NJC students honored for academic excellence and exemplary leadership

Rising Stars, PTK All-Colorado Academic Team and Inclusive Excellence Champion recognized.

By CALLIE JONES | | Sterling Journal-Advocate
April 16, 2021 at 11:49 a.m.

April 16, 2021

Several Northeastern Junior College students were recently recognized at the state level for their academic accomplishments and exemplary leadership.

Rising Star Award

Sydney Crites and Kirsten Wood were selected as the recipients of the Rising Star Award by the Colorado Community College System and the State Student Advisory Council.

The Rising Star Award is bestowed upon community college students who exhibit a high level of leadership and involvement in student activities, along with maintaining a 3.0 grade point average. Crites and Wood have shown initiative both inside and outside of the classroom to make Northeastern a more positive and inviting campus.

Sydney Crites is a chemical engineering student from Brighton, Colo., and is a stand-out athlete on the NJC volleyball team. Some of Crites’ interests include volleyball, music, movies, bowling, putt-putt golfing and card games. She also loves coffee and spending time with her family and friends.

Alongside being a very busy volleyball player, Crites is also the Associated Student Government First Vice President and a work-study for Residence Life on campus. Crites’ future plans include transferring to a four-year university to receive her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with the possibility of going into pharmaceuticals. Crites would also love to continue playing volleyball after she transfers.

Kirsten Wood is an agriculture business student from Weldona, Colo., where she grew up working on her family ranch. In high school, she played volleyball, basketball, ran track, was involved in FFA, FBLA, Student Council, and was a 4-H member. Wood is currently involved in the NJC ranch horse team, a member of NJC Collegiate Farm Bureau, and the President of the Aggies Club on campus.

Her greatest interest is showing her horse in ranch horse versatility or reined cow-horse in various competitions and associations. In her free time, Wood enjoys riding her horses, Em and Chandler, and working with kids from her local 4-H chapter.

Following graduation from NJC this spring, Wood plans on transferring to West Texas A&M University to obtain her bachelor’s degree in ag business. Her career goals include finding a job in the ag industry, preferably in an ag credit setting and returning to her family ranch.

Wood is also the recipient of the Coca-Cola Foundation $2500 Transfer Scholarship.

PTK All-Colorado Academic Team

NJC also had three students selected to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Colorado Team – Wood, Ashlee Napowsa and Ethan Richmond.

Ashlee Napowsa is a nursing student from Denver, Colo., who graduated from Alameda High School. Napowsa is actively involved in Phi Theta Kappa at Northeastern and volunteers in the community. Her interests are currently living and breathing nursing school, working very hard to complete her degree and achieve her career goals, as well as camping anywhere in Colorado where there are hookups for her camper.

Napowsa will be graduating in May with her associate degree in nursing with the future goal of becoming an emergency room nurse.

Ethan Richmond is from Hays, Kan., and is very active in the Fire Science Department here at NJC. He recently was sworn in as a member of the inaugural class of reserve firefighters for the Sterling Fire Department.

His interests include writing, reading, drawing and traveling. In his spare time, when he is not volunteering, Richmond likes to listen to podcasts and hang out or travel with his friends. Richmond also likes to hike, fish, shoot firearms and hunt – basically anything and everything he can do outdoors.

After his graduation from Northeastern, Richmond’s career goals focus on jumping into the workforce by getting a permanent position at the fire department or working for a wildland fire team.

To qualify for the All-Colorado Academic Team the student must belong to their college’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. The recipients are chosen by their respective college for their academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership and service beyond the classroom.

PTK is the largest and most prestigious honor society for two-year students in the world. To be eligible to belong to the PTK honor society, students must complete at least 12 hours of associate degree coursework and earn a minimum 3.5 grade point average.

Inclusive Excellence Champion Award

Ananisia Gallegos was selected as the recipient of the Inclusive Excellence Champion Award by the Colorado Community College System and the State Student Advisory Council.  This award recognizes students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on their campus. The students selected to receive this award may be involved in supporting or creating diversity activities and services; working to address issues of inequity; expanding the scope of inclusivity on campus; and/or demonstrating advocacy for social justice and intercultural awareness.

Ananisia Gallegos is a Sterling, Colo., native and has enjoyed attending Northeastern in her hometown. Some of Gallegos’ interests include reading, exercising, and singing. Her future plans include continuing her education at Regis University as a pre-med major to ultimately obtain her doctorate of physical therapy.

In her spare time, she likes to listen to music, run, do yoga, exercise, and play soccer.

As a first-generation Hispanic student, she has demonstrated leadership through her multiple club organizations, including Mi Familia and Phi Theta Kappa. She has demonstrated great resilience through navigating COVID-19 while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and two part-time jobs. Gallegos is very family-oriented and helps care for her infant niece. She is the epitome of an active, diverse student on Northeastern’s campus.

All honorees were recognized in a virtual awards ceremony on Wednesday and received personalized award packages which contained a medallion, certificate, and backpack made possible through sponsorship from the Credit Union of Colorado, and support from SSAC student leaders.

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