National, regional academic awards abound for Central Arizona College students

April 7, 2009

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – Pick up the April 6 edition of USA Today and inside you will find a picture of Kelly Lintecum and the names Sarah Contreras and Christine Smith – three Central Arizona College students who are now among the nation’s community college elite.

When students have access to quality higher education, the resulting academic success and community engagement is amazing.

The name Central Arizona College was splashed all over the national publication which unveiled its 2009 All-USA Community College Academic Team across the United States on Monday.

Nearly 1,450 students from 800 community colleges in 49 states and Guam were nominated for the honors.

Lintecum was one of just 20 students selected for the All-USA Community College Academic Team and one of two chosen from the state of Arizona.

She received a $2,500 scholarship for her award and had an opportunity to be the guest student speaker during the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) on April 6 in Phoenix.

The USA Today All-USA Academic Team was created in 1991 with the awards program administered by Phi Theta Kappa – the national honor society for community colleges.

Lintecum also was the recipient of a 2009 Guistwhite Scholarship worth $5,000 toward completing her four-year degree.

A rare accomplishment for any community college, Central Arizona College’s Superstition Mountain Campus now boasts back-to-back Guistwhite Scholarship winners after Lyndee Goetz of Apache Junction received the award last year.

Contreras and Smith were picked for the 2009 Coca-Cola All-State Academic Team, with Contreras being name a finalist and Smith receiving Silver Scholars honors. Smith gets a $1,250 scholarship and Contreras landed a $1,000 check to help cover educational expenses.

Lintecum also picked up a scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation when she was named a New Century Scholar. As the top scoring community college student in the state of Arizona, she will receive a $2,000 stipend to go along with her numerous other awards.

The national honors for all three students occurred after being named to the All-Arizona Academic First Team on Feb. 19 during a recognition ceremony in Tempe, Ariz.

Phi Theta Kappa, USA Today, community college presidents, and community college state associations co-sponsor the All-State Academic Team recognition programs around the country.

Students nominated to the All-USA Academic Team are automatically named to the All-State Academic Team. Ranking on the All-State team is determined by the student's score in the national competition.

All-Arizona Academic Team members receive 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.

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

In addition to Lintecum, Smith and Contreras, Central Arizona College’s Michael Evertsen was named to the All-Arizona Academic Third Team.

In all, four Central Arizona College students were named All-Arizona Academic - three First Team members and one Third Team selection. The Superstition Mountain and Signal Peak campuses each had two representatives.

Sarah Contreras – 1st Team (Superstition Mountain Campus)

A resident of Apache Junction, Ariz., Contreras is a 27-year-old student at Central Arizona College’s Superstition Mountain Campus working toward her associate of science degree. She currently has a 4.00 grade point average.

Contreras has a definite plan in place for her future – attend Arizona State University to major in biology and kinesiology before eventually working on her doctorate degree at the University of New Mexico in physical therapy.

“I would like to thank Pamela, Flora, my husband John, and everyone who understood when I said that I needed to do my homework,” Contreras said, adding a quote from Marilyn Monroe. “Remember that well-behaved women rarely make history.”

Contreras has presented at the Western Regional Conference, published in Scribendi - a publication of art and literature sponsored by the Western Regional Honors Council - and attended Central Arizona College as an Honors Student with an Honors Scholarship.

Michael Evertsen – 3rd Team (Signal Peak Campus)

A native Forest City, Pa., and graduate of St. Rose Academy in Mayfield, Pa., the Northeastern Pennsylvania transplant has built a 3.71 grade point average while majoring in accounting at Central Arizona College. He will pursue his four-year degree at the University of Arizona.

Evertsen has participated in numerous activities at Central Arizona College, including the TRiO and Honors programs, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Cactus – CAC’s school newspaper.

He has landed on the Dean’s List and earned both Honors and Faculty Merit scholarships during his collegiate career.

“My time at CAC has taught me so much,” he said. “In participating in extracurricular activities such as the Honors Program and TRiO, I have learned public speaking and leadership skills. I have no doubt that my experiences at CAC will help me later on in life.”

Kelly Lintecum - 1st Team (Superstition Mountain Campus)

A native of Tempe, Ariz. Lintecum is a 28-year-old single mom who owns a 4.00 grade point average en route to an associate of science degree at Central Arizona College.

She is transferring to Arizona State University and will major in molecular biology.

Lintecum has become as part of the Superstition Mountain Campus landscape as the landmark from which the location derives its name.

She has served in numerous leadership roles, including as an officer in Student Leadership, vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, president of the Artful Dodgers club, and as a member of the Chautauqua Steering Committee.

“I would not trade my time here at Central Arizona College for anything,” Lintecum said. “In the last two years I have found who I am and who I desire to be. My family and friends have supported me and have given me the opportunity to pursue my dreams.”

In addition to her leadership roles, Lintecum’s community service has featured numerous activities in Apache Junction and around the Superstition Mountain Campus.

She has participated and helped organize the Relay for Life, the Better World Books Drive, a Rock-n-Roll Paint-a-Thon and the Community Association Against Family Abuse Personal Hygiene Drive. She has been instrumental in the Play Pump Fundraiser helping bring clean water to poor areas of Africa, participated in the Phi Theta Kappa Adopt A Highway program, and helped serve in the campus-wide Holiday Dinner program.

Her outstanding academic credentials and community participation has resulted in more honors and recognition than a one-page resume could hold.

She has served as the executive director of Student Leadership at the Superstition Mountain Campus, presented at the Western Regional Conference, is a distinguished member of Phi Theta Kappa, and has graduated from the CAC Honors program.

Lintecum received the Outstanding Honors Student Award in 2008, was selected to attend the Student Public Policy Forum in Washington, D.C., and presented at the Chautauqua Academic Symposium on the Central Arizona College Campus.

She served as a student delegate at the Pinal County Town Hall, an Honors Ambassador, and acted as the student representative to the Advisory Board for the College Governing Board.

Christine Smith – 1st Team (Signal Peak Campus)

A native of Reno, Nev., who attends the Signal Peak Campus, Smith is a 39-year-old communications major with a 3.68 grade point average who wants to become a speechwriter. She will transfer to the University of Arizona when she completes her two-year degree at CAC.

Smith has been outstanding academically and active in the campus community. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and an Honors Ambassador, participates on the Chautauqua Steering Committee, and has contributed to the Saguaro Speaks Anthology.

Her honors include Dean’s List, Honors Scholarship, Faculty Scholarship and Distinguished Chapter President.

“As president of Phi Theta Kappa, I have enhanced my leadership and group communication skills,” Smith said of her opportunity. “I also look for any volunteer activities, either on campus or off campus, which will assist me in becoming a well-rounded individual.”


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