Mesa Community College students named to All-Arizona Academic Team

MESA, Arizona – Feb. 21, 2023 – Three academically outstanding Mesa Community College students, Dalia Diaz, Charis Hayward and Shannon Poppell, will receive recognition for their extraordinary accomplishments and distinguished leadership at the 2023 All-Arizona Academic Team Recognition Ceremony from noon-2 p.m. Feb. 22, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Tempe.

“It is with great pride that MCC honors these three exceptional students,” said MCC President Dr. Tammy Robinson. “They are each remarkable in their chosen fields and I believe they have phenomenal careers ahead of them.”

Daila Diaz, long dark hair wearing a dark blue dress. Dalia Diaz aims for a career in political communications. The event, honoring 59 students from 19 community colleges across Arizona, will be hosted at the Doubletree by Hilton in Tempe and livestreamed on Event emcee is Ian Schwartz, morning meteorologist and reporter for KPHO-TV CBS 5 and KTVK-TV 3/ Keynote speaker is Jacqueline Thao Nguyen, a 2017 graduate of Central Arizona College with an Associate’s degree in Business and a Certificate in Communication Studies. She is a 2020 graduate of Arizona State University, earning a Bachelor’s in Business Data Analytics and Business Sustainability. Nguyen currently owns and operates her first food and beverage store front in SanTan Valley and is active in her community.

All-Arizona honorees demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual tenacity combined with leadership and service that expand their education beyond the classroom to benefit their communities and society. Each is working toward an associate’s degree, maintains a GPA of 3.5 or higher (4.0 scale) and is involved in campus and community volunteer activities.

Organizations such as Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society of two-year colleges and academic programs, the American Association of Community Colleges, Arizona Community Colleges, the Arizona Board of Regents and Follett Higher Education Group help these exceptional students reach their educational goals by awarding scholarships and issuing tuition waivers for Arizona’s three state universities: Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona. Charis Hayward, shoulder length blonde hair wearing a wide striped jacket. Charis Hayward is working toward a career as a travel journalist.

Diaz plans to transfer to ASU to earn a bachelor’s in communication/communication arts. Her goal is to work in political communications. During her MCC academic career, she has been the Arizona Legislative District 9 communications and organizing team intern and a member of the Student Public Policy Forum. Diaz’s college honors include being the PTK Omicron Beta Chapter Honor Society president and a Presidential Honors Scholar.

Hayward will transfer to a four-year university to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees and eventually a doctoral degree. She plans to become a travel journalist. A writer for the Mesa Legend newspaper, she is the creator/manager of numerous writing projects to raise funds for Color of Change, Rainbow Railroad, No Kid Hungry, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and other organizations. Hayward is a member of the PTK Omicron Beta Chapter Honor Society member, an MCC Study Abroad program participant and a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship recipient.

Poppell plans to transfer to ASU to earn a bachelor’s followed by a master’s in industrial/organizational psychology. As part of her career path, she would like to teach psychology courses at Shannon Poppell, sholdier length dark hair with bangs wearing a black jacketShannon Poppell aspires to teach psychology at a community college. the community college level and remain connected to the community. Her college and community activities include PTK Omicron Beta Chapter Honor Society president and vice president and alumni relations officer, Net Impact chapter president, AmeriCorps alumni and Census 2020/redistricting ambassador. Popell is a 2022-2023 Newman Civic Fellow, PTK Distinguished Chapter Officer Award and a recipient of the Maricopa County Community College District Chancellor's Civic Leadership Medallion and MCC Summit Leadership Award.

All-Arizona Academic Teams are judged in three rounds. First-round judges consist of local businesses and civic, education and government leaders. The second and third round judging occurs in Washington, D.C. by representatives from federal agencies and national education associations. Scores from the national competition determine each state team’s rankings. First team members each receive a $1,000 scholarship, second team members are each awarded a $750 scholarship and third team members each get a $500 scholarship from their respective community college. Team rankings are anticipated later this spring.

All-Arizona Academic Team members are also eligible to be selected as one of 20 named to the All-USA Community College Academic Team, receiving an additional $5,000 scholarship, medallion, obelisk and certificate during the American Association of Community Colleges annual convention scheduled April 1-4 in Denver, Colorado.

To learn more about the All-Arizona program, visit

# # #

View information about honorees from all Maricopa Community Colleges here.

Media contact: Dawn Zimmer,, 480-461-7892

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized for university transfer, career and technical programs, civic engagement, service-learning and innovative approaches to education. On average MCC students provide 23,000 hours of community service annually. For more than 50 years, the college has served as a resource for education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 24,400 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs at its two campuses and additional locations through a combination of modalities. MCC is transforming how it champions student success through Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution with nearly 50% of its students being the first in their families to attend college. MCC has the largest indigenous student population of all the Maricopa Community Colleges; its American Indian Institute serves students from the 22 federally recognized Arizona tribes as well as out-of-state tribes. The diverse student body includes hundreds of international students from around the world. Award-winning faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to attain their goals. Located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, on the traditional territories of the O'odham, Piipaash and Yavapai Peoples, MCC is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Visit to learn more.

MCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC),

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. MCCCD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, visit

Source Details

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, February 21, 2023