By Antonio Unpingco
Gov. Jay Inslee commended Whatcom Community College students Na Eun Kim and Alan Alatorre at the 21st annual All-Washington Academic Team ceremony in Olympia on March 24.
The All-Washington Academic Team honors two-year college students who are successful in class and in benefiting their local community. Each member receives a medallion, a $250 scholarship sponsored by Key Bank, and a nomination for the All-USA Community College Academic Team which awards 20 students across the nation with a $5000 scholarship every year. The team is composed of 66 students, one to two from all 34 Washington community and technical colleges. The top six honorees were awarded with additional scholarships of $1000 to $2000 from Coca-Cola, the Washington State Association of College Trustees, and the Washington State Employees Credit Union.
Twenty-five Whatcom students applied for the award and the scholarship committee selected the top five applicants based on the applicant’s “grades, letters of recommendation, and finally leadership on campus and with the community.” said Laura Singletary, a member of the scholarship committee. Kim and Alatorre were the top two selected by Whatcom’s President Kathi Hiyane-Brown to represent our school.
“Their friendly and genuine personalities are perfect representations of Whatcom’s campus culture. I’m also impressed by Na Eun and Alan’s leadership and advocacy of social justice issues that influence our campus and the community at large. They are inspiring and outstanding representatives of Whatcom’s talented and dedicated student body.” President Hiyane-Brown said.
Alan Alatorre currently attends Western Washington University and plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in human services while minoring in education and social justice. He said he hopes to work with children in an administrator role or work with those who have experienced abuse.
At Whatcom, he was a student ambassador, initiated the Latino Leadership Club, was involved with starting the social justice equity and pluralism (SOJEP) committee, and worked in Whatcom’s intercultural center. Alatorre currently volunteers for Bellingham’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services as well.
Alatorre said he “enjoyed seeing the growth and accomplishments in myself and my good friend Kim.”
He will use this experience as motivation when he finds himself struggling.
“We all have moments where we would like to give up and do not see ourselves capable of accomplishing difficult tasks at times. I think that recalling this moment can uplift my mood and change my approach to things.” said Alatorre.
Kim is in her third year at Whatcom and has traveled to Mexico, China, and Canada teaching English and plans to study english at the University of Washington. She is the current Vice President of Whatcom’s student body as well as the SOJEP chair.
She says “along with my consistent involvement at Whatcom since last year, becoming VP and SOJEP chair helped me a lot to be nominated.”
As SOJEP chair, Kim has planned events like the sexual assault awareness panel held at Whatcom in January and the upcoming Students Leading Change Conference that will provide workshops for participants on social justice issues on May 7. SOJEP’s mission is to create a safe and inclusive environment which focuses on educating the community of social justice issues.
Kim was one of 50 students named a Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholar for which she was awarded an additional $1000 scholarship from Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), an honors society for community and technical colleges worldwide, for her outstanding leadership in our community and her academic success.
Fifty students nationwide are named Gold Scholars, who are awarded a $1500 scholarship; 50 are named Silver Scholars, each earning a $1250 scholarship; and 50 students are named Bronze Scholars who are awarded a $1000 scholarship. The Coca-Cola Academic Team is determined by an independent group of judges who choose recipients that were nominated for the All-USA Community College Academic Team.
“Being recognized with so many individuals made me feel like I was finally part of a community.” Kim said.
Kim was humbled by the experience and surprised at her accomplishments.
“There were a lot of people there that were smarter and more talented than me. It showed me how important hard work is and that it will pay off. I am grateful for Whatcom and the support that they have given me, especially my advisor Laura Sigletary.” said Kim.
PTK offers $90 million in scholarship opportunities. Their goal is to encourage academic success in two-year college students and to provide opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming.
The All-Washington Academic Program is sponsored by the Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Washington State Association for College Trustees, and Phi Theta Kappa. The scholarship is sponsored by Key Bank, Washington State Employees Credit Union, and the Washington State Association of College Trustees.