• MHCC Students Receive National Coca-Cola Scholarship Awards

    Two students at Mt. Hood Community College recently received competitive national scholarships from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

     Dang Dinh 

    Dang Dinh was named a 2017 Coca-Cola New Century Scholar, and Brenna Schmidt a 2017 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Silver Scholar. They were among 1,800 applicants for these awards, which the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society administers.

    Dinh and 51 other students received the $2,000 Coca-Cola New Century Scholars award. Sponsors of this award include the Coca-Cola Foundation and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Selection was based upon Dinh’s score in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition, which evaluates PTK students in four areas: academics, leadership, service and significant endeavors.

    New Century Scholars represent the highest-scoring All-USA Academic Team competitors in each state. Dinh will be recognized at PTK’s Presidents Breakfast, held in New Orleans on April 24 during the AACC’s Annual Convention.

    Currently majoring in chemical engineering at MHCC, Dinh will transfer to Texas A&M University next fall. His freshman year, he served as a chemistry teaching assistant under instructor Joyce Sherpa and provided science tutoring. In addition to his volunteer work with Rho Theta, MHCC’s PTK chapter, Dinh volunteer teaches homeschooled students and elementary students in Gresham, and leads youth lessons at Our Lady of Lavang Parish in Portland.

    “When I first moved to the United States in 2015, I was almost 21 years old and only spoke intermediate English,” said Dinh. “I could neither attend a high school nor a university, so MHCC was a good choice. Attending community college was affordable and it helped introduce me to the new culture and education system in the U.S.

    MHCC, with its small class sizes and enthusiastic professors, has helped me achieve several opportunities that I had never had before – such as working as a teaching assistant and chemistry researcher,” Dinh added. “Moreover, attending a college within commuting distance allowed me to take care of my parents, who don’t speak English. MHCC has led me to many opportunities in which I’ve thrived in education and in my new life in America.”

    Brenna Schmidt
    Brenna Schmidt

    Brenna Schmidt will receive $1,250 as a Coca-Cola Silver Scholar. As one of 50 Silver Scholars, she was also selected based upon her performance as an All-USA Community College Academic Team competitor and upon her achievements in academics, service, and campus and community leadership.

    Schmidt, a sophomore working towards an A.A.O.T., will transfer to Portland State University next fall and earn a Bachelor’s degree in communications and minor in advertising. She currently serves as the public relations officer for Rho Theta. During her tenure with Rho Theta, she’s helped at the MHCC Foundation Auction and organized and led scholarship assistance events and PTK fundraisers. She recently began an internship in the office Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon).

    Schmidt grew up with alcoholic parents, and recalls the constant struggle of taking care of and cleaning up after them. She eventually told her parents that they needed to choose between her and alcohol, and they kicked her out of the house and changed the door locks. At 16, Schmidt had become homeless and dropped out of high school, and she’d turned to alcohol and drugs. She struggled with her addiction over the next eight years before getting sober, which she credits to wanting to become a better mother to her two children. Three years into sobriety, she enrolled in MHCC.

    “My two children are the best things that ever happened to me,” said Schmidt. “I didn’t want them to go through what I went through as a child, so I knew I had to change my life. I went to treatment, joined peer counseling, began my own Narcotics Anonymous meeting group. My own issues with addiction led me to believe that this type of upbringing creates a generational cycle, and I wanted to break that cycle for my children and for other children in my community.

    I once was broken and had no guidance or support,” she added. “But today, thanks to MHCC and PTK, I am a strong, independent woman with values and morals – and most importantly I am a great mother. I didn’t even have goals before attending school here, but now I am one of the most driven women you will ever meet. This is because I know I can accomplish anything; all I have to do is work for it – and I am willing to work for what I believe in and want out of life.”

    Both Dinh and Schmidt will be recognized at PTK Catalyst, Phi Theta Kappa’s Annual Convention, held in Nashville, Tenn., the first week of April.