The Quiet Evolution of Saffron Wells


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Wednesday, January 31, 2024
headshot of Saffron Wells with text: Meet Student Leader Saffron Wells
Saffron Wells posing with her husband, Voiden Johnson

Saffron with her husband, Voiden Johnson

photo of a panel speaking at a Hispanic Heritage Month event in 2023.

Saffron Wells co-moderates a Hispanic Heritage Month panel discussion.

Adult Education Programs Put Student on Path to Degree Completion

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

Saffron Wells dropped out of high school to help care for her younger siblings. She also worked to help her family’s financial wellbeing. But her own dreams were never far from her mind.

“In 2019, I initially aspired to become a fashion designer, but circumstances during the pandemic prompted me to reevaluate my goals,” Wells said.

She knew the first step in the path to a career was to earn her high school equivalency (HSE) diploma.

“I entered my Rio Salado College journey as an HSE student,” Wells said. “I initially harbored reservations about education because childhood challenges with schooling left me jaded. But Rio's GED test prep classes became a beacon of opportunity for me to build my confidence.”

Wells successfully earned her HSE at Rio in 2019. The positive experience motivated her to continue her studies through Rio’s Adult ACE (Achieving a College Education) program.

“The transition to Adult ACE marked the beginning of my college experience,” Wells said. “It was there that my love for learning was rekindled. Rio provided not just academic support but also a supportive environment that encouraged personal growth and learning.”

After recovering from an injury, Wells began working part-time near the end of her Adult ACE program, using the opportunity to earn credits while also exploring her potential degree pathways.

“I used this period for a scholarship program and self-discovery, and even took the time to complete the Language and Literary Culture of the USA academic certificate,” Wells said. “I went back and forth on whether I'd want to pursue a degree in psychology or counseling.”

After conversations with Rio Salado academic advisor Mike Ross, Wells realized those degree paths weren't the best solutions for her.

“Mike guided me through the quickest path to an associate degree in communications,” Wells said. “I am now a proud communications major with an interest in getting a secondary credential in criminal justice."

As an online student, Wells admits that procrastination can be a challenge to completing her assignments.

"Balancing education with life's demands has been a real challenge and required strategic prioritization,” Wells said. “Procrastination is a constant challenge for me. Adapting my schedule became paramount to my success.”

“I found that reserving Fridays and Saturdays for schoolwork, and the beginning of the week for work and other commitments works best for me,” she said. “This tailored approach not only accommodates my neurodiversity but has also been instrumental in my academic achievements."

As Wells’s academic confidence grew, she decided to expand her horizons by joining Rio Salado’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges.

"Currently, I wear multiple hats as a PTK communication manager, chapter officer, and president of the fellowship committee,” Wells said. “I'm leading the 2023 College Project, working with a dedicated team of PTK members to build the framework of a future Rio event.”

Wells also joined Rio’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success this year.

“My involvement has been limited due to a busy schedule, but I'm passionate about the honor society’s goals and hope to contribute more soon,” Wells said. “These experiences have totally enriched my time at Rio by providing a diverse and rewarding college journey."

While she continues her associate degree pursuit, Wells eyes a bright future fueled by her education.

“In the short term, I aim to complete my first associate degree, continue PTK and NSLS involvement, and transition to full-time work,” Wells said. “Looking ahead five years, I envision holding at least a bachelor's degree, working in a higher position, and balancing professional success with personal fulfillment.”

Hear more of Saffron’s story in this video.