Empowering the Region
We love putting the “community” in “community college.” Whether it’s through events, civic engagement, or services offered to our students and our extended Thunderbird family, there are many ways to get involved at MCC, and ways MCC can become involved with you in your lives.
With the return of on-campus activities, we as a college have seen that our in-person, virtual, and hybrid events continue to grow. Many of these events are co-curricular in nature, expanding on the classroom experience as part of retention and support, while also underscoring MCC’s role in being a proud community resource.
Both the Southern and Dobson and Red Mountain campuses hosted ballot drop boxes and in-person voting for the 2022 Primary Election. In addition, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available during tax season at MCC for free tax preparation.
Local businesses have partnered with us for various matters, as emphasized by our involvement in the Mesa Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Tammy Robinson has revitalized MCC’s President’s Advisory Council, which convenes elected officials, Mesa Public Schools officials, donor partners, and others in the community who share a commitment to our success. The Advisory Council members contribute to shaping initiatives and strengthening the connections between our college and the communities we serve.
In the full report, you will find information on some of the ways we achieve this kind of engagement:
Mascot Redesign: Thor the Thunderbird
The Thunderbird is a legendary creature in numerous North American indigenous peoples’ history and culture. Considered a supernatural being of power and strength, the creature flapping its powerful wings was said to sound like thunder.
At MCC, Thor the Thunderbird is our college mascot, and our most loyal fan. MCC hatched a new concept for Thor in the modern era, which led to his redesign and makeover in 2020 (pictured here). The goal was not to change Thor, but rather provide enhancements making the costume more colorful, engaging, and bold. The “new” Thor spent some time hunkered down in his lair, respectfully social-distancing due to the nature of the pandemic. This past year, Thor was seen at a wide range of campus activities, from sports outings, to student-centered events, to recruitment functions, to even starring in his own day-in-the-life video published on YouTube, as well as a red carpet premiere for his lead role in it.
As Thunderbirds, all of us at MCC strive to be examples of kindness, caring, and compassion as Thor is. The mascot inspires and motivates, transforming disarray into hope as our feathered guide to spreading goodwill around our community.
Red Mountain Campus 20th Anniversary
In 2021, MCC celebrated the 20th anniversary of our Red Mountain Campus. MCC Red Mountain is known by its proud community for being a friendly, scenic, and peaceful place to be.
The campus is nestled in 98 acres of beautiful Sonoran Desert in Northeast Mesa and opened in 2001. Environmental stewardship is a key to campus culture, as faculty have been known to draw inspiration from the campus’s unique setting into the classroom. The Signature programs at Red Mountain include Dental Hygiene and Nurse Assisting.
MCC’s Red Mountain Vision Team has proposed several action items for the future of the campus such as developing pipelines from local high schools to college, providing courses needed to complete Arizona General Education Certificate (AGEC) requirements to prepare for transfer, and offering multiple health sciences tracks such as Pre-Med studies, Behavioral Health, Nursing, Dental Hygiene, and Emergency Medical Technician. Red Mountain expanded the Nurse Assisting Program and restructured the curriculum into six-week, 4.5 credit courses that prepare students for the Arizona State Board of Nursing exam. In addition, Red Mountain will continue with successful programming, such as New Frontiers for Lifelong Learning, to engage and serve our community.
The anniversary celebration consisted of community events, capped off with an aerial group photo seen here.
Rose Garden 25th Anniversary
In commemoration of our acclaimed Rose Garden, MCC celebrated the 25th anniversary of the conservatory in December 2022.
Those in attendance included officers and volunteers from the American Rose Society and the Mesa-East Valley Rose Society. In addition, the following were there to celebrate: MCC President Dr. Tammy Robinson; former MCC President Dr. Larry Christiansen; Mesa City Councilmember Julie Spilsbury; LeRoy Brady, garden architect; Jared Langkilde, president/CEO HonorHealth Foundation; Diana Sommers, president of the American Rose Society; and Peter Conden, Rose Garden executive director and MCC faculty.
In an address to the audience, Dr. Robinson commended the collaboration between the Mesa East Valley Rose Society and volunteers who have created such a revered community space. Beyond the conservatory, the Rose Garden also functions as a laboratory for students of all ages. Those studying biology, botany, horticulture, and even art–painting works inspired by nature–are among the many who enjoy the space.
The Rose Garden ranks among the "Best Things to Do in Mesa" by websites such as Treksplorer, Tripadvisor, Vacation Ideas magazine, and Yelp. MCC’s is the largest public rose garden in the Desert Southwest, and part of our 140-acre arboretum that is the first in the state of Arizona to receive accreditation from the Morton Arboretum and the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. MCC is also the only community college in the state to be named by the Arbor Day Foundation, "a Tree Campus USA."
