All-USA Community College Academic Team Awarded $100,000 in Scholarships

Chicago, Illinois - Twenty two-year college students have been named to the All-USA Community College Academic Team, honored for their outstanding intellectual achievement and leadership with $100,000 in scholarships. Each team member received a $5,000 scholarship, furnished by Follett Higher Education Group, and all were featured in USA TODAY.

The All-USA program is widely recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students attending community college. Nominees are hand-selected by colleges for showing intellectual rigor and for demonstrating academic achievement, 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 2016 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 (AACC).

"We’re proud to again partner with Phi Theta Kappa and be part of this legacy of success," said Don Germano, President of Follett Higher Education Group. "Every year, I’m humbled and truly inspired by the passion of each All-USA team member. I hope this scholarship helps these very worthy students continue on their educational journey and achieve what may have seemed out of reach.”

Student winners were introduced at Phi Theta Kappa's Presidents Breakfast held during the AACC Convention on April 12 in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to scholarship funds, each All-USA Community College Academic Team member was presented with a special medallion. College presidents of team members also received recognition for their leadership and a commemorative obelisk.

The 20 members of the 2016 All-USA Community College Academic Team are:

Amie Bernstein, Suffolk County Community College-Ammerman Campus, New York

Alex Martinez Figueroa, Pima Community College-Desert Vista Campus, Arizona

Elisandra Fini, Suffolk County Community College-Michael J. Grant Campus, New York

Patrick Fritz, Piedmont Virginia Community College-Charlottesville Campus, Virginia

Miguel Angel Gaspar Marquez, Oregon Coast Community College-Newport Campus, Oregon

Erin Jane Georgia, Jefferson State Community College-Birmingham Campus, Alabama

Jesse Kane, Arizona Western College-Yuma Campus, Arizona

Cecilia Lee, Arapahoe Community College-Littleton Campus, Colorado

Ya Xing Li, Lone Star College-Fairbanks Center/Cyfair, Texas

Issanna Loughman, San Diego City College-San Diego Campus, California

Eduardo Lujan Olivas, Pima Community College-East Campus, Arizona

Dylan Nikkel, Des Moines Area Community College-Newton Campus, Iowa

Brody P. O'Connor, Hudson Valley Community College-Main Campus, New York

Maria Alejandra Ortiz, Miami Dade College-InterAmerican Campus, Florida

Joshua Pickering, Santa Fe College-Gainesville Campus, Florida

Natalie Beth Seales, Jones County Junior College-Main Campus, Mississippi

Alexis Slade, Des Moines Area Community College-Career Academy/Hunziker Center, Iowa

Elizabeth Taylor, Grayson College-Denison Campus, Texas

Sameerah Wahab, Brookdale Community College-Lincroft Campus, New Jersey

Shawn Zamani, Hillsborough Community College-Tampa Campus, Florida

“Being the first of my brothers, sisters and cousins to complete an associate degree, and then continue toward my bachelor’s degree is a huge blessing,” said recipient Alex Figueroa. “Receiving this acknowledgement of my effort has opened up so many pathways to allow me to focus on my education and to continue volunteering in my community and at the University of Arizona.

“The All-USA and New Century Scholar awards not only removed stress and worry from my family about the cost of school, but will allow me to live in the Honors Residency Hall and to become better affiliated with the Honors College.”

“This scholarship has been life-changing – to be recognized as one of the top students in the nation is not only personally validating, but also allows me to continue setting the example and being a positive role model for my children,” added team member Patrick Fritz. “It is proof positive that through hard work, perseverance and sacrifice, you can excel far beyond expectations.”

The team of 20 was selected by a panel of judges from more than 1,900 students nominated by more than 1,000 community colleges. Judges considered grades, leadership activities and, most importantly, how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom. The 2016 All-USA Community College Academic Team final judges were:

Elisha Anderson, Brown University
Carolyn S. Dietel, Mount Holyoke College
Barbara H. Ebert, Georgetown University
Timothy L. Fields, Emory University
Sara Fowler, Blackboard
Dr. Samaad Wes Keys, Achieving the Dream, Inc.
Nara Lee, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Nancy Lee Sanchez, Kaplan Educational Foundation
Phi Theta Kappa also awards additional scholarships through the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program and the New Century Scholars Program, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and The Coca-Cola Foundation. These include scholarships totaling nearly $300,000 for 200 other outstanding community college students.

About Follett
For more than 140 years, Follett has been a trusted partner to pre-K and K-12 schools, districts and college campuses, taking care of the critical details that make it easier for schools to run, teachers to teach and students to learn. Every day, Follett serves over half of the students in the United States and works with 70,000 schools as a leading provider of education technology, services and print and digital content. Follett is higher education's largest campus retailer and a hub for school spirit and community, operating more than 1,250 local campus stores and 1,700 virtual stores across the continent. Headquartered in Westchester, Illinois, Follett is a $2.6 billion privately held company.

About Phi Theta Kappa

Phi Theta Kappa is the oldest, largest and most prestigious honor society recognizing students pursuing two-year degrees. Phi Theta Kappa is made up of more than 3 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in nine nations.

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