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EAC Gila Pueblo Campus celebrates 134th commencement ceremony

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Eastern Arizona College celebrated its 134th Commencement Ceremony at the Miami High School Auditorium by awarding 45 degrees and 62 certificates of proficiency.

EAC alumnus Sara Murry, now a vocal performance major at Arizona State University, sang the national anthem and EAC graduate Kendra Corso offered the invocation. Dr. Phil McBride, EAC senior dean of the Gila County campuses, and Dr. Janice Lawhorn, interim president of the Gila County Provisional Community College District, welcomed the gathering.

Eleanora Bernstein represented the Class of 2023. Bernstein, a senior at Globe High School, graduated from EAC with an Associate of Arts degree. She took advantage of the dual enrollment program to complete her associate degree the same semester she graduates from high school. Bernstein participated in leadership organizations and the Cobre Valley Institute of Technology (CVIT). She has completed certificates of proficiency in Medical Assistant and Phlebotomy. She will be transferring to Arizona State University, where she will major in business administration.

Bernstein thanked her parents for their motivation and inspiration. She expressed gratitude for many of her teachers, who taught her life lessons and helped her see new perspectives. “Some of the most impactful changes that happen in our lives are not during the big moments, but rather during the small moments that seem insignificant,” she said. “It’s the little changes over time that change the way we think and act that mold us into the people we are today. Nothing worthwhile is easy; while it may take hard work and persistence, dreams can be accomplished.”

Mike O’Neal, superintendent of the Cobre Valley Institute of Technology (CVIT), delivered the commencement address. O’Neal, a lifelong Globe resident, has been serving students in public education for 28 years as a coach, CTE teacher, CTE director, dean of students, executive program director and superintendent. He earned a Bachelor of Science, Master of Vocational Education and Master of Educational Leadership, all from Northern Arizona University.

O’Neal encouraged graduates to “continue your search, no matter how long it takes, be lifelong learners, and surround yourselves with positive and passionate people. Regardless of your career path, treat people kindly with a smile on your face and you will have a positive impact on the lives of those you serve.”

The Changing Lives Award was a new item added to the commencement ceremony this year. This award allows EAC students to recognize outstanding EAC employees who have a made a difference in their lives. Jennifer Carlson, who is dedicated to building the nursing assistant and certified medication technician programs, was recognized by Dr. McBride as this year’s recipient. One nominator mentioned, “She takes an interest in all of her CVIT students and makes an effort to help them in any way she can.” Other nominators mentioned how she was available and encouraging during difficult times.

Following the awarding of certificates and degrees, Dr. McBride admonished graduates to keep striving to achieve their dreams. He concluded by stating, “Don’t be afraid to dream big. As you dream the impossible dream, you will reach the unreachable star.” He noted that two EAC Gila Pueblo administrative staff, Naomi Urquidez and Selma Williams, both received associate degrees.