“No Greater Odds” Documentary Stirs the Nation

The cast of "No Greater Odds"

The cast of “No Greater Odds”

By Jessica Vargas

“No Greater Odds” is an inspirational documentary that shows the journey of five College of Southern Nevada students who have overcome overwhelming obstacles while earning their college degrees.

One of the students featured was Barbara Ayarza. She was a high-school dropout who experienced failed marriages and health concerns while being a young mother of six children. From her difficult past to her hopeful future at CSN, her college journey changed her life.

Another student in the documentary was Jaklin Guyumjyan who moved to the United States from Armenia with her family to have a better life. They arrived one day shy of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and faced struggles to find their place in this new country.

Tyrone Foster, another student featured in the documentary, was a sexual-assault victim who has Bipolar Disorder Type II. He found college to be a struggle but made it through to become a motivational speaker.

“By sharing these stories of struggle and triumph, college students will understand that the way their stories end depends on how they begin, because for them there are ‘No Greater Odds’,” according to the description on the film’s website.

“When students see the film, it’s going to remind them they are not alone,” said Monique Makhlouf, featured in the film. “I’m not the only student who went to school while working a full-time job. It was difficult. This film is going to remind students they can do it and show students they can have something better for themselves and a community college is a great fit for most people.”

Pathos filled this documentary with many heart-felt moments. The triumphs of these individuals were inspiring and the results from their studies were empowering.

Another important message found in the film was the need for accessible and affordable higher education found at schools like CSN.

A national objective set forth by President Barack Obama established a goal to have eight million more college graduates by 2020. According to the Lumina Foundation, 60 percent of jobs will require some kind of college degree or certificate.

“Community colleges have a big role to play in this,” said James McCoy, associate vice president of academic success who was involved in the making of the film. He added that five million of those graduates need to come from community colleges. CSN is one of the largest community colleges.

_MG_3783“No Greater Odds” has already captivated audiences and garnered attention of several national higher-education organizations and will be screened in several conferences around the United States.

The film also reached the office of engagement at the White House. They have interest in using the film to help with the Heads Up America campaign focused on providing affordable access to higher education. McCoy and one of the students featured in the film Tyrone Foster spoke with Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

The film will show at the national Achieving the Dream conference in Atlanta in February 2016. Additionally it will show at The League for Innovation in the Community College in Chicago in March and at the NISOD conference in Austin in May.

“I’m really grateful to be a part of something bigger then myself,” said Carlos Holguin, one of the students featured in the film. “Being a part of this documentary I get to do it on a national level. I get this amazing opportunity to make a difference on a big scale. I hope everyone gets to see this documentary—no matter their age or their current situation— and have them feel that they can really do anything they set their minds to.” He thinks people’s potential is limitless.

Locally the documentary has gained attention from Vegas PBS for a potential TV distribution, according to McCoy.

Film maker Patrick Wirtz, director of “No Greater Odds,” said, “We hope it inspires the public at large to realize that community colleges are an essential part of higher education. They shouldn’t be seen as a secondary or lesser than other four-year colleges. Community colleges serve a purpose that should be supported.”

For more information of the film go to http://nogreaterodds.com/.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/139149475″>&quot;No Greater Odds&quot; Extended Trailer</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/nogreaterodds”>No Greater Odds</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


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