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Four PRCC students named to PTK All-Mississippi Academic team

Laura O'Neill - PRCC Marketing & Communications Specialist

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Four students from Pearl River Community College have been named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Mississippi Academic Team for 2022-23. They were recognized at a banquet held at the Clyde Muse Center in Pearl on April 4, 2023.

Students selected from the Iota Mu chapter on the Poplarville campus are Lauren Anne Lagasse of Waveland and Kellie Watts of Picayune.

Students selected from the Beta Tau Gamma chapter, located at the Forrest County Campus in Hattiesburg, are sophomores Tobias Adams of Hattiesburg and Ana Salas Mondragon of Oak Grove.

All of the students learned of their honor earlier in the semester. At the banquet, they were presented with their team placement. Watts was placed on the All-Mississippi Academic First Team and recognized as a Coca-Cola Silver Scholar. Adams, Lagasse, and Mondragon were placed on the All-Mississippi Academic Second Team.

“The students on the PRCC All-Mississippi Academic Team are outstanding from every perspective,” said Dr. Terri Ruckel, Beta Tau Gamma advisor. “They are diligent, dedicated to serving our college and our community, and they always present themselves as Wildcats with pride, respect, class, and character. I have been honored to work with them.”

Lagasse is studying elementary education. She currently serves as Vice President of Scholarship and co-chair of the Honors in Action project. She is also a member of the Student Government Association on the Poplarville Campus.

She plans to continue her studies through the William Carey University – PRCC Elementary Education Partnership Program. Eventually, she wants to work towards advanced degrees in administration.

“I am thankful for being selected because it is going to open new opportunities to me such as travel, scholarships, learning from challenges, and meeting new people,” said Lagasse.

Watts is working towards a degree in electrical engineering and plans to remain at PRCC for a third year to complete prerequisites before transferring to Mississippi State University. She has been active with PTK activities serving as the president of the Iota Mu chapter for the Poplarville campus and CTE Representative of the Mississippi/Louisiana Region of PTK.

“I am grateful for being selected as it shows my hard work on campus has finally paid off,” said Watts. “Countless hours of leading, growing, guiding, and learning have accumulated into this nomination, and I could not be more excited about it.

“It was not a one-person job, however. This significant event of success occurred because of the advisors and students of the PTK Iota Mu chapter, who have pushed me in the necessary direction to come this far. Without them and their dedication to our chapter and each other as future successful leaders, I would not be anywhere near as successful as I am today.”

Adams’ major is chemistry with a biochemistry emphasis. He currently serves as president of the Beta Tau Gamma chapter. He serves as regional webmaster for Phi Theta Kappa, vice president of the Student Government Association, a William Lewis Honors Institute council member, a River Navigator, and membership in Mu Alpha Theta, Sigma Kappa Delta, and the Science Club.

“It feels great to see the fruits of my labor from my persistent dedication throughout my journey,” Adams said. “I have enjoyed being involved in helping other students enjoy their experiences at PRCC.”

He plans to apply for an international PTK officer position before transferring to either Mississippi State University, William Carey University, or the University of Southern Mississippi.

Salas-Mondragon is a criminal justice major. She plans to transfer to USM. Afterward, she plans to go through the Hattiesburg Police Academy to begin her law enforcement career.

“I feel honored to receive this special recognition,” said Salas-Mondragon. “It feels amazing to know that there are so many people who believe in me and want me to succeed.”

She serves as treasurer for the history and humanities club. She is also a member of the travel club and the Sigma Kappa Delta book club.

Said Salas-Mondragon, “What excites me most about being a student at PRCC is the great amount of support and love I feel from everyone here. I am proud to say that I have found another family here.”

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