Tag Archives: student success

a man smiling for the camera Ferdinando Castro Wins Hall of Honor Medal for Phi Theta Kappa

Congratulations to Ferdinando Castro, who recently won the Hall of Honor Medal for Phi Theta Kappa. He is one of seven students in Texas, which has a total of 55 Phi Theta Kappa chapters, to win this award.  

Ferdinando is an international student from Venezuela, speaks five languages, is a former professional athlete and completed 300 hours of service-learning last semester, earning the President’s Volunteer Service Award – Silver. This semester, he is going for gold, which requires completion of 500 service hours in a year. He is involved in 14 student organizations at Richlandhe is the SGA Region 2 Resolution Committee Chair who led the creation of several resolutions with fellow SGA members and he recently presented original research at the Richland Honors Conference on Gun Violence Prevention. Fernando will graduate in Dec. 2020 with the designation of Richland Honors Scholar, the highest honors designation available at Richland.  

“I am honored knowing that thousands of chapters in the nation apply for this award, and very few students are able to win it,” said Ferdinando. “Volunteering is important to me because I experienced what happens when communities do not support each other. 

When he lived in Venezuela, Ferdinando was a professional athlete in two different sports. His twin brother (a current Richland student) and his older brother (a former Richland soccer player and student) convinced him to visit them in Texas when the political and economic system in Venezuela started to fail and showed no signs of recovery. He resisted at first because he was living with his mother in Venezuela and playing soccer professionally, but his path became clear when a serious injury resulting from an illegal tackle ended his career. 

I regret that I was not involved in my communities back then, so I decided to take this opportunity as a chance to grow as a human being,” explained Ferdinando. “I do not want anyone to go through what my country is experiencing right now, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that it does not happen. I was not sure how to do so though, so my response was to join as many organizations as I could and volunteer for as much as it was possible. It turned out that I was able to do more than I thought I could, and in doing so, help others feel more motivated as well. So, it has become a passion for me and a fulfilling way of living. 

He is working hard to get the gold presidential volunteering service award this year to prove that an international student can get this type of recognition from the White House. He also thought it would look nice for the Hospitality, Exhibition and Event Management Club to have recorded hours of service to the community. His involvement led to many students and clubs wanting to be more active on campus and asking Ferdinando for advice on how to do that. Being an inspiration helped motivate him to keep trying. Finally, he loves volunteering because he always likes to aim to be better, and he loves a good challenge.  

Last semester, Ferdinando completed 275 hours of community service, and this semester he has more than 350 hours (and he is still doing some despite being quarantined). “I believe that now, more than ever, it is important to show that no matter the circumstances in which we are living, we can still achieve our goals; moreover, our communities need help more than ever,” he said.  

Ferdinando is currently pursuing his associate degree in Applied Science in HEEM at Richland College, where he expects to graduate in fall 2020. He then plans to transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree and become a meeting and event planner. “I plan to create events where people gather to share ideas on how to improve our world or to provide a better community service,” Ferdinando explained. “I am fascinated by how much human interaction can shape our world, by giving them a tool to have a better future. After earning my bachelor’s degree, my goal is to be able to work internationally and help as many other cultures as possible. I want to make an impact and create international events where we can ensure a better future for the next generations.” 

If there is one thing Ferdinando has learned, it’s that life is unpredictable. All he can do is focus on what’s ahead of him and take every opportunity that is available. He hopes that he can reach those who are feeling limited or hopeless and inspire them to take action 

“I was not aiming to obtain recognitions; I just wanted to be engaged in my communities and to give back to the institution that gave me a second chance in life,” he said. “Before I started this path, I was depressed, feeling alone in a country that seemed to despise my culture, and not knowing exactly what to do after losing everything I built. My goal was only to learn from my past mistakes and to help others, and in the process of doing so, I obtained so much more than I asked. I am now happy, full of wonderful people I can call friends all over the world, and I have a clearer objective in life. If I was able to do so, I guarantee you that anybody can as long as they take actions and stay authentic.” 

“We are thankful for Ferdinando’s engagement with Richland and the DCCCD and his influence on the entire state of Texas,” said Kathleen Stephens, honors program director. “His engagement has made our college, state and country a better place, and we can learn much from his example, engagement and excellence.” 

Congratulations to Ferdinando and thank you for all your service to the community! 


Ari Rastegar smiling. | Photo courtesy of Forbes Richland Alumnus Ari Rastegar Featured in Forbes Article

Read about one of our outstanding alumni, Ari Rastegar, who was recently featured in a Forbes article! Ari is the CEO of the Texas-based Rastegar Property and one of the youngest investors in commercial projects across the state. Forbes recently covered his story and deemed him as the “Dallas Real Estate Underdog.”   

The story mentions Richland College, stating how Ari went here for a semester before graduating from Texas A&M University, then going on to get a law degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Now, his firm boasts a multimillion-dollar diversified portfolio and builds commercial real estate in Dallas, Austin, Phoenix and other areas.  

