Dallas, Texas — Michael Aguilar’s story was not supposed to have a happy ending. He was born to teen parents who were high school dropouts, and his home life was unstable. He acted out, ending up in a disciplinary school, and he had nearly accepted his fate as another student caught in the school-to-prison pipeline.
But Aguilar changed that fate when he enrolled at Lone Star College-Cyfair in Texas. And on the morning of April 30, he addressed a room of college presidents and administrators as a decorated scholarship recipient who will be attending Emory University in the fall.
“I found a community that embraced diversity and saw my background as a strength rather than as a weakness,” he said. “Most of all, I found a college that gave deliberate support for an organization that changed my life: Phi Theta Kappa.”
Aguilar was one of 53 two-year college students recognized by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) at its annual Presidents Breakfast, held during the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The event honors the 2018 All-USA Academic Team and the 2018 Coca-Cola New Century Transfer Pathway Scholars.
More than 1,800 students were nominated by their colleges for these scholarship programs, which are administered by Phi Theta Kappa. Students are selected for their academic achievements, leadership, and civic growth, as well as how they extend their educational experience to better themselves, their schools, and their communities.
The All-USA Academic Team program is widely recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students attending a two-year college. It is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, with additional support from PTK and AACC.
Only 20 students nationwide are selected, and they will each receive a $5,000 scholarship and a special medallion. Their college presidents will also receive a commemorative obelisk. See the full list of scholars.
“These are the nation’s very top two-year college students,” PTK President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner said. “They represent a lot of things — strong colleges, excellence in learning, student success and leadership, service to others, and, of course, Phi Theta Kappa.”
The Coca-Cola New Century Transfer Pathway Scholars program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, PTK, and AACC. It recognizes the most outstanding two-year college student in each state who is planning to transfer to a four-year college or university.
Only 47 students were named New Century Transfer Pathway Scholars, and they will receive a $2,250 scholarship. See the full list of winners.
Aguilar was named both an All-USA and a New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar; and, he was selected as PTK’s 2018 Dr. David Pierce Scholar and will receive an additional $1,000 scholarship. The late Dr. Pierce was president of AACC from 1991 to 2000 and served on the PTK Board of Directors.
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 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 10 nations. Learn more at ptk.org.