Rio Salado Graduation 2017


GOOD EVENING, LADIES AND
GENTLEMEN AND WELCOME TO THE RIO SALADO COLLEGE’S
2017 COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY. PLEASE STAND AS OUR
ADMINISTRATION, FACULTY, AND GRADUATES ENTER
THE AUDITORIUM. PLEASE REMAIN STANDING FOR
THE PRESENTATION OF THE COLORS, THE NATIONAL
ANTHEM, AND THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. THE COLORS WILL
BE PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF THE AIR FORCE ROTC
DETACHMENT 025 FROM ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY. WE WILL THEN BE A FAVORED
TO HEARING CANDICE CHAVEZ SING THE
STAR-SPANGLED BANNER. AND FOLLOWING THE NATIONAL
ANTHEM, I WILL INVITE YOU TO JOIN ME FOR THE
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. AFTER THE PLEDGE, I ASK
THAT YOU REMAIN STANDING UNTIL THE PRESENTATION OF THE
COLORS HAS BEEN COMPLETED. OH, SAY CAN YOU SEE BY THE
DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT WHAT SO PROUDLY WE HAILED AT THE
TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING? WHOSE BROAD STRIPES AND
BRIGHT STARS THRU THE PERILOUS FIGHT, O’ER THE
RAMPARTS WE WATCHED WERE SO GALLANTLY STREAMING? AND THE ROCKET’S RED
GLARE, THE BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR, GAVE PROOF THROUGH
THE NIGHT THAT OUR FLAG WAS STILL THERE. OH, SAY DOES THAT
STAR-SPANGLED BANNER YET WAVE O’ER THE LAND OF THE
FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE? (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE
FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AND TO THE
REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION UNDER
GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND
JUSTICE FOR ALL. THANK YOU. PLEASE BE SEATED. I WOULD LIKE TO EXTEND
A SPECIAL WELCOME TO THE FAMILIES AND FRIENDS OF
THE RIO SALADO GRADUATES ACROSS ARIZONA AND THE NATION
WHO COULDN’T BE WITH US IN PERSON TONIGHT AND ARE
JOINING US LIVE BY STREAMING. WE’RE ALSO ARE GLAD THAT YOU
COULD BE WITH US HERE TONIGHT. ALSO, IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE
POSTING PHOTOS OR COMMENTS TONIGHT ON TWITTER,
FACEBOOK, OR INSTAGRAM, PLEASE USE THE HASHTAG
RIO GRAD AND SHARE AWAY. ONCE AGAIN, THAT
HASHTAG IS RIO GRAD. IT’S NOW MY PLEASURE TO
INTRODUCE THE PRESIDENT OF RIO SALADO COLLEGE. PLEASE JOIN ME IN
WELCOMING PRESIDENT CHRIS BUSTAMANTE TO THE PODIUM. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) GOOD EVENING. IT’S AN HONOR TO
WELCOME YOU TO THE 38TH COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY
FOR RIO SALADO COLLEGE. IT’S VERY EXCITING TONIGHT
IS A CELEBRATORY TIME FOR OUR HONORED GUESTS
FACULTY, ADMINISTRATORS, STAFF, FAMILY AND FRIENDS
AS WE GATHER TO HONOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF
APPROXIMATELY 4,500 RIO SALADO COLLEGE GRADUATES
WORLDWIDE, MANY WHO COULDN’T BE US THIS
EVENING, RIGHT, WHO HAVE RECEIVED MORE THAN 5,000
ASSOCIATES DEGREES, CERTIFICATES OF COMPLETION,
AND POST BACHELORETTE TEACHING CREDENTIALS
COMBINED THIS PAST YEAR. THAT’S QUITE AN
ACCOMPLISHMENT. TONIGHT, MORE THAN 200 OF
OUR GRADUATES ARE HERE TO CELEBRATE THEIR
ACCOMPLISHMENTS, ACHIEVEMENTS WHICH
DEMONSTRATE THEIR COMMITMENT TO HIGHER
EDUCATION AND ATTAINMENT OF THEIR
EDUCATIONAL GOALS. AT THIS TIME, I WOULD
LIKE TO INTRODUCE THE INDIVIDUALS JOINING
ME HERE ON STAGE. SO PLEASE HOLD YOUR
APPLAUSE UNTIL ALL OF THE INDIVIDUALS HAVE
BEEN INTRODUCED: FIRST, OUR CLASS OF 2017
MS. GLORIA MENDOZA. NEXT, MR. ALFREDO
GUTIERREZ, GOVERNING BOARD PRESIDENT FOR THE
MARICOPA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT; DR. MARIA
HARPER-MARINICK, CHANCELLOR OF THE MARICOPA
COMMUNITY COLLEGES; MR. ART HAMILTON, FORMER
MINORITY LEADER AND MEMBER OF THE ARIZONA HOUSE
OF REPRESENTATIVES. HE WILL BE RECEIVING THE
PRESIDENT’S COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD
THIS EVENING. NEXT, DR. ANGELA FELIX,
PRESIDENT OF THE FACULTY SENATE; AND FROM THE
EXECUTIVE TEAM OF RIO SALADO, WE HAVE MS. KATE
SMITH, VICE PRESIDENT OF ACADEMIC AFFAIRS; DR.
LERODERICK TERRY, VICE PRESIDENT OF STUDENT
AFFAIRS; DR. JIM PALUZZI, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE
DIVISION OF PUBLIC SERVICE; MR. COREY PRUITT,
INTERIM VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
OF THE MARICOPA CORPORATE COLLEGE; MR. TODD SIMMONS,
VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS AND ADMINISTRATIVE
SERVICES; AND MR. DAVID O’SHEA, VICE PRESIDENT OF
STRATEGIC INITIATIVES AND INFORMATION SERVICES. THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING
WITH US THIS EVENING. LET’S GIVE THEM
AN APPLAUSE. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) YOU MAY BE SEAT. WE’RE ALSO PLEASED TO HAVE
MANY SPECIAL GUESTS WITH US HERE TONIGHT. THIS EVENING, WE HAVE OUR
GOVERNING BOARD MEMBERS OF THE MARICOPA COMMUNITY
COLLEGE DISTRICT WITH US. FIRST, DR. LINDA THOR. SHE REPRESENTS THE
MARICOPA COUNTY AT-LARGE SEAT. SHE SERVES AS THE GOVERNING
BOARD SECRETARY AND IS PRESIDENT EMERITUS OF THIS
COLLEGE, RIO SALADO COLLEGE. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) SHE WAS PRESIDENT OF
RIO FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS. AND IT IS AN HONOR TO
HAVE HER HERE TONIGHT. IT’S ALSO AN HONOR TO HAVE
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS WITH US. MR. LAURIN HENDRIX,
REPRESENTING DISTRICT ONE; MR. DANA SAAR,
REPRESENTING DISTRICT TWO; AND MS. JOHANNA HAVER,
REPRESENTING DISTRICT THREE. PLEASE JOIN ME IN THANKING
THEM FOR BEING HERE TONIGHT AND FOR THEIR SERVICE
AND DEDICATION TO OUR COMMUNITY. THANK YOU, GOVERNING
BOARD MEMBERS. IN ADDITION, WE HAVE WITH
US THIS EVENING SOME OF OUR COLLEAGUES FROM THE
MARICOPA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT OFFICE. IF YOU COULD STAND WHEN
YOUR NAME IS CALLED AS WELL, MS. LACOYA SHELTON,
VICE CHANCELLOR FOR HUMAN RESOURCES; MR. EDWARD
KELTY, VICE CHANCELLOR OF INFORMATION SERVICES; AND
DR. SAM DOSUMU, ASSOCIATE VICE CHANCELLOR FOR
ACADEMIC AFFAIRS. PLEASE JOIN ME IN THANKING
THEM ALSO FOR BEING WITH US TONIGHT. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) AND WE’RE PLEASED TO HAVE
MANY OF OUR HIGH SCHOOL PARTNERS IN THE AUDIENCE. THEY ARE HERE TO JOIN
US IN CELEBRATION OF THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF 93 OF OUR DUAL
ENROLLMENT STUDENTS TONIGHT. TONIGHT, MORE THAN 70 OF
THEM WILL WALK ACROSS THE STAGE AND RECEIVE THEIR
ASSOCIATE DEGREES BEFORE GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL. AND THAT’S PRETTY COOL. I WOULD LIKE TO EXTEND A
SPECIAL WELCOME TO — AND AS YOUR NAME IS CALLED, IF
YOU WOULD STAND, PLEASE — MS. CHRISTINE BARELA,
PRINCIPAL OF DESERT VISTA HIGH SCHOOL; MR. EARL
TAYLOR PRINCIPAL OF HERITAGE ACADEMY; SISTER
JOAN FITZGERALD, PRESIDENT OF XAVIER, SISTER JOANIE
NUCKOLS, PRINCIPAL OF XAVIER; MS. DEB BENEDICT,
ASSOCIATE PRINCIPAL OF CORONA DEL SOL; AND MS.
