Category Archives: Award/Honors

Richland College President Receives Shirley B. Gordon Award from Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society
Dr. Eggleston on stage waving at the crowd after accepting her award

Richland College president Kathryn K. Eggleston, Ph.D., recently accepted the Phi Theta Kappa Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction at the annual Phi Theta Kappa convention in Nashville, Tenn. Photo courtesy of Phi Theta Kappa.

Richland College president Kathryn K. Eggleston, Ph.D., was one of nineteen presidents/campus CEOs awarded the Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction at Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention in Nashville, Tenn., Apr. 6-8.

College presidents and campus CEOs are selected for this award based on outstanding efforts in promoting the goals of Phi Theta Kappa at their institutions. Nominees must have served as president at least five years at the current institution and demonstrated a strong level of support for Phi Theta Kappa during their tenure.

The award is named for the late Dr. Shirley B. Gordon, Phi Theta Kappa’s longest-serving Board of Directors chair. Gordon was named Phi Theta Kappa’s Most Distinguished College President in 1984.

Following acceptance of the award, Eggleston said, “I am honored to be recognized as a national recipient of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s 2017 Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction for advancing the goals of academic scholarship, leadership and service among Richland College’s outstanding honor students. I am proud to note that Richland’s Alpha Alpha Xi Chapter continues to sustain annually its Five Star Chapter rating, the highest level of accomplishment by college chapters.”

In addition to the Shirley B. Gordon Award, Eggleston was also recently inducted into the Texas Hall of Honor for Chief Executive Officers for the Texas region of Phi Theta Kappa for her and Richland College’s outstanding support of Phi Theta Kappa.

Phi Theta Kappa is the international honor society for community colleges. Founded in 1918 to give prestigious recognition to students with excellent scholarship and character, Phi Theta Kappa has always maintained fidelity to its founders’ commitment to provide enrichment in four hallmarks: scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship. Phi Theta Kappa features some of the nation’s finest educational programs for community college students.

Richland College’s Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Alpha Xi Chapter was recognized as a 2015 Top 100 Distinguished Chapter at the International Level, was the 2015 8th Most Distinguished Chapter in Texas Region and was the 2015 Most Distinguished Chapter for Honors in Action Theme 3: Quest for Human Expressions. In 2017, chapter secretary Elizabeth Mareesa won a “Distinguised Member” medallion at the Phi Theta Kappa Texas Regional Conference.

For additional information about Phi Theta Kappa at Richland College, visit alt.richlandcollege.edu/phi-theta-kappa.


Richland College Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success Selected for 2017-2018 Aspen Presidential Fellowship

Zarina BlankenbakerRichland College executive vice president for academic affairs and student success Zarina Blankenbaker, Ph.D., was recently selected for the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a highly selective leadership program aimed at developing a new cadre of outstanding leaders capable of transforming student success at community colleges across the U.S. The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC.

Blankenbaker was one of only 40 fellows selected nationwide for this honor and will embark on a year-long fellowship beginning July 2017. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative and top community college leaders, the program focuses on a new vision of leadership and aims to guide new and aspiring community college presidents to change dramatically student outcomes in several areas: learning, completion while in community college, completion of bachelor’s degrees after transfer, employment and earnings after graduation and equitable access and success for underrepresented minority and low-income students.

“As a community college leader with a personal commitment to providing equity, I am delighted with the opportunity the Aspen Presidential Fellowship will provide to prepare me with the exceptional leadership knowledge, skills and abilities to design the desired, holistic learning experiences necessary for students to complete their educational goals with the creative talent requisite to solve problems of the 21st century,” said Blankenbaker.

The selection criteria for the fellowship included Blankenbaker’s abilities in taking strategic risks, leading strong teams, cultivating partnerships and focusing on results-oriented improvements in student success and access.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 365 presidents left their posts during the past year. This rate of turnover is happening while increasing numbers of students—including growing numbers of minority, low-income and first-generation-to-college students—are attending community colleges.

The 2017-2018 Aspen Presidential Fellows hail from 24 states and 38 community colleges. For information, visit http://as.pn/1ky.

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, College Futures Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, Joyce Foundation and Kresge Foundation.


Richland College Designated as a Tree Campus USA

Richland College has recently been designated as a Tree Campus USA College by the Arbor Day Foundation. This designation recognizes college and university campuses that effectively maintain campus trees, connect with the community to foster healthy urban forests and strive to engage their students in service learning forestry projects.

