30th Anniversary

Celebrating 30 Years

Estrella Mountain Community College has been serving our community by providing educational opportunities for 30 years!

Here is a glimpse of EMCC through the years. 




  • Microsoft Datacenter Academy Opens at EMCC

    • The Datacenter Academy, located on the ground floor of Estrella Hall on EMCC’s main campus, 3000 N. Dysart Road, Avondale, is the result of a collaboration between EMCC, Glendale Community College (GCC,) and Microsoft. It serves students from both colleges, preparing them for high-demand jobs in the IT sector, including in Microsoft Datacenters.

  • Student Success Fair and Opportunity Fair 2022

    • The Student Success Fair is designed to help students understand the requirements and resources they will need for college completion and goal setting. Students will LEARN, ENGAGE, and CONNECT so they can personalize their ‘own’ EMCC college experience and prepare to GRADUATE.

  • Skilled Trades Expo Returns to In-Person Event

    • The job fair will feature employers in the skilled trades industries such as energy, construction, advanced manufacturing, and distribution.

  • EMCC Holds Lost to COVID: Remembrance Day April 13

    • Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) invites the entire community to join together and pay tribute to those we’ve lost to COVID-19 during its inaugural 

  • Higher Learning Commission Reaffirms EMCC’s Accreditation

  • EMCC’s Dr. Rivera Wins Paragon Award for New Presidents


  • Arroyo Hall construction complete
  • Still We Rise 'Car-mence-ment' Ceremony
    • A unique event that allowed EMCC, through COVID-19 restrictions, to still celebrate and recognise the accomplishments of the 2021 graduates.
    • Students had a drive-thru event to collect their diploma cover, mortar board decorations, and have pictures taken.
  • Phoenix Film Festival @EMCC


  • EMCC Recognized as a Healthy Arizona Worksite

    • Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) values its employees. Their well-being, both physically and mentally, ranks high on the importance scale. So it’s no surprise that the Maricopa Community College was recently recognized as a Healthy Arizona Worksite.

  • Partnership with Intel Brings First Artificial Intelligence Degree to Estrella Mountain Community College

    • Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) is one of two Maricopa Community Colleges that have been tapped to launch a new degree program in partnership with Intel Corporation. EMCC and Chandler/Gilbert Community College will offer an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and Certification of Completion in Artificial Intelligence beginning with an online pilot program this fall. The degree is the first of its kind offered at the community and technical college-level in Arizona and the only one of its kind in the country.

  • EMCC Receives Record High Nominations for Diversity Award

    • Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) prides itself on diversity. And it shows. When the West Valley college put out its annual call for nominations for the 14th Annual Diversity Advisory
      Council (DAC) Awards of Excellence, nine individuals stepped up to the plate.


  • Dr. Rey Rivera is appointed the new EMCC President
  • National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education

    • EMCC Cybersecurity program has been formally re-designated as a National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two Year Education

  • EMCC Helps Found North American Cyber Range Alliance

    • After more than a year of dedicated work by faculty and staff, including Tom Polliard and Glen Olson, working with Mr. Frank Grimmelmann of the Arizona Cyber Threat Response Alliance (ACTRA), we are proud to announce that Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) is one of four founding members of the North American Cyber Range Alliance (NACRA).

  • EMCC makes history with enrollment surpassing 10,000

    • October 11, 2019. For the first time in Estrella Moutain Community College's 27-year history, enrollment has surpassed 10,000. 

  • Hispanic Leadership Institute-West Appreciation Award

    • EMCC received a great honor from the Hispanic Leadership Institute-West (HLI-West) with an appreciation award.

  • EMCC DECA members emerge victorious at state conference


  • NSA and DHS cybersecurity endorsement for Estrella Mountain Community College

    • EMCC not only offers a program built on the credibility of its rigor, but the college has recently received the coveted National Center of Academic Excellence designation. The National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determined Estrella Mountain Community College met rigorous criteria needed to ensure students are receiving the necessary training required to help protect the nation’s infrastructure.



  • EMCC celebrates 25th Anniversary with Silver Gala
    • Honoring 25 years of EMCC being part of the Maricopa Community College District, providing higher education opportunities, to help build a stronger community
    • The Gala proceeds directly benefit the fund to support student scholarships
  • Launch of the Alumni Legacy Scholarship Fund

    • recognizes the recent formation of the EMCC Alumni Association. This fund will play a direct role in maintaining the standard of excellence in serving students that the college has established. It is always the hope that by removing as many obstacles as possible, more students will be able to enroll in higher education programs. 

