A virtual commencement celebration recognizing Northland Pioneer College’s (NPC’s), class of 2021 began Thursday, May 13 and runs through Wednesday, May 19. The weeklong celebration observes NPC’s 47th Commencement and will be held on NPC’s Class of 2021 Facebook group page at www.facebook.com/groups/303957781090511/?ref=share.

NPC is honored to award 413 deserving graduates who have earned a total of 590 associate degrees, certificates of applied science and certificates of proficiency – all outstanding accomplishments. Students, family, friends, NPC faculty and staff, and the community at large, are invited to celebrate by posting comments, praise and outgoing cheers to NPC’s class of 2021.

Of the graduates, 58 NPC students are receiving transfer degrees. Of those degrees, 45 Associate of Arts degrees will be awarded to students, four of whom will earn their Associate of Arts in Early Childhood and another seven, their Associate of Arts in Elementary Education. Six students are taking home an Associate of Business degree. Seven graduates are receiving an Associate of Science degree. The Associate of General Studies degree will be conferred upon an additional seven graduates, and a total of 110 graduates are recipients of the Associate of Applied Science degree.

An additional 97 NPC graduates will gain Certificates of Applied Science and 318 students will earn their Certificates of Proficiency. Actual degrees and certificates will be conferred upon verification of final grades and credits.

Four outstanding graduates are being recognized this year for their top grade-point averages and overall scholastic achievements. Brent Peterson, a resident of Pinedale and student at NPC’s Show Low campus, is NPC’s top Associate of Science graduate and maintains the highest-grade point average among the entire class of 2021. Michael Papa, of Snowflake, is the top graduate for the Associates of General Studies program. Another Snowflake resident, Nicha Tucker, is the outstanding graduate for the Associate of Arts program and Amber Bastedo, of Heber, is the honored Business graduate for 2021.

Brent Peterson, an NPC President’s Scholar, notes that from a very early age his parents taught him that “no matter what I do in life I need to do my very best and put forth by best effort and rely on the help of my Heavenly Father to guide me through it.” He explains, “These are the aspects I have incorporated during my time at NPC. To me, this is what it really means to be an ‘outstanding graduate.’ Just do your very best, and no matter what the results, make an outstanding effort.” Peterson expresses his admiration of NPC’s honor’s program coordinators and instructors Ryan Jones and Andrew Hassard. “I’ve been very thankful to work with them and to be involved in the honors program with fellow students these past few years. My favorite memories at NPC are with you guys.” Peterson conveys, “NPC was always very embracing. The teachers know your name. They get to know you personally – you have their genuine support and attention. They really want to see you succeed. It’s truly awesome.”

Peterson plans to continue his studies and eventually earn his Master’s degree. He aspires to one day become a family nurse practitioner and open his own private practice. When it comes to free time, a self-proclaimed “jack of all trades, master of none,” Peterson loves spending time with his family, going out service for his church, training and playing with his dogs, camping, flying drones, watching movies and playing the piano. After graduating from Show Low High School in 2017, he spent two years serving on a mission in the Philippines for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before attending NPC. Peterson notes that his time spent abroad shaped him and continues to influence those around him, as he regularly discusses the importance of cultural diversity and encourages others to attain a broad range of ethnic world experiences.

For fellow outstanding graduate, Michael Papa of Snowflake, obtaining his Associates Degree in General Studies has been a long haul. With an extensive career employed in the local power production industry, Papa has dually pursued this achievement over the past 20+ years. “I have always stressed to my four kids the importance of getting an education… while sharing my regret for not doing it when I myself was younger.” He confesses, “My oldest daughter graduated with her bachelor’s degree last year and she challenged me go back and finish mine. In earning this degree, I’ve learned useful tools and have had many great growth experiences. It has helped me be better at, and more professional in my current career, as well as opened up new opportunities for me.”

Papa, who is also a certified EMT, youth leader, and wrestling coach, enjoys mountain biking and repelling as well as spending time with his family. He plans to continue his education and pursue a bachelor’s degree in industrial leadership from NAU. “My hope is to complete that in 1/10th the time it took for me to earn my associate’s degree,” he laughs.

As the outstanding graduate for NPC’s Associate of Arts degree program, Nicha Tucker of Snowflake reflects that of her “stand-out” memories at NPC, the time she spent volunteering for and participating in activities as a member of NPC’s Student Government Association (SGA), was the best. “I was able to meet some very awesome people, in and out of the SGA at the various NPC campuses and get to know and hang out with them. It was fun to cheer each other on and watch movies together (many of which have been held virtually via Zoom ‘movie nights’ throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic).” She explains, “It was great to get to see and meet people and discuss plans for our futures together.”

In addition to being an officer for NPC’s SGA, Tucker has received Presidents Scholar recognition and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She loves to play the violin, hike, and play board games.

Tucker’s favorite quote by Jeffery R. Holland may sum it up when to comes her plans for the future; “We did not come this far, to only come this far.” Upon graduating from NPC this spring, Nicha plans to embark on a mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Upon her return, she will continue her education at Brigham Young University-Idaho and plans to go into the field of medical radiology.

Amber Bastedo is this year’s outstanding graduate in the business department. She will earn her Associates in Business Entrepreneurship and ranks among the top academic performers of her class. She plans to transfer to ASU and pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration. A dedicated student, Bastedo hopes to one day own her own chain of successful restaurants — at least one of which she envisions as a 50’s style diner, complete with the traditional black and white checkered style of years past.

A quote by the famed Earnest Hemingway is Bastedo’s favorite; “But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed, but not defeated.” She enjoys people and reflects that her favorite times at NPC were those spent on the physical campus. She enjoys face to face, personal contact.

She notes, “being able to ask questions and get answers and feedback and to interact in real time with professors and fellow students makes the college experience.” Bastedo loves books and is an avid reader. Although she attains to one day operate a chain of restaurants serving outstanding cuisine, regarding her personal food choices, she blushingly reveals, “I hate chocolate… um, yeah so, that’s me – I’m a little weird.”

Celebrate these outstanding graduates and their peers during NPC’s weeklong Facebook event. Participate in the fun by joining the Class of 2021 Facebook page and following along with the continual thread of congratulatory posts, photos and video segments posted in honor of NPC’s 2021 graduating class. To join the group visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/303957781090511/?ref=share.

Northland Pioneer College serves the residents of Navajo and Apache counties through four regional campuses and five centers with a variety of educational options for academic, career and technical and personal enrichment. NPC supports each student’s educational goals through affordable tuition, small class sizes and caring, professional instructors. For more information about NPC programs and services, visit www.npc.edu or call (800) 266-7845.

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