There are many benefits to being a Tree Campus USA College. A commitment to trees can greatly reduce the amount of energy the campus needs to generate; planting and maintaining trees on campus reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; and green spaces give students and faculty a place to relax with others. The Tree College USA program helps colleges and universities establish and sustain healthy community forests.

“We in facilities services are extremely excited that Richland College has been presented the designation of Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation,” said Ken Dunson, facilities director at Richland College. “With Richland College’s history of participation in Arbor Day events, the practice of honoring 20-year employees by designating existing trees on campus with their name plaques beneath them, the annual practice of planting new trees and the time and care our landscaping services professionals spend with all trees on campus, it was only natural we apply for this great honor. We are pleased to be chosen and will devote the resources and energy necessary to maintain this distinguished designation.”

Richland College had to meet five qualifications to be recognized as a national Arbor Day Foundation Tree Campus USA College. These standards are: establishing a campus tree advisory committee, giving evidence of a campus tree care plan, verifying dedicated annual expenditures on the campus tree plan, hosting an Arbor Day event and implementing a service learning project that is designed to engage students.

Texas has the most Tree Campus USA schools in the nation. Other Dallas Community College District colleges have made this distinguished list in previous years, including Brookhaven College, Eastfield College, North Lake College and Mountain View College.

Tree Campus USA is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation and administered locally by the Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS). The Arbor Day Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation and education organization. It has one million members, donors and partners who support its programs to make the world greener and healthier.

Since 1915, TFS has been protecting and sustaining forests, trees and other natural resources. The organization also offers programs and services to help others make the most of their land for future generations.

For more information about the Arbor Day Foundation, visit arborday.org. For more information about the Texas A&M Forest Service, visit tfsweb.tamu.edu.


Richland College Student Media Receives Newspaper Pacemaker Award

The Richland College student media team recently received a 2016 Newspaper Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) for its student-run paper, Richland Chronicle. In addition, Richland Chronicle staff cartoonist Abraham Igene won second place in the Comic Panel/Strip competition.

“Our students can compete and succeed on a national stage,’” said Erica Edwards, Richland College lead faculty and coordinator of journalism and student media. “The Pacemaker Award recognizes the best of collegiate journalism. It is, frankly, an honor just to be nominated. This year’s finalists include some of the best journalism schools in the country, and for our students’ work to be rewarded for excellence, especially in that company, is a wonderful accolade. I expect this win to propel us toward future accomplishment for both our individual students and as a team.”

This award, which recognizes the general excellence and outstanding achievement done by a college newspaper, was presented at the ACP National College Media Convention in Washington D.C. The Richland Chronicle was one of 30 finalists announced earlier this year and one of only a select few two-year programs in the nominations. Other winners in this category included the University of Georgia, UCLA, Syracuse University, Northwestern University and University of Oregon.

The Pacemaker awards are given in the following categories: newspaper, online, yearbook/magazine and broadcast. A team of professionals judge the entries based on coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics. All ACP member publications are invited to enter the contests every year.

“Winning the Newspaper Pacemaker Award reflects the excellent instruction that our students receive, both in the classroom and in the instructional laboratory environment; in our case, the newsroom and about the dedication and hard work of our students,” added Edwards. “Each entry includes several issues from over the span of the academic year. To be recognized for work that consistently meets those high standards speaks volumes about our students, our team, our program and our college. And while our goal is excellence in journalism rather than awards, it is immensely gratifying!”

As a division of the National Scholastic Press Association, the ACP is a nonprofit association that provides journalism services to students, teachers, media advisers and others in the United States and in other countries. Memberships are open to all student media at public and private schools at an annual membership fee.

The Richland College student media team runs the Richland Chronicle, KDUX Web Radio and KDUX-TV. The Richland Chronicle is published daily online and weekly in print, and many of its former student staff members have moved into editor positions at several four-year institutions and have become staff members at the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, The Dallas Morning News and the Plano Star.

For more information about the ACP, visit studentpress.org/acp. For more information about the Richland College student media team, visit richlandcollege.edu/worldlanguages/mass-communications-journalism/student-media.


Five Richland Collegiate High School Students Named Commended Students in 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program

Craig Hinkle, principal of Richland Collegiate High School, recently announced that Isra Abdulwadood of Garland, Ashley Babjac of McKinney, Stephan Farnsworth of Wylie, Swikriti Paudyal of Plano, and Sunnie Rhodes of Plano, all Richland Collegiate High School (RCHS) students, have been named Commended Students in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program. These students join some 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation who are all being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Hinkle will present each of these scholastically talented seniors a Letter of Commendation from Richland Collegiate High School and from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

Commended Students placed among the top five percent of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Competition by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Abdulwadood, Babjac, Farnsworth, Paudyal and Rhodes will not continue in the 2017 competition for National Merit Scholarship Awards.

