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Phoenix Forward

5 inspirational alumni success stories

Have you ever felt as if the challenges of working and attending school simultaneously were too much to bear? It’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re buried under a mountain of responsibilities. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, however, find inspiration in these five success stories:

Kristie Martorelli

Kristie Martorelli

2012 Arizona Teacher of the Year

For Martorelli, who graduated with a Master of Arts in Education in 2010, earning her degree wasn’t just a matter of becoming a better teacher, but also learning new ways to get parents involved in their children’s education.

“My school has gone from less than 5 percent involvement by parents and communities in our events to over 50 percent now consistently. My work through University of Phoenix and my research has really had a strong impact there.” The impact of her work didn’t go unrecognized: Martorelli received Arizona’s highest teaching honor in January.

Jamie Naughton

Jamie Naughton

Zappos’ speaker of the house

After honing her presentation and public speaking skills at the University while working toward a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration/Management, Naughton eventually rose up through the company ranks to become the official spokesperson of Zappos.

“One of the important things that University of Phoenix teaches is critical thinking — thinking outside the box, pushing the envelope and not doing things because everybody else does them,” says Naughton, who joined Zappos in 2004.

Andy Townsend

Andy Townsend

Fifth-grade teacher, Elvira Elementary School

While studying to become a teacher, Townsend discovered that the University was more than just a place to get an education — it was a second home.

“At University of Phoenix, there were great people there who supported me,” Townsend says, “but really the beauty of my education was that I was having these wonderful experiences in the classroom Monday through Friday. And on Saturdays, I was learning from other people in similar situations, and we could problem-solve together.”

Townsend’s passion for learning is reflected in the quality of his teaching — in 2011, the Arizona Educational Foundation named him Ambassador of Excellence.

Kimberly Horton

Kimberly Horton

Chief nursing executive, Alameda County Medical Center

“[University of Phoenix] was actually the best academic experience I’ve had. It was grueling, and I was glad of that because I didn’t want to get a degree in name only,” says Horton, who is no stranger to overcoming challenges.

After growing up in Compton and becoming a teenage mother of two, she paid her own way through nursing school, eventually earning a Doctor of Health Administration from the University. Horton used her extensive education to launch an adult sickle cell program in Fresno, Calif., that has become a model for other programs across the country.

Bridget Montana

Bridget Montana

Chief clinical officer, Amedisys

Montana found in the University the opportunity to get the tools she needed — on her schedule. “When I was pursuing my MBA in the early 1990s, there weren’t a lot of MBA programs available that were adaptable for full-time working professionals. University of Phoenix offered me an opportunity to have a very flexible MBA program without sacrificing academics.”

She used those tools to become an executive at Amedisys, the company that operates 94 percent of the hospice care centers in the country.

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