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Two from ACCC among Top Community College Students Honored by N.J. Council of County Colleges

May 13, 2009

Atlantic Cape Community College students Sheyla Ayala-Mantilla of Marmora and Nicole Schoenstein of Galloway were among 34 of New Jersey's best and brightest community college students honored by the N.J. Council of County Colleges at its 15th annual Phi Theta Kappa Day celebration May 11 in Trenton. Students were honored as members of the N.J. All-State Academic Team for PTK, the international honor society for community college students.

Ayala-Mantilla, 23, is a native of Columbia who came to the United States when she was 16. Despite not knowing English and experiencing much financial hardship, she was determined to attend college. She got a part-time job and diligently saved money. She eventually registered at Atlantic Cape's Cape May County Campus where she worked very hard to maintain a 4.0 GPA while pursuing an associate in science degree in economics, which she will receive at the upcoming spring commencement. She ultimately made the President's List and was invited to join PTK and Sigma Kappa Delta, the national English honor society. She went on to become the vice president and then president of the ACCC chapter of PTK. She also participated in charitable work for many agencies. She was recently voted by ACCC students to be their representative on the college's Board of Trustees.

Schoenstein, 22, will complete her associate in applied science degree in paralegal studies in May 2010. A former special education student who overcame severe depression, she currently maintains a 3.595 GPA, and has made the Dean's List three times. Despite being a busy mom of an infant son and caretaker for her boyfriend's ailing grandmother, she manages to juggle her duties as vice president of Phi Theta Kappa, active member of the Paralegal Studies Club and volunteer worker.

Each year, the N.J. Council of County Colleges hosts this program to honor the members of the New Jersey All-State Academic Team, sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa. The students toured the State House where they received a proclamation in their honor and attended a luncheon where they were awarded All-State Academic Team medals.

Phi Theta Kappa has recognized and encouraged scholarship among community college students for 89 years while promoting the academic integrity of the associate degree program. Students with cumulative grade point averages of 3.5 or higher and a minimum of 12 credits are invited to join Phi Theta Kappa.