Northeast State student Paul Taylor has been named a 2016 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar. He will be recognized as Gold Scholar in Chicago on April 12 during the American Association of Community Colleges Convention.
Taylor is an Honors student and member of the President’s List with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. He served as a mentor this year in the Tennessee Promise program.
“My original goal was to earn my associate degree in Public Relations,” said Taylor. “But I realized how much I enjoyed earning so I started exploring what else interested me.”
Thanks to that intellectual curiosity, he will graduate this spring with three associate degrees in Public Relations/Advertising, Speech Communication, and Sociology. Taylor is a fixture in academic programs and volunteer work around campus. He is student president of C.L.A.S.S., a member of the Northeast State Debate Team, and a member of Alpha Iota Chi. He is also student president of Volunteer Northeast State which organizes volunteer opportunities for students throughout the year. He plans to enroll at East Tennessee State University this fall.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation sponsors the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team program by recognizing 50 Gold, 50 Silver and 50 Bronze Scholars, and providing nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually. Each Gold Scholar receives a $1,500 scholarship and a special medallion.
Taylor moved to the area from upstate New York. He heard wide praise about Northeast State and felt encouraged to enroll. Taylor said non-traditional students bring a real world perspective into the college classroom. Those experiences often motivate their enrollment in college and a new career path.
“A community college is a great place to learn a cross-section of skills and abilities from people older than you and younger than you,” said Taylor. “We’ve already been out there working in the job market. We already know what we don’t want to do.”
Taylor said Northeast State gave him the opportunity to explore his options and expand his horizons. He said college students should be proactive in finding their skills and putting them to use with what they are passionate about doing.
“Don’t get caught in the college mentality of simply going to class and reading books,” said Taylor. “What you think you want to do might not be what you want once you immerse yourself in the subject.”
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society administers the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program and recognizes Coca-Cola Community College scholars during All-State Community College Academic Team Recognition ceremonies held in 38 states. Student scholars also receive recognition locally during ceremonies held on campus and internationally for those who are able to attend Phi Theta Kappa’s Annual Convention.
“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said J. Mark Davis, President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa and make it possible for deserving students to achieve their educational goals.”
Phi Theta Kappa, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, U.S. territorial possessions and eight sovereign nations. More than 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.
Taylor’s ultimate goal is to earn a graduate degree and return to Northeast State as an instructor in Speech Communication. Given his accomplishments and sizable contributions made as a student, the College would certainly welcome him back.
“My experience at Northeast State has been wonderful,” he said. “It started my direction toward a whole different chapter of my life.”