JACKSON TWP. Stark State College recently announced four students this year have been recognized as members of the 2020 All-Ohio Academic Team. Each year, the All-Ohio organization recognizes some of the best students of the state’s two-year community and technical colleges.

Natalie James, a psychology major who graduated from GlenOak High School, was named a first-team member and a Coca-Cola Academic Team Silver winner. She will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Gertrude Muthumbi, a nursing and physics major from Wooster, was named to the second team All-Ohio, while Alexa Peterman (occupational therapy assistant, Louisville) and Uniontown resident Robert Wright (computer graphic arts) were named third team All-Ohio.

During the nomination process, faculty and staff at Stark State College are asked to consider recommending students based on "academic rigor, GPA; participation in honors program; awards, honors and recognition for academic achievement; and service to the college and community."

According to Dave Sigmund, Ohio Region Coordinator for Phi Theta Kappa and co-Advisor for Stark State College's Phi Theta Kappa Chapter, “The selection is based on how well the student followed the judging rubrics and to what degree. How actively involved they were and how well did they fulfill the objectives of the application questions. Applications are then judged by the Ohio Association of Community Colleges committee. Once again (determining) how well did the student follow the rubrics and to what extent did they complete the requirements of the questions.”

“Stark State College first participated in the All Ohio Academic Team in 1997,” said Coordinator Student Life and Recreation Shari Brooks. “These students are exceptional and it’s important to showcase their talents and what they’ve accomplished. Plus, it allows us to celebrate them in a unique way. The four students exemplified Phi Theta Kappa's Hallmarks of Scholarship, Leadership and Service. We are proud to have them represent us as All-Ohio Academic Team Recipients.”

A Workforce Pathway nominee should be planning to enter the workforce after completing a certificate or associate degree, and Transfer Pathway nominees should be planning to transfer to a four-year college after graduation. Two of the students are going into the workplace after graduating and two are going on with their education and transitioning to a four-year college.

James graduated Stark State in 2019. She plans to become an experimental psychologist focusing on social psychology/human behavior and performing psychologically based experiments in a laboratory setting, executing data analysis and participating in scientific journal publications.

“Receiving this award and the scholarship means I can continue my education which is a significant part of my life,” James said. “After my associates degree, I had made the difficult decision to discontinue my education, due to a lack of financial means. Nevertheless, I poured my heart into my scholarship applications, explaining my situation, and hoping for a future filled with higher education and an opportunity to follow my dreams. Because of this award, I no longer have to halt my pursuit of a greater future, but rather, am propelled closer to it. For this, words cannot express my sincere and deepest gratitude. Thank you for choosing to grant me a better future, it means everything.”

White will be graduating Stark State in the spring of 2021. He is majoring in graphic design and digital photography.

“My career plans are to make my way into marketing,” White said. “Being selected means a lot to me because it makes me feel like my hard work has been recognized.”

Brooks said there are more than 1,250 Phi Theta Kapp chapters with over three million members.

“There are over 23 community colleges participating making it an honor for students in such a competitive environment to receive first, second and third rankings. These are exceptional students,” Brooks said.

The All-Ohio Community College Academic Team provides statewide recognition and scholarship opportunities to outstanding two-year college students at Ohio’s 23 community colleges. Students, nominated by their college, must have a minimum 3.5 cumulative grade point average. Selections are based on academic performance, demonstration of leadership and community service involvement. 

Although the annual statehouse recognition was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, each honoree received a certificate, pin and medallion.

The program is co-sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, the international honors society for two-year colleges, and its Ohio Region.