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Joanina Perez with Dr. Charles Wall, President of Massasoit (l) and Professor George Scala (r), one of Massasoit’s PTK advisors.

On Wednesday, May 11, the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office (MCCEO) hosted a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House to honor 31 of the highest academic achievers of the community colleges system. Student awardees, including Joanina Perez from Massasoit, were surrounded by family, college presidents, elected officials, and mentors, as they were presented with medallions and certificates for being named to Phi Theta Kappa’s All-Massachusetts Academic Team.

Joanina Perez, a Brockton resident,  is a student in the Criminal Justice Transfer program. Slated to graduate in June, Ms. Perez plans to transfer to a four-year school to complete a bachelor’s degree.

“Massasoit has played a huge role in my success,” said Ms. Perez. “From the beginning I’ve been able to work with advisors who truly care about my needs as a student and who’ve addressed all my concerns. I have been blessed to have professors that make learning enjoyable and who have always been willing to go the extra mile for their students. I can honestly say that the Massasoit faculty care and want you to succeed. But most importantly, I have been able to take advantage of so many different opportunities because of Massasoit. As a high school student, I was able to take advantage of their dual-enrollment program, and after enrolling, I was able to join PTK and offered the chance to take honors classes.”

Every year, MCCEO hosts this event at the State House in Boston to showcase the best and brightest of the 15 college system. The event is co-sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges, the Coca-Cola Foundation, and MCCEO. Wednesday’s event took place at 12 noon and featured keynote remarks from Massachusetts Secretary of Education James Peyser, Governor Baker’s top education advisor and member of the Executive Cabinet.

“This truly is one of my favorite events each year. It is an honor to be able to recognize students with such outstanding academic achievement and service in front of their presidents, families, and legislators,” said Bill Hart, Executive Officer of MCCEO.

In addition to membership on the All-Massachusetts Academic Team, three students from Massachusetts earned additional recognition through scholarships from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. As the top scoring community college student in the Commonwealth, Bunker Hill Community College student Tung Doan received a $2,000 New Century Scholarship from the Coca-Cola Foundation. Additionally, Aaron Dean of Quinsigamond Community College received a $1,500 scholarship for being named a Coca-Cola Foundation All-USA Gold Medal Scholar. Sondos Alnamos, of Bunker Hill Community College, received a $1,000 scholarship for being named a Coca-Cola Foundation All-USA Bronze Medal Scholar.

The 2016 Phi Theta Kappa All-Massachusetts Academic Team members are:
• Berkshire Community College students Gladys Garcia-Rijos and Tyrone Keels;
• Bristol Community College students Madison Dube-Adams and Tyler Sousa;
• Bunker Hill Community College students Sondos Alnamos and Tung Doan;
• Cape Cod Community College students Alexandra Charron and Erika Fernandes;
• Greenfield Community College students Laura DiLuzio and Lysha Smith;
• Holyoke Community College students Maria Perez-Gelinas and Laura Whiteley;
• MassBay Community College students Borislav Terzyiski, Nicholas Atchue, and Patricia Bonanno;
• Massasoit Community College student Joanina Perez;
• Middlesex Community College students Hans-Edward Hoene, Paulina Gonalez, Jacqueline Krozy, and Betzy Villavicencio;
• Mt. Wachusett Community College students Chelsea Garrity and Jana Murphy;
• North Shore Community College students Natasha Harkins-Dube and Marko Stipanovic;
• Northern Essex Community College students Crisayda Belen and Samantha Romano;
• Quinsigamond Community College students Aaron Dean and Kayla Paterson;
• Roxbury Community College students Mariame Fofana and Emely Melo; and
• Springfield Technical Community College student Joshua Marrero.

Phi Theta Kappa has recognized and encouraged scholarship among community college students for 97 years while promoting the academic integrity of the associate degree program. Students with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher are invited to join Phi Theta Kappa.

The Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office (MCCEO) works on behalf of presidents and trustees of the fifteen Community Colleges in Massachusetts, currently representing more than 184,000 students in every region of the Commonwealth.