Tabletop Gaming a Phenomenon at MDC Wolfson

“That dragon has to be a Normal monster, and it can be from Hand, Deck or Graveyard.” “Imagine if you

Isaachar Vinajeras, a proud owner of multiple Yu-Gi-Oh! decks
and a computer science student at Miami Dade College.

get Dark Knight!” “Defense!”

These are the kinds of exclamations you’ve probably heard if you’ve walked past the tables adjacent Teatro Prometeo on the first floor of Building 1, on almost any given day.

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, Isaachar Vinajeras, an avid collector of Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards, sits across from his opponent, a lean youth with black Skullcandy headphones and a short haircut. Both players have mats set out in front of them atop the table, made of a soft felt and decorated with bold illustrations of fictitious creatures. Both of them also have their trusty Deck-Boxes to their right.

As the game ensues, they shuffle shiny paper cards – each one inserted into plastic card protectors – and declare monster names, “what if” plays and attack and defense points with practiced yet modest bravado.

Vinajeras, a computer science student at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus says that Yu-Gi-Oh! is his “hobby”. Inside his bookbag, he’s got three boxes of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, worth hundreds.

He proudly arrays the cards in a crescent upon request.

Vinajeras and his opponents are but two participants of a recurring yet unregulated communion of people – not all of them necessarily MDC students – that join together at almost any time of the day to play card games such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic.

Jesus Acosta, Vice President of Anime Unleashed, says that the table gaming produces a domino effect, wherein increasing amounts of bystanders are motivated to join by simple curiosity.

Although Yu-Gi-Oh! fanatic Vinajeras sits down to play in between classes, Acosta says that the earliest he’s seen players huddled up is 8 a.m.; the latest, 9 p.m.

Many of the attendees know each other through three campus clubs: TableTop Gaming, which focuses on “traditional tabletop games” such as Magic: The Gathering; Video Game Association, whose goal is to produce their own video game, and Anime Unleashed, which affords fans of the genre a chance to enjoy it together.

“Most of the people [that] go to Tabletop, Anime Unleashed, and VGA; we’re all the same group,” says Miguel Diaz, president of the campus’ Video Game Association. “We’re all the nerds.”

Diaz, whose VGA club was featured in Miami Dade College’s student newspaper, The Reporter in February of 2012, says that youth who would normally find themselves on the fringe of society due to their nerdy or geeky interests have jumped on an opportunity to come together.

“Whoouch!” and an accompanying gesture of two hands forcefully coming together is how Diaz describes the phenomenon.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Dr. Joanne Bashford Tapped as InterAmerican Campus President

This piece was published in the Miami Dade College student newspaper, The Reporter. It’s part of a series of articles I wrote for them between August 2013 and May 2015, now being uploaded in whole to


Joanne Bashford believes in reinventing the wheel when it comes to college instruction and policies. As the new president at the InterAmerican Campus she is spearheading a dramatic campus expansion.

“My job as the campus president is to help the campus realize its vision,” said Bashford, who started February 3rd. Bashford assumes the reins of the IAC from Jorge Guerra, who served as interim president.

At its start in 1972, the InterAmerican Campus offered two night courses at the Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. Now the campus is expanding from one building into the 14-story InterAmerican Plaza building located at 701 SW 27th Ave. The College bought that building for $25 million in August 2012 and currently houses some departments there.

“I think Dr. Bashford has an opportunity to [create] an atmosphere that’s very student friendly,” said Guerra, who will return to being Executive Director of Workforce Education & Partnerships at MDC. “[The InterAmerican Plaza] should provide us with almost 50 percent growth opportunity.”

Bashford has long been involved in departments devoted to ensure student success. She comes to IAC after one year at Broward College where she worked as Associate Vice President for Developmental Education/Student Success. In that position, she restructured placement efforts for incoming students.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Florida. She has a master’s in counselor education from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in education from Florida International University.

Previous to Broward, Bashford had a long career at MDC. From 1990 to 1992 Bashford worked as Director of Testing at the Kendall Campus. She then worked as Associate Provost of Institutional Research at the College until 2012. The department coordinates test administration, curriculum evaluation, coordination of student and supervisor feedback and various other responsibilities that provide support for institutional effectiveness, strategic planning, enrollment management and program review.

At the InterAmerican Campus, Bashford will get a chance to affect change. She’s planning staffing changes and campus beautification projects. She’s also impressed by the camaraderie she sees amongst staff and their interactions with the students because of the campus’ small size.

“We would probably all agree that we’d like to see the enrollment grow [and] diversify a bit more,” Bashford said. “[We need] more of a critical mass of younger, traditional college-age students.”

Students think other concerns are more immediate.

“The elevators are horrendous!” said Kevin Mora, an Honors College student at InterAmerican Campus.

Members of the SGA at the InterAmerican campus cite “an absence of recycling bins” and a need to “improve the water fountains with fillers to refill water bottles.”

Student Ronald Cano believes the InterAmerican Plaza holds promise.

“The plaza should be redesigned for students to have a place not only to study but also to have fun and relax,” Cano said.

Bashford is planning on the construction of student gathering spots in between classrooms to foster socialization between the students and steer away from a commuter college identity. Bashford also envisions a green space on the first floor and larger computer courtyard, bookstore, and library.

“[I may] interject some new ideas [but ultimately it’s] what the employees who know the campus and have worked here a long time would like it to be,” Bashford said.