The College of Education's outstanding senior, Tony Viola, is a native American student who is passionate about teaching and doing research that will improve education for native American students.
Viola is a first-generation college student, who went to the University of Arizona to get a bachelor’s degree in literacy, learning and leadership — a degree that helped him to find his voice.
Viola confessed that he was afraid of going to college, but his desire to help others pushed him out of his comfort zone. He acknowledged that his family has been his greatest support in his college journey.
“There have been so many times when I felt alone, in over my head, or lost for not knowing something other people knew in high school,” said Viola in an email.
Viola used to be shy and quiet, but once he started getting involve with campus activities like joining clubs or participating in class, he started feeling more confidence about himself.
Nowadays, Viola describes himself as a loud person because he is not afraid to speak up anymore. He mentions that every club, program and organization he joined help him to find his voice and to be proud of his roots.
Maria Gary, Viola’s mother, describes her son in an email as a “very passionate, determined and strong-willed person.” She said Viola has a big heart that's always willing to help.
“Seeing Tony pursue great things while remembering his cultural background is very gratifying,” Gary said in an email. She thinks Viola got selected as the outstanding senior because he stays true to himself.
Viola is part of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. He was raised on a cultural upbringing where there is passion in supporting where unrepresented students come from. Viola decided to pursue an education major to help those who are minorities in educational spaces.
“I try to support our undeserved students from different backgrounds and lived experiences,” Viola said in an email.
Sara Chavarria, assistant dean in research development for the College of Education, mentions that the College of Education was looking for an outstanding student who does not only have good grades, but also a student who is committed to the community.
According to Chavarria, Viola stands out because he genuinely cares about high school, native American and first-generation students who want to go to college and succeed.
“In our college we are very much about serving,” Chavarria said.
According to Chavarria, Viola is the complete package; he is a good student as well as a good service record and leadership qualities that made him an outstanding student.
“He is very responsible, he is very committed, he is a hard worker, and he meet deadlines,” Chavarria said. “He shows a lot of leadership.”
Chavarria recommends senior students to be on the lookout for opportunities that can be very fulfilling and helpful to stand out from the rest.
“Be genuine, be yourself and do act on it,” Chavarria said, as a recommendation for students who want to be outstanding seniors. "Make things happen."
Follow Diana Ramos on Twitter