10 Successful Arizonans Who Attended MCCCD
Apr, 11 2022
April is Community College Awareness Month, a time to recognize the importance of community colleges across the nation, the value they bring to their students, and their impact on the communities they serve. The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) provides an affordable pathway for individuals from all walks of life, launching many into successful careers. Among those are well-known politicians, actors, artists, musicians, biochemists, and athletes who all started their academic journeys at Maricopa. Here’s a look at 10 MCCCD alumni whose rise to success began at one of our colleges.
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
Andre Either began his college baseball career at Chandler-Gilbert, where he batted .468, made 94 hits, including 32 doubles, and was named MVP in 2001. During his time as a Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder, Either helped launch a new era of success for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. In 2021, the former MLB All-Star was inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
Estrella Mountain Community College
Once known as a high school dropout, Harold Branch is now the Regional Vice President of LegalShield and founder of HomeBase Poetry. Branch’s journey at Estrella Mountain began through the college’s Genesis West program, which allows students who had previously dropped out the ability to earn their high school diploma, while simultaneously working toward a college degree. Today, Branch continues to make remarkable contributions to EMCC by supporting programs that help students reach their educational goals. Read more about Branch’s life-changing experience at EMCC.
GateWay Community College
Sakariya Mohamud transferred to GateWay Early College High School as a sophomore. Although he dreaded the fact that he was the “new kid” and had lost many of his past relationships with teachers and students, he saw an opportunity to reach his full potential. Mohamud went on to earn his high school diploma, associate degree, and a full-ride scholarship to Princeton University, making him the first student in the college’s history to earn a full-ride scholarship to an Ivy League college.
Glendale Community College
Considered the “Godfather of Shock Rock,” Alice Cooper is one of Glendale Community College’s most notable alumni. In the 1960s, Cooper began making music with a little-known band called The Spiders, who would go on to become famously known as Alice Cooper. All members of the band except for one took classes at GCC. During Cooper’s 50-year career, the American rock artist has sold well over 50 million records, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Mesa Community College
World-renowned artist and one of Phoenix’s most influential rising stars, Antoinette Cauley, found her voice while studying Fine Art and painting at Mesa Community College. The Phoenix native found inspiration from her community, rap music, and hood culture, while focusing on female-empowerment, specifically Black femininity. Famous for her nine-story tall mural of Civil Rights activist James Baldwin, Cauley hopes to amplify representation for Black women in the arts, by giving a voice to marginalized communities. To view more of Cauley’s paintings, please visit antoinettecauleyart.com.
Paradise Valley Community College
Arizona State Senator, Paul Boyer, began his academic career as a PVCC Puma. In 2012, Boyer was elected to Arizona’s House of Representatives, representing District 20, and in 2019, he would go on to win his district’s senate seat. Most recently, The Arizona Republic honored Boyer by naming him one of the 2021 Arizonans of the Year. Currently, Boyer divides his time between his two passions: politics and teaching English literature at PVCC, where he serves as an adjunct faculty member.
During her time at Phoenix College, Jessica McDonald quickly became the most decorated women’s athlete in the college’s history. The First-Team Junior College All-American and National Junior College Player of the Year went on to join the U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team. In 2019, McDonald was part of the historic FIFA Women’s World Cup win, making the U.S team the first in history to win four Women's World Cup titles. In 2019 PC retired the World Cup champion’s jersey number and declared November 26th as Jessica McDonald Day.
Rio Salado College
Prior to completing his high school diploma, Audrain had already earned two associate degrees through Rio Salado’s dual enrollment program. His passion for education didn’t stop there, as he went on to earn a bachelor’s and master's degree from Arizona State University, where he became the youngest graduate in his master’s class. He continued his academic career at Harvard University, earning a master’s, and was once again the youngest graduate from the School of Education’s class of 2020. At 21, the former public school teacher has accomplished a lifetime’s worth of educational experience and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in educational policy at ASU, while running for a spot on Phoenix Union’s school board.
Scottsdale Community College
Bill Hader is an American comedian and actor best known for his work on Saturday Night Live. Hader studied screenwriting, acting, filmmaking, editing, and production at Scottsdale Community College before moving to Los Angeles in 1999. The three-time Emmy winner and co-creator of HBO’s dark comedy, “Barry,” was recently honored by the college, taking home the inaugural Outstanding Alumni Award.
South Mountain Community College
Former infielder, Cody Ransom, has played for several MLB organizations including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants. Born in Mesa, Ariz., Ransom was selected by the Cleveland Indians in 1995 during the MLB draft, but chose to attend South Mountain Community College instead, before being drafted again in 1998 by the San Francisco Giants.