“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

VIEWS: 70 July 2, 2024

Scottsdale Community College’s Junior ACE Program Introduces SRPMIC Youth to College Life

By Juan Ysaguirre

Every year since 2008, middle-school youth from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community have been given the opportunity to enroll in the Scottsdale Community College (SCC) Junior Achieving a College Education (Junior ACE) program. ACE is a nationally recognized, competitive application-based college preparation program for high school students to help them explore, prepare and work toward achieving a college education.

On June 4, the Junior ACE program held orientation for the 2024 class on the SCC campus, inside the Indigenous Cultural Center. During the weeklong opportunity, SCC faculty slowly introduce the youth to the college experience as they begin high school and start looking toward their future. This year’s Junior ACE class included more than 20 Community youths from Grade 5 through Grade 8.

Throughout the program, the students were given a firsthand look at the college experience SCC provides and the many fields of study they offer. They experienced an inside look at careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM) and received information on physical fitness and nutrition. The students also were given details on dual-enrollment classes, college classes they can attend and earn credit for while still enrolled in high school.

SRPMIC Vice-President Ricardo Leonard welcomed the SRPMIC youth and thanked the SCC faculty team for hosting the weeklong program.

“I want you to put your whole heart into this program while at Scottsdale Community College,” said Leonard to the youth during his welcoming speech.

He added, “The ACE program has always been something to help open your eyes to help you find out what you’d like to do. If you’d like to work with animals, or in language, or maybe even in anthropology, there’s so many opportunities here for you,” he stated. “Find something here that is going to allow you to be happy to go to work every day. Take some time and take a look at what Scottsdale Community College has to offer.”

Following Leonard’s remarks, SCC President Dr. Eric Leshinskie greeted the new Junior ACE students and provided a few welcoming words to the class. Dr. Leshinskie began by having the youth raise their hands if they knew someone in their family who has attended or graduated from SCC.

“I’m so glad to see many of you have had family members and friends who attended or graduated from SCC. It’s my hope that this week will get you to think about taking classes at Scottsdale Community College,” he said.

Dr. Leshinskie was previously the vice-president of academic affairs at Paradise Valley Community College and Glendale Community College. He joined SCC as president in July 2022.

The opening day of the Junior ACE program continued with Cody Achin, outreach coordinator for the SRPMIC O’odham Piipaash Language program in the Cultural Resources Department. Achin facilitated a presentation detailing the history of the SRPMIC from pre-colonial times to the present day.

The remaining days of the program featured academic workshops, family activities, motivational speakers, cultural events and more, with the hope that the students one day will become SCC graduates. By enrolling in the SCC Junior ACE program, they have all taken the steps to ensure that their future remains bright as they approach their high school and college years.