Anniversary

Profiles of Success

For 25 years, thousands of students, employees, and West Valley community and business members have built a legacy of success at Estrella Mountain Community College. Here we feature a compendium of their inspiring stories and Q&A reflections, shared to celebrate EMCC's 25th anniversary. Check back here throughout 2017 to see updated and new feature stories and Q&A reflections from current students, alumni, past and present employees, and more, on the impact EMCC has had in helping them achieve their dreams and transform their lives and the communities EMCC serves.

All Profiles of Success

  • Monica Gomez-Lopez

    Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) alumna Monica Gomez-Lopez always believed that good health was more important than money, but money became the obstacle in pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor.

    Her educational pathway as an undocumented immigrant presented many challenges, but with the positive influence from EMCC mentors and staff, and various scholarship opportunities, her dream is now coming true. Today, Lopez is a medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix (UA COM-P), as part of their Pathways Scholars Program, and expects to graduate...

  • Memo Espinoza

    Teaching and learning is at the heart of all that Assistant Police Chief Cuauhtémoc “Memo” Espinoza has a passion for. From starting as a young student at Estrella Mountain Community College in 1993, to joining the Marine Corps and ultimately becoming Lieutenant at the Avondale Police Department, Espinoza has continued his education and his passion for teaching others.

    Espinoza earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration from Grand Canyon University and a Master of Business Administration from University of Phoenix. He has completed training in several areas...

  • Justin Decknick

    EMCC alumnus Justin Decknick is currently the vice president of Sales and Branding at Truly360, the largest Google Trusted Agency worldwide. It was the 2008 recession that helped him come to the decision to pursue a new educational opportunity. “I found myself needed an extra set of skills to be competitive and attractive in the marketplace,” he said.

    While Glendale Community College was a bit closer in location for Decknick, he wanted to see what Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) had to offer. During that initial visit, he found a time-saving route that made the...

  • Jose Garcia

    Jose Garcia believes that everything happens for a reason. After he graduated from high school in Gila Bend, Arizona, he planned to attend Arizona State University (ASU) and enroll in their architecture program. As he went to submit his application, there was a blackout that took place, rendering the process undoable. “I am a religious person,” said the Roman Catholic Garcia, “and I think this was God’s way of letting me know that it wasn’t the right time for me.” He ended up at Phoenix College, trying out an architectural drafting course to become introduced to the industry and realized...

  • Jake Ormond

    Current EMCC student Jake Ormond is a 2017 recipient of the All-Arizona Academic Team scholarship. As a hard-working scholar, he has long been following a path to success while also striking balance between school, work and life. In addition to his studies, Ormond works on campus as the administrative assistant to the dean of students. His perseverance has paid off. Scheduled to graduate in May 2017 with his associate degree in business, he will utilize his new scholarship to attend Arizona State University next fall to study public service and public policy.

    Ormond has always seen...

  • Harold Branch

    Harold Branch attributes EMCC as his initial source of inspiration for getting into the communications field. Graduating nearly 20 years ago, Branch went through hard times as a young man. He grew up facing some challenging family situations and became a high school dropout. He came to EMCC through an opportunity to attend the college’s Genesis West program, that allowed students who had dropped out to simultaneously earn a high school diploma while pursuing a college degree. The goal of the program, he said, was “to put students in an environment that would be more conducive to learning...

  • Ginny Boyle

    Virginia Boyle, known as Ginny, is a current Estrella Mountain Community College student and the 2017 recipient of the All-USA Academic Team scholarship for the college. Her hard work earned her that prestigious award, as well as many other honors, like being a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member. In addition to her public administration studies, it is her many collegiate and community activities that have help shaped the path of this Ohio native.

    Boyle served as a liaison for the Hattie Larlham Foundation in connection with Cleveland Indians Charities and its outreach autism...

  • Cheryl Todd

    EMCC alumna Cheryl Todd believes that building a strong and dynamic business community helps to strengthen residential communities, and vice-versa. Her perspective comes from years of hands-on experience. For more than three decades, Todd and her husband of 32 years, Danny, have owned multiple “mom and pop sized” businesses. She was a career business woman before embarking on a higher education in her late 20’s, an endeavor she faced with some trepidation.

    “I had no idea how I would do in college,” she said. “I was an above average high-school student, but had been out of school...

  • Charlotte Hackman

    Charlotte Hackman was one of the 14 students who celebrated completion of their studies from Estrella Mountain Community College’s (EMCC) Medical Billing and Coding program in August of 2016. For Hackman, the celebratory event was even more exciting because, in addition to finishing this healthcare program of study, she was also the selected student speaker for the ceremonial event.

    Hackman came to the United States in 1994, after graduating high school in Ghana, West Africa, her native country. Her sister received an associate degree in medical coding from Phoenix College, another...