Dolores Urbieta

Dolores Urbieta is a Mathematics Professor at South Mountain Community College. She empowers her students through her teaching. By using principles of Algebra, she assures her students that they can become successful in her class and in their future.

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Dolores Urbieta was born in 1970 at Tempe Saint Luke’s. She is the oldest of five siblings. Throughout Dolores’ childhood she grew up around lots of family and it continues in her life today. The men in her family made a strong impact in her life by showing her hard work. For others the value of hard work is something that comes naturally, but for some it needs to be taught and developed. For Dolores and her siblings, it was both. Throughout her life she learned many things because of her diligence.

In 1954, Dolores’ grandfather started a family business in South Phoenix on Broadway and 11th St. called Precision Auto Parts. It is now run by her father and uncle. Her grandfather even worked on Malcolm X’s car at one point.

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Dolores graduated from Xavier High School then went on to Arizona State University, where she double majored in Math and Engineering. During her time at Arizona State University, she got her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 1994. In December of 1996, she received her Master’s in Educational Leadership. She met her husband at Arizona State University during her last semester. She also volunteered to become a math tutor at St Mary’s Elementary. She then got a job at the Arizona State University downtown center as an educational program consultant from 1994 to 2000. She worked with K-12 math teachers, modeled the math lessons, and taught the classes. That is where she found her love for teaching. Teaching math became her passion.

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Having grown up in the area, Dolores she decided to start looking into teaching at South Mountain Community College. In the summer of 2004, her aunt Dr. Yvonne Montiel -a long-time Reading Faculty at SMCC- introduced her to John D. (JD) Mildrew who was the Division Chair of Math, Science, and Engineering Division. Urbieta started at South Mountain Community College January of 2005, but her first week was marked by loss. JD Mildrew passed away with cancer. That led Urbieta to Dr. Teresa Leyba Ruiz who is currently the president of Glendale Community College. Dr. Ruiz took Urbieta under her wing and became her mentor. From January of 2005 to August of 2009 Dolores was an adjunct at SMCC, mostly teaching at night. During those years Dr. Ruiz gradually helped her apply for jobs. Then in August of 2009, Urbieta got a full-time job at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, where she worked until 2011. Deep down, Urbieta always wanted to go back to South Mountain Community College. She loved Chandler-Gilbert and their great math faculty and learned a lot of great teaching strategies there. But, Urbieta felt called back to her neighborhood. She felt needed at South Mountain Community College. So, she transferred back to South Mountain Community College as a Residential Faculty in January of 2012. Later, she received the John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Award in 2014 but her greatest achievements is seeing her students still on campus and chipping away towards their goals.

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One of Urbieta’s favorite memories during her time at Arizona State University was driving past the Baseline flowers on her way home. At their height, the Nakagawas and Kishiyamas (Japanese-American families who owned the flowers) maintained over 300 acres of gorgeous flowers. The fields were a tourist attraction. During Urbieta’s drive back home from ASU, she could smell the flower fields on the north side and the citrus smell of the trees on the south side of Baseline Road. At the time, Baseline was a two lane road. One way going east and the other way going west. Her classes at the time ended in the evening, so she usually drove by the fields at night. Baseline being up high, she was able to see the city lights. It was dark and cool, she felt so lucky seeing something so beautiful on her way home. Dolores would sometimes stop by and buy flowers, but her favorite part about the fields were the citrus smell from the blooming citrus trees. Now the flowers fields are gone and replaced by a charter school, a Circle K, and different neighborhoods.

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Urbieta is continuing her education and has recently started a doctorate program at Northern Arizona University. She values r education and credits her grandfather for affording her the opportunity. Her grandfather migrated to the United States, physically crossing the Rio Grande for a better future. He later served in the military, and instilled a sense of commitment to education. Urbieta is in the second generation in her family to go to college. Her children are also pursuing their education.

Urbieta believes there is a lot of untapped resources and potential at South Mountain Community College and in South Phoenix. She sees South Mountain Community College serving a highly technical world in the future. Dolores plans to stay at South Mountain Community College for another fifteen years as a full-time and maybe teach part-time right after she retires. She wants her students to achieve their goals part way there and then have them take somebody with them. Whether their family or friends, because it is not about you.

Student Researchers: Elijah Durias & Eduardo Ortiz Rosas, Fall 2019

NarratorDolores Urbieta
Place of OriginSouth Phoenix, Arizona
Place of ResidenceSouth Phoenix, Arizona
Years Active in South Phoenix1996 –
OccupationMathematics Faculty
Interview DateOctober 17, 2019
LocationSouth Mountain Community Library
Interviewed ByStudent researchers: Elijah Durias & Eduardo Ortiz Rosas
Story Written ByStudent researchers: Elijah Durias & Eduardo Ortiz Rosas
Interview Metadata