13 named to All-AZ Academic Team

February 2, 2015 by Anonymous

Tuition waivers, valued at nearly $250,000, will be awarded to 13 All-Arizona Academic Team students from Northland Pioneer College to complete their bachelor’s degrees at one of Arizona three public universities.

Receiving the tuition waivers from the Arizona Board of Regents will be NPC students Jennifer DoBell and Kelcee Moore from the Holbrook – Painted Desert Campus; Lauren Peters and Jenna Ché Shockey representing the Winslow – Little Colorado Campus, Sara Anderson and Moira Hamilton from the Show Low – White Mountain Campus; Daniel McGee and Isaac Schimmel representing the Snowflake/Taylor – Silver Creek Campus; Alfredo Ortiz and Charles Manley from the Saint Johns Center; Ashley McDowell and Laurie Shyann Vance from the Springerville/Eagar Center; and Kasey Johnston representing the Whiteriver Center. Team members will also receive scholarships from NPC. The tuition waivers are awarded by the Arizona Board of Regents to encourage the state’s top scholars to finish their education.

For the first time in the All-Arizona Academic Team’s 20-year history, NPC had more applicants than available nominations. NPC can only nominate two students from each campus and center location to the All-Arizona team. A student must have taken a class at or originating from that location to be considered for one of the two nominations. This year’s NPC nominees will be honored at a luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 18 in Mesa, along with over 60 other top scholars from the state’s other community colleges.

Arizona separately recognizes the state’s top two-year college students as a part of the 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.

Sara Anderson
Sara Anderson

Sara Anderson is a second-year Nursing student whose career goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner. A first-generation college student, Anderson always felt comfortable in a hospital setting, helping others. While assisting her diabetic dad during a hospital stay, an NPC nursing program graduate, Trina, encouraged her to pursue her dream and enroll in the NPC nursing school. She is pushing herself to succeed “to inspire my two children to love school and finish college.”

Anderson is already applying the nursing skills she has learned, routinely providing wound care to an uncle with cerebral palsy. She also initiated a wellness challenge for her nursing classmates. “It is difficult to stay focused on a healthy lifestyle, which can be lost in the stress and studying time during nursing school,” Anderson wrote in her application. Working with fellow All-Arizona team member Moira Hamiliton, she is volunteering at a blood drive this spring, sponsored by NPC’s PTK chapter. She plans to transfer to either NAU or ASU to continue her nursing education.

Jennifer Dobell
Jennifer Dobell

Jennifer DoBell grew up in Holbrook and plans to return after completing her advanced degrees in organizational management at ASU. A first-generation college student and single mom to an eight-year-old son, DoBell is already noticing the influence she is having on him. “I see him get inspired and he loves telling his friends that even after high school there is college that they have to go to,” she wrote in her application. “It makes me happy thinking about his future. I had no thought of college at his age, so I love to see him inspired and try to decide where he wants to attend and what he wants to be when he grows up.”

Now working in NPC’s Financial Aid Office, DoBell sees the importance of continuing her education. “I was a good student in high school, who just didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I started working and didn’t think about my education. In today’s society, education will push me to places only a degree can take me.” She credits NPC with helping her to set and achieve a goal. “Now I’m on my way to finishing one goal and set an even bigger one.” Her long-term goal is to be a successful business owner – maybe a spa business in her hometown.

Moira Hamilton
Moira Hamilton

Master Juggler does not appear on Moira Hamilton’s list of positions on her resumé – but it should. This homeschooling mother of three adopted foster “medically fragile” children is a full-time NPC student, a Girl and Boy Scout leader, church children’s activities coordinator, artist and unofficial researcher into treatment options for patients with Ichthyosis Follicularis, Atrichia, and Photophobia (I.F.A.P). Only 13 people in the United States (3 are her adopted foster children) have been diagnosed with this syndrome caused by a mutation in the MBTPS2 gene on chromosome Xp22.

The Hamilton’s, husband Patrick is also a full-time NPC first-year Nursing student, are state-approved medically-fragile foster parents, making them and their home safe for high-risk children.

“Very little is known about their illness. I have taken it upon myself to research their illness. Not only have I written research papers on it, I have found solutions to their illness that their doctor, at Phoenix Children's Hospital, told me to share with others and to patent my technique,” wrote Hamilton in her application. “My children not only had this illness, but also recurrent MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). Their routine consists of extreme hygiene and cleanliness; bleach baths, several special ointments applied to their entire body three times daily, breathing treatments, and unfortunately they have limited contact with others.”

