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Pearl Celix stands smiling in the student resource center at Northwest

Find Your Purpose

Pearl Celix: Federal Work Study,"gave me the tools I needed to become the person I am."

By Kanika Samra, External Relations

From the salon floor, perfecting customer’s looks, to one day becoming a Chief Financial Officer – Pearl Celix continues to pursue her dreams, converting each challenge into an opportunity. But finding the balance and the freedom to do so came with a little help from the Pima community. 

Pearl was working 40+ hours when she enrolled at Pima Community College to pursue an Associates Degree in Business Administration. Once at Pima she quickly realized she wouldn’t be able to do justice to her coursework while also working full time. She looked for resources and applied for the Federal Work Study program to focus on her education and is glad she did! 

Pearl Celix stands smiling at Northwest Campus
Pearl Celix. Photo by Tanner Grammar/External Relations

In 2017, Pearl was accepted to FWS and hired by Linda Cordier, Director, PimaOnline Partnerships and Operations. Seeing her potential, professionalism and enthusiasm to learn new skills, Linda encouraged Pearl to upskill with opportunities to work on varied projects. Pearl quickly progressed from interfacing with clients and students at the front desk to collaborating with faculty on enhancing the online course experience. And learned HTML, an in-demand technical skill far from her first career in cosmetology and something she’d never thought she’d learn! 

She credits her successful transition from cosmetology to being a full time student to the support of PCC’s Federal Work Study program. “Pima, Linda and everyone else who was part of my time as a FWS (student) just opened doors to so many possibilities, opportunities, and I opened myself up to more opportunities – I was confident to do that because of FWS”, Pearl says.  

FWS reduced her financial strain while also providing an avenue to gain job skills. The hands-on experience Pearl emphasizes, “gave me the tools I needed to become the person I am,” while also helping her build a strong professional network. From time management to communication skills, prioritizing tasks and organizational needs, Pearl effuses about the plethora of skills she built while studying and working at Pima.  

Pearl and Linda Cordier standing with her award
Pearl Celix and Linda Cordier. Photo courtesy Aurie Clifford, Financial Aid & Scholarships

Pearl was recognized as 2018 Student Employee of the Year, and graduated PCC in May of 2019. After finishing her degree she was hired as a Financial Analyst at the International Rescue Committee, Tucson. Seeing an opportunity at Pima in 2021, she applied and was hired full time as Program Assistant, PimaOnline Partnerships and Operations. 

According to Aurie Clifford, Assistant Director of Title IV Compliance, FWS not only gives students the financial freedom they need but also crucial skill development. Many students at PCC are first generation college entrants. Work-study prepares them for the real world with application, interviewing and professional skills they wouldn’t gain elsewhere. She encourages all participating supervisors, like Linda Cordier, to mentor their FWS employees. “We have incredible potential in all of these students…this program really does allow students to shine if they take the opportunity seriously”, Aurie says. Linda concurs and adds that, “once that light turns on – that they’ve got capabilities even they aren’t aware of,” there is no limit to the skills students can gain.  

"Go for it! It’s the best thing that will happen to you, honestly." ~ Celix on those considering Pima

As for Pearl, she is all set to graduate with a bachelors in Entrepreneurship and Small Business from Northern Arizona University. For anyone considering Pima, she has this to say, “Go for it! It’s the best thing that will happen to you, honestly.”

Pearl’s next goal: to be the Chief Financial Officer of an organization. Will it be Pima? Only time will tell! One thing’s for sure, her mentors at PCC will be rooting for her success. 

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