I have lived in Arizona all my life

I have lived in Arizona all my life. I was born in Mesa, Arizona about eighteen years ago and then moved to Show Low, Arizona as a small child. My hometown would technically be Phoenix but the place I call home is Show Low, Arizona. I grew up in Show Low, which is a small, remote town. I lived here for about thirteen great years. Every time I think of my home and hometown, I get an image of the mountains covered in fresh snow and the huge pine trees swaying in the wind. I remember as a kid, putting my snow boots and cap on to walk to school with my sister. All these memories make me remember how great it was to live in such a small but friendly town.

The experience of just living in a small town was such a great pleasure. In most towns, it’s dangerous to just cross the streets without an adult. In Show Low, everyone knows everyone and trusts them. Everywhere you look, kids roam the streets on bikes, playing, having a great time. There are also tons of fun activities to do. It’s fun to just get friends together and camp under the bright star-filled sky. There are many trails to hike, mountain bike, or quad on for entertainment. No, there is no mall to hang out at, and the closest mall is probably about three hours away. No, there are no theme parks or adventure rides, however I still love this town with all my heart. This could be why everyone from here is so close and no one ever wants to leave this town.

Arizona is the state of heat; therefore, it’s hard for some people to believe there are towns with cooler climates. Some people find it hard to believe that Arizona even has mountains. When visitors come and visit our town or drive through it, many fall in love with it also. I think it’s the perfect place to raise a loving family because you know you have a community behind you and helping. The weather is perfect. Half the year it’s snowy and beautiful, the other half it’s not extremely hot but it is just warm enough. The people here are great and there are tons of fun adventures, and hands on activities to do. You can camp, ski, hike, hunt, and quad, which are activities, that big towns do not offer. Those are just the outdoor activities; Show Low really is the perfect place to get away from the hectic world and to enjoy the good, simple things in life. I do not live in Show Low any more. My family had to move about five years ago however, I still visit Show Low and the people every chance I get. I still consider this place my home and cannot wait to one day go back and raise my own family there. Show Low is to me, my hometown and will always have a place in my heart.

Just west of New Mexico

Just west of New Mexico and north of the Mexico border, nestled between the Graham Mountain and the Gila River, is home. It’s called Safford, and it is the county seat of Graham County in Arizona. To really appreciate Safford, I had to leave it. If a person is born in Heaven and never lives anywhere else, Heaven is simply home. To me, Safford was simply home. Now it’s Heaven.

Safford was named All America city finalist in 1999 and 2000 for obvious reasons. By far, the city’s most admirable quality is its community involvement. With a problem solving, project planning attitude the citizens of the Gila Valley pull together to make Safford a “great place to live, work, and visit”(http://safford.govoffice.com/). This diverse and progressively traditional community truly loves its home. Safford is a genuinely unique place because it has all of the traits desirable in a large city with a small town feel. Its interesting history and humble roots are not lost in its forward moving and innovative society.

In other cities, when I told friends and coworkers about my hometown, I realized that all the features I missed about Safford are the features everyone is looking for. Faces light up when I mention surroundings, like the vast beauty of Mt. Graham, the natural living desert, the extraordinary Gila River canyon walls, and all of their recreational activities. 

In addition to the surroundings, business and employment opportunities abound and the area’s educational facilities are of the highest quality. Eastern Arizona College is just one of the many educational facilities and employment opportunities in the valley.

Safford is a city surrounded by places to have fun and relax, but is equally accommodating to those starting or continuing a career and/or building a family. Safford is a city with everything for everyone. There are plenty of peaceful secluded places as well as exciting events in busy places. And, the entire location, in all of its perfection, is set under the most clear, stunning night skies preceded by the most ravishing of Arizona sunsets in the kind of weather worth relocating for.

So far, I have conveyed what makes Safford great in the eyes of an outsider. But, what makes it so remarkable to me, are the details. Growing up in Graham County includes camping, hunting, picnicking, hiking, rafting, swimming, sledding, climbing, fishing and four-wheeling at Roper’s Lake, in various natural hot springs, at Riggs Lake, on Mt. Graham, at the sand dunes, in the Gila River, at Bonita Creek and in our back yards (a.k.a. the desert). It also includes community events like the Downtown Street Fair, the Gila Valley Family Festival and the Christmas Light Parade. Not everything was fun and games, but, looking back, everything was of the highest quality of living. School was full of inspirational educators and work was never too hard to find. 

My favorite part about Safford is its people. These people must make up the kindest community of its size in America. Smile in Safford and you are guaranteed a smile back, most likely, because living here makes everyone pleasant enough to share in your joy. Neighbors, who become friends, will also share in your trials, and without expecting the same in return.

A few things I learned here are: “close by” means “in town”, the pace may be slow but word moves fast, if it snows, school is canceled and the snow melts by noon, two-year colleges are challenging, but not overwhelming and nothing smells as good as rain in the desert. 

Safford is a heaven, full of the places, people and events that make life brilliant. That is why Safford is my home, no matter where I travel.

