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Monday, October 16, 2:30 pm. Police activity over at Desert Vista Campus. Clear to resume normal activities
Shane Gardiner stands confidently in a suit on a walkway at West Campus

Pima Alum and Marine Corps Veteran is Ready for Law School

Shane Gardiner is preparing to attend a top law school after completing a prestigious internship at the Arizona State Legislature. He shares how Pima was crucial to jumpstarting his legal career.

Pima alum Shane Gardiner has lived many lives as a marine corps veteran, community college student, philosophy major and future law school graduate. 

As Gardiner prepares to graduate from the University of Arizona (UA) with his bachelor’s degree in philosophy this upcoming May, he continues to point to his time at Pima as an important turning point that helped him reach his educational and professional goals. 

“My instructors at Pima showed me what support looked like,” Gardiner shared of his time completing his associate’s at the College. 

“Their hands-on feedback changed everything for me,” he continued.

Gardiner completed his associate degree at Pima in 2019 and plans to attend law school after completing his bachelor's degree in Spring 2022. Gardiner shares how Pima courses and faculty support empowered him to explore new academic and professional horizons. 

From the Marine Corps to Pima Community College

Born and raised in Tucson, Gardiner didn’t graduate high school. At the time, he wasn’t sure what was next for him as school hadn’t been the right fit. 

He decided to join the marine corps and attended Pima to complete the 15 units of college credit required to join the corps. 

While Pima was a stepping stone to Gardiner’s path to the military at the time, his instructors gave him the support and instruction to build new academic interests. 

“From early on, Pima instructors went out of their way to help me,” Gardiner shared. “One of my professors wrote a letter of recommendation that was crucial to me joining the military.”

Shane Gardiner

After completing the required number of college credits at Pima, Gardiner served four years in the marine corps until he was honorably discharged. He returned to Tucson to figure out his next steps. 

As he explored options, he came back to an interest in philosophy. He had always had a natural interest in the classics, the readings of Socrates and other Greek philosophers, but it was Professor Greenburg's introductory philosophy course he had taken at Pima that inspired him to go back to school to finish his associate degree. 

When he returned to Pima nearly five years after completing his initial college credits, he was moved and humbled to find that his old professors not only remembered him, but were ready to help him achieve his new educational and professional goals. 

“When I came back to Pima, I reconnected with my old professors,” Gardiner said. “Even though it had been years, they were so available to me and ready to give me the feedback I needed to succeed during my degree.”

The flexibility of Pima’s courses allowed Gardiner to work full time while pursuing his education. As a veteran, Pima’s many non-traditional students provided him with a learning community he could relate to. There were other students with work and life experience reflective of his own. In class, he felt like he was a part of a broader community of learners. 

He completed his Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC) and Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts and prepared to transfer to the University of Arizona (UA). He graduated from Pima with a 4.0 GPA and will graduate from the UA in May 2022 with honors. After he graduates, Gardiner will pursue a career in law and plans to attend law school.

“I went from not graduating high school to joining the honors society Phi Theta Kappa and finishing with strong grades,” Gardiner said. “At Pima, you have one-on-one support from professors to get meaningful feedback to succeed at whatever you want to do."

"I can’t overstate how much faculty support has meant to me and the success of my education.”

Next Stop: Law School

While Gardiner finishes up his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, he is preparing to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and apply to a top law school. 

While he is grateful for the support he has received at the UA and their robust Veterans Center, it is Pima that has had the largest impact on him gaining the skills and confidence to pursue a career in law. 

“At Pima, I could spread my wings educationally. I had the space to learn for myself without the pressure to perform in any specific way,” Gardiner shared. 

"At Pima, I could spread my wings educationally.”  ~ Shane Gardiner

This past summer, Gardiner completed a competitive legislative internship at the Arizona State Legislature. During his internship, he researched legal topics and learned about the legislative process. The experience confirmed his interest in law and his passion for writing and research. 

To apply for the internship, Gardiner needed three letters of recommendation. While he had been at the UA for nearly a year when he applied, it was his Pima instructors who he turned to for support. In the end, two of his three letters were from Pima instructors, which speaks to the long-lasting relationships Gardiner was able to build with faculty, including professors Waldrip, Stenstrom, Tveten, Van Etten and Peters. 

Gardiner’s educational journey and bright future show the impact of instructors who care.

Wherever he ends up next, Gardiner has built the confidence he needs to face the opportunities and challenges that will come his way. 

“I had a lot of doubt about what I could achieve,” Gardiner said. “But, Pima and my instructors showed me what I could do, and I’m where I am today because of that.”

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