JCJC selects New Century Scholars representatives

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2017-12-06 14:58:53

ELLISVILLE – Eleven, Jones County Junior College sophomores were selected to compete for the New Century Scholars Program in conjunction with the International Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa’s academic scholarship program.  These students were nominated by faculty members and then selected by the JCJC Scholarship Committee and administrators. Some of the requirements to earn a spot in this prestigious group include maintaining a 3.5 to 4.0 GPA, taking challenging academic courses, completing a minimum of 36-college credit hours, volunteering their service in their communities and college, doing well in an interview with the Scholarship Committee and students must submit an application for the All-USA Academic Team.
JCJC’s nominees for the New Century Transfer Pathway Scholarship are Henry “Clay” Taylor, a banking and finance major from Diamondhead; Abigail Odom, a math education major from Bay Springs; Jonathan Taylor, a banking and finance major from Diamondhead; Katelynn McGowen, a pre-med/biology major from Moselle; Benjamin Robertson, a civil engineering major from Ellisville; James Ladd, a chemical engineering major from Mize; Nancy Williams, an industrial engineering major from Toomsuba and Paxton Holder, a chemistry major from Moselle.
Also, for the first time this year, PTK has incorporated a new aspect to its traditional academic scholarship program with the creation of the New Century Workforce Pathway Scholarship program offered to career and technical students. The New Century Workforce Pathway Scholarship nominees are Alonso Hernandez, an automotive technology major from Costa Rica and a resident of Ellisville; Erica Murphy, a computer programming major from Hattiesburg and computer programming major from Waynesboro, Dakota Shoemaker.
Selected to represent the college in the upcoming state and national scholarship competitions are academic students, Katelynn McGowen and Benjamin Robertson, along with career and technical students, Alonso Hernandez and Dakota Shoemaker.
 “This is a great opportunity for Career and Technical students to be recognized for excelling in their field.  I am very excited that we have two well-deserving individuals like Dakota and Alonso who are extraordinary students, who are passionate about their career field and have the opportunity to be recognized on the state level,” said JCJC Career and Technical Dean, Rod Tolbert.
JCJC VP for Instructional Affairs, Candace Weaver said she was thrilled for the opportunity to recognize more students on this level. 
“I am excited about this change in the scholarship program, allowing for double the number of scholarships. Now we get to nominate two students from our career and technical programs in addition to the two academic students we have traditionally sent forth for state and possibly, national scholarship competition. The students nominated from JCJC made a big impression on their instructors to be recognized at this level,” said Weaver.
Sophomore from Moselle, Katelynn McGowen is no stranger to the spotlight as the JCJC and former South Jones High School’s head drum major for the last five years, and she also served as Ellisville’s 2016 Miss Hospitality and JCJC’s Freshman Homecoming Maid. The pre-med/biology major has a long list of academic honors with being selected as the JCJC student representative for the Higher Education Appreciation Day Working for Academic Excellence state program, JCJC’s Who’s Who, Hall of Fame and Letter “J” Awards, JCJC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s VP of Leadership and she was South Jones High School’s 2016 Valedictorian.
Serving her community through volunteering with the Hattiesburg Elks Lodge and Forrest General Hospital’s Spirit Girls program has inspired McGowen’s future career path. She has plans to graduate from the University of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi Medical Center with aspirations of eventually being a pediatrician at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
“Throughout high school, I volunteered my time as a camp counselor for the Mississippi Elks Camp. Now, I am the current Mississippi Elks Camp Director and each summer I am responsible for the kids, the counselors, their safety, and all camp activities. Also, by being involved with Forrest General Hospital’s Spirit Girls, I have learned how to work with children, individuals with special needs, and the elderly. Being in these settings has strengthened my desire to work with children as my career because I enjoy helping them overcome sickness. My grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which further focused my desire to work with children who have cancer,” McGowen explained.
Her desire to give back to those in need has been the driving force for her pursuit of excellence in every way, including being a positive role model.
“I pray to positively inspire people to have a healthy life and to give back to their community through my actions and words of encouragement. I have developed the desire to give back to those who need help the most, and I am confident that I can inspire children and adults to live a joyful life,” said McGowen.

