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Central Arizona College

Mayor Christian Price (center) along with city and college personnel cut a ribbon at the COMET bus shelter at CAC. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With five bus shelters in place, another being finished and six more planned, the City of Maricopa Express Transit (COMET) system is in a new phase.

Mayor Christian Price cut the ribbon on a bus stop at the Central Arizona College campus Wednesday morning.

“It’s really a great opportunity to find new ways to move people around the city,” Price said, “especially as we move into our retail areas.” He touted the wide array of residents who use the transit system, from students to seniors.

Bus shelters are also at Legacy Traditional School, which is across Regent Drive from the college, Fry’s Marketplace, Pacana Park and Copper Sky. The shelters serve the “route deviation” service of COMET, which is a specific route around the city. COMET also runs a demand response, dial-a-ride service, which picks up riders wherever they are located and takes them to wherever they need to go. There are also shuttles that take riders to Chandler and Casa Grande.

Rebekka Harris, a CAC student living in The Villages at Rancho El Dorado, said she has used COMET at times when her sister needed her car. It was not only convenient, she said, but also a chance to have a captive audience and chat someone’s ear off, “because that’s my brand.”

Though the COMET has served the CAC campus for a while, the bus stop was just a post. Now it is at the main entry with seating and shelter.

“I like the fact that there’s a bus stop here, because before I was like, ‘Where do I stand? Do I stand in the cactus; do I stand up there?'” Harris said. “So I like having this here.”

The City operates COMET under the auspices of TotalRide, so drivers like Helena Dobers are employed by both. She drove a school bus, including the summer Copper Sky route, for three years before coming on board COMET full time this year. “And it’s been beautiful,” she said.

City Transit Planner David Maestas (center) and TotalRide General Manager Chris Hager talk with COMET driver Helena Dobers.

© 2013 Richard Schultz/Courtesy of 50 Eggs, Inc.

By Angela Askey
Executive Director Public Relations and Marketing

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Central Arizona College’s Phi Theta Kappa, Student Government Association, The Center for Cultural & Civic Engagement and The Visual and Performing Arts Division will host a special viewing of the documentary, Underwater Dreams.

Underwater Dreams, narrated by Michael Peña, chronicles the story of how four Phoenix-area high school students, the sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants, learned how to build underwater robots and compete against MIT in the process.

The viewings are free and open to community members, students and staff.

The local showing is Oct. 15, 3-5 p.m. in room A102 on the Maricopa campus, 17945 N. Regent Drive.


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Central Arizona College graduation. Submitted photo

Central Arizona College recognized the accomplishments of its graduates during a district commencement ceremony on Friday, May 11 at Casa Grande Union High School. Those earning degrees from five campuses, including Maricopa, were honored.

Maricopa Campus Graduates

Joshua Abbott, Communication Studies Certificate
Jasmine Almaraz, Associate of Arts
Mayra Angelica Bandin, Early Childhood Education – Preschool Certificate
Luis Francisco Beltran, Associate of Science
Brittany Blastic, Baking and Pastry, Culinary Arts I, and Culinary Arts II Certificates and Associate of Applied Science Culinary Arts
Steven Chacon, Jr., Associate of Arts
Veronica F. Coronado, Associate of Applied Science Early Childhood Education
Yesenia Dominguez, Associate of Arts*
Vanesa Dominguez Garcia, Associate of Arts*
Scott R. Gillum, Baking and Pastry, Culinary Arts I, and Culinary Arts II Certificates and Associate of Applied Science Culinary Arts
Michelle Gomez, Associate of Arts
Anthony Gonzalez, Associate of Applied Science Hotel/Restaurant Management
Logan Hampton, Associate of Applied Science Computer Programming*
Laura Hernandez, Associate of Arts
Rachel Hickey, Associate of Science Early Childhood Education*
Rebecca Johnson, Microcomputer Business Applications Specialist Certificate
Andrea Lucchesi, Associate of Arts Elementary Education
Ashley Erin Lynn, Associate of Arts*
Tiffany Ann Nolan, Baking and Pastry, Culinary Arts I, and Culinary Arts II Certificates and Associate of Applied Science Culinary Arts*
Cheryl Lea Pedro, Associate of Applied Science Nursing*
Andrea Jacqueline Perez, Associate of Business*
Shane Jesse Quinby, Associate of Applied Science Computer Programming*
Marta Quiñones, Early Childhood Education Certificate
Mercedes C. Rivera, Business Certificate
T Kane Reid, Associate of Arts
Nicole Kendall Remmler, Associate of Applied Science Culinary Arts*
Peggy A. Rider, Associate of Business*
Ashley Brooke Riecken, Associate of Arts*
Audra Saenz, Early Childhood Education Certificate
Andrelle Saintphard, Associate of Arts
Samantha A. Shoaf, Clinical Laboratory Assistant Certificate
Amy Marie Tschida, Business Certificate and Associate of Applied Science Accounting*
Bojana Uzelac, Associate of Applied Science Early Childhood Education*
Cory J. Ward, Accounting Certificate

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From left: Holly Langan, Sofya Pangburn, CAC President Jackie Elliott, Matthew Fode, Jessica Cadena and Berenice Pelayo. Submitted photo

By Angela Askey
Executive Director Public Relations and Marketing

Five of Central Arizona College’s outstanding students have been selected to the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society All-Arizona Academic Team.

