Lorrie Shelton is a Senior Student Services Specialist and Trio Upward Bound officer at South Mountain Community College. She was born and raised in the South Mountain area. Lorrie still remembers growing up among the citrus groves and flower fields along Baseline Road.
As a teenager, Lorrie was a strong athlete at South Mountain High School and later at South Mountain Community College. She played three sports, volleyball, basketball and softball. Softball was her favorite. She feels a very emotional connection to the softball team at SMCC because her mother, Sylvia Villaverde, started the program.
Lorrie grew up on the SMCC campus. Her mother, Sylvia Villaverde, was a longtime staff member. Lorrie became a student in the early 1990s, and after taking a few work study jobs, started working full time at the college. From that young age, she always felt a sense of family on campus. The faculty watched over her as she began college and met her first boyfriend. They even threw her bridal and baby showers!
After she got married, Shelton missed her mother. It was very important for them to spend time together. So, in 2006, they made the “family decision” that Shelton should try to work at SMCC. She ended up taking on many temporary and part time jobs at South, where there was always something to do. She and Villaverde were winning combination on campus.
When Shelton worked for Vice President of Admin Services, Dr. Joyce Elsner, she played a key role in the planning of the new South Mountain Community Library. The library is unique because it is a joint library with the Phoenix Public Library system. Shelton credits Dr. Elsner with making this happen. As administrative assistant to Dr. Elsner, Shelton attended all the meetings with the Phoenix Public Library Staff. Looking back, Shelton remembered the biggest controversy was the topic of alcohol on the premises of the library. The Phoenix Public Library allows the consumption of alcohol on their property, while Maricopa Community Colleges prohibits it. Lorrie recalled “taking minutes” and despising those meetings but realized that it was all worth it in the end.
Shelton was also affiliated with the ACE program at SMCC, which started in 1984 with a major grant from the Ford Foundation.
Shelton knows that some people view South Phoenix and SMCC with negativity. However, she sees daily that the SMCC campus is filled with beauty and friendliness. Even though some may be biased against coming to SMCC and against South Phoenix, it is “the campus with the heart”. Like most, Lorrie has always felt safe in the South Mountain area and calls it home.
Student Researchers: Gabriel DeMark & Grace McQuillin, Fall 2019