Four MCC students picked for All-AZ team

Four Mesa Community College (MCC) students were awarded up than $7,000 each in scholarship toward attending a four-year university. The award is part of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honors program that recognizes high achieving students in two-year colleges.

Christopher Hunt and Rachael Mangini were chosen from the students at the Southern and Dobson campus while Zachary Zapata and Victoria Johnson from the Red Mountain campus were selected from among thousands of submissions nationally.

All four students were handpicked by Phi Theta Kappa to be apart of the First Team, the first time that MCC students have pulled off this feat since 2003.

Hunt, who is also the chapter president of MCC’s PTK, also received a $5,000 scholarship each from the National Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for being named as a member of the All-USA Academic Team. He was among the more than 150 students in the state who applied for the award.

Hunt will be continuing his education at Northern Arizona University and focusing his studies on education, hoping to becoming a principal, serving on a school board or being a superintendent.

“I joined [PTK] because I wanted a family. I wanted a place where I belonged to, that I could hold close. That I had there for the years I’m at MCC and I’ve got that and so much more,” Hunt said.

Every year PTK organizes the All-USA Academic Team. The application to be considered for the teams are due in December of the year before, but MCC goes a step further to help support MCC students succeed. In August, every MCC student is eligible to enter and be considered to be apart of the All-MCC team.

Once selected, those 13-20 students chosen send in their resumes and applications to the committees choosing students to be All-Arizona Academic Team members.

Phi Theta Kappa is an international honors program for two-year colleges and academic institutions. Unlike a club, PTK focuses on providing students opportunities for scholarships, it also supports and encourages the participation of public service.

“I think that it just shows the caliber of our students and the caliber of our faculty and college,” Phi Theta Kappa advisor Duane Oakes said.

Through PTK, students are exposed to the thousands of dollars in scholarships available to support them as they transfer to a university. The MCC Phi Theta Kappa chapter has over 450 members.

Since the founding of the MCC PTK chapter in 1966, eight students have been chosen to be in the All-USA Academic Team–the national program.

“[Our students] don’t realize that there is good scholarship opportunities in these types of programs,” Oakes said. “But [the students] have to do the right things. They have to do the activities, they have to be involved in leadership and they have to keep up their grades.”

To be considered for an All-Arizona Team students must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, also be in good academic standing, working on an associate degree, demonstrate leadership, and be involved on campus and/or volunteer in their community.

These are a local level scholarship that identifies the best and most dedicated students in the state. Each school is allowed to nominate two students from each of their campuses, and all four students nominated by MCC were accepted in the academic team.

Rachael Mangini is one of the twelve added to the First Team. Mangini plans to transfer to NAU and intern at a nonprofit organization to gain experience in the field. Her goal is to run a nonprofit committed to improving the lives of lower socioeconomic communities.

“It’s surreal, it’s incredible, it’s awesome to have been successful in being selected out of all of the students and all of the members of Phi Theta Kappa.To be one of the two students, it is in a honor. It’s a privilege,” Mangini said. “As a student who receives financial aid and has to make ends meet, [the scholarship] is taking a huge load off of my shoulders and a weight off my mind so I my focus can be more on my education and getting my bachelors.”

These scholarships are a yearly award service, that means all MCC students who fulfill the requirements can apply for the scholarship.

The applications for the 2020 All-MCC team are available now to anyone who is interested in applying. Oakes is hoping for at least 30 application for consideration from any MCC student who has a great GPA, but also is helpful and involved in the community around them.

“I just wish we could help students see the value in [Phi Theta Kappa] and I think [these students] brings validation for the hard work. They’ve spent hours doing amazing things,” Oakes said. “But more importantly I hope to empower more students to go out and do something cause there are so many awesome things people can do.”

About Author

Sydney Ritter is the former Managing Editor at the Mesa Legend and a communications major at Arizona State University. She has been working for the Legend since 2016 as a reporter before taking over as News Editor and has spent her last two years as the Managing Editor.