CCC alum credits Educational Opportunity Center for success


CCC alum Gordon Isaac now works for the National Park Service on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.


Flagstaff, Ariz. - Gordon Isaac initially started college in 1993. While he was in school, he took a job with the city of Flagstaff and he started a family. He set his college education on the back burner, and the years passed.


Eventually, he noticed something had happened.


“I reached a ceiling because I didn’t have a degree,” Isaac said, adding that he started his own business, worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and even did a stint as a chess coach.


In 2012, looking for something different, he found himself at Coconino Community College in Flagstaff. He visited the Educational Opportunity Center on campus, and that visit changed his world. Since that time, he’s graduated from CCC and has received his bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from Northern Arizona University, and Isaac credits the EOC for helping him achieve his goals.


“It was a big help,” Isaac said. “It was a painless process with their help.”


The EOC program specializes in helping adults pursue higher education – college, university, vocational technology, said Terri Beeson, an EOC coordinator who staffs an EOC location at CCC’s Fourth Street Innovation Center. The goal of the EOCs is to help low-income and first-generation college students as well as people who have disabilities and veterans be successful at higher education.


“The goal is basically beyond high school,” Beeson said. “And the unique thing is that we can help with any accredited school in the United States.”


The EOCs are a grant-funded program run through the U.S. Department of Education and administered through NAU, Beeson said. The service area is all of northern Arizona, and there are currently five EOC sites in northern Arizona – two in Flagstaff at CCC’s campuses, one for Tuba City and Page, and two to the south in Yavapai County.


EOC coordinators help students with admission, financial aid and scholarship educations as well as offer career and educational guidance, Beeson added. Each coordinator serves approximately 300 students a year, and they often travel to the remote parts of the state to help reach students interested in higher education.


Isaac said that he picked up his educational journey again online at CCC to satisfy his General Education requirements.


“I had to basically get comfortable with the computer,” he said and laughed. He added that he eventually moved back to Flagstaff not far from the Lone Tree campus, so he could walk to school and attend class. He chose to focus on Construction Technology and Management.


“That’s all I’ve ever known,” Isaac said. “It just felt right. Familiar. So, I went with it.”


Each step of the way, Isaac said that Beeson was there to help him navigate financial aid, scholarships and get ready for each new semester. She would also guide and encourage him on the way.


At first, he took a seasonal job with the National Park Service at the Grand Canyon, in facilities maintenance, but, luckily, that work turned into a full-time job for him. He also remodels houses on his down time with NPS.


Isaac said that going to school as an older adult was helpful, and he enjoyed the role of mentor for some of the younger students with whom he went to class.


“CCC is a nice hometown community college,” Isaac said. “It’s a good step into academics, and it’s cheaper to come to school here. It has smaller classes and it’s more – close.”


Currently, his son Joshua is a student at CCC, and he’s enrolled in the CCC2NAU program.


“I would tell him it’s important to go to school,” Isaac said. “And it was like, ‘If I can do it, you can do it.’”



Thursday, 1st March 2018

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  • Thursday, 1st March 2018