DENISE DARRE FROM DEER VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL. I WANT TO THANK EACH
OF THEM FOR COMING. ALSO, I WANT TO THANK THEM
FOR THEIR PARTNERSHIP. WE VERY MUCH
APPRECIATE IT. I THINK WE DID WELL
TOGETHER IN OUR PARTNERSHIP. NOW, LET’S BEGIN THIS
EVENING’S CELEBRATION BY RECOGNIZING THE CLASS
OF 2017, OUR HEARTIEST CONGRATULATIONS
TO ALL OF YOU. LET’S GIVE THEM A HAND. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THERE ARE MANY PATHWAYS THAT HAVE BROUGHT THIS
GRADUATING CLASS HERE TONIGHT. EACH GRADUATE’S PERSONAL
JOURNEY IS UNIQUE AND AN ACCOMPLISHMENT
TO BE CELEBRATED. ONE PATHWAY THAT I
PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED IS THAT OF OUR DUAL
ENROLLMENT STUDENTS. STUDIES SHOWS THAT DUAL
ENROLLMENT STUDENTS DO AS WELL OR BETTER IN
COLLEGE THAN THEIR PEERS. IN ADDITION, THROUGH
TRANSFER AND ARTICULATION AGREEMENTS OUR DUAL
ENROLLMENT STUDENTS HAVE TRANSFERRED CREDIT TO MORE
THAN 110 UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES ACROSS
THIS NATION. RIO SALADO WAS AN EARLY
PIONEER AND THE FIRST IN THE STATE TO OFFER THESE
EARLY COLLEGE OPTIONS. THIS YEAR WE HAVE MORE
THAN 7,000 STUDENTS AT RIO WHO HAVE EARNED HIGH
SCHOOL AND COLLEGE CREDIT SIMULTANEOUSLY AT OUR 41
PARTNERING HIGH SCHOOLS. IN ADDITION, THERE ARE
APPROXIMATELY 17,000 DUAL STUDENTS AT COLLEGES
THROUGHOUT THE MARICOPA COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
WHO ARE ENROLLED IN DUAL ENROLLMENT COURSES. THESE STUDENTS HAVE WORKED
HARD AND HAVE GONE THE EXTRA MILE TO SUPPLEMENT
THEIR DUAL ENROLLMENT COURSES WITH ONLINE
COURSES AT RIO IN ORDER TO REACH THEIR GOAL OF
EARNING AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE BEFORE
COMPLETING HIGH SCHOOL. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE THE
EXPERIENCE OF ONE OF OUR OUTSTANDING DUAL
ENROLLMENT STUDENTS. GABRIELLE GASPARD IS A
STUDENT AT XAVIER ACADEMIC PREPARATORY HIGH SCHOOL
LOCATED IN PHOENIX WHERE SHE’S BEEN TAKING DUAL
ENROLLMENT CLASSES SINCE HER SOPHOMORE YEAR. AND TONIGHT HER HARD WORK
WILL PAY OFF AS SHE EARNS AN ASSOCIATES OF ARTS
DEGREE, AGAIN, WEEKS BEFORE RECEIVING HER
HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA. IN ADDITION, TO HER
STUDIES, SHE HAS TWO PART-TIME JOBS WHILE
MAINTAINING A HIGH GPA. GABRIELLE HAS BEEN
ACCEPTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI, WHERE
SHE RECEIVED A TRANSFER SCHOLARSHIP AND ALSO A
SCHOLARSHIP FROM PHI THETA KAPPA HONORS SOCIETY. SHE PLANS TO SEEK A
BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT
WITH A MINOR IN SCIENCE, BUT PLANS TO ATTEND
MEDICAL SCHOOL IN THE FUTURE. GABRIELLE SAID THAT DUAL
ENROLLMENT PROVIDED AN OPPORTUNITY THAT SHE NEVER
IMAGINED COULD HAPPEN. SHE SAID, “DUAL ENROLLMENT
AFFORDED ME THE AMAZING OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE
COLLEGE LEVEL COURSES WHILE AT THE SAME TIME
EARNING MY HIGH SCHOOL DEGREE. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT MY
FUTURE WOULD HOLD WHEN I REGISTERED FOR MY FIRST
RIO SALADO COLLEGE COURSE, BUT I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT I’M
PROUD OF MY ACADEMIC JOURNEY. AND I’M CERTAIN THAT MY
PARENTS ARE TOO.” WE’RE ALL SO PROUD OF YOU
AND WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. YOU’RE A GREAT OF WHAT IS
POSSIBLE THROUGH THE DUAL ENROLLMENT PROGRAM. THIS YEAR A RECORD
NUMBER OF DUAL ENROLLMENT STUDENTS, 93 GRADUATES,
HAVE EARNED AN ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE JUST
LIKE GABRIELLE. THEY’RE ACHIEVEMENTS
REPRESENT A HIGH LEVEL OF DEDICATION TO THEIR
STUDIES AT A TIME WHEN WE ALL KNOW THAT THERE ARE
MANY ACTIVITIES AND SOCIAL DEMANDS IN THEIR LIVES. THESE STUDENTS REPRESENT
THE FOLLOWING HIGH SCHOOLS: CORONA DEL SOL,
DEER VALLEY, DESERT VISTA, HERITAGE, HORIZON,
MOUNTAIN POINTE, AND XAVIER. I WOULD LIKE TO INVITE
GABRIELLE AND THE OTHER DUAL ENROLLMENT STUDENTS
TO PLEASE STAND SO THAT WE CAN CONGRATULATE YOU ON
YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU. YOU CAN BE SEATED. NEXT, WE HAVE MANY
STUDENTS WHO HAVE EXCELLED IN THEIR ACADEMIC
ACHIEVEMENTS; 14 ARE GRADUATING TONIGHT WITH A
PERFECT 4.0 GRADE POINT AVERAGE. I’D LIKE TO RECOGNIZE
THESE GRADUATES AT THIS TIME. WHEN I CALL YOUR NAME
GRADUATES PLEASE STAND AND REMAIN STANDING UNTIL ALL
THE NAMES HAVE BEEN READ. CAROLINE BLAKE, KIMBERLY
BLAKENEY, JESSA DOUGHERTY, JACOB STORM FISHER, BRADY
HAASE, THIAN ANN WIN LEE, PAGE ELIZABETH MARTIN, MAY
MCENTIRE, ROBERT MILLER, ALIYAH NOON, CASSIE RIGGS,
CARLY ROGERS, ELIZABETH ULENGIRE, AND
JENNA VENDERHAVE. THANK YOU AND
CONGRATULATIONS ON THIS OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) YOU MAY BE SEATED. THANK YOU. AT THIS TIME, I’D LIKE TO
RECOGNIZE OUR STUDENTS WHO ARE GRADUATING WITH
ACADEMIC HONORS AS INDICATED BY THE GOLD,
RED, AND WHITE HONOR CORDS THAT THEY ARE WEARING. MANY OF THESE HONOR
STUDENTS ARE ALSO MEMBERS OF PHI THETA KAPPA, AN
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE HONORS SOCIETY
WHOSE MEMBERS MUST HAVE AN ACCUMULATIVE GPA OF
3.5 OR HIGHER AND THEIR MEMBERSHIP IS IDENTIFIED
WITH A GOLD STOLE. I WOULD LIKE TO INVITE ALL
OF THE STUDENTS WHO ARE GRADUATING WITH HONORS TO STAND
AND ALSO WITH RECOGNIZED. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU AND CONGRATULATIONS
TO ALL OF YOU. IN 1978, RIO WAS
ACCOMPLISHED TO SERVE NONTRADITIONAL
STUDENTS AT A DISTANCE. THE COLLEGE BEGAN BY
SERVING STUDENTS IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE
THEY LIVED, IN SCHOOLS, CHURCHES, AND STRIP MALLS. LATER ON, RIO SALADO
COLLEGE TOOK COLLEGE OPPORTUNITY TO THE
WORKPLACE, HIGH SCHOOLS, AND EVEN IN PRISONS,
AND AIR FORCE BASES. BY 1996, RIO EXPANDED ITS
REACH EVEN FURTHER WHEN BECOMING A PIONEER
IN ONLINE LEARNING. LAST YEAR, RIO SALADO
SERVED NEARLY 55,000 STUDENTS, ABOUT 28,000
ONLINE AS PART OF THOSE 55,000 WITH APPROXIMATELY
7,300 STUDENTS TRANSFERRING NEARLY
184,000 CREDITS TO ARIZONA’S PUBLIC
UNIVERSITIES. WE ARE VERY PROUD OF
WHAT WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO ACCOMPLISHMENT, BUT WE ARE
EVEN MORE PROUD OF WHAT OUR STUDENTS HAVE ACHIEVED. TODAY, WE ARE STILL TRUE
TO OUR ORIGINAL MISSION, WHICH IS TO PROVIDE
STUDENTS WITH AFFORDABLE ACCESS TO A HIGHER
EDUCATION THROUGH FLEXIBLE AND QUALITY PROGRAMMING. AT THIS TIME, I WOULD
LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU THE EXPERIENCE OF ONE OF OUR
GRADUATES WHO WAS ABLE TO REALIZE HIS GOAL OF
EARNING A COLLEGE DEGREE THROUGH A PARTNERSHIP
WITH HIS EMPLOYER. JOSHUA HICKMAN BEGAN
TAKING COLLEGE COURSES MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS AGO,
AND HE TRIED TRADITIONAL COLLEGE EXPERIENCES OF
GOING TO CLASSES ON A CAMPUS BUT STRUGGLED TO
KEEP UP WITH WORK AND SCHOOL. AND IT WAS THEN THAT HE
LEARNED ABOUT RIO’S ONLINE COURSES FROM AN ADVISOR. GOING ONLINE GAVE HIM THE
FLEXIBILITY HE NEEDED TO WORK AT HIS OWN PACE AND FIT
COLLEGE INTO HIS WORK SCHEDULE. LATER, AS A NEW POLICE
OFFICER IN THE WEST VALLEY, HE WAS ALSO ABLE
TO USE THE 39 COLLEGE CREDITS THAT HE EARNED
THROUGH RIO’S PARTNERSHIP WITH THE ARIZONA LAW
ENFORCEMENT ACADEMY. TONIGHT, HE’S
GOING TO GRADUATE. HE WILL GRADUATE WITH
