Promoting a healthy lifestyle — SNAPP hosts drug and alcohol forums

SNAPP San Juan College

The 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.

Posted in General News

What’s the big dill with Pickleball?



SJC Pickleball

Opening celebration and ribbon cutting of the new Pickleball courts


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

Posted in General News

Kirtland Native, Arvin Trujillo Serves as Graduation Keynote Speaker

Arvin TrujilloArvin Trujillo, Chief Executive Officer for Four Corners Economic Development, Inc. (4CED), served as the keynote speaker at graduation ceremonies on May 11.

As the CEO of 4CED, he leads the Four Corners region in economic and community development at both the county and regional level.

Trujillo previously served as the Government Affairs Manager at Arizona Public Service Company (APS), Four Corners Power Plant, a position he held since 2010. He worked with both Tribal and non-Tribal communities in San Juan County promoting economic development and community self-reliance.

Trujillo grew up in the Nenahnezad area south of Fruitland. He attended school in Kirtland, graduating from Kirtland Central High School. He has an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Oral Roberts University and completed his graduate studies in Mineral Process with an emphasis on mining at Pennsylvania State University.

Trujillo’s professional career began as a Mining Engineer working for Mobil Coal Producing, Inc. and later working for BHP Minerals – New Mexico Operations, which included Navajo, San Juan and LaPlata mines. While working for the individual mines, he held various engineering and management positions. When working at New Mexico Operations, he worked in Human Resources specifically Labor Relations and Recruitment. In 1999, Trujillo accepted a position with the Begaye-McKenzie Administration as the Executive Director for the Navajo Division of Natural Resources. He served throughout the Begaye-McKenzie Administration and was asked to stay on as Executive Director by Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley.

His accomplishments include partnership with the Navajo Department of Justice, settling the water rights issue between the Navajo Nation and New Mexico, expanding highways 550 and 491, obtaining federal and state authorization to construct the Navajo-Gallup water supply project, as well as negotiating natural resource and wildlife issues with the Hopi Tribe in support of the final resolution of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.

“Coming from the reservation, I found myself working in positions I never thought possible,” states Trujillo. “I have been in discussions with State Legislators and Governors, had the opportunity to testify on important issues before committees at the Tribal level, before State Legislative committees, as well as representing views of the Navajo Nation in Washington, D.C. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the President of the United States and delegations from Israel, Canada and Mexico.”

“From my experiences,” he continues, “I want to share with graduates this one piece of advice: Anything is possible through hard work, applying yourself and staying persistent in your goals. When you try something new, you will make mistakes. Learn from this experience.”

“I want San Juan College students to remember their roots,” Trujillo adds. “There will come a time when you will be asked to give back your time, knowledge and spirit. Home will always be here, but we must find ways to adapt and change to keep it a place to return to and raise a family. As you apply yourself, one day you will look back and wonder how you achieved what was once considered an impossible dream.”

Posted in General News

Sharing Her Story -- Melanie Key Discovers the Power of Finding Her Voice

Melanie KeyFor Melanie Kee, graduating and earning a degree from San Juan College is a goal she has wanted to achieve since high school.  

Kee, a 2009 graduate of Farmington High School, delayed enrollment to San Juan College due to a life-threatening illness as well as a battle with alcoholism. She chose to take time to heal physically and emotionally.

“Because of everything I had been though, I lacked self-confidence and didn’t feel I could express myself nor did I want to be involved in anything,” she explained. “But that all changed when I enrolled at San Juan College in the fall of 2016.”

Kee began growing as a person the longer she attended classes at San Juan College.  She overcame personal fears, began to gain self-confidence and could even feel herself getting stronger emotionally.  “The instructors and staff encouraged me in my studies, and that inspired me all the more,” recalls Kee.

After enrolling, she obtained and maintained a high GPA, became involved in clubs and organizations, took on a leadership role in student government, and has celebrated her sobriety for more than three years.               

By Kee’s third semester at San Juan College, her confidence took her even further – she now felt she had a voice and wanted to tell her story. She discovered her passion for writing, which led to her being awarded the Meritorious Achievement Award from the English department. 

“Writing was a way of expressing myself,” she says. “I was almost envious of older classmates who weren’t nervous, knew what they wanted and were confident in their goals. I knew one day, I wanted to have those same attributes.” 

Kee became involved in PHI THETA KAPPA National Honor Society, a member of the STEM-H program, a Senator in student government, a part of All Nations Leadership Association, a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a contributing writer for the new student paper- San Juan College Press, a part of the publication team for San Juan College’s Perspectives Art and Literacy magazine and actively involved in the Digital Media Arts and Design program, including promoting the Big Idea @ San Juan College, writing the radio advertisements.

She capitalized on the abundance of resources available at San Juan College, specifically the counseling services, the Tutoring Center, the Library and the Native American Center. 

 “Students need to know that people at San Juan College care about them and their future,” she adds. “The resources are there for the students’ best interest to help them succeed.”

 “I am close with my instructors,” says Kee. “Sometimes I just stop by their offices to check in with them. If it wasn’t for them caring about my success both in and out of the classroom, I don’t know if I would be where I am today. I may not have discovered my voice.”

               Kee will have the opportunity to share her story as the student speaker during San Juan College’s graduation ceremony, May 11, where she will receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Digital Media Arts and Design and a Creative Writing certificate.  She plans to attend Fort Lewis College in the fall of 2019 to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. This is only the beginning of her new journey – she plans to become a lawyer, where she can be the “voice” for others.

Posted in General News

Faculty presents TEDx Talk on Fear

Chris Strouthopoulos TEDxThe topic of fear holds special significance to San Juan College Professor Chris Strouthopoulos. Fear has been a subject Strouthopoulos has studied for many years, both as a former Outward Bound mountaineering instructor and a Student Success instructor at San Juan College. He recently shared his experiences on how fear can impact learning at a TEDx Talk in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Fear can be one trait that paralyzes or empowers us as we face new challenges in our lives,” says Strouthopoulos.  “Students have fear of judgement and fear of punishment and would rather underperform on a test or exam ask questions or risk being perceived as ignorant in front of others.”

Utilizing what he learned about fear in the mountains with his Outward Bound participants, Strouthopoulos shared some of the techniques and thought processes that helped build trust in the classroom, which enabled students to push past their fears and achieve success.

A technique Strouthopoulos encouraged to leaders and teachers during his TEDx Talk was to create a culture of psychological safety so that students will have the courage to speak their truth.  If a student feels celebrated after speaking their truth, then they can move past their fear. 

A TEDx event is a local gathering where live TED-like talks and videos previously recorded at TED conferences are shared with the community. The content and design of each TEDx event is unique and developed independently.

The TEDx Talk held at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) campus included a variety of presenters.  Mallory Hagan, the 2013 Miss America pageant winner who was running for Congress at the time of the talk, as well as another speaker from the Forbes list of 30 people under 30.  There was also a recent medical school graduate speaking about how differently he was treated because he uses a wheel chair and what it means to be handicapped.

“Going to a TED event in person is so much more than I expected,” says Strouthopoulos. “It’s not just about the ‘talks.’ It is a whole-day event with discussions, meals, and lots of interaction that you don’t see in the videos.  After each talk there is a question and answer session with the audience. They then encourage people to mingle to continue the ‘talks.’  The people I met and discussions I had were truly memorable.”

To view Chris Strouthopoulos’ TEDx Talk at Georgia Tech, visit

Posted in General News