Award-winning CCC alum encourages educational path


CCC alum April Sandoval, Assistant to the CCC President and the District Governing Board, receives the nod for the Pacific Region Professional Board Staff Member Award for 2020 from the Association of Community College Trustees.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Barely getting by at a dead-end job, April Sandoval left an abusive husband and decided to try her hand at college. 


Sitting in the parking lot of Coconino Community College in 2002, she forced herself to go inside and attend her first class. She thrived and quickly received her associate degree. She then went on to get two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree.


Now, Sandoval, Assistant to the President and the District Governing Board at CCC, can add another feather in her cap on her road to success. She was chosen this week to receive the Pacific Region Professional Board Staff Member Award for 2020 from the Association of Community College Trustees.


“I’m a bit overwhelmed and humbled,” Sandoval said. “It’s been a chance to think over what I’ve accomplished since the night almost 20 year ago, when I sat in the parking lot and cried before I started my first class at CCC.”


The ACCT is a nonprofit educational organization of community college governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern more than 1,200 community, technical and junior colleges in the United States and internationally, according to the ACCT website.


There are five awards each year, one for each region of ACCT. The Pacific region, in which CCC is located, includes seven states and British Columbia and the Yukon Territory in Canada. Sandoval has the potential to win the international award later this year.


CCC President Dr. Colleen Smith and CCC Board Chair Patricia Garcia nominated Sandoval for the award.


“April is the most productive assistant that I have ever had the opportunity to work with in the 39 years of my community college career,” Smith stated in her nomination letter. “She is a testament to the difference education can make in our lives and has come out the other side of her earlier experiences as a strong, assertive and successful woman who can take on any challenge that comes her way.”


Smith added, “She daily demonstrates the value of a community college education and is so grateful to have the chance to pay forward some of the opportunities she was given.”


Garcia wrote in a letter of support for Sandoval’s nomination, “April not only serves as assistant to the president but also as assistant to the board. She always goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that, as elected officials volunteering our time, we have the support needed to fulfill our service to the college and the citizens of Coconino County.”


Sandoval said that she tried college right out of high school, but she wasn’t very good at managing work and school simultaneously and dropped out. It took a decade of life before she tried college again at CCC.


“The night my classes were supposed to start, I had a panic attack, and as I sat in the parking lot, I couldn’t do anything but cry,” Sandoval said. “Somehow, I pulled myself together and convinced myself to walk into my first class. By the end of that class, I knew I was in the right place …”


This year’s ACCT conference will be held virtually in early October. Regional award winners will be recognized on Wednesday, Oct. 7, and the overall international winner will be recognized on Thursday, Oct. 8.


“If you’re wondering if you should go back to school and pursue that dream, consider a community college,” Sandoval said. “CCC changed my life, and I’ve seen it do the same for thousands of other students.”


For more information about CCC, visit For more information about ACCT, visit



Thursday, 6th August 2020

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  • Thursday, 6th August 2020