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Gadsden State hosts virtual Honors Day program

Gadsden, Ala. – Gadsden State Community College has been honoring students for their academic achievements for over five decades during a traditional Honors Day program. That all changed with campus closures in mid-March resulting from the spread of COVID-19.

“We knew we would not be able to celebrate our students in a traditional format but it was important to us to recognize them in some way,” said Dr. Martha Lavender, president. “In an effort to share their successes with family and friends, we decided to do virtual programs that are readily accessible to everyone.”

Two virtual programs were produced by the Gadsden State Public Relations and Marketing Department and posted online. The programs include short comments from various Gadsden State faculty and administrators as well as photographs of many of the students being honored.

The virtual Honors Day program for students attending the Ayers Campus was posted on the Gadsden State website and social media platforms at 2 p.m. April 20. Students attending campuses in Etowah and Cherokee counties were featured in a video posted at 2 p.m. today. The virtual programs can be found on the Student Life page at or Gadsden State’s official pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as its YouTube channel.


The top award given annually is the Allen-Ray Award named in honor of the late Sen. James B. Allen and the late Jack Ray, former CEO of Exchange Bank of Alabama. This year’s winner is Kerry Griffith, an adult learner who will earn his associate degree in May.

“He has proven to be a shining example of a student leader and academic achiever,” Lavender said.

An active member of the student body, Griffith is the president of the Student Government Association, vice president of fellowship for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and a member of TRiO for Success Club, Circle K service organization and the Science, Math and Engineering Club.

Griffith has earned many honors from PTK, the honor society specifically for community college students. He was named to the All-Alabama and All-USA Academic Teams. He was one of 15 students nationwide to win the PTK Guiswhite Scholarship and became the first Gadsden State student to win the New Century Transfer Scholarship.

After graduating from Gadsden State, he will enroll at the University of Alabama, where he earned the prestigious presidential scholarship worth over $20,000. He will study engineering.


On the virtual Honors Day recognizing students attending one of the four campuses in Etowah and Cherokee counties, Lavender presented the coveted President’s Cup, which is designated for students who demonstrate exceptional success in all phases of college life in both the academic and technical divisions.





The academic recipient for the Etowah and Cherokee campuses is Banx O’Barr, a student in math with a 3.9 GPA. He is the president of the Science, Math and Engineering Club, vice president of PTK, a member of the SGA and a tutor for Student Support Services and Cardinal Tutoring Center. He will receive an Associate in Science degree next month. In addition to the President’s Cup, O’Barr also was named Outstanding Student in Mathematics and was recognized as a Student of Distinction. He also earned the University of Alabama Presidential Scholarship and the PTK Scholarship to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


The technical division winner of the President’s Cup is Dillon Blake Boatwright, a student studying electrical engineering technology with a perfect 4.0 GPA. At Gadsden State, he is a member of the National Technical Honor Society and a volunteer for the College’s annual coat and food drives. He has also been recognized as a Student of Distinction. After graduating from Gadsden State, Dillon plans to continue his education at Jacksonville State University.



Every year, Gadsden State recognizes students who have succeeded in their pursuit of higher education in spite of varying traumas, adversities, personal losses and difficulties with the Outstanding Achievement Awards. Winners selected from students attending the Wallace Drive, East Broad, Valley Street and Cherokee campuses are Addie Brianna Gentry, Abrianna LaRae Turner, TyLeigha Reyes and Katelyn Brooke Passmore.





Gentry was an impoverished, underemployed, single teen mother when she enrolled at Gadsden State. A student in electrical technology, she has maintained a 3.8 GPA and is on the President’s List. In addition, she is working in her field for an electrical company in Ohatchee, and she has purchased her first house. She will graduate from Gadsden State this year.



Turner has persevered in her pursuit of an education despite her mother being incarcerated and unavailable. She is a Gadsden State Ambassador and a member of the SGA. She also maintains a job at a travel center, where she is a head trainer. Turner will graduate in May with a general studies degree and plans to transfer to Alabama State University to study physical therapy.



Reyes is one of seven children raised by her single father, so she was unsure if college was a possibility due to the cost. She chose Gadsden State after earning an ambassador scholarship. This year, she served as the president of the Gadsden State Ambassadors, and she was a member of the homecoming court representing Gadsden State Cherokee. Also during Honors Day, she was given the Ambassador Leadership Award. Reyes will receive an associate degree in May and will pursue a degree in elementary education and Spanish at JSU, where she received an academic transfer scholarship.



