North Seattle College students Tiffany Carpenter and Heidi Valles have been chosen as the college’s nominees for the 2017 All-WA Community College Academic Team.
Each of the community and technical colleges in Washington state has the opportunity to nominate two students. The competition, organized by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK)—an international honor society for community colleges—recognizes high achieving two-year college students nationwide who demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership and service that extends their education beyond the classroom to benefit society.
Tiffany Carpenter’s Story
Home schooled until 18, Tiffany Carpenter was interested in singing, musical theater and classical piano. She came to North via Running Start, following both parents who studied here and a grandmother who was an English instructor at North. At age 20 Tiffany is now simultaneously earning an Associate in Business degree and an Associate of Arts degree.
As president of North’s chapter of PTK, Tiffany was team captain for an “Honors in Action” study of differences between organic and genetically modified crops, as well as a college project of revitalizing the campus cafeteria, working to bring food from local farms into the cafeteria and increase the choices, availability and price range. Her advisor, Michaelann Allen, comments, “Tiffany is a unique individual, full of grace, empathy and tremendous wisdom. She makes others feel respected, cared for and important. She never fails to stand up for what is right.” Tiffany also serves as the regional vice president of PTK District 1, assisting a number of NW colleges with their honors in action/community service work. She has been an informal tutor on North's campus and a volunteer at her father’s medical nonprofit, helping individuals find ways to address their mobility needs. She also volunteers for the Cascade Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Tiffany hopes to transfer to Cornell University in fall 2017 to complete her bachelor’s degree. A law degree is her goal, followed by work in the business or legal field, “to provide pro bono legal services as part of my long-term service and volunteerism strategies.” Rebecca Brown, Tiffany’s English literature instructor, expects great things from her student: “Tiffany superbly embodies the twenty-first century college student whose drive to absorb knowledge, help others and be a global citizen will be an enormous asset to societies at large."
Heidi Valles’ Background
Born in Central Mexico, Heidi Valles moved with her parents to a suburb of Chicago at age 8. She grew up in a traditional Mexican-American household and, conforming to expectations, studied liberal arts. However, after moving to Seattle, she decided to pursue her dream of becoming an engineer. At 25 she is now studying mechanical engineering—taking challenging classes like physics and chemistry and moving outside of what she calls her “comfort zone” while also handling health issues.
Heidi is involved in student government as coordinator of the Student Fee Board, which allocates over $1.1M in fees to 12 different programs on campus. Heidi is also president of the Engineering Club, active within the Society of Women in Engineering, a teaching assistant for introductory computer science, and mentor to new students.
Planning to transfer to the University of Washington for a degree in sustainable mechanical engineering, Heidi wants to lead a company “focused on pushing the limits of what is considered the norm in sustainability, and one that supports non-traditional engineers.” She elaborates, “One of my biggest passions is supporting women and minorities in engineering and technical fields. Along with becoming a professional engineer, I consider myself an ambassador, responsible for showing what Mexican women are capable of doing.”
Heidi’s physics instructor, Michael Steffancin, describes her as a “mature, hard-working, bright student who is a pleasure to teach. She isn’t afraid to ask questions, seems genuinely curious about science and loves to learn.” Her advisor in Student Leadership, Janet Hoppe-Leonard describes her as someone who leads with the aim of serving others rather than increasing her own power, earning the respect and trust of those she leads.
Next Steps in the Competition
Along with all the other nominees to the All-WA Academic Team, Heidi and Tiffany will be recognized by the governor at a ceremony March 23, 2017. Both are eligible to be named to the All-USA Academic Team and compete for national scholarships. Twenty team members are named annually to the national team, an honor that includes receiving a $5,000 scholarship. Team members are featured in USA TODAY and recognized at the American Association of Community Colleges Annual Convention.
Find more information about North's chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, Alpha Epsilon Omega.