New Century Workforce Scholarship


Congratulations, 2023 New Century Workforce Pathway Scholars!

Each year, the student receiving the highest All-USA Academic Team application score in each state is named a New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar or a New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar. Students nominated for the Workforce Pathway will enter the workforce after completing a certificate or associate degree, and students nominated for the Transfer Pathway will transfer to a four-year college after graduation.

The program annually recognizes up to 104 Scholars. Each New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar receives special recognition at the Association of Community College Trustees Leadership Congress. Each New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar receives special recognition at the American Association of Community Colleges Convention.

The New Century Pathway Scholarship program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, the American Association of Community Colleges, and Phi Theta Kappa.

We celebrate with the 48 scholars as we recognize their achievements and acknowledge their future contributions to our communities as critical members of the workforce. We recognize the many two-year colleges that are critical to not only educating students so they may secure good paying jobs, but who also establish educational and training pathways to ensure their local communities have access to a talent pipeline. Workforce students and the two-year colleges who serve them make immeasurable contributions that increase the standard of living for entire communities. Thank you to all the college trustees and administrators who dedicate their time to ensure student success.

Below, please expand each scholar’s name to read a short bio about the student. Congratulations, again!


2023 Coca-Cola New Century Workforce Pathway Scholars

Darcy Antone

After her father’s hospitalization and death from COVID-19, Darcy needed a change. She originally entered the human resources field to help people, but now she wants to do more to help family members experiencing the same thing she had. She says, “One of the scariest parts of a family member’s health situation is not understanding, and I want to help change that.” Soon, she’ll be caring for her patients and their families with a career in nursing.

Kyle Cramer

When Kyle decided to enroll in college in his late 20s, he was nervous. However, since enrolling, he has excelled in his culinary arts program. The program allows him to work on his strengths and discover boundaries he is comfortable with as a student with autism. Through the program, Kyle interned at an upscale restaurant to learn more about working in the industry. After becoming a sous or executive chef, he dreams of opening a restaurant of his own.

Anna Meister

With a degree in design and drafting, Anna wants to help families make their dream home a reality. Before enrolling at UA Pulaski Technical College, Anna took a design internship that exposed her to the process of staging homes, sourcing materials, designing rooms, and collaborating with contractors and vendors. Since beginning her degree, Anna has become a full-time drafting associate with a custom housing architect.

Dustelle Brooks

Dustelle was motivated to seek a career in addiction services after overcoming her own struggles with drug addiction and homelessness. On the 20th anniversary of her mother’s death, she was arrested and realized things needed to change. She has been sober for over four years, owns her home, supports a child, and works at the same recovery center she attended. At the Ford Street Project she serves as a client services lead, placing her in charge of the Sober Living Environment for up to 18 clients at a time. She plans to complete her degree in human services and become a counselor at the center.

Paul Ruiz

Paul has spent a large portion of his life battling an addiction that kept him from reaching his full potential. Now that he is sober, he is determined to do better and to be better. Part of this involves returning to school to receive his associate degree in emergency medical services. Paul’s goal is to receive his degree along with certifications in wilderness advanced life support, critical care, flight medicine, and wilderness paramedicine. He’s already putting his training into practice by working as a frontline EMT on active fire lines.  

Taylor Cavaliere

Taylor enrolled at Manchester to help her achieve her goal of becoming an occupational therapist. In her career, she wants to be a beacon of comfort, a motivator, and a helping hand to those in need of support due to challenges affecting their mental or physical wellbeing. She wants to teach people how to have fulfilling, rewarding lives despite any disabilities or challenges they may face.  

Kristi Lowe

Kristi always wanted to work in healthcare but worried she did not have the stomach for it leading her to graduate instead with a bachelor’s degree in Latin and classical studies. After losing her job during the pandemic and watching healthcare workers struggle everywhere, Kristi knew she had to help, so she enrolled in a respiratory care program. She wants to use her degree to help as many people as possible. She wants to use her degree to help as many people as possible, with the goal of becoming a department head in her field.

