In 1977, Bobbie Wiles (74’) called Willcox, Arizona, her home. She was on the cusp of young adulthood in her early twenties and worked locally as a medical assistant. She’d grown up in a small town, met a “small-town boy” and was ready to become a “small-town girl.”
“It was the kind of life I’d set out to live,” Wiles explained.
Wiles said she fell in love with Bub Hood, a local farmer from Willcox, Arizona.
The two were engaged and married that summer and looked forward to their life together.
But in a series of tragic events, the newlyweds found out that Bub Hood was drafted into the Vietnam War and while the couple adjusted to the news, Bub was tragically killed in a car accident on June 15, 1972, abruptly ending the small-town future Wiles had in store.
“It was definitely hard on me, being so young and being widowed. My life started and stopped in a matter of three months,” Wiles explained.
Wiles said she needed something to pick herself off the ground.
“I was a medical assistant, and I knew I was good at it. People had always told me and encouraged me to become an RN, and that’s what I wanted to do. So, while I was still mourning my late husband, I applied to the Cochise College Nursing program,” Wiles said.
Wiles applied to the program in late July and was rejected, but after a stroke of luck, the college board pulled some strings, and that August, Wiles was enrolled in the college’s nursing program.
“I was 23 years old, and I was one of two widows in the nursing cohort. I was good at school and excelled in my studies. I graduated in May 1974,” Wiles said.
Wiles went on to work in Willcox at the local hospital and then at Mesa Lutheran Hospital in Mesa, Arizona. She would eventually earn her Bachelor’s in Science from the University of Phoenix and her Master’s in Nursing. She also earned her Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate in May 2008 and completed the Nurse Educator Certificate program at Arizona State University in 2007.
“Cochise College really saved my life. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t go to Cochise. Cochise College helped me change a life-altering event into something positive. Plus, I remarried two years later and am still married to the same wonderful man today. We also have two adult children who are successful in their careers,” Wiles said.
Wiles is celebrating over 40 years of service as a nurse. Currently, she is working as a family nurse practitioner doing primary care and cardiology to the homebound. She says she looks forward to retiring in the near future.
To find out more about the Cochise College Nursing program, visit their website at cochise.edu/nursing.
Michael Weymer (‘87), who was raised in Sierra Vista, attended Cochise College to earn his Associate of Science Degree in Aviation. Weymer says the degree opened doors to a future he’d only dreamed about.
“I remember when I was being interviewed for admission into the Aviation Program, the chief flight instructor asked, ‘Why do you want to be a pilot?’ And I said, ‘Well, I want to fly for the airlines one day.’ And they just kind of chuckled. They said, ‘This is cute. He wants to fly for the airlines.’ Which back in 1983, it was unheard of for a civilian pilot to fly for the airlines. At that point in time, most airlines would only hire you if you were a military pilot,” Weymer explained.
After his acceptance into the program, the alumnus said he hunkered down, stayed focused on his future and worked hard both behind the cockpit and in the classroom. He would eventually graduate from Cochise, and in 1985 he transferred to Embry-Riddle where he would earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Science.
In the summer of 1985, at the age of 22, Weymer was the youngest pilot to compete in the first Transatlantic Air Rally, which consisted of approximately 70 small airplanes that flew from America to Europe.
“My French teammate and I flew a Cessna 310 from Morristown, New Jersey, to Le Bourget Field in Paris, with overnight stops in Montreal, Baffin Island, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland,”
When the young pilot entered the work force, times had changed, airlines had expanded, and the demand for airline pilots outstripped the supply of military pilots. Around 1988, after Weymer returned to Cochise and spent one year as an instructor of aviation for the college, the airlines started hiring civilian pilots who were flight instructors. And Weymer got his break.
“I started my airline career flying small planes, and then I got moved up to fly bigger planes, and eventually, I moved up as a captain to fly 747s,” says Weymer.
Weymer is currently a pilot for Atlas Air, Inc. and says he’s had a great career.
