Mesa Community College graduate Elizabeth Ward just completed her first step toward her lifelong goal of becoming a judge, she just graduated with two degrees and two certificates at MCC.
Coming from a family of lawyers and judges in Houston, Texas, the criminal justice field had always appealed to Ward.
“I want to see justice and equality for everyone,” said Ward, of Chandler. “I want to work hard to persecute the right person and make sure the appropriate punishment is decided upon during the sentencing.”
Entering the criminal justice program at MCC at age 35 with responsibilities of caring for two children (now ages 13 and 20) and an aging mother wasn’t easy, but she worked hard to stay on track and finished strong. At one point she lived at the hospital, doing her homework while attending to her mother.
“You have to figure out a way to have balance in your life and accomplish your goals,” Ward said. I decided to go back to college because as a parent, I am a role model. Education is the way to get ahead. I wanted to do it for myself and my kids.”
She found the MCC Tutoring Center extremely helpful and spent 20 hours a week there to get help with her math classes. Ward is proud to tell others her last math class was an honors class and she earned her first ever A in the subject.
“I received so much great help and the teachers were so supportive,” Ward said. “I tell anyone to use the resources to get you through. There are people at MCC who care and can help you.”
In addition to her academics, Ward was incredibly involved on campus. She participated on the college’s Shared Governance and Graduation Committees and was a member of the Community Engagement Advisory Board. She was active in Associated Students of MCC (ASMCC,) the college’s student government, serving as both a Student Senate Chair and as an Executive Vice President the first African American female at MCC to serve in the role. An MCC Service Scholar herself, Ward was always looking for ways to help others engage with the community. As an Andrew Goodman Ambassador she encouraged student participation in elections. She also supported the cause through her role as a Campus Election Engagement Project Ambassador. Ward demonstrated her support of student entrepreneurs by bringing the Ready, Set, Go Program training program to campus. Ward was also named to the President’s Honor Roll and participated in service learning during her time on campus, mentoring others as well.
Ward will attend ASU in the fall and plans to go on to law school when finished. She said if she can excel at college given her circumstances, anyone can do it. She plans to keep in touch with the people she met at MCC and continue to encourage others to attend the school.
“I challenge all alumni to come back and keep in touch with MCC,” Ward said. “I want to see other alumni at MCC. I built a lot of meaningful relationships with teachers and staff there, including Alicia Barnett my advisor Amelia Rodriguez my mentor and Duane Oakes who was always keeping up to date on scholarships. You must find your support system and take advantage of it. If I can ever help to make someone’s college experience successful, I will do it.
“Always be true to yourself and never be someone you are not. It is your determination, your passion, your persistence that will make you that successful person. ”