11 named to All-Arizona Academic Team

February 24, 2012 by Anonymous

Full tuition waivers to Arizona’s three public universities will be awarded to 11 Northland Pioneer College students to complete their bachelor’s degrees as nominees to the All-Arizona, All-USA Academic Team program, co-sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges, Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society (PTK), Follet Higher Education Group, the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation and USA Today. This will be the 16th year Arizona has separately recognized the state’s top two-year college students.

Representing NPC will be James Godwin and Jill Sartain from the Holbrook – Painted Desert Campus; Nick Chase and Melissa Jacob from the Show Low – White Mountain Campus; Beverly Cloud and Jeremy Hargrove from the Snowflake/Taylor – Silver Creek Campus; Tyler Holden and Zachary Pemberton from the Saint Johns Center; Barbara Akins and Amy Fairbanks from the Springerville/Eagar Center; and Jennifer Lewis from the Winslow – Little Colorado Campus.

NPC's All-Arizona Academic Team membersSixty-nine top scholars from Arizona's 10 community college districts were honored at the 16th annual All-Arizona Academic Team awards luncheon in Mesa on Feb. 22. Each student received a tuition waiver to their choice of Arizona state university to complete their bachelor's degree, along with a scholarship check from their institution. Northland Pioneer College placed 11 students on this year's team. Left to right, Barbara Akins, Amy Fairbanks, Jeremy Hargrove, Beverly Cloud, Jennifer Lewis, Melissa Jacob, James Godwin, Nick Chase, Jill Sartain, Tyler Holden. Not pictured, Zachary Pemberton.

James GodwinJames Godwin has been immersed in a world of scientific wonder and inquiry most of his life. “I was always probing in the dark, asking questions about things that struck me as odd, or the nature around us and how things worked. It was only natural that I wanted to teach what I had learned about science and nature to my peers on a professional level,” explained Godwin, who plans to transfer to the University of Arizona to “bolster my scientific knowledge and gain the skill necessary to teach this knowledge effectively.”

A resident of Vernon, Godwin tutors math students 5 to 8 hours per week. “I coached a struggling math student into the top percentile of her class. Through continued meetings I got a person who did not like or understand math to both enjoy and appreciate its applications.”

Godwin is a President’s Scholar, participating in the honors colloquium, and has been listed on the Dean’s and President’s lists for his academic achievement. He is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

An Introduction to Philosophy class inspired him “to look at reality from innumerable perspectives” and to develop a very idiosyncratic and functional writing style that has allowed him “to express opinions and ideas that I had no way of articulating for so many years.” This passion for literature “cemented my desire to inspire curiosity in the minds of future generations through the position of an educator. When I read and respond to someone else’s idea, I am taking part in the logical legwork they must have originally done to birth the idea, seeing the mechanics of thought in people this way may be the only way we can truly understand each other. In each of us lies an unfed passion to explore. That is what I want to bring about in my future students.”

Jill SartainJill Sartain loved growing up in Winslow and now lives in Joseph City. “Most people who grew up in small towns can’t wait to get out, but I loved it. I will be very sad when it’s time to move on.” Family is very important to Sartain. “Most of my weekends are dedicated to my family, whether it is helping my younger siblings with homework, my parents with housework, or just spending time together.”

Those close family ties are one of the reasons she chose to attend NPC. “My dad is still paying off his student loans from attending a university for four years. I didn’t want that to be me. I will complete the first part of my education at NPC debt-free.” The full tuition waiver she wins as a member of the All-Arizona team will allow her to finish her bachelor’s degree at Northern Arizona University.

For a class assignment, Sartain had to research how many people were living on the streets or in shelters in our country. “I was quite surprised at how large the numbers actually were. When you have never been in that situation yourself and you have never met anyone that has, it’s not something you really think about.” Saddened by her research and her own self-unawareness, she decided to volunteer at the Bread of Life Mission in Holbrook. The Mission is a shelter for both men and women, providing a place to live, food and also guidance. “There are probably on average 35 people there, but I wanted to help in any way I could, even if it was small,” noted Sartain, who helps cook a meal for the Mission residents once a month. “My NPC classes helped me to see the needs in my own community and to get involved.”

