Kay Howarth and Katherine Michalak, students at Front Range Community College’s Boulder County Campus, are national Bronze Tier Scholars on Coca-Cola’s 2016 Community College Academic Team.
Four other FRCC students join Howarth and Michalak on the All-Colorado Academic Team.
The national and state teams recognize high-achieving students who demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual rigor, combined with leadership and service that extends their education beyond the classroom to benefit society.
Those named to the team are selected from a field of more than 1,700 Phi Theta Kappa students from more than a thousand colleges. Phi Theta Kappa is the international honor society for community colleges.
Howarth and Michalak will receive $1,000 scholarships from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.
Kay Howarth, Bronze Tier Scholar, Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team
Boulder County Campus
Howarth will graduate with an Associate of Arts degree intent on transferring to study geography and international relations.
This Indiana native was a professional chef for 10 years before coming to FRCC and developing an interest in human geography. “I like studying a country’s economics, social status, class, and culture,” Howarth says.
An adventurous spirit is clear – Howarth worked on a fishing boat out of Seward, Alaska, last summer.
Howarth has been president of the campus Student Government Association and has reaped other honors. Howarth received a Vice President’s Award for Service at the Boulder County Campus and is the campus’s Rising Star Award winner. The State Student Advisory Council of the Colorado Community College System bestows the Rising Star Award on students who have shown a high level of involvement in campus leadership and activities while maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Howarth has accepted a full-ride scholarship to the University of Colorado-Boulder and plans to take advantage of study-abroad opportunities.
Katherine Michalak, Bronze Tier Scholar, Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team
Boulder County Campus
The writing bug bit early, but maybe it was having an essay published in The Christian Science Monitor at age 17 that cemented her goal. Michalak will be a writer, focusing on memoir and contemplative nonfiction.
With an Associate of Arts from FRCC, she is transferring to Goddard College in Vermont for a bachelor of fine arts in creative writing. The program is low-residency, so she can maintain her Colorado-native roots. Home-schooled growing up, she is looking forward to the independent study that Goddard is known for.
Michalak grew up in Crestone and came to the Front Range of Colorado and to FRCC “seeking a larger playground. A metropolitan area is more my speed.”
FRCC prepared her well, giving her writing experience in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. She was a student editor of Plains Paradox, the Boulder County Campus literary journal, and found time to write for other literary journals. She has a publication upcoming in the Concho River Review at Angelo State University in Texas.
Eric Sheley, All-Colorado Academic Team
Sheley tried FRCC right after high school, but he wasn’t ready. Fifteen years later, he was laid off from a high-level retail manager’s position. He came back to FRCC. Sheley is one of two community college students in the nation to be awarded a 2016 Darrel Hess Community College Geography Scholarship from the American Association of Geographers. He will graduate with an Associate of Arts and transfer to UNC to study geography and history. This summer, he will complete an internship with UNAVCO, the National Science Foundation geodetic facility. UNAVCO is a non-profit university-governed consortium that facilitates geoscience research.
Bob Wonch, All-Colorado Academic Team
Wonch was a traveling crane operator for three years and a recovering meth addict for much longer before coming to FRCC. “I wanted to improve my future outlook,” he says. Wonch is taking advantage of the 3+1 partnership with Regis University and will transfer an Associate of Applied Science and other credits toward a bachelor’s in CIS and web development. A skilled photographer who founded the campus Photography Club, Wonch takes portraits of low-income families, waiving a shooting fee. He also is a volunteer for the Larimer County Small Business Development Center, photographing successful clients and their businesses.
Jayla Elstad, All-Colorado Academic Team
At 17, Elstad runs a non-profit ministry and is about to earn an Associate of Arts and high school diploma. Her non-profit, TruthFC, reconditions soccer equipment for distribution overseas. She delivered gear in 2011 in Thailand, and it changed her life. “What I have is enough,” she says. “I learned this when I saw children’s faces being lit up by a used, old soccer ball.” Elstad plans a customized program in outdoor leadership and psychology when she transfers to Colorado Christian University. An elite player for the Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club, she also plans to continue her soccer playing.
Daniel Villalpando, All-Colorado Academic Team
Villalpando is earning an Associate of Arts with psychology designation he intends to transfer to CU-Boulder. He wants to become a teacher or counselor. Before FRCC, Viallalpando, fluent in Spanish, worked in a call center specializing in international money transfers. He pitches in at an ARC thrift store as he takes donations there. Villalpando welcomes new students and gives New Student Orientation tours. He participates in Altitude, the campus leadership development program. “I’ve learned that leadership is not so much about telling people what to do,” he says, “but about listening to people and helping them reach their potential.”
About Front Range Community College
FRCC is a member of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), the state’s largest system of higher education, with 13 colleges across Colorado serving more than 151,000 students annually. CCCS is a vital statewide pathway to individual achievement and economic vitality. Further, CCCS institutions provide an accessible, responsive learning environment that facilitates the achievement of educational, professional, and personal goals by our students and other members of our communities, and each fosters an atmosphere that embraces academic excellence, diversity, and innovation.