Seven Selected to Participate in Achieving the Dream’s Community College Student Leadership Program

DREAM Scholars Will Delve into Community College Reform, Speak at Annual Conference

Silver Spring, MD (February 23, 2018) – Seven community college students from Achieving the Dream (ATD) Network colleges, including two Tribal colleges, will participate in ATD’s 2018 DREAM Scholars program to enhance their leadership, critical thinking, and networking skills. The program culminates in a presentation by the DREAM Scholars to the 2,300 attendees at ATD’s annual conference, DREAM, in Nashville on February 20-23, 2018.

In addition, ATD has awarded each DREAM Scholar a $1,000 scholarship, sponsored by the community college honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

“Both Achieving the Dream and Phi Theta Kappa recognize the power of students’ voices in strengthening our colleges and advancing student success,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “We’re grateful for our relationship with Phi Theta Kappa and for the opportunity to partner to support such amazing DREAM Scholars.”

“It is our honor to recognize excellence among community college students,” said Phi Theta Kappa President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “We are thrilled to support the DREAM Scholars as they become advocates for the community college mission.”

DREAM Scholars are nominated by their institutions, submit applications that ask them to reflect on their college journeys, and undergo a rigorous selection process. During DREAM, the students talk with experts, share their educational experiences, and attend sessions on improving student success, institutional governance, teaching and learning, administration, and more. The DREAM Scholars’ presentation allows them to share what they have learned about Network colleges’ efforts to improve their students’ success and completion and close achievement gaps for historically underserved student populations. 

The 2018 DREAM Scholars are:

Dolores "Scarlett" Cortez
Institute of American Indian Arts
New Mexico

Dolores “Scarlett” Cortez, a performance poet and mixed media artist who uses the arts to bring awareness to mental illness and healthy body image advocacy, is a studio arts major at New Mexico’s Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). Dolores never believed she would become the first woman in her family to go to college, but her goal now is to earn her bachelor’s degree and become an art therapist. In addition to pursuing her studies, she serves as an ambassador for IAIA and says, “I have been able to represent the school that has given me the chance at an education. I am able to go into Hispanic and low-income communities and advocate for education and spread awareness on mental health that children wouldn't be getting elsewhere.”

Kenneth Glynn
Lorain County Community College

Kenneth Glynn, a Lorain County Community College (LCCC) student working toward a BA in organizational leadership, has had “an uncontrollable thirst for knowledge” since he was a preschooler. Kenneth was one of the top students in his vocational high school and served as vice president of an organization that dramatically increased minority enrollment in the school. He joined the Army to be able to pay for college, served for ten years and then worked for another 19 years in a steel plant before his dream of earning a degree and becoming the first in his family to graduate from college came true. Kenneth received an associate’s degree in business administration from LCCC in business administration, funded through the Trade Readjustment Act, after his plant closed and he was laid off.  Today, Kenneth is enrolled in LCCC’s University Partnership program, working to earn a four-year degree in organizational leadership from Cleveland State University.

Mardwina Lasseur
Broward College

Mardwina Lasseur, the daughter of Haitian immigrants and a pre-nursing student at Broward College, found her passion when she was 15 and fell “head over heels in love with police procedurals” like Law & Order and Criminal Minds. Mardwina says, “I grew an interest in the brain and its complexities and was so fascinated with the idea that, although the human brain controls our somatic and behavioral functions, it is the organ that we understand the least out of all the organs in the human body.” Mardwina’s greatest accomplishment has been to present at the 2017 Florida Collegiate Honors Council on the stigmas of depression in males in the United States. “Because of my great infatuation with psychology, I aspire to become a Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner someday. That way, I can treat those who are unable to control their own emotions, thoughts, and actions regulated by the significant organ that lies above their shoulders.”

Jenae Parker
Columbus State Community College

Jenae Parker, a human resource management major at Columbus State Community College, wants to teach resiliency and “empower others to believe in themselves.” She says, “Passion for me lives in others, how I can serve them.” This passion is also embodied in her desire to be a good role model for her daughter Journey Marie.  She says, “I often ask myself what I have done today that I would want Journey to carry on.” Jenae instills in her daughter the values of “speaking up for others and believing in those who don’t believe in themselves” through her passion for helping others.

Elda Pere
Bergen Community College
New Jersey

Bergen Community College mathematics major Elda Pere’s lives in both New Jersey and Albania have both shaped and inspired her. Elda spent her first years in New Jersey, and then moved with her family to Albania when she was ten. In Albania, Elda says she “grew enamored by the pursuit of knowledge, particularly in the fields of mathematics, physics, philosophy, literature and the visual arts.” She also worked on an aid project for villages near her town. Back in New Jersey, Elda “feels the need to propagate that enthusiasm, appreciation, and thankfulness on this side of the globe as well.” She ran for and won the presidency of the New Jersey chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, volunteers in activities on and off campus, and leads a STEM project at her college to create free prosthetic hands for those who need them. Academically, Elda’s greatest passions are the liberal arts and STEM fields. She says that while both appear to be opposites, they embody human efforts to explain the world around us.

Emery Sutherland
Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
New Mexico

Emery Sutherland, a Network Management/IT major at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), is passionate about solving problems and learning from the process. He says this interest has led him to “fixing cars, household repair, playing games, and writing code. The feeling of accomplishment from solving an incredibly difficult problem is great, but I learn more about how something works in the problem-solving process.” Emery led SIPI’s winning Swarmathon team, a national competition at the Kennedy Space Center in which teams programmed three NASA rovers to autonomously find, gather and collect foam cubes. Emery, a Native American, grew up on a reservation where life was a struggle. He says he made a decision, though, “not to struggle my entire life. The way I planned to avoid this struggle was to keep learning. I was fortunate to have parents that supported my decisions to thrive in school…I will continue to educate myself and hopefully one day pass that knowledge to my community to make a promising future.”

Kien Truong
Portland Community College

Kien Truong immigrated to the US after his junior year in high school in Vietnam. He calls immigrating “one of the most transformational moments of my life,” but said it was a difficult transition with “many struggles.” With the support of his ESL teacher, Kien applied and was accepted to PCC’s Future Connect Program, which not only supported him financially but also provided coaching. Kien began advocating for the textbook affordability at PCC. He joined the PCC Open Educational Resources (OER) Steering Committee in 2016 and successfully organized the Textbook Affordability campaign. Kien also organized the second annual Multicultural Night event on campus and serves as a Student Board Trustee. He says, “As a person of color, a low-income and first-generation college student, a gay man and a student leader, I make sure to create the space for students to communicate, collaborate with and challenge PCC Board of Directors to consider race, racism and inequality as part of their business practice and policy-making.” He is now in his last academic year at PCC, working toward earning an AS degree and then transferring to a four-year university to major in International Relations.

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About Phi Theta Kappa

Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in nine nations. Learn more at


Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 277 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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