Thomas Nelson Community College’s Jarel White has been named a 2021 Coca-Cola Academic Team Silver Scholar and will receive a $1,250 scholarship.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation sponsors the Coca-Cola Academic Team program by recognizing 50 Gold, 50 Silver and, 50 Bronze Scholars with nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually. Each scholar also receives a commemorative medallion. Students are nominated for the academic team by their college administrators and selection is based on academic achievement, leadership, and engagement in college and community service.
Being selected for the Coca-Cola Academic Team Silver Scholar was a pleasant surprise for White, who earned an associate degree in social science from Thomas Nelson last December having graduated from Williamsburg’s Lafayette High School in 2019.
“It caught me completely off guard because I’d already accepted that I didn’t make the all-academic team and had moved on the next thing … focusing on the TRiO scholarship and other opportunities,” said the Phi Theta Kappa member. It’s truly an honor to be considered for this prestigious award alongside other outstanding community college students across the nation.”
The academic team scholars will be recognized in local and statewide ceremonies as well as internationally during Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention, PTK Catalyst, an April 8-10 virtual event.
“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa and make it possible for deserving students to achieve their educational goals.”
Phi Theta Kappa officials believe scholarships like this are integral to student success as they strive to reach their goals.
“We thank the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation for recognizing these student leaders and for investing in their futures,” said Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, president and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa.
Biding his time before attending a four-year school this fall, White is now pursuing a certificate in film studies from New York University online through its Film and Television Industry Essentials program. He has applied to several Ivy League schools and aspires to become a director, screenwriter, editor, and, ultimately own a production company. Through film, he wants to tell stories of the underprivileged and disenfranchised in the hopes of making a difference having experienced issues such as homelessness firsthand.
Although White focused heavily on excelling in the classroom while at Thomas Nelson, he also made time for student life. He served as Student Student Government Association vice president at the Historic Triangle campus in Williamsburg and was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, TRiO, and College’s investment club. He also worked with the College's political science program head to develop a student stock market game.
This latest honor is another feather in White’s cap. He is also among semifinalists for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke scholarship this year. More than 1,500 students at two-year institutions apply each year and roughly 500 become semifinalists. Fifty finalists, who will receive scholarships of up to $40,000 a year, will be announced in April.
“This whole year despite COVID-19 raging on the world, I’ve been blessed. When I think about the people who have contracted it and people like my mother, healthcare workers, teachers, and other essential workers, who are on the front lines working every day while having to be concerned about contracting COVID-19, I don’t take blessings lightly,” he said.
White said his influences are too numerous to count but he gives his mother, who sacrificed a lot and overcame many obstacles, much of the credit. He also appreciates the “amazing support system of faculty, advisors and staff members” at Thomas Nelson for helping on his path to success.
Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The organization includes more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations, with approximately 240,000 active members in the nation’s colleges. Learn more at ptk.org.