By: Dr. Andrew Yox, Honors Director
Honors Northeast, the Northeast Texas Community College Honors Program, is pleased to announce its Honors Students for the 2022-2023 school year. This includes seven Presidential Scholars and 18 Honors Scholars.
The NTCC Board of Trustees established Honors Northeast in the spring of 2007. Geared to attract top high school graduates and college students, the program has received generous support from both outside donors, and a team of NTCC administrators and professors. Each year, NTCC honors students have presented research at the Walter Prescott Webb Society of Texas (WPWS), the Great Plains Honors Council (GPHC) and the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). As listed on the Wall of Honor Page of the NTCC honors website of <www.ntcc.edu/honors>, NTCC honors students have won thirty State of Texas Caldwell Awards, ten Boe Awards of the Great Plains Honors Council, eight Britt Poster Awards of the GPHC, and on the national level, twenty Leaders of Promise, eighteen Coca Cola Awards, three Hites Awards, two Pearsons, eight Guistwhite Awards, and eleven exclusive Jack Kent Cooke scholarships. NTCC Scholars also have published twenty-three essays in refereed scholarly journals since 2009. They have presented segments of eight feature-length films at national meetings of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), the only honors program in the nation to feature a collaborative, creative project of this nature, every year from 2013 to 2018, and now also from 2020 to 2022.
Presidential Scholars are the top scholarship winners who receive usually enough to pay for tuition, books and fees. Honors Scholars receive lesser amounts, but rank can be misleading. Second tier honors students include those whose rise to distinction might be both recent and rapid. As the Honors Committee has limited numbers of Presidential Scholarships to award, the timing of a student’s application makes a difference. But all scholars participate in all NTCC Honors activities and seminars. The NTCC Honors Committee selects students based on academic performance, a personal essay and letters of recommendation. The program has averaged nine student trips a year. Since its beginning, community benefactors have financed free trips in the spring and fall, amenities, and special award opportunities.
“Our student body at NTCC is diverse, and the range of talents, impressive,” notes Dr. Andrew Yox, Honors Director. “The twenty-five scholars of Honors Northeast are not necessarily the smartest students, or the best learners. But they are the creative vanguard of the college–publishing essays, dominating all college-wide poetry and poster contests, featuring their own feature-length films, appearing on the radio, and making honors and professional presentations each year. Because of the support they receive from donors, faculty and administration, our honors students are very competitive on the national level in terms of awards and scholarships.”
Aside from receiving a scholarship to attend NTCC, Honors and Presidential Scholars will enroll in three, six-to-seven-hour seminars during their two-year stay at NTCC. All honors students participate in the fall Northeast Texas Poetry contest, the spring McGraw Hill Poster contest, and submit abstracts, and papers for major state, regional and national presentations, awards and publications.
The list of 2022-23 NTCC Scholars are as follows:
Jordan Chapin is the 2022-23 Russell Mowery Scholar of Honors Northeast and the president of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK)’s Texas district. PTK is the foremost open-access collegiate honorary society in the Western Hemisphere. She presented her work on Legendary Housewives of Northeast Texas at the Mount Pleasant Library, the spring meeting of the Walter Prescott Webb Society (WPWS) at the University of Texas at Austin, and the spring meeting of the Great Plains Honors Council in Wichita. Her work has also gained a berth at the upcoming meeting of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Chapin was the 2021-22 Chitsey winner of Honors Northeast. Last summer she earned a special REU research opportunity in chemistry at Texas A&M at Commerce. She was recently named the 2022 Dr. Mary Hood Texas Region Scholar.
Sydney Carey was the 2022 salutatorian of Hughes Springs High School. As a president of the DECA chapter at Hughes Springs, she competed on the state level three times. She helped spearhead the chapter’s community project which raised over $1,000.
Victor Diaz is the 2022-23 James and Elizabeth Whatley Scholar of Honors Northeast. He was the producer of the Caldwell-Award winning film, Pedal to the Metal: The Life of Carroll Hall Shelby.He presented the film trailer at the fall meeting of the Walter Prescott Webb Society in Nacogdoches in October of 2021, and will present other segments of the film as chair of a panel at the meeting of the NCHC this November. In May of 2022, he won $300 and 2nd place in the McGraw Hill poster contest for his work on the impact of social media on college students.
Skylar Fondren is the seventh Texas Heritage National Bank Scholar of Honors Northeast. In March of 2022, she became the eighth student in NTCC history to win a Britt Poster Award of the Great Plains Honors Council. Her work on the development of a news desert in Northeast Texas also won $400 and first prize in the McGraw Hill Poster Contest last May. She presented this work at the Mount Pleasant library, and the WPWS. She is scheduled to present this work as well in Dallas this November at the NCHC. She is subsequently NTCC’s candidate for Student Representative of the GPHC, and is also president of NTCC’s Honors Student Council. This past summer, she co-authored the NTCC film script on Minnie Fisher Cunningham, and served as the film’s director, filming scenes in Titus, Morris, and Gillespie counties.
Hope Kelly spent her sophomore year of high school in Europe, and her junior year aboard a sailboat along the Pacific Coast of Central America. She also was homeschooled in Mexico while her father served there as a missionary. In her first semester in honors last spring, she won the Eckman Award for having the top GPA in the Stat-Psych seminar. Passionate about costumes, she contributed to productions last year in NTCC’s theatre program, and also worked with honors alumna Ann Goodson to produce the costumes used in the honors film last summer.