Nick Chase“I truly believe a mechanical and engineering aptitude has been genetically implanted in me!” commented White Mountains native Nick Chase. His maternal great-grandfather and paternal grandfather were both inventors and designers. “I have been raised in generations of self-reliant, motivated people who strongly believe in the power of education.” That’s why Chase plans to complete his mechanical engineering degree at NAU.

Attending NPC is a family tradition. His father completed a four-year apprenticeship program with the aid of NPC courses. His mother was an NPC valedictorian, who completed her bachelor’s and other certifications and now teaches full-time for NPC. His brother was also an All-Arizona Academic Team member, who completed his bachelor’s at NAU and is now in graduate school at New Mexico State University. And he has already earned a dual diploma from Blue Ridge for university prep and vocational studies. “How could I not take advantage of a tried-and-true pathway to success?”

Chase has felt the economic downturn in his job as a server at White Mountain Country Club in Pinetop. “Many of the customers who regularly visit the restaurant have been coming in less and less in an attempt to save money themselves,” remarked Chase. “Not only have I learned just how hard a drop in the economy is on the country, now I am part of the working class. Providing a high level of customer service helps to ensure my employer flourishes, especially in a community heavily reliant on tourism.” This strong work ethic reflects in his grades as well.

As a President’s Scholar in the Honors Colloquium, he is studying “various values, ideas, beliefs and trends that contemporary writers believe define our culture.” For class, he is doing a presentation on Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.

Melissa JacobLife has not been easy for Melissa Jacob. She grew up in an abusive home where her step-dad made her feel as though “I would never amount to anything and was stupid.” With some help and encouragement she enrolled at NPC and managed to get straight “A’s” that semester while giving birth to the first of her two children. Now a single mom living in a safe house after her own marriage headed down the same path as her mother’s, Jacob just completed a very busy fall semester. She gave birth to her second daughter while enrolled in 17 credits, tutored math and geography students twice a week, and volunteered at the local Humane Society, doing everything from cleaning kennels to walking dogs.

She also paid for five adoptions for animals to be therapy animals in children’s hospital programs. “I believe that animals really do help the healing process and that their presence at these hospitals are very therapeutic to the children that desperately just need a friend,” noted Jacob. “I am also ecstatic when I see these animals go to a good home for the same reason – friendship on both ends.”

Her induction into PTK in December 2010 was “the event that I needed to keep my head high and to keep working hard to achieve great grades, even with the challenges that having two children have presented.” She has made the Dean’s List for academic achievement every semester.

An education major transferring to NAU, Jacob states “With every class, along with my classroom observations, I have grown as a person and future teacher in a way that confirms this is what I am supposed to do, who I am supposed to be and what kind of teacher I want to be.”

Beverly CloudBeverly Cloud is on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner. Now entering her final semester of registered nurse training, this single mom of two teenage boys returned to school three years ago after being the quintessential “classroom mom, soccer coach, Scout leader and many other things that fall under the mom description” and a devoted wife that worked two jobs so her ex-husband could attend college.

“Each semester I told myself ‘let’s just see what happens’ and each semester is better than the previous,” she said. “My goal is to give back all the blessing I have been given. I have had hardships, but there was always someone who made a difference for me. I am and will be, the difference for others in my missionary work and nursing.”

Cloud is compassionate about studying, caring for patients, and in her role as Director of Religious Education for St. Mary of the Angels Catholic Church in Pinetop, supervising programs for 130 children and 16 teachers. She also teaches Catechist Certification, Marriage Prep and Sexual Abuse Prevention classes and helps organize and participates in missions and pilgrimages rotating every other year. She is a Humane Society “Foster Mom,” raising hundreds of puppies and kittens until they are ready for adoption.

The story of Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic Priest who willing gave his life at Auschwitz to save the life of a father, has influenced her faith and caused her to question if she would do the same. “God tells us the greatest gift is to give your life for someone else. I think of how he (Kolbe) showed his love of Christ by giving his own life. I endeavor to be as faith-filled as Maximilian Kolbe, as I share the story of a real person with our youth.”

Jeremy HargroveSometimes it is the simple things that have the greatest impact. That’s what Jeremy Hargrove discovered during his service as Den Leader for Webelos Cub Scout Troop 744 of the Grand Canyon Council, Boys Scouts of America. Meeting weekly with his troop of 10- and 11-year-olds, he shared his passion for science as they earned scientist and engineer activity badges, while learning about Bernoulli’s Principle and Newton’s laws.

