Serving Those Who Serve: Rio Alumni Earns Maricopa Veterans Education Taskforce John McCain Award


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Thursday, March 28, 2024
Text: Where Are They Now? Meet Abe McCann (image of Abe receiving an award)

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

Not only is Abe McCann a veteran, he has dedicated his career to helping the many Arizona veterans who have served in the United States military.

As a veteran services coordinator for the City of Tempe, McCann works with city leaders on developing programs, policies and practices that improve the quality of life for veterans in Tempe.

This dedication to helping fellow service members got its roots when McCann was earning his associate degree at Rio Salado College.

“Following my time in the United States Army, I chose to complete my education at Rio Salado College,” McCann said. “Rio’s Veterans Services department went above and beyond to help me process my benefits, create and academic plan, and navigate returning to college as an adult learner.”

McCann said taking online classes was both challenging and rewarding.

“At times, normal family activities and distractions were hard to overcome,” McCann said. “But the ability to study and take courses at home when it was convenient helped me overcome some of the anxiety I had as an adult returning to college.”

Ultimately, McCann found a routine that worked.

“It took a joint effort between me and my family to ensure that I had time to complete my studies,” McCann said. “I would stay up late or study during my work breaks. There were even nights where my kids and I sat side by side doing our homework together.”

McCann said his favorite Rio Salado class was not for credit, and not part of his required coursework.

“I took a math prep course through the ACE (Adults Achieving a College Education) program,” McCann said. “I was inspired by the other adult learners in the course. Hearing their stories and seeing their determination motivated me to work hard. Without that course and that environment, I would not have been successful.”

McCann earned an associate of arts degree, and transferred his credits as a block to Northern Arizona University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration.

“My Rio degree provided me an education that was directly related to the work I was doing,” McCann said. “It made me better at my job and eventually was a key factor in me getting the career and position I wanted.”

In February, the Maricopa Veterans Education Taskforce (MVET) presented McCann with the John McCain Award in recognition of his dedication to serving veterans.

The award nomination noted, “As a veteran advocate and leader in his community, Abe’s service and dedication to his education, family, and community are unwavering. He is committed to continuous community improvement and changing the lives of those around him.”

McCann was surprised and humbled to receive the award.

“To be recognized for the work that I do made me feel like I was making an impact in the veteran community,” McCann said. “This is the first such award I have received and will forever be a highlight for me as I continue to serve my fellow veterans and their families.”

McCann is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at Arizona State University, with a goal of applying all he has learned toward serving veterans.

“I am passionate about serving veterans and their families because they represent members in our community who have given all of us so much,” McCann said. “As a veteran, I was called to serve, and in my mind, there is no greater purpose than to serve those who serve.”