AN ASSOCIATE OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN LAW
ENFORCEMENT TECHNOLOGY. HE PLANS TO GO ON AND EARN
A BACHELOR’S DEGREE ALSO IN LAW ENFORCEMENT. JOSHUA SAID THAT IT HADN’T
BEEN EASY WORKING AND GOING TO SCHOOL, AND, LIKE
MANY OF YOU, CREDITS HIS FAMILY FOR SUPPORTING
HIM AND GIVING HIM THE ENCOURAGEMENT HE
NEEDED TO PERSEVERE. HE ALSO MENTIONED THAT
YOUNG SON’S SMILE ALSO GAVE HIM THE EXTRA BOOST
HE NEEDED WHEN THINGS GOT TOUGH. JOSHUA SAID I WANT TO
THANK RIO FOR THE PROGRAM PARTNERSHIP WITH THE ACADEMY,
WITHOUT THAT PARTNERSHIP I WOULD STILL BE A LONG WAY
FROM EARNING MY DEGREE. HIS SUCCESS TONIGHT IS AN
EXAMPLE OF WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN STUDENTS, EMPLOYERS,
AND HIGHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS WORK TOGETHER
TOWARD THE SAME GOAL. UNFORTUNATELY, JOSHUA
COULDN’T — GOT CALLED INTO WORK TONIGHT AND
ISN’T ABLE TO BE HERE. BUT HIS FAMILY, I UNDERSTAND, IS
WATCHING THE EVENT LIVE. SO LET’S SEND JOSH AND HIS
FAMILY OUR BEST WISHES AND CONGRATULATE THEM WITH
A HEARTY APPLAUSE. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THE NEXT STUDENT I’D LIKE TO HIGHLIGHT HAS OVERCOME
MANY BARRIERS IN ORDER TO ACCOMPLISH HER
ACADEMIC GOALS. 27 YEARS AGO, GRISELDA
GILLETT IMMIGRATED TO THE UNITED STATES FROM MEXICO. AND SHE ALWAYS WANTED TO
ATTEND COLLEGE BUT KNEW IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT,
BECAUSE SHE HAD LIMITED ENGLISH LANGUAGE SKILLS. SHE TOOK ESL CLASSES,
BECAME MORE PROFICIENT AND IN 2003 ENROLLED AT RIO. AND, AS SHE SAYS, SHE BEGAN
CHASING HER AMERICAN DREAM. AS A SINGLE MOM RAISING
TWO YOUNG SONS, THERE WERE MANY TIMES THAT SHE WAS
JUST TRYING TO MAKE ENDS MEET BUT WAS STILL
DETERMINED TO SET AN EXAMPLE FOR HER CHILDREN
AND EARN A DEGREE. SHE SAID THAT THE FACULTY
AND COUNSELORS AT RIO WERE ALWAYS OFFERING
ENCOURAGEMENT AND HELPED HER TO STAY ON TRACK. IT TOOK 13 YEARS FOR HER
TO ACCOMPLISH HER GOALS. AND TONIGHT SHE’S EARNING
AN ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE IN ADDICTIONS AND SUBSTANCE
ABUSE DISORDERS. SHE PLANS TO CONTINUE
ON AND EARN A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN THE SAME FIELD
AND HAS ALREADY STARTED CLASSES AT OTTAWA
UNIVERSITY. GRISELDA SAID,
“ULTIMATELY, I HOPE TO TAKE THE SKILLS AND
KNOWLEDGE LEARNED IN THE MENTAL HEALTH FIELD TO
HELP OTHERS IMPROVE THEIR LIVES.” GRISELDA, THANK
YOU FOR YOUR EXAMPLE OF DETERMINATION NOT ONLY TO
YOUR CHILDREN, BUT ALSO TO US. PLEASE STAND SO THAT YOU
CAN BE RECOGNIZED FOR YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU. AT THIS TIME, I CALL
YOUR ATTENTION TO A GROUP OF STUDENTS WHO ARE KNOWN FOR
PROTECTING THE FREEDOMS THAT WE ALL ENJOY. OUR MILITARY MEN AND WOMEN
LEAVE THEIR FAMILIES, THEIR JOBS AND THEIR
CIVILIAN LIVES, PLACING THEMSELVES IN HARM’S WAY
TO PROTECT OUR WAY OF LIFE. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH
YOU THE EXPERIENCE OF ONE OF OUR GRADUATES
WHO SERVED IN IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, AND
IN NICARAGUA. BILL AZPEITIAFACIO
IS A SERGEANT. HE WAS A SERGEANT IN THE
MARINE CORPS AND SERVED FROM 2004 TO 2013. HE WAS PART OF THE
INFANTRY, SERVED AS A TEAM LEADER, GROUND FORCE
COMMANDER, AND WAS A VEHICLE COMMANDER FOR VIP
PERSONNEL FOR PERSONAL SECURITY DETACHMENT. BILL IS ALSO A DEDICATED
HUSBAND, FATHER, AND A COLLEGE STUDENT. HIS MOTIVATION FOR GOING
TO COLLEGE WAS TO BETTER HIMSELF IN ORDER TO
PROVIDE FOR HIS WIFE AND THREE DAUGHTERS
AGES 10, 9, AND 7. IT HASN’T BEEN
EASY THOUGH. BILL WORKS FULL TIME. HE TAKES COLLEGE COURSES
ALL AT THE SAME TIME WHILE COPING WITH POST-TRAUMATIC
DISORDER AND A BRAIN INJURY. BILL’S ADVICE TO THE OTHER
STUDENTS IS TO KEEP GOING EVEN THOUGH THERE
MAY BE HARD TIMES. IF YOU DON’T TRY, YOU
WON’T SEE WHAT IS OUT THERE FOR YOU. TONIGHT, BILL WILL EARN
AN ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE IN DETENTION SERVICES. HE WON’T STOP THERE AND
PLANS TO CONTINUE ON TO EARN A BACHELORS IN PUBLIC
ADMINISTRATION AND JUSTICE SERVICES AT NAU. BILL WOULD LIKE TO THANK
HIS FAMILY, RIO FACULTY AND MILITARY ADVISORS FOR
THEIR SUPPORT THAT HE HAS RECEIVED TO
ACHIEVE HIS GOAL. SO WE’RE HONORED TO HAVE
WITH US THIS EVENING A NUMBER OF GRADUATES WHO
ARE VETERANS OR ACTIVE MILITARY MEMBERS. I WOULD LIKE TO RECOGNIZE
BILL AND THE OTHER GRADUATES WHO ARE VETERANS
OR ACTIVE MILITARY MEMBERS. WOULD YOU PLEASE STAND SO
THAT WE CAN RECOGNIZE YOUR SERVICE, CONTRIBUTIONS, AND
ACHIEVEMENTS ALONG WITH BILL (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU. WE ALSO KNOW THAT
THERE ARE OTHERS HERE WHO ARE VETERANS OR WHO ARE
CURRENTLY SERVING IN THE ARMED FORCES. PLEASE STAND SO THAT
WE CAN EXPRESS OUR APPRECIATION TO YOU FOR
THE SERVICE THAT YOU HAVE GIVEN TO US AND
OUR COUNTRY. ALL OF YOU IN THE AUDIENCE
AND ON STAGE, ANYONE WHO IS A VETERAN OR CURRENTLY
SERVING IN THE ARMED FORCES, STAND SO WE CAN
RECOGNIZE AND THANK YOU AS WELL. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR
YOUR SERVICE. EDUCATION HAS NEVER
MATTERED MORE THAN IT DOES TODAY ACCORDING TO THE
STRONGER NATION REPORT BY THE LUMINA FOUNDATION. OUR NATION FACES AN URGENT
AND GROWING NEED FOR TALENT. AND HIGHER
EDUCATION IS KEY TO MEETING THAT NEED. IN ADDITION, RESEARCH
SHOWS THAT THOSE WITH A COLLEGE DEGREE EARN MORE
THAN THOSE WITHOUT A DEGREE. AND WHEN COMPARED TO THEIR
LESS CREDENTIALED PEERS, COLLEGE GRADUATES BENEFIT
FROM HIGHER EARNINGS AND LOWER UNEMPLOYMENT RATES,
EVEN IN TIMES OF ECONOMIC DOWNTURN AND RECESSION. A COLLEGE EDUCATION ALSO
GOES BEYOND MONETARY BENEFITS. COLLEGE GRADUATES ARE
MORE LIKELY TO FIND SATISFACTION IN THEIR JOBS
AND FOSTER A FULFILLING LIFE. EACH ONE OF YOU HAS A
UNIQUE STORY TO TELL, YOUR CHOICES, THE PEOPLE
WHO SURROUND YOU. AND THE GOALS YOU SET
FOR YOURSELF TRULY DEFINE WHO YOU ARE. ALWAYS STRIVE TO BE THE
BEST PERSON YOU CAN BE. BECAUSE OF YOUR
ACHIEVEMENTS, THERE ARE MORE EDUCATIONAL AND
CAREER OPPORTUNITIES ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU. I ENCOURAGE YOU TO
CONTINUE ON WITH YOUR EDUCATION AND FULFILL THE
PROMISE OF YOUR POTENTIAL; CONSIDER WORKING TOWARD
A BACHELOR’S DEGREE AS GABRIELLE, JOSHUA,
GRISELDA, BILL, AND MANY OTHERS PLAN TO DO. KEEP EDUCATION AS A
PRIORITY IN YOUR LIFE. GRADUATES, WE SHOULD ALSO
TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO THOSE
WHO HELPED AND ENCOURAGED YOU ALONG THE WAY AS YOU
INVESTED YOUR TIME AND ENERGY IN A
COLLEGE EDUCATION. TO YOUR INSTRUCTORS,
ADVISORS, ADMINISTRATORS, AND STAFF WHO GUIDED YOU,
CHALLENGED YOU, AND SHARE IN YOUR SUCCESSES, LET’S EXPRESS
OUR APPRECIATION TO THEM. WOULD THE FACULTY,
ADVISORS, ADMINISTRATION, AND STAFF, PLEASE STAND
SO WE CAN PROVIDE YOU APPLAUSE AND THANK YOU
FOR ALL THAT YOU DO. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) FACULTY. THANK YOU. NOW, EVEN MORE
IMPORTANTLY, LET’S THANK THOSE WHO ARE CLOSEST TO
YOU, YOUR PARENTS, YOUR SPOUSE, YOUR CHILDREN,
YOUR FAMILIES, AND YOUR FRIENDS, OF COURSE, FOR
THEIR UNWAVERING SUPPORT. IF YOU ARE A FAMILY MEMBER
OR A FRIEND, PLEASE STAND SO WE CAN THANK
YOU AS WELL. COME ON, FAMILY MEMBERS.
