Sunday, March 12, 2017

Meet Rio Salado’s 2017 All-AZ Honorees

Each year, participating Arizona colleges nominate two students for the All-AZ Academic Team. The honor includes tuition to one of Arizona’s three state universities and a cash scholarship. Students are chosen for demonstrating academic excellence and leadership and service to the community.

Rio Salado’s 2017 All-AZ honorees are Diana Betts and Elena Kalina.

Diana Betts
Diana Betts chose to attend Rio Salado College because of the convenience of online classes.

“Rio offered me the flexibility that I needed in order to continue to work and care for my daughter while attending college,” Betts said.

Once enrolled, she found her teachers contributed to her academic success.

“My instructors are caring and helpful and have consistently gone out of their way to help me achieve the highest degree of success possible,” Betts said.

Betts has a 3.73 GPA, and is fundraising chair for Rio’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the national honor society of 2-year colleges.

“My favorite part of being involved in PTK is getting to have the interpersonal connection that I felt was missing from online classes,” Betts said. “I wanted to know other students and have some social interaction to go along with my college experience.”

She added, “Being named to the All-AZ team means that everything I have been working so hard for has been worthwhile.”

In addition to PTK, Betts is a member of Rio Salado’s Honors Program, and a recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship for continuing honors students who have demonstrated the highest academic achievement.

She plans to transfer to Arizona State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and then pursue a master’s degree. Betts hopes to work as a counselor one day.

“Being a counselor is something that plays well to my strengths and will help me to contribute something positive to society,” Betts said.

Elena Kalina
Elena Kalina is a senior at Desert Vista High School, one of Rio Salado’s partnering dual enrollment schools. Dual enrollment allows high school students to earn both high school and college credit for select classes.

After reviewing her coursework with a Rio counselor, Kalina learned it would be possible to earn an associate degree at the same time she graduates from high school.

Kalina has a 3.79 GPA at Rio Salado College, and spends her free time tutoring students in chemistry in addition to being a member of PTK.

“I didn't know how reputable PTK was until I joined, and now I am so proud to be part of an international group of dedicated students,” Kalina said.

Being named to the All-AZ Academic Team is an honor for Kalina.

“This recognition and award is the best representation of all the hard work I put into school,” Kalina said. “I am so humbled to be on this team, and excited to inspire other community college students to persevere and go for this same goal!”

She plans to transfer to Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University and pursue a bachelor’s degree in anthropology to become a researcher.

“I decided to pursue anthropology due to my love of people and societies,” Kalina said. “I've always been very interested in how people interact with each other in different situations and environments.”

Kalina also remains dedicated to volunteer work for organizations like the American Cancer Society, Feed My Starving Children and Ahwatukee's Relay for Life.

*Pictured above: Rio Salado staff with 2017 ALL-AZ honorees Diana Betts and Elena Kalina. From left to right: Coordinator of student life John Bastian, Associate Dean of Enrollment Management Ruby Miller, Vice President of Academic Affairs Kate, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Information Services David and Vice President of Student Affairs LeRodrick Terry.