Tag Archives: PCC Foundation

Scholarship Fiesta 2016

Our PCC Foundation annually hosts a Scholarship Fiesta where scholarship recipients and donors can get to know each other. I shared a few remarks at last week’s gathering, and had the opportunity to meet the extraordinary people who support the Foundation, and the students who benefit from their generosity.

This year’s awardees included Craig Bevan. At 60, Craig is a lifelong learner earning his second degree at PCC, in Paralegal Studies, and sixth overall. Craig is dealing with physical challenges but says they will never keep him from learning.

The student speaker, Itzel Ramos, intends to study Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arizona after graduating from PCC in May. Her career goal is to help design prosthetics for those who have lost limbs. She shared with me that she also is in ROTC, and intends to join the Air Force.

Itzel shared that her mother has worked the graveyard shift at her job in order to help put Iztel and a sister through college. The fiesta’s master of ceremonies, local entrepreneur Edmund Marquez, put it best when he told Iztel’s mom that she had raised a heckuva daughter.

Though coming from diverse backgrounds, Craig, Itzel and our scholarship recipients are alike in many ways. They are often the first in their family to attend college. They come from close-knit, multigenerational families of modest means. Some have experienced food or housing insecurity.  They want to attend school close to home. They need PCC’s flexible schedules to balance work, school and family. Most importantly, they understand that attending college is the pathway to a better life for themselves and their families.

As usual, the Foundation staged a beautiful event in the Community Campus courtyard, with delicious food and mariachi music in a pleasant and friendly setting. Kudos to Foundation Board member Staci Lopez, Interim Foundation Executive Director Rachel Schaming and her team, and to Special Assistant, External Relations Christy Camargo and Support Specialist Chris Mayer.

Building Community 2015

From left: Edmund Marquez, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Chancellor Lee D. Lambert, Building Community emcee Dan Marries.

From left: PCC Foundation Board of Directors Member Edmund Marquez, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Chancellor Lee D. Lambert, Building Community emcee Dan Marries.

I had the privilege of delivering keynote remarks at the Pima Community College Foundation’s Building Community luncheon Feb. 6 at the Westin La Paloma resort. The more than 400 leaders of education, business and industry, government and community organizations who attended learned more about how PCC works with its partners to improve individual lives and spark economic development in the region.

This was the second Building Community luncheon, and in one major respect, much has changed since last year’s inaugural event. I told the audience that, thanks to the efforts of some 300 employees, students and community members, PCC is now well-positioned to successfully emerge from probation, a sanction placed on the College by our accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, in April 2013. Final word on our status comes later this month, and I have every reason to believe that the College has done the work to successfully comply with HLC standards and regain its fullest degree of confidence.

I explained to the audience the initiatives the College is undertaking to bridge that gaps that pose major challenges to the success of higher education institutions across the U.S.: gaps in student achievement, skills, technology, sustainability and global awareness. However, the  powerful collaborations that yield tangible successes for our students formed the most memorable part of the event. I want to relate just a few stories.

Dean West, 27, grew up in Longview, Wash., a small town where the paper mill was the major employer. After getting his GED, he immediately joined the Army, and worked in weapons maintenance. Dean moved to Tucson to be with family. An acquaintance told him about PCC. He is graduating with a degree in Computer Aided Drafting Design. While at PCC, he connected with his current employer, a manufacturer. “I was blessed to have instructors who have high standards and a highly structured environment,” he says, adding that his military experience set him up for academic success at Pima. “I have my dream job,” he says, and he plans to attend UA on the G.I. Bill.

Alec Moreno is a Tucson High School graduate. He has four siblings, and his family is of modest means. He was worried about finding the money for college after the Great Recession took a severe toll on the family’s finances. But PCC Foundation scholarships (about $1,400 he says) have made a big difference. “Pima’s tuition is very affordable, but coming from a large family, every dollar counts.” He plans to study engineering at UA, and hopes to get a master’s in education to give back to the community. When he graduates UA, he will be first member of his family to get a bachelor’s degree. He will tell his story while in Washington, D.C., this week to meet federal legislators and officials.