  • Diversity Advisory Council awards EMCC with Award of Excellence

    • The EMCC PRIDE Club received a 2017 Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) Award of Excellence for Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC)

  • Inducted into Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Silver Club

    • EMCC was inducted into the Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce Silver Club recognized with Business Excellence Award

  • 6th annual Tale of Two Cities Parade & Festival

    • The cities of Avondale and Goodyear celebrate the multi-cultural flavor of the Southwest Valley with an internationally-themed Tale of Two Cities Parade & Festival on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC). 


  • Title V Grant
    • The College receives its third Title V grant for $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Education to create pathways for developmental education student success and increase completion rates for Hispanic populations.

  • Aspen Institute Award

    • Estrella Mountain is recognized by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges for the fourth time. EMCC is the only community college in Arizona selected in all cycles of the award since it was announced in 2011.

  • West Valley Art Council Lifetime Achievement Award

    • EMCC receives the 2016 West Valley Art Council Lifetime Achievement Award for dedication to growing arts programs for students, support of the Gallery 37 program, and the new Performing Arts Center.

  • Higher Education Diversity Award

    • EMCC receives the 2015 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine in recognition of an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

  • Cross Country Achievement

    • The women’s cross country team is named to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Cross Country Scholar All America Team, ranking 21st in the nation.

  • Graduation Records

    • Estrella Mountain confers a record number of associate degree and certificate awards to 499 graduates at the 20th Annual EMCC Commencement, the highest number of graduates in the college’s history.

  • Alternative Spring Break

    • Students and employees participate in the first EMCC Alternative Spring Break, completing nearly 370 combined volunteer hours for a community service learning project.


  • Performing Arts Center Opening
    • Estrella Mountain celebrates the premiere of the new Performing Arts Center (PAC) with grand opening festivities and a community celebration over two days, featuring tours, activities and live performances by EMCC students, local school and community ensembles, and national performers.

  • WESTMARC Best of the West Award

    • The College is jointly recognized as a recipient of the Western Maricopa Coalition (WESTMARC) Excellence in Innovation Best of the West Award along with Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) and Arizona Public Services Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station for its partnership to create the West-MEC Southwest Energy Partners Campus in Buckeye.

  • Cyber Defense Designation

    • EMCC receives the first National Centers of Academic Excellence designation in Cyber Defense for a two-year institution (CAE2Y) in Arizona, awarded by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

  • EMCC Alumni Association

    • The College officially launches the Estrella Mountain Community College Alumni Association to connect the network of proud graduates.


  • Aspen Institute Award2004 Maricopa Community Colleges Bond Program:
    • EMCC President Dr. Ernest A. Lara receives the West Valley Foundation’s 2014 Diversity Award for contributions to diversity and support of education.
  • Diversity Award
    • EMCC President Dr. Ernest A. Lara receives the West Valley Foundation’s 2014 Diversity Award for contributions to diversity and support of education.

  • Tour for Diversity in Medicine Conference

    • EMCC hosts more than 100 students during the national Tour for Diversity in Medicine Conference, the only event in Arizona, to engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math careers.

  • Crescordia Award for Site Development and Landscape

    • Estrella Mountain receives the Crescordia Award for Site Development and Landscape in the Public Sector category of the 2014 Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Awards for the sustainable construction and landscape design of the Estrella Hall expansion and Estrella Conference Center. The college is also recognized with an award as the Arizona Recycling Coalition’s School of the Year for sustainable practices.

  • Get Into Energy Education Expo

    • As lead college of the Arizona Sun Corridor–Get Into Energy Consortium, EMCC hosts the two-day Arizona Get Into Energy Education Expo at the Arizona Science Center to increase awareness of energy career education and employment opportunities for students and the community.

  • Veterans Day Fun Run

    • EMCC collaborates with the City of Avondale and the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation to host the inaugural Veterans Day Fitness Fun Run 5K to benefit veteran and military student scholarships. The community event continues today.


  • Estrella Hall Expansion

    • The College opens the remodel and expansion of Estrella Hall, including the new Estrella Conference Center, as part of the final phase of the 2004 Maricopa Community Colleges Bond Program

  • Veterans Excellence
    • EMCC is recognized in the top 15 percent of institutions nationwide that show dedication to the success of America’s military service members, veterans and dependents as students.

  • Student Success Fair
    • The College creates the first Student Success Fair to provide students with a hands-on opportunity to learn about success resources and establish completion goals. Almost 1,000 students participate in the inaugural exposition-style event, which continues today to serve thousands of students and has expanded across the Maricopa Community Colleges.

  • The Lion’s Perspective
    • EMCC premieres the first issue of its online student news magazine, The Lion’s Perspective, which features articles and opinions written entirely by Estrella Mountain students.

