Shannon Poppell's dream of graduating from college alongside her two sons, Jeffrey and Kevin, is about to come true. When they receive their diplomas, it will be the culmination of time spent juggling many obligations. Shannon, 52, of Mesa, said to accomplish these goals, she recognizes the importance of having support and guidance through the college experience and beyond. She said she found that support at Mesa Community College.
"I will never forget how much the teachers cared about their students' academic and personal lives," she said. "They want their students to succeed. Their commitment to teaching is the biggest reason I recommend MCC."
In addition to their academic studies, Shannon and her sons have been students of the Kajukenbo Martial Arts Class at MCC's Red Mountain Campus. Shannon is a purple belt and her sons, Jeffrey, 30, and Kevin, 29, have earned their second-degree black belts, which enables them to teach.
Shannon said Kajukenbo offers a meditative remedy to stress as well as an empowering experience.
"I can lock out all of the other anxieties and all of the other things that are going on in my life and just concentrate on what my body is doing for a couple hours," Shannon said in a Mesa Legend article.
She also acknowledges the empowerment, especially for women, of self defense. "Punching and shouting gives us permission to break out of our usual roles and to establish boundaries," she said.
Shannon will be graduating with honors, earning an associate degree this spring. She plans to complete a bachelor's degree and eventually earn a master's degree.
"I would like to work in a community outreach capacity between the public, nonprofit, or private sectors," Shannon said. "Alternately, I would like to teach, perhaps at the community college level, to give back to the experience that has given me so much. I also feel a pull to support others as they recover from trauma and reinvent themselves."
During her time at MCC, Shannon said teachers at both MCC campuses took an interest in her academic and personal growth.
When things got tough, she attended office hours with teachers of both her in-person and online classes.
Associate in Arts, Psychology
Associate in Science, Engineering
Associate in Arts
She said, "My professors have been phenomenal. Many of the people who have helped me have retired. I’ve been fortunate to work with Student Life & Leadership, the Center for Community & Civic Engagement, and the Red Mountain Library. I would especially like to express my gratitude to Puvana "Precious" Ganesan, Erica Horihan, Kelley Stewart, Duane Oakes, and Marie Brown for going above and beyond in supporting me."
Kevin, who is certified in CPR and hazardous materials response, said for him, tutoring, especially embedded tutors, was a huge help.
"When I visited my embedded tutor during their normally scheduled tutoring hours, they were able to answer my questions efficiently," Kevin said. "They also offered tailored review sessions for tests which helped me succeed. Professors' office hours are my go-to for more specific, difficult questions."
Kevin said he's worked as an EMT and in the construction field. He's still exploring what career he'd like to pursue.
"MCC's wide variety of classes has helped me explore while getting me two years closer to my educational goals," Kevin said.
For Jeffrey, Disability Resource Services played a critical role in his academic career.
"Being hard of hearing, I struggled to keep up in the hearing world," he said. "I didn't realize how much I was missing in my classes until I requested ASL [American Sign Language] interpreter services. Having interpreters gave me the tools I needed to bridge the gap between struggling and passing with ease."
Shannon will be graduating with honors and is a recipient of the All-Arizona Academic Team scholarship which covers tuition to any of the three Arizona public universities. She plans to attend the ASU Barrett Honors College. She was also chosen as the Newman Civic Fellow for MCC and selected as a Fall 2022 Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholar, receiving a $1,500 scholarship. She previously received the MCC J. Delores Griffel Scholarship Endowment, plus served as the Newman Civic Fellow for MCC. She is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society where she held three different officer positions.
"For my service with PTK, I earned an International Distinguished Chapter Officer award. I’ve also participated in many Phi Theta Kappa teams and group projects that were recognized for their distinguished work," she said.
Shannon said she believes her empathy drives her to include and connect with her fellow students.
"I believe that when people feel a sense of connectedness and belonging with others, they hold themselves with the respect and esteem they see reflected back to them," she said. "My passion for service informs my leadership. I am task-oriented and prefer to lead by serving the mission of the project. My natural intuition gives me a sense of how to help others develop their skills."