2017 Students of Distinction Honored

(Updated: May 15, 2017)

Twenty students, who have distinguished themselves and are representative of the top scholars at Fullerton College, were honored at the annual Students of Distinction awards banquet on May 12.

Recipients were selected through a nomination process involving faculty, staff, and fellow students. This year, the scholarship awards were divided into 4 achievement categories: Academic, Personal, Service and Competitive to allow for a more equitable process in which students would choose the category to compete in, depending on their experience at Fullerton College.  Each category has its own selection committee, made up of: 1 Manager, 2 Faculty, 1 Classified Staff and 1 Student Representative.

Of the 20 students, Scott Begneski  and Russell Hillabrand were awarded “Distinguished Students of the Year” and were honored with an additional scholarship by District Management Association and the Emoto Scholarship.

Begneski overcame many obstacles before coming to Fullerton College in 2012 to find out he wanted to do in life. He started his college career by only taking a few classes, and it took a few years for him to find a major. He has been active in school activities starting with Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society. Thanks to his involvement in this and other clubs, it didn’t take long until he was highly involved in student government, first as Inter-Club Council president and now as the student trustee for Fullerton College. As ICC president, he helped to rewrite the Associated Students Constitution and helped the growth of club life and expansion of student events on campus. In his current role as student trustee, Begneski has participated in strategic conversations, represented Fullerton College students at district meetings, and supported undocumented students. He has done all of this while also serving in the Army Reserves for the past eight years. Begneski has plans to continuing his studies in civil engineering at the University of California, Irvine this fall.

Russell Hillabrand is from a rural town in California near Death Valley and will be transferring to Pomona College. In 2011, he moved to Fullerton on his own to continue his education at Fullerton College. The financial burden was difficult, which forced him to work full-time throughout the year. Originally, he was able to transfer to UC Irvine after his first two years at Fullerton. However, after his mother remarried, he lost all of his financial aid. As a result, he returned to Fullerton College in the spring of 2014 and has made the best of his situation. He has earned five associate degrees in philosophy, political science, geography, religious studies, and economics. He has also made an impact on the college through the Supplemental Instruction program as a mentor and an SI leader for philosophy and American government. He will be one of 11 transfer students to Pomona College, where he has received a full-ride scholarship. He plans to be a professor of comparative philosophy, as he wants to teach how world philosophies can help us overcome life’s many adversities.

The recipients of the 2017 Students of Distinction Award are:

Academic Achievement

Ian Kolaja

Nichola Le

Danielle Simko

Hanh Vo

Cody Yanna

Personal Achievement

Scott Begneski

Russell Hillabrand

Karen Rodas-Barrios

Suzanne Row

Aryiel Sanchez

Competitive Achievement

Alyssa Aguilar

Jennifer Nguyen

D’Angelo Ross

Nathan Trent

Marissa Vaccher

Service Achievement

Jarek Creason

Kassandra Flores

Jameson Hohbein

Olivia Levalley

Jason Yu

All 20 recipients will be graduating, transferring to a four-year university, or will be completing a certificate program by the end of summer. They will receive a scholarships provided by Schlinger Men & Women of Distinction Scholarship, FC Faculty Wives Scholarship, Associated Students, Janet & Henry Emoto Scholarship and many other personal donors.

Author: Fullerton College

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