Six graduate Saturday from ASU Havasu

December 10, 2017 GMT

With the shake of a hand and switch of a tassel, six students joined the long list of Arizona State University alumni Saturday upon receiving hard-earned degrees in ASU Havasu’s fall graduation ceremony.

The ceremony was led by the campus’ Interim Director Raymond Van der Riet, acting as master of ceremonies, and featured speeches from one of its graduates, Bethany Dameron, and President and CEO of Havasu’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Terence Concannon.

The graduates consisted of three Havasu locals, two Californians and one Illinois native. Here’s a closer look at each of the graduates:

Samantha Gaughan

Gaughan, 29, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. She is a 2006 graduate of Lake Havasu High School and said she chose to attend ASU Havasu because of its small size. “I really like the small town environment, I get a lot better interpersonal relationship with the professors, we get more one-on-one time, they know me, they know my personal goals and we work together toward those goals,” she said. “I did a lot better at this campus than I think I would have done at the main campus.” Gaughan began her college education after completing a four-year enlistment in the Navy as a hospital corpsman, she said. Her future plans include applying to a physician assistant school and then re-enlisting in the Navy.

Alec Zuccala

Zuccala, 20, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business communication. The 2015 Lake Havasu High School graduate said he obtained his associate’s degree while still attending high school, allowing him to graduate from ASU Havasu early. “I only had to do this for two and a half years,” he said. During his short time at the college, Zuccala participated in the college’s video game club. His future plans include searching for a job with Disney, Pixar or Marvel enterprises, among others.

Kaitlynn Abshire

Abshire, 21, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. She was awarded the Moeur Award during the graduation ceremony – an award named after physician and businessman B. B. Moeur in Tempe in the early 1990s that is awarded to ASU graduates with the highest academic standing. The Rancho Cucamonga, California native said she chose to attend ASU Havasu three and a half years ago due to its affordability. “The tuition in California is just so high, even as an in-state resident, and this campus is affordable to pay for on my own,” she said, adding that, on top of taking out federal loans, she worked in the school’s IT department to help pay for her education. Abshire says she was recently hired as a secondary biology at Lake Havasu High School and will start early next year.

Tayler Powell

Powell, 21, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. The Moreno Valley, California native says she participated in ASU Havasu’s study aboard program, completing six credits in Costa Rica. “It was awesome, it was definitely the best experience of my life,” she said. During her college career, she was president of the college’s digital media club – which has since depleted, she said – participated in intramural sports and coached softball, she said. Powell plans to stay in Havasu, where she works two jobs as a bartender, for about six months before applying to a graduate school.

Bethany Dameron

Dameron, 25, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business communication. She moved to Havasu when she was 11-years-old and was homeschooled through high school. Prior to attending college, Dameron says she enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 19 for three years as a signals analyst. During college, she served as president of the school’s theatre club, helped organize the Renaissance Faire and created a Havasu-based television series, Chaos Crew, which stemmed from her senior capstone project. “I’d like to film the first season of Chaos Crew and continue developing the film industry in the area,” said Dameron about her plans after graduating.

Alicia Chomyok

Chomyok, 21, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. She says she completed her final year in college online after obtaining a job at Havasu’s courthouse. Chomyok says she plans to stay in Havasu after graduation as she was recently hired full-time at the courthouse as a court clerk one, she said. “I’m used to the city so I like the idea of being somewhere smaller like Havasu,” said the Chicago native.