Olivia Orten earns prestigious New Century Scholar honor

Northeast State student Olivia Orten of Kingsport has been named a 2014 New Century Scholar – the only community college student in Tennessee to receive the honor.

The New Century Scholars Program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Phi Theta Kappa, and the American Association of Community Colleges.

The New Century Scholars program and All-USA Community College Academic Team, which is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group and presented by USA TODAY and Phi Theta Kappa, share a common application and together recognize outstanding community college students.

More than 1,700 students were nominated from more than 900 community colleges for recognition. Judges consider grades, leadership, activities and most importantly, how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom. A total of 51 students received the honor.

“I am very humbled,” Orten said. “I am thankful for my journey here at Northeast State, which has allowed me to receive this amazing award.”

Olivia Orten
Olivia Orten

Orten attributes much of her success to the College’s TRiO Student Support Services program, a federally funded program that provides tutoring, mentoring, and college transfer services to eligible college students.

“If it wasn’t for TRiO, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking about this honor,” Orten said. “TRiO has helped me tremendously with my growth and leadership skills, and allowed me participate in activities and things that were outside my comfort zone.”

Orten is a social work major with a 4.0 grade point average. After graduation, she plans to transfer to East Tennessee State University and pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Orten said she plans to return to Northeast State and become a TRiO transfer advisor.

Orten is TRiO CLuB president and Glee Club president. She is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the President’s Student Leadership Academy, and the Council for Leadership, Advocacy, and Student Success. She currently holds the Brock Services, Ltd., scholarship.

“I don’t think I’m better than any other student here – there are tons of students who are very good academically, but I think what set me apart was my involvement in activities here on campus,” Orten said. “All the opportunities allowed me to grow as a person, become more confident, and make a difference in the lives of other students.”

New Century Scholars are the highest scoring students in each state, plus one student from Canada and one additional student chosen from among one of the remaining seven sovereign nations where Phi Theta Kappa is represented internationally. Each scholar will receive a $2,000 scholarship and attend the American Association of College Presidents (AACC) Convention in Washington, D.C., on April 8.

In addition, Orten will be recognized during the Parade of Scholars at the Second General Session of the Phi Theta Kappa Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla., April 25 and at a special reception for Phi Theta Kappa Scholars later that same day.

In addition, Orten was recently named to the All-Tennessee Academic Team. The All-Tennessee Academic Team is comprised of students nominated by their colleges to be considered for the All-USA Academic Team, sponsored by USA Today and Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. Each of the state’s 13 community colleges selects two outstanding students to recognize for their academic achievement, leadership, and service to the community.

“We appreciate the support of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and The Coca-Cola Foundation to recognize the outstanding academic achievement and leadership accomplishments of these outstanding community college students,” said Dr. Rod Risly, Phi Theta Kappa’s executive director. “These scholarships provided by organizations like Coca-Cola make the goal of college completion possible – especially during these challenging economic times.”

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Miss., is the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 1,285 chapters on two-year and community college campuses around the world. Nearly three million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 135,000 students inducted annually.

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