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NOVA students named to PTK Top Ten and All-Virginia Academic Team

PTK All-Virginia Academic Team honorees
NOVA students were named as PTK All-Virginia Academic Team honorees during the organization’s annual awards ceremony. Pictured from left to right: Bruce Damian, Amina Amisi, Dr. Melvyn Schiavelli, NOVA executive vice-president for academic and student services, Yasmin Bekri, Harrison Wray, Toyam Khatri, Vincent Escobar and Abigail Allen (Top Ten recipient). Not pictured: Michelle Plaisted Zink, Julia Mercado, Ana Carolina Dib Dias and Kandis Aleshia Stewart.

Northern Virginia Community College student Abigail Allen was selected as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Top Ten All-Virginia Academic Team. She received the award at a ceremony and luncheon held April 20 at the Double Tree by Hilton in Richmond.

Allen will graduate summa cum laude from NOVA with an associate degree in general studies. She was the recipient of the 2014 NOVA Honors Program Scholarship – a $10,000 scholarship offered to assist students with the cost of a NOVA degree. As a student at the Woodbridge Campus, Allen was involved with several campus organizations such as NOVA Honors Club, president of the NOVA-Woodbridge PTK chapter and vice-president of the Criminal Justice Club. She also tutored NOVA students in a number of academic subjects.

Ten additional NOVA students were named PTK All-Virginia Academic Team honorees at the awards ceremony. Amina Amisi, Michelle Plaisted Zink, Yasmin Bekri, Bruce Damian, Vincent Escobar, Harrison Wray, Julia Mercado, Ana Carolina Dib Dias, Kandis Aleshia Stewart and Toyam Khatri were recognized for their commitment to academic excellence and public service.

PTK’s All-Virginia Academic Team is a statewide competition. Nominees are required to have a minimum 3.5 GPA and a record of community service within their own service area.  PTK winners have impressive academic and community service records, including holding leadership positions and participating in organizations at the college level and within the community. Students must also submit an essay that highlights their educational and professional experiences, goals and personal obstacles. Only 10 students statewide are selected from the pool of All-Virginia Academic Team honorees to receive the distinction as a PTK Top-Ten All-Virginia Academic Team recipient.  

“I am extremely honored to have been selected as a PTK Top Ten All-Virginia Team member, and I still cannot believe that I was chosen over all of the incredible PTK members that we have at NOVA,” Allen said. “It feels nice to be recognized for the work that PTK does. I would like to thank my fellow officers and our incredible advisor Theana Kastens for all of her hard work over the years.” 

With a 4.0 GPA, Allen plans to transfer to George Mason University to complete a bachelor of science degree in criminology, law and society. After completion of her degree, she plans to enroll into law school.  

Amisi will graduate in May from NOVA’s Medical Education Campus (MEC), summa cum laude, with two associate degrees—one in nursing and the other in general studies. She has a 3.8 GPA and will transfer to George Washington University to complete her bachelor and master’s degrees in nursing. After pursuing her studies to become a registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) in open heart surgery, she plans to pursue a doctorate in nursing.

Zink, also a student from the MEC, is the president of the Nursing Student Association and vice-president of the MEC chapter of PTK. She will graduate summa cum laude in May and plans to transfer to the University of Virginia to complete her bachelors in nursing, with future plans of obtaining her doctorate in nursing.  Zink is also an emergency department technician at Novant Prince William Hospital, with plans to transition as an emergency nurse.

Bekri, an engineering student at the Alexandria Campus, will graduate magna cum laude in May with a 3.7 GPA. As an international student from Ethiopia, she plans to transfer to Virginia Tech in the fall to pursue a bachelors in engineering. Bekri anticipates working with non-profit organizations in developing countries that focus on sustainable design and resources management.

Damian, a social science major at the Annandale Campus, has maintained a 4.0 GPA. With plans to pursue a career in law enforcement, he will graduate summa cum laude from NOVA in May, and transfer to either American University or the University of Virginia to complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Damian is an active volunteer with the Virginia State Police and owns his own lawn services company.

Escobar will graduate summa cum laude in May with an associate degree in liberal arts. He is the vice-president of community outreach for his PTK campus chapter. After finishing his studies at NOVA-Loudoun with a 4.0 GPA, he will transfer to George Mason University and major in government and international politics. Escobar hopes to continue his career by working with organizations that promote peaceful tactics for nations in conflict.

Wray, also a NOVA-Loudoun student, received the NOVA Honors Program Scholarship and will graduate summa cum laude in May with a 3.9 GPA. As a business major, Wray has been accepted at the University of Richmond, with plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance or management consulting. Wray is the president of the Loudoun Campus PTK chapter and a member of the Phi Beta Lambda Business Club.

Khatri will graduate magna cum laude in May with an associate degree in science. The Woodbridge Campus student has maintained a 3.5 GPA and will transfer to George Mason University to obtain a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in biopsychology. Khatri is the vice-president of the Woodbridge PTK chapter.

Allen was awarded a $500 check from the NVCC Educational Foundation for her earned distinction, along with a PTK Certificate of Recognition and medallion, which all of the 10 NOVA honorees received.  

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the oldest and largest honor society recognizing students pursuing two-year degrees. Phi Theta Kappa is made up of more than three million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in nine nations. Virginia is one of 38 states participating in the State Academic Teams project introduced in 1994 as a way to provide scholastic recognition to Phi Theta Kappa members while promoting excellence at two-year colleges.

Media Contact: Kristina Ogburn | 703.503.6338 | kogburn@nvcc.edu

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.