Seattle Student Chosen as Pierce Scholar Recieves $1,000 Scholarship

Jackson, MS – All-USA Community College Academic Team member David Michael Patrick Yama, a biology major at South Seattle College in Washington, was selected as the recipient of the David R. Pierce Scholarship of $1,000 for completion of an associate degree. He hopes to earn a baccalaureate degree and become a bioengineering research professor. Yama also earned a $5,000 scholarship as a member of the All-USA Community College Academic Team and a $2,000 scholarship as Washington’s New Century Scholar.

David Michael Patrick Yama

Following Pierce’s death in 2014, the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation announced that the Society would honor the memory of former American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Chair and Phi Theta Kappa Board Vice Chair with the establishment of a scholarship in his name. The $1,000 scholarship is presented annually to the student chosen to represent the All-USA Community College Academic Team by speaking during the Presidents Breakfast at the AACC Annual Convention.

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.

In 1991, Phi Theta Kappa introduced the inaugural All-USA Community College Team at AACC during the Society’s Presidents Breakfast. 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.”

Yama grew up poor in a small town on the Washington coast, their family of seven often living in a one-bedroom apartment. A self-proclaimed “straight F student,” he dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to sail on a historic tall ship that had been docked in the local harbor.

After completing the GED, he enrolled at South Seattle College, where he earned a 3.98 grade point average and became a member of Phi Theta Kappa. In addition to tutoring needy children, Yama also wrote a grant proposal to provide funding for scholarships that would help non-traditional students pursuing STEM degrees.

“The number one reason why a community college student does not complete their degree isn’t due to a lack of talent or intelligence, or even determination and drive. It is because they cannot afford to continue their education, plain and simple. Scholarships like these change these circumstances,” Yama said.

“By helping fund students like us, and giving us the encouragement we lacked earlier in our academic lives, you are investing in the scholars of tomorrow. You’re truly making dreams become reality.”

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, 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 2015 All-USA Community College Academic Team is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group and presented by USA TODAY, the American Association of Community Colleges and Phi Theta Kappa. Each team member will receive a $5,000 scholarship, furnished by Follett Higher Education Group, and be featured in USA TODAY newspaper.

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 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. More than 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.

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