More than 4,000 students will receive their diplomas from Northern Arizona University this spring, with four commencement ceremonies planned May 11 and 12 at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff and one in Yuma on May 11.
As part of the observances, four individuals will be awarded honorary degrees for their continued support of Northern Arizona University and Arizona education.
Leah Bornstein, president of Coconino Community College, oversees the school’s three campuses and four outreach centers that serve about 10,000 learners annually throughout Coconino County. Under Bornstein’s leadership, CCC has experienced a 20 percent increase in student enrollment, earning a 2011 ranking by Community College Week as one of the fastest growing community colleges in the country. She has been instrumental in advancing the NAU/CCC partnership that provides more students with better access to education. Four years ago, Bornstein initiated a joint admission program that helps students transition seamlessly from CCC to Northern Arizona University. In 2010, she and NAU President John Haeger signed an agreement between their respective institutions that improved library services for community college students while leveraging resources between NAU and CCC. More recently, she unveiled a reverse transfer program that allows former CCC students to complete their associate degree at NAU while earning their bachelor’s degree. She will receive her honorary degree and speak to graduates at the 10 a.m. ceremony on May 12.
Zong Wa is deputy secretary-general of the China Education Association for International Exchange and executive director of the China Center for International Educational Exchanges. He has devoted most of his time in the past 10 years to launching and developing international education exchange programs and has been instrumental in NAU’s continued growth in its China partnership. His leadership has provided platforms for Chinese and other foreign agencies, non-profit organizations, higher education institutions, students and professionals to pursue a common interest in educational internalization and student mobility in the 21st century. He will be recognized at the 10 a.m. ceremony on May 11.
Award-winning artist Bruce Aiken is a prominent painter of the Grand Canyon and the American southwest and will be honored at the 2 p.m. ceremony on May 11. Aiken was classically trained at New York’s School of Visual Arts, and after arriving in Arizona in 1970 he discovered a compelling muse in the Grand Canyon. Serving with the National Park Service from 1973 to 2006, he lived at Roaring Springs, some five-and-a-half miles below the North Rim. There, he oversaw the production of the public water supply for Grand Canyon National Park. He and his wife, Mary, raised their three children in the canyon’s depths, while he maintained a dual career as an artist and NPS employee. Aiken channeled his energy into a life-long study of the canyon, the Colorado Plateau and the American Southwest. His library, field notes, sketches and journals are filled with his personal and perceptive insights ranging from botany to geology to human resource issues—the result of 40 years of keen observation and appreciation for the unique beauty of the region. His prolific output includes nearly 400 paintings, drawings, pastels and other forms of creative media related to his firsthand experience in the Grand Canyon. Many of these documents and art pieces will ultimately be housed in NAU’s Cline Library Special Collections Archive.
Arizona Teacher of the Year Kristie Martorelli will be honored at 2 p.m. May 12. Martorelli is a kindergarten-to-third-grade reading interventionist at Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage, Ariz., in the Dysart Unified School District, where she has worked for 12 years. In this role, Martorelli meets in a small group setting with students who need extra help with their reading skills, working hard to provide an environment that makes the children feel supported. A native of Arizona, Martorelli has spent her entire educational career in the Arizona school system. She graduated from Centennial High School in Peoria and obtained her bachelor’s degree in education through Arizona State University. She also earned a master’s in education/administration and supervision from University of Phoenix and is working on a master’s in education/curriculum and instruction–reading. During her studies, she conducted an action research project focused on low parental involvement in schools, and the results of her research facilitated improvements at her own school.
Details about NAU’s spring commencement ceremonies can be found online.