Deborah Benson

In 2017, Deborah spent several months in ICUs following two separate tragedies. In the process, she and her family were called upon to make decisions they didn’t fully understand. The experience drove her to learn as much as she could, and she decided that the next time she entered an ICU, she would be there to save someone’s life. After completing her respiratory care program, Deborah will make an impact working with critical care patients and their families.

Leonda Reed

A desire to create amazing experiences for her terminally ill daughter motivated Leonda’s return to school. Because her daughter was a victim of medical neglect, Leonda’s goal is to become a pediatric nurse and be a better nurse for children. She is working on her associate degree while caring for her daughter and elderly mother. Having experienced homelessness in the past, she also arranges and delivers care packages with food, journals, and toiletry items for the homeless community in her area.

Ka'imipono Drumright

Ka’imipono is following in the footsteps of his father and role model in his journey to becoming a firefighter. Firefighting instilled in Ka’imipono’s father the strong values and moral compass that his father then instilled in him. At an internship with Winters Fire Department, Ka’imipono gathered first-hand experience on what to expect working in the field. After graduating, Ka’imipono wants to begin working with the Honolulu Fire Department and help continue serving others in his community.

Bryce Tellinghusen

Since childhood, Bryce has dreamed of owning and running an auto-body shop. Inspired by the joy he found helping his neighbor paint cars, Bryce is on his way to realizing his dream. He has completed his auto-body certificate and his college’s auto-collision repair and refinishing course. He won the SkillsUSA collision repair competition. Now, he is enrolled in the business management program learning the management side of the auto-body business to pair with his technical skills.

Veronica Swanson

After becoming a young mother and dropping out of high school, Veronica faced many challenges. However, she believes that those experiences helped her reach where she is today, earning her associate degree. She’s preparing for a career as an executive assistant in an organization. In addition to the practical knowledge she’s learning through her degree program, she’s gaining hands-on business and leadership experience. She works as an office assistant for Project RISE at her college and is vice president of her college’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter.

Ali Sue Hetrick

Ali has always known she wanted a career in healthcare ever since hearing her mother’s stories about working in a hospital. Although her mother was unable to pursue her healthcare career, she encourages Ali to follow her goals. Ali is now preparing to work in the operating room as a surgical technician. After gaining a few years of experience, she wants to travel as a surgical technician. In addition to being a full-time student, Ali also works full-time as a pharmacy technician.

Maren Larsen

Maren had already received two English degrees and was semi-retired when she lost her husband and found herself in debt. At 54, she started over.  She now works two part-time jobs and cares for her parents as she attends college full-time to study computer technology. She is using her IT and English education at her internship with Wright Way Computers. Maren is also a member of the 2023 All-USA Academic Team.

Joseph Douglas

Joseph is fascinated by the mechanics of electricity and receives a feeling of satisfaction working with it. This satisfaction and fascination with electricity sparked his desire to become master electrician. His primary experience is in construction and remodeling, but he wanted to branch out and is on his way to achieving his goal. In his program, he has worked hard to maintain his 4.0 GPA, and he has spent time shadowing electricians in the field.

Allison Ryan Cooley

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Allison felt unsatisfied with the jobs she worked and decided she needed a do-over. She enrolled in her community college and switched career tracks to become a physical therapist assistant, a decision inspired by her grandmother who struggled with Alzheimer’s. Since enrolling, she has been fully committed. At her college, she is her class vice president and the president of the Physical Therapist Student Organization.

Chiantia Turner

As a full-time mom and student working a full-time job, Chiantia understands what it means to live a busy life, but she does not let her responsibilities slow her down. Her child motivates her to succeed and strive for more. Chiantia is a Pre-K teacher, and she is building on her work experience by completing her associate degree in education. In the future, she would like to go a step further and receive her bachelor’s degree.

