Central Arizona College Recognizes Wall of Success Inductees
By Angela Askey, Executive Director Public Relations and Marketing
Central Arizona College welcomed six new members to the Wall of Success on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 at the Don P. Pence Center for Visual & Performing Arts.
The Central Arizona College Wall of Success is designed to recognize outstanding alumni for their personal and professional accomplishments. Many factors go into selecting Wall of Success members, including but not limited to volunteerism in the community; professional, local, regional, national or international recognition; and accomplishment in their field of expertise.
The first group of honorees was inducted into the Wall of Success during the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Signal Peak Campus on November 14, 2009. The event has been held annually since that time and more than 100 alums have been recognized for their notable accomplishments. Photos of each class are displayed on a permanent wall for public viewing in the Pence Center.
Wall of Success honorees were greeted with a reception hosted by CAC’s Culinary Arts program.
Rick Gibson, President of the CAC Alumni Advisory Board and Pinal County Community College District Governing Board member introduced the 2016 Wall of Success inductees: William Allen; Matthew Bertsch; Shaun Brown; Udo Cook; Erika Flores; and Daniel Ramos.
William Allen, Retired Educator
William Allen graduated with an Associate of Arts from Central Arizona College in 1973 and continued his education at Arizona State University, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1975 and a Master of Arts Degree in Secondary Education in 1987.
His first teaching position was at Sacaton Middle School, teaching social studies. In 1977 he joined the faculty at Central Arizona College and taught a three hour credit course on Southwest Indians of Arizona. From 1997 through 2003, William served as the Social Studies Department Chair at Casa Grande Union High School and continued to teach various courses, including Arizona History, U. S. History and O’odham Languages. From 2005 through 2007, he was a Classroom Facilitator at Desert Winds High School in Casa Grande.
In addition to teaching, William served as the Casa Grande Union Cross Country Head Coach and Assistant Track Coach between 1978 and 1997. He coached both Division I boys and girls teams. He received the Arizona Interscholastic Association Cross-Country Coach of the Year award in 1981. The “Cougars” won the state cross-country boys team title that same year.
From 2003 until 2004, William was a STEP Teacher Mentor and held monthly meetings with undergraduate education majors at CAC. He also presented on the native languages and cultures of Pinal County during the STEP Summer Language Workshop. As an enduring communities: teacher member with Arizona State University, William developed curriculum about Japanese-American World War II internees between the years of 2006 and 2009.
William has a strong desire to provide community outreach as demonstrated through his involvement with the Gila River Indian Community. From 2010 until 2015, he assisted with field gathering of saguaro fruit during the summer and helped in the development of multi-media adaptations of children’s books into O’otham with Huhugam Heritage Center Baidak Community Outreach. He continues to provide monthly articles about O’otham/Piipash history for Gila River Indian News.
Dr. Matthew Bertsch, Director of Pharmacy
In 2006, Dr. Matthew Bertsch earned an Associates of Science degree and graduated with honors from Central Arizona College. Two years later, he received an Associate of Arts degree, also from CAC. He furthered his education at the University of Arizona, earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2012.
Matthew began his professional career as a Pharmacy Technician at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center. He completed a fourth year pharmacy school internship at various sites including Sun Life Family Health Center in Casa Grande, where he was hired as a paid intern. He began his career as a pharmacist at CVS pharmacy. In 2013, Matthew returned to Sun Life as a clinical pharmacist and since July of 2015, he has served as Director of Pharmacy and oversees pharmacy services at all of the Sun Life sites throughout Pinal County.
With a desire to assist others in achieving their goals, Matthew offers internship opportunities to students and has presented on various pharmaceutical topics for the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. He was recognized by UA as Rookie Preceptor of the Year for 2016.
Matthew has served as a member of a number of professional organizations, including Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists, Arizona Pharmacy Alliance and Phi Lambda Sigma-Pharmacy Leadership Society. Most recently, he was appointed to the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy Assessment committee.
In 2011, Matthew co-founded “Veetak and the Atrial Flutters” Jazz Ensemble. He is an accomplished saxophonist and keyboardist.
Shaun Brown, Planning Technician
Shaun Brown was born October 22, 1976 in Florence, SC and at the age of one, moved with his mother, Earline (Brown) Parham and older brother, Anthony Brown to San Jose, CA. In 1987, the family moved to Mesa, AZ.
Shaun graduated from Red Mountain High School in 1995. He began his college education in 1997 at Central Arizona College and graduated with an Associate of Arts two years later. He transferred to the University of Arizona and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geography, with a minor in African American Studies in December 2005. In August that same year, Shaun was accepted into the Masters of Science Planning Degree Program at the University of Arizona. He graduated in May 2009 with a Masters in Land Use and Community Planning.
While working at the University of Arizona Shaun met his lovely wife Stephanie Renee (Hamper) Brown. They were married May 4, 2007 at Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, in Tucson, AZ. Their first child, Olivia Carina Brown, was born April 14, 2011.
