MCC Hall of Fame

The MCC Hall of Fame honors alumni, community members, and MCC employees whose personal and professional accomplishments and positive contributions to the college and community set them apart. They amaze and inspire. 

We present the most recent inductees below. Peruse their profiles to see their stellar accomplishments. You can also use our handy search tools to find past inductees.  

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Hall of Fame Honorees

2017 Outstanding Athlete

Albie Lopez, a right-handed pitcher for the Westwood Warriors, was a member of the 1989 United States Junior Olympic team, which won gold and bronze medals. He was awarded a full athletic scholarship for baseball at MCC and led the Thunderbirds to the 1990 Junior College World Series while earning First Team All-American honors for himself. Albie was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 1991, and... Read More

2017 Alumni Achievement

Gilbert Orrantia is the Director of Arizona’s Department of Homeland Security. An Arizona native, he was raised in Mesa, graduated from MCC in 1978 and, after earning a Bachelor of Science in Education from Arizona State University, he taught junior high in the Mesa Public Schools for two years. He left the halls of education to serve in the FBI for 26 years, receiving two of the highest... Read More

2017 Outstanding Athlete

Jan-Erik Palm led MCC to its first and only NJCAA Championship in tennis in 1972, along with doubles partner Stellan Björk. He was First Team All-American in 1972, and was honored as an All-American in 1973. After his success at MCC, Jan-Erik received a tennis scholarship to Arizona State University, where he played No. 1 singles and doubles and served as Team Captain during his senior year. Jan-... Read More

2017 Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Jeffrey Andelora is a leader, both locally and nationally, in the teaching of English. Jeff has taught at MCC since 1996 and has been elected by his peers to serve as Chair of the English Department since 2007. He currently serves MCC as the Interim Dean of Instruction for Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, a leadership position that enables him to help establish the strategic direction... Read More

2017 Alumni Achievement

Joan Sullivan Garrett is Founder and Chairman of the Board for MedAire. A 1979 graduate of MCC’s nursing program, Joan recognized the need for remote medical care after assisting a seriously injured 8-year-old boy in a remote desert area as a critical-care registered flight nurse. The experience propelled Joan to create an industry that remains the gold standard across the globe. Since its... Read More

2017 Alumni Achievement

Karl Schroeder rose through the ranks from courtesy clerk to executive leader. He is now President of the Seattle Division for Albertsons Companies, where he is responsible for 239 stores in Washington, Alaska, and Northern Idaho under the Safeway, Albertsons, Carrs, and Haggen banners. Karl earned an associate’s degree from Mesa Community College, a certification in Food Industry Management... Read More

2017 Alumni Achievement

Matt Salmon is Vice President for Government Affairs at Arizona State University, where he oversees the university’s federal, state, community and tribal relations, while assisting ASU in advancing its global strategy, including working with the governments of other countries to advance international projects. After attending MCC, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from ASU and... Read More

2017 Alumni Achievement

Dr. Michael Ropacki is a clinical neuroscientist specializing in neurological disorders, specifically neurodegenerative diseases. Michael is Senior Vice President of Research and Development at MedAvante, an innovator in the collection, management, and analysis of clinical trial data. A member of the Critical Path Institute’s Coalition Against Major Disease’s digital Drug Development Tool Team,... Read More

2017 Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Richard Effland, Jr., received Faculty Emeritus distinction to honor his 25-year career teaching Anthropology at Mesa Community College. Rick's expansive expertise enabled him to teach every sub-discipline in anthropology, which includes archaeology, cultural, and biological anthropology. A pioneer in the use of technology for teaching, learning, and online course development, Rick developed... Read More

2017 Service

Robin Arredondo-Savage, Tempe Vice Mayor and MCC alumna, is a 21-year Tempe small business manager whose involvement in the community spans more than 20 years. She has served as Chairman and Board member for the Tempe Chamber of Commerce and on the Board of Directors for the Tempe Community Council. Robin’s eight years of service to the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board includes... Read More

2017 Outstanding Athlete

Stellan Björk paired with Jan-Erik Palm to create the Swedish doubles duo that led MCC to the NJCAA Tennis Championship in 1972. Stellan earned All-American honors in 1972 as well as regional championships in 1972 and 1973. Serving as team captain, Stellan notes that the 1973 team was even stronger, and Coach Christensen had the team competing successfully against four-year schools such as ASU, U... Read More

