Mesa Community College graduate Trent Cortazzo, 20, of Mesa, found a fresh start at MCC after a less-than-stellar academic history at Red Mountain High School.
“I was always the kid that teachers said had potential,” Cortazzo said. “I did just enough to get by, ending up with a 2.9 GPA in high school. Since I didn’t have a plan, my dad thought I was a bad investment college-wise.”
But Cortazzo proved his dad wrong. At MCC, Cortazzo joined the Honors Program, became captain of the football team and will graduate early with a 4.0 GPA. He has been accepted at Cornell University to study Industrial and Labor Relations.
Additionally, Cortazzo was one of four Arizona players who received a special academic honor from the National Football Foundation.
“I realized I had to get it done in the classroom and raise my GPA to earn credibility with people,” Cortazzo said. “But I really give all the credit to the help I received at MCC, especially from Sonya Pearson and Lanae Jackson.”
Cortazzo said being part of the Honors Program really helped him academically.
“You are surrounded by the best and the brightest,” he said. “The program challenges you and holds you accountable. When you are in classes with other honors students, it makes for interesting discussions.”
Cortazzo had a tough time during last football season when he injured his knee and had to miss a month of classes. He said his support system at MCC pulled him through.
“After surgery, I reminded myself that success on the field is a bonus, and that my real goal was to achieve a 4.0 and transfer to an Ivy League school.”
Cortazzo was thrilled to be accepted to Cornell University. He will start his junior year at Cornell in the fall. The Dean of Admissions told him his high school record was not an issue and that they understood students sometimes reprioritize and work hard to rise to the top.
He said it’s gratifying to help and inspire his teammates and siblings.
“I tell them to not be scared to reach out for help,” Cortazzo said. “There are so many great people at MCC who are there to help you. I’m very thankful for everyone who helped me.”