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Employee Graduate Walks the Walk

photo of Veronica Gutierrez with text: Congratulations Rio Salado College Class of 2022 photo of Kate Smith, Veronica Gutierrez and Tamara Cochran at the Surprise location 25th anniversary event

Employee Graduate Walks the Walk

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

Not only does Veronica Gutierrez work for Rio Salado College, but she also just graduated with an associate degree in arts at the college’s annual commencement ceremony on May 4, 2022.

As an administrative specialist senior, Gutierrez helps students at Rio Salado’s Surprise location – something she can speak to because she’s been there herself.

“Rio Salado in Avondale had just opened up in my neighborhood and they were advertising GED classes,” Gutierrez said. “Once I completed my GED, it was a seamless transition to pursue my AA degree with Rio Salado College.”

After starting as a Rio Salado student and completing the GED test preparation program, Gutierrez transitioned to working for the college.

“When a part-time site support position became available, I knew Rio would be a fantastic place to work and it would give me the opportunity to give back to our students what was given to me - guidance and empathy,” Gutierrez said.

Now that she has completed her Rio program, Gutierrez is looking forward to continuing her education and reaping the rewards of her efforts.

“Having my college degree has given me more self-confidence to be a role model to my family and the students we serve through our GED and ELAA (English Language Acquisition for Adults) programs,” Gutierrez said. “By earning my degree I'm more equipped to move into different positions at Rio.”

She chose to focus her studies on communication in her Rio Salado degree program.

“Public speaking and business communication have always been important to me,” Gutierrez said. “I wanted to develop my communication skills in order to set myself apart from the other applicants in a job interview situation, or in work meetings to discuss priorities and timelines for the day.”

Gutierrez plans to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in the fall, something she advocates to other students.

“Rio Salado College offers transfer pathways to NAU and the other public state universities that outline specific courses toward bachelor’s degree programs,” Gutierrez said. “Rio also has instructors and staff who will always go the extra mile to assist your academic journey.”


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