YOU’RE ALL OUT THERE. PLEASE STAND. THANK YOU. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU. AS YOU CONTINUE YOUR
JOURNEY, PLEASE REMEMBER THE SACRIFICE OF YOUR
FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND CONTINUE TO
MAKE THEM PROUD. AS I THINK ABOUT YOUR
JOURNEY AND THE MANY CONTRIBUTIONS OF OTHERS,
I’M REMINDED OF JOYCE JOHNSON ROUSE’S POEM
TITLED “STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS.” I’D LIKE TO
SHARE A FEW LINES FROM HER POEM. SHE STATES: I’M STANDING
ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE ONES WHO CAME BEFORE ME. I AM HONORED BY THEIR
PASSION FOR OUR LIBERTY. I WILL STAND A
LITTLE TALLER. I WILL WORK A
LITTLE LONGER. AND MY SHOULDERS WILL BE THERE
TO HOLD THE ONES WHO FOLLOW ME. GRADUATES, AS YOU REACH
FORWARD, NEVER FORGET TO REACH BACK TO SHOW YOUR
GRATITUDE TO THOSE WHO HAVE HELPED YOU. LIFT OTHERS WHO FOLLOW
YOUR PATH AND CAN BENEFIT FROM YOUR JOURNEY. SHOULDER THEM UP AND OFFER
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT. I INVITE YOU TO BECOME AN
ADVOCATE FOR EDUCATION. THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE IN
OUR COMMUNITY WHO HAVE YET TO ACCOMPLISH WHAT YOU
HAVE ACHIEVED TONIGHT. DON’T LEAVE ANYONE BEHIND. IT’S UP TO YOU TO
ENCOURAGE SOMEONE IN YOUR FAMILY OR CIRCLE OF
FRIENDS TO PURSUE AN EDUCATION. MAKE IT YOUR PERSONAL
MISSION TO HELP THEM PLAN FOR THEIR FUTURE. TELL THEM YOUR STORY. SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH
THOSE WHO ARE SEEKING TO RESHAPE THEIR LIVES. YOU ARE THEIR
BEST ROLE MODELS. YOU CAN SET AN EXAMPLE,
BE A MENTOR, AND MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN
THE LIVES OF OTHERS. TONIGHT, WE CELEBRATE YOU
AND YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS. REMEMBER TO VALUE WHO YOU
ARE, WHERE YOU CAME FROM, AND ALL THAT YOU
HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. PLEASE JOIN ME AGAIN IN
CONGRATULATING OUR 2017 GRADUATES. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.)
CONGRATULATIONS. GRADUATION IS A TIME TO
GIVE AND RECEIVE WORDS OF CONGRATULATIONS
AND ENCOURAGEMENT. AND TONIGHT’S GUEST SPEAKERS
HAVE A WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE. AND WE ARE FORTUNATE THAT
THEY ARE HERE TO SHARE A FEW THOUGHTS WITH US. IT’S NOW MY PLEASURE TO
INTRODUCE THE FIRST OF TONIGHT’S SPEAKERS DR.
MARIA HARPER-MARINICK, CHANCELLOR OF THE MARICOPA
COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT. DR. MARIA HARPER-MARINICK
IS A PASSIONATE ADVOCATE FOR EDUCATION AND WORKS
CLOSELY WITH THE GOVERNING BOARD TO PROVIDE
LEADERSHIP FOR THE MARICOPA COMMUNITY
COLLEGES. SHE IS ONE OF ARIZONA’S
MOST OUTSTANDING AND DYNAMIC COMMUNITY LEADERS
AND IS INVOLVED WITH EDUCATIONAL ISSUES ON A STATE
AND NATIONAL LEVEL AS WELL. PLEASE JOIN ME IN
WELCOMING CHANCELLOR HARPER-MARINICK
TO THE PODIUM. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) GOOD EVENING, EVERYONE —
ACTUALLY, GREAT EVENING. STUDENTS, FAMILY,
FRIENDS, AND COLLEAGUES. ON BEHALF OF ALL OF US
AT THE MARICOPA COMMUNITY COLLEGES, IT IS MY
PLEASURE TO WELCOME YOU TO THE CELEBRATION TONIGHT
ABOUT OUR STUDENTS AND THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. AND WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR
PRESENCE, AND WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF OUR
STUDENTS. I LOVE COMMENCEMENT. I LOVE GRADUATIONS,
BECAUSE IT IS A TIME FOR CELEBRATION, AND WE KNOW
ALL THE HARD WORK THAT WENT INTO MAKING TONIGHT A
REALITY FOR ALL OF YOU STUDENTS. AND I ALWAYS FIND
INSPIRATION WHEN I HEAR YOUR STORIES, AND I SEE THE
PRIDE AND THE JOY IN YOUR FACES. BUT, NIGHTS LIKE THIS,
I AM ALSO FILLED WITH GRATITUDE, BECAUSE I
LIVE IN A NATION WHERE EDUCATION MATTERS AND
WHERE MANY OPPORTUNITIES ARE PROVIDED FOR ALL
PEOPLE THROUGH OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS. STUDENTS, WE THANK YOU
FOR CHOOSING RIO SALADO AS YOUR COMMUNITY FOR LEARNING. AND RIO SALADO, OF COURSE,
IS ONE OF THE MARICOPA COMMUNITY COLLEGES. BUT TONIGHT WE CELEBRATE
YOU, THE STUDENTS, BECAUSE WE KNOW WHAT IT TAKES
TO COMPLETE A PROGRAM OF STUDY. AND WE KNOW THAT IT’S
NEITHER SIMPLE NOR EASY. WE KNOW THAT IT TAKES A
DESIRE TO CHANGE, TO GROW, TO LEARN, AS PEOPLE. AND IT TAKES COURAGE,
DETERMINATION, DISCIPLINE, AND MOTIVATION. BUT YOU ARE PROOF THAT
IT IS ACTUALLY POSSIBLE. AS DR. BUSTAMANTE SAID, A
COLLEGE DEGREE IS NOW MORE THAN EVER IMPORTANT FOR
YOU TO GET A GOOD JOB OR GET A BETTER JOB OR
ACTUALLY IN THE CASE OF MY KIDS GET A JOB. BUT EDUCATION IS NOT JUST
ABOUT JOB SKILL ASKS AND GETTING A DEGREE. EDUCATION IS ALSO
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING AND
GROWING AS A PERSON. EDUCATION OPENS OUR
MINDS TO NEW IDEAS AND TO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. AND SO WE HOPE THAT YOUR
COLLEGE EDUCATION AND YOUR TALENTS, YOU CHOSE TO USE
EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU UNIQUELY YOU TO FIGHT FOR
YOUR RIGHT TO BE WHOM YOU CHOOSE TO BE AND KNOW WHAT
OTHERS WANT YOU TO BE OR HOPE THAT YOU COULD BE. WE HOPE THAT YOU USE YOUR
EDUCATION AND YOUR TALENTS AND YOUR GIFTS TO EXPRESS
YOURSELF FREELY, TO BE ENGAGED AND RESPONSIBLE
ARIZONANS, TO PROMOTE AND MODEL CIVILITY, TO GIVE
VOICE TO THE STRUGGLES OF OTHERS IN OUR COMMUNITY
WHO MAY HAVE BEEN SILENCED, TO ALWAYS
FIGHT FOR WHAT IS RIGHT. USE YOUR EDUCATION AND
YOUR TALENTS AND YOUR GIFTS TO MAKE AN INCLUSIVE
WORLD, THE RIGHTFUL PLACE FOR ALL PEOPLE. USE YOUR EDUCATION AND
YOUR TALENTS AND YOUR GIFTS TO FIGHT
INTOLERANCE, DISRESPECT, IGNORANCE, AND HATRED. USE YOUR EDUCATION TO MAKE
THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE BECAUSE YOU EXIST, BECAUSE
YOU HAVE THAT EDUCATION, BECAUSE YOU HAVE A CHOICE,
AND BECAUSE YOU HAVE A VOICE. CONGRATULATIONS, AND THANK
YOU FOR BEING PART OF OUR COMMUNITY OF LEARNERS.
