Desert Vista graduate Kyla Neale(CQ) hugs her teacher Judy Hoffman during their graduation Thursday night on the Desert Vista High School football field. May, 26, 2011- Darryl Webb/AFN

Darryl Webb

Soon-to-be graduates aren’t the only ones smiling these days. Parents are happy, their kid is graduating and they’re coming out and spending some money. A typical football weekend is busy — but it never tops the graduation celebration.

Graduation gives families a reason to plan a trip for the first big weekend of the busy summer season. With family visiting many are booking hotels for the weekend.

It’s a shot in the arm for local owners and for the graduates, it’s remembering the good times. And for parents, it’s the joy of seeing their teenager turn into an adult.

Since 2005, the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce has awarded scholarships through our Women In Business committee to Ahwatukee women continuing their education. Last month, former scholarship recipient Brianna Raymond shared exactly what that scholarship meant for her at the Women In Business monthly luncheon.

“I have had many life changing opportunities, all of which would not have been possible had I not received the support of the Ahwatukee Chamber of Commerce,” Raymond said.

In fall of 2007 she attended Arizona State University.

By the spring of 2009 she had already received enough credits to graduate Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in interdisciplinary studies with concentrations in event management and business. This past March she graduated Summa Cum Laude with an MBA and a concentration in management.

“Now if you were to ask me what the Woman in Business Scholarship meant to me,” said Raymond, “I would tell you it meant the opportunity to travel to more than 7 different countries, attain two degrees, and work alongside people who challenged and inspired me. As you gave to me I was able to give to others. Thank you again for contributing to my journey,”

Another scholarship recipient, Lauren Kuehner, wrote, “Right now, I am on track to graduate with honors at the University of Arizona with a duel major in entrepreneurship and finance and a minor in global business. At the upcoming Night with the Stars Event for Eller, I will be recognized as one of Eller’s Top 100 Students and the Kevin Smith Leadership Legacy Award recipient.”

“I am so fortunate for the recognition and the financial support from the Ahwatukee Chamber of Commerce,” wrote Kuehner. “The scholarship that I received from you in high school has led me to participate in long-lasting opportunities throughout my college career.”

The Chamber’s Women In Business Committee introduces our scholarship recipients to successful women in the community they can admire. The scholarships we provide give them the confidence to set high standards of achievement and aide in achieving their goals for the future.

The Women In Business Committee meets monthly. To become involved or to donate to the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s Women In Business Scholarship Fund please visit our website, or call 480-753-7676 for more information.

Anne Gill is president and chief executive officer of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at (480) 753-7676 or

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