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Monday, June 10, 2024
Our Students Are Just Like You! Meet Dellara Ward

Rio Helps Honor Student Refocus Career Goals

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

Five years ago, Dellara Ward was juggling work and school while trying to honor her late mother’s wishes. She began taking classes at Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) in 2019 in hopes of earning a degree that could lead to a successful career.

“At first I started attending college because it was my mom's last wish,” Ward said. “But now I am doing it to be the best me for both of us, and someone I can be proud of being.”

Ward initially enrolled at PVCC with a goal of pursuing an associate degree in musical theater.

“That is still a passion that I would like to pursue one day, but I simply did not have the funds to complete the degree at that time,” Ward said. “Times were rough financially. But I assessed the situation critically, made some informed decisions, and was determined to keep going forward.” 

In 2022, Ward began taking classes at Rio Salado College in addition to her PVCC classes.

“I was indeed taking two different college programs at the same time while also working,” Ward said. “It was a bit stressful but I don't like to sit still in life. I always have to be working toward something or improving in some way.”

It was at Rio where Ward first heard about the Adult ACE (Achieving a College Education) program.

Adult ACE is a two-year scholarship program supporting adult students who demonstrate financial need. It provides funding for up to 25 college credits and offers academic guidance throughout the program.

“I was first introduced to Adult ACE in the spring of 2022, when I started working toward my associate degree in communications at Rio,” Ward said. “For most of my academic journey I have worked two jobs while doing school so that I could stay stable in my life.”

Adult ACE granted her the opportunity to continue moving forward with education part-time while maintaining a home and work life balance.

Last year, Ward began applying for other scholarship opportunities to help offset tuition costs, and started taking two classes at time, in addition to working.

She also joined Rio Salado’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society of 2-year institutions.

To be eligible, students must have a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher, and have completed a minimum of 12 college credits in 100-plus level classes and be currently enrolled.

“I feel very accomplished with all that I have done,” Ward said. “Now that I am only working one job, I am fired up and ready to contribute more to PTK and the various projects they are working on.”

For now, Ward is content with her classes and the overall direction her life is taking.

“My current life situation is looking good,” Ward said. “I am living with friends and I am financially stable. In my free time, I am also working on writing a short story that I hope will turn into a full book.” 

Hear more from Dellara in this student video.