Students recognized by Phi Theta Kappa | Four students named to All-New York Academic Team

Will Reed
Staff Writer

Four Hudson Valley students have been honored for their academic achievements, leadership and community service by being named to the USA Today Phi Theta Kappa All-New York Academic Team.

Jennifer Edwards, Melissa Kern, Inesa Pengu and Nathanael Savasta were recently named to the honor society. They will be recognized, along with members from other community colleges in the state, at a ceremony at the New York State Museum in Albany on March 6.

After 20 years of not being in school, Edwards, an early education major, was nervous sitting in a classroom again for the first time, but that her work ethic and inner drive gave her the ability to balance school and home life and led her to achieve this special honor, she said.

“With six busy children, there were times where I thought that I was insane to even try college at my age, and [I was] definitely considered throwing in the towel a few times, but I really do want to teach, and a degree is the path to do this,” Edwards said.

Edwards recommends the Writing and Research Center as a valuable tool for students. She is excited for the opportunity to celebrate her accomplishments at the ceremony in March.

Melissa Kern, a liberal arts and science: humanities and social science major, said she was nominated for the honor by her math professor, who was impressed by her success both in the classroom and in the Learning Assistance Center, where she helped fellow classmates.

Kern advises other students to stay dedicated, to take advantage of the resources available to them on campus and to manage their time well.
“I have a 4.0 GPA, in addition to being out of academia since 2006, when I graduated high school, and [I] am a wife and mother of two,” Kern said. “Time management is key, along with developing solid study habits and utilizing the LAC and science center for help.”

Kern was inspired by her children and hopes to pursue a degree in biotechnology, epidemiology and pathology, she said.

Engineering science major Inesa Pengu said she is proud and grateful to be acknowledged for the accomplishments that led to her acceptance into Phi Theta Kappa. She encourages every student to apply for the honor.

“I am sure each student has different qualifications that make [him or her] special, and I urge everyone to apply because you never know what you have to offer that makes you special,” Pengu said.

Pengu led a campaign that raised public awareness for the need of quality drinking water in some areas, which included water testing, adding to her qualifications for the honor. She looks forward to attending the ceremony at the NYS Museum and meeting other outstanding students, but says her work doesn’t end there.

“It is of great importance to not stop working once you’re honored, but instead use this honor to further your knowledge and raise your goal standards,” Pengu said.

Business Administration student Nathanael Savasta said he is grateful to all those who were involved in the process of selecting recipients, and he is very honored to receive the award. Besides being successful academically, Savasta is also very involved on campus, as a trustee on the Board of Trustees and as vice president of both the Investment and Entrepreneurs Clubs, in addition to his duties as Student Senate President.

Savasta aspires to constantly improve himself and also to better the lives around him, and he encourages students to do the same, he said.
“Make a difference, follow your passion and work hard,” he said.

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