Thursday, May 5, 2016

2016 SLCC Graduates of Excellence

The 2016 Salt Lake Community College Graduates of Excellence are as follows:

General Studies

Ashley Baker, 3.9GPA

“The General Education program at Salt Lake Community College has had a profound impact on my life. It’s allowed me to explore the vast aspects of education and figure out my place in the world. I’ve opened my eyes, discovered what my passion is and I’ve found a place in the world where I fit. My goal is to inspire my children and teach them to be strong people and to not hold themselves back because of some false self-belief. I hope my message to the world is: be okay with who you are and never doubt what you can become if you’re dedicated and willing to put in the effort. I know I have a long way to go, but at least I’m on my way.”

Ashley Baker

Criminal Justice

Catarina Granucci, 3.75GPA

“My academic success and dedication to my career field of choice is a direct and indirect attribution to the remarkable instructors whom have influenced me and guided me in this endeavor. Indeed, my personal progress and increased thirst for knowledge has been enhanced due to my professors, encouraging me and motivating me to learn and do more. Their instruction has served as a foundation for bettering myself, while their advisement continues to resonate within my thoughts. As such, I have a deep passion for what I do, in part, and in resemblance of that passion demonstrated to me by my instructors for what they do every day.”

Catarina Granucci

Business/General Studies

Fabrynn Soonalote, 3.7GPA

“As a minority first-generation student, my journey into the world of college, of any education beyond high school, was a difficult one. If it were not for the support of those close to me as well as a few amazing advisors I met through SLCC—Lee Martinez, Will ‘Unga, Brandi Mair and Tevita Hola—I honestly don’t believe that I would have been able to achieve as much as I was able to here at SLCC. They pushed me to believe in myself, to the point of realizing that college is achievable and life is survivable, and in doing so I took a step outside my comfort zone, outside of the everyday life of someone just passing through, and I discovered a world I never would have been able to comprehend let alone experience. I discovered through Student Life and Leadership, my talent as a graphic designer, my talent as a student and my abilities to achieve more than I thought would be possible for myself.”

Fabrynn Soonalote

Health Sciences

Joelle Merriman, 3.96GPA

“I knew I needed to go back to school and obtain the skills for a career that would help me rise above it all, and I had to rise to the challenge. My children were depending on me, and it was sink or swim time. I had a long list of small goals that I needed to accomplish to reach my final goal. I remember envisioning where I wanted to be way back then and giving myself a pep talk, ‘I can do this!’ I look back now and realize how far I have come and know that I can accomplish anything. It hasn’t been easy. It’s not easy being a single mom coming home from a long day of school, work or clinicals just to face not only mine but also my children’s schoolwork and studying. I had many things working against my success and sacrifice was always demanded. My hope is that my children will see my example and be proud of me and inspired by me. They are my motivation and the whole reason why I persevered.”

Joelle Merriman

Pre Health Sciences

Lillith Draper, 3.97GPA

“I received my letter of acceptance into the nursing program at Salt Lake Community College in 2012, and things have been in full-speed since then. I had positive relationships with all of my teachers, but some that stand out in my memory are Debbie Schuster, Deb Smith, Julie Rowsey, Matt Cropper, Karen Risch and Shane Carter. They were all very approachable and helped us find creative ways to remember the stacks of information we covered. Ah, the good times. The support I have received from my husband, children, teachers and friends on this journey has been amazing. I knew all the hard work would pay off in the end.”

Lillith Draper

Fashion Design

Trung Tham, 3.8GPA

During my time at the SLCC Fashion Institute, I’ve taken full advantage of the tools, resources and opportunities that are offered. Whether it was being chosen to design a dress for a war veteran as part of the ‘Grit To Glamour’ project, earning an honorable mention in the International Interior Design Association’s ‘Fashion Remix’ competition, serving as treasurer of the fashion club or displaying my artwork at the President’s Art Show, I have been very involved and eager to participate in the school’s various art and fashion events. When you think of fashion, you don’t necessarily think of Utah as being on the radar. My internships and freelance work proved to me that there are a lot of opportunities to do fashion even in this market. I believe this is a good foundation for me to make the next step in my career. I aspire to continue my fashion education in New York or London. The faculty members in the fashion design program have helped prepare me to achieve this goal.

Trung Tham


Vanessa Wilkins, 4.0GPA

“Lacking educational support in my native country did not diminish my desire for one day obtaining a degree. Arriving to the United States opened those possibilities, which I could not take for granted. Nonetheless, I had to wait a while as I focused my priority on raising a family. Because learning has always been my passion, deciding to come back to school was easy. So far, it has proven to be full of challenges and sacrifices. Trying to find enough time to juggle the everyday life of family, relationships, motherhood, school and full-time work can be sometimes daunting and exhausting. I have been rewarded with education, awareness and appreciation. As I embraced my life as a student, opportunities such as obtaining a work-study position in Student Life became a major catapult for the path I’m taking. My plan is to continue furthering my education by obtaining a double major in psychology and ethnic studies.”

Vanessa Wilkins