Four Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College students are among the 207 Phi Theta Kappa members named 2022 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars. The Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program helps new PTK members defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. Scholars are encouraged to assume leadership roles by participating in Society programs and are selected based on scholastic achievement, community service, and leadership potential. More than 1,300 applications were received.
Ridge Mathews, Timothy Miller, Kayla Shish, and Anna Valenzuela, all students at the Jackson County Campus, will each receive a $1,000 scholarship.
Mathews of Gautier is a mechanical engineering major. He is an officer in the Pi Epsilon Chapter of PTK, president of the Student Government Association, and treasurer in the Hispanic American Club.
“Receiving this scholarship is a tremendous payoff after hard work, made possible by trusted mentors and friends who helped me put my application together,” he said. “I’m primarily grateful for the recognition it signals but also the fiscal bonus.”
A chemical engineering major from Lucedale, Miller is an officer in the Pi Epsilon Chapter of PTK and Student Government Association historian. He is the PTK regional president for Mississippi and Louisiana.
“Being named one of only 207 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars in the nation means a lot to me,” he said. “I am proud to have my name added to the ranks of the distinguished winners who have come before me.”
Shish of Grand Bay, Alabama, said the scholarship will help her reach her goals. “It is an honor to be a recipient of this scholarship,” she said. “Receiving this award puts me one step closer to my goal of obtaining my bachelor’s degree.”
Shish is vice president of the Pi Epsilon Chapter of PTK and a Reflections Team member. She is a mechanical engineering major.
Valenzuela is president of the Pi Epsilon chapter of PTK, vice president of Activities for the Hispanic American Club, and is a member of the Honors College, the Excelerate in STEM program, the Reflections Team, Student Government Association, Campus Activities Board, and the Archery Club. From Ocean Springs, she is majoring in mathematics with the goal of being a high school math teacher.
“I am very grateful and honored to have been selected as one of the 2022 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars,” she said. “My parents have always strived to teach me the value and importance of one’s work and how one’s efforts will eventually be rewarded. I love being as involved as I am in my school and community, and I feel accomplished for being deemed as someone who has potential to lead.”
A total of $207,000 is awarded through the Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation provides $200,000 in funding for the scholarships, with $25,000 set aside for members who are veterans or active members of the United States military. The remaining amount is supported by donations to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation.
“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa to make it possible for more deserving students to achieve their educational goals and support tomorrow’s leaders of the global community.”
The funds provided by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation not only aid college completion, but also gives students the opportunity to engage in Society programs and develop leadership skills to become future leaders in their communities.