Mohave Community College is pleased to announce that Dr. Maria Ayon will be the new Dean of Student and Community Engagement at the Lake Havasu City Campus. Ayon replaces Jann Woods, who is retiring after 19 years of service at the college.
Dr. Ayon was chosen after a nationwide search, during which 86 candidates applied for the job. Three finalists were chosen for interviews, which were recently held at the Lake Havasu City Campus.
“We’re excited to have Dr. Ayon join our Lake Havasu Campus team,” said MCC President Dr. Stacy Klippenstein. “She has many years of experience working in higher education, serving students, and actively engaged in community activities. I believe she will be a wonderful asset to the College and to the community of Lake Havasu City.”
Dr. Ayon’s first day on the job at MCC will be August 3. Jann Woods will be on campus for two weeks to help with the transition.
Educational & Professional History
Dr. Maria Concepcion Ayon was born and raised in a small town outside of Bakersfield, CA called McFarland. As the first in her family to graduate college and complete a terminal degree, she is all too familiar with complexities of navigating the higher education system. She has worked in higher education for over 20 years in a variety of capacities.
She received her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from California State University, Northridge. Her Doctor of Education degree was received from University of La Verne in Organizational Leadership. Her dissertation was titled “The impact of informal mentoring among Latino males as it relates to pursuing post secondary education.” Additionally, she studied one year in Madrid, Spain during her undergraduate experience.
Her experience in higher education has grounded her work in student access, student equity, and student success. She has managed various units including Pre-college Programs, Matriculation, Admissions, Outreach, Recruitment, Financial Aid, Marketing, and Teacher Preparation, giving her a full understanding of Enrollment Management.
Dr. Ayon has worked with various student populations including adult learners, foster youth, students with disabilities, parents/guardians, international students among others. Dr. Ayon believes in community advocacy, college access, and mentoring youth. She has worked at various higher education institutions including California State University, Northridge, Hartnell College, Pierce College, Antioch University, University of La Verne, and University of the West.
More recently and prior to COVID19, she was consulting individuals regarding their admissions options and providing consulting services to community colleges regarding departmental strategic plans. She is currently a site administrator for CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) at one of the top 5 testing sites in the nation. Her leadership role and partnership with the city of Los Angeles has established the most efficient site in Los Angeles testing nearly 3000 patients daily.
Getting to know you – a brief Q & A with Dr. Ayon
Where did you grow up and go to high school?
Dr. Ayon: My family moved to McFarland, CA when I was 4 years old. I went to school in the McFarland Unified School District and graduated from McFarland High School with 92 other classmates. It was a very small close nit community.
Any hobbies/interests you care to share?
Dr. Ayon: I love the outdoors rain, snow, or sunshine. To stay healthy and to help release stress I go hiking, biking, and running and in the past I had a green thumb for roses. I love theatre, arts, and music especially if they are live events. On cloudy days I tend to stay in and read autobiographies. I am also a huge fan of college basketball, March Madness is the best time of the year.
Do you have family in Mohave County or another part of Arizona?
Dr. Ayon: I do not have family in Arizona, but I friends who live in Phoenix and Tucson. I am so excited to be closer to them.
Have you been to Havasu or any other part of Mohave County before, if so what was your first impression?
Dr. Ayon: The in-person interview (in July) was my first time ever to Lake Havasu City and Mohave County. My first impression of Havasu was “WOW!, Now that is a Lake!” The London Bridge was a beautiful piece of architecture and the space around it was very welcoming and engaging. I can see why people come to Lake Havasu for recreation and leisure. I am excited to hike the trails and learn more about what Havasu and Mohave County has to offer.
Why did you choose to come to MCC?
Dr. Ayon: I believe we both chose each other and in perfect timing. My reason was because the mission, vision, and values system of MCC aligns with my principles and values system. I am active in my community and as an advocate for higher education I feel MCC is the perfect place to continue live out my purpose which is to provide higher education access to the local community and work with vital industries to bridge partnerships for a sustainable future.
Do you like the heat?
Dr. Ayon: I LOVE the heat!! Having been raised in McFarland, we had a swamp cooler, not much cooling off happened during the summer months. I am known to raise the temperature during the winter months to a nice 80 degrees. I am a child of the sun.