WESTCHESTER, IL, May 17, 2019 –
For the fifth-consecutive year, Follett Higher Education Group donated $100,000 in scholarships to Phi Theta Kappa's (PTK) All-USA Community College Academic Team. The 2019 team consists of twenty of the top community college students in the nation, many of which have faced significant challenges along the way such as homelessness, incarceration and teen pregnancy. The ongoing partnership with PTK stems from a foundational commitment to helping students overcome obstacles and achieve what may have seemed out of reach.
2019 All-USA Community College Academic Team
Madison Area Technical College, Truax Campus, Wisconsin
Andrew is working toward his Automotive Service Excellence Master Technician Certification and is the first New Century Workforce Scholar to be named to the All-USA Academic Team. For his Honors College project, he is developing an alternative car H-VAC system not previously used in the automotive industry. The system uses thermoelectric coolers to replace the refrigerant system and heater core of automobiles, eliminating refrigerants harmful to the environment. He joined the submarine program of the U.S. Navy and spent three years on the USS Alabama. He became a Naval Officer and held various leadership positions, including supervising the ship’s nuclear reactor and overseeing the safe navigation and operation of the submarine.
Bunker Hill Community College, Boston Campus, Massachusetts
Cam worked with the student government to donate $50,000 to construct a food pantry on campus. And, through her advocacy for open educational resources (OER) classes, using electronic textbooks, she is helping reduce the cost of education and boost college completion. Only 381 students were enrolled in OER classes in 2016. Just two years later, in 2018, more than 2,000 students were enrolled—collectively saving over $1.2 million, compared to what students would have paid using traditional courseware and textbooks. Cam is also a math tutor in the Office for Students with Disabilities, and she hopes to help develop new methods of artificial intelligence-led instruction targeting the struggles these students face.
Pima Community College, Northwest Campus, Arizona
When Elizabeth was born, doctors said she’d be lucky to live. Her home life was tumultuous, leading her to drop out of high school. She enrolled at Pima at 15 years old and joined the honors program a year later. She plans to conduct psychological research, and her work has already found a gender difference in the psychology of regret. She wants to focus on mental disorders in teens. As the lead for the honors programs’ involvement with the Pima Animal Care Center, she created a dog-training program that resulted in 26 of the shelter’s longest-staying dogs being adopted.
Delaware Technical Community College, Wilmington Campus, Delaware
While incarcerated for five years, James completed a correspondence course through Ohio University and learned how vital education is to reducing recidivism. He advocates and assists those disenfranchised by mass incarceration and mentors felons trying to navigate reentry and college life. Through his church, he also works with women facing drug addiction as they reenter society. He has shared his story at area community colleges and at his own college’s 2018 Student Leadership Conference. Now, he is working with college administrators on a proposal to bring higher education into the Delaware State Prison System.
Cleveland State Community College, Tennessee
When Amanda’s youngest son faced allergy-related hearing loss, it set off a ripple effect in her life. The first-generation college student has committed herself to advocate for the hearing-impaired community and lower the social stigmas surrounding them. Amanda introduced a bill to the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature that would require fast food drive-thru restaurants to have assistive technology for the hearing impaired. Though this was a mock session for the Tennessee legislature, she was later asked to present her bill to the actual House of Representatives. If passed, this legislation would give more than 200,000 individuals in Tennessee ease of access in drive-thru restaurants.
Miami Dade College, InterAmerican Campus, Florida
Alejandro is a first-generation college student. He coordinated what would become Miami Dade College’s signature event, On PAR with Cancer, which involved hosting a series of workshops and lectures in and around Little Havana and partnering with the Miami Dolphins and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. The event was focused on three cornerstones—prevention, awareness, and research, and culminated with a 5K run and walk and with the Festival for the Cures—a popular community event. It was such a success that the mayor and city council formally pronounced the date of the festival to be On PAR with Cancer Day in Miami. Approximately $16,000 was raised through the event.
