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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South students gifted $500 scholarships over breakfast

South+students%2C+from+left%2C+Dayana+Reyes%2C+Megan+Whittington%2C+Judy+Lane%2C+Cassandra+Smith+and+Emily+Bell+received+scholarships+for+%24500+each+at+a+president%E2%80%99s+breakfast+March+24.%0APhoto+by+Bogdan+Sierra+Miranda%2FThe+Collegian
South students, from left, Dayana Reyes, Megan Whittington, Judy Lane, Cassandra Smith and Emily Bell received scholarships for $500 each at a president’s breakfast March 24. Photo by Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

By Martin Paredes/so news editor

Five South Campus students received $500 scholarships March 24 during the President’s Scholarship Breakfast.

Judy Lane, Emily Bell, Dayana Reyes, Cassandra Smith and Megan Whittington were the five female winners who best answered the question “How has Tarrant County College South Campus contributed to your success?”

South students, from left, Dayana Reyes, Megan Whittington, Judy Lane, Cassandra Smith and Emily Bell received scholarships for $500 each at a president’s breakfast March 24. Photo by Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian
South students, from left, Dayana Reyes, Megan Whittington, Judy Lane, Cassandra Smith and Emily Bell received scholarships for $500 each at a president’s breakfast March 24.
Photo by Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

Student development services vice president Larry Rideaux said the six-member committee critiqued things like grammar, sentence structure, flow and overall content in the 35 entries.

Lane, a returning student in her 30s, worked full time when she came to South.

She said TCC “eased the road” and provided the necessary “flexibility” to compensate for her demanding schedule.

“Last year during the spring semester, I had to travel for work for several months,” she said. “I took two online courses and managed to stay on track for graduation in spring of 2016.”

Lane also gave the Cornerstone program credit in helping her improve as a student.

“Cornerstone courses dig deep in subject matter and push me to work harder and do better than I thought possible,” she said.

Bell highlighted two pivot points that shaped her educational career and her life. Her father passing away at 15 led to her dropping out of school, which she calls her biggest regret.

“For two years, I wandered around feeling completely lost,” she said.

At 17, a dismayed Bell was wandering around in the hospital after her sister had just given birth to a baby girl.

“I walked the halls of the hospital late that night thinking of painful memories and wanting to be anywhere else but there,” she said.

A nurse that assisted in delivering Bell’s niece recognized her as she walked by and assumed Bell had come to visit the baby. Holding her niece for the first time gave Bell a newfound lease on life.

“I suddenly had the overwhelming desire to make this little girl proud of me,” she said. “In that moment, I made the second biggest decision of my life. I decided I wanted to go to college.”

After passing her general equivalency exam and getting her diploma on her 18th birthday, Bell visited South.

During her first visit, an adviser for new students eased Bell’s nervousness about returning to school, telling her, “It’s the first step, honey.”

Bell has credited South for changing her way of thinking about life through the kindness and encouragement of the people that make up the campus.

“During my time here, I have met some of the smartest and kindest people,” she said. “I’ve never approached a professor or faculty member without having them greet me with a smile and a willingness to see what I need.”

Reyes, student government treasurer and Latin American Student Success Organization president, spoke next.

Reyes did not speak English when she arrived in this country five years ago, but her strong desire to learn led to her getting multiple scholarship offers. However, she was not ready to leave home and start at a big university, so she decided to visit South.

“The first time I visited Tarrant County College, I met many people who were friendly and helpful,” she said.

After her visit, Reyes decided to attend South, a decision she said she does not regret for a second.

The audience laughed when she gave credit to the new student orientation program for making her “the unstoppable talker” she is today.

Reyes is completely different from the girl who was terrified at the thought of speaking in her freshman speech class.

“Having now given presentations to at least 300 students at a time has given me the courage to never be afraid of talking anymore,” she said.

After four years at three different colleges, Smith said she dropped out with mostly electives on her transcript. She spent the next 25 years moving from job to job not doing what she loved, which was teaching music and working with special needs children. After one phone call to TCC, Smith knew she was making the right choice.

“A very patient counselor got me enrolled, signed up for financial aid and set up my first academic counseling appointment,” she said.

Smith called TCC a “life-saver” for steering her on the right path to achieve her dreams.

“I can honestly say that I owe a great deal of my success to the faculty and staff,” she said. “I look forward to celebrating my 50th birthday receiving my associate degree.”

Whittington shared her story of a small-town girl who chose TCC for its inclusion of an honors program and its student-to-teacher ratio.

To her, college seemed like an “ocean of uncertainty” that could leave students drowning in its enormity.

“South Campus, however, is more like a small aquarium,” she said. “It’s large enough to hold a variety of inhabitants and prospects but small enough that individuals can really take advantage of these opportunities and make a difference.”

Whittington has participated in the Cornerstone program, the theater program and South’s Phi Theta Kappa honors society.

TCC debunked Whittington’s perception that college was a lonely place that would leave her feeling swamped. It has been the perfect transition for her to learn in a comfortable and welcoming environment, she said.

“There is nothing more refreshing than being able to walk around campus and see familiar faces instead of just being a name on the roll sheet,” she said.

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