By Daniel Miller/ reporter
Nearly drowning caused a SE Campus student and Phi Theta Kappa officer to start an initiative to teach people how to swim, which led him to win two of the organization’s top scholarships.
Justin Alozie won the Guistwhite Scholarship and the All-USA Community College Academic Team, Texas Team Scholarship.
The Guistwhite Scholarship is given to students outstanding in academics, leadership accomplishments and involvement in PTK programs. The All-USA Community College Academic Team Scholarship recognizes high-achieving community college students that show academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership skills and service that extends beyond the classroom to benefit their community.
Alozie said his English instructor Madison Durapau had an impact on him during his time at TCC. He said he used to talk to her in her office after class to ask her to review his college application essays.
Durapau said Alozie was a good student.
“Justin was electric,” she said.
Durapau said her courses require the students to be active learners, and because of Justin, the class dynamic was remarkable.
“Justin’s dedication to perfection was what made him a welcome addition to the classroom,” she said. “He carefully followed instructions and went above and beyond to succeed in that class.”
Durapau directed Alozie to fine arts dean Jerry Coats who talked about PTK.
“That, coupled with Tiffany, the officer in my biology class, those two are the ones that influenced me to join,” he said.
Any PTK member can apply for the Guistwhite Scholarship, but only two people can be nominated by their college for the All-USA Community College Academic Team.
Alozie said he worked hard on the scholarship.
“I know I really want to go to UT-Austin, and I didn’t want any financial barrier in my way,” he said. “I didn’t want my parents to say, ‘Hey, we can’t afford for you to go to college.’ So I thought I would give myself the best chance.”
Alozie credits a PTK trip to North Carolina in summer 2016 for his inspiration. One day, when his group went to a rock water slide, he told the adviser he knew how to swim. Reflecting on his childhood, he said his neighbors had a four- or five-foot pool that he had no trouble swimming in because he could touch the ground.
“To me, that was swimming,” he said.
When he went down the slide, landed in the water and tried to put his feet down, nothing was there. He said he began to panic and started drowning.
“It was a whole big thing, and the lifeguards came and saved me,” he said.
Alozie said it taught his chapter a lesson because every year PTK does a service project. They learned that two TCC faculty members have died of drowning and decided to do their project on how to combat it. They started a free six-week program called Ready-Set-Swim for students and the community.
The subject was important to him so people could learn to not fear swimming, Alozie said. He said his Nigerian parents always taught him to fear the water.
For the scholarships, the most weighted part was the Endeavor essay about the biggest feat accomplished in community college. Alozie used the swimming story.
When asked if he knew how to swim now, Alozie laughing said, “uhhh kinda.”
He said the program ran November-December 2016 and is currently running until April 27.
A pre-dental major, Alozie would like to attend UT-Austin or Texas Tech this fall.