“The young men and women being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success,” commented an NMSC spokesperson. “These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role these schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success.”

Richland Collegiate High School is a school designed to provide a rigorous academic experience for high school juniors and seniors. Students complete their last two years of high school at Richland College by taking college courses and earning college credits with a focus on mathematics, science and engineering or visual, performing and digital arts. These students can potentially graduate with both their high school diploma and an associate degree, prepared to transfer to a four-year university. Tuition and books are free, making RCHS an educational and affordable choice.

For more information on the Richland Collegiate High School, visit richlandcollege.edu/rchs/


Richland College Dance Student Attends Joffrey Ballet Dallas Summer Intensive Program

Being a good dancer requires grace, poise and hard work; being an expert dancer also requires a keen mental and physical alertness, strength, balance, control, sensitivity to kinesthetic awareness and an ability to connect with an audience – all things that Richland College dance student Leah Brashear has. And the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School has noticed.Leah Brashear and three other Richland College dance students perform in True Colors

Brashear recently completed her first year of studies in Richland College’s dance program, which helped her to get accepted into the Joffrey Ballet Dallas Summer Intensive Program and the Joffrey Ballet School four-year program of Jazz and Contemporary Dance in New York City.

“When I found out that I got accepted into the Joffrey summer intensive program, I was so glad that I could learn from one of the best dance schools in the country,” said Brashear. “When I also found out that I was accepted to four years of study at the Joffrey Ballet School, I was more than happy! I have always had some self-esteem problems, and finding out that I was accepted at such a prestigious dance school made me believe in myself.”

The Joffrey Ballet School was founded by Robert Joffrey in 1953, and has been cultivating dancers for more than 60 years. It has produced professional dancers, choreographers, studio owners and professionals in the industry. Many graduates are currently dancing with Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Nevada Ballet, Complexion and Ballet West among other companies across the United States. The Jazz and Contemporary Dance program is designed for dancers who want to focus on jazz and contemporary styles of movement, while also incorporating a wider knowledge of classical ballet and modern dance.

Gina Sawyer, Richland College dance program director, is proud of the skills that Leah has developed in Sawyer’s jazz, tap dance and performance classes.

“Leah’s dancing skills have certainly improved during her time at Richland,” said Sawyer. “She listens and develops during the rehearsal process. During the past year, she has taken greater risks in dancing. She also has a strong inner awareness about her, she picks up movement quickly, she understands the quality of each movement, and she shines. She’s one of many dancers in the program who really shine. She will do great at Joffrey and any professional dance setting that she is in.”

In addition to teaching dance classes, Sawyer also directs and sets choreography for the formal dance concert performed each semester at Richland College. Brashear performed as one of the lead dancers in Richland’s spring dance concert, True Colors, which was a contemporary lyrical piece choreographed by Sawyer. The show was about empowering individuals to discover their unique voice and imagine the possibilities. Brashear sent a recording of that performance as her audition tape to Joffrey, and was accepted into the Joffrey Ballet School and the summer intensive program based on her exceptional skills and graceful movements showcased in that performance.

“My goal in creating the choreography for True Colors was for each of the four dancers to have a sense of equality among them in their performance,” said Sawyer. “It wasn’t about featuring one dancer, it was about each dancer being featured and having a unique voice. Dancers are not always featured in a piece each semester, and it took a lot of work to create four different, lead dance roles. Joffrey required candidates to submit a piece in which they were featured, so Leah had the chance to share this performance with them. They obviously liked what they saw!”

The Dallas Summer Intensive Program was hosted at Texas Woman’s University, and lasted three weeks in August. The program focused on jazz, contemporary and modern dance forms. Other classes included classical and contemporary ballet technique, street jazz, Pilates and yoga. At the end of the intensive program, each student performed in a professionally produced theatre performance.

Now that she has completed the summer intensive program, Brashear will continue to study dance for one more year at Richland College before deciding where to attend school in Fall 2017. She is considering accepting the offer to study at the Joffrey Ballet School or attending the American Dance Academy in New York or Ballet Austin in Austin, Tex. Once she graduates, Brashear plans either to dance professionally or be a dance instructor for young children at a school or dance studio.

“I decided to stay at Richland for another year, so I can mentally and physically prepare myself and be ready to make such a big move,” said Brashear. “Richland has helped me a lot with dance. Gina Sawyer is one of the best dance instructors I ever had. She has taught me skills that none of my past dance instructors ever taught me. She encourages dancers and non-dancers to get out of their safe zone. With her guidance, I have become a stronger, better and more confident dancer.”

