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Rio Salado College Surprise Location Celebrates 25 Years of Serving The Rio Community

RSC Surprise Celebrates 25 Years of Serving The Rio Community RSC Surprise Celebrates 25 Years of Serving The Rio Community RSC Surprise Celebrates 25 Years of Serving The Rio Community RSC Surprise Celebrates 25 Years of Serving The Rio Community

Rio Salado College Surprise Location Celebrates 25 Years of Serving The Rio Community 

Established in 1996, Rio Salado College’s Surprise location continues to be  a source of both in-person and online Adult Education classes for the community. Located at 12535 W. Smokey Dr. in Surprise, the RSC Surprise location recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a commemoration ceremony. The Surprise staff is proud to achieve this milestone.

“For 25 years, Rio Salado College Surprise has been dedicated to lifelong learning and service to the West Valley community,” said Dr. Tamara Cochran, Dean of Instruction & Community Development. “We are all together today because we share Rio’s vision to empower learners through education. Collectively, we contribute to Rio’s mission by supporting learners where they are, providing high-quality, flexible, and accessible education.”

As an Adult Education provider, RSC Surprise offers GED® test preparation, ESL (English as a Second Language) courses, High School Equivalency pathways, Adults Achieving a College Education (Adult ACE), and Career Training. Popular career pathways at the location include Applied Technology; Business, Entrepreneurialism, and Management; Health Sciences; and Computer & Information Technology. The location also provides free tutoring, a computer lab, testing center, and free career counseling.

Rio Salado College Surprise achieved several impressive milestones over the last 25 years. Since the opening, Surprise has served more than 8,500 High School Diploma/English language students. In addition, 7,811 students are served annually by Surprise's Testing Center. The Arizona Department of Education named Rio Salado College as the Arizona Adult Education Program of the Year for three years in a row: 2018, 2019, and 2020 (a recognition that wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of our Surprise team).

“The center’s success would not have been possible without the incredible leadership and dedicated efforts of exemplary professionals who guide the work and manage daily operations," said President Kate Smith. "I am proud of the work you have done and continue to do in making the LLC a vibrant and viable learning community for students who want to improve their lives through education in order to achieve their personal and professional goals.  Thank you for your dedication and commitment to serve our learners and the community.”

In addition to serving online students, Rio Salado-Surprise also works with a small in-person student population. The small class sizes offer a level of connection and personal focus that both staff and students appreciate.

"I like working at Surprise because it is a small location and it really feels like a family," said Rio Salado-Surprise instructor Mark Compton. Another staff member, Administrative Specialist Senior Veronica Gutierrez, first experienced Surprise as a student when she attended  the location to take High School Equivalency & Adult ACE classes.

“It was a dream of mine to take college courses,” said Gutierrez. “I almost didn’t apply for the Adult ACE program, because that voice in my head said, ‘No! I would embarrass myself.’ But the AACE Recruiter really encouraged me. She said, ‘Veronica, I saw something inside of you light up when I said, 'If you put your mind to it and you really want it, you can achieve a college degree.’ Next thing I knew, I was an AACE student.”

Rio Salado-Surprise stayed true to the college’s community-focused philosophy by establishing partnerships with organizations that include Chicanos Por La Causa; American Association of University Women; Opportunities for Youth; Year Up; Arizona Department of Economic Security, Vocational Rehabilitation; and the Arizona Department of Education, Adult Education Services.

“Rio Salado College Surprise shares a rich and collaborative history with our many partners over the last 25 years,” said Miranda Lopez, director of Instructional Services. “We value our connection and the community we’ve served for a quarter century. … I am proud of the unique aspects of this location and those who have contributed to its success over the years, demonstrating a deep commitment to enriching the lives of our students.”

Looking back on his favorite memories, Compton reflected on how Surprise’s work connects students to their communities.

“At one time I did a project called My Story Project and all my ELAA students crafted a story about themselves and how/why they came to the USA,” Compton said. “We then went out into the community and presented the program to community centers in the area. It was loved by both the students and the listeners who in many cases had not been familiar with immigrants.”

With all that Surprise has accomplished in its first 25 years, we can’t wait to see what the next 25 years will look like.

“The center’s success would not have been possible without the incredible leadership and dedicated efforts of exemplary professionals who guide the work and manage daily operations. I am proud of the work you have done and continue to do in making the LLC a vibrant and viable learning community for students who want to improve their lives through education in order to achieve their personal and professional goals.  Thank you for your dedication and commitment to serve our learners and the community.”

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