Jackson, Mississippi – Eight years ago Angie Goldszmidt was living with her family in underground shelters in Northern Israel, taking cover from Hezbollah rocket attacks.Today, after working two jobs and earning a 4.0 grade point average at Bergen Community College in New Jersey, Goldszmidt’s education dreams are coming true thanks to Phi Theta Kappa and the GEICO Pathways to Completion Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship.
Phi Theta Kappa Foundation CEO Dr. Nancy Rieves visited with 2013 GEICO Business Student Scholar Valerie Le Grande, 2014 GEICO Baccalaureate Scholar Angie Goldszmidt and GEICO Representatives Deedre Daniel and Chris LeMaster during Phi Theta Kappa’s Annual Convention.
An immigrant to the U.S. at the age of 14, Goldszmidt is one of two members in 2014 to receive a $1,500 scholarship from GEICO. Working 40 hours per week at a wholesale diamond company each day and as a waitress on weekends, she attended college classes at night.
Goldszmidt served as secretary for the Model United Nations Club and as president of her Phi Theta Kappa Chapter. She hopes to earn advanced degrees in political science and become an advocate of positive change on the national and international levels.
“Many of our students come from low-income families, broken homes and some live in homeless shelters,” Goldszmidt explained. “I feel it is my personal duty to do everything I can to help them graduate and support them through the transfer process.”
Students who apply for Phi Theta Kappa’s Guistwhite Scholarship are automatically considered for the GEICO Pathway to Completion Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship. The two top-scoring applicants each receive a $1,500 scholarship.
“GEICO has proudly given more than $1 million dollars to support scholarships and programs for Phi Theta Kappa members in a partnership that has proven valuable for both organizations,” said Deedre Daniel, GEICO’s Director of Partnership, Affinity and Membership Discounts. “We value education and actively promote it within our company, so we are honored to be able to help Phi Theta Kappans attain their educational goals as well, regardless of the state of their progress.”
Marissa Vandervort, a communications and public relations major at Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona, also received a 2014 GEICO Pathways to Completion Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship. She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average and hopes to earn advanced degrees in mass media and work with artists in the music industry as a writer.
Vandervort says faith and family are the cornerstones of her life and keep her going when times are tough. She serves as youth band director for her church and volunteers as a mentor for local middle school and high school students.
In addition to working as a counselor and welcome center employee at the YMCA, Vandervort serves as a student ambassador at Paradise Valley Community College and president of her Phi Theta Kappa Chapter.
She sees her life’s successes as bridges, leading from one road to another, and challenges, such as suffering from asthma and financial struggles, as “potholes that are just dips in the road of life.”
The GEICO Pathways to Completion Bachelor’s Degree Scholarships are presented by GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) to Phi Theta Kappa members who have held a significant leadership position on campus or in their community, with preference given to those who have held a Phi Theta Kappa office.
A sponsor of the Phi Theta Kappa Annual Convention, GEICO has given more than $1 million to support scholarships and programs for Phi Theta Kappa members. GEICO is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the third-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States, serving more than 12 million private passenger customers and insuring more than 18 million vehicles (auto and cycle).
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.