The Richland College Dance Program provides a challenging teaching and learning environment for students that values diversity, develops artistic excellence, fosters creative and collaborative practices, and encourages personal agency and social responsibility in appreciating dance. On November 2 at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., the dance program will perform the Fall 2016 dance concert, Fire and Ice. This will showcase a variety of dance styles including contemporary modern, jazz, tap and hip hop dance styles.

For more information on the Richland College dance program, visit our website at www.richlandcollege.edu/hfp/dance-program.


Richland College Student Receives Terry Transfer Scholarship to UT Dallas

Richland College student Ezra Calado was recently named one of 11 Terry Transfer Scholars at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) for the 2016-2017 school year. This highly competitive scholarship provides full tuition for up to three years of undergraduate or graduate study, housing, a stipend for other college-related expenses and funding for a separate study abroad semester.

“I was really relieved and shocked when I found out I received the Terry Transfer Scholarship,” said Calado. “I set a goal in high school that I would graduate college debt free, and I thought it would be impossible because I knew that transfer scholarships at full tuition level were very competitive. I’m sure that UTD will be a place that can elevate my leadership experiences and help me grow as a student and future professional.”

The Terry Transfer Scholarship is awarded to non-traditional students who are transferring from a Texas community college, are pursuing their first baccalaureate degree and have been accepted for admission to a Terry-affiliated public university in Texas. Recipients are chosen based on academic excellence, leadership experience in their school and community and financial need. Calado was invited to apply to the Terry Transfer Scholarship program by UTD, where she completed a rigorous application and interview process before being accepted to begin in fall 2016. She will major in accounting and global business and minor in international political economy.

Ezra Calado standing on a bridge“I’ve known Ezra for two years, as she is an honors student at Richland and executive vice president of the Honors Student Organization,” said Kathleen Stephens, Ph.D., coordinator of the Richland College Honors Academy. “Ezra is deserving of this scholarship because she has enthusiastically served the other honors students through her leadership, her dedication to her honors courses, and her exceptionally uplifting, cheerful attitude toward everyone she meets and works with at Richland. She is an outstanding Thunderduck, and UT Dallas will benefit from her commitment to her education and her leadership skills. Richland College, especially the honors program, will miss her, and we are very proud of her.”

In addition to serving as the executive vice president/vice president of events for the Honors Student Organization, Calado also served as the vice president of the Student Government Association and was a DCCCD Muse Scholar, a 2014 APIASF AANAPISI Scholar, and a Phi Theta Kappa member during her time at Richland College. Calado was also named the 2016 Amidon-Beauchamp Richland Student Leader of the Year, which is an award given annually to one student leader on campus.

Although Calado is very involved in Richland College, she stays active in her community as well. She was crowned Miss Teen Asian American Texas 2012-2013, where she advocated for stronger cultural identity in the local Asian community, along with the inclusion of the arts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Currently, she uses this platform while working on more recent projects, including a crowd-sourced digital companion that will assist refugees and immigrants by helping them to better integrate into their new communities. Her future goals include going to law school, becoming a human rights lawyer and finding a role in public policy. She hopes to strengthen the presence of Asian women in politics, influence legislation and break down the economic barriers that hinder the creation of practical policies in human rights affairs.

“Attending Richland College has been the best decision I’ve made for my future,” said Calado. “While the price and location are a plus, it’s actually the opportunities that I’ve had the privilege of utilizing that have made me successful. I thought that I would be an uninvolved student just trying to finish class because I couldn’t imagine being involved on campus with a baby at home. However, the environment at Richland is so unique, and there’s no discrimination when it comes to involvement and enriching yourself. If you want to be a leader, or if you want to be involved, it doesn’t matter what your identity is; there’s an opportunity for you.”

The Terry Foundation is one of the largest providers of private scholarships in Texas. It has awarded scholarships to more than 4,200 students in Texas since it was established in 1986. Howard and Nancy Terry created the foundation in order to give aid to students who showed promise of future leadership distinction who may not otherwise be able to attend college. Terry Scholars are made up of transfer students and freshmen students, who are challenged to reach their highest potential in scholarship, leadership and service to their university, the state of Texas and the world. Approximately $3 million in stipends have been given this year to Terry Scholars at UTD.

For more information on the Terry Foundation, visit terryfoundation.org. For more information on Richland College’s Honor Academy, visit richlandcollege.edu/honors-academy.


