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May 2013 Highlights at a Glance


Congratulations to the Class of 2013

This semester’s student commencement speaker is Stephanie Rivas, who had early beginnings at Arizona Western College. She started at AWC in the original Child Development Learning Lab at age five as the daughter of Joe Rivas, who has worked on the college’s Grounds and Maintenance team at the college for 23 years, and Lorena Rivas, who worked for 10 years in the Financial Aid department.

Stephanie will graduate AWC with an Associate of General Sciences degree. Her commencement speech will focus on how AWC has become a second home to graduates who must depart from what is comfortable as they pursue higher education and careers.

After leaving the CDLL at AWC, Stephanie attended Otondo and Gwyenth Ham elementary schools, Gila Vista Junior High, and Kofa High. Then she returned to AWC as a student in the summer of 2011. This summer she will participate in an NAU internship for environmental science majors. In the fall, she will pursue a Bachelor of Chemistry with emphasis in Forensics at NAU in Flagstaff. “I’d really like to work in any police department crime lab, or for the FBI,” she says.

Meanwhile, “I see my dad on campus all the time,” she says. “I still live at my parents’ house, but in the mornings I don’t get to see him. Then as soon as I get to school, we run into each other and talk for a while. He’s a really happy person, and he gives me a little bit of relief so I don’t have to worry about school. I talk to him about whatever’s going on.”

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La Coescha Honors Outstanding Grads 

A local family with 11 children who are all AWC graduates were honored at the college’s Annual La Cosecha Outstanding Graduates Banquet at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 16,  in the 3C Schoening Conference Center on Main Campus.

“At La Cosecha we recognize a family who has nurtured and fostered education in their household and community,” says Angelica Diaz de Leon, counselor at AWC. “This year’s La Familia Award is to the Rouff family with 11 children who all have attended AWC. Christine is the youngest and will be graduating this May.” George Rouff is a retired local attorney, Barbara Rouff teaches at St. Frances School, and most of their children have become practicing professionals in the community, which demonstrates the purpose of La Cosecha.
Twenty-three scholarships were awarded at the banquet, and the donors--most of whom are AWC graduates--were thanked as many have been contributing for many years. One such AWC graduate/donor is Yuma attorney Candy Camarena, who started and has paid for the banquet part of the event for the past 14 years with the intent of providing graduates with an experience they will encounter in their professional lives. The keynote speaker will be Susanna Zambrano, a former AWC graduate and now Coordinator of Advisement and Student Services at South Yuma County AWC Center.

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Alumni Association Begins

 Dave Godley, Alumni Association President

In observance of Arizona Western College’s 50th Anniversary, the AWC Foundation is sponsoring the newly-formed AWC Alumni Association to provide scholarships and help connect students to the workplace. David Godley, Professor Emeritus at AWC, has been named president of the Association.

“The forming of an alumni association after 50 years is well overdue and well needed, and I couldn’t be any more surprised or more proud to serve as first president of the Association,“ he says. “To me it’s quite an honor. I’ve spent nearly 43 years at Arizona Western College or NAU as a student and faculty member.” The Association is still going through the formation stages such as adopting by-laws and recruiting formal members, but with the support of the AWC Foundation will award ten scholarships this year for the following fall semester.

According to Godley, the goal of the Association is to encourage former students to give back in the form of inspiration and assistance to current and prospective students as well as to keep former students apprised of current AWC happenings. Over the next several years, he would also like to see the Association establish and maintain a Hall of Fame that recognizes the accomplishments of former AWC students who are scholars or professional athletes “who are making a difference on the world on a stellar scale,” and who are assisting current students as they were assisted while attending AWC.

Godley, who still teaches at AWC and NAU as an adjunct faculty member, brings a wealth of experience to the table. He served on nearly every committee at AWC over the years as well as on the State-Wide Articulation Task Force. He served as the Sam Walton Fellow (faculty advisor) for SIFE, academic advisor for the Business and Liberal Arts Division and first Senate Faculty President for two terms.

As the first-ever AWC Alumni Association President, he will serve on the AWC Foundation Board of Directors. Christina Hawkey, Executive Director of the Foundation, says: "I have worked closely with David at AWC since 1999. I know he will do an incredible job as the AWC Alumni President. He has a great love for AWC."

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First Team All Arizona Announced

Elizabeth Vargas

Elizabeth Vargas and Joselinne Mora were both honored recently at a luncheon in Tempe as members of the elite All-Arizona Team, as announced by the national office of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of 2-year colleges. They both earned first team honors, which includes a $1,000 scholarship to an Arizona university.

Vargas has also been named a 2013 Coca-Cola Academic Team Silver Scholar and will receive a $1,250 scholarship. Melissa Behunin, Interim Honors Director at AWC, says: “Elizabeth and Joselinne are both stellar Honors students who represent AWC well. Their passion for education and dedication to their academics is reflected in earning these awards.”

