Stella Torres

Stella Torres worked at South Mountain Community College for ten years. During that time, she served as director of the Achieving a College Education Program (ACE).

[Insert image of Stella here]

Stella Torres was born in Tucson, Arizona but she was raised in Hayden, Arizona. Hayden is a small copper mining town which was founded in 1911. Stella’s family, like other Mexican-American families, had tough times living there due to the many strikes. Living in Hayden did teach her about helping others, reading contracts, to always give back. 

Stella always cared about her education. Stella was in many programs, for example, she was in student council, cheerleading, and band. She also held many leadership roles. Stella was only 16 when she won an opportunity to travel for a month to Washington D.C and New York and other wonderful places. All through high school Stella loved being all into social things and just dealing with anything in the community and with people. After high school, Stella earned bachelors and masters degrees at Arizona State University.

Stella Torres remembers her childhood

One of her first jobs was working for the City of Phoenix. In her third year there, Stella heard about the ACE program at South Mountain Community College. The ACE program is a mission to deliver high-quality education and accessible online programs grounded in evidence-based content. The ACE program is very helpful to prepare graduates to lead and achieve their goals. 

Stella Torres describes her early encounters with SMCC

Stella was part of a team, in which she and her colleagues Liz Warren, Naomi Story, Nancy Jordan created a program that ultimately helped to bring more than 100 students every year from diverse and underserved backgrounds to college.

Stella’s first charge was to build the ACE program by recruiting students. In her first year, she exceeded her goal of recruiting more than 100 students to the first ACE class. Stella also focused much of her energy on fundraising. It was under her guidance that the ACE program raised money to become a greater organization. 

[Insert video clip 10:23-11:47]

Stella reflected on the difficulties the ACE program faced in the first few years. At the time, some faculty members on campus were resistant to the idea of teaching high school sophomores in college classes. They worried these students were unprepared to perform at a college level. They were wrong. Stella loved her experience working with South Mountain Community College.

Stella discusses the responsibilities of the ACE Director

Stella Torres was proud of her work to help give students the opportunity to learn at South Mountain Community College. Through their work with ACE, high school students now have better opportunities for a better future.

Arizona PBS’s interview with Linda Mazon Gutierrez and Stella Torres:

NarratorStella Torres
Place of OriginHayden, Arizona
Place of ResidencePhoenix Metro Area, Arizona
OccupationDirector, Achieving College Education (ACE), Maricopa Community Colleges
Years Active in South Phoenix1991-
Recording duration1:32:31
DateApril 8, 2021
Interviewed byStudent Researchers: Jimmy Perez, Breanna Rodriguez,  Claudina Mazon Jimenez
Story written byStudent Researchers: Jimmy Perez, Breanna Rodriguez,  Claudina Mazon Jimenez