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Outstanding Student of the Year, Excellence awards bestowed on the best of the best during CTEC recognition event 

The top students in the Yavapai College Career and Technical Education Center’s array of hands-on training programs gathered with faculty, staff and loved ones April 8 for some well-deserved time in the spotlight during an annual Evening of Recognition event.

In all, 22 students were honored as Most Outstanding Student for the 2021-2022 academic year for qualities that made them stand out among their classmates, including their passion for their field of study, stellar grades and their willingness to share their skills and knowledge with others.

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CTEC Dean John Morgan, in welcome remarks during the CTEC Evening of Recognition, said the student honorees wisely chose technical education paths because of the many doors swinging wide open for them as they pursue careers or continue their education. “I have never seen job openings like we have right now in the technical fields. Rest assured that you have the skills to go out there and make an impact,” Morgan said.

In addition to their program-specific top awards, two CTEC students also won prestigious Awards for Excellence.

The highest honor, the President’s Award for Excellence, was bestowed on Cassidy Farias of Prescott, an aerospace science student and aspiring commercial pilot and entrepreneur who is a member of the College Honors Program, earned an All-Arizona Academic Team Scholarship and is a prolific community volunteer.

“I have never met a student with the determination, grit and academic rigor that she demonstrates daily,” Matt Mintzmyer, YC Aerospace Science Program Director, said of Cassidy in nominating her for the President’s Award. Cassidy also was named Most Outstanding Student in Aviation Technology this academic year.

Pre-Engineering student Preston Norbury of Chino Valley earned the Vice President’s Award for Excellence. Preston’s program instructors described him as “extremely hardworking, always willing to take on the toughest tasks” and generous with his leadership and skills tackling engineering projects inside and outside the classroom. Preston also was named the Pre-Applied Engineering program’s Most Outstanding Student.

As tradition dictates, outstanding faculty and staff also are saluted during the CTEC Evening of Recognition. This year, custodians Tony Fritts and Chris Robles were honored for their tireless efforts to keep the campus clean and COVID-free over the last two years. “These two are unsung heroes who always have the place looking sharp and ready to go,” Morgan said of the custodial team.

Also earning outstanding staff recognition this year was Advisor Jenn Zimmerman, who Morgan said “always put students first,” despite a personal health battle. “Words cannot describe how valuable and loved Jenn is by the division,” he said.

Ed Fisher was named Outstanding Adjunct Faculty. The Air Traffic Control instructor, Morgan said, “Is always prepared to teach and makes learning fun for students. His knowledge of programming is unsurpassed and seeing what he does in the labs is amazing.”

Outstanding CTEC Faculty member honors went to 12-year agribusiness technology faculty member, 22-year employee, YC alumna and current Faculty Senate President Marnee Zazueta. Quoting one of Zazueta’s students, Morgan said,” I never expected to have much fun in my college classes and Professor Zazueta changed all of that for me.”

Following are Most Outstanding Student recipients for their respective CTEC programs this academic year:

Theresa Lozo of Congress, Animal Care and Management

William “Shane” Keeble of Chino Valley, Production Horticulture

Mackenzie Dell of Prescott Valley, Agribusiness Technology

Nova Celik of Prescott Valley, Diesel Technology

Nelson Voldeng of Prescott, Automotive Technology

Michael Johnson, Automotive Body & Paint Collision Technology (no hometown identified)

Austin Tosh of Prescott, Electrical Instrumentation Technology

Carson Villalobos of Prescott, Advanced Manufacturing Technology

Matthew West of Prescott, Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Silas Chillquist of Prescott, Welding Technology

Eric Brannon of Chino Valley, Computer Numerical Control

Chris McDowell of Prescott Valley, Gunsmithing Technology

Quintero Burkeen of Glendale, Electric Utility Technology

Anna Componovo of Devon, PA, Equine Care and Management

Michael Rinaldi of Cottonwood, Fire Science

Hannah McCarrick of Williams, Construction Building Technology

Dustin Cushman of Paulden, Commercial Driver Training

Torey Gilsdorf of Prescott, Emergency Medical Services


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