USA Today pours a Coca-Cola for Michelle Johnson; 6 CAC students claim All-Arizona Academic honors

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - When USA Today hit the streets on Monday, April 11, Central Arizona College's Michelle Johnson found her name inside the pages under the heading Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar.

The Apache Junction resident who attends the Superstition Mountain Campus will receive a $1,500 stipend and a special medallion for claiming her national honor.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation sponsors the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team program by recognizing 50 Gold, 50 Silver and 50 Bronze scholars, and providing nearly $187,500 in stipends annually.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society administers the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program and recognizes Coca-Cola Community College scholars during All-State Community College Academic Team Recognition ceremonies held in 37 states. Student scholars also receive local recognition during ceremonies held on campus.

Community college presidents or their designated nominators may submit no more than two nominations per campus for this award. An independent panel of judges considers outstanding academic rigor, grade point average, academic and leadership awards, and engagement in college and community service in the selection process.

"We thank the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation for their vote of confidence in community college students by investing in their futures," Dr. Rod Risley, executive director of Phi Theta Kappa, said. "Their support is especially welcome during this challenging economic climate, as more and more community college students need additional resources to help them complete their degrees."

"The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges," J. Mark Davis, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, explained. "We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa and make it possible for deserving students to achieve their educational goals."

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Miss., is the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,270 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. More than 2.5 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 125,000 students inducted annually.

It has been a banner spring semester for Johnson who, along with five of her CAC classmates, also claimed All-Arizona Academic Team accolades during a recognition ceremony on Feb. 23 at the Fiesta Resort Conference Center in Tempe, Ariz.

She was named to the First Team which landed her an opportunity to become a Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar.

John Ruane (St. Charles, IL/ St. Charles East H.S.) of the Signal Peak Campus and Nicole Smith (Queen Creek, AZ/Pinnacle Virtual H.S.) from the Superstition Mountain Campus earned All-Arizona Academic Second Team honors, while Yvette Leigh Trinité-Bouliér (Tucson, AZ/Flowing Wells H.S.) and Aracelli Castaneda (Hayden, AZ/Hayden H.S.) - both representing the Aravaipa Campus - and Michelle Dawn Clapp (Casa Grande, AZ/Casa Grande Union H.S.) from the Signal Peak Campus were awarded Third Team accolades.

A native of Arlington, Tex., and a graduate of Sam Houston High School, Johnson is majoring in English literature and boasts a 3.92 GPA. She is expecting to transfer to Arizona State University to continue her undergraduate career.

She has participated in CAC's Honors program and Phi Theta Kappa, and she served as a student delegate in February of 2011 at the Student Public Policy Forum. She traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the National Legislative Summit for Community Colleges.

"You are the captain of your own ship; the master of your destiny," Johnson, who recently made a run for city council in Apache Junction, said.

She also presented a paper at the Western Regional Honors Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in 2009, and she earned the Award for Excellence in Academics for English and Honors that same year.

Members of the All-Arizona Academic Team earn special recognition, including medallions, certificates and scholarships. First Team members receive a $1,000 check, while Second Team members are presented with a $750 award. Third Team members receive a $500 grant.

In addition, All-Arizona Academic Team members are eligible for full tuition scholarships to Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University or the University of Arizona.

Currently a resident of Mammoth, Ariz., Trinité-Bouliér owns a 3.41 grade point average while majoring in education. She is deciding whether to continue her education at Northern Arizona University or Arizona State University.

Her involvement in the community included working the blood drive with the Red Cross, participating in the Breast Cancer Walks from 2008-10, and helping coordinate area food drives for the last four years.

While attending CAC's Aravaipa Campus, she received the Most Engaged Student Award (2009-10), Exemplary Women Leader Award (2010), and was listed in the Who's Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges (2008-2010).

"The opportunities as a student with my college have allowed me to grow academically and personally," Trinité-Bouliér said. "Looking back at the experiences I have had while being a student, I feel blessed. The experiences I still have as a student reinforces the blessings. Looking forward keeps everything in full circle."

Smith is a biological sciences major focusing on genetics, cell and developmental biology. She owns a 3.92 and plans on transferring to Arizona State University.

She served as the vice president of the Southern District for Arizona Region Phi Theta Kappa, and as a volunteer with the Mayo Clinic and with hospice organizations.

Smith received the Outstanding First Year Honors Student in 2009-10, made the Dean's List in the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010, and was a National Community College Aerospace Scholar (NCAS).

"To humble yourself is to strengthen yourself," Smith said of her personal motto.

Clapp is a business major with a concentration in law who owns a 3.67 grade point average. She plans on transferring to Arizona State University.

While at the Signal Peak Campus, Clapp served as the Phi Theta Kappa co-vice president and as the vice president for Delta Epsilon Chi. She also has volunteered for The Louie & The Duke Classics fundraiser for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.

Clapp received her associate of arts degree with honors and her certificate of completion for Honors Colloquium I. She also earned recognition for the highest of all written scores at the Preliminary State Collegiate DECA Competition hosted by Scottsdale Community College.

"I am truly honored by the nomination to the All-Arizona Academic Team," she said. "There were so many qualified applicants I didn't believe I stood a chance and almost did not fill out the application. This just goes to show you never know what you can accomplish until you try."

Originally from Illinois, Ruane boasts a 3.92 GPA and now calls Arizona City home. He is majoring in English literature and journalism and is planning on transferring to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

He has served as the editor-in-chief of The Cactus, CAC's student newspaper, and also has served as president of Phi Theta Kappa: Alpha Theta Delta Chapter. When he finds the time, he stretches his writing skills as a freelancer.

Ruane has participated in CAC's Academic Symposium, earned a place on the Dean's List, and has appeared in Who's Who in Community Colleges.

"I figure out who I am everyday around noon, after writing something down - and a pot of coffee," he quipped.

Castaneda currently resides in Oracle, Ariz., and is pursuing her career in nursing by majoring in pre-nursing. She owns a 3.7 grade point average and plans on continuing her education at the University of Arizona.

"Perseverance and determination are the keys to success," she said.

Castaneda is currently a member of Phi Theta Kappa, has earned a place on the Dean's List, and has appeared in Who's Who Among College Students.


Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814