Students receive statewide Phi Theta Kappa awards
A Cuyamaca College student and a Grossmont College student have each received one of the highest honors available to community college students.
Artrice Bennett, a student at Grossmont, and Fawzia Bakhit, a student at Cuyamaca, have been named 2022 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) All-California Award Winners. Bennett and Bakhit are among just 114 community college students statewide to be selected for the All-California Academic First, Second and Third Teams. Both Bennett and Bakhit were named to the Third Team. Bennett, a student at both Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges, received her award through Cuyamaca.
PTK recognizes the academic achievement of college students and provides opportunities for its members to grow as scholars and leaders. Established in 1918, Phi Theta Kappa has a presence on nearly 1,300 community college campuses in 11 nations. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) recognized Phi Theta Kappa as the official honor society for two-year colleges in 1929. Building on the success of the national All-USA Team Program, PTK launched the All-State Academic Team Program. The purpose of the program is to provide recognition at the state level for these top community college students.
Grades, leadership, and community service determine selection to the All-California First, Second and Third Teams. The students chosen represent some of the best of the 2 million students enrolled in California's 116 community colleges. Students have undoubtedly faced many additional and unprecedented challenges over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 winners should be exceptionally proud of their achievements during these difficult times.
“Our district proudly serves a diverse East County community of adult learners as well as high school students,” said Chancellor Lynn Neault. “More of our students are juggling full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities. We are creating more flexible options to meet their needs, including hybrid courses – offered in-person and remotely. I am thrilled to see them succeed at such a high level.”
Bennett, 25, a member of Grossmont College’s Class of 2022, will graduate with an associate degree in English and social and behavioral sciences. Bennett writes poetry and would like to continue her studies in African American literature or creative writing, or possibly both. She plans to obtain a master’s degree and teach English at a community college.
Bennett said her education has profited from the rigorous curricula and outstanding faculty at both colleges.
“I think the professors who I’ve had in community college have just really been great,” she said. “No matter how busy they are, they’ve always made time for me outside of the classroom to encourage me, or help me, or give me advice.”
Bennett added that her classmates have also enriched her experience in college.
“I feel like this type of community, where you can be in a class with somebody who’s 18 and somebody who’s 43 – you learn about so many different people,” she said.
Bakhit, 51, emigrated from Egypt to the United States in 2018 with her two daughters and husband. Bakhit has majored in child development at Cuyamaca College, while also building her English-speaking skills. She has taken classes at Cuyamaca College since 2019, and she plans on graduating this fall. Afterward, she said she plans to volunteer and then work as a teacher’s assistant in a preschool program. Hard-working, optimistic, and selfless, Bakhit says she is motivated to create a better future for herself and her family.
Juggling her classwork, parenting responsibilities, and home chores can be exhausting, but Bakhit says she is able to manage these everyday demands through hard work and dedication. She says she improves her English every day by reading, and she believes that becoming proficient in English will open doors to work opportunities and a better future. She says she tries to set a good example as a mother, student, wife, individual, and citizen.
The district’s two colleges, Grossmont College in El Cajon and Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego, together serve about 24,000 students.
For information about the college district, go to www.gcccd.edu. To view the PTK team selections and rankings, go to http://bitly.ws/pJRD .
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