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Excellence Under the Stars: Recognizing SCC’s Outstanding Students

starry background with text: Excellence Under the Stars

Every year, students at Scottsdale Community College surprise us with their ambition, their creativity, and their constant commitment to improving themselves and their fellow classmates. Excellence Under the Stars is an annual awards program that gives faculty and staff the opportunity to recognize a few of these outstanding Artichokes and to thank them for their contributions to making SCC such a special place.

More than 50 students have been nominated this year. For some, it’s for their commitment to Academic Excellence. Others are recognized for their Outstanding Contribution to the college and fellow students. SCC is also proud of the creative arts programs that draw talented artists and performers from all over the country, and the Outstanding Creativity award recognizes some of these students that have shown immense dedication to their crafts. Finally, the Outstanding Leadership award is given to those whose passion for helping others has elevated not only their performance but has inspired those around them.

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Keep reading to discover the stories of a select few of these outstanding students.

Aryanna GolabiAryanna Golabi, Academic Excellence

Aryanna Golabi emigrated from Iran in 2010, and since then has thrown herself into pursuing her passions. From a painting course to earning a certificate in social media marketing, a degree in photography, and now pursuing a degree in web development that she plans to use to create more accessible web pages and apps for the visually impaired, Golabi strives to use as many of her talents as possible in her career.

“I think open communication with my teachers and advisors has been the biggest part of my success,” says Golabi. “Any time I was struggling or didn’t understand something, I would seek help. During my time at SCC, I frequently would go to Professor Mercill for advice, not only on classes I had with her, but on other classes I had as well. She didn’t know it at the time, but I was on the fence about dropping out on three different occasions. After meeting with her she helped me sort out my feelings of uncertainty and self-doubt and encouraged me to plan ahead on my homework so that I would feel less overwhelmed and could produce better quality assignments.”

“I also appreciate that during my time at SCC I was never taught to strip away bits of my personality to succeed in my field, instead, I was taught to stay true to who I am and use my differences in vision, personality, and work ethic to my advantage.”

When asked what advice she would give to students just beginning their journey at SCC, Golabi replied, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your teachers are there to help you, and the majority of the time they will do whatever they can for you. They want you to succeed, and the sooner you realize that the sooner you will be able to start working on what you want to improve about yourself. Also, just do the homework. I promise if you do it you will pick up skills that you can later bring to your job that will set you apart from other workers.”

Golabi is preparing for a job offer she received from her recent internship and is continuing to study on her own time before she continues her education at Arizona State University.

  • Angelica Maynard
  • April Rogers
  • Aryanna Golabi
  • Avery Weiss
  • Christian Palmer
  • Daniel Chasen
  • Daryk Boone
  • Emme Alofs
  • Erica Lima de Oliveira
  • Wayne Napoleone
  • Hannah Gibbs
  • Julian Alemany
  • Kamilah Anderson
  • Michael Ford
  • Nicholas Minga
  • Nicole Matthews
  • Rachel Rex
  • Ryan Farquharson
  • Tarek Mitchell

Taryn PearsonTaryn Pearson, Outstanding Contribution

Taryn Pearson is an international student (originally from Canada) who immediately impressed her professors with her commitment to not only excelling in the classroom, but out of it as well. She seized any opportunity to present a project or serve on a panel, bringing her unique artistic perspective to bear on the culture of SCC.

“In the classroom, Pearson distinguished herself academically,” says Matt Healy, co-chair of the Service-learning committee. “Beyond the classroom, Pearson has time and again proven how a compassionate, engaged, and civically responsible person can make an impact on the world.”

Scottsdale Community College’s Office of Service-learning & Leadership serves to help students take their learning to the next level by facilitating opportunities to connect classroom instruction with real-world experience. For Pearson, who is pursuing a degree in Fine Arts, this echoed her previous career as a tattoo artist. Taryn had been tattooing for years in Canada before the pandemic forced her to close her shop. Rather than despair, Pearson saw this as an opportunity to pursue a long-time dream of hers and continue her education in the arts.

“I've just taken advantage of my time at school and immersed myself in the opportunities the school offers because I’m excited to be in school!” says Pearson.

Healy continued to commend the way Pearson has gone above and beyond to not just better herself, but to help her fellow students: “She has consistently faced every opportunity and challenge offered to her, and has been a mentor to other students. She represents the very philosophy of leadership through service."

No doubt Pearson will continue with that spirit that has earned her the Outstanding Contribution award when she moves to a four-year university to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She advises fellow students to “participate in service-learning the school offers because it’s fun. My academic advice is that handing in an assignment on time is more important than handing it in ‘perfect.’ You got this!”

Thank you for all you’ve done, Taryn!

  • Gehrig Duarte
  • Jack Rinaldo
  • James Gaspar
  • Karrie Pierson
  • Rebecca Geiger
  • Taryn Pearson
  • Victoria Connors

  • Alexis Montoya
  • Ashley Thomson
  • Nicole Kalucki
  • Trinity Pringle
  • Tyra Renshaw

James GasparJames Gaspar, Outstanding Leadership

James Gaspar’s journey has been an inspiring one, and it’s only just beginning. He has gone from living on the streets to joining the military and is now receiving not one, but two of this year’s awards given to outstanding students. Gaspar’s drive, creativity, and infectious leadership style have brought joy to all those he comes in contact with.

Gaspar is pursuing two degrees: DJ Performance Techniques and Audio Production. He has been awarded the Outstanding Contribution award as well as the Outstanding Leadership award. Jen Sydow, Co-Chair of the Council of Student Leaders, had this to say: “Gaspar has been a model leader and it is shown by what he and his fellow CSLers accomplished this year. His vision, dedication, and professionalism were infectious and well-respected among his fellow CSLers.

“Under his leadership, just some of his accomplishments included a well-received presentation to the District Governing Board, overseeing the Democracy Wall to engage thought-provoking dialogue on campus, and always looking for a way to collaborate and bring clubs together. He was also instrumental in SCC having their first-ever truck and trailer in the Parada del Sol parade this February that not only included the college president, Artie, and CSL, but the entire SCC DJ program! It will be hard to beat this year's entry, for sure!”

“I loved participating in the Music Industry Club, but then I joined the Council of Student Leaders,” says Gaspar. “I was able to convince people to have the school’s first float in the parade. We made a literal rolling stage with live performers on it. When the parade started people were dancing in the streets and loving the spectacle that we made!”

Gaspar is pursuing a career as a performing artist and is working on releasing his own original music. “I have always loved music, and I was lucky to have friends in the industry. I would watch them perform and say ‘I really want to do that too’. So I learned, and now I’m actually seeing results. I’ve been in a music festival and I’m currently working on a concert. I get to wake up and have fun for a living – it doesn’t get better than that!”

He credits his “restless personality” as the main reason for his success. “When I went to my professors and told them my ideas they didn’t know what to do with me. But no matter how lofty my ideas were my professors encouraged me.”

Gaspar has a few wise words for his peers who are chasing similar dreams: “If you have an idea, then look at it critically. If it's safe and a good idea then keep working on it, keep pushing to make it happen. You might be the next big thing no matter what industry you're looking to do! Be passionate about it and don’t be afraid.”

Keep being an inspiration, James!

  • Everett Pervall
  • Felicia Cook
  • Gabby Coons
  • James Gaspar


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