Adversities Help MCC Commencement Speaker Misty Stickney Emerge as a Leader
When Mesa Community College’s commencement speaker, Misty Stickney, approaches the podium to address the crowd on May 13, it will mark the culmination of several years of hard work and great determination. As a first-generation college student, Stickney is committed to continuing her education at Northern Arizona University in the fall, becoming the first in her family to obtain a four-year college degree.
It hasn’t been an easy road. In the midst of her studies, she made the difficult decision to withdraw from an entire semester following the tragic murder of her grandmother, to take time for herself and her family.
MCC academic advisor, Adele Scherotter, describes Stickney as a special and very mature young woman.
“Upon her return after taking a semester off, she immediately resumed her path of excellence and involvement,” Scherotter said. “Despite her home struggles, Misty perseveres as a bright light, and remains determined to fulfill all of her goals.”
Stickney began her studies at MCC in 2012 as a dual-enrollment student during her senior year at Mountain View High School. While there, she said she discovered a diverse group of people and sense of belonging.
“In seeking a culture of success and empowerment that would enable me to excel academically while pursing service, I found that MCC offered the ideal environment for me to obtain my transfer degree,” Stickney said.
A Presidents’ Honors Scholarship provided Stickney with a full-tuition waiver for four consecutive semesters, during which time she served as a student leader for the MCC Honors Program, a student employee for the MCC Office of Institutional Advancement and an officer of the Omicron Beta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.
Stickney names her implementation of a campus-wide event to promote Phi Theta Kappa as her most significant endeavor. The event, “Minute to Win It,” was centered around the idea of connected communities and recreation as important elements of student success. The event also fit into her chosen career field of parks and recreation.
“I collaborated with various departments on campus to make the event both entertaining and educational,” Stickney said. “Persuading people to acknowledge recreation as an essential part of human life is a difficult task, which I discovered through the event’s execution. Despite the misconceptions, events such as “Minute to Win It” can have tremendous impact. With help from three advisors, 20 volunteers and five campus organizations, we educated over 100 students about Phi Theta Kappa while making valuable personal connections. As a result, many of these students became actively involved.”
While at MCC, Stickney maintained a 3.80 GPA and received several awards and recognitions. She received the Lu Leadership Scholarship Award, earned a First-team spot on the All-Arizona Community College Academic Team, was named a bronze scholar on the All-USA Community College Academic Team and received national recognition as a Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team scholar. The Coca-Cola award recognizes high achieving two-year college students who demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership and service that extends their education beyond the classroom to benefit society.
Additionally, Stickney was a volunteer with the City of Mesa’s i.d.e.a Museum, completed 50 hours of service-learning for MCC’s Theatre Costume Shop and pursed her passion for photography as a participant of MCC’s Sierra Summer Digital Photography Program. She later served as a gallery facilitator for the program’s photography display. One of her photos was featured in the Maricopa County Community College’s Artists of Promise event at the Herberger Theatre on April 20, 2016.
At home, she maintains a close relationship with both of her parents, particularly her mother, who was diagnosed with multiple health conditions which physically limited her mobility. She also worked to help her mother get through the despair of her grandmother’s death, often using rescue animals to give purpose and meaning to her mother’s life.
“I have stepped up and become involved in a more substantial way to help my mother work through this trying time,” Stickney said.
All of these experiences strengthen Stickney’s resolve to complete her education.
“These adversities helped me emerge into a confident person with purpose and intention,” Stickney said. “In the future, I aspire to work towards becoming a Recreation Activities Director who initiates and mobilizes communities to use recreational activities for social growth and development. Continuing my volunteer participation is essential for me to reach my goals of personal and professional success. Intentionally setting my goals high enables me to continuously recognize my future potential.”