Because of her care, Hamilton has changed their world. “Due to the diligence of my routine and obedience to the doctor’s orders; their lives have turned around a great deal. I have used my experiences from NPC, as I homeschool them, to change their dreams and desires for Science, Art, History, and Math. My children write poetry, and can name most of the rocks and how they are formed. They help me volunteer with our community and our church and leading in Boys and Girls Scouts. They have seen me accomplish great grades and strive for continuing knowledge.”

Fostering since 2009, Hamilton “loves being a foster mother and I know that the importance of our children's future is vital to the love and care they receive. In the future I will continue to assist our state in the need for foster and adoptive parents. I am grateful for the opportunities to help assist others; I always have and I always will continue to do so.” She plans to enroll at ASU in the fall, studying to become an anthropologist.

Kasey Johnston
Kasey Johnston

Kasey Johnston is passionate about a healthy environment and animals. “Since I was a kid I always wanted to be able to discover a new animal and I plan on making that dream come true.” This fall, she will be enrolling at NAU, studying wildlife management and animal biology.

“What I want to accomplish in the future is to make a difference in the environment,” noted Johnston. “I plan on going to school to learn more about animals and how to preserve and make the environment healthy. It is very important to me that I speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Animals are a huge part in the world and I would love to be in the outdoors studying and helping them any way I can.”

A full-time NPC student and employee at Allegra Printing in Show Low, she volunteers at the Show Low Animal Shelter, walking the dogs, performing office duties and cleaning the kennels, and also at Haven of Show Low, a nursing care facility. As a new member of the NPC PTK chapter, Johnston plans on “being heavily involved in as many activities that I can. This will help me grow as a person and help me get more involved in even bigger things in the community and at NPC.”

Charles Manley
Charles Manley

Scholastics were not a high priority for Charles Manley while in high school. “After I graduated from high school I went through many personal tribulations such as declining health, poverty, and self-doubt. During those harsh times, which are far from over, I learned several things about life that hold true for me even to this day,” wrote Manley.

“The first is that time lost can never be regained. Had I attended college with the fervor and belief that I do now I wonder where I might be, though regret does nothing. The second is that no matter what trials one faces they must be met with determination and nerve. I have determined that there will be no barriers to keep me from my goals of personal prosperity and communal service.”

Health issues are indirectly guiding his career choice. “My primary goal is to become a registered dietician so that I might be able to better battle my constant health issues and to help others around me with their dietary or other problems. I cannot foresee the future but given the present I have much hope that I will be able to turn my life around into something respectable.”

As his health permits, Manley helps his grandmother with chores around her home, and at his uncle’s propane business. “Even if I do not obtain the job that I plan on I know that my time at college was not wasted as I am a better person for attending.” He plans to enroll at ASU in the fall.

Ashley McDowell
Ashley McDowell

“Communication has always been my worst skill,” noted Ashley McDowell. Her enrollment as a junior and senior at Round Valley High School in the NPC/NAVIT Medical Assistant classes “helped me to no longer be afraid or nervous to talk and present projects in large groups. To be a successful medical assistant, you need to have good communications skills.”

A first-generation college student, McDowell continued her Medical Assistant studies at NPC after graduating from high school in May. In December she obtained her MDA certification, and her associate’s degree from NPC. She is now a third-year student this spring at NAU, working on her bachelor’s degree in biology. Her career goal is to earn her veterinary medical degree, then open a large animal clinic in Round Valley. “I am glad I have started out at NPC because I had one-on-one training with professors that were willing to help me grow,” she added.

McDowell was active in FFA all four years of high school receiving state recognition for her community service, work experience and FFA involvement. McDowell loves to train horses and regularly competes in National Barrel Horse Association events. In the future she plans to expand her talent and compete at higher levels, such as the Women’s Professional Rodeo Finals.

Daniel McGee
Daniel McGee

“We’re debt-free!!” proudly proclaims Daniel McGee, who has applied Dave Ramsey’s debt-free living principles to his own household and is now a strong advocate for the financial freedom plan. After setting up specific goals and deadlines, “Our long-term goals gave us power to complete our short-term goals,” McGee noted. “We faced many hard decisions and sacrifices to get out of debt.” Their perseverance paid off their debt and established an emergency fund five months ahead of schedule. “We have started saving for retirement and our kids’ college and this year we have given more than we ever thought possible to people in our community. The decision to get out of debt has given us the means to begin making a difference.”

Working with the local “Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter McGee is a “Big” to a young boy that suffers from Asperger’s. “I meet with him weekly where we work on developing his self-confidence and basic athletic skills. My goals are to help him learn to catch a ball and ride a bike with confidence.”

Life interrupted McGee’s studies at NPC for nearly five years. But now this returning student is striving to complete his Associate of Science (AS) degree this May with a perfect 4.0 GPA. In the fall, he’ll be enrolling at ASU to study mechanical engineering, with a concentration in research and development. “As general manager at US Insulation I have found enjoyment and developed many useful skills for my future, but I feel that I have more potential in my career. I feel compelled to meet that potential for my family and myself,” concluded McGee.

