9 local students named to state academic team

Nine students attending local community and technical colleges have been named members of the 2013 All-Washington Academic Team for their...

Nine students attending local community and technical colleges have been named members of the 2013 All-Washington Academic Team for their academic achievement and community service.

Onias Kaunda, a student majoring in Business at Tacoma Community College (TCC), has been selected as a member of the team. According to school officials, Kaunda plans to transfer to the University of Washington, eventually obtain his Master of Science in Accounting, and become a college accounting instructor. Born in Zimbabwe, Kaunda completed his high school education in that country but was forced to drop out of college due to rising tuition costs. He moved to South Africa and began a tradition of volunteerism that he continues in America. Kaunda met his wife in South Africa, a Tacoma native who participated in TCC’s Running Start program 10 years ago. He enrolled at the college a month after the couple moved to Tacoma. In April 2012, Kaunda was hired as Facilities Manager at Tacoma’s Urban Grace Church, where he also volunteers.

Chun Hei “Felix” Tam, a student obtaining his business transfer degree at TCC, has also been selected as a member of the team. According to school officials, Tam plans to earn a four-year degree in accounting, obtain a PhD, and return to higher education as a college professor. Tam currently serves as Treasurer of the TCC Chapter of the community college honors society Phi Theta Kappa. He is also Secretary of the International Student Organization, works as a tutor in the TCC Learning Centers, and volunteers for the local tutoring organization Write@253.

Bates Technical College students Tovah Singleton and Katie Wilkinson have also been selected as members of the team.

According to school officials, Singleton is a full-time Legal Assistant student who volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), helping to assure the safety and well-being of children in the state’s care, and interns at a local criminal law office. Singleton enrolled at Bates following a career-ending injury as a first step to becoming a lawyer — a long-held dream. Following graduation this year, Singleton will pursue a law degree.

As Bates’ first chapter president of Phi Theta Kappa, Wilkinson hopes to become a certified biomedical equipment technician in the booming medical field. According to school officials, when she’s not studying or working as the Associated Student Government’s secretary, Wilkinson can be found at Tacoma General Hospital, working as a support service technician to gain experience in the field and pay for school.

Liliya Shkarina, a Running Start student and accounting major at Clover Park Technical College, was also appointed to the team. According to school officials, Shkarina is active in the National Honor Society, sings in the Slavic Christian Center choir (where she also teaches Sunday school), and is a member in Phi Theta Kappa.

Other local students selected as members of the team include Theresa Carr and Eileen Papale (Pierce College-Fort Steilacoom); and Hannah Lampert and Colin Williams (Pierce College-Puyallup).

Each year, two outstanding scholars from each of the state’s community and technical colleges are honored at an All-Washington Academic Team recognition ceremony. The event will be held this year at South Puget Sound Community College, located at 2011 Mottman Road SW in Olympia, on Thurs., March 21 at noon. During the ceremony, the top scholars will be presented with medallions and have an opportunity to meet Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. Each student will be presented with a $500 scholarship courtesy of KeyBank.

The All-Washington Academic Team program recognizes and honors Washington state’s finest higher education students. The students who make up the All-Washington Team reflect the diversity of the state, maintain high standards of excellence, and contribute positively to the community. More information is available online at spscc.ctc.edu/allwa.

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