Chong Keun Chu came full circle from studying art to teaching it. Chu was selected as one of the American Association of Community Colleges' Alumni of the Year award in recognition of where he began, what he has accomplished and for the fact that he passes on his passion for art to countless students as an art professor at Brookhaven College.
Chu left Korea for the U.S. in 1975 and when a new community college, Brookhaven College, opened in 1978 he enrolled in a non-credit art class. With encouragement from his instructor, he moved into the credit programs and went on to earn a bachelor of fine arts degree at SMU and master of fine arts degree at Temple University.
"I spent my first three years in this country dealing with English and cultural changes," says Professor Chu. "Then I wanted to go to school. I wanted to learn more about painting. One day, I took my paintings and drove to Brookhaven College. I stood at the door of a classroom where students were learning to paint, and I told the instructor that I needed an art teacher. When I was a Brookhaven student, my faculty members gave encouragement and confidence so that I knew I could study what I wanted to pursue. I now carry that same spirit to my own students," he says.
Chu has been a full-time Brookhaven College professor for 15 years, and he remains a working artist and periodically returns to his native Korea to lecture art students. His book,
From Trash to Treasure, introduced the system of American art education to Korean students and helped bridge the cultural divide for American and Korean artists.
His work is exhibited frequently in art galleries across the U.S. and in Korea. His work is not just on canvas, either; he and his wife Hyun Ju Chung, also an artist, have designed two of the DART light rail stations.
While we don't limit our alumni to just those who graduated with a certificate or degree from Brookhaven College, we do want to celebrate all our successful students who put in the work and made it to commencement.
More than 800 students applied for graduation, though more than that number would have completed a degree or certificate during the 2016-2017 academic year, but a number don't attend the actual ceremony in May. This year there were about 400 students who reached this milestone and chose to celebrate with family and friends at commencement.
Part of the yearly tradition of commencement now includes giving each of the graduates a small notecard where they can write a brief thank you note to an instructor or staff member who made an impact on the students' time at the college.
Below is just a small sampling of a few of the notes graduates shared (names removed). If you have a story you would like to share about your experiences at Brookhaven, please, just let us know. We will be looking for stories about our alums over the coming year as prepare to celebrate the college's 40th anniversary in 2018.
"You put hope in my mind and heart that pushed me through the years. You showed me I could do anything."
"Thank you for teaching me not only algebra, but other life lessons. You always pushed me and I thank you for that."
"Thank you for my countless visits to your office and answering the thousands of questions that I had and helping me get where I am today."
"Thank you for the endless help and for always being there for me. I am beyond thankful for you."
"My educational experience shaped me to be the compassionate nurse I am today, and it wouldn't have been the same without you, your love, your compassion and encouragement meant the world to me."
Ruth and Randy Schackmann have always been fans of Brookhaven College and they are even more so since their sons attended. Their son Harrison graduated in 2013 from Brookhaven College and son Hunter also attended. "Brookhaven is an excellent educational institution which provides students with the necessary guidance and academic success to further their education," Ruth said.
"Brookhaven not only provides the necessary guidance for students in pursuit of higher education but also helps in preparing them to succeed in today's workplace," Randy added.
The connection with Brookhaven began when Harrison decided to return to Famers Branch after attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. Graduating with honors from R.L. Turner, he was very excited about the opportunity of attending Embry-Riddle; however, once at Embry-Riddle the connection was just not there. With encouragement from his parents, Harrison returned home and enrolled at Brookhaven College. While at Brookhaven, he began to flourish and knew that he had definitely made the right decision.
"He felt the faculty at Brookhaven showed exceptional interest in each student. At times, one professor would actually let Harrison act as the instructor and lead the class discussions," Ruth said. The Shackmanns compliment Brookhaven College for all of its efforts in establishing solid educational pathways for students who plan to continue their education at a four-year university. Harrison is a recent graduate of University of North Texas with a degree in criminal justice and hopes to work in law enforcement or become a teacher.
Harrison's younger brother Hunter endured more of a struggle with regards to entering college; Hunter has dyslexia. While making preparations to enroll Hunter at Brookhaven College, Ruth and Randy were overwhelmed by all of the assistance they received from the disability support services' staff at the college.
"From the beginning the staff was exceptionally helpful and paid special attention to Hunter's particular needs in order to proceed with the admission process," Randy said. Disability services played a major role in acquiring readers to help Hunter complete the assessment tests, which are required before registration by the state of Texas.
