Commencement student speakers eye the future

Coconino Community College students Marilyn Tsinajinnie, left, and Kiril Kirkov, right, will be the featured student speakers at the 2016 Commencement event at the Lone Tree Campus on May 13, at 1 p.m.

Flagstaff, Ariz. -- The two student graduates who will speak at the 2016 Commencement at Coconino Community College expect much from their future.

Kiril Kirkov plans on making a mark in visual anthropology. Marilyn Tsinajinnie plans on a career in visual communication.

Kiril Kirkov

Non-traditional student Kiril Kirkov hails originally from Bulgaria. While working at the Grand Canyon National Park, he decided to go back to college.

“I came to try out CCC, and it became my home,” Kirkov said. “I had a job. I had an education. I met wonderful people – all the good stuff.”

Before becoming a CCC student, Kirkov had full careers as a professional dancer, a dance teacher and a photographer.

Kirkov’s relationship with CCC began when he donated a photograph to the Palette to Palate fundraising event for the Fine Arts Department in 2013. The person who won the bid for his artwork, Joe Traino, head of the IT department, wanted to see him after the auction. They had a little chat, and the very next week, Kirkov landed a job at the IT department as a student worker. He graduated December 2015 with an associate of arts degree in anthropology.

As a CCC2NAU student, Kirkov transitioned to Northern Arizona University in January 2016, and he is currently seeking a bachelor’s degree in Socio-cultural anthropology. His first semester is under his belt with a 4.0 GPA. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Kirkov plans on completing a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in the field of visual anthropology. In June, Kirkov will already be starting on his graduate work by participating in a project he designed regarding refugee integration in the European Union.

“Collaborative filmmaking is the heart of modern visual anthropology,” Kirkov said. “Empathy, compassion, caring about what’s going on in the world … that’s important to me.”

Marilyn Tsinajinnie

Marilyn Tsinajinnie was raised traditionally in the Navajo culture.

“My mother always regretted she was kept from going to school,” she said.

Her father only made it to third grade, and both her parents stressed an education for their children, but Tsinajinnie was married young, and she started her family young. At 20, she was a widow and an expectant mom. She tried to go back to school with a small child, but the task proved too daunting. She tried again after her youngest child was born, but it didn’t work out either.

Her children are adults now, and when her world turned “upside down” in 2009, her oldest daughter suggested she go back to school.

“It’s always been my dream since high school,” Tsinajinnie said.

She’s graduating today with an Associate’s of Fine Arts degree.

“It’s still dawning on me that I actually accomplished it,” she said.

She has finished her first step. Next, she is already enrolled at Northern Arizona University, where she expects to earn a bachelor’s degree before going on to get a master’s degree in visual communication.

“After that, who knows? I might go after my Ph.D.,” Tsinajinnie said, smiling.

Her parents are gone now.

“I wish they were here to see me,” she said. “I know my dad would have been really proud.”


Tuesday, 10th May 2016

All Dates

  • Tuesday, 10th May 2016