Kelly Miller and Cathleen Goodell may very well be Flagstaff's hometown academic achievers of the year. In addition to several other recent awards and personal achievements, these two full time Coconino Community College students are among 202 individuals across the country to receive a 2012 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team scholarship.
This national honor, administered by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, where students can apply through the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, recognizes outstanding students at two-year colleges for their academic achievements and their involvement in college and community activities. Each year more than $187,000 in scholarships is awarded to deserving student members of Phi Theta Kappa, a national honor society for community colleges students who maintain a 3.0 GPA and display academic and individual excellence.
Miller is the recipient of a Gold Scholar and has been awarded $1,500, which will be applied toward her Bachelor's degree in accounting. Goodell was awarded a Silver Scholar and received a $1,250 scholarship which she will use to earn a Bachelor's degree in secondary education.
Goodell and Miller are also the recipients of this year's Phi Theta Kappa Guistwhite Scholarship, which awards each honoree a $5,000 scholarship for their baccalaureate studies. They were among 20 in the U.S. to receive the scholarship named in honor of the late Dr. Jack Guistwhite who established the first designated transfer scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa.
"It's a privilege to have national organizations of this caliber acknowledge these two bright and extremely ambitious students, who are the model of determination, drive and accomplishment," said Dr. Leah Bornstein, president of Coconino Community College.
Faculty and staff at Coconino Community College are extremely proud to see two of their own recognized on a national level; students who not only excel in their studies, but also balance school, work, community involvement and family.
"As educators we strive to give students the tools they need to build a successful career and create an environment that encourages them to find the gumption within to thrive," said Dr. Bornstein. "Cathleen and Kelly are a great reflection of that and we wish them luck in all their future endeavors as they further their education."
Goodell, who is a mother of four children and the president of Coconino Community College's Phi Theta Kappa chapter, resumed her college career in 2009 after being laid off from the retail industry early in the recession.
As she was helping her oldest son register at the college, Goodell decided to enroll herself to increase her employability and pursue a career as college math instructor. She is now scheduled to graduate from Coconino Community College in May and transfer to Northern Arizona University in the fall.
On top of her full load of classes, Goodell works as a learning assistant in the college's Learning Enhancement Center tutoring math and computer courses and as a part-time merchandiser for an internet-based corporation. Goodell also serves as a student representative for the college's Foundation Board, and last year, was the team captain for the college's Climb To Conquer Cancer fundraising team that supports the American Cancer Society.
Kelly Miller, a mother of a 16-month old and vice president of leadership of the college's Phi Theta Kappa chapter, decided to go back to school in 2009 to pursue a second career in accounting. She has worked in the advertising industry for many years and through her exposure to accounting in her professional life, decided that now is the time to do something different and become the accountant she always wanted to be.
Despite becoming a new mom during the Fall 2010 semester, Miller has stayed on track and is also scheduled to graduate from Coconino Community College in May. She will continue her studies at Northern Arizona University this fall.
Miller is currently a full time employee of a national advertising agency, and has served as a campus ambassador, student representative for the college's Foundation Board, and vice president of the Volunteer Club. She also volunteers for Flagstaff's JLB Project, a non-profit organization that offers assistance to community members dealing with miscarriages, stillbirths and infant deaths, and has assisted the local American Cancer Society chapter.
"At the end of my first semester, coming back to school was about more than getting my degree; it was also about the accomplishment as I had earned a 4.0 GPA," Miller wrote in her application for the scholarship. "Then it became about perseverance. It would have been very easy to take a break when I found out I was expecting, but instead I took fewer classes, gave birth, only missed one class, and maintained my GPA. Now, my education has become about finishing. I am almost half way there and want to achieve my goal, serve my community, and teach my daughter that hard work and determination pay off."
Both Miller and Goodell attribute Coconino Community College's affordability, diversity of programs and welcoming environment to making it possible for them to transition back into school and stay on a path to building a successful future.