All-Arizona students demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership and service that extends beyond the classroom to benefit society. Phi Theta Kappa, the American Association of Community Colleges, Arizona Community Colleges, the Arizona Board of Regents and the Follett Higher Education Group help these students reach their educational goals by awarding scholarships and issuing tuition waivers to any of Arizona’s three state universities: Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University or the University of Arizona.

Holly Langan (San Tan Campus), Sofya Pangburn (Signal Peak Campus) and Berenice Pelayo (Superstition Mountain Campus) were awarded First Team honors and each received a $1,000 scholarship. Matthew Fode (Aravaipa Campus) was named a Second Team member, receiving a $750 scholarship. Jessica Cadena (Maricopa Campus) was chosen as a Third Team member and was granted a $500 scholarship.

The awards were announced at the All-Arizona Academic Team Recognition Ceremony held at the Hilton Phoenix/Mesa on March 1.

Holly Langan (San Tan Campus) – First Team
Langan plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Arizona State University and become a managerial accountant. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors Program. She has assisted with various college and community events such as the San Tan Valley Campus Fall Festival, Welcome Week activities, and the AJHS NJROTC Car Show.

Sofya Pangburn (Signal Peak Campus) – First Team
As a student, Pangburn has been involved at CAC as a tutor, a contributor to the CAC Cactus Newspaper, and as Student Government Campus Activities Director. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in global/international studies with a minor in political science from Arizona State University. She will use her education to pursue a career in the United States government as a political Foreign Service officer in order to support the United States with diplomacy abroad. She is also considering furthering her education to the doctorate level in order to become a professor and continue to explore the world of academia.

Berenice Pelayo (Superstition Mountan Campus) – First Team
Pelayo plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and global studies from Arizona State University and pursue a career within the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service officer. While at CAC, Pelayo served as a Phi Theta Kappa regional officer, Student Government Association vice president, book club officer and DREAMers club officer. Pelayo was named the Pecha Kucha Speaking Competition winner and received a China Exchange Program scholarship and a Positive Paths Scholarship.

Matthew Fode (Aravaipa Campus) – Second Team
During his time at CAC, Fode has been involved with student government and Phi Theta Kappa. Additionally, he volunteers with the First Conservative Baptist Church of Mammoth and Mammoth Christian Youth Center Thrift Store. He was named outstanding Biological Sciences student, Outstanding Social Sciences student and is a Who’s Who Among Students recipient. Fode plans to earn his bachelor’s degree in physiology from the University of Arizona and become a doctor of chiropractic medicine.

Jessica Cadena (Maricopa Campus) – Third Team
Cadena plans to transfer to the University of Arizona to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Her goal is to become a labor and delivery nurse. She believes helping to bring new life into this world would be extraordinary. Cadena is a Phi Theta Kappa member and is on the college dean’s list. She is also active in young adult ministry outreach events in her community.

Photo by Michelle Chance

Local high school students toured the Central Arizona College Maricopa Campus Tuesday morning and shopped various collegiate booths. The event was part of CAC’s 2018 college fair and also featured live DJ music, a photo booth, games and cotton candy.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Central Arizona College’s Handbell Choir, led by Diane Rubio, performed Christmas favorites at the Maricopa campus Sunday. Rubio and the ringers took questions from the audience about their skills and the bells. The ringers class meets Mondays at the Signal Peak campus from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and is open to CAC students and Pinal County residents.

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CAC President Jacquelyn Elliott, Ed.D., was at a welcome reception at the Maricopa Campus Thursday.

By Chris Swords Betts

Jacquelyn Elliott, newly appointed president of Central Arizona College, met with leaders and members of the community on Thursday at her welcome reception on Maricopa’s campus.

The reception was the first in a series as Elliott visits all of CAC’s campuses in order to establish relationships with local elected officials and governing board members in more intimate gatherings. The reception allowed for attendees to pose questions to the new president.

“She’s got a vision for the college,” said Evelyn Casuga, assistant to the president. “She’s listening and learning.”

