The lives behind the PCC All-Arizona Scholars

By CONNOR BROWN

The All Arizona Academic Scholarship gives students two years of paid tuition to their choice of an Arizona university.

Eleven Pima Community College students were chosen this year to receive the scholarship. These are five of the winners and their stories on what pushed them to achieve this prestigious honor.

Lauren Easter

Lauren Easter,

For five years, Easter was stuck in an abusive relationship. She was able to escape her situation but was left wanting to find herself. She decided to challenge herself and attend PCC. 

Her son is one of the biggest influences in her motivations. 

“His success is my success,” Easter said. “He is the essence of me and an extension of my accomplishments. I teach him every day that our pasts do not define our futures and that we never experience failures, only lessons.”

“I found it hard to get motivated at first. My advice is to just start getting involved and meeting others with similar goals and passions. You will feed off others’ motivation if you surround yourself with the right individuals.”

She will be attending the University of Arizona and pursuing her major of philosophy with an emphasis in ethics and law. She hopes to eventually become a victims’ advocate to help those who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence.

Karen Kuciver

Karen Kuciver

After her husband fell ill, Kuciver decided to go back to school. She had been out of school for 30 years and received her GED from Perryville Prison in Goodyear. She is also a recovering alcoholic who is now seven years and eight months sober. 

She and her husband thought it best that she finish school and find a job that would make it easier to support herself.

“I decided to go to Pima Community College because I hadn’t stepped inside of a classroom in many years, and when I heard it that the classes were small and it was more of a one-on-one structure, I felt that I could manage,” Kuciver said. “I was intimidated at first, but when I found myself, I thrived.”

She is husband motivates her.

“If it wasn’t for all of his support and confidence in me, I don’t think I would have gotten this far,” Kuciver said. “He has been there for me through all of my ups and downs through this whole journey and continues to do so.”

She hopes to achieve a master’s degree in social services so she can continue to help her community. 

“Goals are never out of reach,” Kuciver said. “I never knew that I could make it this far being a recovering alcoholic and addict who spent the majority of her life living in fear of not surviving. I found that if you want something bad enough, you will find it in yourself to go for what you deserve.”

John Dickey

Dickey, a Tucson native, decided to attend PCC because “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and college seemed like the best way to find that out.”

After deciding on his major of English and education at PCC, he will be attending the UA to participate in the Teach Arizona program.

“My biggest motivator is the belief that an education should be available for everyone,” Dicky said. “I started the Pima Bridge program to help students get into college, and I also have spoken at several youth empowerment panels on how going to college changed my life.”

Dickey had his family and friends to thank for his success.

“My family has always been supportive of me, and my mom was the one that initially pushed me into college … I’ve made lifelong friends in honors, people that have pushed me to go to events, and people that I’ve talked with until 3 in the morning about nothing in particular. My favorite memory is when my two best friends and I went out the night we had won All-Arizona. We were told that we couldn’t tell anyone we had won until the next day, and so at 12:01 that night, we got to tell each other and celebrated.”

Michele Fisher

Going to Arizona State University to study secondary education with an emphasis of political science, Fisher started going back to school because “I needed a better job with better hours for my children.”

She went through a divorce, and her friend, Connie Anderson, persuaded her to go back to school. 

“That push got me connected with Dr. Vorndran who has believed in me, encouraged me and cheered me on throughout my whole Pima journey,” Fisher said. 

She also thanks her mother who moved from Florida to help care for her kids.

When asked what advice she would give to incoming PCC students, she said to keep going even if you are scared.

“The phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ comes to mind,” Fisher said. “That phrase has kept me going many times when I’m feeling overwhelmed, inadequate or unmotivated. 

“I also think that it’s really important to be self-aware. If you aren’t motivated or you think goals are out of reach — what would be a better fit for you? What are you motivated to do? What do you need to work on to feel that goal is attainable? Do your best and stay true to yourself. When you do that, everything else will fall into place.”

Nathan Toy

Nathan Toy

Toy entered college, not sure where the path would take him.

“When I first started Pima, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Toy said. “I started taking all these random classes because I thought, ‘I’ll go to college and take … whatever.’ I ended up having a pretty high GPA … started volunteering at a lot of events and made some really great friendships. Eventually I became an honors lead and that led to becoming an honors officer, which is how I learned about the All Arizona Scholarship.”

Toy’s biggest motivation to graduate is to allow his mother to see him walk across stage. 

“I’m her sole caretaker,” Toy said. “It adds a complex situation to school, but I make sure to get everything done.”

He returned to school after the district manager at the body shop he worked at told him he was too smart to work there. 

After considering his options, he decided to attend Pima.

At first he was skeptical, but “after the first day of classes, all of that changed for me. I couldn’t believe how fun it was.”

“You don’t really realize how much you’ve done until you get to that last point,” Toy said. He was impressed by “the amount of opportunities that are available and the amount of things you can find to do at Pima.”

He is pursuing paralegal studies at PCC but wants to switch to a pre-med major while attending the UA.

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