Have you ever wished you could

Have you ever wished you could be in two places at once? I feel that I am in two places at once because I grew up in the small town of Prescott, Arizona, and I currently live in the dorms at the University of Arizona. There are varied cultural characteristics between Prescott and the U of A, such as personality types, living styles, geographical surroundings, and safety. Three main factors that contrast the diversity of these two places are the closeness between friends, the quiet town vs. the noisy rush of the U of A, and the difference in personal responsibilities. Being immersed in both cultures has brought me an instant appreciation for their distinctions. Although both cultures are different from one another in significant ways, there would be no way to choose just one.

Once I have adapted to one culture, and then accepted another, I was able to compare the values of each culture separately. What I treasure most about my life in Prescott are the close relationships that I’ve grown up with most of my life. My family, best friend and long-term boyfriend all keep my relationship with Prescott incredibly close. Though these relationships have been formed slowly over many years, living on-campus brings new, intense levels of friendship. Close relationships develop in a shorter period of time at college due to a lack of privacy and spending literally twenty four hours with some people. In the dorms, in class, and around campus, I am never alone. My U of A dorm mates and other new friends are growing together because we are going through the same experiences together, and this makes a month here seems like the equivalence of three months in Prescott. Though time changes this aspect, both types of relationships are valuable and precious.

Just like the types of friendships, the entire ambience is different. Prescott is a town that maintains absolute serenity and peacefulness, and the Tucson campus maintains an on-the-go lifestyle, even though the populations of both places are about the same. This comparison makes people realize how small Prescott is, or how large the University of Arizona is. Remaining in the hustle-and-bustle during the week is an ideal lifestyle for me, but the tranquility on the weekends is what gets me away from the pressures and chaos of campus life. Together, they are equally rewarding in terms of what makes me truly blissful.

This ambience is what shapes my lifestyle. Many personal lifestyles at the University of Arizona differ from mine, especially the parties, and drinking on the weekends. This makes it effortless to go back home to Prescott and know that I’m not missing out on anything if I stayed in Prescott. This is where my close friends that I grew up with in Prescott become so crucial in my life. My friends can fully relate to my traditional weekends, that no one seems to understand at the University. Spending time with people I know more than anyone else in the world, who share the same interests as me and have made me entirely appreciate what I have in Prescott. Choosing friends based on similar personality types are hard to find, and these friends are worth keeping wherever they may be found; walking in two different shoes has made me know where my true friends really are.

Another aspect that I didn’t think much about until I was immersed into the culture at the University of Arizona is the difference between responsibilities. Though it may not be realized, the little things that are taken for granted, becomes understood when you are now responsible for it. Even miniscule things such as cleaning the room, doing the laundry, getting enough sleep, and not skipping classes seems to be self-explanatory; but they can be easily dismissed in college because no reminders are given. I believe this is where students fall into bad habits and if you don’t choose your friends wisely, there are negative forms of guidance all around. Some realize what they need to do on their own, and some obviously need the guidance that their parents gave them, and if they are choosing the wrong type of friends, they will be leading an unwanted future lifestyle.

Until people are given the opportunity to prove what their parents taught them is going to good use, they can’t understand the meaning of responsibility. Sometimes as a freshman, away from home for the first time, it is extremely hard to keep motivated. This is especially evident when you know that there aren’t any consequences from your guardians. One thing I’ve realized is how self-determined you need to be in college to be successful, and the only one who will pay the cost is you. As un-useful as it may sound, you need to apply everything that you have been taught by your family and other good influences when you become a college student, because it is so easy fall under. Being away from home makes the pieces come together that you would never see unless you are in a position where you are accountable for yourself. Growing up in a small town, and being immersed into a new, large culture has been one of the best things I could ever ask for in terms of not just education, but knowledge of life. Feelings of great fortune and thankfulness are the only words I feel are appropriate when I speak about my astonishing family life and the ability for them to let me comprehend and experience what I needed to become whole.

When I think of what my ‘culture’ is, I feel that it’s appropriate to say that my family traditions, close relationships, and all around way of life are found in Prescott, but Tucson was the missing part of my life. I now know that I live in two contradictory worlds. Both amaze, and surprise me in ways that I wouldn’t know were possible without being able to experience both perspectives. I will never regret any of the experiences that I’ve had in Prescott, or Tucson, and I will keep on continuing to grow as not only a young adult, but as a person, because of living in these two places at once.

I am from Parker

I am from Parker, Arizona and plan to attend Arizona Western College in Yuma. In addition, I know being raised in this wonderful little town has developed me in a very positive way, more so than if I was raised in a large city.

Let me explain. My parents are originally from Southern California. My mom began vacationing on the Parker Strip with her father on “visitation weekends.” My grandfather and his second wife purchased a riverfront vacation home in the 1960’s. My mom tells me that every time she visited Parker she hated to go back home to the “rat race” of Los Angeles County. She described Colorado River as being “cleansing.” When I asked her to explain, she said that swimming in the river took all of the ugliness away of L.A. There was no smog, traffic, and the stars at night were always a spectacular show. It became a dream of hers to one-day move out here permanently if she could ever get the courage. That courage came in 1993. I was only 4 years old when we moved to Parker. My mother had checked out the local schools, and felt, in her heart, that her children could be raised here as “big fish in a little pond.” She knew her children would have the best opportunities academically, athletically, and socially, and that we would not just be “part of the system” rather than in a big city. Everyone else in our family thought we were crazy, and bets were even placed on how long we would last out here in the desert of western Arizona.

