I always enjoy celebrating our students at Front Range Community College. Last month, I had the opportunity to share a table with the five FRCC students who were named to the 2013 Phi Theta Kappa All-Colorado Academic Team—an impressive group of individuals:
- Joseph Bellis returned to college after a serious surgery inspired him to change careers—from framing and carpentry to teaching high school history.
- Shannon Croft originally came to FRCC to become a nurse, but loved her student experience here so much that she is now on the path to a bachelor’s in sociology and a master’s in student affairs.
- Emily Thomas has raised funds to get running water to a school in Nepal—she was recently awarded 80,000 charity miles from United Airlines and Rotary Club of Fort Collins for her next Nepal trip to help build a school—and was the 2012 student commencement speaker at Larimer Campus. She’s off to study international development and health.
- Deborah Pipkin worked in financial services in her first career, but took time away from the workforce to focus on her five children. She earned a Certified Nurse Assistant certificate and hopes to one day become a nurse practitioner (she currently volunteers in the pediatrics unit of Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital).
- Willow Sterkel grew up in the foster care system and overcame homelessness and family struggles. She’s now pursuing her A.S. (and serving as president of Phi Theta Kappa) with plans to transfer to the University of Colorado to study molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. One day, this hardworking dental assistant wants to become a dentist.
These students have incredible stories of dreams, tenacity, hardship, and passion. Talking with them reminded me of some of the Academic Team members from years past who have now gone on to do some pretty amazing things. Meet just a handful of them:
- Natalie Gulyas (2002) went on to Cornell University for her bachelor’s in meteorology.
- Chris Jones (2002) spent time in Chad, Africa, building schools.
- Shawn Klawitter (2002) received a bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 2005 and is now an engineer for a global health care leader, working in North Carolina.
- Katrina Rueschhoff (2007) served in the Peace Corps in Ghana, West Africa, and is currently pursuing a B.A. in economics at the University of Denver.
- Carolyn (Croissant) Salvi (2000) went on to Colorado State University and later, Tufts University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English literature. She is a part-time lecturer at Suffolk University and teaches online at CSU.
- David Strungis (2005) transferred to then-Metropolitan State College of Denver for a B.A. in political science and economics, then New York University for a master of public administration. Before leaving Colorado, he was the mayor pro tem for the City of Lafayette for four years. He’s now an associate analyst at Moody’s Investors Service in New York.
I am extremely proud of these students’ hard work, leadership, service, and dedication, and I have no doubt that years from now, we’ll be hearing about their successes and adventures. A big congratulations to Joseph, Shannon, Emily, Deborah and Willow on being named to the 2013 All-Colorado Academic Team. I know these five outstanding individuals will represent us well now and long after their time here as they continue to chase their dreams.