Five students from Northampton Community College (NCC) made the 29th annual All-Pennsylvania (All-PA) Academic Team, which consists of 64 students representing 14 community colleges from across Pennsylvania. The honor recognizes high achieving college students who demonstrate academic excellence, leadership and service that extends their education beyond the classroom to benefit the community. This year’s NCC team members include are Seong Kim, Mark Petrik, Kaitlyn Seawood, Jaileen Soto and Christian Stezelberger.
President of NCC, David A. Ruth, Ph.D., said, “These motivated students work hard to succeed in their goals, both at the college and in their personal lives. To make this team is not only an honor, it also speaks highly to all they’ve accomplished and overcome. I can’t wait to see what they continue to achieve!”
Students are selected for the All-PA Academic Team based on a thorough nomination and application process. The 2023 scholars include 48 Transfer Pathway students and 16 Workforce Pathway students.
Transfer Pathway honorees plan to transfer to a four-year college after graduation. They must have completed at least 36 credits at a community college with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher. Pennsylvania’s community colleges partner with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to provide Transfer Pathway students with two-year scholarships at any any PASSHE school. The PA Transfer Pathway Scholars also include the Coca-Cola Gold and Silver Scholars who receive $1,500 and $1,250 scholarships, respectively.
Workforce Pathway honorees plan to enter the workforce after completing a certificate or associate degree at a community college. Workforce Pathway students must have a minimum of 12 college-level credit hours at a community college and a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.
The All-USA Community College Academic Team is sponsored by Cengage, with additional support provided by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
Congratulations again to this year’s All-PA Academic Team:
Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Tourette Syndrome at an early age, it was difficult for Seong Kim to focus and learn. Kim experienced bullying due to his disability, impacting much of Kim’s early social and school life. However, his parents instilled a sense of purpose and motivation in him to succeed, and he knew he needed to work hard to fulfill his dreams – overcoming the obstacles along the way.
Kim graduated from the NCC computer science program with honors in spring 2022 and found a love for programming, determined to excel in his studies. He is looking forward to obtaining a second degree in general studies from NCC, which he wanted to complete for flexibility in course registration at future institutions.
He is involved in Collective (Art Club), PTK and Student Government. Kim says, “At first, I could not imagine being a leader, being a shy and introverted individual. But from the encouragement of my family and peers, I decided to take up the challenge to better myself as a person and my public speaking.” He was PTK’s Pennsylvania State Regional President in 2021 and is currently serving as vice president of his chapter.
Kim is looking to transfer to Columbia University in pursuit of undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science and engineering.
Mark Petrik, a business administration major at NCC, considers himself a lifelong learner. “I’ve learned from school my whole life, but I also learn a lot outside of the classroom.”
He was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, which, he says, taught him to learn from nature, value tradition and foster fellowship. In high school, Petrik was on the soccer and track teams. Involvement with those sports helped him to think quickly under pressure and put his own interests aside for the better of a team — valuable life skills he can take with him in his future endeavors.
Petrik is currently the secretary of the PTK Tau Gamma chapter. While an officer, he co-chaired an Honors in Action project that was recognized regionally as a distinguished chapter project. “Although I have been fortunate enough to have been awarded such honors, I strive to stay true to myself as I seek to serve others in my life,” he says.
Petrik plans to transfer to a four-year university to finish a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. His top contenders are West Chester University, East Stroudsburg University or Penn State University. He hopes to reach his goal of becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) or financial analyst in the corporate world.
Kaitlyn Seawood enrolled at NCC in the fall of 2020 as a general studies major, but after taking an introduction to journalism course, she switched her major to journalism at the end of the spring 2021 semester. Seawood decided to join the school’s newspaper, The Commuter, and was promoted up to editor-in-chief of the paper by the time she hit her spring 2023 semester.
“I knew it would be a great opportunity to expand on my skills and connect with the community,” Seawood says of joining PTK. She has been serving as president of her chapter, Beta Beta Chi. She led her chapter in numerous projects and events, bringing home a total of 22 awards during their Middle States Regional Conference in March 2023. Seawood also serves as secretary for NCC’s Monroe campus Women’s Club and Student Government.
Seawood will attend Rider University to continue her journalism studies and has already accepted a position as social media editor for Rider University’s newspaper, The Rider News. She has also been selected as a semi-finalist for Rider’s full-ride Trustee Scholarship and semi-finalist for the Gail Bierenbuam Women’s Leadership Council.
After completing her bachelor’s degree at Rider, Seawood anticipates transferring into a master’s program so she can return to NCC or another community college to teach and inspire the next generation of journalists.
Jaileen Soto is a secondary education major at NCC. She grew up in Bethlehem and graduated from Liberty High School, where she found plenty of opportunities to develop an interest in history and the arts.
“In school, every grade had its own theme of a specific continent, time period, and art movement to explore. It was in that atmosphere that I first fell in love with history. I wanted to learn more about different people and the lives they were living.” When her 8th grade social studies teacher integrated music, art, and literature into her lessons, Soto knew she wanted to become a teacher and do the same.
At NCC, Soto is involved in a variety of student organizations, including PTK, the International Student’s Organization (ISO), and is the president of the Pride Club/Gay Straight Alliance. She likes ISO because of the connection it provides between people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. She believes the ability to understand others outside of your immediate community is an important skill. She was the 2022 recipient of the Prism Award for her efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community on campus.
In the future, Soto would like to teach social studies and continue learning. She will attend Kutztown University after her time at NCC.
Workforce Pathway Scholar
Christian Stezelberger earned two degrees this past winter 2023 in electronics technology and electromechanical technology with hopes of eventually pursuing further degrees in mechanical or electrical engineering.
Stezelberger was a member of PTK’s Beta Beta Chi chapter, a chapter vice president and president of (National Society for Leadership and Success) NSLS, and a SkillsUSA NCC chapter president. He also was a SkillsUSA state and national champion for 2019 industrial motor control in the post-secondary category.
Currently, Stezelberger is working in his industry as a maintenance mechanic for the candy company, Just Born, Inc. in Bethlehem.
“In time, I’d like to become an engineer and inventor as I want to be able to create new things,” Stezelberger said.