SMC PTK President Mayra Gutierrez named CAC’s December Student of the Month
By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist
APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. - After attending Central Arizona College as an Early College student while at J.O. Combs High School, Mayra Gutierrez enrolled at CAC full-time with 45 college credits already under her belt.
Since then, her academic career has skyrocketed, leading to her acceptance into the college's honors program and her election as president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at the Superstition Mountain Campus.
Gutierrez now can add one more accomplishment to her resume: CAC's Student of the Month for December.
"It's a great honor," Gutierrez said with a smile.
You should forgive her if her response seems a tad understated; she hasn't had much time to think about her latest accolade. Naturally, she was in the midst of planning another campus function when she heard the news. She was busy, and that's just the way she likes it.
In addition to serving as SMC Phi Theta Kappa president and her involvement in the honors program, Gutierrez also is vice president of the Student Leadership Organization (SLO) and is the SLO representative for SM Pride, an on-campus organization that focuses on providing a secure environment for students who might be victimized for their preferences.
And if all of that wasn't enough, Gutierrez was recently selected to participate in the Student Public Policy Forum (SPPF), an academic program that provides an overview of local, state and national public policy-making, and citizen influence and involvement. A focus is placed on experiential learning and leadership development through engagement in the public policy process.
Right now, according to Gutierrez, the students selected for SPPF currently are in a phase in the program during which they research their local politicians and the laws and policies that they have helped pass during their terms. This is especially interesting to her as she plans to focus her honors project on Latino voter behavior as it relates to the social policy aspect of political campaigns.
She will have an opportunity to meet with leaders in Washington, D.C., in February, as part of the SPPF. Also in February, Gutierrez will receive her All-Arizona Academic award.
All of the aforementioned responsibilities on her plate beg the question: Where does she get the energy for all this? Gutierrez, born in Chandler yet raised in the San Tan Valley area, says it comes from a lifelong love of school and service.
"I love getting involved in school, community and state. Any small contribution has the opportunity to create a ripple effect," she said. "That is what we should aspire to do. Because, at the end of the day, it is not so much who you were, but rather what you did and how that influenced those around you."
One way Gutierrez is attempting to influence those around her is by helping to plan a college completion week during which PTK members talk to students about the importance of finishing their degree.
And, of course, Gutierrez always is ready to accept assistance when she needs it. After all, it was her sister, Jeanette, who graduated from CAC this past May and was PTK secretary last year, and who persuaded Mayra into attending the college.
"She's been a great influence. Even though she's not here anymore, thanks to her, I feel like I can really make a difference because I'm connected to the organizations she had connections with."
While she is most certainly cementing her own identity at CAC, Gutierrez has one eye set toward the future. She eventually hopes to transfer into Arizona State University's Barrett Honors College before attending the institution's O'Connor School of Law where she hopes to prepare herself to continue a life of service as either an immigration or adoption lawyer.
In either field of law she aspires to help children either reunite with separated family members or to find the right family.
When asked where her desire to aid children comes from, her answer was simple: "They're just so darn cute. It crushes my spirit to see them suffering."
If Gutierrez practices law with the same zeal and energy that she has given her current responsibilities at CAC, she very well may prevent a lot of childhood suffering.
Mayra Gutierrez - In Her Own Words
I always knew I wanted to go to college; however, I was not sure if I would ever get that opportunity or have the funds to do so. Both of my parents had grade school educations and my future seemed uncertain. However, my older sister knew I had the desire to further my education and, thus, pushed forward and enrolled in the nearest community college, Central Arizona College. This set the first example for my younger sister and me. She would often take me along to visit the college's learning center, opening my eyes to all the educational opportunities that a community college had to offer.
Soon after, I enrolled myself in the Early College program at CAC. Since I was still in high school at the time and was in good standing, I qualified for the scholarship available for it. After taking a few courses, I then qualified for an academic scholarship which would allow me to further my college experience after high school. CAC is helping me move forward and the people here genuinely care about my interests.
Today, I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and grow in such a benevolent atmosphere. I soon hope to have my younger sister enrolled at CAC so she too doesn't have to worry about having an uncertain future. CAC sets a stable foundation for students to begin their college careers and inspires them to keep going.