Four Montgomery College Students Honored for Academic Excellence Students Represent MC on 2008 All-Maryland Academic Team 

Four Montgomery College students were recently honored for their selection as members of the 2008 All-Maryland Academic Team, a recognition program sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society of two-year colleges. Phi Theta Kappa, two-year college presidents, and community college state associations co-sponsor All-State Academic Team recognition programs in 32 states.

On Wednesday, May 7, 2008, the four MC All-Maryland Academic students, Brenda Barrera, Cristian Barrera, Peter Barbernitz and Jennifer Frank were honored at the All-Maryland Academic Team Recognition Program and Banquet held at the Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City.

The Barreras, from Silver Spring, are brother and sister, coming to the United States in 2001 from their native El Salvador. Cristian Barrera, who has a cumulative grade point average of 3.82, is currently serving a one-year term as the student representative on the community college’s Board of Trustees and is a member of the College’s Montgomery Scholars honors program. At MC, Cristian has participated in various student clubs and sports teams, including the Student Ambassadors, the Bollywood Club, the Cross Country Team and Tennis Team. This fall, he became the vice president of the College’s Rockville Campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. Last spring, Barrera interned at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, where he assisted Dr. Roger D. Launius, space history curator, on the research for his book “Project Apollo in American Myth and Memory.” This past July, Barrera joined fellow Scholars at the University of Cambridge in England, where he attended summer college classes. Cristian says he would like to earn his Ph.D. and have a career in biochemistry.

Brenda Barrera, Cristian’s older sister, is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and carries a 3.75 GPA. Balancing family, work and academic responsibilities, Brenda found the time to participate in numerous MC clubs and organizations including Bollywood, the Student Latino Union and the Honors network. Brenda has earned a Board of Trustees Scholarship, Cookerly Scholarship and received the Hispanic Student Academic Award and an Honors Scholar Award. While she credits the College and her nurturing professors for motivating her academically, Brenda says her most significant learning experiences have not been in MC classrooms, but in her volunteer work. At Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Brenda sensed the difficulties much of the Spanish-speaking patients had communicating with doctors. She has translated for doctors and patients in Senior Citizen Support, human resources and pediatrics. It was here that Brenda realized “the satisfaction of helping others is immeasurable.” She plans to earn a Ph.D. and become a teacher and school administrator.

Montgomery College student Peter Barbernitz, a Takoma Park resident, has a 3.77 GPA, and was co-president of the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Honors Club for two years. Barbernitz was part of the group of MC Honors students to study abroad at Cambridge in England. In 2006, he received the Mark Curtis Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. In addition, Barbernitz was the spring 2006 winner of the Rockville Campus Chemistry Award. After spending almost three years caring for his terminally ill great-grandmother and grandfather, it is no surprise that Barbernitz has dedicated himself to earning a Ph.D. and entering the fields of nursing and chemistry.

Takoma Park resident Jennifer Frank has a perfect 4.0 GPA and is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Frank used her love of art to operate her own jewelry design and crafts business but found the time to achieve Dean’s List every academic semester she has attended Montgomery College. In addition, Frank earned the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus English Department Award for Academic Excellence, the Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase/Maryland Foundation Scholarship and the Mark Curtis Humanities Award and Scholarship. Frank is also a volunteer tutor in English at the College and a volunteer patient advocate and hone health aide with her church. Frank is striving for a Ph.D. and hopes to become a professor of English or art.

Each two-year college in Maryland may nominate two students per campus to the All-USA Academic Team. Students from Maryland nominated to the national team comprise the All-Maryland Academic Team. Nominations are based on outstanding academic performance and service to the college and community.

Phi Theta Kappa’s mission is to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students and to provide opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming.

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