First $1,000 Scholarship Presented in Memory of Dr. David R. Pierce

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Jackson, MS - The Phi Theta Kappa Foundation has announced that the Society will honor the memory of former President of the American Association of Community Colleges and Phi Theta Kappa Board Vice Chair Dr. David R. Pierce with the establishment of a scholarship in his name. The $1,000 scholarship will be presented annually to the student chosen to represent the All-USA Community College Academic Team by speaking during the Closing Plenary Brunch at the AACC annual convention.

2014 Pierce Scholar Michelle Davis

Dr. Pierce served as president of AACC from 1991-2000 and as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Board of Directors for 11 years, serving as Vice-Chair from 2001-2003. He provided extraordinary leadership to both organizations and was respected by his peers.

Upon his death in early 2014, the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation wanted to establish a scholarship in his memory with the donations received in his honor. Maureen Pierce, his wife, and his family requested that the scholarship be awarded to a community college student. The first David R. Pierce Scholarship will be awarded during this year’s AACC Annual Convention on April 8 in Washington, D.C.

In 1991, Phi Theta Kappa introduced the inaugural All-USA Community College Team at AACC during the Society's Presidents Breakfast. Dr. Pierce, then president of AACC, requested that Phi Theta Kappa continue to recognize the All-USA Team each year at AACC.

“It is fitting that the David R. Pierce Scholarship be presented to the scholar selected each year from the All-USA Community College Academic Team to represent and speak on behalf of the scholars at AACC's Annual Convention,” said Dr. Nancy Rieves, CEO of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. “As a former president of AACC, it seems appropriate to remember Dr. Pierce among his peers and the scholars of the nation’s community colleges.” 

The All-USA program is widely recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students attending community college. Nominees are hand-selected by college presidents or their designated nominator for demonstrating academic rigor, leadership and civic growth. The program also recognizes students who extend their community college education to better themselves, their schools and their surrounding communities.

The 2014 All-USA Community College Academic Team is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group and presented by USA TODAY. Additional support is provided by Phi Theta Kappa and the American Association of Community Colleges. Each team member will receive a $2,500 scholarship, furnished by Follett Higher Education Group, and be featured in USA TODAY newspaper.

All-USA Community College Academic Team member Michelle Davis, a business major at Collin College in Texas, was selected as the first recipient of the David R. Pierce Scholarship of $1,000 for completion of an associate degree. She hopes to earn a baccalaureate degree and become a tax accountant.

Born in the U.S., Davis grew up in Brazil amid financial hardship, but her academic abilities surfaced early. After being given a scholarship to attend a private school at the age of 14, she walked three miles to school each day and sold her homemade cookies at recess to help her family at home. Not able to afford books, Davis studied at the library.

A mother who has fought tirelessly for her children, Davis has maintained a 4.0 grade point average while overcoming a language barrier. A leader in her Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Davis volunteers for projects she feels will exemplify her community. Her instructors describe her as a confident student, who has the humility to allow people to connect with her. 

“Every difficulty I faced was an opportunity to build my character, giving me an appreciation for education,” Davis said. “Excelling in school was my way of taking advantage of the opportunities I was given. With little money to pay forward the generosity I have received, I spent my time in the service of others.

“My past is the road that led me to where I am. As I look back, I see no obstacle too high to climb, no difficulty too big to overcome, and no goal too far to reach.”

The Phi Theta Kappa Foundation is focused on long-term financial stability for Phi Theta Kappa. It is dependent upon the generosity of individuals, organizations, foundations and corporations to ensure its future through the support of existing and the establishment of new endowment funds.

For more information on how to contribute to the David R. Pierce Scholarship fund or other scholarships for Phi Theta Kappa members through the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, contact Philanthropy Coordinator Karri Chaney at karri.chaney@ptk.org or 601.987.5507, or give online at the Foundation’s secure website. To give by mail, make checks payable to Phi Theta Kappa Foundation and mail to the Center for Excellence, 1625 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS  39211.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, plus Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, Peru, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. Nearly 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 131,000 students inducted annually.