Both Dean and Stone will have to complete an application and essay about their volunteer efforts for the PTK selection committee. They will be honored next spring in Jackson upon the conclusion of the competition. The USA Today Academic Team program annually recognizes 60 outstanding two-year college students. First, and Second Teams, each consisting of 20 members, are selected from the nominees. The 20 First Team members receive stipends of $2,500 each. All 60 members of the All- USA Academic Team and their colleges receive extensive national recognition through coverage in USA TODAY.
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ELLISVILLE – Nine, Jones County Junior College sophomores were selected to compete for the New Century Scholars/All-State Academic Team through the International Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa. These students were nominated by faculty members and then selected by the JCJC Scholarship Committee. Some of the requirements to earn a spot in this prestigious group include maintaining a 3.5 to 4.0 GPA, taking challenging academic courses, completing a minimum of 36-hours, volunteering their service in their communities and college, and doing well in an interview with the Scholarship Committee.
The nominees were Elijah Cummins, a business administration major from Hattiesburg; Samantha Dean, an English major from Laurel; Alyssa Hopkins, a biological sciences/pre-med major from Lucedale, Morgan Lewis, an art major from Ellisville; Ashley McDonald, an English major from Louin; Shreyaben Patel, an engineering major from Hattiesburg; April Pierce, an engineering major from Lucedale; Katelyn Stone, a biology major from Hattiesburg and Makayla Waites, an accounting major from Waynesboro made the final cut. However, Samantha Dean and Katelyn Stone were chosen to represent JCJC in the statewide and international competition for academic honors and scholarships.
“Both ladies have passion and are compassionate about what they have been doing as volunteers. Both of their academic lives are preparing themselves for their futures. Their academics are lining up with their passions, but they are also phenomenal leaders, academic students and are dedicated to their passions,” said Julie Atwood, JCJC PTK advisor.
The nine students were treated to a special luncheon held in their honor with PTK sponsors and administrators. JCJC president, Dr. Jesse Smith challenged all of them to really focus on their future academic endeavors and life goals.
“Because we have smart people who are leaders, we expect you to do great things. Our future depends on your success. We need you to be your absolute best, add value to society. Take the skills you have and let them take you as far as you want them to,” said Dr. Smith. “Be deliberate about living a life of blessings and make a difference.”
Dean has been able to be a leader with numerous opportunities as president of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society, an intern for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Jones County and she is on the FCA leadership team at JCJC. In high school, Dean was a member of the GenerationFREE Youth Advisory Board for four years, Peer Council Community Outreach and Education, Teens Getting Involved in the Future, FOCUS College Ministry Leadership Council, President of the Key Club at West Jones High School and was a member of the swim team for six years.
“This is an incredible opportunity! I’m very grateful for the leadership opportunity through PTK. It is really an honor to be involved with this group and to be chosen to represent Jones,” said Dean.
Some of Dean’s honors include earning the Waller English Award, Letter “J” Award, Tullos Scholarship recipient and earning a Presidential Scholarship at JCJC. While she aspires to teach college English one day, she said she hopes to able to continue serving in the mission field. With her knowledge of the Spanish language, Dean said she has been able to participate in community outreach in Peru, South America, and Spanish Wells, Bahamas. Ultimately, Dean said she would like to teach English in a foreign country.
“Through Grace Covenant Church, I’ve been able to work with Grace International which serves nine countries. However, it was in Stacy Ruth’s sociology class at JCJC that really inspired me to work with inner city kids,” said Dean. “Now my goal is to get my Bachelor of Arts at Mississippi College and my masters in English and Sociology.”
Stone has a variety of talents and leadership skills. However, her love of horses changed her vision for her future. While helping with the care of about 200 rescue horses at a farm near her Hattiesburg home, Stone’s desire to rehabilitate her favorite animal also led to the idea of rehabilitating her friend. Having an inoperable brain tumor and battling depression, her friend joined Stone on the horse farm. While watching her friend Beth care for the horses, Stone realized both the horses and Beth could benefit from the interaction. Now Stone’s goal is to establish an equine therapy program in Hattiesburg.
“I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work with the amazing animals and people at the farm. The experience I have gained through working with rescue horses is so valuable to me because it has helped prepare me for a future with horses. It has inspired me to formulate a goal that could change the lives of so many people in my community,” said Stone.
At JCJC, Stone serves at the PTK Vice President of Fellowship and was chosen as JCJC’s Most Beautiful, a Tullos Scholar, she received the Thomas H. Harris Scholarship, was voted as a Freshman Class Favorite, and she earned the Letter “J” Award. Stone has also earned the Miss Hospitality of Ellisville scholarship, Mississippi Hospitality Top 5 scholarship, Art Department scholarship, Musical Theater Production Assistant scholarship, ACT scholarship and a Jr. Auxiliary Scholarship. The South Jones High School graduate, earned the Mississippi Scholars designation, was voted Most Intellectual, Principals Award for Exceptional Conduct and Service, she won the South Jones Spanish Spelling Bee, received the Mississippi Theater Association’s All-Star Cast Award in Acting, an SJHS Bobcat Math League Regional Semi-finalist team member, and she graduated with Highest Honors. She is especially proud to have been nominated for PTK’s New Century Scholars/All-State American Team.
“It is one of the largest, if not the largest honor I’ve received. Being nominated confirms in my mind, that working hard and doing what I love really can have a huge impact on my life. I never thought I would be nominated for something like this because of my work with horses,” said Stone.