Four Cochise College students have been named to the 2012 All-Arizona Academic Team and received tuition waivers to complete their bachelor’s degrees at one of the state’s public universities.
The scholarships are part of the All-Arizona Academic Team program that aims to point the best and brightest community college students toward enrollment at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Since the program began in the 1990s, it has awarded nearly 1,000 full-ride scholarships to Arizona community college students.
The students received the waivers and were honored Feb. 22 at a special luncheon at Phoenix East Mesa Hilton, where they joined with family, friends and community college representatives to celebrate their achievements.
Students nominated to the All-Arizona Academic Team are evaluated for academic performance and service to the college and the community. The nominations are reviewed first by business, civic, education and government leaders, then judged a second time by representatives of various federal agencies and education associations. They are ranked and placed accordingly on first, second and third academic teams.
All four Cochise College students this year were named to the All-Arizona Second Team. In addition to tuition waivers, each received a cash scholarship from the Cochise College Foundation in the amount of $750. All of the state's honorees received a certificate and
The No. 1-ranked Arizona student also is expected to receive a New Century Scholar award and a $2,000 stipend from the Coca-Cola Foundation. All-Arizona team honorees automatically compete for the All-USA Academic Teams, which will be announced in April in the USA TODAY newspaper. The national competition is co-sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, the American Association of Community Colleges and USA TODAY.
Cochise College's All-Arizona scholars:
Michelle Cardenas is majoring in fine arts at the Cochise College Douglas Campus with plans to transfer to the University of Arizona, where she will complete her fine arts degree, then attend graduate school for art therapy. Cardenas is a non-traditional student, having graduated from high school in San Diego in 1985 and returning to the
classroom in her early 40s.
“After 20-plus years away from academia, I was very nervous about returning to school," she said. "As it turned out, I fell in love with learning again and being around others with the same passion.”
Cardenas is active in Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society of two-year colleges and academic programs, Alpha Beta Zeta chapter at the Douglas Campus. She is currently a co-president and has also served as secretary. Cardenas is also the president of the Social Concerns club, and is a former vice president and treasurer with the organization.
Additional community service includes leading an Alternative Spring Break project at the Jewish Cemetery in Douglas.
Carmen Moreno is a first-generation college student and Douglas High School graduate who will continue her studies at the University of Arizona. In addition to acceptance to the university's College of Science as a psychology major, Moreno was admitted to the Honors College.
"Being named one of the top community college students in the state of Arizona has been an amazing honor, especially since I am the first in my family to attend college," Moreno said. "Being able to continue my education at a higher level has always been a dream of mine, and it's finally coming true."
While attending Cochise College at the Douglas Campus, Moreno has remained heavily involved in student activities while also working to help financially support her family. She was recently named the co-president of Phi Theta Kappa - Alpha Beta Zeta after serving as vice president of scholarship for the past year. She also assisted in PTK's
fundraising for Relay for Life.
Moreno is also an advocate for mental health awareness. She has coordinated with the National Alliance for Mental Illness to bring the presentation "Mind Storm" to campus, and she was Cochise College's team captain for area NAMI Walks, which are held across the nation to raise money and awareness for people with mental illness.
Moreno's college honors so far include Douglas Campus Psychology Student of the Year and the Douglas Campus Phi Theta Kappa Leadership Award, both for the 2010-11 academic year, as well as TRiO Student Support Services Academic Achiever in 2010 and 2011.
Moreno credits her success to, simply, hard work.
“I have been blessed with a powerful mind that seeks information and new things to learn," she said. "My desire to learn every day is what keeps me thriving in my education.”
Emily Moxley graduated from Cochise College in December and is on her way to completing her studies in history and humanities at Northern Arizona University. The Buena High School alumna was highly involved in Sierra Vista Campus activities during her time at Cochise College. She was a communications officer and historian for Phi Theta Kappa - Alpha Mu Zeta chapter, as well as an aide for the summer camp Write Now! She was also active in her community, working as an elementary school classroom volunteer for special needs students on Fort Huachuca.
Tonya Pike is majoring in Journalism and Media Arts at the Cochise College Sierra Vista campus and plans to transfer to the University of Arizona to complete her bachelor's degree. After graduating from Buena High School and enrolling at Cochise College, Pike became deeply involved in student activities on campus. She is the current president
of the Sierra Vista Student Government Association, a former secretary of Phi Theta Kappa - Alpha Mu Zeta chapter, and past vice president of the Literary Guild club for readers and lovers of books.