Santa Ana College’s Ten Tips to Avoid the Car Repair Blues

March 28, 2012
"auto mechanic giving thumbs up signal"

Santa Ana College suggests that you take your car to an auto repair shop that employs ASE-certified technicians.

Glen Hammonds, chair of Santa Ana College’s (SAC) automotive and diesel technology program, offers the following ten tips to help avoid the car repair blues:

  1. Make sure the auto repair shop employs ASE-certified technicians. There should be an ASE Blue Seal sign or visit for a facility near you.
  2. Find out if the mechanic who will repair your car is ASE-certified. This ensures that he/she is a professional who meets minimum industry standards. Once you’ve identified a mechanic that you are comfortable with, stick with him/her. Don’t jump around looking for the best deal—this may get you in trouble.
  3. Check out the list of AAA-approved auto repair shops by visiting
  4. The customer has the right to get a written work order. Everything that will be done must be approved in writing ahead of time.
  5. Good auto repair shops stand behind their work. Ask for a guarantee in writing and find out what it covers.
  6. If the mechanic’s recommendation doesn’t make sense, trust your gut. Get a second opinion and don’t leave your car there.
  7. Don’t replace an air filter just because a mechanic tries to sell you on the idea. Basic car maintenance suggests changing your air filter each year or every 12,000-15,000 miles.
  8. Make sure that the part you are sold is in fact new if that is what is being sold to you. You can ask to examine the part to make sure it looks new. You can also ask to receive your old part.
  9. Get informed; seek out a class on the basics of auto maintenance. Your local community college may have one.
  10. Even a prudent consumer can get scammed. If you have a complaint about a car repair, turn it in to the Bureau of Automotive Repair, part of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Santa Ana College’s (SAC) automotive technology program is accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, Inc. (NATEF) and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). For more information, contact Glen Hammonds at (714) 564-6664 or


Zoot Suit Hits the Stage at Santa Ana College on March 8

February 29, 2012
Red and black image from "Zoot Suit" poster

"Zoot Suit," the first Chicano play produced on Broadway, is Santa Ana College's spring production.

Since its original production by the Centre Theatre Group and El Teatro Campesino in 1978, Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit, the first Chicano play produced on Broadway, has retained its relevancy. The play is a fictionalized version of the notorious 1942 Sleepy Lagoon murder trial in Los Angeles.

Thirty-four years later, Santa Ana College (SAC) brings Zoot Suit to the stage beginning March 8 at Phillips Hall Theatre, 1530 W. 17  St. in Santa Ana. Show dates are March 8, 9, 10, 15, and 16 at 8:00 p.m. and March 11 and 18 at 2:30 p.m. General admission is $14; students/seniors/staff tickets are $12. This production is recommended for mature audiences.

“Sleepy Lagoon murder” was the name that newspapers and radio reporters used to describe the murder of José Díaz, whose body was found near a lagoon in southeast Los Angeles, California, on August 2, 1942. The murder led to the criminal trial of 21 Latino young men; whose convictions were reversed in 1944. The trial is perceived as the precursor of the Zoot Suit Riots in 1943, a series of riots between Caucasian sailors and Marines and Latino youths, who were known for the zoot suits they often wore.

The SAC production of Zoot Suit, written by Luis Valdez, is directed by Chris Cannon, SAC assistant professor of theatre.

“The play is influenced by the Living Newspaper style of theatre popular in the 1930s,” said Cannon. “This genre exposes current events through dramatizations. Zoot Suit is about prejudice, heritage, and defiance. And as Luis Valdez has stated, if we do harm to any of our citizens, we do harm to ourselves and to our nation.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit or call (714) 564-5661. Tickets purchased online are discounted by $1 each.

IWE, SCORE, and SBA Team Up to Host Women Business Owners Conference on March 23

February 10, 2012

Women Business Owners Conference - www.wboconference.comAccording to the U.S. Census, there are more 27 million small businesses nationwide, and more than 28 percent are owned by women. It is estimated that women-owned businesses will account for one-third of the new jobs created by 2018.

To support the success of women-owned businesses in Southern California, the Institute for Women Entrepreneurs (IWE), SCORE Orange County, and the U.S. SBA Santa Ana District Office are hosting the Women Business Owners Conference at the Anaheim Marriott, 700 West Convention Way, Anaheim, CA, on Friday, March 23, 2012 from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The conference’s theme is “21st Century Marketing: How to Grow Your Business in Today’s World.”

The full-day conference, designed especially for women business owners, will address the unique challenges and issues relating to marketing a business in today’s economy.  Conference registration is $95, including breakfast, lunch, parking, an afternoon tea, no-charge business consulting, and full access to presentations by business experts.  For more information and to register, contact (714) 480-7455 or visit

“Our goal is to help female entrepreneurs learn how to survive and thrive in this challenging economy. We have brought together a group of outstanding presenters who are leaders in the fields of social media, global marketing and government contracting,” said Kari Irwin, director of the IWE. 