  • Arizona Community College Athletic Conference
    • The Estrella Mountain women’s golf team hosts the college’s first Arizona Community College Athletic Conference tournament.

  • Roary the Estrella Mountain Lion
    • EMCC students submit nominations and vote to name the College’s mountain lion mascot Roary. The costumed mascot debuts during the Estrella Hall grand opening festivities.

  • Veterans Center
    • To provide quality service to a growing population of veteran and military students, EMCC remodels existing space into a dedicated Veterans Center.

  • Burrowing Owls
    • Biology students collaborate to create the EMCC Burrowing Owl Project, a learning initiative to construct on-campus habitats for displaced, indigenous burrowing owls.



  • 2004 Maricopa Community Colleges Bond Program:
    • The final phase of the 2004 bond program begins with the expansion and remodel of Estrella Hall.
  • The College’s first alumni advisory council is formed.
  • Planning begins for Estrella Mountain’s future Performing Arts Center.
  • The College serves as the site for the Tale of Two Cities Parade and Festival, presented by the cities of Avondale and Goodyear in celebration of Arizona’s centennial.
  • The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools officially voted and approved 10-year reaccreditation for Estrella Mountain.


  • In partnership with the Town of Buckeye, the Estrella Mountain Community College Buckeye Educational Center opens to provide learning opportunities to far West Valley students.
  • Estrella Mountain’s Scholarship Endowment:
    • The College’s endowment exceeds $1 million.
  • The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program ranks Estrella Mountain in the top 10 percent of community colleges nationwide.
  • The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) awards Estrella Mountain with a bronze rating for its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report.
  • Estrella Mountain establishes a student body-run Student Government.
  • The Career and Transfer center opens.
  • The SouthWest Skill Center Practical Nursing program receives continued program approval for the maximum of five years from the Arizona State Board of Nursing. 
  • Estrella Mountain hosts an evaluation team as it seeks reaccreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The team recommends the maximum continued accreditation of 10 years, as well as approval of the Buckeye Educational Center as an official extended campus site and approval for the College to award degrees and certificates earned through online learning.


  • Estrella Mountain launches its first athletics programs in men’s and women’s golf and cross country.
  • 2004 Maricopa Community Colleges Bond Program:
    • Mariposa Hall opens as part of the College’s continued Phase II expansion. The project also includes a remodel of the SouthWest Skill Center. Mariposa Hall is awarded with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – Gold Certification for its environmentally-responsible design and construction.
  • In partnership with City of Avondale, the Northwest Public Safety Facility opens to house Estrella Mountain classrooms, facilities for campus Public Safety personnel, an Avondale Police Department substation, and space for a future fire station.
  • The College adopts new Vision, Mission and Core Values statements, which reflect the learning-centered philosophy of the College and community needs.
  • In partnership with the West Valley Think Tank and local high school districts, elementary schools, ASU West, and other Maricopa Colleges, Estrella Mountain hosts the Building Math Connections P-20 Conference.


  • Estrella Mountain initiates a self-study process for its application for continued accreditation in 2011.
  • The College creates a Business Retention Internship program that provides real-world business training and experiences to students.
  • A Veterans Services office is established.
  • The student Peer Mentor program is established.
  • The Maricopa Nursing program at Estrella Mountain receives the maximum accreditation of eight years upon completion of an accreditation visit from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).
  • Students select the Estrella Mountain Lions as the College’s mascot.
  • Estrella Mountain Scholarship Endowment:
    • The College’s partnership with the Hispanic Leadership Forum raises more than $50,000 since 2000.


  • 2004 Maricopa Community Colleges Bond Program:
    • Estrella Mountain, in partnership with the City of Avondale, completes a bus transit shelter.
  • Estrella Mountain hosts the first annual Student Conference focused on undergraduate research. The conference is structured like a graduate student conference, with speakers, break-out panels and scholarly discussions.
  • The College expands educational offerings by offering classes in both Buckeye and the Wickenburg area.
  • Publication of the annual Mariposa Literary Review begins.


  • Ernest A. Lara, Ph.D. is selected as the next college president after a nationwide search.
  • Estrella Mountain receives its second Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education to pursue its journey to becoming a Learning College.
  • The College launches its first annual Day of Learning for faculty and staff learning and development sessions.
  • Estrella Mountain and Glendale Community College, in conjunction with the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, partner to honor outstanding contributions by community partners, alumni and student advocates at the annual Awards for Excellence Ceremony.


