Nearly 500 degrees & certificates will be conferred on CAC students at SPC graduation May 14

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - More than 450 students will receive nearly 500 degrees and certificates on Sat., May 14, during the 2011 Central Arizona College Signal Peak Campus commencement ceremony.

The outdoor ceremony on The Green begins at 7 p.m. at Signal Peak which is located at 8470 N. Overfield Rd. just East of I-10 between the cities of Casa Grande and Coolidge.

Dr. Ofelia Zepeda, Regents' Professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona, will serve as the commencement speaker, while Lucy Gaytan and Omar Hernandez have been selected as student speakers for the event.

A member of the Tohono O'odham Nation of southern Arizona who was born and raised in Stanfield, Ariz., Zepeda is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship for her work in American Indian language education, maintenance and recovery.

She is an interdisciplinary faculty for The American Indian Studies Program, the Department of Language, Reading & Culture and the program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching.

Zepeda's area of teaching and research include, introduction to Tohono O'odham, the structure of the Tohono O'odham language, lexicography for Native American Languages, survey of Native American Languages, and Native American literature.

She published the first teaching grammar of O'odham and has published numerous articles on topics on the status of Native American languages, language policy and planning, Native American linguistics and education.

Zepeda is a co-founder of a residential institute with an international reputation in teacher preparation for educators of indigenous students.

She is the series editor of Sun Tracks, a book series publishing Native American writers, published by the University of Arizona Press and is one of a handful of Native authors writing and publishing in her first language.

She has produced three books of poetry - Where Clouds are Formed, Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert and Jewed I-hoi/Earth Movements, and is the co-editor of Home Places - a celebration of 20 years of publication of the Sun Tracks series. Her poetry also has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals.

During the graduation ceremony, CAC students will don a variety of medallions, tassels, stoles and colors signifying their accomplishments in the classroom.

Some students will graduate with honors after posting a minimum grade point average of 3.5, while several students will earn both a degree and certificate. Three Casa Grande Union High School students - Taylor Daley Graham, Juan Enrique Martinez and Nellena Jordan - are graduating from both high school and CAC.

Students wearing gold medallions are graduates of the honors program while those wearing gold stoles are members of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

Students wearing red cords are members of the TRiO student success program and those with blue cords are members of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program.

Graduates wearing white tassels will receive associate of arts degrees, while gold tassels signify associate of science. Associate of business degree recipients sport drab tassels, associate of applied science students wear green, and those earning an associate of general studies degree don gray tassels. Students earning certificates have caps adorned with blue tassels.

The Signal Peak Campus will distribute 491 degrees and certificates to 461 students. Female graduates outnumber male graduates 305-156, with the oldest graduate crossing the outdoor stage at the age of 71. The youngest graduate is 17 years old. Both represent the oldest and youngest students graduating across the district.

For the district, CAC will deliver 653 degrees and certificates to 616 students with 399 representing women.

Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814