Begay

Congratulations to San Juan College student Charlene Begay who was recently crowned Ms. Indian San Juan College.

Begay is a 2015 graduate of Many Farms High School in Many Farms, Arizona. She is a full-time student at San Juan College. Charlene plans to receive her Associate of Science degree in Nursing. After she completes her associate degree, Charlene plans to apply for to the San Juan College Nursing program to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Her goal is to become a Pediatric Nurse and return to the Navajo Reservation to work in Tsalie, Arizona, at the Indian Health Service (IHS) near her community of Lukachukai, Arizona.

As the first high school graduate in her maternal family and a first generation San Juan College student, Charlene wants to serve as a role model to the people of her community. She is proud of her educational goals and hopes to make a difference in her community.

Begay’s role as Ms. Indian San Juan College is to act as an ambassador for the College’s Native American Center and students. SJC’s Native American Center provides programs and services that support students in pursuing their higher education goals. It offers a variety of assistance including admission assistance, academic and scholarship advisement, as well as providing information about services available to make the college experience a positive one.

“We are excited to have Charlene serve as Ms. Indian San Juan College,” says Byron Tsabetsaye, director of the San Juan College Native American Center. “I know she will do a wonderful job representing our culture and the Native American Center, serving both as a strong advocate for San Juan College and as a positive role model.”

When asked what she would like to share with San Juan College students as Ms. Indian San Juan College, Charlene says: “I’d like to encourage all San Juan College students to be proud of who they are and where they come from. Your family and community are behind you. You have the ability to become who you have always dreamed of, someone people can look up to. You’re not only a role model to young people, but to other generations. Keep pushing. It will all be worth it when you’re walking across that stage at graduation. You can do it!”

For more information about the Native American Center, including tribal scholarships, call 505-566-3321.

What’s the big dill with Pickleball?

Opening celebration and ribbon cutting of the new Pickleball courts.
Opening celebration and ribbon cutting of the new Pickleball courts.

Although no actual pickles are used in the game, Pickleball is a big dill this fall at San Juan College!

Pickleball is a mix of table tennis, paddle tennis, badminton and tennis.  Without the mobility required for tennis, it uses an underhand serve and is easy to learn.  San Juan College Health and Human Performance Center (HHPC) now has more courts available for Pickleball players to enjoy the game year round.

Pickleball was first invented in 1965 by three families from the Seattle, Washington, area.  The parents needed an activity to entertain their children during the summer. They claim the name was suggested because one of the family dogs, named Pickles, would chase the stray balls and hide in the bushes – thus the sport, Pickleball, was born!

Avid Pickleball player, Joe Archuleta, approached Ed DesPlas, San Juan College Executive Vice President, earlier this year about adding more courts at the HHPC.

“We have more players than ever and many travel from out of town,” says Archuleta.  “With the multiple courts, the teams are able to split according to their level of play, so a beginner doesn’t have to be intimidated by an advanced player.”

“During the gym floor resurfacing this summer, we designated additional courts,” explains Cody Elledge, director of the HHPC.  “We’re excited to provide more courts to accommodate this popular growing sport that promotes exercise and overall health.”

San Juan College’s Encore Program has been offering Pickleball classes for over 10 years, with both beginning and intermediate classes. “We love the enthusiasm of our Pickleball students,” says Liesl Dees, director of the Community Learning Center, adding that classes are frequently full, and Encore has included more classes to meet the demand. “We love to see the sport continuing to grow in popularity in the area, and we’re excited for the playing opportunities the HHPC is providing, thanks to additional courts.”

Within the 130,000-square-foot facility, the HHPC houses a climbing tower, an indoor elevated track, a three-court gymnasium, a dance studio, a group exercise studio, an assessment lab, a wellness resource center, and an outdoor equipment rental center.

Open Play time for Pickleball:

Mondays, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. – 3 courts

Tuesdays, 6 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. – 3 courts

Thursdays, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. – 3 courts

Fridays, 4 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – 3 courts

Saturdays, 7 a.m. – 12 p.m. – 3 courts

Please note: Credit classes and special events may alter available play times.

For more information on Encore classes, call 505-566-3214 or visit  For more information on Pickleball at the HHPC, call 505-566-3410 or visit

San Juan College Celebrates Exceptional Staff and Faculty

San Juan College faculty and staff were recognized for the outstanding work during the fall 2018 Convocation assembly. Annual distinctions included the Fran Sandoval Support Staff Excellence Award, the Golden Sun Award, the Physical Plant Staff Excellence Award and the President’s Service Excellence Award.  Recipients’ awards and stipends were provided by the San Juan College Foundation.

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones
Nick Tache
Nick Tache

The Fran Sandoval Support Staff Excellence Award was given to two individuals from the Physical Plant department – Nathan Jones and Nick Tache.  Nominated as a pair, they were recognized for their hard work and dedication in keeping the college’s campus clean and beautiful, all while performing their duties with professionalism, great attention to detail, and providing assistance to anyone in need. The award, which carries a $2,000 stipend, was established in 2004 to acknowledge the efforts and contributions of support staff employees whose work has promoted the accomplishment and spirit of San Juan College.

Vernon Willie
Vernon Willie

Vernon Willie was honored with the Golden Sun Award, a peer-to-peer award given twice a year to an employee who exhibits outstanding commitment to the College’s mission and vision. Willie, associate professor of Math, has an innate ability to encourage students through his kindness, understanding and belief in the student’s abilities. The Golden Sun Award carries a $300 stipend.

Laura Darrow
Laura Darrow

The Physical Plant Staff Excellence Award went to Physical Plant employee Laura Darrow, who has worked at the College since 2012. Darrow always finds a way to maintain a positive, helpful attitude. The quality, as well as the quantity of her work, is outstanding. Known as a team player, Darrow has significantly contributed to the overall success of the Physical Plant. A $1,000 stipend is given in honor of this award.