Read the full article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/candaceevans/2019/09/03/ari-rastegar-the-dallas-real-estate-underdog/#5e3446974548 


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 Gets Groovy With Annual ‘Dance Jam’ Festival
Dancer break dancing

Richland College student Darrell Rodgers performs at the 2013 Dance Jam Festival.

The Richland College dance program will get audience toes tapping at the sixth annual Dance Jam Festival, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

A summation of student learning throughout the fall semester, the Dance Jam Festival will showcase students from all fall semester Richland College dance classes performing tap, ballet, hip hop, jazz and contemporary modern.

“Each year, our students look forward to showcasing their talents and all they’ve learned throughout the semester,” said Gina Sawyer, director of Richland College’s dance program. “The Dance Jam Festival offers them a chance to do that while celebrating the joy of dance and the spirit of the Richland College community.”

Sawyer will direct the Dance Jam Festival, along with dance faculty members Cheryl Callon and Julie Rowley. Guest dancers include the Lakeview Centennial High School dance program under the direction of Crystal Post and the Richardson High School dance program under the direction of Kelly Fishback.

The Richland College dance program provides a challenging teaching and learning environment for students that values diversity and develops artistic excellence, fosters creative and collaborative practices and encourages personal agency and social responsibility in appreciating dance.

The Dance Jam Festival is free and open to the public, and it will take place in the outdoor breezeway in between Lavaca and Fannin Halls on the east side of the Richland College campus. Richland College is located at 12800 Abrams Road.


Richland College Named Leader College for ‘Achieving the Dream’

Achieving the Dream logoRichland College was recently named as an Achieving the Dream Leader College, a national designation awarded this year to only 16 community colleges nationwide that are committed to improving student success and closing achievement gaps.

Achieving the Dream recognizes community colleges that demonstrate over time how data can inform policy and practice to help community college students achieve their goals. This achievement includes improved skills, better employability and economic growth for families, communities and the nation.

“Achieving the Dream has made me a better teacher,” said Richland College accounting professor Lamrot Bekele. Bekele has held a leadership role with Achieving the Dream at Richland College.

“The work of improving student success is critically important to our education and economy,” said Carol Lincoln, Achieving the Dream senior vice president. “Richland College has demonstrated that better student outcomes are possible when an institution focuses on policies and practices that help students learn at high levels and overcome challenges life throws at them. Richland College is working hard to move the needle for whole cohorts of students, and deserves recognition for its relentless efforts and promising achievements.”

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, remain in higher education and earn a college certificate or degree. With more than 200 institutions, 100 coaches and advisors and 15 state policy teams working throughout 34 states and the District of Columbia, the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps nearly 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

For more information on Achieving the Dream, visit achievingthedream.org.


2014 APIASF scholars at Richland College announced
From left: Tung Dao, APIASF Scholarship Program Director Cecilia Marshall, Maria Louisa Ponsones, Richland College President Kay Eggleston, Damanta Adhikari, Lan Nguyen, Uyen Cao, Sana Hussein, Mai Huynh, Bhagawat Khatiwada and Damodar Dahal.

From left: Tung Dao, APIASF Scholarship Program Director Cecilia Marshall, Maria Louisa Ponsones, Richland College President Kay Eggleston, Damanta Adhikari, Lan Nguyen, Uyen Cao, Sana Hussein, Mai Huynh, Bhagawat Khatiwada and Damodar Dahal.

Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) Program Director Cecilia Marshall recognized nine Richland College student recipients of APIASF scholarships during a reception on April 24 hosted by Richland College and sponsored by the Walmart Foundation.

In welcoming APIASF’s representatives, student recipients, community and college faculty and staff, Richland College President Kathryn K. Eggleston thanked the generous donors who support APIASF and Richland College’s partnership toward developing future leaders who excel in their careers, serving as role models in their communities and contributing to a more vibrant America.

Dr. Eggleston cited the growing Dallas County Asian and refugee population and credited the “partnership with APIASF in advancing Richland College’s goals to promote access and achieve equity for students who otherwise would not have this important opportunity to realize their educational goals.”

The scholarships are the result of Richland College’s partnership with APIASF. Richland College is the only U.S. Department of Education-designated Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) in Texas, and one of nine U.S. higher education institutions chosen by the APIASF to participate in the AANAPISI Scholarship Program.

Asian American students comprise 14 percent of Richland College’s student enrollment. With at least half of these students demonstrating financial need, the APIASF Scholarships and the AANAPISI funding positively impacts many of Richland College’s historically underserved students.


Former Richland College students receive Terry Scholarships

Former Richland College students Kathleen McGovern, Melchor Tijerina III and Samna Rasheed were awarded Terry Foundation Scholarships, each in the amount of $12,000 per year renewable for up to three years of undergraduate study.

The Terry Foundation, established in 1986, is one of Texas’ largest private providers of educational scholarships, including awards to transfer/non-traditional students who demonstrate financial need, academic achievement and leadership potential.

Kathleen, majoring in biology, transferred to Texas A&M University to study pre-med. Melchor, who also is a 2012-13 Dallas County Community College District STEM scholar and Joe Lucky scholarship recipient, is majoring in electrical engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas. Samna, majoring in biology, transferred to the University of North Texas to study pre-dental.