Passmore grew up in poverty with her single father and five siblings. She did not think college was a possibility until she earned a scholarship to study poultry science at Gadsden State Cherokee. She is a member of the SGA, PTK, the Anime Club and the Math, Science and Engineering Club. A Student of Distinction, Passmore has a 3.9 GPA and will graduate from Gadsden State next spring.


Other award and scholarship winners recognized at the Gadsden Campus virtual Honors Day include:

JSU Presidential Transfer Scholarship: Landry Bussey, Je'Maryiah Garrett , Cana Henry, Kaulana Rodrigues and Haley Sims, all of Anniston; Kelsey Dumas of Boaz; Jensen Alexander and Alyssa Cleland, both of Centre; Denise Luna of Fort Payne; Summer Glenn, Julissa King, Gerardo Perez-Rodriguez and Joseph Scott, all of Gadsden; 

Skylar Thompson of Glencoe; Landon Johnson of Hokes Bluff; Sarah Finley and Alexis King, both of Jacksonville; Maria McCollum of Lineville; Emma McCombs and Kevin Williamson, both of Ohatchee; Ashley Watson of Oxford; Caley Dougherty, Kristin Flanery, Maggie Lee and Fenny        Patel, all of Rainbow City; Dawson Boggs of Southside and Almotasem Alnaham of Weaver

JSU Academic Transfer Scholarship:  Jada Ivey of Anniston; Sadie Martin of Ashville; Jahmal Beard and Tyleigha Reyes, both of Centre; Ghanem    Alhajazin, Brianna Benefield, Tuquita James, Eric   Juarez, Shadrina Griffin, all of Gadsden; Logan    Shook of Gaylesville; Jil Hunkapiller of Lineville; Natalia Rivas of Ohatchee; Kaylynn Garrett and Rachael Hendricks, both of Oxford; Paula Hopper, Jessica Melo and Melissa Carter, all of Rainbow City.

JSU Opportunity Transfer Scholarship:  Madison Heindl of Alexandria; Tyler Nichols of Altoona; Emily Braden and Deavonie Jemison, both of Anniston; Skylar Shierling of Fruithurst; Za'Miyah Blount, Ashton Dillard and Maria Juarez, all of Gadsden; Kaitlynn Maudsley of Glencoe; Sean Dean and Casey Padgett, both of Heflin; Reagan Carroll of Oxford; Payton Traffanstedt of Piedmont; Connor Butler and Timothy Morgan, both of Rainbow City and Luis Vazquez of Southside

JSU STEP Transfer Scholarship:  Wendy Hood of Boaz; Courtney Jenkins of Birmingham; Bridgette Beegle of Jacksonville and Jamie Reid of Wellington

University of Alabama Community College Presidential Scholarship: Charles Kerry Griffith of Gadsden and Banx O'Barr of Gallant

University of Alabama Community College Distinguished Scholar:  Almostasem Yahya Alnaham of Yemen; Ian Christopher Jobst of Eastaboga and Ajani Lavender of Rainbow City

University of Alabama Community College Recognition Scholarship:  Jordan Reynolds of Gadsden

UA -- Alabama's Promise Scholarship:  Aaron Zhang of Southside

University of Alabama at Birmingham Transfer Presidential Scholarship: Kyle Burgess of Centre and Salina King of Gadsden         

UAB Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship:  Augustus Rebarchik of Attalla; Kyle Burgess of Centre; Haylie Pruitt of Collinsville; Denise Luna of Fort Payne; Arreon Byers, Julissa King and Selina King, all of Gadsden; Banx O'Barr of Gallant; Bailey Davis of Jacksonville; Prince Patel of Rainbow City and Almostasem Alnaham of Yemen

UAB Transfer Scholarship of Distinction:  Haylie Pruitt of Collinsville and Timothy Morgan of Rainbow City

UAB Transfer Excellence Scholarship:  Rachael Elmubaid of Rainbow City

UAB Transfer Pathway Scholarship:  Trenton Thompson of Oneonta

BBVA/Compass Bank Scholarship: Cody Ramsey of Albertville; Hunter Holcomb of Gadsden; Jordan Hardy of Jacksonville; Eddie Leonard of Lincoln and Cinthia Rodriguez of Rome, Ga.

