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CDC scholarship supports ‘Wonder Woman’ scholar

Small Business Loans
November 28, 2017

Rachelle Hornby was a devoted Wonder Woman fan growing up — so much so that one Halloween she donned a homemade, red-white-and-blue leotard and oversized wig to emulate the superhero for a day.

Decades later, Hornby would find herself re-channeling her Wonder Woman persona once more. After raising two sons, the Tucson native decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree. And at graduation, after receiving her diploma from the University of Arizona, she revealed to onlookers a glittery Wonder Woman logo on her mortarboard.  

“I have been dubbed…Wonder Woman by many of my friends, doing as they see it, things that a strong woman (would do,)” said Hornby, 46.

The chance to go back to school and carve out a new career path was in part made possible by an Arthur H. Goodman Memorial Scholarship, she says. Bestowed annually by San Diego-based lender CDC Small Business Finance, the award honors community service-minded women and minorities transitioning from community college to four-year institutions in California or Arizona.

Arthur H. Goodman

In addition to helping students realize their dreams, the scholarship serves as a reminder of Arthur H. Goodman, CDC’s founder and well-known philanthropist, who started the company in 1978 on the core values of community development, helping the underserved, and deep caring for small business owners.

Tyler Orion, a CDC executive committee member, believes Hornby exemplifies the very type of individual Goodman wanted to help thrive.

“Her willingness to pursue a challenging career after her kids were grown was inspiring,” Orion said. “We know Art would be proud of her.”

Hornby’s educational journey was unexpected and stemmed from a need to expand a business, she said.

Years ago, she and her now ex-husband owned and operated a flooring-installation company. In order to bid on commercial projects and grow their portfolio, one of them needed to learn how to read blueprints. So, Hornby took it upon herself to take classes at Pima Community College, where she tackled construction-related courses.

After a divorce, she left the business behind and decided to continue taking classes, ultimately earning an associate’s degree in building and construction management.

In true Wonder Woman character, Hornby didn’t stop there. While earning the associate’s degree, she developed an interest in alternative construction materials and “green” building.

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sustainable building from UofA.

My diploma is filled with blood, sweat, and tears…I would have to add you all as well as Mr. Goodman’s name! I am still in shock that I am now an alumni of the University of Arizona. Thanks in part goes to you all!” — Excerpt from Rachelle Hornby’s letter to scholarship committee.

Outside of school, the service-minded student has applied her construction knowledge to do good through an internship with Habitat for Humanity of Tucson. Hornby drew site plans for homes, successfully went through the city-permitting process, and actually saw them get built.

Hornby originally thought the bachelor’s degree would be the end of her higher-education schooling. But she just kept pushing forward.

Hornby is now enrolled in an accelerated master’s program in architecture design and energy conservation, and is applying for another master’s degree, in heritage conservation, another passion of hers.

She’s not sure what she’ll do after completing her master’s degree, but plans to stay in Tucson, “giving back to my community in some form or another,” she said.

Hornby said she is grateful to CDC Small Business Finance for its scholarship program.

In her studio space at UofA, she says she plans to pin a photo of Arthur H. Goodman in a highly visible spot, “so on the days I feel discouraged, I can have a little reminder of why in part I am where I am,” she said.

Want to learn more about the Arthur H. Goodman Memorial Scholarship and how you can apply? Visit CDC’s scholarship page for details.