Taylor Haskell representing BIT
Taylor Haskell representing BIT

San Juan College President Dr. Toni Hopper Pendergrass presented the President’s Service Excellence Award to the San Juan College Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT). The BIT Team is an integral part of campus, providing services and support to students, faculty, staff and administration. Led by Taylor Haskell, BIT Team Chair, along with individuals from all areas of the San Juan College family and the extended community, BIT serves as a central point of contact for communication and coordination to discuss and assess issues of concern and care. Last year, through their efforts, this group cared for almost 600 referrals. The Presidential Service Excellence Award carries a $500 stipend to the department and is awarded once a year.

Safety is the Name of the Game

DPS vehiclesSafety is more than part of the name for the staff of Department of Public Safety (DPS) – it is truly their first priority.

The mission of DPS is to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for the San Juan College community, embracing a community-oriented approach and utilizing communication, education, cooperation, and proactive practices.

The Department of Public Safety has opened the lines of communication with students, community members and visitors to San Juan College.

They, along with the college’s Department of Information Technology, implemented the Rave Alert system to notify individuals about campus emergencies, closures and weather alerts. The system automatically sends alerts to those with San Juan College email addresses. Students and employees who opt in, also receive text notifications.

Last year, DPS kicked off Rave Guardian, which allows students, staff and faculty, as well as community members to communicate any campus emergencies or concerns to the college’s DPS staff. “The Rave Guardian system is a great tool to help everyone stay safe” says Director of Public Safety Kenny Hibner.  “We have seen good results with an increase in communication from those who sign up to use Rave Guardian.”

Recently DPS received new uniforms and vehicles.  The uniforms set the officers apart in a crowd, as they are easily recognized as being safety officers.  The new vehicles allow DPS to conduct their job without mechanical issues that could occur with an aging fleet.

“New uniforms and new vehicles were purchased in the last year through the support of Executive Vice President Edward DesPlas and President Toni Hopper Pendergrass,” says Hibner. “The new look has given the officers a sense of pride and professionalism as they conduct day-to-day operations.”

In the near future, the Department of Public Safety will work with the Physical Plant staff to replace the interior door lock system on campus, including re-keying all doors, replacement of the current electronic door access system and current camera system.  The new system will allow for a faster lock-down from inside the buildings in case of an emergency, therefore enhancing safety measures on campus.

DPS staff are continuously increasing their training.  The Criminal Justice Training Authority (CJTA-Police Academy) of San Juan County has opened its doors to help San Juan College officers obtain specialized training in various areas to help ensure a safe campus.

For a campus emergency, the DPS can be reached at 566-3333 or for any other non-emergency calls on campus, call 566-4444.

To learn more and for information on signing up for Rave Guardian and Rave Alert, visit

A Golden Legacy

Greg Golden
Greg Golden

Some would say Gary Golden truly left a legacy at San Juan College. He always had students’ best interest at heart. He served as Vice President for Student Services at San Juan College from 1991 until his unexpected passing in 2004.  He worked with and served students in his administrative roles both at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and at San Juan College.

“Everyone loved working with Gary,” says Gayle Dean, executive director of the San Juan College Foundation. “He laid the foundation for student services at the College.”

Gary’s widow, Kathy Jo Golden Myers, and youngest son, Greg, currently work in education. They credit Gary’s role in education for inspiring them to also serve students.

Kathy Jo serves an adjunct instructor at the San Juan College Dental Hygiene program and is a member of the San Juan College Foundation Board.  “Gary’s active involvement in the community and in education shaped us as a family,” states Kathy Jo. “His passion for students and education greatly influenced us.  In my role at the College, I understand how important education is for students and how it can change their lives.”

Kathy Jo Golden Myers
Kathy Jo Golden Myers

Kathy Jo has served on the Foundation Board since March of 2014. In addition, she teaches second year dental hygiene students. “I didn’t major in education, but am drawn to it through my profession.  I love seeing the ‘lights come on’ in students when they learn something new. Teaching is rewarding and also an opportunity for me to serve.”

Greg didn’t anticipate making education his career. When tasked with declaring his major in college, Greg found himself torn between education, psychology and business. “My dad always enjoyed his job,” recalled Greg. “In the back of my mind, I wanted to enjoy my career, just like my dad, while also serving others.”

As fate would have it, Greg has worked in two of the same positions at UNM his father once held. One of which was working with fraternities and sororities. Most recently, he was hired as the Assistant Dean of Students.  “Our titles are the same. In fact, my office is currently the same space where my Dad once worked,” says Greg. “I guess you could call me a chip off the old block.”

Greg’s role as the Assistant Dean of Students involves working with student conduct, new student orientation, budgeting and the Center for Financial Capability. Ironically, he is serving as an advisor to the students of the parents that Gary once advised.

Kathy Jo, along with Greg and his older brother, Eric, a sales and service representative for Metro Path in Denver, Colorado, created The Gary Golden Memorial Scholarship, through the San Juan College Foundation as a tribute to Gary’s love for education.

“Every dollar plays a part in enriching lives and transforming families for generations,” Dean adds. “The Gary Golden Memorial Scholarship is just one example of creating opportunities for our students.”

The Foundation exists solely to support San Juan College students, staff and programs. As a 501(c)3, tax exempt corporation, its mission is to provide resources to advance and support the college – from assisting students with scholarship funding and state-of-the-art technical equipment, to enhancing programs and supporting educational and cultural opportunities.

For more information on the Gary Golden Memorial Scholarship or to donate to the San Juan College Foundation, go to or call 505-566-3200.