Elliott said she’s finishing up a strategic plan, while continuing to get to know the community. She views strategic planning as a way to develop metrics that have useful meaning to drive efforts to add the most value and return on investment to the community.

Elliott said it’s important to go to the local businesses and industries and ask what they need. “There’s some community colleges that workforce training is their bread and butter,” she said. “We have that capacity to really grow and customize it.”

Maricopa Campus Dean Janice Pratt said Elliott is great at meeting with businesses and economic developers. “In that way, she’s head and shoulders above the other presidents,” Pratt said.

Mayor Christian Price said he wants people to see CAC as “a pole vault into something greater.”

The government, Elliott said, can help determine the mix of academic offerings needed on campus. “We need to have the whole program mirror the first two years of ASU,” Elliott said.

Elliott addressed the need to focus the efforts of the campus, likening the available options to a Cheesecake Factory menu — overwhelming. Elliott said her goal is to help each campus find its distinctiveness and focus on that.

“We need to develop a Chipotle menu,” she said.

Elliott said she was drawn to CAC because she wanted to work at a predominately Hispanic-serving organization, in order to give back. As a minority—she is half Native American—Elliott said she is a product of the Federal TRiO Upward Bound Program, which helps low-income, first-generation degree-seeking students obtain a college education.

“Everyone said Central Arizona College is the place for you, Jackie,” Elliott said. “You can really take them to the next level.”

Dan Miller of Maricopa is the newest member of the Central Arizona College Governing Board after his two District 4 predecessors resigned. He said he would like more Maricopans to be aware of the resources offered at the local campus. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

With a campus in Maricopa, Central Arizona College needed a Maricopa representative on its governing board, according to Dan Miller.

That was one of the reasons Miller, an engineer for the consulting firm Genesis Solutions, decided to put his name into contention for the vacant and contentious District 4 seat. The two previous holders of the seat resigned.

After a six-member committee reviewed applications and recommended him, Miller was appointed to the board by Pinal County Superintendent of Schools Jill Broussard. She said the committee was comprised of a CAC professor, a nonprofit executive, a local business person, an elementary school board member, a school district superintendent and a pastor.

Miller was sworn in May 11.

He has used his first month in office to get oriented and study the budget. He said he wants to look for ways to be more efficient over the next 40 years while “optimizing cost benefits.”

Workforce development is one of his priorities. Also the owner of a small business in Maricopa, Digital Dan Photography, and a member of the board of the United Way of Pinal County, Miller said he considers CAC to be one of the county’s major resources. The college has new buildings on several campuses and could be utilized more by the public, he said.

CAC can deliver two years of college for an associate’s degree or as a pathway to university, but Miller said its role in workforce development is just as important.

Dan Miller
Hometown: Clarksville, Indiana
Maricopan since: 2006
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in human resources; Master of Science degree in management
Military: 18 years in U.S. Navy, retired as chief E7
Family: Married, one son
Occupation: Principal reliability engineer at Genesis Solutions, owner of Digital Dan Photography

“The college represents our future,” Miller said. “I’ve talked to economic development people at the City, and a lot of times a business is interested in coming here and they’ll say, ‘Tell us about your workforce. Are they ready for us to hire?’ A lot of the time we have to say, ‘Not yet.’”

He would like to see more people aware of the resources available to those facing a career change or need certification in a certain field “or to retool to get ready of the next adventure.”

Miller was in the Navy for 18 years. During that time he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He has developed training materials for Fortune 500 firms and has specialized in asset management.

He said he feels he brings a skill set to the CAC board in both management and educational training that will be useful.

“Mr. Miller’s community involvement, willingness to serve, experiences, knowledge and professionalism were all taken into account when making the appointment,” Broussard said. “I have heard nothing but compliments of him from those in the community since the appointment.”

One of his early tasks may be smoothing some feathers.

Miller comes into a position that has been the source of a lot of political drama over the past year. After the CAC board voted to raise its tax rate, a group headed by Garland Shreves gathered enough signatures to force a recall election of long-time board member Rita Nader of Casa Grande. She resigned instead, and Broussard appointed Richard Cassalata of Arizona City.

Cassalata quickly crossed swords with Board Chair Gladys Christensen, faculty and staff. He resigned in early April, leaving the District 4 seat open again.

Miller noted the tax rate that ignited all the drama and wants to see where the college can do a better job in how it uses its funding.

“I want to look into system efficiencies and processes to see what we can do without sacrificing the experiences of the students and faculty,” Miller said.

His appointment applies until the end of the year. He intends to run for the position he now holds in the General Election in November.

