Included among DACC’s 1,400 graduates on Thursday are students with diverse backgrounds and unique stories showing the grit, determination, academic excellence and the ability to overcome odds that are a challenge. They illustrate the hope for the future and realization they can accomplish much. Several of them include:
Jennifer Allen will graduate with her Associate of Applied Science degree from the Computer Information Technology Program with an emphasis in Networking. She will become one of the first students to be awarded a DACC Cyber Security Degree in fall, 2019.
She is the current president and senator of the DACC Women in Technology Club (WIT), Senator for the Skills USA Club and a member of the DEBUG Club. Allen has medaled in the Skills USA state competition. She has been proactive about mentoring women in the STEM field and made the Dean’s List twice.
Professor Leilani Benoit of the computer technology department was impressed by Allen’s accomplishments. “Jennifer was always working above and beyond her class load by participating in WIT, receiving the Grace Hopper Scholarship, and participating in many community and club events,” said Benoit. “We are very proud of her, and know she will carry the torch representing and mentoring future students in the tech field.”
Her goal after completing her Bachelor of Arts in Information Communication Technology from College of Engineering at NMSU is to work for the federal government.
“I have had a wonderful experience at DACC and have had a sense of welcoming and being included as if I was family” Allen said. “During my time here, I have had some amazing mentors like Robert Doyle and Leilani Benoit who are always willing to help and have their student’s best interest in mind.”
She is a mother of three, Vivian, 17, Felipe, 12 and Tristan, 14 months old. She credits her family with her success through their support and encouragement. She has inspired Vivian to follow in her footsteps and her daughter is taking courses in the Computer & Information Technology program as a dual credit student.
Joycelyn Basey became a DACC Early Childhood Education student after transferring in fall, 2017. She brought a wealth of knowledge and experience with her due to her travels as part of a military family. She stood out immediately by asking integral questions and making poignant comments that furthered the learning of her, and her classmates.
Fellow students frequently sought Basey out to gain her opinions and insight. She is passionate about understanding the achievement gap that exists for African American children and how educators can close that gap. She is an eloquent writer who can create a personable, yet informed tone in all of her assignments.
According to Early Childhood Faculty members, Shannon Bradley, Kathryn Million and Mylis Murdock, “Joycelyn is an outstanding student who was encouraging to her peers, and will be a fabulous early childhood educator. We see her being a teacher leader in the future making strides in creating a more equitable society through her focus on eliminating achievement gaps in educational settings. She was a pleasure to work with, and we look forward to watching her shape the future at NMSU.”
Basey works full-time as an in-home rehabilitation specialist for children with autism and is a mother of three. She also gives back to the community as a Girl Scout leader and helps her children’s teachers on field trips.
Basey will graduate with an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education this spring and will transfer to NMSU to complete her Baccalaureate degree.
Yazmin Diaz was born in Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico and is a Mexican citizen. She will receive two degrees including an Associate in Pre-Business and an Associate of Arts from DACC this spring. She plans to attend New Mexico State University in the fall and pursue a degree in International Business. In high school she was an exchange student in Beijing, China.
While currently enrolled at DACC, she is also attending and working towards a bachelor degree in International Relations at Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Mexico.
She has enjoyed her experience at the community college. “DACC became my second family since the first day I attended school,” Diaz said. “Throughout my time here I’ve acquired knowledge, friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.”
Diaz believes in participating in extracurricular activities including as Senator of the Desert Lizards Club in Sunland Park and as the Secretary of the DACC Student Government Association to enhance her educational experience. “Participating in these organizations has taught me valuable professional skills,” Diaz said. It has helped me grow personally and challenged me to become a critical and independent thinker.”
Jackie Kiefer, Director of the Southern DACC Learning Centers knows Diaz will be successful in the future. “Yazmin always steps up to the plate to take on new tasks outside of her offices and with her superb organizational and communication skills succeeds constantly,” Kiefer said. “As a person she is caring compassionate, kind and inclusive with poise, charm and confidence. It is not often one comes across such an individual. Academically, she goes above and beyond which has been recognized by many organizations.”
Her many awards include being a member of the National Honor Society, the National Society of School Scholars, the Business Dean’s list, and is a Crimson Scholar. She was recently honored with a leadership award for her work with the Desert Lizards Club and with the Student Government Association. She is multilingual and is fluent in Spanish, English and Mandarin and has served as a tutor in the Adult Education program at the community college.
David W. Schutt, is originally from Waverly, New York. While working at a steel mill in New York shortly after high school, he suffered a serious injury that precluded him from pursuing a career in that industry.
He attended a trade school and obtained a certificate in Phlebotomy. He worked as a phlebotomist at hospitals in several states including New Mexico. In 2012 while working at a New Mexico hospital, he suffered from back issues which led to a first major spine surgery. A few weeks after his surgery he decided to go back to school.
Attending his first classes at DACC with a walker and staples down his back, he earned an ECG/EKG technician certificate and earned an “A” in the program. Still unable to work he continued his education at DACC and over the past several years has earned 68 credit hours. Professor Jiming Chu pointed out that not only is he a good student but an excellent leader. “Schutt not only works hard to become the top of his class but is also a team leader in helping other students succeed,” Chu said.
During his time at the community college he has undergone a total of 4 major spine surgeries and 2 foot surgeries, but will walk across the Pan Am stage to accept his 3 associate degrees with a combined 4.0 GPA. He is the first in his family to graduate from college. College has been a diversion for his health issues. “To sum it up, DACC gave me a chance to stay busy and focus on things other than my unfortunate health issues and gave me hope for the future,” Schutt said. “School has given me a sense of accomplishment by doing what doctors and others said I would never be able to do.”
He is currently selected to be in the Radiologic Technology program. Schutt has earned honors in the Student Excellence and Leadership program and is a Crimson Scholar. He was also named the 2019 Outstanding Graduate in the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Division.