Steve Cruz is a Library Tech Specialist at the South Mountain Community College Library. Steve has seen South Mountain grow from infancy into what it is today. Once he got there in 1984, he never left.
Steve Cruz was born to Angie and Ralph Cruz in 1965. Throughout his childhood, Steve and his sister were involved in many activities that kept them busy. From his early childhood, and well into his young adulthood, Steve was a part of various sports teams. “You name it; I’ve played it” he says. He was also very involved with art and still is today. He expresses himself through multiple art mediums such as drawing, lettering and pin-striping cars. In addition to those hobbies, Steve kept himself busy coaching, volunteering at local after school programs and many jobs. He got his first job at the age of fourteen, working at Food City. A South Phoenix native for all of his life, Steve has seen the community around him evolve into what it is today. From South Phoenix’s agricultural beginnings with the many cotton and alfalfa fields, flower beds and orchards, to the changing of numerous businesses over the years, he finds himself in awe of the transformation the community has undergone over time.
Steve attended multiple institutions throughout his educational journey. He recalls new schools opening all the time in his neighborhood due to residential growth. Because of this, he attended three different elementary schools. Beginning at Jorgensen, Lassen and finishing at Greenfield. Steve then attended South Mountain High School, graduating in 1983. In the spring of 1984, Steve joined a growing population of students attending the brand new South Mountain Community College. He chose the college to pursue his education, but ultimately became an intimate part of the campus’ growth over time. Steve felt an instant connection to the faculty. Lara Collins was his favorite professor, and Dr. Richard Morales, Sr became his mentor. He credits these professors for molding him into a better student and having big impacts on his future. During his time at SMCC, Steve became involved in the student life on campus. He joined the MEChA club and became their Sargent of Arms. Through his involvement in the club, he began working closely with many other organizations on campus as well as in the community for fundraising events. Outside of school, Steve kept up with his extracurricular activities. He also worked closely with the Mary Rose Wilcox campaign as a student.
Steve extended his involvement on campus into a career. He first got a work study position in the mailing room making and duplicating copies. A year later, he began work study in the South Mountain Community College library. Soon after that, he began working part-time in the library. While attending community college as a part-time student, he spent the majority of his time working. All the while, Steve also worked for the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, part-time. He kept that position for 36 years. Steve graduated from South Mountain Community College in 1991 with an Associates of Arts. Following graduation, while still working part-time for the city and the library, Steve got the opportunity to join the library full-time in 1997.
Steve prides himself on his dedication to his work. He has been working and serving the South Phoenix community and SMCC since he was a student himself. At the time of this writing, he totaled 34 years of contributing to SMCC, currently as a Library Tech Specialist at the community college. He also works part-time at Arizona State University’s sporting events.
Throughout his many years on campus, Steve has seen it change so much. He can think back to a time when he first attended, when the college was small, with only a few buildings. But the spirit of the campus hasn’t changed. Just like in the beginning, Steve still has huge hopes for South Mountain Community College. He would like to continue watching it grow into an even larger institution, providing more opportunities for students. He envisions a path that blends college and university, allowing students to complete and obtain four-year degrees in specific fields of interest while never leaving campus. In 2007, this happened when Northern Arizona University and SMCC broke ground on an NAU extension campus. Students can now earn their bachelor’s degrees in select programs directly through NAU, without ever leaving South. Steve also hopes to see many more programs being founded at SMCC like the Storytelling institute.
Steve has many goals and hopes for his future. Currently dealing with some health issues, a big goal of his is to stay healthy. He hopes to enjoy life with his health while taking care of his mom. He would also like to travel more in the near future. Steve is planning to retire in the next couple of years, hopefully in his 60s if his health permits him to do so. Sharing words of wisdom, Steve says that taking care of your health and being good to yourself, and to those around you, is so important. Health problems place limitations on you, he says “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” He also states that being good to yourself and to others gives you an overall better quality of life.
- NAU, SMCC partner to expand higher ed opportunities in South Phoenix, January 31, 2007. Date accessed: 12/12/2019.
Student Researchers: Annisa Cordona, Veronica Melchor, & Tony Ortiz, Fall 2019