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Maricopa High School announced an additional Central Arizona College dual enrollment class will be offered for 2016-17. The new class will be General Biology I. Four CAC dual enrollment classes were offered in 2015-16. These classes are taught by MHS faculty who qualify to teach college level classes. Students can take the course for high school credit only, or for high school and college credit.

Students who choose college credit must pay tuition fees and must pass the CAC placement test. The following five CAC courses will be offered in 2016-17:

Math 121 – Intermediate Algebra
Math 151 -College Algebra
Eng 101 – English Composition III
Eng 102 – English Composition IV
Bio 181 – General Biology I

For additional information, please contact Wade Watson, MUSD Director of Curriculum & Instruction at 520-568-5100 ext. 1013, or at wwatson@musd20.org

There is still time for Maricopa students to get registered for Central Arizona College’s First Step summer program and Early College program for fall. The First Step program provides an opportunity for Pinal County high school students who have completed their sophomore, junior, or senior years, to take up to 5 college credit hours, during
CAC’s summer sessions for free tuition and fees. The only cost a student would incur would be for books and transportation. For more details on the program, summer course offerings, and the steps to enroll in the program, please visit us atwww.centralaz.edu/firststep.

The Early College program provides an opportunity for Pinal County high school students who are in their junior or senior years, to take up to five college credit hours, during CAC’s fall and spring sessions for free tuition and fees.

The only cost a student would incur would be for books and transportation. For more details on the program, fall course offerings, and the steps to enroll in the program, please visit us at www.centralaz.edu/earlycollege.

CAC is also offering recent high school graduates, beginning with the class of 2014, and GED recipients an opportunity to experience life as a college student this summer. Summer Bridge will take place Aug. 14-18 at the CAC Signal Peak Campus. Summer Bridge is a free five-day extended orientation to college. During Summer Bridge, students learn valuable skills in time-management, health and wellness, financial management and money matters, decision making, and many other topics crucial to success in college. Students live on-campus in CAC’s residential halls, and are provided meals and all learning materials throughout the program. The TRIO Summer Bridge program is the only all-inclusive residential college orientation program held in Arizona.

Among the benefits for students who attend Summer Bridge is the Peer Mentor program. Students are assigned a peer mentor and are encouraged to meet with their mentor as often as necessary throughout the fall semester while they adjust to college life. Students interested in Summer Bridge should log on to  www.centralaz.edu/summerbridge to download a fillable application. Certain eligibility requirements are
based on federal guidelines.

CAC President Jacquelyn Elliott, Ed.D., was at a welcome reception at the Maricopa Campus Thursday.

The governing board of Central Arizona College voted to offer Jacquelyn Elliott the job of college president during a special meeting Tuesday.

The board held two executive sessions on the matter.

Elliott was the only finalist for the post. Doris Helmich is retiring June 30 after serving as the CAC president four years.

During its first closed session Tuesday, the board reviewed the public survey input received from the public forums throughout the county April 25-27. A vote was made to enter into contract negotiation with Elliott. During a second executive session, the board extended an employment offer and upon returning to the general meeting named Elliott as the next CAC president/CEO.

Elliott has more than 27 years of experience working in higher education, specifically in senior level administrative and leadership positions at the community college level. She has served as president of North Arkansas College (Northark) since 2011.

During her time at Northark the College’s reserves increased from $11 million to $16 million and Annual Foundation Contributions grew. Northark was named a “Great College to Work For” by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2013.

Elliott is a Board of Trustees member for the Higher Learning Commission, co-chair of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education’s Master Plan Development Committee and member of the Governor’s Task Force for Redesign of Arkansas Higher Education Funding.

Jacquelyn Elliott may be selected as the new president of Central Arizona College during a board meeting Tuesday. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Jacquelyn Elliott is the only finalist for the job of new president of Central Arizona College. She took questions from an audience of about a dozen people on the Maricopa campus last week. Tuesday, the board of governors will discuss offering her the job during a special meeting.

The process of hiring a president began in October. That was after Doris Helmich announced her retirement in a contentious year that saw the board raise its tax rate and a board member resign before facing a recall election.

“CAC is a community college. We are so different than a four-year institution or a university because we serve everybody,” Elliott said. “And that’s a lot of pressure.”

She said community colleges as a whole have gotten away from their original purpose and started establishing themselves as “mini-universities.”

“We have forgotten why we were started in 1961 on the GI Bill,” she said. “And that is accessibility for everyone.”

She said community colleges need to return to the focus of community education and workforce training.

“There’s a difference between being everything to everybody versus being what you are supposed to be,” she said.

Elliott has been president of North Arkansas College in Harrison since 2011 and retains a soft, south-Midwest accent. She was previously vice president of student affairs at Northern Missouri State University in Maryville. She has also taught at colleges and universities in Kansas and Nebraska, starting in 1990.