Aubrey Slater

After completing her associate in nursing, Aubrey wants to work in the critical care or intensive care units and work her way up to the cardiac ICU. After earning experience in her field, the next step on her educational journey will include earning her master’s degree to become a nurse anesthetist. Inspiration to pursue this goal came from her experiences interning as a student nurse at the Maine General Hospital. Outside of school, Aubrey cares for her four daughters, the oldest of which has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Michelle Curcio

Michelle’s mother worked in healthcare, and Michelle is following in her footsteps pursuing a career in medical coding. She wants to become a certified coding specialist and registered health information technician. In her program, Michelle helps lead and motivate fellow classmates by facilitating study groups and creating guides and tips to share with her class. She wants to use her leadership skills to become a coding supervisor.

Sara Bruce

Sara’s decision to enroll in college at 34 was motivated by her three daughters. She wants to show them that motherhood and age are not limitations, and that they, too, can write their own stories. After completing her business administration program, she hopes to grow in her current career at the bank she has been working at for 18 years. When her daughters are older and she has completed her degree, she wants to join the branch’s management team.

Melissa Lawson

Since childhood, Melissa has been interested in working in dentistry. Now, after receiving a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and having a successful career as a project manager in the construction industry, Melissa is returning to school to fulfill her childhood dream. Her dentist has helped her explore her interest and allowed her to shadow and observe cleanings, x-rays, and crowns procedures while in the office.

Jared VanHorn

Jarred’s college journey has not been a straight line. External circumstances and mental health issues led to him dropping out twice. However, he is back in school completing his architecture program while also working on strategic planning at a startup construction material supplier. He plans to continue his work there after completing his degree. Jarred has also begun work on founding a non-profit that would partner with schools and teachers to identify signs of abuse and neglect in children.

Destiny Little

During her first degree program, Destiny changed her major from nursing to psychology because she was concerned lack of financial support would make her unsuccessful. Eventually, she obtained an EMT position and decided to revisit nursing. Having successfully completed two semesters with all As and financial aid covering costs, Destiny is now confident in her desire to become a nurse. After completing her degree, she plans on entering the field, and one day she plans to return to school to obtain her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Joshua Wyrick

Joshua spent seven years as a supervisor in the Air Force before receiving an honorable medical discharge. A recipient of the Air Force Achievement Medal, he is now preparing for the next chapter by earning his mechanical technician certificate. His goal is to utilize his education to become a robotics and automation and millwright technician. At his college, he is involved in the esports team and advocating for students through his membership in TRiO.

Audrey Gordon

Audrey’s passion for graphic design centers around her love for turning ideas into visual realities. In her role at her mom’s business, Audrey designs promotional posters in addition to other responsibilities. Since beginning community college, she has learned a multitude of new skills to help her become a better graphic designer. She aspires to land a design internship in Washington D.C. and do freelance logo design and branding for businesses and organizations.

Tory Halsey

Tory’s goal in earning his associate degree in mechanic and repair technologies is to eventually use his education and experience to open his own auto-body shop in his local community. At his college, Tory is the president of his college’s SkillsUSA chapter, and he placed 2nd in the SkillsUSA 2022 Automotive Collision Repair Competition. Outside of class, Tory also works as an auto-body technician at a shop where he mentors other employees.

Kristopher Kerby

After 20 years in the workforce, Kristopher is now set to become the first in his family to receive a college degree. After completing his associate degree in computer and information sciences and support services, Kristopher will reenter the workforce as a web developer. In the future, he would also like to return to school to get his bachelor’s degree.

Rebecca Gibson

As a full-time pre-school teacher, Rebecca works with children and families in her community. Her desire to better serve these families inspired her to pursue an associate degree in early childhood education. In addition to her studies, Rebecca is gathering hands-on leadership experience as a PTK secretary and leader of her chapter’s research project on roleplay in education. Also, as a member of the Rochester Early Childhood Coalition Leadership Team, she offers insights on what families in Rochester need to thrive.

