Campus & Community

PBSC student Jacqueline Pecker named to prestigious All-USA Academic Team

Palm Beach State College student Jacqueline Pecker was among 20 community college students nationwide selected for the 2023 All-USA Academic Team.

The award was presented at the annual Phi Theta Kappa Presidents Breakfast on Monday, April 4, during the American Association of Community Colleges annual convention in Denver, Colo. at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center.

Pecker, who received a $5,000 scholarship, a special medallion and an obelisk, was chosen from more than 2,400 students nominated for the prestigious award.

In addition to her achievements, Pecker highlighted the support and guidance she has received at PBSC, which she says helped guide her on the road to recovery from mental illness.

During her journey, Pecker also made it a priority to support other PBSC students experiencing similar mental health challenges by creating “Let’s Press ‘Paws.” The initiative, as part of her PTK chapter’s Honors in Action project, provides safe spaces for students to press “pause” on life’s tolling demands by collaborating with fellow students through a variety of monthly therapeutic activities that promote mental health awareness.

“Recounting the excessive burden that mental illness caused in my own life, I took the initiative to create vital change on my campus, so that students who share struggles similar to mine are no longer hidden in the dark,” Pecker said.

PBSC President Ava L. Parker was on hand for the recognition and congratulated Pecker on her courage and accomplishments.

“Jackie is distinguished by her resilience and by her exceptionality as a PBSC scholar and student leader who exemplifies what it takes to be a Panther and an All-USA Academic Team member,” said Parker.

Photo provided by Phi Theta Kappa. From l: Dr. Dean McCurdy, provost of Ivy Tech Community College; Jacqueline Pecker; Ava L. Parker, J.D.; and Dr. Monica Marlowe, executive director of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation.

The All-USA Academic Team, which is sponsored by Cengage with additional support provided by the American Association of Community Colleges and PTK, recognizes high achieving college students who demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership and service that extends their education beyond the classroom to benefit society.

Pecker discovered she was a recipient when she received a notification during a meeting to discuss her upcoming participation in Model United Nations in New York City with other students from PBSC’s Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College.

“I couldn’t believe what I was reading,” said Pecker, an honors student and the Phi Theta Kappa chapter president on the Boca Raton campus. “I was so shocked that I even texted my PTK advisors the announcement and asked, ‘Is this real’?”

Pecker, who was nominated for the award by PTK advisors Kim Copeland and Sherry Hall, will graduate this spring with an associate in arts degree and will pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Arts at Florida International University. Her career goal is to one day work at NBC Studios in New York City.

“Jackie puts her best work into any challenge she tackles and, perhaps more importantly, is willing to try again if needed,” said Copeland, Student Learning Center manager on the Boca Raton campus. “It is always a pleasure to see her working with fellow students in the SLC as well as in PTK meetings because we know she will inspire others around her.”

Pecker is also the recipient of PBSC’s 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award in the Student Category. She is a Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship winner; a Kimmel Leadership Academy scholar; and won an honorable mention for poetry in the Florida Collegiate Honors Council Conference, among other notable accomplishments.

Pecker is also one of four PBSC students named to the Phi Theta Kappa 2023 All-Florida Academic Team. Other students are Aliyah Blake, Hannah Mac and John Stella.

Also attending the Presidents Breakfast and showing their support was Pecker’s mom, Jessica; PBSC Provost and Dean of Student Services Van Williams; Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management Dr. Peter Barbatis; professor Lawanna McCoy; Interim Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Sheila E. Scott-Lubin; Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Tunjarnika Coleman-Ferrell; and other PBSC faculty and staff.

Pecker will be traveling to Ohio this month with other Phi Theta Kappa members to attend PTK Catalyst, PTK’s annual international convention, where she will also be recognized at the Hallmark Awards Gala.

For more information on the All-USA Academic Team, click here.

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