Jacquelyn Elliott answers questions from Maricopans at a meeting April 27. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Jacquelyn Elliott answers questions from Maricopans at a meeting April 27. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

She said community colleges have different needs based on the populations they serve, and campuses within a college have different needs.

“I think there is a unique opportunity for each campus to distinguish itself to be a center for excellence for the needs of that community,” Elliott said.

Maricopa Unified School District Superintendent Steve Chestnut said he was impressed with Elliott after questioning her on the future of CAC’s relationship with Pinal County K-12 districts. Elliott said Chestnut was the only superintendent to attend one of her meet-and-greets.

In Arkansas, she said, the college had an agreement with the local high school to give enrollment applications to all graduating seniors. She said many students do not consider themselves college material and don’t even think about trying to enroll until it is in front of them.

She said she is also a fan of working with four-year institutions with “articulation agreements” in helping students earn a bachelor’s degree.

Her completion agenda is not only to get more students enrolled but to also move them through to a completed degree or certificate.

“We as a profession have not done a good job of that,” she said.

Jacquelyn Elliott is the finalist for the next president of Central Arizona College.

During a special Governing Board meeting on April 13, the Pinal County Community College District Board of Governors announced Jacquelyn “Jackie” Elliott, PhD, as the final candidate of the Central Arizona College presidential search.

The Board of Governors will host a series of forums at its campuses for a public reception and a chance for community members, staff and students to meet Elliott.

The Maricopa Campus at 17945 North Regent Drive is the venue of the final reception. That is scheduled for April 27 from 1:45 to 3 p.m. in Room A-101.

Elliott has more than 27 years of experience working in higher education, specifically administrative and leadership positions at the community college. For the past five years, she has served as president of North Arkansas College (Northark).

Dr. Elliott’s bio along with a taped version of the search committee interview may be viewed online at www.centralaz.edu/presidentsearch.

CAC’s previous president, Doris Helmich, announced her retirement in October in the middle of a political battle with a group of voters angry over the board’s decision to raise the tax rate.


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Want to be on the college board? Apply for an appointment by April 29 if you live in District 4.

District 4 needs help at Central Arizona College.

Can a Maricopan help?

After the resignation of Rita Nader, who faced recall in the wake of college tax hike, Richard Cassalata of Arizona City was appointed to her District 4 seat on the CAC Governing Board by Pinal County School Superintendent Jill Brussard in January.

Cassalata quickly became embroiled in controversy among college faculty, staff and other members of the board, particularly Board President Gladys Christensen. He resigned last week.

Now the District 4 vacancy is being advertised again. The term lasts only through December. The seat is on the ballot in the November General Election and also needs candidates.

Brenda Katterman, administrative clerk in the county superintendent’s office, said there have been inquiries about the vacancy but no applicants yet.

She said all applicants must live within the current boundaries of District 4, which includes Maricopa. (Nader did not live in District 4 but was last elected before the county redistricting.)

Applications for the appointment to the vacancy are due April 29 by 5 p.m. Applicants may not be employees of the college or members of another school board.

Applications are online at http://www.ecrsc.org/pinalesa/elections/board-member-vacancies.

The application can be completed online, but it must be printed out, signed and notarized, and the original must be received by the deadline.

Contact Brenda Katterman at 520-866-6565, bkatterman@pinalsco.org or Pinal County School Superintendent’s Office, P.O. Box 769, Florence AZ 85132.

Jany Deng spoke of his horrific childhood experience surviving a civil war in Sudan and trying to adapt to life in Arizona. He was a guest speaker at Central Arizona College-Maricopa. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Jany Deng, former “Lost Boy” from Sudan, came to Central Arizona College Wednesday afternoon to share his story of adversity and triumph, and to educate students on what a refugee goes through when waiting for relocation.

His presentation was part of a Lunch and Learn program on the Maricopa campus.

Deng was 7 years old when the Sudanese civil war forced him to flee his village and trek to Ethiopia. He joined approximately 500 other children on a journey to find refuge in the neighboring country. However, due to starvation, disease, militants and predators, only 20 of the 500 children he left with made it to Ethiopia.

“We left our cows and just started walking,” Deng said. “We didn’t know where we were walking. We had 4 year olds and 3 year olds to take care of. The 11 year olds became the leaders.”

After three months of surviving the elements, Deng made it to Ethiopia. His problems weren’t solved, though, as a civil war broke out in Ethiopia, and the “Lost Boys” were forced to seek refuge again.

The majority of the boys ended up in Kenya. From there, the United Nations got involved and tried to relocate as many of the boys as they could.

“I was one of the first ones to get to come to U.S. in 1995,” Deng said. “After all that, I was one of the lucky ones.”