Marie Eng

Marie had always been interested in science, but she worried her limited math skills would put her at a disadvantage. This deterred her from working in the field, but since returning to school, she has been excelling in science and the dental hygiene program. After completing the program, she plans on returning to Bergen to get her veterinary technician degree. She plans on working in both fields part-time. When she is not at school or caring for her children, she volunteers at the Bergen County Zoo.

Matthew Waite

After completing his video editing associate degree, Matthew wants to work in the film industry as an aerial cinematographer. He wants to shoot drone-based camera shots for major motion pictures or commercials as a part of a film crew. He has worked as an instructional support technician for the film program at Central New Mexico Community College. Outside of classes, Matthew is also the primary caregiver for his elderly mother.

Hannah Foster

Hannah has few photos of her grandmother, so after she died, Hannah found herself forgetting her grandmother’s smile. This sparked her passion for preserving memories of loved ones through photography. Now, she’s preparing to her turn her passion into a career at The Fashion Institute of Technology with a visual, fine, and performing arts degree and career in photography. Outside of classes, Hannah does photo shoots for a variety of clients. She also volunteers her photography skills to small student-run businesses.

Shana Tamminga

Shana has always had a love of learning and a passion for giving back to her community. For many years, she did social work at organizations specializing in domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse, and foster care. She is now on her way to completing her associate degree in information technology. She plans to continue to volunteer her time to these organizations as she moves to the IT field. At her college, she works part-time with the IT department, gaining on-the-job experience.

Marlee Schweitzer

As a dental hygienist, Marlee wants to provide care and education to those in her community that struggle with oral health and dental hygiene. In addition to improving their health, she wants to help improve their mental wellbeing and self-confidence by improving their smile. At her college, Marlee works at the Student Success Center, and she is a member of the Student Senate and Wildcat Welcome Team.

Caleb Aukerman

Caleb’s goal is to become a universal technician and to turn his apprenticeship into a full-time job with GROB, a global company that develops manufacturing systems. Caleb will use his first-hand knowledge and experience to help other apprentices succeed. Outside of work and school, Caleb believes in being active in the community. He spent his early years with his parents volunteering in a children’s home, and their example has influenced him to make an impact on his community through service.

Leslie Travis

As a teenager, Leslie was diagnosed with heart conditions that caused fainting and dizzy spells. Doctors advised that she avoid being too active as a precaution. Leslie knew that this would affect her plan to be a Physical Therapist Assistant. However, rather than accept limitations, Leslie worked hard to strengthen her heart. With the progress she has made, she is now chasing her dream of working in physical therapy at her community college. Additionally, after gaining experience working as a Physical Therapist Assitant, she plans to return to school to complete her bachelor’s degree.

Vivian Norquest

At 16, Vivian began community college but doubt and fear of failure led her to begin programs only to quit them as the end approached. Ten years later, she has conquered her doubts, and she is now pursuing an education and career in dental hygiene. At her college, she has served as vice president of the student American Dental Hygienist Association. She also works at a dental clinic where she has gained administrative, radiography, and dental assistance experience.

Vance Hagarman

In the next few years, Vance plans to take over management of his uncle’s garage to allow him to enjoy his retirement. Vance wants to continue his uncle’s legacy and the garage’s success. To help him achieve his goals, he enrolled in the mechanic and repair technologies program at his college. Vance is also taking additional business classes to help him prepare for the bookkeeping and office duties he will undertake after his uncle’s retirement.

Alison Diiorio

Alison considers education to be an ongoing journey, and she does not believe in becoming complacent. In her 10 years as a firefighter and paramedic, she has been constantly working on widening her skill set, which is why she returned to college and enrolled in the respiratory therapy program. In the program, she is building on her experiences as a firefighter and paramedic to learn more about respiratory care and increase her skillset to open the door to other careers.

