6 Central Arizona College students strike gold by earning All-Arizona Academic honors

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - Six outstanding Central Arizona College students have been named to the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society All-Arizona Academic Team.

Jamie Fulcher (Apache Junction, AZ/Red Mountain H.S.) of the Superstition Mountain Campus and Brian Kent (Marana, AZ/Marana H.S.) of the Signal Peak Campus each earned First Team honors, while Elizabeth Gamboa (Page, AZ/Casa Grande Union H.S.), also of the Signal Peak Campus, was selected for the Second Team.

Three CAC students captured Third Team accolades - Amber Middaugh (Kearny, AZ/Ray H.S.) and Renee Soqui (Mammoth, AZ/San Manuel H.S.) of the Aravaipa Campus, and Sheri Walker (Apache Junction, AZ/Fresno H.S.) from the Superstition Mountain Campus.

The six CAC students will receive their awards on Thursday, Feb. 18, at the All-Arizona Academic Luncheon hosted by Mesa Community College. Members of the All-Arizona Academic Team earn special recognition, including medallions, certificates and scholarships. First Team members receive a $1,000 check, while Second Team members are presented with a $750 award. Third Team members receive a $500 grant.

In addition, All-Arizona Academic Team members are eligible for full tuition scholarships to Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University or the University of Arizona.

Students who make the All-Arizona Academic Team may become candidates for several additional awards, including the USA Today All-USA Community College Academic Team, Coca-Cola All-State Community College Academic Team, the New Century Scholar program, and the Guistwhite Scholarship. The additional awards will be announced in USA Today on April 19.

The prestigious Guistwhite Scholarship is a rare prize for community college students, but Central Arizona College boasts back-to-back winners in Kelly Lintecum (2009) and Lyndee Goetz (2008).

As members of the All-Arizona Academic First Team, Kent and Fulcher may have the best opportunities at garnering national awards.

Kent, 20, is an accounting/finance major with a 4.0 grade point average. He has plans to transfer to Northern Arizona University.

Kent is active in Phi Theta Kappa and also offers tutoring services. He earned a place on the Dean’s List for the last three semesters and was named the 2008-09 Accounting and Economics Student of the Year at CAC.

“There is never anything in life worth worrying over,” Kent said, reciting his low-key outlook. “We win. We lose. We pass. We fail. All we can ever do is our best.”

Fulcher, 19, is expecting to transfer to Arizona State University after completing her time at CAC’s Superstition Mountain Campus. She is currently majoring in education (social studies) and owns a 3.7 GPA.

“In order to teach others to be great, you must first strive for greatness in yourself,” she said.

Fulcher is extremely active in her community, giving time to tutoring, Relay for Life, Boys and Girls Club, Special Olympics, Phi Theta Kappa, TriO, Better World Books and blood drives. She has earned multiple honors, including being named Outstanding First Year Student, Outstanding Service Learning Tutor, and Outstanding Phi Theta Kappa member.

Although she is just 20 years old, Gamboa seems to understand what knocked on her front door.

“One of the most important concepts that I have learned is college is an opportunity,” she stated. “An opportunity to meet new people, experience new things, and achieve eminence - and everyone has this ability. Always will yourself past your limits and out of your comfort zones, and never be afraid to succeed.”

The Second Team selection boasts a 3.96 GPA in English and has plans to transfer to the University of Arizona. The five-time Dean’s List member conducts piano recitals, and participates in Phi Theta Kappa and the CAC AcES program.

Walker heads up a trio of Third Team members. The 38-year-old is earning her education as a medical social worker/advocate for the disabled and has posted a 3.7 grade point average. She has been on the Dean’s List for more than two years (2007-09) and expects to transfer to Arizona State University after completing her program at CAC.

Walker has been presented with the opportunity to participate in the Student Public Policy Forum, Phi Theta Kappa, the Honors Program, Student Leadership, and college orientations. She has been an organizer of the Elementary Math Contest and was named first runner-up Miss Wheelchair Arizona in 2009.

Her volunteerism is peerless. She donates her time at Banner Desert Hospital and the Boys and Girls Club, and volunteers on the Head-Start Selection Committee. She tutors at Four Peaks Elementary School, assists with the CAC Holiday Dinner and Raffle for the Heath Career Center, and is an advocate for the disabled.

Walker volunteers at Community Alliance Against Family Violence and at Project Help - a nationwide program for the economically disadvantaged. She is a lobbyist for helping change handicap parking laws.

“Believe in who you are, never measure your life by others’ standards, and live according to your inner spirit,” Walker said. “Live honestly and accept these gifts - your beauty, your differences, your humanity - and never doubt yourself. It is your right on this earth to stand strong for what you believe.”

Soqui and Middaugh represent the Aravaipa Campus as Third Team members. Soqui, 22, is majoring in elementary education with a 3.63 GPA. She is looking to transfer to Northern Arizona University upon completion of her studies at CAC.

She tutors and participates in Phi Theta Kappa, while her honors include Excellence in Writing (2006), Excellence in Social and Behavioral Sciences (2007), and Tutor of The Year (2008).

“Success not only depends on focus and persistence, but also family and friends,” she said. “For when one person believes in someone, that someone can believe in themselves.”

Middaugh arrived at CAC in the spring of 2008 after spending her first semester at the University of Arizona in the fall of 2007. She plans to head back to either the University of Arizona or Northern Arizona University when she completes her CAC program.

The 20-year-old is majoring in Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary Science with a 3.7 grade point average. She participates in Phi Theta Kappa and AcES, and has made the Dean’s List during her career.

Borrowing from an unknown author, Middaugh recites a quote that transcends cultures and generations.

"Just 'cause you're following a well-marked trail don't mean that whoever made it knew where they were goin'."

Good advice for six outstanding CAC students blazing their own trails in life.

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