This week Fountain Hills resident Dawn Beck will be one step closer to fulfilling her dream of becoming a marriage and family therapist.
A high school dropout, Beck will graduate from Rio Salado College May 7 after being out of school for 12 years. So driven to succeed, the determined stay-at-home mom of two managed to rack up 53 credits in just nine months to complete her Associate of Arts degree. She is now attending Grand Canyon University as a psychology major and plans to earn a Master’s degree in order to become a family therapist.
A member of Phi Theta Kappa (the international honor society for two-year colleges) and the Dean’s Honor Roll, Beck is one of two student speakers chosen to address Rio Salado graduates Wednesday night. The ceremony will take place at the Orpheum Theater, 203 W. Adams St. in Phoenix, and begins at 7:00 p.m. Students earning their G.E.D. (high school equivalency diploma) will be honored in a ceremony on May 6.
This year there will be 377 Rio Salado students earning their associate degrees, as well as 3,580 students receiving certificates of completion for a variety of programs.
Earning a college degree has been a long and challenging road for Beck. Dropping out of high school at 17, Beck worked at a series of low paying, dead end jobs before realizing she needed to do something good with her life that she could be proud of. In the spring of 2007 she registered at Rio Salado College and began taking as many online classes as she could handle while being a wife and mother to an active four year old and one-year old. In the fall she petitioned the college to take a whopping 23 credits eager to begin work on her bachelor’s degree. (Anything above 12 credits is considered full-time).
She calls her graduation one her life’s biggest achievements.
“I am still amazed that this high school dropout was able to turn her life around. I refused to allow anything to hold me back from my goals,” said Beck.
Rio Salado’s commencement theme, ‘Sustain Your Momentum’, encourages students to continue to pursue their dreams after college. With her focus on earning a Master’s degree, Beck says family support was a crucial component to her sustaining her momentum and reaching her goal.
“I would never have been able to reach my goal of graduation without the loving and positive support from my family. My wonderful husband of ten years Brian was the main reason I was able to accomplish so much at Rio Salado,” she said.
For more information about Rio Salado Commencement or the G.E.D. graduation, visit www.riosalado.edu/graduation.Rio Salado College offers more than 450 online courses. One of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges, tuition at Rio Salado College is $65 a credit. The college offers degrees and certificates in business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more.