THANK YOU. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU, CHANCELLOR. OUR NEXT SPEAKER IS
MR. ALFREDO GUTIERREZ. HE’S THE GOVERNING BOARD
PRESIDENT OF THE MARICOPA COUNTY COMMUNITY
COLLEGE DISTRICT. THE GOVERNING BOARD IS
COMPRISED OF SEVEN MEMBERS AND ARE ELECTED BY THE
VOTERS OF MARICOPA COUNTY. AND THEY SERVE IN A
VOLUNTARY CAPACITY. MR. GUTIERREZ REPRESENTS
DISTRICT FIVE AND IS A NATIVE ARIZONAN, RAISED
IN MIAMI, ARIZONA. THERE THEY SAY MY-AM-A, I
THINK, TO NAME THE TOWN. AFTER HIGH SCHOOL, HE SERVED IN
THE ARMY FOR THREE YEARS. FOLLOWING HIS SERVICE, HE
ATTENDED ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY. AND LATER IN LIFE
WAS AWARDED AN HONORARY PH.D. FROM THE ARIZONA
BOARD OF REGIONS. HE’S A WELL-KNOWN
COMMUNITY ACTIVIST AND WAS AN ORGANIZER WITH THE
UNITED FARM WORKERS AND OTHER IMPORTANT CAUSES. HE ALSO HELP FOUND
THE COMMUNITY BASED ORGANIZATIONS CHICANOS
POR LA CAUSA AND VALLE DEL SOL. HE WAS ELECTED TO THE
ARIZONA SENATE AND WOULD SERVE AS EITHER MAJORITY
OR MINORITY LEADER FOR 14 YEARS. MR. GUTIERREZ, WE WELCOME
YOU TO THE PODIUM. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) GOOD EVENING, FIRST OF
ALL, LET ME CONGRATULATE YOU. IT’S AN ACHIEVEMENT. AND IT’S AN ACHIEVEMENT
YOU SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF. IT IS AN ACHIEVEMENT THAT YOU’RE
HERE BECAUSE THE TEMPTATIONS TO QUIT WERE SO EXTRAORDINARY
AT THIS DAY IN AGE, THE TEMPTATION NOT TO
GET UP IN THE MORNING AND PROCEED FORWARD
AND NOT DO THIS. IF YOU WERE ONLINE, THE
TEMPTATION NOT TO GET ONLINE AND TURN
ON SOME TV SHOW. THE TEMPTATION OF YOUR
PEERS WHO CALLED YOU OUT AND SAID LET’S GO OUT FOR
A BEER, AND YOU SAID NO. AND YOU THOUGHT FOR
SO LONG, “DID I MAKE A MISTAKE BY NOT GOING OUT
AND HAVING THAT BEER?” THE ANSWER IS, NO, YOU
DIDN’T MAKE A MISTAKE. AND YOU’RE PROOF
OF IT TONIGHT. SO I WANT TO
CONGRATULATE YOU. I WANT TO CONGRATULATE YOU
FOR TAKING THOSE STEPS FOR THIS EXTRAORDINARY
ACHIEVEMENT. BUT I WANT TO REMIND YOU
OF ONE THING, GRADUATES. THIS JOURNEY ISN’T OVER. THIS IS A MOMENT
OF CELEBRATION. THIS IS A MOMENT YOU
REALLY MUST ENJOY. AND THIS IS A MOMENT YOU
MUST UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE SOMEWHERE IN THIS
PATH, BUT YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED. YOU’LL GO ON TO THE
UNIVERSITY OR YOU’LL GO ON TO COMPLETE ANOTHER
CERTIFICATE. YOU’RE TO MOVE ON. THAT’S WHY YOU’RE HERE; TO
CELEBRATE THIS ACHIEVEMENT AND TO CELEBRATE THE
JOURNEY TO COME, BUT UNDERSTANDING NOW ONE
THING THAT YOU DIDN’T TRULY UNDERSTAND BEFORE. AND THAT IS FAILURE IS
NOT AN OPTION, BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT IT TAKES. YOU KNOW WHAT IT TAKES,
AND YOU KNOW YOU CAN OVERCOME EVERY TEMPTATION
THAT’S GOING TO BE PRESENTED IN FRONT OF YOU, EVERY OBSTACLE,
AND EVERY BARRIER. AND I WANT TO
CONGRATULATE YOU FOR THAT. THAT IS EXTRAORDINARY. GIVE ME A MOMENT TO SPEAK
TO YOUR FAMILIES, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO UNDERSTAND
AS WELL AS THEY CELEBRATE THIS MORNING. I KNOW EVERY ONE
OF YOU IS SO PROUD. I WILL BE AT PARADISE
VALLEY NEXT WEEK CELEBRATING MY GREAT, GREAT,
GREAT-GRAND NIECES GRADUATION. AND THE WHOLE FAMILY IS
COMING, SOME OF THEM FROM AS FAR AS MEXICO, BECAUSE OF THE
EXTRAORDINARY PRIDE WE HAVE. BUT UNDERSTAND ONE THING,
JUST AS THEY HAVE TO GO ON, YOU HAVE TO GO ON. YOU HAVE TO GO ON
SUPPORTING THEM EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. AND SO THIS IS A GREAT
MOMENT OF PRIDE AND A GREAT MOMENT OF
CELEBRATION AND EVERY BIG FAMILY SHOULD HAVE UNA
PARRANDA, IF THEY WISH. BUT, THEN THE NEXT
MORNING, THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES, THE ROAD TO
JUSTICE CONTINUES, THE ROAD FORWARD CONTINUES. PERMIT ME A WORD IN
SPANISH POR FAVOR. (SPEAKING SPANISH.) LET ME FINISH WITH THIS.
YOU ARE NOW ROLE MODELS. NOW, SOME OF YOU ARE THE
FIRST IN YOUR FAMILY TO HAVE EVER GONE TO COLLEGE. I MEAN, THE FIRST
GENERATION IN YOUR FAMILY TO GO TO COLLEGE. SOME OF YOU SACRIFICE
GREATLY TO BE HERE, AND YOU’RE GOING BACK
INTO THE COMMUNITY. YOU’RE BACK INTO THE
BARRIOS, AND YOU’RE GOING BACK INTO YOUR
NEIGHBORHOODS. YOU’RE GOING THIS EVENING
TO BE HUGGED BY YOUR LITTLE BROTHERS
AND SISTERS. REMEMBER THIS, YOU
ARE NOW ROLE MODELS. YOU ARE NOW THE INSPIRATION FOR
THEM TO GO FORWARD. THIS NATION IS IN GRAVE
NEED OF FOLKS LIKE YOU AND FOLKS LIKE YOUR BROTHERS
AND SISTERS THAT YOU WILL ALSO HELP COME HERE SOON. THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU, MR. GUTIERREZ. IT’S NOW MY HONOR AND A
PLEASURE, IT IS, FOR ME TO INTRODUCE A VERY
SPECIAL GUEST TO YOU. MR. ARTHUR M. HAMILTON IS A
WELL-RESPECTED COMMUNITY LEADER AND ADVOCATE
FOR EDUCATION. HE SERVED FOR 26 YEARS
IN THE ARIZONA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WITH 18
CONSECUTIVE YEARS AS THE HOUSE MINORITY LEADER. MR. HAMILTON SERVED IN THE
HOUSE DURING THE SAME TIME THAT MR. GUTIERREZ
SERVED IN THE SENATE. THEY WERE GREAT
COLLEAGUES. TOGETHER, ALONG WITH
A HANDFUL OF OTHER SIGNIFICANT AND
INFLUENTIAL STATE LEADERS AT THE TIME, THEY WOULD
INTRODUCE AND PASS LANDMARK LEGISLATION,
WHICH WOULD LAY THE FOUNDATION FOR ARIZONANS
TO ENSURE ACCESS TO A QUALITY EDUCATION FOR
ALL, TO PROTECT OUR FUTURE WATER AND ENVIRONMENT, TO
ENSURE THAT THE 20-YEAR REGIONAL AND STATEWIDE
TRANSPORTATION PLANS WERE FUNDED AND BUILT, TO
CREATE A VIBRANT ECONOMIC REGION THAT ATTRACTED NEW
BUSINESSES AND JOBS TO OUR STATE TO NAME JUST A
FEW ACCOMPLISHMENTS. THERE WERE MANY MORE. AND THEY DID IT IN A
BIPARTISAN FASHION. REPUBLICANS WORKING
WITH DEMOCRATS FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE
STATE OF ARIZONA. A QUALITY AND ACCESSIBLE
PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM WAS ALWAYS AT THE CENTER
OF WHAT MR. HAMILTON BELIEVED IN
AND FOUGHT FOR. IN FACT, IN 1985, THE
MURPHY SCHOOL DISTRICT NAMED ONE OF ITS
ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS THE ARTHUR M. HAMILTON SCHOOL AS
LIVING LANDMARK TO HIS WORK TO IMPROVE PUBLIC EDUCATION. THE SCHOOL CONTINUES
TO EDUCATE HUNDREDS OF STUDENTS EVERY YEAR AS
A GREAT TESTAMENT TO HIS WORK. ON A PERSONAL NOTE, EARLY
IN MY CAREER, ABOUT 30 YEARS AGO, AS A YOUNG
STAFFER, I WAS ONE OF HIS LEGISLATIVE AIDES,
WORKING IN HIS OFFICE. AND ONE TIME HE INVITED ME
TO A MEETING THAT HE WAS GOING TO, AND LITTLE
DID I KNOW THAT AT THE TIME THAT THE PERSON WE
WERE ON OUR WAY TO MEET WAS NONE OTHER THAN
GOVERNOR BRUCE BABBITT IN HIS OFFICE, JUST
THE THREE OF US. HERE I WAS A 24-YEAR-OLD
KID WITH THOSE TWO. AND WHAT AN AWESOME
EXPERIENCE THAT WAS TO BE A FLY ON THE WALL FOR
THOSE CONVERSATIONS. HE GAVE ME AND OTHERS
THESE KINDS OF UNIQUE EXPERIENCES AND
OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN FIRSTHAND WHAT IT TAKES
TO BE A AFFECTIVE IN THE POLITICAL ARENA AND TO
ADVANCE THE PEOPLE’S AGENDA. HE HAS BEEN A GREAT MENTOR
TO ME AND COUNTLESS OTHERS THROUGHOUT THE YEARS. HIS EARLY TEACHINGS HAS
DEFINITELY BENEFITTED ME IN LIFE AND IN
MY PRESIDENCY. HE USED TO SAY, “MR. BUSTAMANTE, PERCEPTION IS MANY TIMES
STRONGER THAN REALITY.” AND I’VE NEVER
FORGOTTEN THAT KEEN ADVICE. MR. HAMILTON WAS ALSO THE
FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND ONLY ARIZONIAN TO BE
ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE
OF STATE LEGISLATORS. HE IS A NATIVE OF PHOENIX
AND ATTENDED CARL HAYDEN HIGH SCHOOL AND
PHOENIX COLLEGE. HE’S A GREAT EXAMPLE OF
SERVICE AND LEADERSHIP ON BEHALF OF THE
PEOPLE OF ARIZONA. AND I WANT TO THANK
MR. HAMILTON FOR HIS LIFETIME OF PUBLIC SERVICE
AND FOR HIS MENTORSHIP. AND TO, MR. HAMILTON, IF
YOU DIDN’T THINK THAT YOUR PASSION FOR EDUCATION
WOULD RUB OFF ON SOME OF US WHOM YOU MENTORED AND
INFLUENCED, BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T THINK WE WERE
LISTENING ALL THE TIME, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS
EXPERIENCE TONIGHT AND KNOW THAT PRIDE OF THIS
IMPORTANT WORK, OUR GRADUATES, TO
KNOW THAT YOU DID. SO THANK YOU VERY
MUCH FOR THAT. I NOW INVITE MR. HAMILTON
TO THE PODIUM TO PRESENT HIM WITH THE DISTINGUISHED
PRESIDENT’S COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD AND TO
SAY A FEW WORDS TO ALL OF US, IN PARTICULAR,
OUR GRADUATES. AND I’D LIKE TO INVITE
MR. GUTIERREZ, HIS LONGTIME LEGISLATIVE COLLEAGUE
AND FRIEND TO HELP ME TO PRESENT THE AWARD. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THE INSCRIPTION ON THE
AWARD READS: 2017 RIO SALADO COLLEGE PRESIDENT
COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD PRESENTED TO MR.
