PBSC student among 20 to make All-USA Academic Team

Bernard Harrigan, a Palm Beach State College student and Army veteran who is fulfilling his longtime dream of a higher education, is among only 20 students and the only one in Florida selected for the All-USA Academic Team.  

The students were chosen from more than 2,000 nominations for the academic honor, which is recognized as one of the most prestigious for associate-degree granting institutions. They each will receive a $5,000 scholarship. 

I believe it truly shows that support is the cornerstone to your success, and I hope that other individuals find a way to look for or ask for support,’’ said Harrigan. 

The 2021 All-USA Academic Team is sponsored by Cengage, with additional support from Phi Theta Kappa and the American Association of Community Colleges. The team will be recognized during AACC’s annual convention, which will be held virtually May 13 

In the competitive nomination process, students also are considered for the Coca-Cola Academic Team, New Century Transfer Pathway Scholarship and New Century Workforce Pathway Scholarship, which are sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, as well as All-State Academic Teams where applicable. Selections are based on academic achievement, leadership and engagement in college and community service. 

In addition to making the All-USA Academic Team, his high score led him to winning a $2,250 New Century Transfer Pathway Scholarship. He also is member of the All-Florida Academic Team, which includes four other PBSC students.  

Harrigan credits much of his success to the support and guidance he has received since enrolling at PBSC in fall 2019.  He desired to go to college after graduating from John I. Leonard High School in 1995. However, without the financial means or support, he delayed those plans and joined the Army. He served four years in the 82nd Airborne Division. 

“My initial goal was to go to college. I wanted to be an FBI agent and work in law enforcement. I did not have the support to get in. I didn’t have the money to go,’’ said Harrigan, who was born in Frankfurt, Germany and raised in West Palm Beach. 

After taking jobs in the retail and  hospitality industries, the married father decided to go to college to pursue a career. He had missed out on the opportunity for the G.I. bill, but learned that he could pursue other military educational support. 

He approached Professor Erin Sullivan on the Palm Beach Gardens campus to become his mentor after taking her Introduction to the College Experience class his first year, and he also became active on campus.

He is a member of Palm Beach State’s Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College and Phi Theta Kappa. He is currently chief of staff of the Student Government Association on the Palm Beach Gardens campus and vice president of the Community Earth Club. He represents the College on the North Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce Environmental Subcommittee and volunteers for the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida. He has done this while maintaining a full course load and a 4.0 grade point average. 

He will graduate in May with his Associate in Arts degree and plans to transfer to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in public management. His goal is to pursue a career in politics with a focus on addressing climate change.  

“It’s wonderful to see a student like Bernard recognized at the national level,’’ Sullivan said. “His hard work and his dedication shine through in everything he does. I look forward to seeing what he’s going to do next. The support he has received at the College is integral to his success, and that’s what we do here. We transform lives.” 

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