Yuma, Arizona - While Chaney Linares’ mother is one of the smartest people she knows, her formal education ended after she graduated from middle school. So, when it came to higher education, it was the example of Chaney’s older sister that motivated her to pursue college.

Chaney is now pursuing a dual master’s degree in Business Administration and Science of Leadership through Grand Canyon University while also working at Arizona Western College as an academic skills coach for the TRIO KEYS program. This is after she received her associate degree in Administration of Justice Studies from AWC and transferred to New Mexico State University to obtain her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.

“These degrees have given me the opportunity to be flexible with possible career options,” said Chaney. “I hope to motivate the rest of my family to pursue college too. So far, all my siblings have attended college. Whether they obtained a certificate, associate degree, or went straight to university, we have all furthered our education in hopes of breaking the cycle of economic instability.” 

With 66% of AWC’s population identifying as first-generation college goers, the campus aims to make resources and activities more accessible for students, especially those who may need additional support and guidance.

AWC will be holding their 2nd Annual First-Generation College Student Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 8, as part of a national effort to celebrate the contributions and successes of first-generation college students, staff, and faculty at institutions across the country. In addition to having first-generation speakers and a proclamation read by AWC President Dr. Daniel Corr, a variety of departments will also be holding a resource fair at the event to share what tools are available for current and potential first-generation students as a way to help them navigate through their academic and professional pathways.

The celebration is open to the community from Yuma and La Paz counties and it will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 3C Building grass area on the AWC Yuma Campus, 2020 S. Ave. 8E. The First-Generation College Student Celebration event will also be happening in conjunction with the AWC Foundation Chili Cook-off, which will be taking place at the same time and location to raise funds for student scholarships.