ART HAMILTON. THANK YOU FOR YOUR EXAMPLE
OF LEADERSHIP AND SELFLESS SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY. AND IT’S GOT
MY NAME ON IT. SO IF YOU CAN SAY A FEW
WORDS, THAT WOULD BE GREAT. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. PRESIDENT BUSTAMANTE,
THANK YOU. CHANCELLOR, PRESIDENT
GUTIERREZ, DISTINGUISHED GRADUATES, LET ME THANK
YOU FOR THE KINDNESS OF INVITING ME HERE. FEW PEOPLE HAVE THE
COURAGE TO INVITE A RETIRED POLITICIAN
ANYWHERE. THERE WAS A TIME IN MY
LIFE WHEN I THOUGHT YOU ALL LOVED US. I WAS WRONG. MY MINISTER INVITED ME OR
CALLED ME A FEW WEEKS AGO AT 4 O’CLOCK IN THE
MORNING TO TELL ME THAT THEY HAD FOUND A DEAD
MULE ON CHURCH PROPERTY. I SAID, “PASTOR, OKAY. WHY WOULD YOU CALL ME? I THOUGHT WE PAID YOU TO
BURY THE DEAD.” HE SAID, “YES, BUT I ALSO GET PAID
TO NOTIFY THE NEXT OF KIN.” THERE WERE A LOT OF
REASONS TO COME TONIGHT, BECAUSE I HAVE SOME
INCREDIBLY GOOD FRIENDS SITTING ON THIS PLATFORM. BUT THE REASON I REALLY
WANTED TO COME ARE FOR THE GOOD FOLKS WHO ARE SITTING
OUT THERE, BECAUSE YOUR ACHIEVEMENT IS SOMETHING
THAT WE NEED TO COMMEMORATE AND CELEBRATE. BUT LET ME SUGGEST TO YOU
THAT THIS ACHIEVEMENT MAY VERY WELL HELP YOU EARN A
BETTER LIVING, IT MAY VERY WELL HELP YOU HAVE A MORE
COMFORTABLE PLACE TO WORK, BUT IF THAT’S ALL IT DOES,
THEN YOU’VE CHEATED IN LARGE PART YOURSELF AND
THE REST OF ALL THOSE FOLKS WHO SIT BEHIND
YOU, BECAUSE WE ARE CO-INVESTORS IN THE GENIUS
THAT IS REPRESENTED BY YOU SITTING HERE THIS EVENING. THE REALITY IS, AS SENATOR
GUTIERREZ SAID SO VERY WELL, YOU HAVE NO IDEA TODAY
WHERE LIFE IS GOING TO TAKE YOU. SO WHAT YOU DO TODAY IS TO
PREPARE YOURSELF FOR ANY POSSIBILITY THAT MAY
VERY WELL COME YOUR WAY. I GREW UP IN THE HOUSING
PROJECTS OF SOUTH PHOENIX, MATTHEW HENSON, AND I
THOUGHT I’D NEVER GET A CHANCE TO SERVE IN THE
LEGISLATURE, BUT YOU ALL WERE KIND ENOUGH OR
FOOLISH ENOUGH, I’M NOT SURE WHICH, TO ELECT ME. BUT DURING MY SERVICE, I
HAD OCCASION TO SPEND SOME 47 TIMES IN THE
WHITE HOUSE. I DON’T SAY THAT
TO IMPRESS YOU. I SAY THAT TO LET YOU KNOW
THAT I NEVER HAD ANY IDEA WHEN I WAS SITTING WHERE
YOU’RE SITTING THAT THAT’S WHERE LIFE WOULD TAKE ME. SO WHAT I LEARNED FROM
THAT EXPERIENCE IS THAT YOU HAVE TO PREPARE FOR
ANYTHING YOU MAY VERY WELL ASPIRE OR POSSIBLY DO. I UNDERSTAND THAT IN A
WORLD OF CYNICISM MANY PEOPLE WOULD SUGGEST TO
YOU THAT YOU CANNOT ASPIRE TO THE VERY BEST. LET’S PUT THAT TO REST. THAT’S A LIE, NOT A FIB. THAT’S A LIE, BECAUSE THE
REALITY IS YOU MUST NEVER EVER ALLOW WHO YOU ARE
TODAY OR WHERE YOU’VE BEEN OR WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO
LIMIT OR PRESCRIBE WHERE YOU CAN GO, WHO YOU CAN
BECOME, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO. WHEN I WAS A YOUNG AND
THIN — AND SO YOU KNOW THAT’S BEEN A LONG TIME
AGO — JOHN KENNEDY, WHO WAS PRESIDENT THEN,
SAID THAT THE WORLD IS A DIFFICULT AND
DANGEROUS PLACE. AND I WOULD SUGGEST TO YOU
THAT IT’S PROBABLY MORE DIFFICULT AND DANGEROUS
TODAY THAN IT WAS THEN. BUT HE ALSO SAID EVERY
GENERATION, EVERY GENERATION, IS CHALLENGED
TO MEET THE PROBLEMS OF ITS DAY AND TO
ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS. HE SAID THE TRUTH, THE
STRENGTH, ENERGY AND ZEAL, THAT WE BRING TO MEETING
THE CHALLENGES OF OUR TIME CAN SPARK OUR LIVES AND
THE LIVES OF PEOPLE WE TOUCH. AND THOSE SPARKS PRESSED
TOGETHER CAN BECOME A FLAME. AND THE GLOW FROM THAT FIRE CAN
ONE DAY LIGHT THE WORLD. WE LIVE IN A NATION THAT
HAS BEEN FOR SO MANY GENERATIONS THAT LIGHT ON
THE HILL THAT THE WORLD HAS TURNED TO AS IT’S
TRIED TO GRAPPLE WITH THE PROBLEMS THEY FACE. WE MAY YET BE GOING
THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES, BUT BECAUSE OF THE GENIUS
THAT SITS HERE, I HAVE EVERY FAITH THAT THERE IS
NO PROBLEM WE MAY FACE, THERE IS NO CHALLENGE
THAT MAY DAUNT US, THAT WE CAN’T OVERCOME, BECAUSE OF
YOU ALL AND WHAT I TRULY BELIEVE IS YOUR GENIUS AND
COMMITMENT TO MAKING THE PLACE BETTER. MY NATIVE AMERICAN
BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO ARE CERTAINLY MUCH SMARTER
THAN I CAN EVER BE ALWAYS REMINDED ME THAT WE DO NOT
INHERIT THIS LAND FROM OUR PARENTS. WE BORROW IT FROM
OUR CHILDREN. OUR CHALLENGE JOINTLY IS
TO DELIVER TO A GENERATION YOU MAY NEVER LIVE TO SEE
A PLACE BETTER THAN THE ONE THAT EXISTS TODAY. THAT IS OUR COMMON DEBT
TO THOSE GOOD FOLKS. SO LET ME SIMPLY LET YOU
KNOW THAT I BELIEVE IN YOU. I BELIEVE IN YOUR GENIUS. YOUR SITTING HERE SHOWS
YOUR COMMITMENT AND YOUR TENACITY TO ACCOMPLISH
OVER OBSTACLES THAT I CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE. BUT TOGETHER WE CAN AS
BROTHERS AND SISTERS, FELLOW ARIZONANS,
FELLOW AMERICANS, MAKE THIS PLACE BETTER. SO THE WAY I END IS THE
WAY I ALWAYS END, BECAUSE I BELIEVE WE NEED TO
REINFORCE WITH EACH OTHER OUR COMMON BOND AND OUR
COMMON HERITAGE BY LETTING EACH OTHER KNOW ON EVERY
OCCASION WE MEET GOD BLESS YOU, GOD BLESS THE ONES
THAT YOU LOVE, AND GOD BLESS THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) WHEN I WAS A STAFFER
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WHEN HE
WOULD SPEAK, WE WOULD ALL LISTEN, AND RACE TO THE
GALLERY TO LISTEN TO HIM. AND SO WE’RE SO
THANKFUL THAT HE’S HERE. AND WE THANK YOU VERY MUCH
FOR THOSE INSPIRATIONAL WORDS AND YOUR SERVICE. AND NOW IT’S TIME TO HEAR
FROM THE CLASS OF 2017 OUR STUDENT SPEAKER TONIGHT. EACH YEAR A STUDENT
SPEAKER IS SELECTED ON THE BASIS OF ACADEMIC
EXCELLENCE AND FOR THEIR ABILITY TO SERVE
AS ROLE MODELS. OUR STUDENT SPEAKER
TONIGHT IS A GLORIA MENDOZA. EARNING A DEGREE HAS BEEN
HER CREAM FOR 18 YEARS. GLORIA DROPPED YOU OUT OF
HIGH SCHOOL WHEN SHE LEFT A DIFFICULT HOME SITUATION
ONE MONTH BEFORE FINISHING HER JUNIOR YEAR. AND IT WOULD BE 15 YEARS
LATER, AT THE AGE OF 32, WHEN SHE ENROLLED IN
HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY PREPARATION CLASSES AT
RIO AND TOOK THE GED EXAM. THAT WAS HER FIRST STEP
IN REALIZING HER DREAM TO EARN A DEGREE. TONIGHT, SHE WILL BE
RECOGNIZED FOR EARNING AN ASSOCIATE OF ARTS DEGREE. SHE’S PART OF THE ARIZONA
OR — THE MARICOPA TO ASU PROGRAM PATHWAY AND PLANS
TO ATTEND ASU IN THE FALL OF 2018, WHERE SHE PLANS
TO EARN A BACHELOR’S AND MASTER’S DEGREE IN
PSYCHOLOGY AND EVENTUALLY GO TO LAW SCHOOL. SHE’S A MEMBER OF PHI
