Four Cochise College students have been named to the 2014 All-Arizona Academic Team and will receive tuition waivers to complete their bachelor’s degrees at one of the state’s public universities.
On Feb. 19, Louie Garcia, Melissa Becerra, Kaitlyn O’Rahilly and Ricardo Martinez will be among 75 community college students from across the state to be awarded scholarships from the Arizona Board of Regents. The scholarships are part of the All-Arizona Academic Team program, which aims to point the best and brightest community college students toward enrollment at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Since the program began in the 1990s, it has awarded about 1,000 full-ride scholarships to Arizona community college students.
Students nominated to the All-Arizona Academic Team are evaluated for academic performance and service to the college and the community. The nominations are reviewed first by business, civic, education and government leaders, then judged a second time by representatives of various federal agencies and education associations. They are ranked and placed accordingly on first, second and third academic teams.
Becerra and Garcia, who each attend classes on the Douglas Campus, were selected to the All-Arizona First Team. First Team students go on to compete for placement on the All-USA Academic Team, announced later in the spring in USA Today, co-sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, the American Association of Community Colleges and USA Today. O’Rahilly and Martinez, both from the Sierra Vista Campus, were each named to the All-Arizona Second Team.
In addition to tuition waivers, each of Cochise College’s All-Arizona scholars receive a cash scholarship from the Cochise College Foundation in the amount of $1,000 for First Team placement and $750 for Second Team.
Cochise College’s All-Arizona scholars:
Louie Garcia, a longtime Douglas resident, returned to school to pursue an associate degree in chemistry with plans to transfer to the University of Arizona to study molecular and cellular biology.
While continuing his employment duties with his family’s small business, Garcia has been active on the Douglas Campus in Phi Theta Kappa, service learning and community service activities, including the initiation of Earth Day projects at the campus.
“In spring 2012, I had the honor of receiving several academic scholarships. As a result, I felt it was my moral obligation to repay my debt to society the best way I knew possible — by volunteering,” Garcia said. “I decided to undertake a project that would positively impact my community. As a biology and chemistry major, I wanted a project that would place a heavy emphasis on the sciences.”
Garcia’s Earth Day project earned the Douglas Campus Service Learning Honors award for 2012-13. He was also the Phi Theta Kappa Arizona Region Vice President of Communication, for which he won the Coordinator’s Award in 2013, and he was part of the PTK officer team that won the Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Chapter Officer Team Award for 2013.
Melissa Becerra, of Douglas, is majoring in computer science at Cochise College with plans to transfer to the University of Arizona.
Her career goal is to become a computer forensic specialist.
“My deepest desire is to become a computer forensic specialist and succeed by analyzing and solving life’s puzzles — the more complex, the better. With my ideal career in mind, I now work hard to accomplish not just perfect grades, but rather an accumulation of knowledge that will last forever,” she said.
While attending college on the Douglas Campus, Becerra has been the president of the Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Beta Zeta chapter, an Honors Committee member, and she has been awarded numerous scholarships.
She has also been involved in her community as a church choir member and Sunday school teacher.
Kaitlyn O’Rahilly, of Sierra Vista, is majoring in business administration and intends to transfer to the University of Arizona.
She plans to eventually earn an Master of Business Administration degree and work in a career involving business or finance.
“Today’s fierce competition in any career field requires me to pursue the highest possible education. I anticipate continuing my top-level performance, hoping to become a great value to this society and the inspiration to the next generation,” she said.
O’Rahilly’s involvement on the Sierra Vista Campus includes serving as the Vice President of Service for Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Mu Zeta Chapter and volunteering with the Cochise Area Network of Therapeutic Equestrian Resources (CANTER).
Ricardo Martinez, of Sierra Vista, is pursuing an associate degree in biology at Cochise College.
He plans to transfer to the University of Arizona and eventually become a medical doctor.
Martinez is actively involved in the Alpha Mu Zeta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, having served as the Vice President of Fundraising and as President during his time at Cochise College. He is a former Science Club Vice President and a Friends of the Library member.
“There may never be a challenge as critical of my decisions as my time in the (U.S. Army), but I am aware that I am capable of much more with an education. I look forward to being placed in even more challenging positions in the future, and as a leader, I owe it to my brothers and sisters still in the service to succeed in all aspects,” he said.