Friday, March 11, 2016

Cuyamaca College students earn top honors and academic praise

Two Cuyamaca College students have been named to the 2016 Phi Theta Kappa All-California Community College Academic Team – among the most prestigious honors for community college students in the state.

Mariah Moschetti
Associated Student Government President Mariah Moschetti, a computer engineering student who hopes to someday work for NASA, was one of 31 students named to 2016 Phi Theta Kappa All-California Community College Academic 1st Team. In addition, Moschetti was one of just 50 students nationwide selected as a Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar, an honor that comes with a $1,500 award to help her further pursue her studies.

Cuyamaca College standout Sophia Balanay, who will be transferring to Cal State San Bernardino in the fall to study psychology, was one of just 31 students securing a spot on the 2016 Phi Theta Kappa All-California Community College Academic 2nd Team.

“Mariah and Sophia are both incredibly dedicated students who represent the best of Cuyamaca College,” said Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes. “We are so proud of their accomplishments and their contributions to our campus.”

Moschetti and Balanay will be honored at the annual Phi Theta Kappa awards luncheon in Sacramento on March 24.

The awards are presented by Phi Theta Kappa and the Community College League of California. Phi Theta Kappa, headquartered in Jackson, Miss., is the largest honor society in higher education. Requirements include a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA, being eligible to graduate with an associate degree, participation in honors programs and academically rigorous coursework, awards and recognition for academic achievement, along with leadership and service to the college and community.

“I was really surprised when I found out, kind of shocked, actually,” said Balanay, who moved here from her hometown of Kailua-Kona on the big island of Hawaii to attend Cuyamaca College. “It’s a great honor.”

Sophia Balanay
Balanay, who has a grade point average just under 4.0, said enrolling at Cuyamaca College was one of the best decisions she made.

“The people here are really nice,” she said. “It is a really friendly environment, and everyone there is there to help you. It’s going to be hard to leave.”

For Moschetti, being named to the 2016 All-California Academic 1st Team and a Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar are the latest in a string of honors that includes taking part in the super competitive, NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program.  She was one of about 50 community college students from around the country invited to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for a seminar and workshop, the focus of which was a competition among four ad-hoc teams tasked with designing models of Mars rovers from scratch that were programmed to collect rocks and retrieve a disabled rover.

“Being named a Gold Scholar is a great honor which I couldn't have achieved without the opportunities and support Cuyamaca College has afforded me,” she said. “Cuyamaca College is a unique place filled with amazing people, from the administration to the faculty, many of which have served to inspire me and serve as valuable advisers and mentors. Thanks to Cuyamaca, Phi Theta Kappa and Coca Cola, I am one step closer to achieving my goals.”

Moschetti is planning to transfer to UC San Diego in the fall and she hopes to earn a bachelor of science degree in computer engineering and mathematics before securing a master’s degree in planetary science – all part of a strategy to make herself more marketable for an employer such as NASA.