Vargas is a Studio Arts major who participates in community events such as Relay for Life and AWC Family Night. As the art director at the Generation Y Diversity Youth Center in Yuma, she is currently working on mural project. She has served as event coordinator of the Sustainability Fair at AWC for the past two years, and she organizes music and art shows for young people in the surrounding areas.


Joselinne Mora

Mora, vice president of Scholarships for the AWC Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, is a sophomore majoring in Business. As a member of the Student Government Association, CAMPSA and other clubs and programs, her community service includes food drives, fundraisers and alcohol awareness.At the Tempe luncheon, Vargas and Moro were accompanied by family members and AWC administration.


Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society is the largest honor society in American higher education with chapters in two-year and community college campuses in all 50 of the United States as well as other countries More than 2.5 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 135,000 students inducted annually.

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 Nurses Week Celebrated


Breon Henderson

“Since I was three, I wanted to be the one that told people, ‘PUSH! PUSH it out!” says Breon Henderson, former AWC student and current Associate Professor of Nursing. She views a nurse as a strong-willed caretaker, teacher, clown, a shoulder to cry on and an uplifter. With such a tall order, it’s no wonder National Nurses Week is celebrated annually from May 6 through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

While attending Cibola High School, Henderson began her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. She shadowed a friend who was a labor and delivery nurse at Yuma Regional Medical Center. Then she dual enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant program at AWC and graduated in 2003. She worked as a resident assistant at Emerald Springs Assisted Living and Retirement Community, and then transferred to Labor and Delivery at YRMC. She earned her LPN Certificate in 2006, her RN/A.A.S. in 2007 and her BSN from the University of Phoenix in 2010. She continues to work in labor and delivery at YRMC and is a breast feeding counselor. She aspires to be a nurse educator and family nurse practitioner. She became a clinical faculty for AWC in Fall 2012. “What I learn, I want to pass it on to the students,” she says.

There are many local opportunities for careers in nursing. AWC’s 2012 job placement is 77 percent, and the AWC Nursing Program needs more adjunct faculty to help meet the increasing demand, says Mary Rhona Francoeur, Professor/Director of Nursing at AWC. “We need clinical associates. Usually these are full-time nurses in the community who provide clinical teaching for our students at YRMC in most cases.” Clinical rotations are in nursing homes and a variety of community settings. There is a minimum requirement of an RN BSN, but an MSN is preferred because program accreditation requires a certain percentage of MSN faculty. “Our program is nationally accredited, which ensures a higher standard of quality in the program, and ensures transferability to higher levels of education, Francoeur says. “Also, there is a trend with certain employers who only hire nurses who have graduated from a nationally accredited program.”

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Lebsock Recognized at National Conference

Larry Lebsock, Director of Early College Experience at AWC, has been selected by the National SkillsUSA Board of Directors to receive SkillsUSA’s highest honor, the National Honorary Life Membership. This honor is in recognition of his dedicated service to the organization and the students it serves.

He will be introduced at the Opening Ceremony of the SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, and will also recognized at a reception later that evening.


Larry Lebsock

Lebsock grew up in Yuma, graduated from Kofa High School, and was a member of the first class of welding students to graduate from AWC. He graduated from AWC in1969 with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Welding Technology. He later earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Trade and Industrial Education, and then a Master of Education degree at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff .

During his 30-year teaching career, he taught Welding, Electronics, Technical Math and TV Production and served as a SkillsUSA advisor at the high school level. As a first year teacher at Kofa, he became the Welding Section Advisor. In 1976, he assisted with the first Arizona Region 1 Competition at Kofa and has remained involved with the event for the past 38 years, 28 of which have been hosted at AWC. In 2007, he was hired as the Tech Prep Director at AWC, and later assumed his current position.

He has served multiple times on the Arizona SkillsUSA Board of Directors, including as President and Treasurer. For the past eight years he has served as a member of the SkillsUSA National Education Team.

He is most proud of the accomplishments of his former students, which include welding instructors, engineers, broadcasters and two City of Yuma Fire Department captains who began their firefighting careers as members of a cooperative education program he developed while employed at Cibola High School.

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New Programs Offered This Fall

AWC has partnered with University of Connecticut (UCONN) to offer a new Family Development Credential (FDC) in fall 2013. The credential begins in August 2013 and will run through December 2013. The 11-credit class will be held on Mondays from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on AWC’s main campus. Upon successful completion of the credential, students will receive AWC and UCONN certificates.

The FDC courses are currently available on the AWC Schedule of Classes at All three courses (FAS 206, 207 and 208) can be viewed by moving the “View by Subject” drop box to “FAS Family Studies.”

Also, a new Associate of Arts Degree in Exercise and Wellness is being offered at Arizona Western college and is designed for students interested in careers in Personal Training, Physical Therapy, Athletic Training, or corporate wellness programs.

“With healthcare and the obesity rate concerns, this is an expanding field with exponential opportunities for employment,” says Jane Peabody, Coordinator of Physical and Wellness Education at AWC.

Classes will begin in the fall. Potential students can find the checklist for this program online at, and/or meet with an AWC advisor.

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