Kelcee Moore
Kelcee Moore

Kelcee Moore dreams of someday traveling the world, applying the skills she’ll learn acquiring a bachelor’s degree in International Hospitality and Tourism Management. She has already traveled to New Zealand, working in the hospitality industry and volunteering in a local senior citizens home. Stateside, she has greeted tourists at the Petrified Forest National Park, and works as a hotel front desk clerk.

Her family moved frequently before settling in Joseph City for her senior year of high school. Needing only two academic credits to graduate, Moore enrolled in the NPC/NAVIT Cosmetology program, where she learned “professionalism, customer service, time management, and many other skills which continue to help me in business, education, and giving back to my community.” Applying the leadership skills she had acquired at Joseph City High School, she was chosen Show Low Cosmetology class president, assisting and organizing several successful community outreach projects.

Receiving a gold medal in the Arizona SkillsUSA competition, Moore earned a chance to represent the state and NPC at the national SkillsUSA event, finishing ninth. Contestants were judged in four key areas – professionalism, overall knowledge, practical application and creativity.

She was selected for the President’s Scholars Program, which allowed her to complete her Associate of Applied Science Cosmetology degree and the general education credits she needed to transfer to NAU this spring as a third-year student. “I chose NPC over a university because I wanted to finish what I started where I began. NPC made it possible for me to earn a vocational certificate and an Associate of Applied Science Degree with no debt. I hope I can say the same after I earn my bachelor’s degree,” Moore concluded. When she succeeds, she’ll be the first woman in her family to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

Alfredo Ortiz
Alfredo Ortiz

Once a week, NPC welding students are expected to get up in front of their class and give a 60-second “commercial” about themselves – who they are, where they are going to school, hobbies and future plans. “At first it was tough. I stood up there in front of the class and froze. I didn’t know what to say,” said Alfredo Ortiz. Over time, working with his instructor, Ortiz gained confidence. At the class completion ceremony, in front of 300 people, including welding industry representatives, he delivered his “commercial” in both English and Spanish. “I was never so nervous in my whole life. I smiled, than realizing I had stressed about nothing, and delivered my commercial. It was my most significant accomplishment,” noted Ortiz.

A first-generation college student, Ortiz continues to study at NPC to complete his AAS welding degree. He plans to transfer to ASU in the fall to study manufacturing technology. He uses his welding training as a lab aide in the St. Johns classroom, assisting other students. He also helped design and create a steel memorial to the late State Senator Chester Crandell, who helped create the NAVIT welding program, and decorative metal rose candleholder that were sold as fundraisers.

Born in Chicago, Ortiz has experienced first hand the struggles his father endured trying to provide for his family. “My father’s wise words, ‘Don’t be an idiot like your dad. Learn all you can so you don’t have to end up like me’ have been my motivation till this day,” added Ortiz. He hopes with his welding certifications and bachelor’s degree, he’ll be able to travel the world. But he won’t forget the hard times his family faced and plans to volunteer at soup kitchens wherever he calls home.

Lauren Peters
Lauren Peters

Combining a love of organic gardening, healthy living and volunteerism, Lauren Peters successfully initiated a “Brain Break” activities program in the Holbrook schools. Brain Breaks are short movement activities built into the instructional day to energize children and increase their ability to focus and retain knowledge. Encompassing “Just Move” activities from the Fuel Up to Play 60 organization and exercises from her personal yoga practice, Peters applied the characteristics she had observed in her NPC instructors to capture the children’s attention and introduce the program.

After helping one child who was having difficulty participating with his classmates, “I realized how much I wanted to be in a helping profession.” Leaving the school after the introductory session, she was told how much the children and teachers enjoyed the new “Brain Breaks.” “I was able to see how much of a difference this, and other programs like this, could make for children.”

Peters grew up in Winslow, and as a high school junior and senior participated in the NPC/NAVIT Cosmetology program, receiving her state cosmetologist license. That fall she had the opportunity to participate in “The Center for Interim Studies,” where students volunteer and study abroad. She spent seven months in Hawaii, learning about gardening, nutrition, business and health at a holistic bed and breakfast in South Kona, and on an organic farm in Kohala. Here she experienced WWOOFing – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and the “No Fruit Left Behind” project. She lived with a host family in Guatemala for three weeks, while in a Spanish Immersion program, then it was on to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, where she volunteered at the Jaguar Rescue Center. “I was in charge of preparing the food for over 20 exotic animals twice a day. I worked with sloths, monkeys, toucans, cinkachoos, parrots, owls and a variety of other animals. It was a lot of hard work but through it I was able to meet people from all over the world. I was able to experience a new way of life while developing relationships with people from all socio-economical and cultural backgrounds.”