Career and Technical Education (CTE) Strong Open House
Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at MCC provide students with knowledge, skills, and training for in-demand, high-wage fields with a specialized and focused curriculum. We describe our CTE programs as integrating traditional academic learning with career-focused study; by adding an element of real-world experience to one’s education, students gain a welcome advantage in their chosen path.
In February 2023, MCC’s Office of Outreach and Recruitment helped host our fifth iteration of CTE Open House: Stronger than Ever. CTE 5.0+ took place at the Southern and Dobson campus, a public campaign that celebrates the value of Career and Technical Education programs, along with accomplishments they have made across the country.
The 2023 event hosted current MCC students, in addition to approximately 650 prospective students from across the Valley. MCC programs and clubs, local and national businesses, and other colleges were invited to the open house, connecting students to programs of study or potential employers and careers. A resource fair also provided the audience with information regarding clubs, retention services, and leadership opportunities.
CTE Strong occurs every February.
Performing Arts | Our Performing Arts Venues as Learning Labs
MCC’s Performing Arts Center (PAC) is a state-of-the-art, 24,550-square-foot performance facility that seats 450 people. The PAC is not only our largest performing arts venue, it is home to MCC’s dance, musical theatre, choral and instrumental music programming and classes.
The MCC Theatre houses the Theatre & Film Arts (TFA) program, and also functions as a production lab for learning and perfecting skills in design and production. Productions in this building are acted in, built, and run by the student body. The TFA also produces one completely student designed production every year.
MCC’s performing arts venues play host to roughly 175 events and performances every season and serve in excess of 20,000 patrons every year. Not only do these facilities provide a world class experience for our performing arts academic units, but they also serve our greater college community.
Events such as the Region VIII Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) sustains the local economy, bringing over 1,000 faculty and students from surrounding states and Hawaii to enjoy local hotels, restaurants and attractions, taking home with them first-hand experiences of what makes Mesa such a popular visitor destination.
In the fall, the community is invited to MCC for Empty Bowls, an event that helps combat food insecurity. For a donation of $10, attendees receive a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind ceramic bowl and a meal of soup and bread donated by local restaurants.
MCC’s Art Department has collaborated with local businesses, schools, and community groups for the past three decades to make Empty Bowls possible. Proceeds from the event go directly to Paz de Cristo Community Center, which is a nonprofit that provides support for the East Valley’s various underserved communities–homeless, unemployed, and working poor and their families.
Since 2010, Empty Bowls has raised more than $135,000 in community support.
Planetarium | Astronomy Nights
MCC’s Southern and Dobson campus opened the Planetarium in 2008 as part of the then-new Physical Science building. In 2018, the Planetarium was fully upgraded to use Digistar 6 technology, a comprehensive digital astronomy array that includes a 4K projection system, new graphics computers, and modern software–allowing for an even more beautiful experience to view the universe during MCC Astronomy Nights.
These Planetarium shows are open to the public on a first come, first served basis on the first Fridays of the month during Fall and Spring semesters. Astronomy Nights run from 6:00 - 10:00 p.m. with shows starting every hour, and include the Planetarium show, telescope viewing, information tables, and other hands-on activities. The venue seats 52 people and also functions as a classroom space for studying astronomy.
Astronomy Nights have sold out consistently for the past several years. That’s more than 1,600 guests by way of paid tickets over a two-year span, and do not include educational visits for the community (which are not ticketed). To account for this, these community visits bring in an additional estimated 2000-3000 guests from the Valley in that time frame.
American Indian Institute 35th Anniversary
MCC is proud to be ranked eighth in the nation for the successful completion of Native American students in community college. For perspective, there are nearly 1,000 public, two-year institutions in the United States, of which MCC ranks in the top 10th percentile.
MCC’s American Indian Institute (Aii) provides Native students support services, such as enrollment, scholarships and financial aid, leadership, and advisement. Founded in 1986 as the American Indian Center by Garrison Tahmahkera, the Aii aims to minimize difficulties Native American Students may face when they leave their homes.
Aii has the largest Native student population of all MCCCD colleges, serving all 22 Tribes of Arizona, as well as more than 30 out-of-state tribes throughout the U.S. and Canada. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2022, Aii has been recognized for its many successes over the years, including a $150,000 grant from Bank of America in 2021 to assist indigenous students impacted by the pandemic.