  • Maricopa Community Colleges Bond Program:
    • Ocotillo Hall opens as the first capital project of the College’s Phase III expansion.
    • Estrella Mountain purchases 80 acres of land in Buckeye to serve as a future campus site.
    • College science facilities are expanded to include eight new lab spaces.
  • The College hosts its first Hermanas: Diseña Tu Futuro/Design Your Future conference to help young women explore career opportunities in science and technology.
  • Estrella Mountain receives approval from the Arizona Board of Nursing to be a site for Maricopa Community College's Associate of Applied Science, Nursing degree.
  • The College is selected by the National Science Foundation to receive a grant of nearly $500,000 to support scholarships for students seeking careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.


  • Maricopa Community Colleges Bond Program:
    • Estrella Mountain Community College begins planning its Phase III expansion.
  • Estrella Mountain Scholarship Endowment:
    • The College’s endowment exceeds one-half million dollars.
  • Estrella Mountain remodels space for a new arts studio and photography lab in order to expand Liberal Arts learning opportunities to West Valley students.
  • The College develops its first “Learning Studio” prototype. Faculty and learners engage in an opportunity to experiment with radical flexibility in space, furnishings and technology.


  • 2004 Maricopa Community Colleges Bond Program:
    • Voters approve the Maricopa Community Colleges general obligation bond program, a district-wide $951 million program. The College receives $71 million allocated for Phase III construction, capital and land as part of a 10-year building program.
  • Culinary Studies programs begin at the College, which includes the grand opening of Regions, a student-run fine dining restaurant. 


  • Estrella Mountain Scholarship Endowment:
    • The College’s endowment surpasses one-quarter million dollars.
  • Estrella Mountain partners with the Dysart Unified School District to bring community education classes to Surprise.
  • Estrella Mountain establishes a Visual Exhibition Program.


  • Estrella Mountain publishes “Best Practices” for HSI community colleges and hosts a national symposium on the topic.
  • The NASA Center for Success in Math and Science is established. The College also hosts Arizona’s first NASA Awareness Day.
  • The Institution receives its first 10-year accreditation from the HLC.
  • Phase Two expansion of the campus is completed with the expansion and remodel of Komatke Hall.


  • The College is certified as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).
  • Estrella Mountain hosts the National Science Foundation Symposium for Hispanic Serving Intuitions.
  • The College receives a $2.2 million Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Estrella Mountain Scholarship Endowment:
    • The Estrella Rotary Foundation, Avondale Dodge Chrysler Jeep, Gateway Chevrolet, Tom Jones Ford, and Yates Buick GMC enter into a long-term partnership with the College to raise scholarship monies.
    • Matching funds from the College’s recently acquired Title V grant will facilitate faster endowment growth.


  • The College opens One-Stop Enrollment Services for service delivery.
  • The Center for Teaching and Learning opens.
  • Estrella Mountain assumes leadership of the SouthWest Skill Center.
  • Estrella Mountain Scholarship Endowment:
    • The first major campaign is launched.
    • The Hispanic Leadership Forum enters into a long-term partnership with the college to raise scholarship monies.


  • The Estrella Mountain Scholarship Endowment is created with an aspirational goal of $1 million.
  • A college-wide Student Success Plan is developed to further the goals of student academic achievement.


  • Estrella Mountain establishes the Regional Cisco Networking Academy.
  • The College launches the inspire.teach program in response to a national teacher shortage.
  • The College adopts the Core Indicators of Effectiveness as measures of institutional effectiveness and student success.


  • Estrella Mountain receives initial five-year accreditation as an independent institution from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC). Estrella Mountain drops “Center” from its name.
  • The College celebrates its first official commencement ceremony.


  • Estrella Mountain conducts its first institutional self-study for accreditation.
  • College faculty launch the Student Academic Achievement Plan.
  • Homero Lopez, Ph.D. is appointed as Estrella Mountain’s first president.
  • The College hosts its first annual Scholarship Luncheon in honor of student scholarship recipients and donors.


  • Valley Forward Association awards Estrella Mountain the First Place Crescordia Award for Public Art.
  • The College receives the Arthur E. Mann Award for Excellence in Architecture.
  • The Genesis West program is established to help enable at-risk high school students attend college.


  • The College’s Vision and Mission are approved by the community and Governing Board.
  • Estrella Mountain is recognized by the City of Tolleson for its Service Learning program.
  • The Fitness Center is awarded the Arizona Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport Award.


  • Estrella Mountain adopts the service strategy, “Your Success is Our Success.”
  • The College receives Energy Project of the Year award from the International Association of Energy Engineers.


  • The Maricopa County Community College District opens Estrella Mountain Community College Center in Avondale, AZ. The campus operates as a satellite location of Glendale Community College.