Mesa Community College, Southern / Dobson Campus, Arizona
Christopher is working toward a career as an elementary school teacher with plans to one day become a principal. He has created three honors projects based on teaching, and he volunteers with Mesa Arts Academy, a local charter school. He revived an on-campus club for future educators, which he turned into a chapter of Ed Rising, a national organization that guides young people on a path to becoming accomplished teachers. Through this club, he helped host a successful Future Educators Conference at his college for more than 250 attendees and, he partnered with his Phi Theta Kappa chapter to co-host a multi-cultural education workshop.
Tacoma Community College, Washington
Sharon is a second-generation Korean-American. She grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and was surprised to learn the city was home to the fourth-largest immigration prison in the United States. Determined to learn more and inform her community, she interviewed former detainees and advocates, and organized a community-wide symposium to explain how immigration enforcement worked and what rights immigrants have. More than one hundred people attended. Sharon once traveled to the Dominican Republic to job shadow dentists. She returned dedicated to seeking dentistry as a career and to learning more about global public healthcare systems.
Northwest Arkansas Community College, Arkansas
Kimberly’s love for robotics and engineering started when she was 12 years old, but she knew not everyone could afford to participate in STEM-related activities. When she was 14, she co-founded Ozark STEM. Through this non-profit organization, she hosts free summer camps for children and co-directs an educational STEM program that’s free and open to all in the community. She also writes and teaches STEM concepts in more than 18 schools with low completion and college attendance rates. And, through a local high school’s Ignite program, which prepares students for college and the workforce, Ozark STEM has paid for STEM students in the Ignite program to attend community college.
Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta Campus, Iowa
Carrie is a first-generation college student. She has been volunteering since she was a child, when she would accompany her mother to service projects organized by their church. She became involved with 4-H in the fourth grade and now serves as a 4-H leader for children in her county. She is also a long-time peer helper for the Special Olympics. The largest service project she leads is Bundled Bottoms, which turns old t-shirts and towels into diaper patterns. These patterns are then sent to women in Haiti who are paid to sew them into cloth diapers for the local children.
Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus, Virginia
Niketas and his mother were homeless during his seventh through tenth grade years of school. They bounced from motels to homeless shelters, even sleeping in their car his sophomore year. As a high school junior, he worked 35 hours a week. Niketas led his Phi Theta Kappa chapter to host the first student-led career fair on his campus. Thirty employers came, and more than 150 students attended. And, as a sales team leader at Best Buy, he helped move his team from 220th to 56th in the ranking of 1,200 computing departments in just one year.
Ivy Tech Community College, Northern Meridian Campus, Indiana
Jennifer is a recovering addict who said giving back has been a vital component of her sustained sobriety. In addition to her work with the Human Services Club to arrange training sessions, she chairs 12-step meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous and meets with women interested in the program. While her sights are set on a master’s and doctorate degree in human services, she would also like to help roll out a specific addictions program in a higher education setting that could not only provide certification in treating specific addictions but also offer a degree path specializing in addictions.
University of New Mexico, Taos Campus, New Mexico
Jennifer is a first-generation college student who once really did run off and join a circus. She worked with Spark! Circus to bring movement practice and theatrical performance to refugee children living in impoverished and underserved communities on the border of Thailand (what is now Myanmar). The team traveled to war-ridden areas and clinics filled with the sick and injured. Many of the refugee children were orphans who were sick and dying. This experience gave Jennifer a renewed love and gratitude for life, and her goal is to improve food scarcity problems through computational methods and genetic engineering. She then plans to make these developments accessible to underserved communities.
Tulsa Community College, West Campus, Oklahoma
Becca is a first-generation college student whose mom never graduated from high school. She’s the youngest of seven children. Becca created the “Tam-pioneers,” a group of students advocating for easier access to feminine hygiene products. Her efforts have led to free product availability in emergency situations on all four of Tulsa Community College’s campuses. She then presented a proposal to the Oklahoma Student Government Association, which approved the legislation unanimously. It was then sent to the governor’s office and the Board of Regents to be considered for implementation statewide.
