Calvin Dogan earned first associate degree 29 years ago, master’s last year
It’s been a lifetime of learning for Calvin Dogan, from completing a high school equivalency diploma after dropping out of high school to earning his first college degree from Pima Community College in 1987 to wrapping up his master’s degree in May, not long after his 62nd birthday.
In 1969, Dogan’s family – he is one of nine children – left the poverty of Mississippi and came to Tucson with hopes of making a better life. Dogan says his mother was always itching to get out of the South — “she was in Mississippi, but Mississippi wasn’t in her.” She and his stepfather found work and never looked back, even though supporting such a large family would always be a challenge. The transition, however, proved more difficult for Dogan.
“I came from the segregated South and went to Tucson High School, which was very diverse,” Dogan said. “It was culture shock. I didn’t do well.”
Troubled teen-age years led to a troubled young adulthood that veered far off course. The details are part of a past he prefers to leave there. But Dogan eventually found that education could enhance his life and even change its path. He started taking Pima classes and earned an Associate in General Studies in 1987, followed by certification in graphic technology in 1990.
“My memories of ‘learning’ are associated with Pima. ”
— Calvin Dogan, Pima graduate
“When I first started at Pima, I was just taking classes. I was earning credit hours, but I just liked the insight I was getting,” Dogan said. “I wasn’t focused on a degree until an advisor told me I had enough credits for a degree.”
He put his graphic arts skills to use as an education aide, while also mentoring others and facilitating a Black Studies program.
In 1999, he returned to Pima to earn a degree in graphic arts but discovered that the curriculum had changed so much he would have to start from scratch. He switched his focus to social services.
“It wasn’t my intention to do social services, but I found I liked the advocacy and psychology parts of it and helping people, poor people, people like myself,” he said.
Dogan also enjoyed the environment at Pima.
“It was very wholesome and it was a good place to learn, a true community college atmosphere,” he said. “My memories of ‘learning’ are associated with Pima. It was such a positive experience. It was like the high school I didn’t have.”
In 2003, Dogan completed an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts and an Associate of Arts Degree in Social Services from Pima. While also working jobs in community and social services and mental health, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the Arizona State University School of Social Work in 2006 and a master’s in Social Work from ASU last year.
He says he attributes his résumé to his experiences at Pima.
“Overall, my Pima experience and the exposure I received was what I term ‘my second chance.’ The help and support that I received while at Pima goes far beyond my academics and classroom exercises. Most important was the acceptance and forgiving spirits that I was able to connect with along the way,” Dogan said.
Today, he is independently employed as a field care manager, providing services to seniors for an Arizona health care company. He is preparing for the licensed certified social worker test, but laughs when asked if a doctorate is next.
“I’m done,” Dogan said, with a smile. “I’m tired.”
- Anne T. Denogean
Join Us for the Speakers’ Series
The Speakers’ Series sessions are free and open to the public. Each presentation is held at 6 p.m., in the Community Board Room (Building C) of the District Office, 4905 E. Broadway Blvd.
Light refreshments are served.
Tuesday, February 2
“Teaching an Old Drug New Tricks” by Christopher M. Cabello, Ph.D., Chemistry faculty
Tuesday, March 1
“PCC Student Collaboration in Tucson Community Center Preservation” by Steve Grede, Computer Aided Drafting and Design faculty
Tuesday, April 5
“The Biology of Music” by Timothy Cruz, M.D., Biology faculty