Cuyamaca College students receive statewide Phi Theta Kappa awards

May 17, 2023 at 2:00 PM

Cuyamaca students receive award
Mary Hamer and Hannah Renew receive Phi Theta Kappa awards

EL CAJONTwo Cuyamaca College students have each received one of the highest honors available to California community college students.

Mary Hamer and Hannah Renew have been named 2023 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) All-California award winners. Hamer and Renew are among just 112 community college students statewide to be selected for the All-California Academic First, Second and Third Teams. Hamer was named to the First Team while Renew was named to the Third Team.

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 and has grown to more than 3.5 million members in the United States and worldwide. 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 represent some of the best of the 1.8 million students enrolled in California's 116 community colleges.

Hamer, 40, will graduate with an associate degree in Psychology on June 8, 2023. She has served as the president of the Psychology Club, president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Cuyamaca College, and she chairs the Associated Student Government Election Committee. Her focus is on making Cuyamaca a welcoming and equitable campus.

Hamer is transferring to California State University San Marcos, where she will be a Social Sciences-Psychology major. Her long-term plans include returning to Cuyamaca to teach.

Renew, 38, enrolled at Cuyamaca College during the pandemic. She found remote education conducive to her learning style. Working from home, she was able to better focus on her studies without having to navigate the social structure of campus and the classroom. Renew had attempted college twice before and found the support she needed at Cuyamaca.

“I love the instructors here (at Cuyamaca College),” said Renew. “They don’t just teach things in a black-and-white way. They discuss the social justice aspect of each topic and reveal where the main areas of inequality exist.”

As mother of two and a first-generation college student, Renew was also recently named one of 450 national finalists for the prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Renew will earn her associate degree in Social Work and transfer to San Diego State University.

“Our college and district proudly serve a diverse East County community of adult learners, as well as high school students,” said Cuyamaca College Interim President Jessica Robinson, Ed.D. “I am proud of all our students and hold a special place for those who juggle full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities. Cuyamaca College does our best to meet our students where they are; we are as committed to their success as they are.”

The district’s two colleges, Grossmont College in El Cajon, and Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego, together serve about 25,000 students. For information about the college district, go to To view the 2023 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) All-California team selections and rankings, click here.


New Vice President of Student Services at Cuyamaca College

After a nationwide search, Victoria Marron has been selected as Vice President of Student Services at Cuyamaca College.

View More

District Has $1.3 Billion Economic Impact

A study found that Grossmont and Cuyamaca College graduates have a return of $7 in higher lifetime earnings for every...

View More