Student Success

Thunderbirds Thrive

Mesa Community College proudly celebrates the many ways our students achieve success. It manifests both within and beyond academics - from the All-Arizona Academic Team and dominant athletics seasons, to the return of in-person graduation ceremonies to commemorate the long hours of studying. We applaud our students and their incredible work to reach their goals.

From activities including student government through the Associated Students of MCC (ASMCC), to clubs and organizations sponsored by our Office of Student Life and Leadership, to programs that develop future leaders, MCC’s student body represents the core of the college’s mission. Our students are not merely learners, but active participants in the greater community.

Read about some of the incredible work our students have been involved in, and some of the ways their success is supported at MCC:

Grant Impact

Grant Impact


In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education awarded MCC with its first TRIO Student Support Services grant, a five-year grant designed to support first generation, low income and students with disabilities in attaining collegiate success.

Given the success of the MCC TRIO program, the college was awarded a second TRIO grant in 2020 along with a TRIO STEM grant to serve its growing population of students pursuing careers in STEM fields, totalling $2,618,000 for five years.

The grants support identification of eligible students and the implementation of its many integrative services designed to support first generation, low income, and students with disabilities in attaining collegiate success. Among the many services TRIO provides are support services such as tutoring, mentoring, and advising, and a welcoming campus environment for students with limited proficiency in the English language or first generation students. In addition, TRIO provides advocacy for students of diverse backgrounds: historically underrepresented students, students with disabilities, and homeless students.

TRIO Student Support Services offers vital services to the nearly 60% of eligible students that attend MCC.  According to the Pew Research Center, only 26% of first generation college students will earn a college degree (1).  In the 2022-23 academic year, TRIO graduated 73% of its participants, almost tripling the national average.

Through their array of services, TRIO provides a place for students to thrive.

1. Fry, Richard. First-Generation College Graduates Lag Behind Their Peers on Key Economic Outcomes. Pew Research Center. May 2021.



MCC received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2020 for a Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (DHSI) Program. MCC’s Title V Project is Students & Employees Nurtured & Developed for Academic Success (SENDAS), which is a comprehensive development plan that reinforces key institutional commitments to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Guided Pathways to Success (GPS).

The project aims to increase student persistence, course completion, graduation rates, and transfer rates by engaging in activities related to the following goals:

  1. Increase student persistence and completion rates through enhancement and integration of student support targeting advising, academic support, and co-curricular programming.
  2. Improve responsiveness to diverse student populations through coherent, systematic professional development on mindfulness and culturally responsive practices.
  3. Develop a more inclusive hiring process in order to recruit and hire a diversified college workforce reflective of student and community demographics.

All funds from the grant are federal monies, and are distributed over the course of five years. The first year alone has proven the program has been a success, seeing six new employees hired, over 500 students as part of the cohort, seven new boot camps, and 12 STEM sections having embedded tutors.


  • SENDAS served 45% of new to MCC students during the 2022-23 academic year with a target of serving 85% of new students by the end of the grant period in 2025.
  • SENDAS hosts 30+ STEM and Computer Information Technology (CIT) critical course Boot Camps each academic year with a 74% attendance rate.  
  • During the 2022-23 academic year, Financial Literacy (FL) was integrated into New Student Orientation (NSO) and aligned with First Year Experience (FYE) 101 and 103 courses. 71.5% of the students participating in NSO have demonstrated proficiency in 1 of 3 FL outcomes. 93.3% of the students participating in FYE 101 and FYE 103 courses have demonstrated proficiency in 1 of 3 FL outcomes.
  • Chemistry Embedded Tutor courses are seeing a higher persistence rate then non Embedded Tutor courses.  85% of the students in a Fall 2022 Embedded Tutor Chemistry course enrolled in the Spring 2023 semester compared to 64.4% of students in a Chemistry Non Embedded Tutor course.  
  • Six new internship partnerships were created with 20 students participating for the 2022-2023 academic year.
  • 160+ faculty and staff have participated in SENDAS Mindfulness and Cultural Responsiveness Practices professional development, with more than 60 completing over 10 hours of SENDAS professional development. 
  • 75.5% of hiring managers leading a search committee 74.6% of committee members engaged in Culturally Responsive Hiring Practices Training. 


MCC was awarded a five-year, $4.3 million federal grant in 2022 to increase enrollment, retention, and completion rates of Hispanic and low-income students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. About one-third of MCC’s student population are Hispanic/Latinx as of the 2022-23 academic year.

Goals of the program include developing model transfer and articulation agreements between other institutions in STEM fields, increasing the STEM teacher pipeline with Mesa Public Schools, enriching undergraduate research opportunities, and purchasing technology to support STEM programs. 

Program Successes to Date

  • Undergraduate Research Faculty developed a fully online training course to expose more faculty to high-impact practices.
  • FANUC robots, cameras, and processing systems were bought for Automated Industrial Technology (AIT), along with a Polymerase Chain Reaction machine (PCR) for the Biology Department and an Industrial 3D Printer for the Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AzAMI).
  • Grant qualified Education Studies students facilitated STEAM lessons in middle school classrooms and completed an internship in the summer STEAM camp for middle school students for the past two summers.
    Under the supervision of faculty, MCC's future STEM teachers are developing activities that will link to camp excursions and STEM lessons.
  • Two STEM classrooms and equipment were updated. There is currently work on the remodel of the Red Mountain Nursing Lab, along with a remodel of the Construction Trades area on Southern and Dobson and an update of the AV in the atrium of the Downtown Center.
  • Formed a partnership with the Mesa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to help develop stronger connections with local businesses for student internships.
  • Two STEM fields added: Associates Degree in Construction Trades and Time-Based Media (includes graphic design)

MCC student Raichelle Castillo-Curtis with cobot buddy.