The “Lost Boys” were scattered across the globe. Some went to Australia and Europe while others ended up in the United States.

Deng and his brother were sent to Phoenix. Deng was placed with a foster family while his brother, who was over 18, was placed in the workforce.

“My brother had a lot of issues,” Deng said. “We weren’t living in the same place, so things got hard for him real fast. The trauma stays with you. Whether it is a car accident or anything, trauma stays with you.”

Like many of the boys from Sudan, the trauma proved to be too much for Deng’s brother. An altercation with police led to his death.

Since this event, Deng has dedicated his life to helping Sudanese refugees through the trauma. His organization, Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development, assists refugees with assimilation into society and promotes the value of an education.

“We came into the United State with nothing from where we come from,” Deng said. “We have achieved 85 percent of us graduated from either community college level or university with a degree.”

Deng received a bachelor’s degree in business from Arizona State University and is working on his MBA. He has made one trip back to Sudan, but another civil war has prevented further trips.

To learn more about the Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development, visit http://www.lbcld.org.

Photo by Adam Wolfe
Photo by Adam Wolfe

Maricopa's Laura Walsh will perform in concert at Central Arizona College on Thursday. She earned a spot in Hollywood Week on this season of "American Idol."

Local recording artist and “American Idol” hopeful Laura Walsh will headline a concert at Central Arizona College’s Maricopa campus this Thursday night.

Walsh has recently found success on FOX’s long running reality show “American Idol,” and she has been a consistent figure in Maricopa celebrations such as “Battle of the Burbs.” However, this will be her first time headlining an event.

“I’m really excited to be the headliner of this concert,” Walsh said. “It’s exciting to be a headliner for my hometown and county, and I’m excited to see who shows up and to see how it goes.”

Doors will open in the “A Building” on campus at 7 p.m. for the event, and the concert is expected to last until 8:30 p.m. The event will cost $7 for public admission but is free to CAC students who present a valid school ID card. Students hoping to go will need to reserve their tickets ahead of time.

“Nashville recording artist and singer-songwriter Laura Walsh has already commanded the attention of Nashville’s hottest country acts, TV and radio, national sports teams, not to mention winning over the crowd at Country Thunder, one of the nation’s biggest country music festivals,” CAC released in a statement. “Debuting her first fully produced album, ‘Take Your Time,’ Laura has showcased her original songs as an opener for big names but as a down-to-earth Arizona native, some of her favorite shows have been right in her neck of the woods. This event is free if you present your CAC ID card but you must reserve your free ticket and present it at the door.”

An opening act is expected to take the stage at 7 p.m., but no performer has been announced at this time.

Having aced her “American Idol” audition in Denver, Walsh will compete during “Hollywood Week,” Jan. 27-28.

Central Arizona College's Promise for the Future program offers two years of tuition free education to Pinal County high school graduates if they sign up in eighth grade.

Central Arizona College is offering graduates of Pinal County schools two free years of college if they participated in the “Promise for the Future” scholarship program.

The program is offered to eighth grade students and provides them two free years of classes at CAC if they sign the program’s contract, keep a GPA of 2.75 or higher, and graduate from a high school within Pinal County. Students who sign the contract but move to a high school outside of Pinal County are no longer eligible.

According to Maricopa Unified School District Superintendent Steve Chestnut, the estimated value of the scholarship is $5,904. He hopes the prospect of earning two years’ worth of college at no charge is enough to entice more students to remain in the district.

Each year, hundreds of Maricopa students are bused to Tempe and Ahwatukee school districts. There are “A” districts within these cities, and the districts have been seen as better over the years. However, Maricopa has been steadily improving.

Partnerships with CAC have provided more dual credit courses and more advanced placement classes. The rising number of enrollment at MHS is also encouraging. The 2015-16 school year is set to break enrollment records, and more expected next year.

According to Chestnut, the number of students in the incoming freshman class rose from 492 eighth grade students at the end of last year to 545 ninth graders currently enrolled at MHS. More students are expected to return to MUSD from Kyrene and Tempe school districts as the district keeps improving.

“The other three grades at MHS seemed to roll up about the same number of students,” Chestnut said. “We lost a small senior class of only 386. On Oct. 1, we had 1,944 students at MHS. [Elementary] enrollment was at an all time high 0f 6,447.”

Graduates of CAC's nursing program receive AA degrees. Submitted photo

Twenty-seven Central Arizona College students were recognized for completing the college’s nursing program during the 51st Nursing Division Pinning Ceremony held at the Signal Peak Campus on Dec. 3.

The pinning ceremony, a time-honored tradition of nursing schools across the country, signifies a student’s completion of one of the most challenging curricula offered in higher education.

