JCJC PTK student earns national honors
Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: email@example.com
Date Submitted: 2014-04-21 08:54:18
ELLISVILLE – A whole new world has opened for Jones County Junior College sophomore, Zack Warren of Ellisville, as the college’s first All-USA Community College Academic Team member and New Century Scholar. He was one of 20 students nationwide to be a member of this elite group, out of 1,700 nominated by more than 800 community colleges. No other JCJC student has earned both prestigious honors in JCJC’s history. JCJC graduate, Kim Wansley was a member of the 1989 All-USA Team and Kraig Simpson was the first JCJC student to be named a New Century Scholar in 2010.
“Zack grew up on campus and we’ve known for a long time he was a talented young man with a lot of potential. I’m proud his accomplishments are being recognized nation-wide,” said JCJC President, Dr. Jesse Smith.
Bonnie Warren, the scholar’s mother, has worked in JCJC’s Student Services for 35 years. Her son, the South Jones High School valedictorian spent every afternoon after school, at the college. It was his mother Warren explained, who urged him to interview for a PTK officer position.
“I know how hard Zack has worked in his classes and for PTK. Seeing him receive this recognition as fruition of his hard work is especially heartwarming as his mother and a long-time JCJC employee! It is especially gratifying since he started his education here in pre-school and has grown up at JCJC. To see him excel as an employee and student at JCJC has been a blessing. Zack has exceeded anything that I could have expected and I am honored that he chose JCJC as the foundation for his higher education,” Warren’s mother said proudly.
His long-time girlfriend, Hannah Pruitt, the South Jones High School salutatorian, JCJC sophomore and fellow PTK officer, supported Warren by proofreading his essays. He received the top score in the state which launched him onto the national stage and into the history books, which is a profound honor for the history major.
“I never thought my application would go anywhere,” said Warren. “It is awe-inspiring to me. I didn’t think coming from Ellisville and going to the local junior college could help me reach the national stage. These honors have made me realize maybe there’s more out there for me instead of the limitations and plans I had for myself.”
Since the 2014 New Century Scholars and All-USA Community College Academic Team recognition at Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society's Annual Presidents Breakfast in Washington D.C., Warren has re-examined his future. With plans to earn his doctorate degree in history, Warren now sees additional career options and is, “open to the possibilities” that lie before him. The 4.0 scholar is making plans to attend Mississippi State with the possibility of studying in Oxford, England.
“Never in my life did I think I could be a Rhodes Scholar, or there was a possibility for me, but I’m not ruling it out now. I’ve changed my thinking: why can’t we think or dream for something so prestigious? Mississippi’s second Rhodes Scholar is graduating from MSU this year. Why can’t I dream big too?” said Warren.
Warren credits a great portion of his success to the Rho Sigma chapter advisers, Gwen Magee and Julie Atwood for the leadership and service opportunities. He explained he would not have applied for these scholarship opportunities if not for Jones, his mother, the PTK advisers and many other people who helped motivate him.
“They helped develop my leadership and organization abilities. I’m not sure I would have been as successful if I had not attended Jones first. People don’t expect fantastic things from a Junior College. I came here because of the people but Jones is spectacular. You can achieve on a national level and it’s impressive what Jones can offer its students,” Warren stated.
Magee said the Rho Sigma chapter of PTK is extremely lucky to have been part of Warren’s foundation. She explained, Warren will achieve great things as a scholarship recipient.
“The opportunity to see an incredible student reach and exceed his personal goals through creation and implementation of an initiative that will improve our community long term has been very rewarding. Zack's talents combined with a generous heart are a great combination,” said Magee.
Warren, who also serves as Rho Sigma’s Director of the College Project and Information Technology, earned the “Best Website” award at the PTK Regional Conference this year, for his work on the chapter’s website. JCJC’s PTK chapter also received the “Top 10 College Project Award” at the Regional PTK conference recently because of Warren’s creation of the new student service organization, Officium. It has been instrumental in coordinating community service projects like building houses for Habitat for Humanity. Warren explained the service organization was a way to pay back everything Jones had done for him.
“Without Julie Atwood, Gwen Magee and Hannah Pruitt to base ideas, I couldn’t have won anything. I rely on others to help me with these projects, inspiring me and supporting me. I appreciate the support from JCJC and the opportunity to represent the college at the national award ceremony,” said Warren.
As one of twenty members of the All-USA Community College Academic Team, Warren received a $2,500 scholarship and a medallion. The Team was also highlighted in a recent edition of the USA Today newspaper. The academic competition recognizes students who display an outstanding combination of academic achievement and community service. The PTK academic awards are sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group with the support from the American Association of Community Colleges.