We settled into our home just prior to me starting kindergarten. I attended Blake Elementary and was very successful there. One of my first friends I made was actually Principal Sam Heeringa. Principal Heeringa impressed me and comforted me by being involved with the children in the school, by pushing us on the swings, sat and ate with us, and helped clean in the cafeteria. I believe he is the first reason as to why I chose to study elementary education. At Blake, I received very good grades and always got perfect attendance. The best part is, I set the stage for my younger brother and sister as everyone became aware of the “DeMoss Kids.”

Next was Wallace Elementary for grades 4 through 6. In this school, I loved every one of my teachers and felt like they cared just as much for me as I did for them. It was here that I actually kept a new teacher in her profession. She was extremely frustrated and yet somewhat confused with her new career and talked about quitting because of the class she was teaching. Most of her students were so rude and would even hit her, which to me didn’t make any sense because I thought she was the greatest teacher ever. One day she took me aside and said that if it were not for me she would have left but that I had inspired her to stay because I actually wanted to learn and cared about what she had to say. Still until this day, she’s teaching there and doing a great job. This is also, where I was first exposed to music and choir, a love that I would continue to grow with.

I then attended Wallace Jr. High. Junior High was some of the greatest times in my life. I became active in Student Council and was elected into the National Junior Honor Society. It was during Junior High that I realized something very rare prior to my other school years with my fellow classmates. We all LIKED each other and got along. We cared about the nerds, the tribal members, the sports teams, the cheerleaders, the band, there wasn’t any one who was left out. I would talk to my cousins who go to school in California and they always said that there was NEVER that kind of camaraderie at their schools, and didn’t even know half of there classmates. During Junior High, I also started working part time after school for the Gingerbread House daycare facility. In addition, I became a certified lifeguard for Parker’s Red Cross swim program each summer. Today, I am still working for Buni Hooper at the Gingerbread House and take great pride in helping kids complete their homework and inspiring them to do well in school. I also can’t express how much it means to me when these preschoolers hug me and call me “Miss MiShelle” and tell me how much I mean to them. I honestly believe these opportunities could not have been offered to me if I lived anywhere else!

Now I’m in the beginning of my Senior year At Parker High. Parker High School has been unbelievable. I am currently the President of Choir and have won many awards for my solos at competitions in Phoenix. I was just inducted into the National Honor Society and am currently ranked #6 in my graduating class of 2007. Amazingly, just a few days ago, I was announced as being nominated for the Homecoming Court, which was my long time dream come true! I have also been a member of the college prep program Upward Bound based on “first generation” category. This means that neither one of my parents has a 4 year college degree. In fact, I was elected Parker High’s Upward Bound Club Representative for 2006/2007. Upward Bound has been an exciting experience and has allowed me to spend every summer at the AWC Yuma campus to get used to living in the dorms, attending classes, etc. We have made several field trips to various campuses including NAU, ASU, U of A, Berkeley, Stanford, and USF that has helped me expand my knowledge of what other universities have to offer.

In addition, outside of schools, I love what Parker has to offer. My parents just bought a one-acre ranch outside of town. We have horses, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and pigs. We have these animals because my brother, sister, and I enjoy doing 4-H. My family is also into off-roading, dirt bike riding, hiking, boating and jet skiing. Try doing all of that in Los Angeles!

I was lucky enough to grow up

I was lucky enough to grow up in the small mining community of Morenci, Arizona. Our crowning glory is one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world. It is an amazing sight! Most people see this area as just a place that you have to drive through, a nuisance, an eye sore. I see an amazing place full of history, history from the old west, and history from the mining industry that helped settle this part of the nation.

Just four miles from Morenci lays Clifton, who in its heyday rivaled Tombstone with its boisterous cowboy activities! In Clifton, there is a small street that veers off the highway, it is easy to miss, and it looks messy, as if it does not have much to offer. However, the history that you sense just walking down Chase Creek is awe-inspiring, there are old “shoot ’em up” bars and the breathtaking skeletal remains of what was once a vaudeville theater. Half way down Chase Creek probably one of the world’s most beautiful catholic churches, that never fails to catch the stray tourists’ eye and yields some memorable photos. The Phelps Dodge Copper Mine actually started in Clifton and you can still see the remnants of a few mining buildings from the highway on your way through Clifton to Morenci.

Morenci is also unique in that you can drive an hour in one direction and be in a breathtaking forest up in the White Mountains, where you can enjoy a day of skiing. Drive an hour in the other direction and your smack dab in the middle of the desert taking in the beauty that it has to offer.

I enjoy the small community feeling that this area offers. You know that if something happens, the people here will stand by you and support you. That is a great feeling, the feeling of family, that it why I am proud to call Arizona my home!