On May 15, Mesa Community College will recognize the accomplishments of graduates for the 2008-09 school year at a commencement ceremony in the campus courtyard of MCC’s Southern and Dobson campus.

Through hard work and dedication, MCC graduates are now one step closer to their educational and career goals. Although every graduate has a tale to tell of the path that led them to this moment, we’d like to share a few special success stories.

Braden AdamsonBraden Adamson

Degree(s): Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, AZ General Ed Curriculum Certificate in Arts, AZ General Ed Curriculum Certificate in Science, Highest Distinction.

Background: A biochemistry major, Adamson spend much of his time in the science building at MCC and enjoyed interacting with instructor John Zikopoulos and other faculty.

Future Plans: Plans to transfer to Utah State University and is interested in working in the pharmaceutical industry, either in research or as a pharmacist.

Quote: “The faculty at MCC is very knowledgeable and actually having them talk about real-life experiences in their fields was very helpful.”

Nedd AndersonNedd Anderson

Commencement Student Speaker

Degree(s): Transfer Partnership, with Highest Distinction.

Future Plans: To transfer to ASU to pursue a degree in sports psychology.

Background: Named a Coca-Cola Gold Scholar, and All-Arizona Academic First Team scholar. He has served more than 1,300 volunteer hours for various community organizations.

Quote: Nedd refers to this quote by Coach Vince Lombardi to sum up his character and life goals: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

Matt ConwayMatt Conway

Degree(s): Associate of Arts Degree, with High Distinction; AZ General Ed Curriculum Certificate of Arts, Highest Distinction.

Background: Learned time management as he worked part time and attended MCC full time, appreciated the wide range of classes and options to fit his schedule.

Future Plans: Plans to transfer to ASU and earn a masters degree so he can work as a marriage and/or family therapist.

Quote: “I want to focus on therapy and helping others. People will always need the best information to make their life be the best it can be for them and others. Kind of a “pay it forward” philosophy.”

Karen CriswellKaren Criswell

Degree(s): Associate of Applied Science, Certificate of Completion, with Highest Distinction

Background: Karen received a perfect record of A’s in all 60+ credits taken at MCC. Widowed in 2000, she decided to return to college while working full time and raising a daughter. She has been diabetic since she was 13 and has low vision. She made use of large print texts available at MCC. She also appreciated having daycare available in the evening as well as online and evening classes. Criswell has remarried and credits her husband, Bernie, as being a great support while she juggled her full schedule.

Future Plans: Plans to transfer to ASU and earn a business degree in organizational management so she can work in US Airways community relations department.

Quote: “I’ve worked for US Airways for 12 years and I love the travel part of the job, but ideally I want to do good for people and work in community outreach, doing whatever is needed, such as food bank donations, shelters, etc.”

Louanna FaineLouanna Faine

ASMCC Special Events Chair

Degree(s): Associate of Science, Associate of Arts.

Future Plans: Transfer to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU this fall with a goal to host her own television show, one that has a positive impact on society.

Background: Her childhood was spent in more than 40 foster homes from New York City to Upstate New York and Florida. She found permanent parents in her twenties, who have encouraged her to go above and beyond.

Quote: “When it comes right down to it, I would never have dreamed that I could achieve such high goals. The professors at MCC pushed me to my max and helped me see who I really was and encouraged me to excel.”

Miriam Gasca DeStoneMiriam Gasca DeStone

Degree(s): Associate of Arts, Associate of Business, AZ GEC, with Highest Distinction.

Future Plans: Transfer to the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU and eventually own an Internet business.

Background: Named an All-Arizona First Team Scholar, Miriam is a business management major who came to the United States from Mexico at age 16, determined to be the first college graduate in her family. She served as vice president of Phi Theta Kappa and volunteered for a variety of service organizations.

Quote: “Phi Theta Kappa helped me discover myself and my passion for helping others. The one thing I have always known is that if I lead by good example, many will be motivated to follow.”

Earl GuenthnerEarl Guenthner

MCC Student Body President

Degree(s): Associate of Science, Associate of Arts, AZ GEC, with Highest Distinction.

Future Plans: Pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics at ASU with a goal to work in the field of Environmental Engineering.

Background: Entered MCC eight years after leaving high school at age 16. Previously worked in the construction industry.

Quote: “MCC has given me experience inside the classroom where I learned a lot and discovered my academic strengths. It also gave me experience outside the classroom through involvement of student government and clubs which has prepared me for my future in the workplace.”

Shawna HarrisonShawna Harrison

Degree(s): Associate of Science, Nursing

Future Plans: Hoping to be accepted in the BSN program at ASU. She would like to work in an Indian health service organization in an urban community.

Background: Shawna is a Native American and member of the Navajo Community. A single mother of two, she relocated from Northern Arizona to Mesa to attend school full time.

Quote: “I had wonderful nursing instructors at MCC. When they said they want you to succeed, they really meant it. Also, the American Indian Center here on campus has been vital. Living 200 miles away from my home, they have been my family.”

Jennifer HolladayJennifer Holladay

Degree(s): Associate of Applied Science, Dental Hygiene, with Highest Distinction

Future Plans: Transfer to NAU with plans to work in a private practice and eventually teach in a clinical setting.

Background: Jennifer was named an All-Arizona Second Academic Team scholar. Her passion is to educate the community about oral health education and prevention.

Quote: “I always wanted to be a dental hygienist and was glad that MCC opened their program. I really liked the relaxed setting at the Red Mountain campus and how easy it is to interact with instructors.”

Darren OlsenDarren Olsen

Degree(s): Associate of Arts Degree, AZ General Ed Curriculum Certificate in Arts, with High Distinction.

Background: His sister got him interested in working with disabled children. While attending school full time, he also worked nearly full time helping disabled children. He found MCC’s online and winter intercession classes really helped him complete his program.

Future Plans: Plans to transfer to ASU, earn a Ph.D. and continue to work with disabled children.

Quote: “My goal is to help people who can’t do for themselves. It’s gratifying to teach students to help themselves and once they can do it, that’s the payoff.”

Eric ThompsonEric Thompson

Degree(s): Associate of General Studies, Psychology, with Highest Distinction

Future Plans: Transfer to Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado with long term plans to obtain a doctorate degree in transpersonal psychology. In the future he sees himself teaching, leading research, writing and hosting a practice made available to those in need.

Background: Eric has overcome bipolar disorder and homelessness to become a remarkable leader and scholar. He was recently named to the All-USA Academic Team, All-Arizona Academic Team and is the first student in the history of the college to receive two of the Maricopa Community College District’s highest academic achievement awards, The Chancellor’s Scholarship and The Foundation Scholarship.

Quote: “No matter how old you are, no matter what you have done or haven’t done in life, you can reinvent yourself. If you have something that you’re passionate about, consider community college, which offers opportunities that can change your life.”

Tiffany ReidTiffany Reid

Degree(s): Associate of General Studies Degree

Background: Graduated early from high school and worked as a special needs tutor for MPS while attending MCC.

Future Plans: Plans to transfer to NAU to complete a teaching degree. She wants to teach second grade.

Quote: “I want to encourage kids to go to college. Sometimes teachers give up on a child. I won’t ever give up on a child and I won’t let them give up on themselves.”