For the past nine years, Shaun has been working for Tucson Unified School District as the Planning Technician.
Throughout his life Shaun has learned to overcome dyslexia. He recently became an Alumni Board Member for the SALT Center at the University of Arizona and looks forward to helping students with learning disabilities become successful in school and their careers. He also serves as a member of the PTO at Ironwood Elementary School in Marana.
With the blessing of God, Shaun, Stephanie, and Olivia are a very happy family.
Udo Cook, Sr. Technical Trainer
Udo Cook has been in the Casa Grande area since he was a young boy. He graduated from Casa Grande Union High School and attended Central Arizona College to complete a Manufacturing Engineering Degree.
While attending CAC, Udo wrote weekly articles for the Cactus Newspaper. He received the Rocky Mountain Newspaper Feature Writing Award for his article on Lynn Larson, who at the time was the coach of the women’s basketball, volleyball and softball teams.
Udo began his working career as an electrician’s helper and after completing an extensive training program as a journeymen, he was promoted to supervisor of an electrical truck and crew. One of Udo’s major accomplishments as an electrician was overseeing the complete electrical installation of the Grace Inn Hotel in Chandler. For several years, Udo worked for a new electrical business serving the Casa Grande area. In 1992, he began working for Abbott Nutrition in Casa Grande as Maintenance Electrician and today serves as the Sr. Technical Trainer, supporting all site projects.
Udo and his wife Cindy have been married for 26 years. They have two children, Megan and Nicholas, and three beautiful grandchildren Andrew, Brayden and Cooper.
Throughout their years together, Udo and Cindy have been involved in various fundraising efforts. Their family was key in helping to reopen St. Anthony’s Catholic School in Casa Grande.
Udo has served on the Pinal County Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Board for the past eight years and is the current board chairman. He was one of the founders of Honoring/Hiring our Heroes of Pinal (HOHP), a non-profit organization providing services to veterans and their families throughout Pinal County. After acquiring a Mobile Unit, HOHP has become a key outreach to veterans and the organization has sponsored the past four Veteran Stand Downs for Pinal County. Udo and his crew cook and serve food for the event.
Additionally, Udo has served on other state and county not for profit boards including the St. Anthony of Padua School Board, Tucson Diocesan School Board and the United Way of Pinal County. He is currently working with county and city economic development groups to establish a technical training facility to service Pinal County.
Udo was a recipient of the Central Arizona Government award, recognizing his work with CAC and local employers to create a local business training center.
Erika Flores, Digital Journalist
Erika Flores is the Digital Journalist of Maricopa County where she produces video stories about programs that help the community. She also serves as a Spanish-speaking spokesperson.
Inspired by her parents who said she could do anything she set her mind to, this small-town girl from Kearny, AZ began her college career at Central Arizona College. While attending CAC, she was named an All-Arizona Academic Team member and worked for the student newspaper, The Cactus. Also as a student, Erika quickly worked her way into reporting for newspapers in both Pinal and Maricopa Counties.
Erika graduated from CAC in May 2006 with an Associate of Arts degree in Journalism. She transferred to Arizona State University and three years later earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Mass Communications and Sociology.
While at ASU, Erika began honing her skills in front of the camera while working for KTAZ Telemundo and helped launch a Spanish newscast at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. During her reporting career, she covered immigration and border violence in deep South Texas for KGBT Action 4 News; worked for the NBC affiliate in Tucson and the CBS affiliate in Phoenix; and independent news station 3TV.
Erika strives to inspire youth to reach their goals no matter their background and has been involved with organizations, such as NAHJ, that push for more diversity in the field.
Daniel Ramos, Family Medicine Provider
Daniel Ramos received an Associate of Science degree from Central Arizona College in May 2004. He transferred to the University of Arizona and graduated three years later with a Bachelor of Science in Physiology and a minor in Chemistry.
While at U of A, Daniel was selected to work as a research intern at the University of South Florida where he gained a significant amount of knowledge regarding research and medicine.
Daniel worked in clinical research and served as a Clinical Research Coordinator at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center/University South Florida from 2007-2009. He applied to various physician associate (PA) programs and was one of 36 students accepted into the Yale PA program that year.
In 2012, Daniel earned a Masters of Medical Science from the Yale University School of Medicine. He commented, “The program was very challenging and competitive. It was very rewarding to be working with highly decorated physicians and surgeons while undergoing my education and medical training.”
Daniel was given the opportunity to return with his wife and two children to Coolidge as a Family Medicine Provider for Sun Life Family Health Center and has been there for nearly five years. For the past three years he has also been working at Rio Salado College as a biology professor and since 2014, has been an urgent care provider at Fastmed Urgent Care as well.
During his career, Daniel has had multiple manuscripts published, primarily focused on cancer research and treatment.