Richland College Student Named Undergraduate Transfer Scholar by Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation recently announced that Richland College student Muaz Mohammed is one of 75 outstanding community college students with financial need nationwide to be awarded its Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

The Cooke Foundation received more than 2,300 qualified applications for this year’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships. The scholarship is worth up to $40,000 annually and is awarded to scholars with strong records of achievement as shown by grades, leadership, skills, awards, extraordinary service to others and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Muzak Mohammed standing outsideAt Richland College, Mohammed was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honors society for community colleges, completed the Student Leadership Institute in the fall of 2015 and served as the vice president of membership/public relations for the Honors Student Organization. While Mohammed has not yet made a decision on which four-year institution he will attend this fall, he is strongly considering Southern Methodist University.

“[Mohammed] is always excited about learning, and he shows this enthusiasm through his high grades and participation in honors classes,” said Kathleen Stephens, Ph.D., coordinator of the Richland College Honors Academy. “Muaz’s excellence in academics was recognized through his being awarded an honors scholarship in the fall of 2015. These scholarships are highly competitive and selective. Only 8 scholarships were awarded from our roster of 470 honors students in the fall of 2015.”

The Cooke Foundation scholarship is the largest private scholarship in the nation for students transferring from two-year community colleges to four-year institutions that award bachelor’s degrees. In addition to funding college costs not covered by other financial aid, it also offers academic advising, stipends for internships, study abroad and opportunities to network with other Cooke Scholars and alumni. Upon the completion of a bachelor’s degree, each Cooke Scholar is eligible to apply for a graduate school scholarship worth up to $50,000 annually for up to four years.

Since 2000, the Cooke Foundation has awarded approximately $147 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 students and $90 million in grants to organizations that serve outstanding low-income students.


Richland College Wins Grand Championship in National ‘RecycleMania’ Competition

Recycling bins located on campusRichland College showed its green side with a campus-wide recycling rate of more than 82 percent during the spring semester, earning the grand champion prize in RecycleMania, an annual competition for college and university recycling programs.

Each spring since 2001, colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada report the amount of recycling and trash collected for a period of eight weeks and are ranked in various categories based on which institution recycles the most on a per capita basis, which schools have the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste and which schools generate the least amount of combined trash and recycling.

The 2016 tournament ran from Feb. 2 through April 7, with 350 schools participating from 48 states in the U.S., the District of Columbia and Canada. During the competition time, participating schools recycled or composted 79.3 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials. This prevented the release of 122,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere, or the equivalent of the annual emissions from 24,000 cars.

Historically, Richland College has placed in the top 10 in the overall competition since 2012 and has been the Texas Grand Champion in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.

“After consistently being the best in Texas, it’s so great to be able to win the national award this year for RecycleMania,” said Jerry Owens, Richland College assistant director of facilities services. “The program closely aligns with Richland College’s vision to ‘build sustainable local and world community.’ A lot of effort has gone into recycle awareness and sustainability on our campus, and we are thrilled that it really paid off.”

RecycleMania hopes to motivate students, faculty, staff and the community to increase recycling efforts and reduce waste generation. It also hopes to increase awareness and support for college recycling programs and encourage colleges and universities to measure, benchmark and expand recycling efforts to help improve their programs over time.

For more information on the competition, visit www.recyclemaniacs.org.


Richland College to Honor Current and Former Students in Annual ‘Wall of Honor’ Ceremony
Wall of Honor recipients standing in a line

2015 Wall of Honor ceremony

Five current and former Richland College students will be honored at Richland College’s 2016 Wall of Honor ceremony at 10 a.m. April 20 in Crockett Hall for their outstanding academic achievements, perseverance through adversity and/or contributions to the community.

This year’s Wall of Honor recipients are Hardeek Barot, a former IT professional from Africa who started his college career at the age of 29 at Richland College and is now on his way to completing two master’s degrees; Cynthia Cano, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who thrived at Richland College before going on to become a television journalist in the DFW market and soon-to-be U.S. citizen; Omar Demachkie, a current Richland College student who dreams of someday researching pathogens and cancers that specifically target children; Sana Hussein, a former Richland College student who now attends Southern Methodist University with a full scholarship due to her incredible academic achievements; and Vicki Wood, a tennis professional, instructor and lifelong learner who got her start at Richland College.

Each year, nominations are gathered from members of the college community, and from these nominations a committee chooses approximately five people who exemplify Richland College’s mission of teaching, learning and community building to receive the distinction. Photos and biographies of this year’s Wall of Honor recipients will be displayed in Crockett Hall until next spring, when the next honorees will be selected.