At JCJC, McGowen is a member of the Charles Pickering Honors Institute, Student Government Association, Baptist Student Union, Sigma Kappa Delta English Honors Society, and the College Republicans Club.
Also representing JCJC as a New Century Transfer Scholarship program is Ellisville’s, Ben Robertson. Over the last nine years, he has been a missionary in Chisinau, Moldova, Spanish Wells, Bahamas, and in the U.S. He established the business, “True-Cut Landscaping” as a high school sophomore to help fund international missionary trips. 
The JCJC civil engineering major’s desire to excel academically and personally has landed him several leadership positions on campus. He is currently serving as the Baptist Student Union Executive Council President and is involved with PTK, the JCJC Engineering Club and the Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society.  Robertson has also been recognized as the Most Outstanding Camper at Hol-Mac Engineering Camp in 2010, he became an Eagle Scout in 2012, he served as Senator for the TeenPact Leadership School and he earned honors in Speech Pedagogy Servant Leadership as part of the Berean Speech Club.  Being chosen for the opportunity to compete for scholarships amongst the top students in the state was a surprise to him.
“It means a great deal to be nominated for this award but I honestly did not think I would ever receive something like this. I am truly thankful because it will help pay for my college expenses when I transfer to a university. It will also get me closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming an engineer,” said Robertson.
Competing for the first, New Century Workforce Pathway Scholarship, are Alonso Hernandez and Dakota Shoemaker.  Hernandez, a Costa Rican native moved to Ellisville to marry his missionary wife. Before he could take college courses in the U.S., he had to get his High School Equivalency.  While overcoming that hurdle, Hernandez also earned a workforce certificate in welding through the MI-BEST program at JCJC with the hopes of pursuing his dream of restoring and customizing vehicles.
Currently, he is finishing his automotive degree, and working part-time at Woolwine Ford in Collins. He has managed to successfully juggle college, earning the Letter “J” Award, being on the President’s List Honor Roll and being an active member of the SkillsUSA program. Additionally, he and his wife Ashli are fostering a toddler while also overseeing their business, the Brookside Barn event venue.
“I try to work hard day-in and day-out.  I don’t really do it expecting anything extra. I feel that I have to earn what I have and receive in life,” said Hernandez.  “I am very thankful for being nominated for this scholarship, however since my wife is my biggest inspiration to keep growing in my craft and pursuing my dreams, if I win anything, I owe it to her.”
The budding entrepreneur’s goal is to continue to excel in the automotive technology program with the possibility of returning to JCJC to earn a degree in business.
Wayne County High School graduate, Dakota Shoemaker is majoring in computer programming and was also nominated for the New Century Workforce Pathway Scholarship.  She is involved in PTK and Phi Beta Lambda and has been on the President’s List Honor Roll.  Last spring, Shoemaker took first place in the Programming Concepts category at the State PBL competition and 6th place in the national competition.  She manages her academics with working at Boondock Eddies Fish Camp in Waynesboro, volunteering at the Southern Pines Animal Shelter and visiting patients in the nursing home. Her dream is to be a website designer and eventually start her own website development company.
“After expanding my company to become a leading development company, I plan to organize a program for students in the field of Information Technology that have to hold a job while in school in order to afford tuition and the cost of living.  My desire is to offer students an opportunity to gain the experience needed for future jobs while earning income to pay for college. I also want to establish a scholarship for these students,” said Shoemaker.

The eleven students were treated to a special luncheon held in their honor with PTK sponsors and administrators prior to the announcement of the four students selected to continue in the competition.  McGowen, Hernandez, Robertson and Shoemaker spent the holidays writing essays for the application process to have the opportunity to earn state and national scholarships along with other honors. They will be recognized next spring in Jackson upon the conclusion of the competition.
This program annually recognizes 100 scholars. Each New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar receives special recognition at the Association of Community College Trustees Congress. Each New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar receives special recognition at the American Association of Community Colleges Convention. The New Century Pathway Scholarship program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, the American Association of Community Colleges and Phi Theta Kappa.


More News