Muskegon Community College students Kaylee Austin and Aliyah Mitchell were named to the 2015 All-Michigan Academic Team and honored on Tuesday, March 24, at a reception sponsored by the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) in Lansing.
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 native of Ravenna, MI, Kaylee Austin has earned a 3.92 GPA in her studies at MCC. The President’s List and Dean’s List student will transfer to South University in Virginia Beach, VA after the Winter 2015 semester to pursue a nursing degree. Working part time as a childcare specialist and with youth groups has reinforced Austin’s career path decision.
“These experiences have showed me my love for people, especially children,” stated Austin, who admitted she has a passion for pediatric nursing. “I want a career that challenges me, provides me with a sense that I am making a difference in the world, and a job that I look forward to every morning when I wake up.
“I also have a passion for missions and would like to spend time in my future offering my medical services to other, less fortunate, parts of the world. It is so easy to live here in comfortable wealth while other parts of the world are living without even the most basic medical attention. This is where I want to make a difference.”
A graduate of Kent City High School, Austin credits her MCC anthropology class with instilling in her an importance of cultural differences and her MCC psychology course with giving her practical and insightful knowledge about childhood development.
“These courses, among many others taken at Muskegon Community College, have had a very important influence on how I perceive and interact with the children, as well as the parents, at the daycare,” she said.
“I have seen firsthand the struggling single mothers, the broken families filled with anger and resentment toward each other, children acting on the dysfunction they have seen in their homes, and foster children who have never known the love of family.
“The hope is that this knowledge and these new skills will aid in my ultimate goal, which is to be a caring and loving nurse who advocates for her patient and is knowledgeable and accepting of cultural differences.”
Interested in languages and breaking down communication barriers since watching Japanese anime as a five-year old, Aliyah Mitchell plans to pursue a degree and work in applied linguistics after earning her associate’s degree at MCC.
“My goal was to use fun methods to become multilingual,” explained the Muskegon, Mi native, who has an overall 3.6 GPA in her MCC courses.
“I spent years exploring though anime, travel and books. I listened to musicians, like Yoko Kanno, Goran Bregovic, and more. Nothing frustrated me more than when I couldn’t communicate with someone. It was through that frustration that I arrived at the door of linguistics. I became fascinated with the structure of language and never looked back.”
At MCC, Mitchell coordinated Phi Theta Kappa honor society’s 2014 Commit to Complete campaign, a concentrated effort of activities aimed at encouraging MCC students to finish their degree or certificate programs. Within the community, she has assisted with The Beat Awards sponsored by a local radio station, and works as a supervisor for Future7 Entertainment.
Mitchell’s plan to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from Muskegon High School changed when she was diagnosed with an unexpected and debilitating spinal condition.
“I have been training mentally and physically to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps since I was 16,” noted Mitchell. “I am currently ineligible and know that this type of service requires a high level of resilience, discipline, and mettle. Beyond service to my country, I want to be a mentor to all the people that I can. Without my mentor, Kay Ostrom, and the support of my family, I would have missed experiences fundamental to whom I am today – an explorer. I strive to provide that opportunity to others.”