Paradise Valley Community College’s Alumni Association is proud of our Puma grads and makes every effort to stay connected. In honor of Black History Month, we are excited to share with you several of our African American alumni and where their paths have led.
Growing up, Flomo Gibson wanted to be a civil engineer, until he met Debbie Arn, a PVCC instructor. Her vast knowledge and ability to teach political science gave him a different perspective, changing the direction he was headed. He went on to earn his undergraduate degree in Political Science with an emphasis in international relations from Brigham Young University. He worked as a social worker for the Department of Economic Security Division of Developmental Disability for more than five years before becoming a police officer for the City of Phoenix. In addition to Flomo’s professional accomplishments is his Master’s degree in Public Administration from ASU.
Gozie Ibeji immigrated from Nigeria after high school, landing at PVCC. He became involved in many activities across campus, including Emerging Leaders (EL), where he realized you don’t have to go far to make a difference. EL was beneficial for building a network and providing exposure to leadership concepts and opportunities. He went on to complete his undergraduate degree at Arizona State University in Global Health and Biological Sciences. He earned a Master of Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center with a focus on epidemiology. Today, Gozie works as a data analyst at Texas Health and Human Services.
Laura Besong says that PVCC was the perfect launching pad to adulthood. She earned her Associate’s degree at PVCC before finishing up her Bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University in night school while still working full-time. It was there she learned about internships offered through the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars across the country in Washington D.C. Laura went on to receive her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Baltimore, continuing to pursue her interest in the federal government. Today, Laura is Assistant Director of Records and Information Management for the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.
Additional alumni shared their stories about how attending PVCC impacted them.
Nia McMillon found that the Women Rising and the Male Empowerment Network were two of the most powerful clubs on campus that gave representation to the People of Color (POC) community. Each offered leadership opportunities coupled “with a vast community behind us each step of the way,” she said. “I grew the courage to make my voice heard and to help others in similar places feel empowered to speak their mind and strive for inclusion on their campuses.” She traveled to Washington, DC through Women Rising, and she also represented PVCC at other leadership conferences.
Victor Atchison credits the diversity classes and PVCC mentors who helped mold his mind into “one of service to others.” Victor, who is an AmeriCorps Alumnus, has stayed in touch through the years with his PVCC mentors and attributes his current job as Judicial Clerk with the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department to the relationships he built along the way.
Wilson Okwuobu says that the Male Empowerment Network (MEN) program unequivocally was the most memorable aspect of his PVCC experience. MEN played an important role in his mental development and was a source of empowerment as it helped foster his sense of belonging and connectedness to faculty, staff and fellow students. Taking on leadership roles guided him to life changing experiences.
Helanda Crespin is a first-generation college and university grad and credits two individuals specifically for her involvement on campus and her drive to continue her education after PVCC. Helanda refers to PVCC as a gateway to her continuing education and without their support and encouragement, she might not be where she is today.
If you would like more information on PVCC’s Alumni Association, visit https://www.paradisevalley.edu/alumni.