Peters is using the WWOOF experience she gained in Hawaii on school and community garden projects in Holbrook. Peters has already enrolled at NAU for the spring semester, working on her bachelor’s degree with dual majors in business and sociology. She plans to then complete her master’s in occupational therapy at Oxford Brooks University and eventually a doctorate. Her long-term goal is to “establish a small organic vineyard/bed and breakfast and incorporate WWOOFing into my labor force, while maintaining my own private practice and continue working part-time as an occupational therapist.”

Isaac Schimmel
Isaac Schimmel

Helping others, whether in emergencies or in day-to-day living, is the life goal for Isaac Schimmel. A native of Pinetop, Schimmel obtained state and national certification as a firefighter through the NPC/NAVIT fire academy while still in high school. He is using an NPC President’s Scholars scholarship to complete basic Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training and plans to enroll at NAU in the fall to pursue a degree in paramedicine or nursing.

His EMT training has included ride-alongs on emergency transports and shifts in the hospital emergency room. “I’ve learned that at the time of treating others for medical issues, all pretenses are set aside and the most important issue at hand is life itself,” noted Schimmel. Reflecting on his experiences in the ER, he said, “a smile and comforting words go a long way when people are in distress.” After successfully performing chest compressions on a gentlemen who had gone into cardiac arrest, “I really gained an appreciation for life at that time.”

Neighbors and family have come to depend on him for assistance with lifting heavy objects, or doing maintenance and chores around homes. He serves with his father in the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has recently joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He would like to train and become a rescue jumper with the Coast Guard. “Being able to help others, share their burdens in emergency situations, and knowing that I'm doing everything I can to help others is so rewarding,” Schimmel added.

Jenna Ché Shockey
Jenna Ché Shockey

Jenna Ché Shockey started earning NPC credits the second semester of her eighth grade year while a student at Sequoia Village Charter School. Now a high school senior and second-year NPC student, Shockey will receive both her high school diploma and Associate of Business (ABus) degree in May. The dual-credit program “is a wonderful opportunity, and one I wouldn't let myself pass up,” explained Shockey. She has chosen to set aside many of the traditional high school activities to concentrate on her studies and be involved in NPC’s Student Government Association – currently serving as president.

“My goal is to bring the surrounding communities and student body together through service opportunities, such as the recent holiday food drive,” she said. As SGA President, she represents students on the College Council regarding college policies, procedures and programs. In November Shockey and two other SGA officers attended a leadership conference in Los Angeles. “Everything we learned will be shared with others and we plan to implement several new projects this spring.”

Community involvement is important to Shockey. She regularly volunteered at the Love Kitchen in Pinetop, helping to provide meals and food to those less fortunate. As she continues her studies at ASU in the fall, she plans to continue volunteering to help others. Shockey will be working on extending her Business degree, with an emphasis in legal studies. Within 10 years she plans to obtain her doctorate in International Business Law, with a long-term goal to be an international business attorney or CEO of a prominent law firm.

Laurie Shyann Vance
Laurie Shyann Vance

In her part-time position as a receptionist at NPC’s Springerville Center Laurie Shyann Vance inspires students of all ages and educational backgrounds to continue their education. “As a fellow student I have been able to share some of my knowledge and experiences. I have been able to talk to students who dropped out of high school and encourage them to earn their GED, and then have seen them go on to be very successful in college,” Vance noted. “It is an amazing feeling to know that my education has allowed me to reach out to others and help them come a step closer to fulfilling their dreams.”

Her own educational dreams were delayed when her son suffered a stroke shortly after birth. Dealing with his medical problems caused her to lose her scholarship at New Mexico State University, meaning she could no longer afford to attend classes, and she dropped out. Wanting to continue her education, Vance met with an NPC academic adviser, who helped her sign up for financial aid and the classes she would need for her associate’s degree.

“I want to gain a doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy. I am drawn to OT because after my son suffered a stroke, an OT was very helpful in his recovery,” explains Vance. Growing up her family “moved a lot. We never lived anywhere for more than two years. I met many different people and experienced a lot of different cultures. My childhood taught me to appreciate diversity and gave me a desire for working with different people.”

“I am so grateful for NPC. I do not know what I would have done the last few years for education if I had not had this community college to attend,” concluded Vance.

A complete list of past NPC recipients of the All-Arizona Academic Team honor can be viewed online.

Northland Pioneer College serves the residents of Navajo and Apache counties through four regional campuses and five centers with a variety of educational options for academic, career and technical and personal enrichment. NPC supports each student’s educational goals through affordable tuition, small class sizes and caring, professional instructors. For more information about NPC programs and services, call (800) 266-7845.

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