21st Annual Commencement Ceremony on May 12 celebrates largest number of graduates in 25-year history

EMCC Commencement Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 12, at Goodyear Ballpark
EMCC Commencement Ceremony
EMCC Commencement Faculty Speaker Dr. Roselyn Turner
EMCC Commencement Faculty Speaker Dr. Roselyn Turner
EMCC Commencement Student Speaker Jason Chavez
EMCC Commencement Student Speaker Jason Chavez

Largest number of graduates in college’s 25-year history celebrate “Achieving Dreams. Transforming Lives. Celebrating Success.”

Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC), one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges, hosts its annual commencement ceremony; this year the college will award 1,150 associate degrees and 998 academic and occupational certificates to 988 students completing between fall 2016 and summer 2017. These achievements mark the largest number of credentials awarded to largest class of graduating students in the college’s history.

This year marks EMCC’s 25th anniversary, and the commencement theme, “Achieving Dreams. Transforming Lives. Celebrating Success,” exemplifies the college’s continued dedication to creating an inspirational and supportive learning environment for its students. Throughout their time on the campus, students are not only encouraged to face and overcome hurdles, they are provided with the resources to help them transcend adversity, to have a successful college experience. Students are also urged to celebrate their successes and achievements, as those learning experiences will not only shape their lives, but serve as models of inspiration for others. The EMCC faculty and staff are devoted to supporting, mentoring, and positively shaping students’ lives and providing them with an unforgettable, dynamic collegiate journey.

Time and Location: The EMCC Commencement Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 12, 2017, at 7:00 p.m., at the Goodyear Ballpark, 1938 South Ballpark Way, in Goodyear, Ariz.

Stream the Event: Watch a live video stream of the event online beginning at 7:00 p.m. by visiting estrellamountain.edu/graduation.

EMCC Commencement Faculty Speaker 

Dr. Roselyn Turner is this year’s faculty speaker; she has been a Communication professor at Estrella Mountain Community College for the last 19 years. Her career in education is extensive. She taught for five years at Tolleson Union High School, as a dual-enrollment teacher of English and Speech and Debate. She also spent six years in the Liberty Elementary School District where she taught Language Arts. Her own years of studying service learning pedagogy make her an extremely valuable resource for students. She has a Doctor of Philosophy in Education from Capella University, a Master of Science in English from NOVA University, and two bachelor’s degrees in both Communication and Psychology from New Mexico State University. She has spent ample time at EMCC advising the faculty on ways to enhance the Service Learning program. She credits her parents with instilling the importance of service and volunteerism into her life at an early age and has made it a goal to share with her students how crucial these things are for building strong communities. Diversity is also important to Turner. She participated in the Infusing Diversity into the Curriculum training program, and she integrates the value of diversity into the course content of each class she teaches.

EMCC Commencement Student Speaker 

Jason Chavez has been extremely active in campus groups and organizations during his time at EMCC. He credits his involvement as a major part of his success, and will discuss how it benefited him during his 2017 commencement address. Currently, he is president of the Asian/Pacific-Islander Club. He is also a member of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, the PRIDE Club, and the International Student Leadership Organization. He was also involved in EMCC Student Government. He said the groups helped him become a more involved and aware person, and that taking part in them can inspire students to be the best they can be. He initially selected EMCC because of its accessibility, both in distance and financially, and says the experience was life-changing because of all the campus resources and support available to him during some challenging times. Chavez is autistic and cites the campus resources as essential to his success. “The counseling and disability services are great. They were so helpful to me. I want every student who needs them, to take advantage of them. It benefited my entire experience.” Chavez is graduating with an Associate in Applied Science in Programming and System Analysis and plans to continue his education at Western Governors University to study software development. He is also pursuing a fellowship opportunity to help shape public policies in Washington, D.C.

All-USA Scholarship Winners: Virginia Boyle and Jake Ormond

Virginia Boyle, known as Ginny, is a 2016 recipient of an All-USA Scholarship. Her hard work earned her that prestigious award, as well as many other honors, like being a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member. In addition to her public administration studies, it is her many collegiate and community activities that have help shaped the path of this Ohio native. Boyle served as a liaison for the Hattie Larlham Foundation in connection with Cleveland Indians Charities and its outreach autism camps in Goodyear schools, as well as a Phi Theta Kappa activities facilitator at Estrella Mountain Community College, and did volunteer work at her parish with the St. Vincent de Paul Society, working with Aqua Fria Food Bank. Through these affiliations where she did hands-on work, Boyle found her focus. The All-USA academic scholarship will allow her to continue her studies at Northern Arizona University where she will work to earn a bachelor’s degree in public administration, with a focus on advocating for meal programs and facilitating educational information about eating and good health. Boyle went back to school as a returning student and worried about how that would affect her. As she got involved with her studies and activities at EMCC, Boyle says that “the environment was so supportive that it helped me with my determination to be successful.” She credits the students, faculty, and staff with creating an open environment that is beneficial for students of all ages.

Jake Ormond is also a 2016 recipient of an All-USA Scholarship. The student, who worked on campus as an administrative assistant, has long been following a path to success. His perseverance has paid off. Acquiring his associate degree in business at EMCC, he will utilize this Phi Theta Kappa scholarship to attend Arizona State University to study public service and public policy. Ormond has always seen the value in not only acquiring a great education but also in immersing himself in groups that help serve communities both on and off campus. While enrolled at Willow Canyon High School, Ormond was involved in a variety of groups, including Key Club, and his high school’s leadership council. His engagement in the former group led him to becoming a Kiwanis member; the organization is behind some of the largest youth service programs in the world. He also volunteered at his school’s bookstore which he says gave him an opportunity to interact with students and faculty, as well as learn the facets of that business. March of Dimes, National Youth Council, and Future Business Leaders of America are some of the other groups with which he has been involved to expand his knowledge and skillsets.

He chose EMCC for a variety of reasons, from affordability to convenience and ended up being thrilled by the personal attention he received on the campus. “After extensive consideration, the community college had so many more advantages to offer such as smaller class sizes, being close to home, and the opportunity for stronger bonds between students and faculty. Looking back on it, I know I would not be the same person if I had made a different decision.”

Ormond credits his experiences at EMCC with dedicated faculty and staff as being essential to his success. were made event better by the faculty and staff members. “Having wonderful mentors and getting that one-on-one time gave me a great advantage,” he said. “EMCC is an outstanding institution.”

A Student Success Story: Bill Nkumzumwami graduates with two degrees

Bill Nkumzumwami will be receiving both arts and sciences associate degrees at this year’s commencement ceremony. His plan is to continue his studies at Arizona State University to earn a BFA and pursue a career in computer animation. He says his time at EMCC will make the transition a smooth one. “This has given me a great foundation and I feel well-prepared for the future,” he said. “EMCC helps you set great standards for success.” He attributes the positive experience to a combination of factors. “Many things have contributed to my success – the advisors, the counseling department, and my participation in extracurricular activities – I have been a part of a community where you get help and support from everyone and it’s made it very enjoyable.”

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Estrella Mountain Community College is one of the 11 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. EMCC offers academic courses leading to associate degrees, university transfer, certificates and short-term job training to more than 14,000 students annually. The flagship campus is located on Thomas and Dysart roads in Avondale and is home to the SouthWest Skill Center. Classes are also offered online and at EMCC’s Buckeye Educational Center, located in downtown Buckeye, Ariz.