Moraine Valley student named 2013 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholar

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Justina Pauplyte, a student at Moraine Valley Community College, has been named a 2013 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholar. The Orland Hills resident will receive a $1,000 scholarship and a special medallion from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, which sponsors the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team program.

Pauplyte was recognized for her accomplishment during a special reception and on stage at the Phi Theta Kappa Annual Convention in San Jose, California, on April 6. Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society administers the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program.

"I was very surprised to hear I won because I don't win often. This year, Phi Theta Kappa has changed me immensely. I've turned around. To be acknowledged and winning awards is a really awesome, accomplished feeling. I have a place in the world, and I have something to show for it," Pauplyte said.

Coca-Cola Bronze Scholars were selected based on scores earned in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition. A record 1,800 applications were submitted this year. Community colleges can submit only two nominations per campus for this award. An independent panel of judges considers outstanding academic rigor, grade point average, academic and leadership awards, and engagement in college and community service in the selection process.

Moraine Valley's Phi Theta Kappa advisor, Kim Golk, guided Pauplyte in completing the application, which included writing a few essays. Golk said there were a record number of applicants this year, and only 150 students win a medal. To her recollection, Pauplyte's bronze is the first medal a Moraine Valley student has won in the last eight years.

"To be honored with a bronze award is truly an honor and reflective of her dedication to her education," Golk said. "It was very exciting to see her win because winning a medal is very exclusive. There are maybe only eight winners from Illinois, so it's a big deal to win."