TCC Students Earn Elite National Scholarship

Three Tarrant County College students are the recipients of an elite national scholarship given by Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges, and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

The Leaders of Promise Scholarship—awarded for academic achievement, community service and leadership potential—recognized 207 Phi Theta Kappa members out of nearly 1,000 applicants from across the nation. Among this year’s recipients are Brandon Kelley, a student at TCC Northeast, as well as Mariam Diakite and Kaelyn La Fleur, students at TCC Southeast. Kelley, Diakite and La Fleur each receive $1,000 toward their education expenses.

“I know Brandon to be a very effective leader, one who inspires trust and respect from his fellow students,” said Lisette Blanco-Cerda, assistant professor of English at TCC Northeast and Kelley’s academic mentor. “His enthusiasm for learning and for sharing his newfound knowledge is wonderful to see.”

Kelley, vice president of fundraising for TCC Northeast’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, is a sophomore who plans to study nutritional sciences and transfer to Texas Christian University or Texas Woman’s University. He would like to eventually pursue a master’s degree in public health or policy-making related to nutritional health, in anticipation of a career with the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture or Texas Health and Human Services.

Diakite is a sophomore majoring in international relations, with a goal of becoming an international lawyer. The president of TCC Southeast’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, she hopes to transfer to University of Texas at Austin, University of Chicago or University of Washington. She moved to the United States from Gabon, where her parents still live.

“In the short time Mariam has been here, she has learned English and taken on leadership roles at TCC Southeast,” said JoTisa Klemm, director of library services at TCC Southeast and advisor to the campus’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter. “Mariam is very organized and able to keep up with her studies while leading the officers and members of the PTK chapter in numerous research and service projects. She is always smiling and eager to learn.”

La Fleur is a sophomore majoring in special education; she transferred to the University of North Texas. Her goals include becoming a special education teacher and founding a nonprofit organization to support children with autism.

“My goal is to have different classes so they can learn life skills and do sports, theater, art and other extra-curricular activities,” said La Fleur. “I want it to be a place where they aren’t afraid to be themselves, have fun and get support from their peers and instructors.”

The funds provided by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation not only aid college completion, but also give students the opportunity to engage in Phi Theta Kappa programs and develop skills to become future leaders in their communities.

“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said J. Mark Davis, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa, make it possible for more deserving students to achieve their educational goals, and support tomorrow’s leaders of the global community.”

Phi Theta Kappa is made up of more than 3 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in nine nations.

“Research shows that Phi Theta Kappa members are four times more likely to complete a college degree than their peers,” said Monica Marlowe, executive director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. “The Leaders of Promise Scholarships recognize students for what they have achieved already and assure that financial need isn’t an obstacle to achieving their academic goals.”