Estrella Wins Recognition

Six months ago Marylyn and I notarized “do not resuscitate” living wills, ordered and etched our names and dates of birth onto a gravestone and Marylyn spent hours trying to teach me how to manage our finances. We put our affairs in order because Marylyn had only a few months left to live.

January 18th, while everyone else was celebrating Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, we miraculously received the gift of life in the form of a new kidney for Marylyn.

Marylyn and I spent last weekend in Orlando, Florida watching Marylyn’s Phi Theta Kappa officers receive the lion’s share of awards at their national convention. Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in America with tens of thousands of members in more than 1,200 chapters and millions of alumni. More than 4,000 honor student officers and advisors were treated to pageantry as only Disneyworld does it.

Not only was Monika Groomes' stellar performance as an international officer onstage amazing but Estrella’s Beta Alpha Xi Chapter won recognition with an almost unheard-of four major International Hallmark Awards:

  • Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Chapter,
  • Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Chapter President (Yvette Moller),
  • Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Service (Lucas Byrnes-Norton), and
  • Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Scholarship (Kevin Riley, Anita Padilla, and Jose Gonzales).

In addition, Lauren Hansen, Yvette Moller, and Kevin Riley, who also serve on the Arizona Region Board, were recognized for being leaders of one of the entire Phi Theta Kappa organization’s Top Three Regional Boards.

And Marylyn was feted on stage “For your dedicated support to Monika Groomes” in her election to and year as Region IV International Vice President.

Estrella Mountain Community College is now known for excellence in student scholarship, leadership and service.

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 As Published
Students Accomplish International Success with the Support of Advisor in Medical Crisis

On the morning of April 12th, Estrella Mountain Community College’s faculty and staff were greeted with an email with the subject line: “Congratulations to our PTK students!” The email was sent by the advisor of the campus’ Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Beta Alpha Xi Chapter, Marylyn Bradley. The students of PTK and Bradley had just returned from the Phi Theta Kappa International Convention in Orlando, Florida where they were victorious with an unheard of win of four Hallmark awards and a spot on the top 100 chapter list for the fifth consecutive year. Accomplishments like these are never easy to accomplish, but Bradley, and her never-ending support of her students, led the group to success. However, during the preparations for this event, Bradley was fighting a war with her own body, a war that her students knew nothing about.

Bradley was facing End Stage Renal Disease at the beginning of 2010; her kidneys were working at a 15 percent capacity and she and her doctors had already concluded that dialysis would not work for her. Through this, Bradley and her family had come to terms with the fact that she only had a few months to live. “Marylyn and I notarized ‘do not resuscitate’ living wills, and ordered and etched our names and dates of birth on a gravestone,” writes Bradley’s husband John in an email telling the little known story of his wife’s illness. “January 18th, while everyone was celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we miraculously received the gift of life in the form of a new kidney for Marylyn,” he said. Until that day, the students of PTK knew nothing of Bradley’s condition.

“Imagine my surprise when I got the call that Marylyn was going into surgery and getting a transplant. I was dumbstruck! I didn’t know she was that sick,” said PTK President Yvette Moller. “If anything, this shows her dedication to our success as students. She never once places the students or PTK in second to her own personal health.”

This is because during Bradley’s fight for her life, she had changed nothing in her regular work routine. She still attended every meeting and answered every email, call, and text, almost instantly. Moller believes that Bradley knew if the students would have known about her condition, they would not have focused to achieve the awards received. “I think she knew that we would have placed PTK on the backburner for her, and that’s what she didn’t want.”

At the 2010 Phi Theta Kappa International Convention, students won four awards, something that has never happened before at the international level. Beta Alpha Xi received the following awards; Scholarship Hallmark honoring Kevin Riley, Anita Padilla and Jose Gonzales; Service Hallmark honoring Lucas Byrnes-Norton; Distinguished Chapter President award honoring Yvette Moller; and a Distinguished Chapter award. Beta Alpha Xi also received these awards on a regional level in addition to $900 to be used toward student scholarships.

“I have a missionary spirit to what PTK and community colleges can do in the life of a student. In many cases, this experience creates a turning point in the life of students,” said Bradley. While she is still going through the recovery process, Bradley continues her work as a faculty member and advisor to students at Estrella Mountain Community College. In the telling of her story, Bradley wishes to bring more attention to student success and the leaders that she has been able to see come out of PTK, but the students of PTK would like to honor Bradley for all the work that she has done for students and thank her for the inspiration that she has provided. “God not only gave her a gift with that kidney, he gave a gift to everyone whose lives Marylyn will continue to affect in a positive way,” said Moller.