MCC Students Named to All-Arizona Academic Team
Mesa Community College will honor four high-achieving MCC students who have been named to the All-Arizona Academic Team competition on Feb. 23 at Tempe’s Fiesta Resort. Community college scholars from all over the state will participate in the ceremony, which celebrates the outstanding academic achievements and distinguished leadership skills of the students. The competition qualifies students for placement on the national All-USA Academic Team.
All four MCC honorees are members of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges, and have logged thousands of hours of combined service work for MCC and the community.
The MCC honorees include:
Kevin Keleher, a business major at MCC’s Red Mountain Campus, was named to the All-USA College Academic First Team. In addition to heading up LEED certification efforts for the Saguaro Building at Red Mountain, Keleher completed a 300-hour AmeriCorps volunteer program at Sunshine Acres Children’s Home. He performed an energy audit to help the facility become more efficient. The data from the audit was used to help Sunshine Acres receive an $80,000 grant for solar panels and solar water heaters.
After receiving his associate degree in business from MCC, Keleher plans to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree in business from Arizona State University with an emphasis on sustainability.
Keleher uses this quote by educator Daisaku Ikeda to sum up his philosophy on education: “The purpose of a university education is to enable one to contribute to society and to the welfare of others.”
Bryan Plummer, a computer science major at MCC’s Southern and Dobson Campus, was also named to the First Team. Plummer created a Leadership Development Series of 13 workshops for students that included professional, faculty and campus administrators. As an AmeriCorps volunteer, he also participated in an Arizona Science Center outreach science discovery program with 200 children.
Plummer hopes to transfer to MIT, Stanford, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, or the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign or Caltech.
“Time can crush you, or be your greatest ally,” Plummer said. “It teaches you that you must continue onward, to never stop and never give up because you only have one shot at doing it right. Time has motivated me to live my life and reach for my dreams.”
Lea Laffartha, an organizational management major at MCC’s Southern and Dobson Campus, was named to the Third Team. She served two terms as the Phi Theta Kappa President for the Omicron Beta Chapter. Laffartha also participated in a 900-hour term as an AmeriCorps volunteer working as a disability awareness educator in the community. She plans to transfer to Arizona State University to continue her education.
“I have been given a chance to make a difference in my community by standing up and advocating for the rights of the disabled in our society,” Laffartha said. “My goals are to empower people with disabilities, stand with pride, and strengthen connections among employees, students, and volunteers.”
Shela Hidalgo, a speech language pathology major at MCC’s Red Mountain Campus, was also named to the Third Team. She planned an Honors in Action Project for Phi Theta Kappa and served as a tutor at the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home. Shela plans to transfer to Arizona State University to continue her education.
“Obtaining a higher education is teaching me how to implement sustainable changes, which will better serve my community, and the world beyond, Hidalgo said.
Phi Theta Kappa, American Association of Community Colleges, Arizona Community Colleges, Arizona Board of Regents and USA TODAY help these exceptional students reach their educational goals by awards of scholarship and issue tuition waivers to any of Arizona’s three Universities: Arizona State University, University of Arizona or Northern Arizona University.
The All-USA Academic team will be announced at a later date in USA Today.