Artichokes Can Do Anything – Meet Dr. Ramona Ortega, an Original Artichoke!

Tuesday, May 7, 2024
SCC Alumna Dr. Ramona Ortega-Liston Graduated 1975 | Political Science A.A.

SCC Alumna Dr. Ramona Ortega-Liston Graduated 1975 | Political Science A.A.

According to Dr. Ramona Ortega, it starts at SCC. She calls community college “the strongest possible foundation for future success.”

Dr. Ortega was part of SCC’s earliest graduating class in 1975. “I strongly believe that community colleges offer adults and young people confidence that you can do it and will be successful.”

Nearly fifty years after graduation, Ortega still remembers how friendly and helpful the faculty was. That was essential for making her feel welcome, as she says college was not somewhere she expected to end up as a child despite “a burning desire to go.” Attracted by the affordable, practical education offered at SCC, Dr. Ortega left her mark – she helped select the Artichoke as our school mascot!

As the story goes, the President’s office gave Dr. Ortega and her fellow students in the student council a list of suitable, traditional mascots to choose from. But a limited list of the usual suspects — eagles, bulldogs, and cougars — didn’t sit well.

She recalls her and her fellow students’ reactions: “You’re not going to tell us what to do. You don’t give us the list! The students will select whatever they want.”

“I am a product of the 60s,” she declares. “We fight back! We protest!”

Fight back they did. “We wanted to do something different. Someone said Artichokes, and we just thought it was hilarious!” She recalls that the student council president was the son of a lawyer. After he reminded the President of the bylaws that gave the student body the power to select their mascot, the Artichoke was officially chosen to represent Scottsdale Community College.

But Dr. Ortega’s impact can be felt far beyond the inception of our beloved Artie. She parlayed her studies in Politics and Civics into an internship with Sandra Day O’Connor, then the State Senate’s Majority Leader. Then, it was on to Arizona State and then Harvard. Her community college experience and outstanding resume earned her a call from the White House (which she initially ignored, assuming they called by mistake) to appoint her to the Board of the Community College of the Air Force.

“For that, they made me an Honorary Brigadier General with one star. All while I’m only five-foot-two!”

Her impressive career spans political offices, board rooms, and university halls. One of the accomplishments she is most proud of comes from her time on the board of Student Financial Assistance, where she successfully lobbied to remove the value of a family’s home from the equation that determined financial assistance. This change has helped create more equitable access to financial aid for thousands, if not millions, of students and families.

Today, Dr. Ortega is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Akron. The biggest lesson she imparts to her students: “Never say no to yourself. Others may say no to you, but never say it to yourself.”

An original Artichoke and an inspiration to us all – here’s to you, Dr. Ortega! Thanks for blazing a trail for the rest of us to follow.

To learn more about Dr. Ortega and her impressive story, grab a copy of her book, Betrayal & Conquer: An American Story of Courage & Resilience.