SCC Announces 2021 Student Educational Excellence Awards

Monday, May 17th, 2021

During the Spring 2021 semester, three students were nominated for state-level awards as part of the NC Community College System student awards. 

Dallas Herring Achievement Award

Keyshaun Newkirk was selected as the 2021 Dallas Herring Achievement Award nominee. The award was established in 2010 by the NCACCP to honor the late Dr. Dallas Herring, considered one of the founding fathers of community colleges in North Carolina.  The award is presented annually to a current or former student who best embodies Herring’s philosophy of “taking people where they are and carrying them as far as they can go. 

Newkirk graduated high school as an Early College student before enrolling at SCC full-time. A resident of Council, Newkirk has been resilient in his journey to graduation.

“One of the major obstacles I had to overcome in life is financial stability. Growing up in a single-parent household, I saw how relevant money was, and to survive you sometimes have to go without. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I can pay for my classes, books, food, gas, and other living expenses,” said Newkirk.

“I knew I wanted to go to college. With that in mind, I decided to start in the Early College program. This was a huge opportunity for me to save money but also a chance for me to begin taking college classes early and join the workforce faster.”

Newkirk enrolled in the Electrical Engineering Technology program in the hopes of becoming an Electrical Engineer in the future. “My uncles would let me tag along with them when they did electrical work. Through this connection, I became very interested in engineering.”

Newkirk is set to graduate with an Associate of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology in May 2021. 

Academic Excellence Award

One student from each of the 58 community colleges receives the Academic Excellence Awards.  Students must be currently enrolled, complete at least 12 semester hours in an associate degree program, and have a cumulative grade point average of no less than 3.25.  

Austin Fine is the 2021 Academic Excellence Award recipient at Southeastern Community College. Fine began his education at Southeastern Community College as a student-athlete on the Rams Baseball team. He has maintained a 4.0. GPA.

My experience at SCC has been nothing short of great. Since the day I started, I have been welcomed by staff that truly care about me and my peers – we are valued. Each teacher has been extremely helpful and took the time to make sure we understood everything, especially during the pandemic,” said Fine. “I have been fortunate enough to play baseball. This is where I have met friends that I consider brothers. I have served as an SCC Presidential Ambassador during my two years at the college and I was elected President during my last year. We helped with fundraising, represented the college at community events, and took part in a leadership conference. SCC has set me up for success. The college has given me a strong foundation that will carry me to my next step. I feel prepared, encouraged, and ready to transfer to a university to earn a Bachelor’s degree.”

Governor Robert W. Scott Leadership Award

Mackenzie Park is SCC’s 2021 nominee for the Governor Robert W. Scott Student Leadership Award. The award, sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents, was created in 2004 to recognize student leadership on a statewide level while also honoring Scott, one of the earliest supporters of the NC Community College System and its president from 1983 until 1994.  This is an award designed to highlight outstanding curriculum student leadership and service. 

Park is active on the SCC campus and enjoys supporting any opportunity to enhance college life for other students. She was a proud member of the US Army and knows the value of being a team player. Park credits SGA for discovering a sense of leadership when first attending SCC. She loved being able to work directly with faculty, staff, and students on matters that impacted SCC now and into the future.

“It’s rewarding to be able to see changes that SCC is going through and know that I can make even the smallest contribution,” says Park.

Park highlighted her leadership experiences at SCC in her essay nomination submission. “During my Presidency, I was able to forge a new partnership with a local food bank that helps supply our campus food pantry, so we can provide additional students in need with more food and household essentials. I have often felt like I haven’t done enough for SCC and my fellow students, there were so many events and activities I had in mind when I first started this position but considering how COVID-19 has impacted the community. I now see how minor those things are compared to being able to help students feed their families.”  

Park is a native of the Pacific Northwest and moved to Columbus County at the end of her high school years. Aside from being SGA President, she is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa with a 4.0 GPA. In 2020, she was selected as a Coca-Cola Military Leadership of Promise Scholar. Park will graduate in May with a degree in Criminal Studies with the hopes of transferring to a 4-year university.

Pictured, from top to bottom: Keyshaun Newkirk, Austin Fine, and Mackenzie Park

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