Merced College’s student of the year has her education goal set on obtaining a master’s degree in Intercultural Communications.  With an overall grade point average of 4.0, Ilyra Pope will graduate this spring with associate of art transfer degrees in Communications and Psychology.

The Chowchilla resident acknowledges her instructors for helping her to discover “how my passions fit into education.   

“Merced College not only helped me get these degrees, but it also introduced me to amazing professors who guided me as I searched for what I wanted to do with my education,” the 20-year-old said.

Professor Chris Gaugler nominated Pope for the student of the month award in March.  The Academic Senate then selected Pope from among the year’s student of the month recipients as the College’s student of the year.

“This is an outstanding young woman,” Professor Gaugler said, noting that she earned an A for work in one of his anthropology classes.  “I am not an easy A” he pointed out.

After graduating from Merced College, Pope plans to continue her education at the University of Washington in Seattle, where they offer a master’s degree program in Intercultural Communications.  She would eventually like to teach.

“I chose Merced College because of its proximity to Chowchilla,” she said.  This way, I could take different classes and find what I really liked while living at home to help take care of my younger sisters.

This also gave me the flexibility to be a part of the college group at my church and continue to serve.  With these skills and my connections in my community, I have been a part of many beautification projects here in Chowchilla as well as in Madera.”

Professor Gaugler said he is impressed with Pope’s “mental and ethical maturity.

“This is a woman on a mission,” he said.  “No matter what happens down the line, she will be a success.”