THETA KAPPA AND THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF
LEADERSHIP AND SUCCESS. AT THIS TIME, I’D LIKE
TO INVITE GLORIA TO THE PODIUM TO SHARE HER STORY. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU, DR. BUSTAMANTE. GOOD EVENING,
DISTINGUISHED FACULTY, HONORED GUESTS, RIO SALADO
ADMINISTRATION, AND FELLOW GRADUATES. IT IS AN HONOR FOR ME TO
REPRESENT RIO SALADO’S GRADUATING CLASS OF
2017 TONIGHT AND A TRUE PRIVILEGE TO
SHARE MY STORY. BEFORE I START, I WOULD
LIKE TO THANK MY WONDERFUL HUSBAND, MY AMAZING
DAUGHTERS, MY FRIENDS, MY FAMILY, MY PTK FAMILY,
FOR ALWAYS SHOWING ME YOUR UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT
THROUGHOUT MY JOURNEY. REACHING THIS ACHIEVEMENT
IS ALMOST UNREAL FOR ME. BEING ABLE TO GRADUATE
AND WALK WITH MY FELLOW GRADUATES HAS BEEN A DREAM
I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR 18 YEARS. YOU SEE, GROWING UP
EDUCATION WAS NOT VALUED IN MY HOUSEHOLD. I WAS TAUGHT THAT THE
SKILLS NEEDED TO BUILD MY FUTURE WERE NOT
FOUND IN A CLASSROOM. THEY WERE FOUND AT HOME. COOKING, CLEANING,
LEARNING TO RAISE A FAMILY, THAT’S
WHAT WAS IMPORTANT. YOU WERE EXPECTED TO GO TO
SCHOOL BECAUSE YOU HAD TO. YOU WERE THEN EXPECTED TO
GET A JOB, BECAUSE YOU HAD TO CONTRIBUTE TO
THE HOUSEHOLD. EVENTUALLY, IT WAS
EXPECTED THAT YOU WOULD HAVE SOME KIDS AND
RAISE A FAMILY. YOU FINISH THE REST OF
YOUR LIFE WORKING A JOB THAT YOU PROBABLY WOULDN’T
ENJOY, PAYING YOUR BILLS, AND RAISING A FAMILY. EDUCATION DID NOT SEEM TO
PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN BUILDING MY FUTURE. AS I GOT OLDER, MOVING
INTO MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL, A DISCONNECT
BECAME EVIDENT. THE LITTLE INVOLVEMENT
THERE WAS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISAPPEARED, AND
IT WAS REPLACED WITH AN UNSPOKEN UNDERSTANDING OF
JUST GO TO SCHOOL, PASS YOUR CLASSES, DON’T
GET IN TROUBLE. OVER TIME, THE SITUATION
WORSENED AND INDIFFERENCE BECAME NORMAL. I FELT LONELY AND I WANTED
DESPERATELY TO RECEIVE SOME FORM OF APPROVAL,
BUT IT JUST NEVER CAME. BY THE END OF MY SOPHOMORE
YEAR, VERBAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE HAD TAKEN OVER. AND I WAS DONE. I WAS
FINALLY BROKEN. ONE DAY, AFTER BEING
BEATEN FOR MISSING CLASS, I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO
GET OUT OF THE SITUATION BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. SO I CLOSED MY BEDROOM
DOOR, SAT ON MY BED ASKED GOD FOR FORGIVENESS AND
I MADE AN ATTEMPT ON MY LIFE. THAT ATTEMPT LANDED ME
IN THE HOSPITAL AND AN INVESTIGATION ENSUED. I WAS REMOVED FROM MY HOME
FOR A SHORT MOMENT, AND IT SEEMED LIKE THINGS
WOULD IMPROVE. BUT AFTER THE
INVESTIGATION WAS COMPLETE, MY ENVIRONMENT
WAS DEEMED SAFE, AND I WAS FORCED TO RETURN HOME. I MADE THE DECISION THEN
THAT I WOULD NEVER ATTEMPT AGAINST MY LIFE AGAIN. AND IF I MANAGED TO STAY
UNDER THE RADAR, I WOULD SURVIVE UNTIL I WAS 18. HOWEVER, LIFE HAD
OTHER PLANS FOR ME. THREE DAYS SHORT OF MY 17TH
BIRTHDAY, I RAN AWAY FROM HOME. AND I HAD TO DROP OUT
OF SCHOOL TO AVOID BEING FOUND. IN MY MIND, I NEEDED TIME. AND I ASSURED MYSELF THAT
AS SOON AS ENOUGH TIME HAD PASSED, I WOULD RETURN TO
SCHOOL AND GRADUATE, GO TO COLLEGE, BUT LIFE WOULD
CONTINUE TO SURPRISE ME. AND AT THE END OF THAT
YEAR, I BECAME PREGNANT, MY BOYFRIEND, NOW HUSBAND,
WAS VERY SUPPORTIVE, BUT BEING TEENAGE
PARENTS IS HARD. WE HAD OUR SECOND DAUGHTER
WHEN I WAS 21, AND WE WENT THROUGH A LOT OF
DIFFICULT TIMES. GOING BACK TO SCHOOL WAS
NOW MORE THAN A DELAY. IT WAS AN UNCERTAINTY. I DIDN’T THINK I WOULD
EVER RECEIVE MY HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA, LET
ALONE COMPLETE A DEGREE. STILL THROUGH THAT
UNCERTAINTY I FOCUSED ON THE GOOD THINGS
OF MY LIFE. I HAD MY DAUGHTERS, THE
SUPPORT OF MY HUSBAND, AND THAT TOOK PRECEDENCE
OVER ANYTHING ELSE. I WAS ALSO VERY BLESSED
IN MY FIELD OF WORK. THROUGH HARD WORK AND
DETERMINATION I WAS ABLE TO ADVANCE QUICKLY. AND WHEN I REACHED A
PEAK WITH AN EMPLOYER, I WOULDN’T FIND A NEW ONE
AND START THE CLIMB ALL OVER AGAIN. SO FOR A WHILE THAT WORKED
FOR ME; WORKING, BEING A MOTHER, AND A WIFE. FAST FORWARD TO 2014,
I FOUND MYSELF IN AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT
PLACE IN MY CAREER, NOT DIFFICULT IN THE SENSE OF
DAY-TO-DAY WORKLOAD OR JOB DEMANDS, BUT DIFFICULT
IN THE SENSE THAT I FOUND MYSELF GOING HOME EVERY
NIGHT QUESTIONING MY MORALS, MY VALUES, MY
ETHICS, MY INTEGRITY. IN MAY OF THAT YEAR, AT
THE END OF MY ROPE AND FEELING INCREDIBLY
DISILLUSIONED WITH MY FIELD OF WORK, I DECIDED
THAT I NEEDED TO MAKE A CHANGE IN MY LIFE. WITH THE SUPPORT OF MY
HUSBAND AND MY DAUGHTERS AND AT THE AGE OF 32, I STARTED
MY JOURNEY BACK TO SCHOOL. RIO ALLOWED ME TO SEE
MY DREAM OF GRADUATING FINALLY COME TRUE. I OBTAINED MY GED AT RIO. AND, TODAY, I RECEIVE
MY ASSOCIATES. AND ALTHOUGH THIS IS ONE
OF MY STEPPINGSTONES, I AM ONE-THIRD OF THE WAY
CLOSER TO COMPLETING MY EDUCATIONAL GOALS. RIO GAVE ME BACK THAT LINK
I HAD BEEN MISSING IN MY LIFE FOR SO MANY
YEARS, EDUCATION. I WAS ABLE TO WORK. I WAS ABLE TO RAISE MY FAMILY
AND STILL OBTAIN MY DEGREE. IT ALSO GAVE ME A NEW
FAMILY OF GENUINE, WONDERFUL PEOPLE
THAT I MET THROUGH MY ASSOCIATIONS WITH
THE PTK AND THE NSLS. RIO WILL FOREVER HOLD A
SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART, BECAUSE THEY ALLOWED ME TO
REACH A GOAL THAT I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD
REACH ON MY OWN. WHEN I STARTED THIS
JOURNEY, I SOUGHT SOME COMMON GROUND WITH MY PAST
AND SEEKING PERHAPS SOME FORM OF ACCEPTANCE, I TRIED TO
INVOLVE IT WITH MY FUTURE. YOU SEE, SOMETIMES WE LOOK
FOR THAT ACCEPTANCE AND WE WANT IT SO BAD FROM THAT
ONE PERSON WHO JUST WON’T GIVE IT TO YOU AND
THAT’S WHERE WE GO WRONG. THE ONLY PERSON WHO
POSSESSES SUCH POWER TO DEFINE YOU OR VALIDATE
YOU IS YOURSELF. THIS IS YOUR RACE
AND YOUR RACE ONLY. YOU WILL FINISH FIRST,
SECOND, LAST ONLY TO YOURSELF. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH
THOSE WHO SEEK GREATNESS WITHIN YOU, EVEN WHEN YOU
STRUGGLE TO SEE IT ON YOUR OWN. LEARN TO EVADE THE PEOPLE
THAT WEIGH YOU DOWN, THAT CAN’T SEEM TO REJOICE IN
YOUR SUCCESS, THE ONES THAT CONSTANTLY TRY TO
DIMINISH YOUR BRIGHTNESS WITH THE DULLNESS OF
THEIR OWN LIVES. TO THOSE PEOPLE,
YOU SAY STEP ASIDE. BECAUSE IN THE WORDS OF
