All Success Stories

Aaron Holtz
Aaron Holtz’s passion for international relations began on Sept. 11, 2001, as he watched planes crash into the World Trade Center in New York City on a television at Mesa Community College. After watching the chaos on the screen, he walked to his next class taught by Brian Dille, Ph.D., professor of political science. “No one knew what was going on,” Holtz said. “I went to Dille’s class and he... Read more about Aaron Holtz
Andy Bridges
Mesa Community College biology student Andy Bridges has really had a “hands on” experience working in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park. In the past two seasons at the park he captured, marked, measured and weighed more than 1,200 lizards, snakes, toads and small mammals.   In his paid position as a Seasonal Biological Technician in the park, Bridges gathered data to contribute to a long-... Read more about Andy Bridges
Arlen Sykes
When Arlen Sykes retired from the U.S. Navy, he decided to attend Mesa Community College to become a physics teacher. It didn’t take him long to switch his major. “I wasn’t doing well in math, and I went to Dr. Ewing, and she said maybe it’s a good thing, because what kind of teacher would you be when it’s hard to associate with those struggling in class,” he said of his math studies. “She made... Read more about Arlen Sykes
Brad Hull
Mesa Community College alumnus Brad Hull recently experienced the thrill of walking the red carpet at the Country Music Awards as a member of the country trio Due West.   Hull, who began his career in music at MCC, said he and his band had a hard time believing they were at the awards show as artists, not just fans. “To be on the other side was surreal,” Hull said.  “We have all been big fans... Read more about Brad Hull
Brian Koeneman
1) Please describe your affiliation with MCC.  As a senior in high school I had a few required classes left to complete for graduation and had to make a decision regarding what to do with my extra time before starting college the following year.  Options of a part-time job, extra-curricular activities, and elective high school classes were considered, then a family friend suggested enrolling at... Read more about Brian Koeneman
Charles A. Finch
Emergency Medicine (EM) physician Charles A. Finch of Scottsdale Emergency Associates, who works at the HonorHealth Scottsdale Hospitals, recently lent his EM expertise to Mesa Community College students amidst gunshot wounds, burn victims and mental health “patients.” Finch, an MCC alumnus and medical director of the Fire Science Paramedic and EMT Program, attended the college in 1985. This... Read more about Charles A. Finch
Courtney Waxman
After graduating from Mesa Community College with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Veterinary Technology/Animal Health in 2008, Tempe resident Courtney Waxman has found a great deal of success as a specialist in emergency and critical care as well as a speaker and representative for Valley veterinarians. Waxman first found out about the MCC Veterinary Technology Program when a career... Read more about Courtney Waxman
Danette Key
MCC alumna Danette Key discovered that sometimes change opens up access to inner creativity.   Born and raised in Arizona, Key worked in the insurance industry for 26 years. But when she and her husband decided to make a change and move to upstate New York, Key began a whole new career as an author of young adult novels.   “My life changed when we moved,” Key said.  “Sometimes change motivates... Read more about Danette Key
Dave Schneider
Thirteen miles from shore and 120 feet above the water, Diamond Shoals Light Station (DSLS) soars above the Atlantic. The sound of wind and picturesque views envelop visitors. It was not the serenity, however, that attracted MCC Alumnus and Zap Water Technology, Inc. President Dave Schneider to the decommissioned Coast Guard Light Station – it was the possibilities. “I’ve already been... Read more about Dave Schneider
Deborah Bateman
When Deborah Bateman attended Mesa Community College, two classes ended up being what she calls “the underpinning foundation of my life.” “I became very involved in business classes at the time, and competed in state and national contests as a member of DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America),” Deborah said. “Communications and Speech classes ended up being really formative for me,... Read more about Deborah Bateman
Garry Weiss
Garry Weiss of Mesa is an educator who has taught since 1992 in Ohio, Utah, Mexico and Arizona at the high school and college level. Prior to his current teaching career he had a career in sales and marketing as Marketing Manager with Pizza Time Theater and in sales with Terminex. He loves camping and anything involving his grandchildren. He and his wife have been involved with several large... Read more about Garry Weiss
Geoff Coppola