Ashley Rodriguez is a Sunnyside High School graduate who joined the military. Following her service she attended other colleges and still had a hard time finding a career. Then one day by chance she saw a piece of paper on the floor. She picked it up and learned about Pima’s Aviation Technology program. The road through the rigorous program had its twists and turns, but now she is working for Bombardier.

Similar stories were told by Gloria Bloomer, chair of the PCC Foundation Board of Directors. A video segment produced by PCCTV showed the close relationship between the College and employers Suddath Relocation Systems and Radiology Ltd. Gloria introduced David Lee, who graduated from our Radiologic Technology program and works for Radiology Ltd. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild put our contributions into perspective when he described how PCC plays a key role his “Five T’s” program of development by preparing Tucsonans for the middle class jobs that will provide the backbone of our community.

Renowned educator Marian Wright Edelman said, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” Working together with our partners in Tucson, Arizona and across the nation, we can achieve that goal, and propel Tucson to new era of economic development.

Expanding opportunities


I had the privilege last week of attending two events illustrating the breadth of activities the College is undertaking to expand community engagement in ways that transcend state and national borders.

Members of the Mexico Consulate General’s office in Tucson visited the College Friday to memorialize the PCC Foundation’s receipt of a $90,000 grant from the government of Mexico through their Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME). The grant supports attainment of postsecondary education by Mexican immigrants and Americans of Mexican origin at PCC.

This initiative is connected to two education efforts that are hemispheric in scope: the U.S.’100,000 Strong for the Americas Global Initiative, which seeks to increase the number of U.S. students pursuing studies in Latin America, and its Mexican counterpart Proyecta 100,000. The goal is by 2018 to have 100,000 students from Mexico studying in the U.S., and for 50,000 U.S. students to be expanding their academic horizons in Mexico.

Mexican Consul Ricardo Pineda Albarrán framed the initiative as one centered on student mobility and cross-cultural awareness. Tucson “is the community we want to work with,” he said.

My thanks go to PCC’s Dr. Ricardo Castro Salazar, who has been serving as an external advisor with IME and applied for the grant for the Foundation; PCC Foundation Assistant Vice Chancellor Cheryl House; IME’s Mr. Ernesto de Lucas, who works with 50 Mexican consulates in the U.S. and has been very supported throughout the process; deputy consul Enrique Gomez; and community leader Raúl E. Aguirre, who also is an external advisor with IME.

Also on Friday, the College graduated the first class of Air Force personnel from our Paramedic program. A diverse group of 26 airmen from across the U.S. completed an intensive four-month curriculum. The next class begins in January, with as many as 10 classes planned.

At the ceremony, I thanked Major General Dorothy A. Hogg, Director, Medical Operations and Research, and Chief of the Nurse Corps, Office of the Surgeon General, for entrusting PCC to train the paramedics with skills that could mean the difference between the life and death of their comrades-in-arms. I was moved, as I suspect was the entire audience, by keynote remarks from Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Carmona, the son of immigrants whose incredible career began by earning a GED and attending a community college in New York City, described the training program as one example of the many mutually beneficial connections between civilian organizations and the military. He told the newly minted paramedics that what they learned at PCC will let them make a positive impact on the lives of countless people. “Don’t ever doubt that one person can make a difference,” Dr. Carmona said.

Congratulations are in order for our Shane Clark, Sharon Hollingsworth and the team at PSESI for organizing a stirring ceremony.

It’s important to remember that as we pursue opportunities across borders or with varied governmental entities, we are strengthening the entire College. We build partnerships targeting specific sectors in order to spur growth that our institution needs to survive and thrive in a competitive global environment. It is not a zero-sum game, and the winners are our students and the community.