“While doing the engineer badge, building a simple catapult using a shoe box, pencil, spoon and rubber band, I realized that it is the small activities that really helped the kids understand the concepts being taught. During my two years as den leader, I worked with about 10 young men, helping them to achieve many of their activity badges and teaching them many things, while they in turn taught me many things about being a teacher and a leader.”

Married for four and a half years with two little girls, Hargrove plans to transfer to the UofA, where he will study biology in preparation for dentistry school. “My family has become the most important thing to me and my education through NPC will one day ensure financial stability for them.” He holds himself to high academic standards, earning Arizona Academic Scholar honors while a dual enrollment student at Snowflake High and NPC. “My goal to one day go to dental school requires a high GPA, and so far I am off to a good start.” He was also recently inducted into NPC’s PTK chapter.

Attending NPC has allowed him to work 30 hours per week to provide for his family, while still studying full-time, with a load of 16 credits, mostly in the sciences and upper level mathematics courses. And before heading off to work or class, his morning chores include milking two to four cows each morning.

Tyler HoldenArmy boot camp awaits Tyler Holden before he will be enrolling at the UofA to study engineering management. As a welding student in the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology (NAVIT) program at St. Johns, last April he competed in Skills USA, a statewide event for high school and college students. Competitors must demonstrate a set of skills in all common types of welding and cutting processes. Although just a first-year student, “I overcame the challenge and placed in the upper percentage of the competitors. I represented myself and my school very well.”

Holden serves as the Battalion Chief of Explorer Post 7070, training beside firefighters and paramedics to “learn the tricks of the trade so that I might be able to work for the fire department some day.” He is responsible for training new Explorers on the proper maintenance and use of safety equipment. He also serves as the assistant football coach for St. Johns Middle School.

While living in the Valley, Holden noticed people with a college degree were always beating out his parents for jobs. His mother was able to get a grant to go to college, and then get a good job. “That’s what is really driving me to get a degree. It will set me apart from other candidates and will help me in the long run,” he said.

Holden was named to the President’s List for the Fall 2010 semester, and the Dean’s List in Spring 2011. Students with a perfect 4.0 average are named to the President’s List. Those with 3.5 to 3.99 grade averages are on the Dean’s List. To be eligible for distinction, students must have completed 12 or more credits in 100-level or above courses.

Zachary PembertonZachary Pemberton admits he struggled with self-worth and could not laugh at the many mistakes he made before meeting his wife. “Meeting her was the single most life-changing experience in my life. She loves life, grew up with loads of self-worth and it shines from her. I still have a hard time not being too hard on myself, but I know that she will love me, no matter what.”

The couple moved to St. Johns, where she grew up, so that he could go to school full-time. “She knew attending a community college would boast my self-worth, which it has, and I found my knack in school – history and geography.”

After working at the Apache County Jail for nearly a year, he quit to devote more time to his studies. “I am not a fast learner and have to study a lot to understand my classes and get good grades,” Pemberton noted. “Going to a four-year university is scary because I know how tough it’s going to be financially, but going to school, no matter how hard it is, is the best way to support my family in the future.”

Pemberton works 15 to 20 hours per week in the St. Johns Center office, answering phones and assisting his fellow students. He and his wife are also co-leaders for a Bear Scout Den Pack, meeting weekly to pass off ranks and organize fundraisers and service projects. He plans to attend NAU, majoring in geography. He eventually would like to earn a master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems, which uses computer mapping for statistic data.

A newly inducted member of NPC’s PTK chapter, Pemberton was named to the President’s List in Fall 2010 and Spring 2011.

Barbara AkinsBeing a “non-traditional” student gives Barbara Akins a different perspective to share with prospective students and their parents as a Student Ambassador. After all, she was fulfilling a lifelong dream to obtain an accounting degree. Oh, by the way, she was also enrolled in 20 credits and a single mom with a teenage son.

“When I was younger, being a wife, mother and full-time employee kept me too busy to attend college classes,” noted Akins. “In 2008, I was released from my full-time accounting job solely due to not having a college degree. I began to realize that perhaps God was giving me the time and opportunity to finally pursue my dream of attending college full-time.”

