Never forgetting her roots, Diane Beecroft passes along the CAC experience one student at a time

(This story is one in an ongoing series of features about the first class of inductees into CAC’s Wall of Success. This coming November, CAC will induct its second class. For more information about the Wall of Success, please contact Victor Gomez, director of alumni relations, by phone at 520-494-5221, or by e-mail at victor.gomez@centralaz.edu.)

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By Mason Gates, Intern
Media & Community Events Office

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – The commemorative memorabilia and showering accolades bestowed upon Diane Beecroft in November of 2009 during Central Arizona College’s Wall of Success induction seems relatively small in comparison to all she has given to her alma mater, her community, and her students.

The acknowledgement is special and the fuss at times uncomfortable because for her CAC is home.

Beecroft’s lifelong passion for teaching began while working through graduate school in July of 1987. She juggled her own education while imparting her knowledge of science to middle school children for six years at Kingman Junior High. She then moved to Casa Grande Union High School where she taught chemistry for two years.

But in 1995, Beecroft faithfully returned to Central Arizona College, where she launched an illustrious career that is closing in on two decades.

“The warmth and love I felt here as a student was captivating,” Beecroft, who has spent 16 years as a chemistry professor in the Pinal County Community College District, explained. “I have yet to experience it anywhere else. My mission is to give the same amount of devotion and care I received back to as many students as possible.”

The statement is genuine. She means it.

Beecroft now holds the chair position for the science division while continuing to serve as a student academic advisor – something she has done for almost a decade. She is also a Faculty Senate representative and serves as a rep for the Chemistry Articulation Task Force.

With all of Beecroft’s responsibilities, one would think she would be overwhelmed. Think again.

“I will not take on a task that I cannot perform well. I do it for my students, and I consider everyone enrolled here at CAC to be my student or my potential student.”

And she has taken on many, including serving as lead faculty for the science and math divisions and partaking in various student-related boards including both the Judicial Appeals and Financial Aid committees.

The accolades have followed. In 2009 she was named the Central Arizona College’s Faculty of the Year while in 2003 she earned the coveted George Fridell Award for Teaching Excellence.

Students and colleagues alike agree that the combination of Beecroft’s wisdom, experience and eagerness to help others makes her one of the most respected professors at CAC.

And her success as a teacher is a natural extension of her success as a student-athlete.

At Wellton Antelope Union High, she earned the Arizona State University Medallion of Merit, served as the class valedictorian, captured a state tennis championship, claimed all-state volleyball player for two years, and starred in basketball where she was named the Arizona 2A Most Valuable Player in 1978.

That same year, Beecroft shattered two state scoring records that have yet to be broken – most points in a single game (64) and highest single-season scoring average (34.5).

As a college student, Beecroft could not help amassing more accolades. She enrolled at Central Arizona in August of 1978 where she was named Outstanding Freshman of the Year (1979), played volleyball (All-American, All-Region, All-Conference and CAC’s Most Valuable Player) and competed in basketball (All-Region and All-Conference).

In the fall of 1981, Beecroft transferred to Arizona State where she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s of arts degree in education (chemistry) in May of 1986. She continued her college career at Northern Arizona University and achieved a master’s of education degree in science in August 1991.

“Diane has set students on a path to greatness with keen advice based on her knowledge of the classes and programs CAC offers,” Jeff Thies, CAC’s athletic director and chair of sports and fitness, said. “As a professor, she has always exhibited a student-first mentality and not just for those in chemistry and honors programs. Diane willingly serves her fellow professors as well by serving on Faculty Senate and as a lead faculty in the science division.”

Being recognized by her peers probably means the most to her.

“When you work hard at something, especially an occupation for which you have tremendous passion, and people are kind enough to recognize and praise you for it, everything becomes worthwhile. Out of all the wonderful and talented staff here in my department and at CAC as a whole, I feel humbled and honored to even be considered for such a remarkable prize.”

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