"Although the assessment testing took three days, the disability support services made it so convenient and seamless for Hunter," according to Ruth. Ruth proudly shared, "Brookhaven has given Hunter the confidence he needs in order to succeed in college."
The Schackmanns are very proud of Harrison and Hunter for their accomplishments and credit Brookhaven for giving the boys a great start in reaching their educational goals.
Brookhaven College Alumni & Friends recently held their fourth alumni event on May 3. We hosted a small reception for alumni before the Brookhaven Big Band took the stage for their spring concert.
During the reception, alumni had the perfect opportunity to reconnect with other alums, visit with their former professors, and engage in some great networking.
Over the last year, Brookhaven College has been reaching out to their alums and encouraging them to stay connected with the Brookhaven community by attending events and possibly taking part as a volunteer with various campus activities. By hosting events, our alumni and friends group has made successful strides in spreading awareness of this new alumni engagement program.
With more events and activities to follow, the goal is to continue the momentum and build lifelong relationships with our alumni and friends.
Brookhaven College Alumni & Friends offers various opportunities for alumni involvement with student activities. Explore the many ways you can volunteer based on your passions and availability. Help ensure the success of future leaders—and the College—by connecting with prospective and current students. We also offer services and opportunities for you, our alumni.
College Nights – Assist our staff from the Office of Outreach and Recruitment with
Brookhaven "College Nights" at area high schools. Contact: Suzette Vaquera-Constantine at
Sconstantine@dcccd.edu or 976-860-4961.
New Student Orientation – Assist our staff from the Office of Student Life with new student orientations conducted on our campus. Contact: Candace Williams at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-860-4117.
Purple Briefcase – Purple Briefcase is the main platform utilized by the Career Development Center at Brookhaven College to post internships, job opportunities, and other important career-related information. We encourage our alumni to assist our students, as they embark on their careers, by posting internship and job opportunities at their place of employment. In addition, our alumni can also use this service if they are currently seeking employment or looking to change careers. For easy access go to http://www.tinyurl.com/BrookhavenPB.
Career Workshops – The Brookhaven College Career Development Center offers various career workshops throughout the year. For more information on these workshops and Purple Briefcase, please contact Dominica McCarthy at
email@example.com or 972-860-4689.
The DCCCD and the Dallas Independent School District have partnered to open more than 20 collegiate academies. The academies offer students the opportunity to earn up to 60 college credit hours, at no cost, while they complete high school. The model is not so different than what has been emerging over several years with early college high schools, but these will focus on students completing an Associate in Applied Science degree.
The initiative started Fall 2016 with eight academies, and is expanding this year to add 11 more. All were given early college high school status by the Texas Education Agency just a few weeks ago. This brought the total number of DISD and DCCCD early college high schools to 23.
We know that students whose families fall into the lowest 25% in family income are earning degrees at a rate of less than 10 percent nationally. We know that by 2020 about 65% of all new jobs will require post-secondary education. These academies can directly address this gap to make a real difference in the future of Dallas County. We also know that of the close to 5,000 students who applied for one of the early college high schools or the collegiate academies, the parents of only about 200 had earned a bachelor's degree. This illustrates the impact this initiative is having for first-generation college students.
The academies also have a unique feature in that they are partnered with local industries on the different career and technical degree pathways. Partners include top businesses like Amazon Web Services, American Airlines, Baylor Scott & White, Southwest Airlines and Texas Instruments. The partnership is more than mentorship and internship opportunities for students; it's letting the students see the work environment; it's bringing speakers and learning opportunities and it's a real involvement at the academies from the time the students begin.
Find out more about the academies and opportunities for students online here:
The addition of these academies means that all of the colleges of the DCCCD are adding positions for adjunct faculty. Those with the education and real-world experience in career and technical fields could be eligible even without a background in teaching. We know our graduates have the skills and learning needed to share their knowledge with others, so check the postings on the DCCCD website about positions if you have an interest in sharing your knowledge with the next generation.
The Windmill Garden features approximately 4,000 square feet of native and adapted flowering plants, shrubs and grasses to attract pollinators in various beds with a winding gravel pathway. It serves as an outdoor classroom where faculty can integrate assignments and experiences into the environment.
Just over a year ago, the college had its first crowd-sourcing fundraiser to support the Windmill Garden. With the thousands in donations made, the garden grew with the addition of nearly 600 native plants, bulbs and seeds representing 150 species.
The garden has welcomed students from the Brookhaven Head Start Center and Thomas Jefferson High School Collegiate Academy for learning experiences. The garden was also named an official Monarch Waystation.
Plans for phase two of garden expansion and development include: