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John Tyler Community College Announces its Annual Student Award Winners

Primary Media Contact:

Holly Walker
Public Relations Manager

Secondary Media Contact:

Heather Busch
Creative Services Manager

Released on May 20, 2020

CHESTER and MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – Each year, John Tyler Community College honors its students for their academic excellence, leadership, school pride, community service and more through its Student Awards Celebration. This year’s ceremony could not be held in person due to the pandemic, so the college announced award winners during a virtual ceremony, shared on social media. More than 60 awards were presented in eleven categories.

The following award winners were named (zip codes follow recipient names): 

Sherwood Forest Art & Literary Review 

John Tyler Community College publishes the Sherwood Forest Art & Literary Review each year in conjunction with its annual student literary and art contest. The publication, which has been highlighting the creativity and talent of Tyler students since 1968, includes four categories: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and art. Judges review and select first, second and third place winners in each category and may award honorable mentions. The winning entries are published in the Review. An electronic copy of the publication may be downloaded at

1st Place – Emily Dickson (23192)
2nd Place – Juanita Zapata (23112)
3rd Place – Challa Dent (23832)
Honorable Mention – Erin Walker (23836)
Honorable Mention – Diana Rose Penazola (23112)

1st Place – Laura Ingram (23842)
2nd Place – Ruby Watts (23229)
3rd Place – Anna Saakian (23040)
Honorable Mention – Rebecca Hines (23220)
Honorable Mention – Grace Griles (23879)

Creative Nonfiction  
1st Place – Jessica Oraegbu (23235)
2nd Place – Grace Griles (23879)
3rd Place – Alexandra Murphy (23838)
Honorable Mention – Thuy Duong (23181)
Honorable Mention – Beshoy Gerges (23235)

1st Place – Lindsey Merillat (23114)
2nd Place – Alexandra Murphy (23838)
3rd Place – Elizabeth Brown (23231)
Honorable Mention – Daisy Fentiman (23222)
Honorable Mention – Carole Skrbin (23834)

Social Sciences Research Expo Awards

Each year, Tyler students are given the opportunity to participate in the college’s Social Science Research Expo. During the Expo, students present research they have conducted on a number of topics. This year’s Expo was held virtually, and viewers were asked to vote for their top research projects. 

1st Place – Teresa Orellana (23120) – Project: “The Social Effects of Equine Therapy on PTSD in Humans”
2nd Place – Eniola Aiyeleso (23832) – Project: “The Process and Negative Outcomes of Divorce on Children”
3rd Place – Joel Carter (23234) – Project: “Pollution in the Chesapeake Bay”

Theresa Windham Service Award

This award was first presented in 1996 in honor of Theresa Hands Windham, who succumbed to a sudden illness in 1993 at the age of 37 while serving as the college’s coordinator of grants and development.  During her short tenure at Tyler, Windham’s kindness and selflessness touched the lives of countless students, faculty, and staff.  Always smiling, always striving to help others, she was loved by all who had the good fortune to make her acquaintance. This award recognizes students who personify Windham’s dedication to service without regard for personal gain or adulation. This year’s recipient was Erika Hetrick (23236), who was honored for creating a narrated presentation to help students learn how to post assignments in the college’s online learning management system.

Daniel Dalton Award

The Daniel Dalton Award, named in honor of a John Tyler Community College founding faculty member, is presented annually to an outstanding club or student organization that exhibits excellence in the areas of service to the college, commitment to community service, and dedication to academics. This year’s award was presented to the Honor & Distinction: Black Student Alliance Club. The club has been extremely active on campus, holding regular meetings, sponsoring a minority faculty luncheon, hosting a movie night, and organizing a performance about Harriet Tubman during Black History Month.

Marshall Denison Society

The Marshall Denison Society, named for the college’s second president, was established to recognize individuals who embody the college’s commitment to student success and who have made extraordinary contributions to the student activities program at Tyler. This year’s inductee was Dr. Paula Winn, professor of art. Dr. Winn, who is a co-sponsor of the Art Club and is a co-sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance, was recognized for her work with student clubs and for helping organize activities that bring members of the community to Tyler’s campuses.

Foundation Art Award

The John Tyler Community College Foundation Art Award, which originated in 1995, showcases the artistic abilities of Tyler’s students. Finalists were chosen by the Foundation Art Award Selection Committee, made up of Foundation Board members and college faculty and staff. Members of the Foundation Board of Directors then selected the winning entry from among the finalists. An image of the winning artwork is converted into a poster and into cards that are used by the Foundation and the college. This year the Foundation Award Award was given to Diana Rose Penaloza (23112) for her work, Meandadri.

Student Government Association (SGA) Recognition Awards

The members of the executive branch of Tyler’s Student Government Association were recognized for their commitment to serving the study body.

Alicia Alvarez (23237) – President 
Eileen Mendez (23831) – Vice President
Aimy Simbi (23224) – Secretary 
Princess Alashmali (23831) – Treasurer 
Kayla Dyson (23235) – Communications Coordinator

Academic Resource Center Tutor Awards

The Tutor Awards were given to Tyler’s student tutors who embody the college’s vision of supporting student success. These outstanding tutors help their classmates and inspire others who work in the college’s Academic Resource Center.

Alexis Atkinson (23139)
Grace Griles (23879)
Artre Turner (23237)
Zoe Nettles (23838)

Student Ambassador Awards

Tyler’s Student Ambassador Program gives current students the opportunity to represent the college and become student leaders. Student ambassadors lead tours; assist during special events; help their fellow students in a variety of ways; participate in outreach activities; and more. The Student Ambassador Rising Star Award is given to a freshman student ambassador who excels in and out of class. The Student Ambassador of the Year Award is given to the ambassador that goes above and beyond and who shows a tireless work ethic while volunteering to help students and while representing the college at events and during community activities.

Student Ambassador Rising Star – Sara Abu-Hijleh (23236)
Student Ambassador of the Year – Aimy Simbi (23224)

Trailblazing Student Award

The Trailblazing Student Award recognizes students who have put forth maximum effort, as they balance multiple responsibilities, such as work and family, with their classwork. This year’s recipients were:

Kristin Barnes (23139)
Chesley Bliss (23860)
Toni Boyd-Williams (23803)
Jade Brown (23801)
Dana Cantillon (23113)
Krystle Carbone (23146)
Tristan Carr (23220)
Michelle Cortez (23112)
Ashley Duvernay (23236)
Astrid Gaskins (23832)
Michelle Grandinetti (23831)
Danielle Mills (23832)
Mirabel Mundu Tamo (23112)
Abigail Nottingham (23140)
Treashore Randolph (23113)
Gabriella Rathke (23222)
Lindsay Saccone (23889)
Aimy Simbi (23224)
Anitra Smith (23237)
Christy Stevens (23237)
Demyana Tadros (23225)
Callie Terrel-Crocket (23112)
Artre Turner (23237)
Shaila Vaughn (23236)

Trailblazer of the Year Award

The Trailblazer of the Year Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a student. The award is presented annually to a student for outstanding leadership, performance, and volunteer service to John Tyler Community College and who the faculty and staff believe will achieve great success. This year’s Trailblazer of the Year is Alicia Alvarez (23237). Alvarez, who is a member of the Class of 2020, served as president of Tyler’s Student Government Association for two years. She was a student ambassador; played an active role in student clubs and organizations; volunteered to assist with numerous college events and projects; represented Tyler in the community; and worked hard to make everyone feel welcome at the college. At the same time, she balanced her classwork and her responsibilities at home. Alvarez plans to transfer to continue her education, with a goal of becoming a speech pathologist.  

John Tyler Community College offers more than 75 majors that provide pathways to careers in high-demand fields; transfer opportunities to four-year colleges and universities; and industry credentials and licensures. The college, with campuses in Chester and Midlothian, online classes, and off-campus classrooms, served more than 14,000 students during the 2018-19 academic year. It also assisted more than 7,000 learners through its workforce development division, Community College Workforce Alliance, a partnership between Tyler and Reynolds community colleges.

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Holly Walker, Public Relations Manager


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