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May 072014
 

Northland Pioneer College celebrates its 40th Commencement on Saturday, May 10, at the Show Low School District Auditorium, 500 W. Old Linden Road. Admission to the ceremony, which begins at 1 p.m., is restricted to individuals with reserved seat tickets. Doors to the auditorium open at 12 noon.
This year, 640 students have applied for associate degrees, certificates of applied science and certificates of proficiency.
Welcoming guests to the ceremony in the predominate languages within the NPC district will be Hootsiwma Honyumptewa, Hopi; Kevin Puckett, Spanish; Rachael Antonio, Apache; Tanibah Nez, Navajo; and Edward Bernier, English.
Bill Jeffers, a member of the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board from May 1997 to December 2012, is the guest speaker for this year’s ceremony.
Five outstanding graduates will also be addressing their peers during the ceremony. Rachael Murphy of Show Low is the top Associate of Arts graduate. Jessie Wann of Lakeside will represent the Associate of Business recipients. Kevin Puckett of Pinedale is the top Associate of Science graduate. Emily Evans of Taylor will represent the Associate of General Studies students. Eric Anderson of Show Low is the top Associate of Applied Science graduate.
Rachael Murphy
“The physical exhaustion that I felt while attending classes was overwhelming, but I knew that in the end it would be worth it,” said Rachael Murphy.
Murphy, who is a mother of two sons, a local volunteer, marathon runner and this year’s outstanding graduate for the Associate of Arts degree, has plenty of reasons for being physically exhausted. Reasons aside, Murphy has been able to overcome many obstacles to pursue her dream of obtaining a degree.
Recipient of the All-Arizona Academic Team Scholarship and member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Murphy has been able to maintain a 4.0 grade point average and be on the President’s List for four years running. Obtaining a degree as a young mother can be difficult, but Murphy chose NPC because it was close, affordable and convenient.
Murphy plans to continue to pursue her education by obtaining a BA in English Literature and eventually pursuing her master’s degree. She credits NPC in helping her decide on English Literature for her major in the future. She noted that the Humanities classes on Literature have “not only taught me so much more historically, but have also helped me gain a deeper understanding of myself and the people that surround me.”
She thanks her husband, mother-in-law and brother-in-law for their sacrifice and support to help her reach her goals. What has been most inspiring for Murphy is her kids. “My sons have helped motivate me to be the best that I can be…I want to show them by example that they are capable human beings and that if they set goals, they can accomplish them if they work hard and diligently,” she said.
Jessie Wann
In 2005 after seeing the cancer that struck her father go into recession, Jessie Wann and her father decided it was time for a vacation. The father-daughter duo went on to see over 200 bands in one summer. It was during that time Wann found her passion for music and set her sights on her dream, to land a job in the music industry.
Not professing to be a musician, Wann wanted to be involved with music, but more behind the scenes. Specifically, Wann aspires to become an artist relations representative, a job that blends her love of music, but also includes the world of business in the music industry. Seeing the need for a degree, Wann pursued an Associate of Business (ABus) degree at NPC and is now a 2014 outstanding graduate.
She acknowledges the challenges and hard work needed to obtain her degree. “Not only was I taking care of my dad and my uncle, but I was going to school fulltime, and working fulltime, too,” said Wann. “It was hard, but it was worth it.” Deciding it is good to have a Plan B, she will also be going for certification as a pharmacy tech at NPC and will then continue on getting a Bachelor of Business degree at Northern Arizona University.
Wann credits her dad as being the biggest inspiration in helping her achieve what she has been able to do.
“My dad would always tell me, ‘Work hard and you’ll see beautiful places. Get through school, do what you love, and that’ll make you happy.’ When he would say things like that I was always inspired to keep working hard to get through school,” she said.
Kevin Puckett
Kevin Puckett knew that being homeschooled and starting college with a GED was different. Noticing the differences between the two learning environments, he was hesitant at first, but has worked through the obstacles of obtaining a degree and is now the 2014 outstanding graduate with an Associate of Science (AS) degree.
“The fact that college challenged me to go further and higher than before has given me a great sense of accomplishment,” explained Puckett. “Seeing how far I’ve come has been very enjoyable.”
He acknowledges the study workload and deadlines as factors that have stretched him to become a more organized and determined person.
He chose to specialize in science and math at NPC, and chose NPC to stay local and to help with the family business of surveying. Now entering the workforce as an apprentice surveyor, Puckett is determined to put his degree and knowledge to work. He also had an opportunity to receive additional specialization as he obtained a certificate in Computer Information Systems.
While math and science courses played a critical role in his learning experience, Puckett was heavily influenced by a different area of study, English. He explains that the lessons he learned in those classes will have lifelong positive effects. “My English courses were different in that they helped train me to think critically,” he said. “They helped me understand how to approach problems and help me to really do anything or learn anything. I find this to be a great benefit in my life.”
In addition to thanking his family, Puckett thanks many of the professors and faculty at NPC who have helped him graduate with honors this year.
Emily Evans
Emily Evans wants to design and perfect prosthetic hands. This goal doesn’t come from a whim or a fascination; Evans wants to learn everything she can about hands so that she can potentially design one for her mother.
Suffering from “lumps” that occasionally appear on her hands, Evans’ mother has been lucky that all concerns have been benign. However, it’s the thought that her mother could potentially lose a hand all together that has driven Evans to make this her choice of study. While Evans’ mother still has both hands, it’s the peace of mind that an expertly engineered hand can be available to her mother that drives Evans to study.
“I want my mom to be able to continue doing what she loves doing…that’s what inspired me to make prosthetics. That’s why I’m going to school,” she said.
Evans, the 2014 Outstanding Graduate with an Associate in General Studies (AGS) degree, has always shown a passion for obtaining an education. “Growing up, I loved school, I loved reading, I just loved learning,” she said. Attending college courses during high school and taking part in the dual enrollment program offered by NPC, Evans obtained her associate’s degree at the same time she graduated from high school. She used her degree to give her a head start at the University of Arizona, where she has been attending since January.
Majoring in Biomedical Engineering, she also has a minor in Spanish and Italian. She hopes to use her studies to travel abroad, and also make and improve prosthetic limbs for veterans.
While being grateful to her parents for their help and support, Evans also credits her nephews, who have inspired her to keep pursuing her goals.
“I want to be the absolute best example I can be to them,” she said. “I want to show them you can work hard and pursue what you really care about.”
Eric Anderson
Obtaining a degree is hard work, and students can find themselves exemplifying persistence and diligence in ways that they hadn’t done before. Eric Anderson, the 2014 Outstanding Graduate with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree, is no exception. Now 20 years after he first started taking classes in 1994, Anderson has been able to complete all courses and finally receive his degree.
“One of the things I have always regretted was not finishing what I had started,” he explained. “I would think, how could I tell my kids to finish something small, when I was a glaring example who didn’t really finish anything myself?”

Emily Evans

Emily Evans

Rachael Murphy

Rachael Murphy

Kevin Puckett

Kevin Puckett

Jessie Wann

Jessie Wann

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson

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