Like many of the students who come to Paradise Valley Community College, recent graduate Kaitlyn Simon did it all on her own, making the moment even sweeter. She navigated through the pandemic, juggling work and school to earn her associates degree in arts.
“To take that leap of faith, try to navigate and understand the system and figure out how to pay for it on my own, it was a lot, but so worth it. It feels so wonderful to be able to achieve something on my own and not having to rely on anyone,” she said.
Simon started her journey at PVCC in Fall 2019, intending to study music. However, as life does, things changed and she found herself drawn to creative writing, immersing herself in her classes, and finding inspiration from Creative Writing Professor Ryan Stone and her peer mentor instructor Dr. Diane Chapman, subsequently becoming a mentor to other student writers.
“With Kaitlyn, there are some things you simply know. You know she'll be supportive; you know she'll be ready to listen; and you know she'll bring a positive attitude every day to every situation. She's been a wonderful member of our creative writing program,” said Stone.
“It was an incredible experience being able to collaborate with others on what we were writing, sharing feedback, and learn from one another,” Simon said, adding that the biggest takeaway was growing in her leadership skills, which will inevitably help her become more successful in life. “I’ve discovered so many leadership tools to help me continue to guide me in helping others for years to come.”
Chapman described Simon as “dedicated and conscientious”, showing a strong commitment to assisting students along their academic journey with foresight and heart.”
Simon was also a part of PVCC”s Honors program and although she never qualified for any of Honors various scholarship opportunities, she said the connections she made and experiences she had were essential to her development at PVCC.
Simon is the best version of herself when helping others. Strong in her faith, Simon worked for many years as a youth leader at her church and hopes to continue mentoring young adults there. She said the skills and knowledge she learned at PVCC grounded her and enabled her to see what she is capable of achieving.
Looking ahead, Simon will be attending Grand Canyon University in the fall with plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Christian Studies with an emphasis on worship leadership. She’s looking forward to utilizing the tools she’s learned at PVCC to build connections at GCU.
Having overcome many personal challenges before attending PVCC, Simon looks back on these times as fortunate learning experiences. Reflecting on her past failures, Simon doesn’t get upset; rather, she says, “Life is full of failure and really it’s an opportunity to stand back up and try things differently. That’s what I did and I couldn’t be prouder of myself. Some of the best things in life come from prior failed attempts. I believe as you endure you grow more when you walk through those challenges.”