By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Connors State College student Stephanie Anderson says she didn’t expect to hear her name among the 2013 winners of the New Century Scholar program.
She had been nominated to be part of the All-USA Community College Academic Team and attended a banquet earlier this month honoring Academic Team members from Oklahoma community colleges. The student receiving the highest All-USA Community College Academic Team application score in each state is named a Coca-Cola New Century Scholar.
“I was at the awards banquet and I received my regular award, which I thought was it,” Anderson said. “Then they started naming off the Bronze Award winners, and these young people have no children and tons of time and amazing energy, so I thought for sure there was no way I would get it. So when they called my name, I was shocked.”
Anderson, a 30-year-old mother of two, was named a New Century Scholar by Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for two-year colleges. Anderson will represent Oklahoma at the opening ceremonies of the American Association of Community Colleges Convention next month in San Francisco.
“We are certainly proud of Stephanie being named as the New Century Scholar for our state,” said Connors President Dr. Tim Faltyn in a media release.
Anderson will receive a $2,000 scholarship and will be featured in the Community College Times and Community College Journal.
Gary Davidson, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges also said he was proud of Anderson’s accomplishments.
“We believe she is an outstanding representative for our state,” Davidson said.
Anderson earned an associate degree in biological science from Connors State College last year.
“I had planned to go to med school, but life happened,” Anderson said.
A native of Bakersfield, Calif., Anderson moved to Checotah three years ago to be with her father. Her two children attend Checotah Public Schools.
“I never miss a practice or a wrestling match,” Anderson said, adding that her 8-year-old son placed fifth in his division at a state wrestling competition.
Anderson takes a full 12-hour course load in Connors’ nursing program and works up to 22 hours a week in CSC’s Veterans’ Services Office at the Muskogee west campus.
CSC West Campus Coordinator Mike Jackson said Anderson is very deserving of the honor.
“She goes beyond meeting the needs of the veterans,” Jackson said, adding that Anderson shows a lot of empathy with those she helps.
Anderson said she seeks to help veterans because “I’m a veteran, too.”
“I was a Marine, so I really want to go back and work with veterans,” she said. “I know they can work with someone who has empathy with them.”
In an essay for the New Century Scholar competition, Anderson called working with veterans her “most significant endeavor.”
She particularly recalled helping a veteran through the Upward Bound program.
“He was homeless and his backpack was stolen, so when he came in he wasn’t sure what to do,” she said. “He had no idea how to get VA benefits. The VA had a hard time getting an ID.”
Anderson said she was able to help him go through the paperwork for housing and financial aid.
“That veteran graduated with honors and is now working on his bachelor’s degree,” she said.
Connors honor student Linda McLaughlin also earned All-USA Academic Team honors after being nominated by Faltyn.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee phoenix.com.