After a warm welcome by Director of Nursing Tina Berry, the graduates were then addressed by Wendy Britt, professor of Nursing. She summarized the importance of nurses, quoting Dr. Seuss, “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”

Once the graduates received their pins, class speaker Dee Dee Long addressed her fellow graduates. She shared an overview of the experiences the class had during their time in nursing school and explained that the students completed 720 clinical hours.

Additionally, awards were given to a select few graduates. Dee Dee Long was recognized with the Outstanding Achievement Award, Rebecca Andrus earned the program’s Leadership Award and Katarina Della Cioppa was presented with the Outstanding Clinician Award.

The evening concluded with a candle lighting ceremony and the graduates taking the Florence Nightingale Pledge. The pledge, an adaption of the physician’s Hippocratic Oath, was written in 1893 by Mrs. Lystra E. Gretter and the Farrand Training School for Nurses in Detroit.

The following students received their pins during the ceremony and will receive an associate of applied science degree: Taralyn Adakai, Rebecca Andrus, Theresa Berger, Cara Bingham, Debbie Birt, Tabitha Blixt, Nicole Block, Sandra Bonillas, Jacklyn Busby, Katarina Della Cioppa, Amanda Fallis, Pamela Gertz, Dominic Jansson, Brienna Johnson, Heather Jones, Dee Dee Long, Miranda Lucero, Hayley McCleve, Ximena Montes, Benjamin Pero, Allison Poe, Pamala Rodriguez, Blair Sepulveda, Jacinta Spence, Jessica Todd, AuDrea Watson and  Michelle Wilkie.

Maricopa businesses networked Tuesday at the B2B Expo at Central Arizona College. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

This year’s Business to Business Expo (B2B) moved to a new location and had a full house Tuesday.

Dan Beach, director of Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship, said organizers sold out the 50 available booth spaces at Central Arizona College.

“We are getting bigger and better,” Beach said. “We had three times more vendors.”

Co-sponsored by MCE, CAC and Maricopa Chamber of Commerce, B2B was a chance for local businesses and organizations to promote themselves. The room in the A building at CAC included stores, artists, services and nonprofits.

“We have a lot of home-based businesses in Maricopa, and they don’t get a lot of opportunities to get out and network and meet clients,” Beach said.

New business owners and businesses without storefronts had a rare chance to make connections. That included Debbie Everett of Haven House, who used B2B to spread the word about her new residential assisted-living facility. Lisa and Thomas Herschbach showed off her flagstone abstract art and his Arizona gemstones.

“It’s all about businesses finding clients and potential clients,” Beach said.

Well established business owners like Mike Richey of Ace Hardware, Glenda Kelley of Uniquely Sewn and Jim Burgess of All About Promotions also participated with attention-grabbing tables.

The expo had several artists who will also be displaying and selling at the Art on the Veranda event at the Duke Golf Course Nov. 7-8.

The CAC Culinary Department, headed by chef Diane Hernandez, provided appetizers and desserts to give students a service opportunity.

Elite Community Services
AZ Golfers
Punch Music Media
Carole Ward
American Family Insurance
Pinal County Federal Credit Union
Maricopa Arts Council
Adobe Blinds
Debra Harmon Insurance
A-1 Health & Wellness
Haven House
Legal Shield
J.A.M.E.S. Home Baked Goods
Janice Lohrmeyer
MuveMint LLC
All About Promotions
Jack Jackson Photography
Tillers Tool Rentals
WYS Education
Sage Point Advisors
Leadership Forum
Maricopa Fine Arts
Maricopa Greeters
Maricopa Chamber of Commerce
Ace Hardware
Markell Kellybrew
Progressive Financial Concepts
Nelda Mullins
Norma Strange
Pamela’s Gifted Hands and Pamela’s Cooking
Boodle Bouncers
Patrick Tinkam
Advanced Energy Systems
Dr. Patricia Neff
Uniquely Sewn
Artist Deborah Jay
Maricopa Real Estate Company
Artist Linda Demain
Balance Benefits Consulting
Art on the Veranda
Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship
Sweet Pie Desserts
Maricopa Appliance
Mark Randolph
Artist Kaui Wilson
Kristi Renee
Benchmark Printing
Claire Bullivant
Jim Chaston CPA
Michelle Hoover
Sierra Rainge
Maricopa Relay for Life

Casa Grande businessman Garland Shreves says he has enough signatures to recall CAC board member Rita Nader. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Raquel Hendrickson

District 4’s representative on the Central Arizona College Board of Governors could be in trouble.

Rita Nader has been the target of a citizens group since she was among the majority who voted for a raise in the college tax rate this summer. Now Garland Shreves, organizer of Citizens for Fair Taxation, says his group has collected enough signatures to force her ouster.

