Joseph Bellis

Five Front Range Community College students have been named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Colorado Academic Team.

The scholars were honored Wednesday, March 13, in Denver. They were nominated based on their academic achievement, leadership, and community service. As part of the state team, they also have been nominated for membership consideration on the All-USA Academic Team for Community Colleges. Phi Theta Kappa is the international honor society for community colleges.

Joseph Bellis, Boulder County Campus

An illness that eventually led to a kidney transplant was the catalyst for this former framer/carpenter to return to college for a career change. Always interested in history, Bellis is intent on becoming a high school history teacher. After graduating from FRCC in December 2012 with an Associate of Arts with a designation in history (and a 3.82 GPA), Bellis transferred to the University of Northern Colorado. Bellis and his wife, Jessica, have a daughter, Shelby, 6. In addition to his studies and family life, Bellis works 34 hours a week at a bowling alley. He coaches youth bowling teams.

Shannon Croft, Larimer Campus

Shannon Croft-blog

Shannon Croft

Croft was a medical assistant and phlebotomist for 12 years and came to FRCC to study nursing. She “had an epiphany” as president of Phi Theta Kappa. Croft discovered she loved working with college students. She will graduate from FRCC in May with plans to transfer to Colorado State University to study sociology. After that, she wants to earn a master’s in student affairs in higher education. Her GPA is 3.72. Croft’s life changed in 2003 when her son was injured in an auto accident. Gabriel, now 17, is disabled. She also has a daughter, Maya, 14.

Emily Thomas, Larimer Campus

Emily Thomas-blog

Emily Thomas

As a Rotary International exchange student to Argentina, Thomas became passionate about international development. Her work with Phi Theta Kappa includes raising funds that provided running water to a school in Nepal. She plans to visit the school this year to deliver more PTK funds and matching funds from Rotary. She graduated from FRCC in 2012 and spoke at Commencement as the winner of the campus Outstanding Student Award. She awaits word on scholarships before her next step studying international development and health. To help with college expenses, Thomas manages a wine bar at a restaurant. Her GPA is 3.9.

Deborah Pipkin, Westminster Campus

Deborah Pipkin-blog

Deborah Pipkin

Pipkin, who has always liked to help people, aspires to be a nurse practitioner. She carries a 4.0 at FRCC in preparation for the studies ahead. A decade ago, she worked in financial services and studied accounting. Upon the birth of her second child, she became a stay-at-home mom. Until she enrolled at FRCC in January 2011, Pipkin homeschooled her family that now includes five children ages 3 to 16. She earned a certified nurse assistant certificate last summer and volunteers on Sundays in the pediatrics unit at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital. A licensed cosmetologist, Pipkin works part-time at a salon.

Willow Sterkel, Westminster Campus

Willow Sterkel-blog

Willow Sterkel

A graduate of foster care, Sterkel earned a GED and dental assisting certificate. She is open about being temporarily homeless and about reconciling with her mother. Her work as a dental assistant propels her desire to become a dentist. She maintains a 3.77 GPA as she pursues an Associate of Science. She plans to transfer to the University of Colorado to study molecular, cellular and developmental biology. As president of the Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Sterkel lead efforts for a fund drive that raised funds for five Alpha Mu Psi-Amber Hilmas Completion scholarships. Sterkel has a son, Liam Graham, 3.

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About Front Range Community College

FRCC offers nearly 100 degree and certificate programs from locations in Boulder County, Larimer County, Westminster, and Brighton, and online.

FRCC is a member of the Colorado Community College System, the state’s largest system of higher education. CCCS serves more than 162,000 students annually. The system oversees career and academic programs in the 13 state community colleges and career and technical programs in more than 160 school districts and six other post-secondary institutions.


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