Evan Sears placed in two successive years of the Northeast Texas Poetry Contest, coming in fourth in 2021 and first in 2022–with a versed critique of the rise of solar panel farms in Franklin County. He was film scholar of NTCC’s Carroll Shelby film, and presented this work last year at the Mount Pleasant library, and at the fall and spring meetings of the WPWS in Nacogdoches and Austin. He will present another version of this work at the East Texas Historical Association this October. He will be NTCC’s first “Dr. and Mrs. Bradley Witt Scholar,” receiving private support as an NCHC presenter, discussing a regional theme—Carroll Hall Shelby.
Aubrey Watkins is a 2022 graduate of Paul Pewitt High School. During her senior year she served as a legal clerk for the Luckey Law Firm of Omaha. She also served as a member of Pewitt’s livestreaming broadcast team. Last summer she participated in the NTCC film project on Minnie Fisher Cunningham and will present her experiences at the state WPWS meeting in Nacogdoches this October.
Odalys Adame is a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School. She was a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), University Interscholastic League (UIL), Future Farmers of America (FFA), and the student council. She participated in honors film project on suffrage last summer.
Daphne Bogenschutz is a 2021 graduate of White Oak High School, and a pitcher on NTCC’s softball team. At White Oak, she was a member of NHS, the student council, and the debate team. In high school, besides softball, she competed in varsity volleyball and power lifting.
Michelle Calderon is a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School. She was a member of the tennis team, the student council, and the Texas Public Service Teacher’s Association. She received an academic blanket for her work in law enforcement, competed in UIL, and volunteered for Titus County Cares. Last summer she performed film research in Houston, and played the role of Eleanor Brackenridge, the pioneer female banker who became a key backer of the Texas suffragettes. She will report on her experiences at the WPWS meeting in Nacogdoches.
Adril Gutierrez is a graduate of Pittsburg High School. She was a member of the cross-country team and the band. She served as the Athletics girl student manager.
Skylar Hodson was homeschooled in the Chapel Hill area. Last summer she assumed the star role of the Honors film, playing the part of Minnie Fisher Cunningham. In September she was the only contestant in the history of Northeast Texas poetry reading to win with both a poem and an image besides Evan Sears in 2021.
Danielle Ison is a 2022 graduate of Harmony High School. She was a member of the NHS, the volleyball team, and the Academic All-Star Texas Association.
Raul Leija won a STAR scholarship of the Texas district of Phi Theta Kappa last summer. He acted and served as a cinematographer in both NTCC films, on Carroll Hall Shelby, and Minnie Fisher Cunningham. He presented his work on the “Sickness of the Sickness, Pandemics in Dallas 1918 and 2020, at the WPWS at the University of Texas at Austin in March of 2022. Leija is the first member of Honors Northeast who is simultaneously a member of NTCC’s Nursing Program.
Haley Lewis is a graduate of Daingerfield High School. She was a member of the National Honor Society, varsity cheer, and the varsity softball team.
Victoria Matiz is a graduate of Pittsburg High School. She was a member of the band, served in student council, and competed in UIL. Matiz participated in several facets of the honors film last summer and will report about her experiences in Nacogdoches at the WPWS this October. In September, she placed second in the Northeast Texas Poetry Contest for her work, “Nuestro Paisaje,” and won $300.
Alyssa Ochoa was a 2021 graduate of the high school in Bastrop, which is thirty miles southeast of Austin. She was a member of the NHS, and team captain of the soccer team. She came to NTCC last year to play soccer, and also joined the Bio-Chemistry Club. In the spring of 2022, she was a premiere winner of a Brenda Godoy Award for her scholarship on the role of the horse in the establishment of great American leaders before 1865.
Amy Lopez is a 2021 graduate of Mount Vernon High School where she was a member of NHS, the Book Club, Interact, and the Spanish Club. She won a Rotary Scholarship. She will present her work on Tejano leadership in South Texas at the meeting of the NCHC this November in Dallas.
Luiz Olvera is a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School. He was a member of the NHS, FBLA, and the UIL social sciences team. He served as a cinematographer and actor in last summer’s film on the Texas suffragettes.
Neida Perez is a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School. She was a member of the NHS, the National Technical Honor Society, and the Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE). She served as vice president of HOSA, a society for future health professionals, and as clarinet section leader in the band. She became a state, regional, and area qualifier competing in several band competitions. She will present her film experiences last summer this October at the WPWS in Nacogdoches.
Sam Pollan is a graduate of Daingerfield High School. He was a member of the NHS, and the student council. He served four years as trumpet section leader. Last August, Pollan gave an organ recital at the First Methodist Church in Pittsburg that was one of the best attended organ concerts in Northeast Texas in recent years. He is working currently as the producer of the 2022 film on Minnie Fisher Cunningham, and will present the trailer in Nacogdoches at the WPWS.
Maddy Smith is a graduate of Mount Vernon High School. She was a member of the NHS, and FFA. Her artwork placed first at the Titus County Fair in 2021. Last September she won $100, coming in fourth in the Northeast Texas Poetry contest for her work, “The Nights of Days.”
Daisy Quinones is a 2021 graduate of Mount Pleasant High School where she participated in AP with WE, a special service learning program that connected high-performance Spanish language skills, with school improvement
Monse Rivero is a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, and also the 2022-23 Dr. Jerry Wesson Scholar of Honors Northeast. In her senior year, she completed a 200-hour stint with a community-service project and was cheered on the stage of the plenary meeting of the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP). An active member and competitor in TAFE, she became the president of the association’s area six, and then, TAFE Student of the Year. This past summer she served as assistant director of the honors film on Minnie Fisher Cunningham.
Keren Valencia is a graduate of New Diana High School. An immigrant to the United States, she served as film scholar last summer, researching the life of the main character in the honors film about suffrage in Texas, Minnie Fisher Cunningham. In September her peers elected her secretary of the Honors Student Council. In October, she will present on Minnie Fisher Cunningham at the meeting of the WPWS.