James L. Brown Free Enterprise Scholarship: Jasmine Soto of Albertville

Cardinal Foundation – Boys & Girls Club Career Academy Scholarship:  Taurus Wilson, Jr. of Gadsden

Cardinal Foundation – Cardinals Who Give Scholarship: Robert Corker of Oxford

Cardinal Foundation – Gerald Acker Scholarship: Marshall West of Boaz

Cardinal Foundation Swoop Sprint 5K Scholarship:  Taylor Seawright of Ragland and Madison Tyree of Piedmont

Gadsden State Community College Alumni Association Scholarship: Maria Petersen of Indianapolis, Ind. and Caler Staub of Southside

Sue McMeekin Griffith Scholarship: Hannah Martin of Wellington

Joseph T. Robertson Memorial Scholarship: Jessica Davis of Attalla​​​​​​​

Nell Thomas Scholarship: Jim Hughes of Southside

Jim Vanderford Scholarships: Scott Cunningham of Remlap and Nolan Shore of Gadsden

Peggy Yurk Memorial Scholarship:  Cabe Matthew Carney of Centre

Ambassador Leadership Award:  TyLeigha Reyes of Centre

Ambassador Service Award:  Haylie Pruitt of Sand Rock

Lambda Epsilon Chi Paralegal Honor Society Members: Jay Crandell of Manchester, Tenn.; Felecia Fleming of Steele; Haley Fox of Southside; Abigail Gillis of Birmingham; Tyler Kelly of Huntsville; Kierria Jones of Jacksonville; Bethany Merritt of Bremen, Ga.; Dennis Presley of Oneonta and Zaria Smith of Douglasville, Ga.         

Outstanding Achievement in Accounting: David Kolk of Delta and Timothy Morgan of Rainbow City

Outstanding Achievement in American Literature:  Brian Galimore of Attalla; Cana Henry of Anniston; Giang Ho of Gadsden; Richard Kaiser of Southside; Chih Kang of Tiawan and Brady Kusayanagi of Boaz

Outstanding Achievement in Economics: Grace-Anna Perry of Rainbow City

Outstanding Chemistry Students:  Almostasem Yahya Alnaham of Yemen and Brandon Wertz of Chalmette, La.

Outstanding Choral Students: Caley Dougherty of Rainbow City and Stephen Gunter of Gadsden

Outstanding Computer Science Student:  Rachael Cook of Guntersville​​​​​​​

Outstanding Criminal Justice Student:  Jordan Gallman of Boaz

Outstanding English Student:  Kyle Burgess of Centre

Outstanding Humanities Students:  Ashley Latimer of Gadsden and Elizabeth Maroney of Attalla​​​​​​​

Outstanding International Student: Flolrence Obiageli Omu of Nigeria

Outstanding Mathematics Students:  Easton Foreman and Matthew Henderson of Gadsden; Banx O'Barr of Gallant and Chih Kang of Taiwan

Outstanding Office Administration Student:  Susan Smith of Gadsden

Outstanding Paralegal Student:  Abigail Gillis of Birmingham

Outstanding SGA Officer: Almostasem Alnaham of Yemen

Outstanding Show Band Students:  Matthew Henderson and Matt Qualls of Hokes Bluff and Shelby Thompson of Gadsden

Outstanding Speech Communication Students:  Abigail Coker and Etienna Cameron, both of Gadsden; McKenzie Higgins of Attalla; Madelyn Massey of Decatur; Grace-Anna Perry of Rainbow City and Amanda Rushing of Gallant

Outstanding World Literature Student:  Kelsey Dumas of Boaz

Outstanding Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology Student: Kelley Hardy of Hokes Bluff

Outstanding Auto Collision Repair Technology Student: Jeffrey White of Centre

Outstanding Automotive Manufacturing Technology Student: Allen Gossett of Piedmont 

Outstanding Automotive Service Technology Student: Jason Barnes of Wellington

Outstanding Civil Engineering Technology Student: Cinthia Rodriguez of Rome, Ga.

Outstanding Construction Technology Student: Joseph McDaniel of Boaz

Outstanding Court Reporting Student: Savannah Ray of Rainbow City

Outstanding Electrical Technology Student: Antonio Lara of Albertville​​​​​​​

Outstanding Electronic Engineering Technology Student: Roman Robinson of Steele

Outstanding Industrial Automation Technology Student: Jeremy Turner of Gadsden

Outstanding Mechanical Design Technology Student: Kaitlin Absher of Boaz

Outstanding Precision Machining Student: Douglas Bohannon of Gadsden

Outstanding Salon and Spa Management Student: Pauline Miguel of Attalla​​​​​​​

Outstanding Welding Technology Student: Stephen Gunter of Gadsden

QEP Embedded Tutor Awards:  Melanie Alward of Leesburg, Brian Galimore of Attalla and Julissa King of Gadsden