Learning at Maricopa Community Colleges is a Family Affair


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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Mother-Daughter Duo Praise Community College Offerings

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

A family motto is a short phrase or sentence that encapsulates the core values, beliefs, and goals of a family.

If the Rouns family had a motto, it might be “Keep calm and go to school.”

Shawna Rouns is a full-time high school equivalency (HSE) Instructor Senior at Rio Salado College’s Thomas location.

“I have worked in various teaching positions at Rio since 2020,” Shawna said. “I find my job as an HSE instructor to be incredibly rewarding. My students come to class with very diverse backgrounds, and I love to motivate them to see the finish line at graduation.”

Shawna’s educational background includes earning an associate degree at Paradise Valley Community College (one of the ten colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District), and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University.

This fall she will begin a master’s degree in Educational Leadership as part of a cohort offered through the Maricopa Community Colleges - to continue her quest for learning and knowledge.

“I was once told by a college advisor that nobody can ever take away your education,” Shawna said. “All of your materialistic things in life can be taken away, but your education stays with you forever.”

Inspired by her mom’s academic journey, and both of her sisters who attended another MCCCD college, Kamryn Rouns didn’t have to look far when deciding what school to attend.

“I chose Rio Salado because each of my family members were delighted with the services offered at Rio,” Kamryn said. “That inspired me to investigate what it would take to enroll myself back into school and finish the education I had once given up on.”

Kamryn had originally enrolled in a university out of high school, but after she bought a house at 20, financial constraints came into play.

“I quickly realized the hours I was working, my drive time, and my educational pursuit were not matching up, as well as the financial burden of student loan debt,” Kamryn said. “I dropped out of college and spent the next few years in the workforce.”

But once she enrolled at Rio Salado, Kamryn found her groove.

“I absolutely loved my online coursework,” Kamryn said. “I’m able to go at my own pace, maintain my full-time job at a chiropractic office, have a social life, as well as take 3-4 classes every semester.”

Kamryn suggests students who are thinking about taking online classes to make a schedule to stay on track.

“I found it easiest to spend my weeknights after work taking lesson notes and completing any quizzes or tests,” Kamryn said. “Then on Saturday I would be on my laptop writing my essays. Dedication is key. I’m proud of the grades I earned and my ability to be a full-time student.”

In May 2024, Kamryn completed her associate in arts degree and took part in Rio Salado’s commencement ceremony, with her happy mom in attendance.

“It was very exciting,” Shawna said. “I believe in the value of education, so I was proud of her for getting her associate degree.”

But Kamryn isn’t stopping there. While at Rio, she learned about the college’s new bachelor’s degree offering in public administration and enrolled in the program.

“When I found out that community colleges were offering bachelor's degrees at an affordable price, I met with an advisor and we chose the best path based on the classes I had already taken,” Kamryn said.

Shawna is especially grateful for the financial benefit this opportunity is affording her daughter.

“I think that students being able to get bachelor’s degrees at a community college is one of the greatest gifts ever,” Shawna said. “I love that Kamryn doesn’t have to take out any student loans to pay for her tuition and that she will earn her bachelor’s debt-free.”

Kamryn plans on completing her bachelor’s degree in the spring, and hopes it will open the doors to a new career.

“I’m currently a supervisor and would love to move into a higher position within upper management,” Kamryn said. “However, if my newfound degree steers me toward a job in public safety, I would ultimately love to be a civilian crime scene investigator.”