Spring Commencement Ceremony: Over three thousand students earn credentials

Glendale Community College’s 48th-annual commencement ceremony takes place at 7:00 p.m., Friday, May 10 at Grand Canyon University Arena, 3300 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix.

GCC President Irene Kovala will preside over the ceremony, introducing dignitaries, exceptional students, and the Class of 2013.

Over 3,000 students will be receiving degrees and certificates.

Speakers include Robert Moreno, Vice President of the GCC Associated Student Government; Lillia Mrza, President of the GCC Associated Student Government; and Hannes Kvaran, Social Science department chair.

Among the notable students in this cohort are:

Ruby_DacuanRuby Dacuan
Associate of Applied Science, Nursing

Ruby moved to Arizona from the Philippines in 2007, and started at GCC in 2008, prompted by the international program and the strong reputation of the college’s nursing program. She graduated December 2012.

The challenging nursing program helped her learn how to prioritize, to focus her energy, to be patient and to work hard:  in short, to become the person she is today.

In April, she’ll be starting her RN to BSN at Grand Canyon University. After she gains work experience, she plans to get a master’s degree so she can teach nursing students while she is doing clinical work.

Ruby believes in hard work and the right of everyone to be educated. “It’s important to mold our skills into something that will help us become self-sufficient individuals ready to take on the world, no matter how hard it is,” she said.

After getting her RN license, while trying to figure out what’s next, she discovered the words of Thomas Edison, “If we did all things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” She challenges herself every day to find things that will astound her.


Kelli_FosterKelli Foster
Associate of Applied Science, Administration of Justice

While in high school, Kelli wasn’t sure she would be able to attend college because of the cost. But a program called Vocational Rehabilitation helped make it possible for her to attend GCC; she started four years ago.

She’s studying criminal justice and currently working on her Bachelor’s degree, which she hopes to finish by 2015.

“I would like to encourage everyone who has a hard time with school to just keep trying, because when you finally get there it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” said Kelli, who reflected that life throws everyone curveballs. She mentions only in passing that she copes with a curveball of her own:  a neurological shaking disorder called Dystonia, a form of Parkinson’s disease.

“As long as you keep pushing through, everything will work itself out,” she said. She continues to push through herself, and is now debating on whether to pursue cyber crime or crime analysis. “I would like to do cyber crime because I want to be able to help protect people from identity thieves,” she said. “And crime analysis just sounds interesting.”


Patricia_MartarellaPatricia Martarella
Associate of Applied Science

Six years after graduating from high school in Indiana, Patricia moved to Arizona and enrolled at GCC in fall 2010. “I was hoping for something that would foster my educational goals on a less intimidating scale than a university,” she said. “Also, it helped me avoid diving into student loans and debt before I’d even figured out what I wanted to do,” she added.

While at GCC, Patricia participated in the Honors Ambassador program and in Phi Theta Kappa. She earned two scholarships, including the Bowyer Memorial Scholarship, the John C. Lincoln Scholarship and the All-USA Academic Scholarship, which will fund tuition at any Arizona university for the next two years.

“The programs, services, fellowship and promotion of scholarly academics that permeated the GCC environment far exceeded my expectations and made all the difference,” said Patricia.

After transferring to ASU, she will major in anthropology and biological sciences, emphasizing animal biology and physiology and preparing the way for advanced studies in neurobiology. She aims to complete a Ph.D. in neuroscience and a B.S. in anthropology, and eventually work in the field of neuroprosthetics and brain imaging.


Cathy_MartinCathy Martin, Nursing
Associate of Applied Science, Nursing (GCC) and Bachelor of Science, Nursing (NAU)

Cathy started the nursing program in fall 2011, when the first Maricopa/Northern Arizona University concurrent-enrollment nursing program was being offered at GCC.

“I had heard that GCC had a good nursing program, but it has far exceeded my expectations,” said Cathy. She credited many people at GCC who have contributed to her success, from the caring advisor who introduced her to scholarships and applauded and encouraged her along the way, to instructors who demonstrated passion in their teaching, helped with the challenges of her rigorous nursing schedule and encouraged excellence.

She also appreciates her nursing peers, who she says helped keep her sane throughout an immensely challenging, yet rewarding, time of personal and professional growth.

After gaining experience as a nurse, Cathy plans to pursue a Master’s degree. She would love to return eventually to GCC as an instructor. She also looks forward to opportunities to give back, someday volunteering her nursing skills in disaster-relief situations and/or in poverty-stricken areas.

Robert_MorenoRobert Moreno
Associate degree, certificate of communication competence in the workplace

Robert grew up in Glendale and attended Glendale High School. He’s following through on a promise to his parents and to himself:  He would be the first in his family to graduate college.

He’s kept the bar high, and has accomplished more than he had ever expected, especially since he was initially concerned about a speech impediment.

When he first arrived at GCC, he was shy and tended to keep everything to himself.

Gradually, however, his confidence grew and he blossomed, developing his identity and leadership skills in Phi Theta Kappa and Associated Student Government. He received both the “40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40” scholarship and the All-USA Academic Scholarship, which provides two years of tuition at any Arizona university.

“At GCC, every student is welcome,” said Robert, who found both acceptance and a new sense of direction on the first leg of his college journey. “Success isn’t easy; it takes hard work and determination, and there may be struggles,” he said. “But anything is possible.”

He plans to attend Northern Arizona University and eventually become a college teacher, helping others as others have helped him.


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