2016 Alumni Achievement Award

Bland Burchett is an engineer with the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. His 33 distinguished years serving our nation began as a reliability engineer and evolved into various responsibilities in weapons development and testing, where he has overseen diverse groups of scientists, engineers, and technicians. Bland Burchett has written or collaborated on technical papers relating to... Read More

2016 Outstanding Athlete Award

Derek Price was MCC Football’s Most Valuable Player in 1992 and was honored as the All-American Junior College Grid Wire Tight End and Western Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He earned a scholarship to the University of Iowa followed by a career in the NFL as a tight end for the Detroit Lions. His time in the NFL was cut short due to a severe neck injury, which required career-ending... Read More

2016 Alumni Achievement Award

Emmet Ronan began his career as a trial attorney for the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office and entered private practice in 1982, becoming a partner in law firm of Henze, Ronan, and Clark. He returned to the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office for eight years before being appointed as a judge to the Maricopa County Superior Court in 1999. His court assignments over his 15 years on the... Read More

2016 Alumni Achievement Award

John Giles was named Mesa Man of the Year in 2013. John Giles has served on, and often led, more than 20 boards and committees in Mesa and the surrounding community, including the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority. Most notably, he has served on the Mesa United Way Board of Directors for more than 15 years, which includes terms as board chair and campaign chair. Involved in interfaith... Read More

2016 Excellence in Teaching Award

Karen Hardin, Ed.D. received Faculty Emeritus distinction from the Maricopa Community Colleges to honor her 31-year career fostering student success at Mesa Community College. Passionate about recruiting and retaining underserved students, as a faculty member and chair of the MCC Counseling Department, Dr. Karen Hardin mentored students individually and through large-scale programs. Students... Read More

2016 Outstanding Athlete Award

Ken Phelps played baseball at MCC in 1974, where he earned First Team All-Conference and First Team All-American honors. He holds an MCC record for 17 homeruns in a season and went on to Arizona State University, where he was named to the College World Series All-Star Team in 1976. Ken was drafted by Kansas City Royals in the 1976 Major League Baseball draft, gaining a reputation as a feared... Read More

2016 Outstanding Staff Award

Matthew Ashcraft is the Dean of Institutional Analysis and Planning at Mesa Community College, where he leads research, planning, and implementation of strategic initiatives. He works closely with faculty on learning-outcomes assessment and provides executive leadership for the college’s accreditation activities. Prior to MCC, Matt held positions at the University of Phoenix and Glendale... Read More

2016 Outstanding Coach Award

Penny Powell coached Women’s Tennis at MCC from 1975 to 2007. In her 22 years as a coach, the Thunderbirds won 13 Arizona Community College Athletic Conference championships with additional second- and third-place season finishes throughout the years. The Thunderbirds placed in the top three in the region more than 20 times, of which nine were championships. Penny was honored as the 2000... Read More

2016 Outstanding Athlete Award

Peter Fennell was an All American, first team honoree for the National Junior College Tennis Conference and the Arizona Community College Tennis Champion in both singles and doubles in 1968 and 1969. He lost only one singles match in conference play during his two years at Mesa, and was undefeated in conference doubles with partner Chris Evenson. Peter, a 1969 MCC graduate and member of the Men’... Read More

2016 Outstanding Coach Award

Selmer Olson was an MCC coach and residential faculty member in the Exercise Science department for more than 35 years. Track and Field defined Selmer’s career. As an assistant coach from 1971 to 1981, the Thunderbirds were four-time National Team Champions and our athletes set records in javelin, discus, and shotput, including a world record in shotput. Four top 10 NJCAA finishes followed from... Read More

2016 Excellence in Teaching Award

Shereen Lerner, Ph.D. is an award-winning teacher with 35 years of field and research experience in Southwestern archaeology. Dr. Shereen Lerner has taught at MCC since 1992. Her courses go beyond the mystique of Indiana Jones, showing students how anthropology can relate to their lives and help shape their perspective on the human condition. Shereen has spent summers teaching abroad in Austria,... Read More

2016 Outstanding Staff Award

Sonia Filan has worked for MCC for 29 years, rising from public relations assistant to executive leader. In her current position as Director of Institutional Advancement and Entrepreneurial Programs, Sonia Filan is responsible for community relations and promoting MCC to internal and external audiences through marketing, media, and public relations. Under her leadership, the National Council... Read More