Casa Grande businessman Garland Shreves says he has enough signatures to recall CAC board member Rita Nader. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Casa Grande businessman Garland Shreves says he has enough signatures to recall CAC board member Rita Nader. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“We actually have 15 percent over the required number of signatures for recall, and that should be enough cushion,” Shreves said at a meeting he hosted in Maricopa Thursday.

District 4 includes Maricopa.

Ever since district boundaries were redrawn to match Board of Supervisor districts, Nader has not been a resident of the district she represents. She lives in Casa Grande and was allowed to fulfill her term, which ends in 2016.

Nader has been on the board since 1993. A retired junior high teacher, she was one of three members who voted to set the CAC tax rate at $2.30 per $100 of net assessed valuation at a June meeting.

The board members have said more funding is needed to repair old buildings and maintain its facilities.

CAC has seen a reduction of 80 percent in state funding over the past nine years and has received no capital funding since 2008. Capital funds are used for new construction and renovation of facilities.

After a college tax increase in 2013, a recall effort was started against Nader, but petitioners missed the deadline.

Nader was not available for comment.

“They keep doing this kind of thing until somebody squawks about it,” said Province resident Louis Deverka, who attended Thursday’s meeting to get more information and signed a petition afterward. “I mean, isn’t there a limit to what these people do each year? Is our government that loose?”

Shreves is suing the college board over alleged open meeting violations. Though initial opinion from the state Attorney General’s office found no such violation occurred, Shreves said he requested the AG exercise due diligence in looking at all the information he wanted to give investigators. That could result in a follow-up opinion.

Shreves said CFFT is “within a hair’s breadth” of having enough signatures to force a recall of Board President Gladys Christensen of District 1. Her term expires in 2018. CFFT also seeks to recall Jack Yarrington and Rick Gibson.

Nader’s recall requires the fewest number of signatures (1,326) of all the targeted board members. Petitions are due Sept. 24. If the number of verified signatures is reached, and Nader does not resign, Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross would set an election date, possibly as early as March.

Thursday’s gathering at the Copa Center was the second meeting CFFT has hosted in Maricopa. Shreves said in recalling and replacing board members, he hopes to effect the dismissal of college President Doris Helmich and Vice President Chris Wodka.

“Taxes are just too high,” resident William Nelson said. “Everything is too high. I came here to find out about it.”

A steady stream of donors came to the inaugural blood drive at Central Arizona College. Photo by Adam Wolfe

By Adam Wolfe

The Student Leadership Organization of Central Arizona College hosted its inaugural blood drive on the Maricopa Campus today.

Dozens of students showed up to donate blood between classes, and the four-man crew working the donation center had a steady flow of people throughout the morning. Students who donated blood were also rewarded with discounts to Whataburger and a chance to win a 2015 Volkswagen Golf (donated by local Valley Volkswagen dealers).

“The point of this is to help our community,” SLOCAC member Andrea Castano said. “One out of seven hospital patients need blood. In the United States, someone receives a blood transfusion every two seconds.”

The SLOCAC is hoping to make the blood drive an annual event. Judging by the turnout for this year’s drive, hosting this event each year could be a significant possibility.

Other events going on around CAC on Wednesday include a selfie scavenger hunt lasting from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to help students learn where things are on campus, and a “Show Me the Money” workshop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to provide students with information regarding financial aid and career services. These events will take place again on Thursday as well.

The SLOCAC will also be hosting a Popsicle social from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday. All students are encouraged to stop by and grab a cold treat and meet other members of the student body.


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Central Arizona College students paused in their busy day for some socializing and food. Photo by Adam Wolfe

By Adam Wolfe

The Student Leadership Organization of Central Arizona College at the Maricopa campus set up a barbecue for students to have a free meal and socialize between classes.

The free meal provided students with a break, even if just for a moment, in their busy day. Students who had time stopped and relaxed while they enjoyed their food, while others were able to grab a hot dog in passing. Either way, they were offered a free meal and music to break up their day.

“Today’s event is to just be social and get people fed between classes because obviously some kids don’t have time,” SLOCAC member Jesse Gollubier said. “So we want to get them fed and just have fun.”

Campus leadership also set up volleyball nets for students who wanted to be active between classes. However, the triple-digit temperature kept physical exertion to a minimum.

“We’re just trying to get students more involved and make students feel comfortable and get them to interact with each other,” SLOCAC member Cathlyn Hernandez said.

Central Arizona College is hosting multiple events on the Maricopa campus this week. These events include a blood drive on Wednesday, and a scavenger hunt and Popsicle social on Thursday.

The SLOCAC will also be hosting various events throughout the year, including a ceremony for veterans and a retreat to Prescott.