Statewide, students receive “ceremony in a box” as part of virtual event sponsored by Credit Union of Colorado.  

With spring events canceled due to COVID-19, the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), in partnership with student leaders from the State Student Advisory Council (SSAC), briefly postponed its April 2020 Student Excellence Awards Ceremony while staff came up with a creative, virtual event that was held in early May. Through sponsorship from the Credit Union of Colorado, CCCS staff were also able to organize and deliver over eighty packages directly to student awardees that included a medallion, certificate, and backpack full of goodies.   

“Though we were not able to gather in person this spring, our commitment to honor students’ achievements did not waiver,” said Joe Garcia, CCCS chancellor. “Nothing should eclipse the feelings of well-earned pride from our student awardees, and I am proud of the efforts that went into creating this meaningful and important virtual celebration.”

This year, 84 students from CCCS’s 13 colleges and two students from Aims Community College were chosen by their respective institutions for the 2020 Student Excellence Awards. Three award categories recognized and honored students for their academic accomplishments, exemplary leadership, and commitment to inclusive excellence:

  • The Phi Theta Kappa All-Colorado Academic Team award specifically recognizes the academic accomplishments of high-achieving student members of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society from across the state.
  • The Rising Star Award, sponsored by SSAC, recognizes students who have increased the level and quality of student engagement on their college campus.
  • The Inclusive Excellence Champions Award, also sponsored by SSAC, recognizes students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on their college campus.

This year’s Student Excellence honorees have shown true grit and determination in not only their education but also in positively shaping their community.
- Dr. Ryan Ross, CCCS associate vice chancellor for student affairs, equity, and inclusion
From mentoring children and young adults to spending countless hours as volunteers for various campus and community organizations, this dynamic group of students has demonstrated being reliable, professional, and having deep-rooted passion for helping others. Many of the awardees expressed aspirations to continue their advocacy work and interests in pursuing careers that will help heal and empower communities in fields such as health care, social services, criminal justice, and education.

“This year’s Student Excellence honorees have shown true grit and determination in not only their education but also in positively shaping their community,” said Dr. Ryan Ross, CCCS associate vice chancellor for student affairs, equity, and inclusion. “It is these life experiences that will serve them well throughout the rest of their college journey and beyond.”


Click here to view the 2020 Virtual Student Excellence Awards presentation and honorees.


2020 CCCS Virtual Student Excellence Awards Honoree List by College:

Arapahoe Community College   

  • Josephine Thibodeau
  • Cara Allen
  • Tianna Cox-Anderson
  • Jody Romero
  • Caleb Christenson
  • Kim Johnson

Colorado Northwestern Community College                     

  • Adam Cooley
  • Robert Pappert
  • Rebekkah Watson
  • Samantha Lares
  • Jose Salazar Rentieria

Community College of Aurora                         

  • Autumn Conner
  • Billy Manzanares
  • Lian Van Bawi Sang
  • Hamza Ahmed
  • Brandon Lowry

Community College of Denver

  • Emanuel Walker
  • Brian Ethier
  • Lena Lund
  • Kelly Shanley
  • Teagan Divel

Front Range Community College    

  • David Olguin
  • Sonya Almaraz Tatum
  • Joseph Zamora
  • Lilly Gonzalez
  • Victoria Hughes
  • Erika Lemus
  • Ashton Melton
  • Hau Nguyen
  • Maya Peterson
  • Julia Petteway
  • Phuong Phan
  • Kyle Stone
  • Maddie Womack
  • Sydney Ackman
  • Leah Dory
  • Marty Hanscome

Lamar Community College  

  • Kristine May
  • Musa Muhammed
  • Sarah Walsh
  • Jayci Westphal
  • Frieda De La Paz Espinoza
  • Musa Muhammed

Morgan Community College  

  • Ayan Husein
  • Matthew Bratrsovsky
  • Travis Morgan
  • Kayla Pierce
  • Jacob Ansbach
  • Amy Carrillo

Northeastern Junior College      

  • Cora Johnson
  • Chelsea “Amber” Owens
  • Monika Schmidt
  • Garrett Cockroft
  • Fallon Goemmer

Otero Junior College            

  • McKensie Avens
  • Mallory Morgan
  • Kayla Kascak
  • Zach Thomas

Pikes Peak Community College                                      

  • Tiara Reid
  • Grace Abbett
  • Madison Klosterman
  • Kelsey Lippincott
  • Mariah Mayhugh
  • Joseph Mezzofante
  • Mohamed BenMajed
  • Andre “Dre” Guy

Pueblo Community College                               

  • Michael Montoya
  • Stephen Alvarado
  • Erica Lagrue
  • Andrea Sperry
  • Cassandra Stewart
  • Patty Almestica-Huelst
  • Rebecca “Becca” Moser

Red Rocks Community College                         

  • Dina F. Gilmore
  • Michaela Howard
  • Rachel Smith
  • Connor Johnson
  • Rachel Smith

Trinidad State Junior College                            

  • Jaden Miller
  • Gabriela Peraza
  • Chance Wiening
  • Destiny Calderon-Ruiz
  • Jaymie Coffman

Aims Community College

  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Naas
  • Chloe Parsons


About the Colorado Community College System

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, serving 137,000 students annually at 13 colleges and 39 locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE).

About the Credit Union of Colorado

The Credit Union of Colorado has more than 80 years of experience serving members of the Colorado community. The Credit Union of Colorado supports local businesses, creates Colorado jobs, and is an important source of financial stability in the state economy. Today, more than 130,000 people, from all walks of life, enjoy the benefits of membership in the credit union that is worth over $1.53 billion in assets.

About the State Student Advisory Council

The (SSAC) is a group of elected student representatives from each of the 13 CCCS colleges that work to advocate for the growth and success of all CCCS students. SSAC has annually partnered with CCCS to host and sponsor a student award and recognition event.