Student Overcomes Odds to Complete Degree
Aron Mixson, 27, of Mesa, has overcome great odds to complete his Associate in Arts degree at Mesa Community College. But he’s not quite finished. In the fall he will transfer to Arizona State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree so he can achieve his goal of becoming a software engineer.
During his early childhood, Mixson’s mother struggled with drug abuse. By the time Mixson was eight years old, he and his sisters were in the care of Child Protective Services. It was a challenging time. He was adopted twice and lived in a group home for a period of time. Upon reaching adulthood, he lived in a men’s shelter and had little opportunity to advance his education or career.
Although the adoptions and various living arrangements were adequate, the instability affected Mixson’s ability to pursue a lucrative career.
“There’s no getting used to being moved around from house to house,” Mixson said. “But the group home showed me a lot of things I wouldn’t have known about. It was there I found my love for football and music. The group home was very supportive.”
The experiences created resiliency in him.
“Now, I can deal with adversity because of all those situations. I am used to dealing with all sorts of different people from different backgrounds.”
His first attempt to obtain a college degree was in 2006. While living in the men’s shelter, Mixson applied for and received financial aid. He enrolled in MCC’s Music Business Program. Mixson did fine until he received word that his biological father had passed away.
“I went into a spiral,” Mixson said. “I was a little angry with the world. I quit school, moved to Phoenix and went through a really rough period. I had no stable living situation.”
By 2012, he decided to give college a try again. Debt collectors were calling him and he knew he needed to turn his life around.
“One of the debt collectors told me if I paid $20 to a company, I could consolidate my loans and then I could get financial aid for school,” Mixson said. “I didn’t have $20. I borrowed it from a friend.”
At that point, he was able to return to school at MCC. But this time, his attitude was different.
“I was a little older and in a different place in life,” Mixson said. “I knew I couldn’t go any further without an education. I decided I would do everything possible so I could become the first one in my family to graduate from college.”
With the help of his mentor, Thomas, he started to turn things around. He took advantage of MCC resources and became co-president of the Black Student Union on campus. MCC staff members such as Louis Ellis, Mehalia Randle and Jarett Payne encouraged him to use the resources in the multicultural center.
“There had a computer area that was not crowded, you could print for free and they offered one-on-one academic advising,” Mixson said. “The advising helped because I had been wasting a lot of time and money on not taking the right classes. They mapped out what I needed to do and I met weekly with Louis Ellis who provided the advising I needed. Jarrett Payne opened up the flood gates as far as activities were concerned. I joined programs and clubs. Mehalia Randle helped me with any obstacles I ran into. They are good people.”
While attending MCC, Mixson was awarded Club President of the Year and received a certificate of excellence as an ASMCC student senator. Mixson said the people at MCC changed his life and he hopes to keep in touch with them.
“Without MCC, I would still be living on people’s couches with no direction,” Mixson said. “I would advise others to take full advantage of the opportunity to go to college, and once there, to make it your job to get to know all the resources offered. MCC has a plethora of resources to help a student become a better student and also help a person with his life. MCC does a great job of instilling a sense of community for their students.”
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