Gadsden, Ala. — Gadsden State Community College student Marianna Coley of Gadsden has been named a 2022 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar. She is one of 207 Phi Theta Kappa honor society members nationwide to be selected for the honor. The award includes a $1,000 scholarship.
“I was shocked to learn that I won the scholarship,” said the 20-year-old second-year GSCC student. “I don’t win often, so I’m very grateful for the recognition. This will go a long way for me. It will help me tremendously financially.”
Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievements of community college students. The society is made up of more than 3.5 million members, including Coley, with nearly 1,300 chapters in nine nations. The Rho Rho Chapter of PTK is located at Gadsden State and is advised by Melissa Davis, director of Student Support Services.
“We are so proud of Marianna and all of the other Coca-Cola scholars who have come before her at Gadsden State,” said Davis. “Gadsden State has a tradition of students receiving numerous scholarships and honors from the Coca-Cola Foundation. The partnership between PTK and the foundation has changed the lives of so many community college students.”
Coley was selected by a panel of independent judges from more than 1,300 applicants. Scholars are selected based on outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated leadership potential. The program helps PTK members defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. Scholars are encouraged to assume leadership roles by participating in society programs and are selected based on scholastic achievement, community service and leadership potential.
“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding student at community colleges,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, foundation president. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa to make it possible for more deserving students to achieve their educational goals and support tomorrow’s leaders of the global community.”
Coley is a student in the Gadsden State Nursing Program, one of the most challenging and competitive programs at the College. Still, she maintains a 3.7 GPA while juggling coursework and her construction job with her father.
“I am completely responsible for my bills and my tuition so I have to work while staying on top of my studies,” she said. “It’s not easy but I know it will all be worth it in the end.”
Once she graduates as a registered nurse, Coley wants to continue her education and become a nurse anesthetist.
“It has always been my dream to become a nurse and eventually a nurse anesthetist,” she said. “The profession fascinates me. I love caring for people. I comfort people and I want to be an advocate for them.”
As a first-generation college student, she encourages others just like her to further their education and pursue their dreams.
“College coursework is hard and it’s getting harder,” she said. “I know that first-generation students don’t receive a lot of guidance from their parents because they don’t have the foundational knowledge of college enrollment. I just encourage Gadsden State students to seek advice from instructors and advisors. There are so many people at the College willing to help. Just keep your head up and push through. The hard work will pay off.”
The Leaders of Promise Scholarship funds provided by the foundation not only aid college completion but also give students the opportunity to hone their leadership skills in their quest to become future leaders in the community.
“Research shows that Phi Theta Kappa members are four times more likely to complete a college degree than their peers,” said Dr. Monica Marlowe, executive director of the PTK Foundation. “The Leaders of Promise Scholarships recognize students for what they have achieved already and assure that financial need isn’t an obstacle to achieving their academic goals.”