JOEL OSTEEN, “I CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO FLY WITH THE
EAGLES WHEN I SPEND MY DAYS WITH THE CROWS.” SO,
GRADUATES, THE TIME IS NOW. TODAY, AS I STAND HERE
ONE DAY AFTER MY 35TH BIRTHDAY, RECEIVING MY
ASSOCIATES, I TELL YOU, WE ARE SO NOT DONE. WE HAVE SO MUCH
MORE WORK TO DO. WE REJOICE TONIGHT,
BECAUSE WE HAVE SUCCEEDED, BUT WE MAINTAIN OUR FOCUS,
BECAUSE THIS WORLD STILL NEEDS MORE OF US. IT NEEDS OUR EXCELLENCE,
OUR GREATNESS, OUR LOVE. WE WEREN’T PLACED ON
THIS EARTH TO BE AVERAGE. WE WERE PLACED ON THIS
EARTH TO BE AMAZING, TO DO GREAT THINGS, TO HELP
OTHERS, TO DO THE BEST. THE DOORS TO YOUR FUTURE
CAN BE HIDDEN IN MANY FORMS. BE VIGILANT. BECAUSE IF YOU’RE NOT,
YOU MIGHT MISS THEM. I’D LIKE TO LEAVE YOU WITH
PART OF A QUOTE THAT IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN ON
MOTHER TERESA’S WALL, “PEOPLE ARE OFTEN
UNREASONABLE, ILLOGICAL, SELF-CENTERED,
FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY. IF YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL,
YOU WILL WIN SOME FALSE FRIENDS AND SOME
TRUE ENEMIES. SUCCEED ANYWAYS. THE GOOD YOU DO TODAY, PEOPLE
WILL OFTEN FORGET TOMORROW. DO GOOD ANYWAYS. YOU SEE IN THE FINAL
ANALYSIS IT IS BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR GOD. IT WAS NEVER BETWEEN
YOU AND THEM ANYWAYS.” CONGRATULATIONS,
GRADUATES. THANK YOU. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) THANK YOU, GLORIA. THANK YOU FOR
SHARING YOUR STORY. AND TO COMMEMORATE THIS
EVENING FOR GLORIA AND THANKING HER FOR SHARING
HER STORY, WE HAVE A SMALL TOKEN OF OUR
APPRECIATION FOR YOU. IT SAYS RIO SALADO COLLEGE
CONGRATULATES GLORIA MENDOZA, COMMENCEMENT
STUDENT SPEAKER MAY 3RD, 2017. CONGRATULATIONS AND
THANK YOU AGAIN. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) GRADUATES, YOU WOULD NOT
BE HERE TONIGHT WITHOUT THE DEDICATED EFFORTS OF
THE RIO SALADO COLLEGE FACULTY MEMBERS. HERE TO CONFIRM THAT OUR
GRADUATES HAVE MET ALL OF THE NECESSARY CRITERIA
AND ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THEIR AWARDS IS DR. ANGELA
FELIX, PRESIDENT OF THE FACULTY SENATE AND FACULTY
CHAIR OF LANGUAGES, PLEASE HELP ME WELCOME DR.
FELIX TO THE PODIUM. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) RIO GRADS, IT’S
ALMOST TIME. CAN YOU FEEL
THE EXCITEMENT? OKAY. I HAVE TO DO SOME
SERIOUS BUSINESS HERE. ALL RIGHT. THE ASSOCIATE DEGREE IS
CONFERRED BY COMMUNITY COLLEGES UPON SUCCESSFUL
COMPLETION OF 60 OR MORE CREDITS OF COLLEGE WORK. CERTIFICATES OF
COMPLETION, ACADEMIC CERTIFICATES, AND
RECOGNITIONS OF ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT ARE
GRANTED TO STUDENTS WHO SATISFACTORILY COMPLETE
A SPECIFIED AND ORGANIZED PROGRAM OF STUDY. DR. BUSTAMANTE, IT IS MY
HONOR TO CONFIRM THAT THE CANDIDATES BEFORE YOU HAVE
COMPLETED ALL REQUIREMENTS AND TO RECOMMEND THAT THEY
BE GRANTED THE ASSOCIATE DEGREE, CERTIFICATE OF
COMPLETION, ACADEMIC CERTIFICATE, OR
RECOGNITION OF ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR POST
BACHELORETTE TEACHER EDUCATION. CONGRATULATIONS,
GRADUATES. THIS NIGHT IS FOR YOU. THANK YOU, DR. FELIX. I APPRECIATE THE
DEDICATION OF ALL OF OUR FACULTY MEMBERS AND
THEIR IMPORTANT ROLE IN PREPARING OUR GRADUATES. AND NOW THE MOMENT THAT
YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR HAS FINALLY ARRIVED. IT’S TIME TO AWARD
ASSOCIATE DEGREES AND CERTIFICATES OF COMPLETION
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE CLASS OF 2017. TWO MEMBERS OF RIOS
DIVISION OF PUBLIC SERVICE WILL ANNOUNCE THE
NAMES OF THE GRADUATES. BILL SHEDD, OUR MASTER OF
CEREMONIES THIS EVENING AND THE ASSOCIATE GENERAL
MANAGER FOR LOCAL FM RADIO STATIONS KJZZ AND KBAQ. AND ALSO BLAISE LANTANA
THE JAZZ DIRECTOR AND EVENING ON-AIR
ANNOUNCER ALSO AT KJZZ. THEY’RE PART OF THE RIO
SALADO COLLEGE AND THE MARICOPA COMMUNITY
COLLEGE DISTRICT FAMILY. AT THIS TIME, I WOULD LIKE
TO INVITE A FEW OF OUR ESTEEMED GUESTS AND
COLLEAGUES ON STAGE TO PLEASE JOIN ME IN
CONGRATULATING OUR GRADUATES. THANK YOU. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
BEFORE WE ANNOUNCE THE NAMES OF THE GRADUATES. WE WOULD LIKE TO REMIND
YOU THAT A REPRESENTATIVE FROM GRADIMAGES WILL TAKE
EVERY GRADUATES PHOTO AS DEGREES ARE AWARDED. YOU MAY ALSO PLACE AN
ORDER FOR PURCHASE OF THE DVD OF THE CEREMONY
AFTER THE EVENT. THE CANDIDATES WILL RISE
ONE ROW AT A TIME AND COME FORWARD AS DISTRICTED
BY THE MARSHALS. IN ADDITION, THE GRADUATES
WILL BE ACKNOWLEDGED FOR THEIR HIGHEST DEGREE
OR CERTIFICATE. A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF
THE DEGREES AWARDED CAN BE FOUND IN THE
PRINTED PROGRAM. SO LET’S FIRST BEGIN
WITH YOUR STUDENT SPEAKER GLORIA MENDOZA. CONGRATULATIONS,
GRADUATES. LET’S GIVE THEM A GREAT
ROUND OF APPLAUSE. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) I’M SO PROUD OF YOU. (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) ON RECOMMENDATION OF THE
FACULTY AND BY VIRTUE OF THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN ME
BY THE GOVERNING BOARD OF THE MARICOPA COMMUNITY
COLLEGE DISTRICT, I CONFER THE ASSOCIATE’S DEGREES,
THE CERTIFICATES OF COMPLETION, AND THE
RECOGNITIONS OF ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS, WHICH YOU
HAVE RECEIVED, AS A SYMBOL OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS. I NOW AUTHORIZE YOU TO
WEAR THE TASSEL ON THE LEFT SIDE OF YOUR CAP. GO AHEAD AND DO THAT. CONGRATULATIONS! (AUDIENCE APPLAUDING.) AND NOW TO THE RIO SALADO
COLLEGE CLASS OF 2017, LET ME EMPHASIZE THAT YOU HAVE
GONE FROM BEING STUDENTS TO GRADUATES TO ALUMNI. AS ALUMNI, PLEASE CONSIDER
YOURSELVES PART OF THE RIO FAMILY AND STAY
IN TOUCH WITH US. WE’RE VERY PROUD OF YOU
AND LOOK FORWARD TO ALL OF YOUR FUTURE SUCCESSES. WILL EVERYONE PLEASE
RISE FOR THE RECESSIONAL. WE ASK THAT ALL AUDIENCE
MEMBERS REMAIN STANDING AT THEIR SEATS UNTIL ALL THE
GRADUATES HAVE LEFT THE ROOM. WE ALSO INVITE YOU TO MEET
YOUR GRADUATE OUTSIDE OF THE THEATER ACROSS THE
STREET IN THE SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR COURTHOUSE PLAZA TO
CONTINUE THIS CELEBRATION. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. AND, ONCE AGAIN,
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GRADUATES AND
THEIR FAMILIES. GOOD NIGHT AND
HAVE A SAFE TRIP HOME.

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