The Women Business Owners Conference boasts a schedule of expert speakers, including asset manager Deb Wetherby, small business expert Rieva Lesonsky, author of Start and Run a Profitable Exporting Business Laurel Delaney, branding expert Liz Goodgold, and many others.

This conference is made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Business & Entrepreneurship Center, SCORE Orange County, and Kaiser Permanente. Additional sponsorship opportunities ranging from $500 to $20,000 are available.

Santa Ana College President Attends U.S. Department of Education Think Tank on College Completion Jan. 30 in Washington, DC

January 30, 2012
"The Santa Ana College President Erlinda Martinez, Ed.D."

Erlinda Martinez, Ed.D., president of Santa Ana College, attends symposium on college completion on Monday, Jan. 30, in Washington DC.

Erlinda Martinez, Ed.D., president of Santa Ana College (SAC), has been invited to attend a one-day symposium on college completion on Monday, Jan. 30, in Washington DC. Martinez will join 23 higher education leaders, 16 well-known researchers, and eight policy experts to identify evidence-based best practices that work to increase college completion. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will address the gathering and ask participates to think about innovative, affordable ways to substantially boost college completion.

In recent years, Santa Ana College has been recognized for innovative measures that increase student retention and college completion. They include:

  • Freshman Experience: The program, which helps students learn how to study, take notes, manage time, and take exams, has resulted in a college completion rate of 82 percent for its participants. The statewide Academic Senate for Community Colleges selected SAC’s Freshmen Experience to receive its Exemplary Program Award as an outstanding community college program of 2011-2012.
  • Santa Ana ¡Adelante!:  The initiative guarantees that all Santa Ana Unified School District students who graduate from high school, enroll at SAC, and complete all academic requirements and application paperwork will be admitted as transfer students to California State University, Fullerton or to University of California, Irvine. Recently, the Lumina Foundation provided a total of $600,000 over a four-year period to help fund the Santa Ana ¡Adelante! program.
  • Santa Ana Partnership: The partnership dates back to 1982, when the institutional members of the partnership first gathered to jointly analyze barriers to student success in the Santa Ana area. More recently, community-based initiatives including Padres Promotores have encouraged college entrance and completion.
  • According to Community College Week, SAC ranks 25th among the top 100 associate degree producers for “total minority” students in the nation. In addition, among the top 100 associate degree producers nationwide, SAC ranks 13th for Hispanic students and 20th for Asian American students.

Celebrate Youth Entrepreneurship on Thursday, January 26

January 23, 2012
"Young female and male business people"

The Youth Entrepreneurship Program is hosting a YEP 2.0 Networking Event, “Your Business Makeover 2012,” on January 26 at 6:00 p.m. at 2323 N. Broadway, Room 107, Santa Ana, CA 92706.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise. With Orange County’s unemployment rate at 7.8 percent and jobs still hard to come by, it’s no wonder that so many young people are launching their own businesses.

To help young entrepreneurs ages 18 to 27 succeed, the Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP), an economic development program of Rancho Santiago Community College District, is hosting a YEP 2.0 Networking Event.  “Your Business Makeover 2012” is slated for 6:00 p.m. at 2323 N. Broadway, Room 107, Santa Ana, CA 92706.

“This free event will help aspiring young entrepreneurs get 2012 off on the right foot,” said Maricela Sandoval, YEP coordinator.

The event will feature a presentation by serial entrepreneur Oscar Garcia, OG Branding Education founder. He brings with him over 15 years of experience in web development, marketing and software development.  At a young age, he helped create a marketing company that reached the Forbes 500 list in its first three years in business.

“Your Business Makeover 2012” will also feature:

  • Refreshments and appetizers;
  • A “pitch it” corner where participants will be able to share their entrepreneurial ideas and receive expert feedback;
  • A young entrepreneurs business expo;
  • The presentation of the high school fast pitch contest winners;
  • Upcoming opportunities to assist young entrepreneurs in growing their businesses, including the “Entrepreneurial Marketing and Management” seminar on February 10, valued at $300 to be offered free to qualifying businesses

Registration is free at Educators and business service providers are welcome. For more information, contact the Youth Entrepreneurship Program at (714) 564-5533.

Orange County SBDC Client Receives Google Uptick Award

November 16, 2011
"Four people are smiling in front of a medical manikin"

(From left to right) Genesis Medical Education Consultants C.F.O. Richard Birdsall, Richard’s mother and co-owner Sherri Birdsall, Orange County SBDC director Leila Mozaffari, and Richard’s wife and office manager Nicki Birdsall celebrate the company's national honor.

