Outstanding Alumni Award Recipients

Outstanding Alumni Award

Northland Pioneer College would like to salute outstanding graduates who have used their degree or training to succeed in the pursuit of a career or educational goal and who support and promote life-long learning.

The Outstanding Alumni Award is awarded twice annually, once in spring and once in fall, at regular meetings of the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board.

To nominate an individual, please complete this form.

Alumni Home Page

Outstanding Alumnus Award Recipients

Cindy Stirling – Fall 2018

Cindy Stirling
Cindy Stirling

Cindy Stirling has been acknowledged as one of the premiere traveling makeup artists and licensed hairstylists in the U.S. and internationally. Working with high-profile production organizations for television and film and alongside top-tier photographers and weddings, she is considered among the elite in her field and is consistently booked for high-end private lessons, photo-shoots and weddings. Living the dream of a young girl in Lakeside who had a passion for cosmetology and who got her start at Northland Pioneer College (NPC), Stirling is the recipient of the NPC Outstanding Alumnus Award for the fall 2018 semester. | Read More

Dr. Chet Adams – Spring 2018

Dr. Chet Adams
Dr. Chet Adams

Achieving one's career goal isn't always a straight, smooth road. Dr. Chet Adams encountered twists and turns on his journey to dental school, but he persisted in the pursuit of his dream. Today he is serving the dental needs of people in the White Mountains and heavily engaged in service to his local and other communities. He is also the winner of the Northland Pioneer College (NPC) Outstanding Alumnus Award for the spring 2018 semester. | Read More

Rusty Williams – Fall 2017

Rusty Williams
Rusty Williams

Rusty Williams mentored many fellow students in his time as a college student, and though he's moved on to his career now he's still investing in the academic success of college students. As one who strongly supports and promotes life-long learning, Williams is the recipient of NPC's Fall 2017 Outstanding Alumni award. This high achiever also overcame a life-threatening car accident and inspires those around him. | Read more

Darrin Reed – Spring 2017

Darrin Reed
Darrin Reed

Being in law enforcement was Darrin Reed's "dream job," attainable only because of the NPC Police Academy. Just three months shy of retirement after 20 years as a peace officer, Reed was killed in the line of duty, protecting the community he swore to protect. Reed was selected as the recipient of the Spring 2017 NPC Outstanding Alumnus Award. | Read more

Amie Rodgers – Fall 2016

Amie Rodgers
Photo by David Loomis
Amie Rodgers

Bored White Mountain teenager Amie Rodgers once thought the city life would be her future. She eventually changed her mind, gladly returned to Show Low and is now one of the community's greatest advocates. The publisher of The Maverick magazine is the recipient of the Fall 2016 NPC Outstanding Alumnus Award. | Read more

Julie Vasher – Spring 2016

Julie Vasher
Julie Vasher

NPC Class of 1995 Nursing Graduate Julie Vasher and her California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) colleagues at Stanford University School of Medicine are working with hospitals in California, nationally and internationally to improve obstetrical care and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity by implementing the latest best clinical practices for patient treatment. NPC is honoring her accomplishments and contributions to her communities as the Spring 2016 Outstanding Alumnus. | Read more

Jason Harvey – Fall 2015

Jason Harvey
Jason Harvey

Watching Bill Nye, the Science Guy and other similar television shows instilled a love of science in Jason Harvey, who is now sharing that passion with Apache children at Cradleboard Elementary School in Whiteriver as their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) instructor. He also serves as a caseworker for highly at-risk youth, from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Jason's selection as the Fall 2015 Northland Pioneer College Outstanding Alumnus recognizes his commitment to education and service to our communities. | Read more

David Singer – Spring 2015

David Singer
David Singer

“I was age 47, truly a 'second-chancer,' when I first started attending NPC classes in 2004," commented David Singer, the Northland Pioneer College Outstanding Alumnus for the 2015 Spring Semester. After years in "dead-end jobs" David wondered if a college degree was even possible. But now he is teaching and pursuing a doctorate. | Read more

Tracy Ison – Fall 2014

Tracy Ison
Tracy Ison

Nominated for her dedication, service and professionalism while working in the field of Early Childhood Education, Tracy Ison is the recipient of the Northland Pioneer College Fall 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award.
At 16, Ison was faced with a difficult decision; she was starting a new family, was newly-married, and needed to decide between finishing high school and keeping her family as her top priority. Ison chose her family, and made the difficult sacrifice of not finishing high school. “You know, I always wanted to be a mom,” said Ison. “That's been my priority my whole life, so it was easy for me to decide that that's what I wanted to be.” After her decision, Ison began the career of being a home childcare provider, opening her own business to help provide for her family. | Read more

