Five PRCC students secure Coca-Cola scholarships

August 17, 2023

Five Pearl River Community College sophomore students have received 2023-24 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarships.

The scholarships, worth $1,000 each, go to Raegan Anderson of Purvis, Abigail Ford of Purvis, Abbilyn Jones of Sumrall, Emily Smith of Petal and Sydney Smith of Hattiesburg. 

Five students and one faculty member stand in front of fireplace.
The five Pearl River Community College sophomore students who received 2023-24 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarships include from left: Sydney Smith of Hattiesburg, Abbilyn Jones of Sumrall, Emily Smith of Petal, Beta Tau Gamma Advisor Dr. Terri Ruckel, Raegan Anderson of Purvis and Abigail Ford of Purvis.

“I am elated that five of our (Beta Tau Gamma) chapter members have been recognized as Leaders of Promise this fall by Phi Theta Kappa and Coca-Cola,” said Dr. Teri Ruckel, a Phi Theta Kappa advisor at the Forrest County Campus.

“Five students applied at the end of the spring semester, and all five will receive the scholarship that will help to defray the expenses of their second year of community college. We have never had these many recipients. This unprecedented announcement just before the first day of the fall semester certainly resonates with Pearl River’s theme, ‘Roar with Champions’.” 

The Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship program helps new Phi Theta Kappa members defray educational expenses while enrolled in associate degree programs. 

Scholars are encouraged to assume leadership roles by participating in Society programs and are selected based on scholastic achievement, community service, and leadership potential. More than 1,300 applications were received.

“These scholarships are based on their outstanding academic achievements and leadership potential. Their success underscores Pearl River’s continued recognition as a premier college on a national level,” said Dr. Ruckel.

All five students are members of the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute. 

Anderson, 20, is a Literature major and plans to attend William Carey University following her graduation from PRCC. She is a PTK regional officer and serves as the Webmaster for the Mississippi-Louisiana region.

“It’s awesome to win this award,” said Anderson. “I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have these amazing people around me. Everyone here is like a family.”

Ford, 19, is a Health Sciences major and wants to get into biology and veterinary medicine. 

“I am so thankful to be given the opportunity to further my education due to scholarships like this one,” said Ford. “I have really enjoyed my time at Pearl River. I have met my closest friends here.” 

Jones, 19, serves as president of the Beta Tau Gamma chapter, as well as president of the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute. Her major is Psychology. 

“I feel extremely honored to be in the positions I am in,” said Jones. 

Emily Smith, 17, is majoring in history and library sciences. 

“I feel so blessed to be part of an organization that is working to do so much good in our community, and our world,” she said. “There are a variety of opportunities here, and a staff and environment that pushes us to succeed.”

Sydney Smith, 17, is a Middle College student and would like to attend Georgia Tech and major in aerospace engineering. 

“I feel fortunate I can participate in the PTK international projects and lead the Honors in Action project while I am in high school,” said Smith.  “I am absolutely overwhelmed with the scholarship.”

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG). 

Article by Chuck Abadie. Photography by Kaitlyn Jones.

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