2016 Alumni Achievement Award

Timothy Dorn began his highly decorated military and law enforcement career at MCC in 1975 as a security officer. His talent was recognized early in his career, when he was honored as the 1976 Gilbert Police Officer of the Year and 1978 MCSO Deputy Sheriff of the Year. He rose to the rank of captain with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, and in 2001 returned to the Gilbert Police Department... Read More

2015 Alumni Achievement Award

Deborah Bateman is a 1971 MCC graduate who went from bank teller to vice president and now Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for National Bank of Arizona. She is a published author and operates her own mentoring business, and is a frequent featured speaker at seminars, meetings and conferences across the country. She is also heavily involved in community volunteerism, and has been honored... Read More

2015 Service Award

Diana Occhiuzzi received an Associate of Arts degree from MCC in 1969. After graduating from ASU she later became a high school teacher in Tempe for 27 of her 40-year education career. She has worked at the Arizona Department of Education as the Fashion Forum Event Coordinator since 2010, and has won numerous awards for teaching excellence and student service. She also has been involved in dozens... Read More

2015 Excellence in Teaching Award

Duane Oakes has been with MCC since 2000, and is Faculty Director for the Center for Community & Civic Engagement. He’s also been advisor to MCC’s award-winning Phi Theta Kappa student scholars organization, one of the nation’s largest. He has won numerous awards for his leadership roles in student life, Phi Theta Kappa, and service learning, and he was previously director of student... Read More

2015 Alumni Achievement Award

Hermenigilda Luna is a registered nurse who graduated from MCC in 1994, and is now Director of Nursing Services at University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. Also a graduate of Grand Canyon University and a current Master’s degree student at Benedictine University, worked as an R.N. for Hospice of the Valley, and participated in... Read More

2015 Alumni Achievement Award

Jennifer Duff graduated from MCC in 1980, and in 2012 graduated from the Mesa Leadership and Development Training program. A professional bass angler, she is president and owner of Lobina Lures, which manufactures and distributes fishing lures, and is president and owner of Jef International, Inc., an import/export trading business specializing in sports fishing tackle. Jennifer Duff studied... Read More

2015 Alumni Achievement Award

Keith Ballard attended MCC in 1990-91, and is currently Director of Music for Southwest Middle School in San Diego, CA. Teaching in a high poverty area near the international border between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico, Keith started a mariachi music program which has grown to other schools in his district and been featured nationally. He is a noted speaker, presenter and music... Read More

2015 Excellence in Teaching Award

Lyn Dutson was a theatre and speech instructor who taught at MCC for 40 years. The winner of numerous teaching, service, and theatre awards, she was named MCC Outstanding Teacher in 1992-93, and MCC Distinguished Woman of the Year in 2008. She’s been an instructor and student at the Arizona Ch’uan Fa Society since 1997, and has a black belt in Chinese Kempo. What has always made Lyn Dutson... Read More

2015 Outstanding Athlete Award

Robert Jacks was a versatile athlete, competing for MCC in Tennis, Basketball and Track (he attended on dual scholarships for tennis and basketball). Robert Jacks graduated from MCC in 1967. He was ranked third in the state and 21st in the nation in tennis, shot a team best 67 percent from the floor in basketball, and set a school record at the time for the high jump at 6 feet, three inches. Now... Read More

2015 Outstanding Athlete Award

Ronald Powell started playing tennis when he was 12, and by the time he got to MCC, he was already a decorated state, sectional and national high school tournament winner, and had competed for ASU for a year. While at MCC he and the tennis team qualified for the National Junior College Championships, and Ronald was ranked first in the state in men’s singles. He retired from the United States... Read More

2015 Alumni Achievement Award

Terence Azbill attended MCC 1974-76, serving as Chief Justice of the Student Court and playing on the 1975 National Junior College Championship Football Team. After MCC, he began a distinguished career in law enforcement, and was nominated and selected by Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt to attend the International School of Police Executives at Northwestern University.  Terence returned to MCC... Read More

2015 Outstanding Coach Award

Tony Cirelli played baseball for MCC in 1981, and has been our head baseball coach since 1995. He has the most baseball wins in school history at 755 and counting. In 2014, he led the Thunderbirds to their first national baseball championship since 1972. He has been honored with no less than seven conference and regional coaching awards during his career, including national Coach of the Year in... Read More