Liberal Brown and Marivell Mendoza

Kansas will salute the top community college scholars for their academic accomplishments in an awards ceremony Thursday, Feb. 14 in Topeka, including two from Seward County Community College/Area Technical School in Liberal, Kansas.
Representing SCCC/ATS are Marivell Mendoza and Liberty Brown, both students enrolled in the SCCC/ATS Nursing Program.

Mendoza of Ulysses is in the Nursing Program at SCCC/ATS and is a mother of three boys. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society, and concert choir and is treasurer for the Student Nurses Association and president of the STEM Pathways club, an office she has held for two years. While attending SCCC/ATS, she has had a 3.95 GPA.
In High school she said she made some stupid decisions and dropped out just two months from graduation.
“I was not failing any of my classes,” Mendoza said. “I had always been a student on the honor roll. I just was young and naive and thought I knew what I was doing. I regret it very much that I did not graduate with the class of 2000.” She did return to school through the Ulysses Community Learning Center in 2001 to get her diploma. Although she loved being a waitress for about 14 years at Alejandro's Mexican Restaurant, there are no benefits, such as insurance and retirement. She has worked as a Certified Nurse Aide, Certified Medication Aide and Restorative Therapy Aide and has worked in a nursing home. Mendoza will now graduate in May with a degree in Nursing.
“All the classes I have taken have been worthy endeavors. If it wasn't for my being hard on myself and only wanting the best outcome from all my classes, I wouldn't be where I am today.” Since attending SCCC/ATS, she said she has been offered various scholarships because of her outstanding academics and campus involvement.
"It is a privilege to be nominated as an All-Kansas Scholar for SCCC/ATS,” Mendoza said. “So many students to choose from and only two individuals get chosen. It’s like I was a needle in the haystack and I was picked. All my hard work in my academics paid off. Life is Good, we must push ourselves to our academic limits (all limits actually) and good things WILL happen.”
She said people need to apply themselves to the fullest—“it will all come in time and everything we do will pay off in the end.”
Brown was born in Guymon, Okla. and raised in Liberal by her mother, along with her two older brothers and two younger sisters. As soon as she was old enough to work, she had an afterschool job at a local pharmacy. Once she graduated from Liberal High School in 2003 she had her oldest daughter. Instead of attending college right after high school, she took time off to have a family and spend time with her three children. She became a Certified Nurse Aide and Certified Medication Aide and has worked in hospitals and nursing homes.
Brown said she always wanted a career in the health-care field, something that runs in her family. Although she loved her job as a CNA/CMA, she said she decided that it was time to think about a career, start accepting more responsibility and to be a positive role model for her kids. She will graduate in May a degree in nursing and plans to continue her education after she gains more experience as a nurse.
“Right now I am focused on passing the nursing program and enjoying my school experience,” Brown said. “It is a challenge raising my children, attending college and working part-time, but I love every minute of it.”
She said she loves to listen to music, read, work out and take care of her family. She is engaged and hopes to be married after she finishes school.
Representing the 19 Kansas Community Colleges, these scholars have been named to the 2013 All-Kansas Academic Team, sponsored by the international headquarters of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society, the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees and the Kansas Council of Community College Presidents and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.
Each is also a nominee for the 2013 All-USA Academic Team, sponsored by USA Today, Phi Theta Kappa and the American Association of Community Colleges.
Phi Theta Kappa is the honor society for students attending community and two-year colleges. Membership is based on high grade point averages and other criteria, with members focusing on scholastic achievement and service to community and campus.
Since 1991, Phi Theta Kappa, USA Today and the American Association of Community Colleges have sponsored the national All-USA Academic Team program. The Kansas program is an affiliate, and the Kansas students are all nominees for the national honor.
Each student will receive a proclamation issued by the governor of Kansas, an educational stipend, and an academic medallion.
About 500 U.S. community college students will compete for places on the first, second and third national teams. First team members each receive $2,500 stipends, and will be featured in USA Today along with second and third team members. Team members are also presented with medallions
Among Kansans selected for national honors since the annual recognition program began are Donna Shank, SCCC/ATS first team in 1995 and Brandon Sutton, SCCC/ATS second team in 1996.