Letia James

Since the age of 17, Letia has dealt with chronic conditions that will potentially shorten her life expectancy. Motivated to make an impact, Letia’s career goal is to become a marketing technology manager at an organization that focuses on holistically improving people’s quality of life. She has 10 years of experience in marketing and a bachelor of business administration in marketing. She’s currently completing her certificate in applied science in web development to add to her toolbox of marketing skills.  

Angela Wilhite

During her senior year of high school, Angela spent much of her time caring for her grandmother and did not receive her high school diploma. On her 40th birthday, she decided it was finally time to return to school. Without wasting another moment, she completed her GED and registered for community college classes in the same month. Since then, Angela has made the Dean’s List each semester as she works toward a hospitality degree. After she graduates, she wants to land a job with Disney.

Rachel Smith

Her pregnancy and birth of her daughter sparked Rachael’s interest in sonography and led her to re-enroll in college after 10 years to prepare for a career in the field. For the first time, Rachael found herself excelling in her academics. After completing her associate degree in pre-medical studies, Rachael will be attending the competitive Midland College sonography program while working in the field to specialize in OBGYN sonography.

Wesley Brehm

Wesley embraces the change and chaos of life and is motivated by the inherent joy he derives from success and accomplishment. His career plans include working on production or sound in the film, gaming, or music industries. In a recent internship with Kinetic Video Productions, Wesley served as an assistant video editor and worked with film production and sound design. Additionally, Wesley is a service-connected disabled combat veteran. While in the Marine Corps, he was responsible for the training and welfare of soldiers.

Krystal Martin

Higher education has always been something Krystal wanted to pursue but was unable to afford. However, now that she is steadily employed, she is able and determined to take that step. She is enrolled in the business program at her college. Her goals include becoming an accountant and one day owning her own business. In addition to working and taking classes, Krystal also cares for her one-year-old.

Adam Toler

Adam’s objective at his community college is to complete his instrumentation and control automation degree and complete the electrical engineering program. He wants to use his degrees to begin a career as an instrumentation and control automation technician. Over the summer, Adam interned at a paper mill to get on-the-job experience before resuming his studies. Outside of classes, he remains active in his community as his Phi Theta Kappa chapter president and an Eagle Scout.

Laurel Behrend

After several semesters at Washington State University majoring in psychology, Laurel could not ignore her lack of inspiration and drive for excellence. So, she decided to follow her instinct and switch gears. Laurel’s curiosity for understanding how things work led her to nondestructive testing, a valuable process for construction, manufacturing, civil engineering, and transportation because it tests the safety and usefulness of an object, such as an aircraft, without destroying it. While being almost a decade younger than her classmates and one of few women in her field, Laurel has excelled since the change, and is the student director of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing in her region.

McKinley Kirkendoll

McKinley’s passion for diagnostics led her to sonography. As a healthcare professional, McKinley thrives by creating a comfortable environment for her patients where they feel safe and heard. Adding to what she’s learned through her sonography program, she is preparing to cross-train and become a registered diagnostic cardiac and vascular sonographer. At her college, she serves as vice president of the Ultrasound Society and member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Bradley Wooten

After struggling with an alcohol addiction for 14 years, Bradley has been sober for more than five years and is focused on building a better life. While preparing for a career in cybersecurity at Waukesha County Technical College, he is also involved in the Student Government Association and IT Club. He volunteers helping those in recovery for drug and alcohol abuse. He also works as an administrative assistant conducting e-filing and reports for an engineering associate company and as an assistant coach to the high school CyberPatriot team.

Scott Fowler

Throughout his life, Scott has learned many lessons, and one he believes in firmly is that one should always do what they enjoy. After working in different industries over the years, Scott found true satisfaction working with trades that fulfilled his drive to master a craft. With this realization and his passion for renewable energy, he enrolled in the wind energy program at LCCC. At his college, he is an intern in his desired field as a wind turbine technician.

About Phi Theta Kappa

Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.8 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 countries, with approximately 225,000 active members in the nation’s colleges. Learn more at

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