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PCC Presents Academic Excellence Awards


WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College presented Academic Excellence Awards to top students this month for excellence in the classroom, on campus and in the community.

The annual ceremony, which took place March 20, featured remarks from PCC President G. Dennis Massey, who said the honorees represent the “best and brightest” the college has to offer.

Massey noted that PCC emphasizes student success in the classroom. “We want all of our students to complete their educational goals; it’s how we measure ourselves,” he said.

All of the students honored during the program were nominated by PCC faculty and staff. During the ceremony, they received special medallions crafted by the college’s Machining Technology students to commemorate their achievement.

In addition to the medallion presentations, the program included a speech by Academic Excellence Award recipient Eric Walls, who described what PCC has meant to him as a student.

“You ask me what PCC means to me and one word instantly comes to mind – family,” he said. “Over the course of my five semesters here, that is exactly what the instructors and staff here at PCC have become for me.”

The 35-year-old Walls, a university transfer student, enrolled at PCC in 2012—well after the music magazine he created as a student at J.H. Rose High School had folded and he’d spent 10 years working in retail management. His new career goal, he says, is to become a history teacher.

Three PCC faculty members, including history instructor Wesley Bishop, nominated Walls for an Academic Excellence Award. “Eric Walls’ academic performance is nothing short of excellent,” said Bishop, who has had Walls as a student in three courses.

An Ayden resident, Walls has a 4.0 GPA and has earned numerous honors and recognitions as a PCC student, including this year’s N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) Academic Excellence Award. The award is given annually to one student at each of the state’s 58 community colleges in recognition of outstanding achievement in the classroom and volunteerism.

“… My experience (at PCC) will inspire me for the rest of my life, and for that I am truly thankful,” Walls said.

This year’s Academic Excellence Awards program also featured the presentation of numerous special awards.

La’Quon Rogers, a PCC Student Ambassador and former PCC Student Government Association (SGA) president, was presented with the NCCCS’s Gov. Robert W. Scott Leadership Award. Rogers, who currently serves as president of the N.C. Comprehensive Community College SGA, was chosen from among nominees representing nearly every community college in the state.

Alex Tunnell, an Associate of Science Engineering student, received the 2015 President’s Scholarship worth $1,000 to help pay for tuition and fees as he pursues a two-year university transfer degree. Tunnell has recorded a 4.0 GPA and is a member of PCC’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society chapter, Kiwanis International and Gamma Beta Phi.

Sydney Finau, a Welding Technology student with a 3.94 GPA, received this year’s President’s Award worth $500 for outstanding academics, leadership, volunteerism and service to the college. Finau, who also received the NCCCS’s Dallas Herring Student Achievement Award, is president of the college’s PTK chapter and also serves as PCC SGA treasurer.

Division Awards were presented to students Sarah Smith (Arts and Sciences), Courtney Phillips (Business), Ernest Keene (Construction and Industrial Technology), Staci Carter (Health Sciences) and Justice Payton (Public Services and Fine Arts). Each student received $250 through the award.

Special awards were also given to several students for excellence in Developmental Studies courses. This year’s recipients were Emily Hester, Maria Jaimes and Jorge Olmeda-Ortiz, who was also an Academic Excellence Award recipient.

A pair of PCC student-athletes received recognition for outstanding classroom success. Softball player Sarah Hanley, an Associate in Science major, received the 2015 Female Student-Athlete Award while Clay Fesperman, a baseball player and Associate in Science student, received the Male Student-Athlete Award. Both athletes received $250 through the honor.

Students nominated by PCC for the All-USA Academic Team within the past two years—Rebecca Haislip and Rogers in 2014 and Keena Champion and Walls this year—were also recognized during the program.