Geoff Coppola’s fascination with the pattern and beauty in nature is the inspirationbehind an innovative piece of art recently installed near the physical science building at Mesa Community College’s Southern and Dobson campus. Coppola collaborated with MCC math and computer science professor Madeleine Chowdhury to bring his design to life, AllisOneenOsillA, a palindrome for All is One, One is... Read more about Geoff Coppola
Gilbert Orrantia
What’s it like to have one of your first college classes taught by your father? We asked Mesa Community College alumnus Gilbert M. Orrantia, (1976-78) now the Director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security, about his experience taking a Spanish class taught by his father in the ‘70s. “It was actually fun to be sitting in one of my dad's classes,” said Orrantia, whose father, Gilbert,... Read more about Gilbert Orrantia
Harmony Colella
Harmony Colella’s “fascination with destruction” began when she was seven years old. Living in California at the time, she remembers hearing a loud noise and feeling the ground shake. Colella reports that she wasn’t frightened, in fact, she found it extremely interesting. Her mother yelled to her to get underneath the door for safety. When it was over, they surveyed the damage. The earthquake... Read more about Harmony Colella
Jacy Smith
Mesa Community College alumna Jacy Smith, class of 2008, works hard to help people “bridge the gap” when it comes to technology. Her business, ReFresh IT, assists business owners in understanding what they need and helps implement a specific plan to accomplish their goals. Jacy began her career in IT at MCC in 2006 when she took web design and art classes at the Southern and Dobson campus. She... Read more about Jacy Smith
James Abbott
For most of us, the phrase “path of least resistance” probably does not include studying Psychology at a major university and advanced courses in science and math on the way to Optometry school. But most of us are not MCC alumnus Dr. James Abbott, who came home to open his Optometry practice in Mesa 35 years ago. “I started at MCC in the summer of 1972, and received my Associate of Arts degree... Read more about James Abbott
Jennifer Duff
When Jennifer Duff graduated with an associate degree in fashion merchandising from Mesa Community College in the late ‘70s, she never could have imagined where her career path would take her. After a few successful years in the fashion industry, she switched gears to follow another passion—fishing. “My first career was in fashion,” Duff said. “Burned out, I returned to MCC briefly to reinvent... Read more about Jennifer Duff
Jessica Lake
For Mesa Community College alumna Jessica Lake, (1997-1999), leaving the Navajo reservation to begin higher education studies was a big step. She had never been away from family and didn’t quite know how to plan her schedule of required classes. But Lake went on to earn her associate’s degree from MCC, her bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University and later her master’s degree in... Read more about Jessica Lake
Joan Sullivan Garrett
MedAire founder and CEO Joan Sullivan Garrett, who began her career with a nursing degree from Mesa Community College in 1978, is today a recognized leader committed to providing emergency medical care to people in remote locations throughout the world.   Her company is credited with establishing the world's first global emergency response center dedicated to providing immediate, real-time... Read more about Joan Sullivan Garrett
Joel Cranson & Kevin Herrmann
If you look closely at the Emmy Award-winning webisode series, “Probed: Signals,” you might catch a glimpse of Mesa Community College’s Southern and Dobson campus, where part of the series was filmed. But even more impressive is the success that MCC alumni Kevin Herrmann and Joel Cranson have had with this creative venture. Herrmann won a 2010 Rocky Mountain Emmy award from the regional chapter... Read more about Joel Cranson & Kevin Herrmann
Karina Aguilar
As Mesa Community College graduate Karina Aguilar begins her new job at Aira, a company that provides augmented reality assistance services through remote and smart glasses technology to blind and visually impaired clients, she remembers the support she received at MCC that motivated her to succeed in her professional and academic goals. “The most important skills I gained from Mesa Community... Read more about Karina Aguilar
Karl Schroeder
When Karl Schroeder’s post-high school plans to enter the Air Force in the late ‘70s didn’t work out, he found himself at Mesa Community College, wondering what his next step would be. To cover expenses, he got a job at a Safeway grocery store and rode his bike seven miles to get to classes. Over the next few years, he earned an associate’s degree in business management at MCC (1987), a... Read more about Karl Schroeder
Kelley Stewart
The Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council recently honored MCC alumna Kelley Stewart with the Women of Distinction World of Courage award.  Honorees are chosen for their exceptional community service and leadership.   Stewart is a 2004 graduate of the MCC Red Mountain campus and is currently double majoring in applied psychology and multimedia writing and technical communication at Arizona... Read more about Kelley Stewart
Kevin Keleher
When sustainability was just emerging as a buzz word, Mesa Community College honor student, Phi Theta Kappa member and Graduation Class Honors Speaker Kevin Keleher knew he wanted to change the way businesses operated. He felt they should not be so focused on profit, but more on sustainability (although he didn’t even know the term at the time). In 2011 Keleher was asked to participate in the... Read more about Kevin Keleher
Kimberly Wise
How did you arrive at MCC? I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life.  I had dropped out of Phoenix College and was basically, a bit 'lost'.  I was eventually working at the Motorola facility that was previously located on Broadway, near the MCC campus.  I initially started with engineering courses, that aligned with my work (at Motorola).  I worked from 11 p.m. until approximately 7:00 a.... Read more about Kimberly Wise
Michelle and Melanie Craven
Since opening the Tilt Gallery in Phoenix in 2005, Mesa Community College graduates Michelle and Melanie Craven have enriched the Phoenix art community by sharing their photography skills and knowledge. The twin sisters originally pursued a space for their own photography, but quickly realized there was a greater need for a fine art photography gallery in Phoenix specializing in alternative and... Read more about Michelle and Melanie Craven
Mike Brown
Mike Brown, the coach who guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA Finals, got his start at Mesa Community College.   Brown attended MCC from 1988-90, playing basketball under former MCC coach Tom Bennett.  Brown went on to graduate from the University of San Diego with a business degree in 1992 and began his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets.  Over the next decade he helped coach several... Read more about Mike Brown
Molly O’Dwyer
Molly O’Dwyer took a circuitous route from Mesa Community College to the University of North Carolina, where she received her Master’s Degree in Information Science in December 2013. O’Dwyer, now 30, grew up in Mesa and graduated from Mesa High School before attending MCC. She received MCC’s Alumni & Friends scholarship in the spring of 2004, and attended MCC from 2001-04. “I never... Read more about Molly O’Dwyer
Monique Griego
More than a decade ago, Monique Griego knew she wanted to go to college after graduating from Mesa High School. But putting two children through college was going to be next to impossible for her mother. For Monique and her sister, Mesa Community College was the perfect choice. “I came to MCC in 2006 right out of high school,” said Monique, a reporter for 12 News at 10 p.m. and an anchor of 12... Read more about Monique Griego
Nancy Donsbach
Nancy Donsbach believes every piece of furniture has its own personality.  As an avid do-it-yourselfer for many years, she constantly spotted ways to breathe new life into old chairs and tables.  Her passion for furniture design eventually led Donsbach to Mesa Community College, where she earned a Certificate in Mechanical Drafting in 2006.  While finishing up her schooling, she acquired a full-... Read more about Nancy Donsbach
Nikelle Mackey
Nikelle Mackey, a Mesa Community College Art student, was recently awarded the Presidential Scholarship at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL. She was ranked in the top one percent and selected out of 1,400 total applicants.   The Presidential Scholarship, the highest award given at Ringling College, will provide Nikelle with a total of $80,000 based on a four year degree plan.... Read more about Nikelle Mackey
Phil Reese
1) Please describe your affiliation with Mesa Community College.  I am a former student who graduated with my Associate in Arts Degree in 2005. I am on the MCC Alumni Advisory Board. 2) Thinking historically, what is your single most positive memory or impression of MCC? The history classes I took really stood out to me.  The professor made the stories come alive and made a sometimes boring... Read more about Phil Reese
Robin Wilson
Robin Wilson, lead vocalist for the Gin Blossoms, spent a large part of his youth on the Mesa Community College campus where his father, Lee Wilson, taught accounting from 1971 through the early '90s. “I have a big place in my heart for that campus,” said Wilson during a phone interview from his tour bus as he promotes the band's latest release, Major Lodge Victory. “I grew up there.  I used to... Read more about Robin Wilson
Ron Colburn
On any given day, Mesa Community College alumnus Ron Colburn may brief Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, or the White House, or Congress, about the issues of the day as he fulfills his duties as Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. Ron, who graduated from MCC in 1977, went on to graduate from the U.S. Border Patrol Academy and never looked back.  He has served through six... Read more about Ron Colburn