Genesis Medical Education Consultants (GMEC), a Brea-based continuing education provider for California’s health care professionals, was recently honored by the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) and Google with a Google Uptick Award. GMEC is one of five small businesses nationwide selected for this honor. The Uptick Award contest invited businesses to submit a 350-word essay outlining how they used Google products to grow their businesses.

GMEC offers certification and renewal classes in IV therapy for RN’s and LVN’s, advanced cardiovascular life support, American Heart Association CPR certification and renewal, and more. The enterprise has relied on Gmail, Google Adwords™, Google Analytics™, and Google Maps™ as go-to business tools. They were encouraged to use and leverage Google tools to expand their reach by Orange County Small Business Development (SBDC) consultant Manal Richa.

“Working with the Orange County SBDC consultants like Manal Richa and Mark McCallick has helped make our company much sounder financially and structurally,” said Richard Birdsall, GMEC C.F.O.

After each consulting session with the Orange County SBDC, the GMEC management team—Richard Birdsall, Richard’s mother and co-owner Sherri Birdsall, and Richard’s wife and office manager Nicki—has work to do. They take their assignments seriously and since GMEC’s launch in 2007, the family-owned business has grown from its original three full-time employees with the addition of eight part-time employees. Its revenue has increased by 328 percent in four years.

The company attributes much of its growth to its increased online presence. They worked closely with Orange County SBDC consultant Richa who helped them begin using Google Adwords.The heightened search engine presence is boosting company referrals. Because of the increase in demand for their services, they have added a Long Beach location, and plan expansion to Santa Barbara soon. As they grow, they will continue to take the Orange County SBDC advice to heart.

“It is difficult to find someplace that you can trust and that’s worth working with,” said Richard Birdsall. “I now understand how many things can fall between the cracks. The SBDC is the first place I tell anyone to call when they want to start or grow a business.”

For more information about the Orange County SBDC, call (714) 564-5200 or visit The Orange County SBDC is an economic development program of Rancho Santiago Community College District.

Santa Ana Student Selected to Design Robotic Rover for NASA

October 26, 2011
"Patricia Sullivan in NASA t-shirt with standing next to a telescope"

Santa Ana College scholar Patricia Sullivan will travel to Huntsville, Ala., to take part in NASA's National Community College Aerospace Scholar program.

Santa Ana College (SAC) student Patricia Sullivan has been selected as a National Community College Aerospace Scholar (NCAS). Sullivan is one of 48 students from 25 states who will travel to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for a three-day program Nov. 8 through 10. There, alongside her peers, NASA scientists, engineers, astronauts, and administrators, Sullivan will establish a team and create a company infrastructure to design and develop a rover.

She is the only Orange County student tapped for this honor; there are a total of seven from California. Fewer than 300 students have been selected to take part in NASA’s prestigious National Community College Aerospace Scholars program since its inception in 2009.

For the 50-year-old Orange resident, who plans to graduate in June 2012 and transfer to California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), being named by NASA is a dream come true. For years, the mother of six and grandmother of four concentrated her attention on raising her children. Prior to returning to college in 2010, her role was as a mother and a wife. But even back then, she dreamt of running shows in a planetarium.

“The spark for my love of astronomy came from watching the Apollo 11 launch on TV,” says Sullivan.

A second-year student at SAC, Sullivan, who carries a 4.0 GPA, was in Dr. Steve Eastmond’s Astronomy 110 “Introduction to Stars and Galaxies” class when she learned of the NASA program.

“Patricia is the most motivated and engaged student I have had in my 38 years of teaching astronomy at Santa Ana College,” says Steve Eastmond, Ph.D., SAC professor, physical science.

Students were selected by a NASA panel based on an application, letter of recommendation and project evaluation. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and currently pursuing their degrees at community colleges and have an interest in mathematics, science, engineering or computer science.

To get accepted by the NASA program, Sullivan had to design her concept for a manned space mission to Mars. Working independently
over the summer, she had eight weeks to turn in an abstract, create a timeline, and write a full-blown proposal for a robotic rover complete with a line drawing of her rover.

“At the beginning of the summer, there were 240 individuals under consideration, but after the summer projects were reviewed
and graded, there were 48 named to go to Huntsville,” says Sullivan.

The cost of Sullivan’s proposed four-year mission would be $805 million. The mission’s goal is to assess the possibility of life on Mars.

Today, Sullivan is working on an associate of arts degree in business management with an emphasis in astronomy. After finishing her bachelor’s degree at CSUF, she hopes to work in management for the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

She talks enthusiastically about how she will put her NASA experience to work for the community. As the president of MANA de Orange County, a national Latina organization, Sullivan will share her NCAS experiences with the girls who attend MANA’s annual Adelante Conference. “I hope I can encourage more of them to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields,” she said. She also plans on making presentations in the Santa Ana schools.

And as Sullivan sees it, everything comes around in a beautiful circle. In May, she will be trained and ready to run three shows on her own at Tessmann Planetarium.

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