Muskegon Community College students Hoan Lam and Paul Struck were named to the 2018 All-Michigan Academic Team and honored on Wednesday, March 14, at a reception in Lansing sponsored by the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) and Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.
Students were selected on the basis of academic achievement, community service involvement, and leadership accomplishment. The State Academic Teams are a division of the All-USA Community College Academic All-American Team sponsored annually by Phi Theta Kappa, USA TODAY and the American Association of Community Colleges.
In addition to the student honorees, the luncheon attendees included community college presidents, administrators and trustees, state legislators, and Phi Theta Kappa advisors. Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society is the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,250 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 of the United States and throughout the world.
A sophomore, Hoan Lam is studying engineering at MCC and will transfer this fall to Grand Valley State University to continue his studies toward a career as an electrical engineer.
Born in Vietnam, Lam played for eight years on the nation’s first baseball team. The squad, which competed internationally against teams in Taiwan, China, Singapore and Indonesia, went winless in its first few years. However, Lam took valuable, lifelong lessons from that experience and from his coach, a Vietnamese lawyer who formed the team to give his sons a chance to play the sport.
“My coach never gave up on his sons, his love for baseball, and the team,” recounted Lam. “I learned to be passionate like my coach. I learned to never give up on my family. I learned that a 34-0 loss – we lost to a team 34-0 – is just a bad game. I learned that winning a game take hours of practice and being mentally prepared. I am who I am today, passionate, because of all the early lessons I had learned from my coach.”
Lam, who resides in Muskegon, came to the U.S. in 2012 and graduated from Muskegon Catholic Central High School. At the college, Lam has been on President’s List and Dean’s List and has assisted students in computer labs.
Lam has volunteered at a local church and, at age 18, successfully completed his certification to assist with tax preparations for those seeking help at Goodwill Industries. As a Phi Theta Kappa honor society member, he helped pick up trash along a section of highway in Muskegon. He also spoke about Vietnam as part of an international student panel during MCC’s 2016 International Education Week celebration.
Paul Struck, who has been a consistent 4.0 GPA student and President’s List member at MCC, balances his academics with working a full-time job at River Haven Marina in Grand Haven, MI.
A native of Lake Villa, IL, Struck graduated from Lakes Community High School in 2012 but had to put any college plans on hold while dealing with a difficult family situation and a move to another state. “I didn’t try very hard in high school,” he explained. “A lot happened to me during this time that distracted me from my academics.”
As the first in his family to attend college, Struck has dedicated himself to achieving academic excellence at MCC. “I felt the exciting opportunity of starting new with a clean slate gave me all the more drive to see just how far I can go,” he said. “The person I am now can be described in three words – ambitious, hard-working, and persevering – no matter the situation and how it may affect me.”
On campus, he relishes the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, the relaxed atmosphere, and a “real sense of welcome and helpfulness from everyone.” He specifically points to his humanities course as a turning point. His instructor gave the students responsibility for generating and leading class discussion topics by continually providing and presenting current research. He also required their attendance at campus cultural events as well as creating questions to interview organizers of those events.
“My takeaway from all of this was confidence and leadership,” said Struck, who used its impact upon him to inspire students in his ensuing sociology and English courses to pursue the same approach to presenting information.
Struck enjoys working with his hands and, while undecided at this time, is considering a career in a carpentry or electrical trade.