Cheryl Filmore, Associate in General Studies Degree

MCC Grad Motivates Others

Cheryl Fillmore - Associate in General Studies DegreeCheryl Fillmore - Associate in General Studies Degree

Cheryl Fillmore’s degree may have taken 38 years to complete, but she’s thrilled about the accomplishment and likes to motivate others with her story. When Fillmore, 55, graduated from high school in Detroit in 1977, she planned to go to college, but important things like children, work and illness always impeded her progress. After three attempts over the last four decades, Fillmore completes her degree this semester and will march with her classmates during Mesa Community College’s Commencement ceremony.

Fillmore, mother of three, grandmother of seven and a colon cancer survivor, said she’s the first in her family to earn a college degree. “It’s a big deal to me,” Fillmore said. “This degree is to me, from me. I’d like it to motivate both my girls and let them and others know that it’s never too late to go back to college or to do whatever you want to do.”

Fillmore is currently pastor of Apache Junction Cowboy Church and a small business owner. In the past, she has worked in sales and accounting for companies including the East Valley Tribune and Pennysaver. She opened her own business, CMG Marketing, selling promotional items, 14 years ago.

Along the way, she persisted in obtaining her degree. “The Lord gives you little windows and you have to climb through them whenever you can,” Fillmore said. 

She credits Spencer Peterson, MCC’s Director of Instructional Support Services at the Red Mountain Campus, to helping her navigate her way through transferring credits and planning a strategy to complete her degree. She also received considerable assistance and advice from MCC teachers Michael Wintz and Kaatje Kraft.

Kraft gave her this piece of advice about learning things at an advanced age: “She said, “Picture that your brain is like a road that no one goes down. The more you go down it, the better the road becomes and the more traction you get.’” Fillmore’s advice to other students of any age, especially women, as they enter college is inspiring as well.

“(Earning a degree) is doable, no matter what’s going on in your life, if you just focus,” Fillmore said. “It’s important to do this for yourself.”

Cheryl Fillmore, 55, Apache Junction, Red Mountain Campus, General Studies

Degree(s) earned: Associate of General Studies Degree

Transferring to: No plans to transfer