Sara Greenwood – Spring 2014

Spring 2014 Outstanding Alumnus Sara Greenwood
Sara Greenwood

“I knew that I wanted to turn around and invest into the community because the community invested in me,” said Sara Greenwood, recipient of Northland Pioneer College's Spring 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award. Nominated for her outstanding service and work in the medical profession, Greenwood has been able to give back to the community by helping save lives in local hospitals and train future nurses from NPC. | Read more

Terry Yazzie – Fall 2013

Terry Yazzie - Fall 2013“I do not think of myself as a role model, because I am one of the people,” said Terry Yazzie when describing how he demonstrates the need for a GED or higher education to his fellow Diné. “I try to instill the importance of an education, using my background as an example to influence them to believe in themselves.” Yazzie, a 1994 NPC graduate, is giving back to his hometown of Jeddito and to the Diné through a new Adult Basic Education (ABE) program at the Window Rock campus of Diné College.

Yazzie was named NPC's Outstanding Alumnus for Fall 2013 for his continued lifelong learning and service to his community. The college's District Governing Board honored Yazzie during its Dec. 17, 2013 regular meeting in Holbrook. | Read more

Amelia Flores – Spring 2013

Amelia Flores - Spring 2013 Outstanding AlumnusA desire to better meet the needs of her people led Amelia Flores on a long and productive journey. Beginning as long ago as 1970, Flores, a Mohave Indian and enrolled member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), began work in a variety of positions for the Tribes, primarily in the tribal museum located in Parker, Arizona. Forty-three years later, she serves as an executive officer of the nine-member Tribal Council, the CRIT governing body.

As Northland Pioneer College played a pivotal role in helping her achieve her goal, the college's District Governing Board, at its April 16, 2013 meeting, honored Flores as the NPC Outstanding Alumnus, for Spring 2013. | Read more

Howard Carlson – Fall 2012

Alumnus Howard CarlsonIf you were to compile a list of major disasters, both human- and natural-caused, over the past four decades, Northland Pioneer College Fire Science graduate Howard Carlson can probably say he was there. No, not as the event happened, but in the aftermath – part of the national Incident Management Team charged with returning life to near normalcy.
The Eagar Fire Chief, a 1981 Fire Science graduate, was honored as the Fall 2012 Outstanding NPC Alumnus for his 40+-year fire service career at the November 19, 2012 regular meeting of the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board in Holbrook. | Read more

Justin Tafoya – Spring 2012

Justin TafoyaJustin Tafoya, a 2008 graduate of Northland Pioneer College's nursing program who is now giving back to his community and nation as a Commissioned Health Corps Officer stationed at the Indian Health Services (IHS) Hospital in Whiteriver, was honored as the Spring 2012 Outstanding Alumnus during the June 19 regular meeting of the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board in Holbrook. | Read more


Jonathan NezJonathan Nez, Navajo County District One Supervisor, was nominated by Myrtle Dayzie-Grey, NPC Kayenta Center adviser, for the alumni award citing his leadership for his people in both Navajo County and the Navajo Nation. Nez is Navajo. He is of the 'Ashííhí (Salt) Clan, born for the Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle/Badlands) Clan. His maternal grandfather's clan is the Tódíchii'nii (Bitter Water). Táchii'nii (Red Running into the Water) is the clan of his paternal grandfather. | Read more

Dr. Paul Holbrook

Dr. Paul Holbrook – Spring 2011

From his years as an educator, Dr. Paul Holbrook understands that learning does not always come easily. For those considering whether or not to attend college he offers this: “Gaining an education is a journey almost always filled with dead ends, disillusionment and difficulty. You never know until you fight through these obstacles how wonderful the opportunities are that education provides you. In achieving a graduate degree, you are furthering knowledge in order to help society. What better thing can you do?” | Read more

Amy, Avery and Erik Ramsay

Amy & Erik Ramsay – December 2010

Amy and Erik both were eager to cite NPC instructors who helped and encouraged them while at NPC. These include: “Dr. Mike” (Mike Solomonson), speech & theatre; Cynthia Hutton, biology; Barry Richins, Spanish; Andrew Hazzard, geography, history and anthropology; and Barbara Hockabout, English). “They are all amazing teachers and wonderful people,” say the couple. | Read more

Dustin Benavides

Dustin P. Benavides – October 2010

Dustin currently works at the NPC Whiteriver Center, where he is practically a one-man band. He is the center's only tutor, covering all subjects. “I've been at NPC long enough, and taken so many classes I can just about tutor anything!” | Read more

Ronald Bishop Jr.

