May 15, 2024

Celebrating Education Forward Arizona’s Class of 2024

Education Forward Arizona awarded more than $2.3 million in scholarships to 550 students all over the state, during the 2023-24 school year.

Every May, Education Forward Arizona honors our amazing graduates and 2024 is no different. This spring, 87 scholars graduated with majors ranging from accounting to social work.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our 2024 graduates for making this investment in their future,” shared Myrna Cardenas, Senior Director of Success Services Partnerships. “Our Success Advisers provided support through mentorship and guidance to help them reach this milestone and we can’t wait to see where they go next.”

This year’s graduations are especially meaningful. Most students weren’t able to attend their own high school graduations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Honoring 87 Outstanding Graduates

“This time of year really drives home why we do what we do,” said Rich Nickel, President and CEO. “I’m so impressed by each student who comes into our programs. They’re at the core of what we stand for – creating successful individuals and successful communities all over the state.”

Traditional Native matriarch Tia Early, who studied business at University of Phoenix, returned to school later in life. She noted that “It’s never too late to go back. In coming back to school, I was apprehensive because I thought maybe I was too old and how was I going to adjust to technology and how was I going to manage everything else I do? I found that I had a lot to contribute to my classroom and it really made a difference for me. I wouldn’t have been able to continue my education without the scholarship and without the encouragement of my adviser.”

Valey Emilia Martinez Almeida, a sociology graduate from Grand Canyon University shared that the experience has made her more resilient and reminded her that she’s not alone in her journey.

Others noted that they wouldn’t have been able to pursue postsecondary education without the scholarships and support provided by Education Forward Arizona.

Scholarships and Success Support

Graduates gathered at the Arizona Science Center recently to commemorate this incredible achievement. Those who were able to attend received free graduation photos, along with a personalized piece of advice from their Success Services mentor. Each graduate also received Education Forward Arizona scholar stoles and participated in a pinning ceremony while sharing the program and university they graduated from. 

During the 2023-24 school year, Education Forward Arizona awarded more than $2.3 million in scholarships to 550 students all over the state, stemming from three scholarship programs:

In addition to assistance with paying for postsecondary pursuits, Education Forward Arizona scholars are paired with a Success Adviser who helps them with everything from navigating the higher education system to managing interpersonal conflicts. This one-on-one support helps students both personally and professionally, ensuring they’re not alone on this journey.

Advancing Individuals and Communities

Recent research by Helios Education Foundation and Education Forward Arizona has revealed the widespread benefits of higher education. Experts have long known that college graduates earn more over their lifetime, experience better health outcomes and are less likely to face unemployment. And now we know that a 20% increase in postsecondary enrollment would lead to gains— including lifetime earnings, improved health, reduced crime and welfare spending, and increased workforce productivity—that exceed $5 billion per cohort.

Education Forward Arizona is committed to driving toward Arizona’s goal of ensuring that 60% of adults in the state hold a postsecondary credential (certificate or degree) by 2030.