By BETO HOYOS
Pima Community College graduate Jeanette Alcaraz is no stranger to hard work and discipline. Those qualities helped her receive a prestigious Jack Kent Cooke scholarship.
Alcaraz is one of just 85 students nationally to receive the $30,000 scholarship.
“This scholarship means everything to me,” Alcaraz said. “It means being able to continue my education and starting a new life.”
The Alcaraz family moved from Hermosillo, Mexico, to the Phoenix area in 1998. They relocated to
Tucson a few years later.
“I was just a little kid, so this is all I’ve known,” Alcaraz said. “I’m pretty happy where I’m at.”
Alcaraz graduated from Flowing Wells High School in 2009 and attended PCC after receiving a Pima Merit scholarship. She graduated in 2011 with an associate degree in liberal arts and an honors certificate.
She currently works as an administrative assistant at a law office. During her time off, she enjoys running, rock climbing and dancing.
Alcaraz grew into a leadership role while attending PCC and was a founding member of the Honors Club in 2011.
“That’s something I’m proud of,” she said.
Alcaraz hopes more people become aware of the honors program and how helpful it is.
“If it wasn’t for the honors program, I wouldn’t be able to receive this scholarship,” she said. “The program allowed me to develop my goals and my leadership skills.”
Alcaraz also credits her instructors for her academic success.
“All of my instructors have been super helpful and super patient,” she said.
“Dr. Ken Vorndran, the honors coordinator, was really motivational and told me to go for the scholarship, that I had nothing to lose,” Alcaraz said. “Another person that became a big help to me was Dolores Duran-Cerda. She was a nice person to be around and someone I could count on.”
Vorndran called Alcaraz likeable and trustworthy.
“I trust Jeanette completely,” he said via email. “I trust her to be responsible, thoughtful and deliberate in her actions. I trust her to work hard and to give her best. I trust her to see the complexity of situations and to consider multiple points of view when she is making decisions.”
Alcaraz found ways to overcome hard times and find success in college.
“You have to be very motivated and self-disciplined,” she said. “You also have to be determined and set goals for yourself.”
She advises fellow students to actively communicate with their instructors.
“Get in contact with your instructors because they’re there for you and are there to support you and can become good mentors for you,” she said.
Alcaraz currently works as an administrative assistant at the law office of Patricia Mejia.
“I enjoy working there since she is an immigration attorney and my work impacts people’s lives directly,” Alcaraz said.
Alcaraz plans to attend the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona to pursue a bachelor’s degree in management. After that, she wants to attend law school.
“A business degree can be helpful in getting into law school because it sets you up with a good foundation,” she said. “It covers a lot of aspects like good writing skills and being disciplined.”
Alcaraz will receive the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship during an honors program ceremony on May 1 in the Downtown Campus Amethyst Room.
Exhibits of student honors projects will be on display from 6:30-7 p.m., and the formal program begins at 7 p.m.
Alcaraz said she will always be thankful for what she learned at PCC and to all those who helped her reach her goals.
“Pima does make your dreams come true,” Alcaraz said.