Ronald Bishop, Jr. – September 2010

Always a high achiever, Ronald has a goal of retiring by the time he's 40! “I'm investigating opportunities to see what the next chapter of my life will hold. But I do know that investing in yourself is the best investment there is, and I can't say enough about the worth of getting an education. And NPC? Well, it was a great place to start!” | Read more

Lorraine Benally addressing the 2009 graduating class

Lorraine Benally – August 2010

As a “lifelong” student, Lorraine encourages students to start out, as she did, at a community college like NPC. “But they should keep on going until they reach a goal of a bachelor's or a master's degree. They shouldn't do what I did and interrupt their goals.” | Read more

Brenda & Rita Allison

Brenda & Rita Allison – June 2010

While Rita thinks students who are considering what to do after high school should “do what they want and not what others want them to do,” Brenda offers a caution. “You need your education. Anymore, no one is going to hire someone with only a GED or high school diploma.” However, both agree that starting at NPC is a good decision. | Read more

Jody Raikowski

Jody Raikowski – May 2010

Jody is an outspoken advocate for NPC and, on occasion, has offered unsolicited advice to prospective students, even while in line at the grocery store. “This little gal wanted to go on to a university right out of high school, but I told her how much smarter it would be to get a degree from NPC that transfers to the university. She'd save so much money in the long run!” | Read more

Javan Tsosie

Javan Tsosie – April 2010

Becoming an elementary teacher wouldn't be possible without the education he has received at Northland Pioneer College. “It's given me the solid foundation I need to move ahead. I would recommend it to anyone.” | Read more

Lindasue Landes

Lindasue Landes – March 2010

“I tell folks that it may be hard to believe, but if it hadn't been for this little college in this little town, I'd never have gotten where I am today. It changed my life.” | Read more

Laurel Endfield

Laurel S. Endfield – February 2010

“When it comes to succeeding in school, family support is the number one reason. Sometimes it's a culture shock to go away to school, and that's why starting at NPC can be good.” | Read more

Lisa Ault

Lisa Ault – November 2009

Despite family obligations, (she and her husband raised six children, 3 girls and 3 boys) Ault has successfully maintained created and managed three businesses for 29+ years. While she modestly declines to give a reason for her success, community members who have known and worked with her over these many years credit Ault's good taste, attention to detail, and outstanding customer service. | Read more

Autom Christensen

Autom S. Christensen – August 2009

“It's funny. Ten years ago, I never even knew what I wanted to do, and I never would have imagined myself where I am today. But I love teaching; it is so fun, so rewarding.” | Read more

Julia Ann "Julie" Jackson

Julia Ann "Julie" Jackson – May 2009

While nursing responsibilities consume most of her life, her dream is to write children's books. "It is my goal. I just know I can do it … if only I could find the time." | Read more

Donna Kreiser

Donna Krieser – April 2009

"I tried to take one or two things from every class I took and apply them to our business. I wanted to utilize what I was learning," Krieser says. | Read more

March 2009 Outstanding Alumnus Gary Polacca

Gary Evan Polacca – March 2009

"My father had been insistent that I accomplish many things for a better way of life, and I knew I had to achieve my goal of getting an education." | Read more

Robin Hendricks

Robin Hendricks - January 20, 2009

"Here I was, in my early 30s, returning to school. Wyatt was just 3 months old when I started my nursing studies. It was pretty grueling. But my instructors, especially Dr. (Jim) Jacob and Dana Jolly, got me through it." | Read more

Jamison Bellucci

Jamison Bellucci - January 2009

"I've experienced how community colleges can change lives and I want to be a part, sharing my love for world history." | Read more

Jonnel Acosta

Jonnel Acosta - November 18, 2008

"My experience at NPC was great! I would definitely recommend it to others needing to improve their job skills. Today, on the job you never know too much." | Read more