Meet the 2013 All-PA Academic Team: Jessica Stewart

Editors Note: This is the last in a series of four All-Pennsylvania Academic Team student profiles. 

by Neree Aron-Sando

BLOG Jessica Stewart

Photo by Sandi Yanisko

High school was too easy for Jessica Stewart.

The 19-year-old Pottstown student jumped at the chance to take college courses at Montgomery County Community College – dual enrollment – for two reasons:

“I hadn’t felt that I was being challenged enough at high school,” Stewart said. “I took honors classes and AP (Advanced Placement) classes at high school, and I still wasn’t enjoying the lack of knowledge I was receiving.” A friend of hers became a full-time College student after tenth grade. “I knew I wanted to give college courses a try when I saw how happy she was.”

The second reason was the reality check her brother provided. “My brother was accepted into the University of Pittsburgh when I finished tenth grade,” she said. “I saw how much college tuition actually cost; he had to take out several loans to be able to pay for college.

“I knew that, even though I had very good grades and was in many honors and AP classes at high school, I would not be receiving enough money from any four-year institution that I applied to after I finished high school. So, when my guidance counselor gave me the option to become dual enrolled at Montgomery County Community College, I grabbed that chance to cut down on my future debt.”

Stewart took a few courses during her junior year of high school and became a full-time student during her senior year. “In my first year as a full time College student, I became involved in the Student Government Association at the West Campus. I actually became the Senate chair only after a few short weeks after becoming a senator. From there, I began to volunteer for many activities that occurred at the West campus, such as the lasagna dinner, creating the Top Ten concern list with the previous West campus’s Student Government president, and I also attended the American Student Association of Community Colleges (ASACC) conference in Washington, D.C., that spring.”

The ASACC was the highpoint of her college career. “I met a lot of student leaders from across the nation and even my own representative of my county,” she said. As Student Government Vice President at Central campus, she will revisit the ASACC conference with seven other student leaders.

“College tuition costs and the College’s affordability were a great deal of why I decided to continue on with my educational career when I graduated from high school,” Stewart said. “Even though I do not receive financial aid from the college, it was the fact that the college offered such affordable tuition; that kept me from transferring [elsewhere] after I finished high school.”

In addition to her brother and friend who inspired her to go college without incurring crippling debt, two others provided her with motivation.

“I knew two other people who had graduated from the College after receiving the All PA Academic team scholarship, so I set my sights at doing my best to be a member of the All PA Academic Team,” Stewart said.

The dean’s list student and Phi Theta Kappa member achieved that goal, and was named to the All PA Academic Team for 2013.

“What does the All PA Academic team mean to me? Well, it gives me the freedom to pursue an educational career without the worry of having debt hanging over my head once I finish. It also gives me the choice to follow my passion in life even though I know that I won’t be the breadwinner in my future family,” Stewart said. “I have always loved writing and reading and now that I do not have to worry about paying off debts, I am able to pursue my passion to my fullest extent.”

Phi Theta Kappa, two-year college presidents, and community college state associations co-sponsor All-State Academic Team recognition programs in 32 states. Each two-year college in Pennsylvania may nominate two students per campus to the All-USA Academic Team. Nominations are based on outstanding academic performance and service to the college and community.

The College’s nominees to the All USA Academic Team are named to the All Pennsylvania Academic Team and may be awarded a scholarship that may be used at any one of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education institutions.

When she graduates from Montgomery County Community College with her Liberal Arts degree in May, she intends to go on to West Chester University in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in English, specializing in writing or education.

“My major is currently liberal studies because I did not know exactly where my passion laid when I began my journey at the College,” Stewart said. “When I began taking more English classes and spending more time helping my friends correct their papers, I saw that I had a real passion for helping others learn to love writing and reading as much as I do. That is why I hope to continue on with my degree and perhaps one day work at a community college helping students of all ages find their inner passion for writing and reading.”

Phi Theta Kappa, two-year college presidents, and community college state associations co-sponsor All-State Academic Team recognition programs in 32 states. Each two-year college in Pennsylvania may nominate two students per campus to the All-USA Academic Team. Nominations are based on outstanding academic performance and service to the college and community.

The College’s nominees to the All USA Academic Team are named to the All Pennsylvania Academic Team and will be awarded a scholarship that may be used at any one of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education institutions.

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