As an Ambassador, Akins gave campus tours and interacted with many students, parents, faculty and community members. “They were impressed to discover they could receive information from a student’s perspective about the benefits the college has to offer, such as dual enrollment classes.” Her encouragement to one student resulted in him being inducted into PTK and receiving a full-ride scholarship to study abroad. More recently, she was asked to speak to a county business meeting, sharing the positive impact NPC is making in the community and her life.

Akins served a term as a Student Government Senator, helping to organize and run student events and share concerns with college administrative staff. Ironically, that service resulted in the only “B” on her college transcript. “I had joined SGA after the initial election of Senators, and I guess that is what lowered by grade, even though I served into the following semester.”

Her volunteerism extends to her community as well, as a member of the White Mountain Regional Medical Center’s Hospital Auxiliary and her church, teaching Sunday School for pre-school and kindergarten age children, and singing and playing music with the Worship Team.

Amy FairbanksAmy Fairbanks is the first member of her family to graduate from high school. Her two sisters and brother dropped out early and quite often were in trouble with the law. “I think seeing their mistakes made me realize I didn’t want to repeat them.” Now well on her way to completing her associate degree at NPC, she is focusing on obtaining a master’s degree in biochemistry from the UofA.

“My ambition and passion for learning will help me to accomplish anything I set my mind to,” noted Fairbanks. For the spring 2011 semester, she was enrolled in five classes (16 credits), working in excess of 40 hours per week, and caring for her five-year-old daughter. “It was a hard time right at the beginning of the semester because my father passed away at the end of January. I thought about withdrawing from classes, but I knew he would want me to continue on with my goals and plans to graduate by spring 2012. I was able to maintain a 4.0 average for the semester, even though it was such a trying time.” That earned her a spot on the President’s List. In December, she was inducted into PTK.

Achieving the highest grade in her Introduction to Biology class caused her to “take a liking to the biological sciences. I have decided to major in biochemistry and one day obtain a master’s degree in the field.”

“My NPC teachers sincerely love helping people better themselves and learn new things.” She already enjoys helping other students and her daughter with their assignments. Perhaps one day she will return to a community college classroom as a teacher who “genuinely loves the ‘aha’ moment, when a student understands a concept” and is so passionate about their subjects.

Jennifer LewisBorn six weeks premature, Jennifer Lewis spent more than a year in a hospital fighting for life. “I have always been a fighter and have worked hard for the achievements that I have been able to earn.” She has also experienced hardship in her adult life. “I have had two children pass away at very young ages and it taught me that nothing in life is for certain.” A high-risk pregnancy and the end of her marriage in 2005, slowed down her studies at NPC. But now she is on track to be the first in her family to obtain a college degree. She plans to transfer to ASU in the fall to pursue advanced degrees in law or criminal justice.

Lewis served as a Senator and Secretary for the Student Government Association in 2009-10. She helped with the basketball tournament, talent show and Santa’s workshop, and prepared the group’s minutes. She also developed a student survey on the impact of switching to an online bookstore and the use of a “money card” for disbursing financial aid refunds. Lewis organized the NPC float in the 2009 and 2010 Winslow Christmas Parades, and served as Ernie Eagle, the college’s mascot in both. “While the marching band was playing, I’d be dancing to the music, waving at the children. It was very enjoyable to see them smile and dance as the float went by.”

She is very serious and dedicated to her own, as well as her family’s, future. “I want to have diplomas, achievements and a career that I am proud of,” she noted. “I enjoy learning almost as much as I love overcoming challenges. NPC has given me the building blocks I need in order to build a stable foundation for myself and my family.”

NPC can nominate 18 students, up to two students from each of its nine locations, to the All-Arizona/All-USA Academic Team. The 2012 All-Arizona Academic Team includes over 60 outstanding Arizona community college students. A luncheon in their honor will be on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the Phoenix East Mesa Hilton. The audience of over 300 will include family members or guests, university enrollment officers, community college presidents, chancellors, academic officers, governing board members and representatives of the Board of Regents. In addition to the tuition waivers from the Board of Regents, students also receive scholarship checks from their sponsoring colleges. All-Arizona team members are automatically considered for the All-USA Academic Team, and additional scholarship and award opportunities.

Applications are made available in the fall for students graduating or completing degrees the following spring semester. Debra Thompson, academic adviser at the Holbrook – Painted Desert Campus, coordinated this year's nomination process.