Distinguished Alumni Award

Terri Tchorzynski Receives 2017 MCC Distinguished Alumni Award

Muskegon Community College alumna Terri Knoll Tchorzynski, a counselor at the Calhoun Area Career Center (CACC) in Battle Creek who was named the nation’s 2017 School Counselor of the Year, has been chosen as MCC’s 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

Terri Tchorzynski

Terri Tchorzynski

Tchorzynski was honored on May 1, 2017 at the Alumni Awards Dinner on campus and addressed the graduates May 3 at the 2017 MCC Commencement in Walker Arena.

Established in 1998, the award is the highest honor that MCC bestows upon outstanding alumni whose professional achievements, community service, and advocacy of higher education exemplify the foremost ideals of their alma mater. The honorees are selected by the MCC Alumni Relations Committee.

During a White House ceremony in January, First Lady Michelle Obama presented Tchorzynski with the national award from the American School Counselor Association. Tchorzynski, the Michigan Counselor of the Year, was chosen over nominees from the other 49 states. The First Lady praised Tchorzynski for her efforts that has led to 75 percent of seniors at the CACC now taking key college application steps.

“Under Terri’s Leadership, more students than ever before attended workshops, resume writing, and FAFSA completion,” Obama said. “And all of this is just one small part of what Terri does for her students each day.”

Tchorzynski, a 1999 Muskegon Community College graduate who was an all-conference softball and basketball student-athlete for the Jayhawks, had the opportunity after speaking to introduce the First Lady at what would be her last official public appearance. As a part of her Reach Higher campaign, Michelle Obama recognized a School Counselor of the Year for helping students prepare for post-secondary education.

“A lot of times it’s very easy to get centered in on the students who come to your office all the time or the students that are very outgoing,” Tchorzynski said in a National Public Radio interview. “They’re the ‘A’ students that just want additional support.

“But there’s a large population of students that just don’t know to ask for help. Maybe they are first-time college-goers and so they don’t even know what they need to know in order to go to school. So I think it’s so important for counselors to think about the students that maybe don’t have a voice.  It’s my job as a counselor to make sure that all these students, regardless of race, ethnicity, income or what kind of backgrounds they come from, have the same support.”

She began working as a counselor at the Calhoun Area Career Center in 2010. Operated by the Calhoun Intermediate School District, the center provides technical education in 18 programs to primarily 11th and 12th grade students who range from special needs to the academically gifted. They attend the center for half of their school day and their regular school for the other half.

Four years ago, Tchorzynski created a Student Leadership Team at the CACC to provide students with service opportunities in Calhoun County. Over that span, the students have raised more than $5,000 while donating their time and collecting clothing, food and personal hygiene items to support local shelters. Tchorzynski also established an annual CACC Golf Outing that had provided more than $15,000 for student scholarships.

Distinguished Alumni Award at MCC

A tradition for many years at MCC, the Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor that Muskegon Community College bestows upon an outstanding alum. The award salutes the achievements of outstanding alumni whose personal lives, professional achievements, and community service exemplify the objectives of their alma mater.

Award recipients are selected based on the following criteria:

  • MCC college career – The nominee must have earned an associate’s degree or certificate, or completed a minimum of 50 credit hours at Muskegon Community College and have demonstrated a record of excellence in academics and extracurricular participation.
  • Professional achievement – The nominee must have distinguished himself or herself through achievement or advancement in his or her career, earned degrees, professional training, professional recognition and/or outstanding contributions to his or her field.
  • Service to the community – Nominee shall have demonstrated a record of community participation and involvement.
  • Advocacy of higher education and/or support of MCC. The nominee shall have a successful record in one or both of these areas.
  • Availability – In addition to the above criteria, the nominee must be available to attend the Distinguished Alumni Dinner and also Commencement. The award recipient will give a short address to the graduating students at Commencement.

Nominate an MCC graduate for the Distinguished Alumni Award

Do you know an outstanding MCC alumnus?
If you would like to nominate for the 2018 award, please use the online form linked below. All fields must be filled out to qualify. Note: it is recommended you have all information on the nominee in hand before filling out the nomination form. The form requires all contact information, and additional information as noted above. The deadline for 2018 nominations is December 31, 2017.

View past recipients

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