Category Archives: Award/Honors

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 For more information about the Richland College student media team, visit

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

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

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 For more information on Richland College’s Honor Academy, visit

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

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.

Richland College Designated as Military Friendly School for Seventh Consecutive Year

American flagRichland College has been recognized as a top college choice for veterans and active military for the seventh consecutive year.

Richland College is included on the 2016 Military Friendly Schools list that honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and spouses and to dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation.

“We are honored once again to be chosen as a Military Friendly School, validating our commitment to providing a supportive environment that allows our country’s servicemen and servicewomen to succeed in their academic endeavors,” said Kim Archer, Richland College’s veteran services coordinator. “We constantly work to provide our military students with the resources necessary to achieve their goals.”

Richland College offers many resources available through its Veteran Services office, including assistance with benefits, financial aid and a variety of other support services for the college’s veteran and military students.

The Military Friendly Schools list is provided by Victory Media, Inc., one of the leading media outlets for military personnel transitioning into civilian life. The list is also published in G.I. Jobs, Military Spouse and Vetrepreneur magazines. To access the list, visit

For more information about Richland College’s veteran services, visit

Richland College Selected for 2015 Richardson ‘EDGE’ Award
Woman talking at a podium.

Richland College President Kay Eggleston speaks at the check-signing ceremony at the Associa Shared Services Center in October, 2014.

Richland College was the recipient of the 2015 Richardson EDGE Public/Non-Profit/Education Award, recognizing the college’s success at securing a $450,000 Skills Development grant from the Texas Workforce Commission to train employees of Associa, the largest homeowner association management firm in the U.S., which moved its operations to Richardson in 2014.

In October 2014, the Texas Workforce Commission presented Richland College with a $449,988 Skills Development Fund grant to train 222 new hires and 79 incumbent workers at the Associa Shared Services Center. Since then, Richland College has trained 60% of the Associa workforce in customer service, supervisor leadership, Lean office processes, Microsoft Excel and accounting classes.

Sheridan Nixon, a Richland College program services specialist for workforce development, has coordinated the training, working closely with Associa to schedule classes and ensure the company’s training needs are being met.

Several people posing with the award“Meeting with stakeholders and learning the culture of Associa enabled me to provide the highest level of customer service,” said Nixon. “This built trust and produced success.”

The training provided by Richland College has allowed Associa employees the opportunity to learn new skills that can be translated into their jobs and allowed them to advance their dreams and career goals. This aligns with Associa’s commitment to employee training and Richland College’s commitment to providing quality, customized workforce education, thus integrating business prosperity for Associa, individual achievement for its employees and community success for Richardson.
“EDGE is an acronym for Economic Development, Growth and Expansion,” said Richardson chamber president and CEO Bill Sproull. “The Richardson Chamber of Commerce and the City of Richardson have been recognizing companies with EDGE awards for 30 years as a way of thanking them for their contributions to the local economy. When companies make an investment in our community, and they are successful, we all benefit. We want these businesses to know how much we appreciate the impact they have on our city.”

EDGE is an initiative of the Richardson Economic Development Partnership (REDP), a joint effort between the Richardson Chamber of Commerce and the City of Richardson. Each year the REDP, chamber of commerce and the Richardson rotaries recognize Richardson companies and organizations that have achieved extraordinary success or made a significant investment in Richardson.

Associa was founded in 1979 by Texas State Senator John Carona and is North America’s largest community association management firm with more than 150 branch offices worldwide. The company serves homeowner associations of all types, including condo, mixed-use, master-planned, luxury high-rise, active-adult, resort and golf communities.

Richland College Awarded Five-Year, $1.5 Million AANAPISI Grant

Richland College was recently selected to receive a five-year, $1.5 million grant under the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Program. This program will allow Richland College to expand its capacity to serve Asian Americans and Native American Pacific Islander (AAPI) students with financial need.

“This initiative will provide many of our under-resourced AAPI students the opportunity to reach their academic goals,” said Zarina Blankenbaker, Ph.D., Richland College’s vice president for teaching and learning. “We are thrilled once again to be awarded this grant to provide the college with more resources to meet both academically challenged and academically high performing AAPI students where they are and respond to their challenges.”

With 15 percent of Richland College’s student population comprised of AAPI students and at least half demonstrating financial need, the AANAPISI funding impacts many of the college’s underserved students. The program will help Richland College to increase the three-year graduation rate for Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students who have one or more risks to success and completion, such as financial need or academic challenges.

Richland College is one of only nine higher education institutions in the U.S. awarded the AANAPISI grant in fiscal year 2015.

Richland College previously received a five-year AANAPISI grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 that totaled more than $1.4 million in funding.

For information on the AANAPISI program, visit