Jennifer Blake Named to 2021 All-Arizona Academic Team

Thursday, March 11, 2021
Jen Blake

GateWay Community College student, Jennifer Blake is the latest to make the All-Arizona Academic Team for 2021. The prestigious award provides tuition scholarships to exceptional Arizona Community College transfer students.

As an infant, Blake was diagnosed with a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis. After a brain scan at the age of six, it was discovered she had four benign tumors that required 18 months of chemotherapy and radiation. During this time, she met several children who were experiencing far greater health problems.

“I watched how positive they were. How much joy they had, even with their illnesses. I always felt so grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to get better and that has always motivated me to be the best person, student, sister and daughter I can be.”

With her health issues behind her, this extraordinary life experience motivates her to succeed and has helped shaped her into the woman she is today.  

As a full-time college student and Phi Theta Kappa member, Blake still finds time to volunteer as a swim coach. From a very young age, her father talked about the importance of learning to swim. Blake discovered that she not only has the ability to lead but also has a passion for it.

“I remember the first time that one of the kids I was teaching finally finished their first lap and you could see the look of joy on their face; that was an amazing feeling. This was the first time that I knew I could be a good leader. I earned the trust of the swimmer and their parent.”

She plans to transfer to Arizona State University in the fall. While she is still undecided about her long-term career goals, she knows she wants to work in an environment where she can contribute to the greater good.

“I want to ultimately teach college. It is at GateWay that I finally had a professor who challenged me to reach for the stars. I would like to return the gift that has been shared with me with someone else.”

Blake was recognized, along with 25 high-achieving students representing all 10 Maricopa Community Colleges on March 4 at a virtual event.