He says he has a lot of long oceanic-flights. Including one four month stay in Abu Dhabi where the pilot was based.
“…in that four-month period, I flew to six continents, and I flew the distance from the Earth to the Moon and halfway back in a four-month period,” said Weymer.
Weymer also had the opportunity to fly with Lady Gaga and Madonna.
“I was assigned to Lady Gaga and saw her perform in Lima, Peru. I flew her to her concerts in Assunção in Paraguay and to Johannesburg, Africa… And we flew Madonna to her concerts in Brazil and Tel Aviv,” Weymer explained.
Currently, the pilot is flying soldiers in the U.S. military to the Middle East, Europe and back to the United States.
“I’m flying from Cincinnati to Germany, to Bahrain, and then from Bahrain I’m going to Diego Garcia, which is the location of a Naval support facility in the Indian Ocean. After that, I’m taking a trip from Diego Garcia to Bahrain, then flying to Kuwait, back to Germany and then I’m bringing troops home from Germany to New Hampshire,” said Weymer.
Wemer says that his experiences have been one in a lifetime and he’s grateful for Cochise College.
“I have Cochise College to thank for giving me such an excellent start,” said Weymer.
“Cochise College is a great place to start. It provides the quality instruction that’s required to excel in the industry as a pilot… You have to apply all your skills and not give up. A lot of people start in one area, and they get distracted and they lose interest, or somebody talks them out of their dream, and they end up doing something that they didn’t want to do, but you have to stay focused.”
To find out more about the Cochise College Aviation program, visit their website at http://cochise.edu/aviation.
Roberto Gudino, (’04) a long-time filmmaker, is sharing his production of “Below the Fold,” a film about Southern California’s Latino communities, to help commemorate Mexican Heritage Month this September.
Gudino is a native of Cochise County and was born and raised in Douglas, Arizona. The now successful filmmaker is a first-generation college student. He says at the beginning of his young-adult life he was someone without much ambition to pursue higher education and had found little success throughout his high school career.
But then something changed when he found his passion for film in his hometown, at the local community college and landed a job working as a student-aid photographer for the Cochise College Creative Services Office. Since then, he says his passion for film has only grown.
Gudino’s fascination with the film industry eventually led to academic success. He earned a bachelor of fine arts in film and television from the University of Arizona in 2007 and a master of fine arts in film production from the University of California, Los Angeles, one of the top film schools in the country, in 2012. He also earned a master of science from Florida International University in 2015.
Currently, Gudino is a faculty member at the Scottsdale School of Film and Theatre at Scottsdale Community College. He’s also an avid filmmaker and a winner of the prestigious Jury Prize from The Directors Guild of America.
Recently, Gudino’s work has aimed to tell the untold stories of Mexican culture that are generally “not featured in the media,” says Gudino.
“Below the Fold” chronicles the efforts of a team of reporters from the Los Angeles Times who banded together in 1983 to counter distorted reportage about Hispanics and addresses the distorted, narrow reportage that characterized the media’s previous coverage of Latinos.
“The film is about Latinos, written by Latinos but not just for Latinos but for everyone, because there were a lot of people who didn’t know who this population was… I think today that’s still true in our culture,” said Gudino. “It’s important because it shows that minorities can be not only represented in media, but they can be the creators of that media. They can have a voice in telling their own stories.”
Critics consider the series a milestone in enhancing inclusion in news coverage.
Gudino says his experience growing up in a border community and his Mexican heritage has led him to share these stories in order to give back to the community and to help enrich the lives of students. He hopes that “Below the Fold” will be one of many productions that will help bring awareness to Mexican culture.
“These ’stories’ are represented not just in ’Below the Fold’ but are being retold generation after generation, in lives of students, mothers, fathers and teenagers,” says Gudino. “And it’s important that these stories are told.”
Gudino identifies his time as a Cochise College student as pivotal to his success.
“I am a product of mentorship,” said Gudino. “…and really don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t gone there. So I’m lucky, because now I get to share my story and stories like mine, and that’s a pretty big thing.”