Jackson, Mississippi – As a boy Cody Kelemen dressed up in police uniforms and — like his grandfather, father, uncles and cousins — he dreamed of a career in law enforcement. But when his cousin was shot in the line of duty and miraculously survived, Kelemen learned more about the legal system and set a goal of becoming a United States Federal District Court Judge.
Thanks to the GEICO Pathways to Completion Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship and Phi Theta Kappa, Kelemen is well on his way to making a career in criminal justice/law a reality.
A dually enrolled high school student, Kelemen also works as an assistant customer service manager at his local Kroger grocery store while taking classes at College of the Mainland in Texas.
In 2015 he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for achieving more than 150 hours of community service. Kelemen has helped to raise money for injured police officers and was active in his college’s Relay For Life effort, which raised more than $25,000 for the American Cancer Society. He also partnered with the local police department and his campus veterans’ organization in the “Blue Christmas” drive, which gathered toys and gifts for 600 children in need.
“I strive to be a servant-leader, which aligns with Phi Theta Kappa and the field of criminal justice,” Kelemen said. “At the heart of the profession, service is above all.”
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 is very pleased that the company’s support of close to $2 million for scholarships for Phi Theta Kappa members is helping create a strong partnership that is valuable for both organizations,” said Deedre Daniel, GEICO’s Senior 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.”
Gabrielle Woods, a biology major at Des Moines Area Community College-Boone Campus in Iowa, also received a 2016 GEICO Pathways to Completion Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship.
With her mother, Nancy Woods, previously serving as a chapter advisor and Iowa Regional Coordinator, Gabrielle spent much of her childhood attending Phi Theta Kappa events. The one that had the greatest impact on her was working at a camp for children with cancer.
“I was motivated to earn good grades so that someday I could be an official member of Phi Theta Kappa and continue to do such wonderful things,” she said. “I think participating in these cancer camps planted seeds that ultimately grew to be my goal in life — to help children who have cancer.”
Woods has participated in the Research Experience for Undergraduates as a Hughes Medical Institute Research Scholar and has had the opportunity to present her findings on screening zebrafish for developmental mutations relevant to cancer. A member of her college’s softball team, she is also involved with her church youth group and leads a weekly Bible study in her dormitory.
Woods also began her college career as a dually enrolled high school student. In 2014 she won the title of “Iowa Miss Homecoming Queen” and received a scholarship as a top ten finalist in the national pageant by delivering a speech, taking a government test and writing an impromptu essay.
The GEICO Pathways to Completion Bachelor’s Degree Scholarships are presented by GEICO 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 chapter, regional or international office.
GEICO is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States, serving roughly 14 million customers and insuring more than 22 million vehicles (auto and motorcycle).
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.