Lara Lee Meintjes
Long Beach City College, California
Lara was born and raised in South Africa. She experienced homelessness as a child and became pregnant as a teen, so it wasn’t until she came to the United States that she was able to seek higher education. At Long Beach City College, she co-founded a parenting club and advocated for a parenting-student-friendly environment, including getting lactation rooms provided at both campuses. She went on to testify before state legislators in support of a bill that would go on to mandate the availability of lactation facilities on all California college campuses. Lara also raises money for a sewing center in India that provides resources for women to support themselves and their dependents.
Miami Dade College, Kendall Campus, Florida
Genesis suffered from social anxiety and depression when she was younger, but that has led her to want to work as a clinical psychologist to help others improve their lives by improving their mental health. She is certified in Mental Health First Aid. Following the suicide of her ex-boyfriend, Genesis founded the Caring, Hoping, Improving Club at Miami Dade to provide community service and research opportunities focusing on mental health resources and advocacy. The group participated in the National Alliance of Mental Illness’ Out of the Darkness Suicide Awareness Walk, and it organized a voting party informing others on how to be a mental health voter in the 2018 midterm elections.
Hudson County Community College, Jersey City Campus, New Jersey
Abderahim was born in eastern Algeria and came to the United States to attend college nearly 16 years after he finished high school. As a computer science major, he joined his college’s STEM Club, where he helped launch a series of workshops about robotics and 3-D printing. He reached out to Google for collaboration, and in response received a kit of their Computer Science First curriculum, a platform developed at MIT to promote coding to high school students in a fun and easy way. He also successfully recruited students to lead the workshops throughout the school year.
Citrus College, Glendora Campus, California
Philippe immigrated to the United States to attend college, following his passions to become a socially conscious engineer. While volunteering in Namibia, he helped repair an electrical grid by replacing gas generators with solar panels—it was through this that he saw firsthand how green energy can improve lives. He plans to work with Engineers Without Borders to bring renewable energy to more countries. In America, he was homeless for two months, which empowered his involvement in the college’s food pantry, increasing its assistance to peers in need to combat food and shelter insecurities. With Phi Theta Kappa, he founded and coordinated TransferNation, an inaugural podcast series by transfer students, for transfer students.
Pueblo Community College, Orman Campus, Colorado
Barbara is a first-generation college student who has long had a passion for watching children and youth succeed. As a volunteer with Destination Imagination Colorado, she leads teams of student through a service learning project that results in accomplishing an assigned challenge. Through her PTK chapter’s Honors in Action Project on suicide ideation among children and teens, she served on the Mental Health and Wellness Committee of the Public Youth Empowerment Council. Barbara collaborated with her college’s President’s Leadership Program and a local elementary school to launch a student mentoring program for high-risk children. She also became a Certified Mental Health First Aid responder for youth in her community.
Vrey Ange Zigre
North Lake College, South Campus, Texas
Vrey grew up in Africa. When war broke out in his country, people from his ethnic group were targeted, causing him to fear for his life and leave his home. When he came to Texas for college, he learned about the low completion rates for minority groups. This led to his Phi Theta Kappa chapter’s College Project on outreach to potential students. The chapter focused on seniors from two area high schools. He helped them complete the FAFSA, and he gives tours of the college and presentations about the Dallas County Promise, which offers free tuition and success coaching.
As the largest campus retailer, Follett is proud to sponsor the All-USA Community College Academic Team. We work tirelessly to make Follett a true partner in the educational process. We do that by living our purpose and core values every day, ultimately helping schools, universities and public libraries improve peoples’ lives.
Follett currently manages nearly 1200 campus stores, including more than 500 community college stores—more than any other campus retailer in the country. In addition to its annual scholarship donations, Follett supports student access and affordability with a wide range of cost-saving textbook options, including the largest inventory of used books in the industry and a text rental program that has already saved students nationwide more than $1 billion. To learn more about Follett and its campus store programs, please visit www.follett.com/fms.
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Follett Corporation is the world's largest single source of books, digital content and multi-media for libraries, schools and institutions. Headquartered in Westchester, Illinois, Follett provides education technology, services and physical and digital content to millions of students at 70,000 schools and more than 2,700 physical and virtual campus stores in North America. Through Baker & Taylor, Follett's reach also extends to the public library markets.