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EAC Holds 125th Annual Commencement Ceremony

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EAC Holds 125th Annual Commencement Ceremony

By Todd Haynie

THATCHER, AZ—The stands at John Mickelson Stadium were once again filled to capacity as family and friends gathered for Eastern Arizona College’s 125th anniversary commencement exercises held the evening of May 9. The event recognized a record number of 529 candidates for graduation from EAC, including 102 from Gila County.

In addition to the traditional portions of the event, the audience heard comments from a number of individuals, including a welcome from EAC President Mark Bryce and remarks from the president of EAC’s Alumni Association, George Lord, who welcomed EAC’s newest alumni into the College’s Alumni Association.

The guest speaker for the evening was vice provost for academic partnerships at Arizona State University, Dr. Maria Hesse. Also taking the podium to speak was class representative, Eric Pearce, and faculty representative, Dr. Marilyn Wilton.

Hesse serves as vice provost for academic partnerships at Arizona State University, helping to create and sustain productive relationships with community colleges and other organizations. Prior to joining ASU in 2009, Hesse served as president of Chandler-Gilbert Community College, one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges in the Phoenix metropolitan area. During 25 years of employment with the Maricopa Community College District, she also worked in capacities such as manager of faculty employment, business faculty member, chief student affairs officer, and chief academic officer. She has also been a high school teacher and principal. She holds Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science degrees from Arizona State University. She has master and doctoral degrees in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University and is a graduate of the Harvard Institute for Educational Management. She has served as a consultant to community colleges from Florida to California. She cites the implementation of the partnership between ASU and EAC as one of the most rewarding partnership opportunities in her career.

Eric Joel Pearce, son of Kim and Maylene Pearce, was raised in Show Low, Arizona. His hobbies include music, soccer, and racquetball. He also loves spending time with his large family. He attended EAC for one year before serving a two-year mission in Montevideo, Uruguay. After returning to EAC he successfully maintained a 4.0 GPA, despite having a robust academic schedule, which included participation in Men’s Chorus, A Cappella Choir, Company, and GuyZ. He also received this year’s Sophomore Chemistry Award for his outstanding academic performance. Pearce graduates tonight with an Associate Degree in general studies. After graduation, he will attend Brigham Young University where he hopes to prepare for a career in medicine and eventually start a family of his own.

Dr. Marilyn Wilton, English instructor in EAC’s Communicative Arts Division, spoke as a representative of the faculty. She earned her undergraduate degree from Western Michigan University, master’s degree from Western New Mexico University, and Ph.D. from The University of New Mexico. During a teaching career that spans 29 years, Wilton has taught a wide variety of secondary and college English classes that encompass every level—from junior high school through university graduate school.

A reception in honor of the graduates followed the ceremony at the Gila Hanks Pavilion on the grounds of the stadium.