Rosaline Dye
If given a choice, are you more likely to turn left or right? Mesa Community College alumna Rosaline Dye’s interest in the subject resulted in the publication of her research in a scientific journal. The research, “Absence of Lateral Navigation Bias in Young Children” appears in a 2014 edition of the journal Perceptual & Motor Skills Physical Development & Measurement, volume 119. Dye,... Read more about Rosaline Dye
Scott Everett
The College for Creative Studies in Detroit has awarded Mesa Community College art student Scott Everett an $80,000 scholarship based on his life-like charcoal drawings inspired by family, friends and life experiences. MCC art instructor Gingher Leyendecker said Everett’s talent was apparent when he first arrived at MCC.  Leyendecker has watched Everett mature and find his voice by taking... Read more about Scott Everett
Scott Mackey
Scott Mackey’s job at the Arizona Game and Fish Department often takes him out into the middle of nowhere. But for Mackey, an avid outdoor enthusiast, that’s exactly where he wants to be.   “The thing I love most about my current job is the hands-on nature of field work,” said Mackey, who is currently performing habitat assessments of potential bighorn sheep transplant sites.  “I spend the... Read more about Scott Mackey
Shelby Prockish always wanted to work for Google, but he never dreamed it would be as a self-driving vehicle safety specialist. He loves the fact that he’s part of a select group that is working to make transportation easier, more environmentally friendly and helpful to the elderly and blind population. “Giving someone that freedom will be so cool,” Prockish said. “You could wake up, get... Read more about Shelby Prockish
Stephanie R. deLusé
Do you know the details of how Arizona State University’s “Sparky” mascot originated, or the history of the campus Victory Bell? Find out by reading “Arizona State University,” a new book by Mesa Community College alumna Stephanie R. deLusé, co-authored by Denise Bates. Current and past students will enjoy learning about ASU’s history and how the university has grown to include four campuses and... Read more about Stephanie R. deLusé
Stephen Morgan
Every time Mesa Community College alumnus Stephen Morgan steps foot on the Southern and Dobson campus, he thinks about the first time he came to campus in the ‘80s. “I was living in Flint, Michigan, it was cold and my car wouldn’t start,” Morgan said. “I sold my car, bought a plane ticket to Arizona and signed up for classes at MCC.” Morgan never looked back. After finishing core classes at MCC... Read more about Stephen Morgan
Thomas Patzner
Thomas Patzner typically begins his day early, around 3 a.m., preparing for CBS This Morning, a national news-features program that CBS has aired for several decades. Patzner, an MCC alumnus, has been with CBS since 2014, working as an audio engineer and technician. He draws from more than 10 years of experience which began with MCC’s Audio Production Technology Program, where he graduated with... Read more about Thomas Patzner
Tina Carroll
Tina Carroll returned to college at MCC after being out of school for nearly 20 years.  She now works as a Veteran Technician at Scottsdale Community College, assisting returning veterans much like herself. Here’s what she had to say about her experience: 1) What was your experience at MCC like? My experience at MCC was wonderful! The interaction I had with the staff and the instructors was... Read more about Tina Carroll
Tom Kusek
Spina bifida may have robbed Mesa Community College’s Tom Kusek of the ability to walk, but it couldn’t suppress his drive to succeed. A 2005 graduate of MCC and now the college’s Disability Resources Manager, Tom was already walking with a cane at age 21. A birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spine, spina bifida affects up to 20 percent of the... Read more about Tom Kusek
Wendy Nessl
When Wendy Nessl took meteorology classes at Mesa Community College in 2010-12, she never dreamed she would be participating in SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy rocket launch that sent a Tesla sports car into orbit. Nessl, 29, works for a contracting company that provides weather support for companies that launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. She said she was a bit surprised at the scope of the job... Read more about Wendy Nessl
Zona Bailey
As Zona Bailey looks out at the faces of the nursing students she teaches at Scottsdale Community College, she feels as though she has come full circle, sharing nursing knowledge with students of the next generation. It wasn’t long ago that Bailey, looking to improve herself and her employment opportunities, returned to college in her late 20s, taking general studies classes at Mesa Community... Read more about Zona Bailey