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EAC’s 128th Annual Commencement to be the biggest in the College’s history

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EAC’s 128th Annual Commencement to be the biggest in the College’s history

By Erin Larson

Thatcher, AZ—Eastern Arizona College’s 128th Annual Commencement Ceremony is set for Friday, May 12, 2017, at EAC’s John Mickelson Stadium at 7:30 p.m., where once again a record number of candidates for graduation will be on hand. The entire community is welcome to attend this important event in the lives of the 610 candidates for graduation.

The students and the assembled audience of family and well-wishers will be called to order by incoming ASEAC student body president, Levi Jeffs. Taking the podium on behalf of the graduating class will be Kelsey Traylor. Traylor was raised in Page, Arizona, by her parents Jim and Sherry Craghead. She will graduate with two degrees, an Associate of Applied Science in Small Business Management and an Associate of Business degree.

While earning those degrees, she has worked diligently to maintain a 4.0 GPA. She and her husband of five years, Ty Traylor, live in Pima and own two businesses in the Gila Valley, Traylor’s Trailers and Metal Mite Recycling. After graduation, Traylor plans to put the business concepts she has learned into practice to continue to grow their business to better serve the people of the Gila Valley.

Kenny Rhodes, faculty speaker for the ceremony, was born and raised in the Gila Valley. He is the fourth generation to call the valley home. He grew up on a small family farm near Fort Thomas and graduated from Fort Thomas High School. He attended and graduated from Eastern Arizona College with an associates degree in studio art. From Eastern, he transferred to the University of Arizona and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education with an emphasis in graphic design and illustration. After graduating from the U of A, he attended Northern Arizona University, graduating with a Master of Arts degree in Secondary Education and a minor in reading.

Prior to starting his career as an educator, he worked as a graphic designer and illustrator at the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture.

During his 30-year tenure as an educator, Rhodes worked for Safford and Fort Thomas Schools and will end his career with the commencement as an instructor and Art Department Chair at Eastern Arizona College. As an educator it was always his goal to leave the program better than he found it, according to Rhodes.

In addition to being an educator, Rhodes worked as a wildland firefighter for 20 summers, earning the qualifications of engine captain, squad boss, and sawyer. As a firefighter, he traveled all over the western United States.

After retirement, Rhodes plans to spend a great deal of time at his second home near Hilo, Hawaii.

The special guest speaker for the evening will be EAC emeritus professor, Ed Hunter. Ed came to Eastern Arizona College in the fall of 1963 after teaching five years at Fort Thomas High School. His initial college duties were teaching business, accounting, and secretarial classes.

Change was on the horizon with the computer age around the corner and Hunter was chosen to attend a National Science Foundation Summer Seminar on the topic of computers. The rest is history as he became the face of computers at EAC for almost half a century.

Starting in the original computer center at the bottom of Old Main, then transitioning to the old music and choir building, he brought EAC into the computer age. He taught thousands of students in the small, modified building that was the forerunner to the new computer complex now known as the High Tech Center. Hunter pushed for the change for EAC to transition from huge mainframe processing units to modernized, micro-computers available individually to staff and students. He recalls the first desktop computer he ever saw. It was a TRS-80 in about 1976. By the time he left EAC, the processing power of personal computers far outweighed what had been state-of-the-art science only a few years earlier.

Hunter had other accomplishments at EAC during his 40 years on campus. He is particularly proud of being the original founding faculty member of the Intertribal Club which helps Native American students acclimate and succeed at EAC. The club continues to be vibrant to this day.

Concluding Friday evening’s commencement ceremony will be the conferring of Associate of Arts, Associate of Business, Associate of General Studies, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Science degrees to the graduation candidates.

Prior to the commencement ceremony, the EAC Alumni Association will hold its Annual Alumni Banquet in the main dining hall of the Activities Center beginning at 5 p.m. Members of the EAC class of 1967 and this year’s graduates and guests are invited to attend. The alumni association will be giving special recognition to members of EAC’s class of ’67.

For questions concerning commencement, call Dr. Randall Skinner, the commencement director, at (928) 428-8252. For questions regarding the Alumni Banquet, contact the EAC Alumni Association at (928) 428-8295.

Watch the commencement ceremony LIVE at