Phi Theta Kappa event spotlights the diversity of students who study and achieve at Virginia’s Community Colleges - VCCS

Phi Theta Kappa event spotlights the diversity of students who study and achieve at Virginia’s Community Colleges

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Image of TCC student Patricia Simpkins

“I’m glad I chose Tidewater to continue my education.” Patricia Simpkins is one of the growing number of working adults turning to Virginia’s Community Colleges to earn degrees and skills to boost their careers.  And she’s done very well at TCC, earning a place in this year’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society.  “My decision has really been paying off,” said Simpkins. “There’s a lot of support and help here and it has helped me to stay focused.

Dozens of the top-achieving students from our colleges statewide were honored in Richmond last

Image of Dr. Dore greeting and conversing with students.

week when PTK members gathered for the organization’s annual awards ceremony.

VCCS Chancellor David Doré saluted the honors scholars as “the best of the best” of our students.  “As the newest members of PTK, you are now role models: living, breathing symbols of achievement. You embody the four hallmarks of membership in this prestigious organization:  scholarship, fellowship, leadership, and service,” said Dr. Doré.

Image of PTK students gathered for group photo

Pictured left are members of the 2023 Phi Theta Kappa Top Ten All-Virginia Academic Team.  Left to right: Chancellor Doré; Samuel Lantz, Rappahannock Community College; Eman Kasim, Northern Virginia Community College;  Adam Toler, New River Community College; Patricia Simpkins, Tidewater Community College; Jacqueline Stuart, Tidewater Community College; Damien Algernon, Tidewater Community College; Jaiden Kessel, Laurel Ridge Community College; and Ashley Poff, Virginia Western Community College.  Not pictured: Shazila Nadia Muzafar Shah, Piedmont Virginia Community College; and Daniel Rosenfarb, Tidewater Community College.

The gathering spotlighted the diversity of students who attend and thrive at Virginia’s Community Colleges.

“I want to be a brain surgeon,” said PTK honoree and Columbia, South America native Ana Hurtado (left).  She was visiting

Image of Ana Hurtado

friends in the U.S when the covid pandemic hit. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to enroll at Wytheville Community College because nobody from my family has ever been to college. I’ll be the first doctor in my family!” Hurtado added.

Damien Algernon’s (right) ambitions are, literally, in the stars.  The TCC honors student said

Image of TCC student Algernon

community college was the perfect launching pad for a career. “Tidewater is where I found my passion for astronomy,” said Algernon. “I’ll graduate in May and plan to transfer to the University of Chicago with the goal of earning a PhD and becoming an astrophysicist.”

Image of Reynolds student Julie Ogle

PTK member Julie Ogle (left) turned to Reynolds Community College when she experienced a mid-life career change.  Ogle had been an architect for ten years when the pandemic hit and her family learned first-hand about the nation’s child care crisis. Now, she’s pursuing a new life in early childhood development. “I’m so thankful,” said Ogle.  “When the pandemic hit, it was a wake-up call and I knew I had more things to do in life and going to school at Reynolds really helped provide that path for me.”


Image of SVCC student Edgar Jones

Edgar Harrison Jones (left) credits a strong worth ethic for his spot in Phi Theta Kappa from Southside Virginia Community College.  Jones is a recognized figure in his home Prince Edward County. At age 20, he’s an elected member of the county’s Board of Supervisors. Jone’s formula for balancing the demands of local politics and earning top grades in college: “It’s all about time management; I keep a schedule and manage my tasks based on priority.”

For more than 100 years, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society has helped millions of high-achieving college students reach their full potential.  The Society has grown from its humble beginnings to boast more than 3.5 million members in the United States and 10 sovereign nations.

The Phi Theta Kappa Foundation awards $1.5 million in scholarships to members each year, and four-year college partners now offer $250 million in transfer scholarships exclusively for Phi Theta Kappa members.

Learn more at PTK’s website.

Dozens of photos of the April 19 PTK honors luncheon are available to view and download on the VCCS flickr page.


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