For Elliott Adams, 19, an immigrant originally from the United Kingdom, receiving a degree from an American community college seemed farfetched. But after being accepted into the Honors program at Mesa Community College and receiving the Presidents’ Scholarship, the possibility of achieving that academic goal became more of a reality.
“Growing up in a single-parent household as well as being an immigrant proved some challenges for me, especially financially,” Adams said. “So receiving the Presidents’ Scholarship and being able to attend Mesa Community College tuition-free was an unbelievable opportunity for me. My family is very proud.”
Mortuary Science Graduates to Continue Family Businesses
Local family-owned funeral homes have undergone many dramatic changes in the last decade. In response to economic conditions and changing preferences in the industry, a handful of large conglomerates have stepped in and purchased many smaller funeral homes that may not have family members who want to continue the business. While large corporations offer certain advantages to funeral home operators, some funeral operators prefer to keep the business in the family, if possible.
Attending Mesa Community College is something of a tradition for the Bodine family of Mesa. MCC student Lucas Bodine, 23, is the tenth and latest graduate in the family to receive a degree from MCC. He follows in the footsteps of both parents, five siblings and their spouses, all of whom began their education at the college.
Lucas said he was comfortable being on campus from an early age. His sisters went to musical theatre workshops at MCC and Lucas attended choir and jazz workshops years before he began taking classes.
Brandon Alexander, 16, has two graduation ceremonies this month. On May 9, he will cross the stage to receive two associate’s degrees from Mesa Community College. Then, 6 days later, he will receive his high school diploma from AAEC Red Mountain Charter School.
It might sound a little backward, but for Brandon, a physics and business major, it’s the result of years of hard work and careful planning.
Brandon began Mesa Community College’s Students Striving for Excellent Performance (STEP) Program when he was 12 years old. The program and schools provided him with the opportunity to earn his college degrees early through concurrent enrollment and mentoring assistance.
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.
For Shelby Prockish, 30, Mesa Community College’s Red Mountain Campus was just the right fit when he decided to pursue a degree.
“It just clicked with me,” Prockish said. “It’s a community out here. It’s so small, so friendly and you really know all the professors and staff as long as you utilize all the services—tutoring, student life, service learning, etc. It’s like my second home.”
After graduating from MCC in May, he plans to transfer to Arizona State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus.
The father and son pair, who have spent long hours studying and attending class together, are graduating with Associate in Applied Science degrees in Mortuary Science. Their plan is to work together in the industry and then open an independent funeral home. Tony and Tyler have a special interest in natural, or green, burials and cremation services, a new trend that ensures that the burial site remains as natural as possible in all respects. Many students in Mesa Community College’s Mortuary Science Program say their fellow students feel like family by the end of the program. But two of the grads, Tony and Tyler Parker, really are related.
For many nontraditional students at Mesa Community College, age is just a number, and academic success is down to hard work, dedication, and focus. Mary Ann Jalloh, 57, is a prime example of that commitment to the college as she graduates this May with an Associates in Arts degree.
“Education is in my spirit,” Jalloh said. “I don’t care how old I get.”
Becoming a full-time student at MCC who was consistently on the honor roll was something that seemed impossible for Jalloh. Originally from Mississippi, Jalloh grew up in a poverty-stricken home with a tin top roof and no running water.
Many staff and students on both Mesa Community College campuses find inspiration when speaking with Astika Anak Agung. At age 66, he’s graduating with an associate’s degree in arts and plans to transfer to Northern Arizona University to pursue a degree in public administration.
After a lifetime of varied occupations, Agung may be ready to retire, but he’s not ready to give up learning. His passion is education, a passion so important to him that it has spread throughout his entire family and beyond.
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