Combined, the MCC Thunderbird teams have either won or shared 102 Region I championships. Most recent regional championships are as follows:

  • Men’s Cross Country: 2021
  • Men’s Tennis: 2021
  • Women’s Basketball: 2021, 2022
  • Women’s Cross Country: 2022
  • Women’s Golf: 2021

The National Alliance of Two-Year College Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA) recognized MCC with top 10 honors in the Daktronics Cup, an award dedicated to the top programs in the nation with a ranking that compares all of the 400+ members of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Scholarship Division. The award’s point scale scores on finishes in national championship competition. MCC earned an admirable 8th place out of over 400 members for the 2022-23 season. In the last nine years, MCC has finished in the top 10 a total of five times.

In academic excellence this past season, MCC athletics saw seven teams honored by the NJCAA for achieving a collective GPA of 3.0 or higher. In addition, MCC was well represented for individual student athletes on the All-Academic team – 39 student athletes made the first, second, or third team.

With the establishment of the first annual Thunderbird Awards presented by the MCC Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the introduction of new coaches, and the success in transfer to programs at four-year institutions, MCC athletics looks forward to an even more prosperous season in the year to come.

The Arts

The Arts

Our award-winning Musical Theatre and Theatre and Film Arts (TFA) program for multiple decades has been bringing home theatrical awards from AriZonis to Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) for our student-led productions.  

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

The festival is an educational outreach of President John F. Kennedy’s advocacy for the arts, celebrating what he called “our contribution to the human spirit.” Since its inception, KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theatre students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills, network on a national level, and receive recognition for excellence. Regional winners go to master classes with international artists, engage with peers from around the nation, attend Washington, D.C. productions, audition for scholarships, and become part of the KCACTF national awards ceremony.

For a decade Mesa Community College theatre and music students and faculty have participated in this annual competition, bringing home awards and accolades. The 2022-23 MCC honors and awardees included 14 total finalists from the four disciplines of design, dance, and performance both non-musical and musical.

AriZoni Awards of Theatre Excellence

The AriZoni awards are dedicated to recognizing excellence in theatrical performances while promoting the visibility, cooperation, and growth of theater in the Valley. They present awards to those who produce exceptional work in all aspects of theater.

The nominees from MCC’s 2022-23 season include but are not limited to: Something Rotten–Production, Actress/Actor Major Role, Director, Musical Direction, Choreography; The Mad Ones–Sound Design, Lighting Design; and And Then There Were None–Scenic Design, Director, Property Design.

All-Arizona Academic Team

All-Arizona Academic Team

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 (ASU), Northern Arizona University (NAU), and the University of Arizona (UA).

The 2022 awardees from MCC were Landon Kea and Brooklyn Shumway. At the time of awards, Kea was a full-time student maintaining a 3.9 GPA, and transferred to the UA to pursue a degree in cybersecurity and a minor in management prior to pursuing a Juris Doctorate. Shumway was a performing arts major in the MCC Honor program with a 4.0 GPA, and transferred to ASU to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Filmmaking Practices.

MCC’s 2023 awardees were Dalia Diaz, Charis Hayward, and Shannon Poppell. At the time of awards, Diaz planned to transfer to ASU to earn a bachelor’s in communication/communication arts, with the goal to work in political communications. Hayward planned to transfer to a four-year university to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and eventually a doctoral degree with the goal to become a travel journalist.  Poppell planned to transfer to ASU to earn a bachelor’s followed by a master’s in industrial/organizational psychology, with hopes for a career in teaching psychology at the community college level. 

The judging for All Arizona consists of three rounds, the final two being held in Washington D.C. 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.

Mesa Market / We Care Wednesday

Mesa Market / We Care Wednesday

Wrap-around support services are a cornerstone of the student experience at MCC. Two key components of this are the Mesa Market and We Care Wednesdays.

The Mesa Market provides free hygiene and food products, as well as some clothing items at the Southern and Dobson campus. In 2023, a grant from the Arizona Food Bank Network supported the Mesa market in meeting the challenges and increased demand for food and nutrition resulting from the pandemic. This was the first time the college was allocated funds from the Maricopa County Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery.

We Care Wednesday is a food distribution event that takes place on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at the Southern and Dobson, and Red Mountain campuses respectively.  Consistently held since 2019 and transitioned into a drive-through format in response to COVID, the drive-through service is open to all students, staff, and community members in need of food assistance. MCC continues to partner with United Food Bank–who provides the food for We Care Wednesdays–to help combat food insecurity.

In addition to supporting the First Year Experience program at MCC, TruWest regularly contributes food, clothing, personal hygiene and cleaning supplies to the Mesa Market, an on-campus pantry for MCC students. In 2020, the credit union refurbished the space used for the market on the MCC Southern and Dobson Campus.

Mesa Market

New Mesa Market location open at the Red Mountain Campus, Palo Verde building.


Back to the 2023 Report to the Community