HATTIESBURG – A Pearl River Community College student was named today to the All-USA Community College Academic Team by USA Today newspaper and Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.Vernon Lee Kinabrew, 29, of Hattiesburg was one of 20 students selected from more than 1,600 nominees.Kinabrew, a student at PRCC Forrest County Center, and the others were honored today at the Phi Theta Kappa Presidents Breakfast held during the American Association of Community Colleges convention in New Orleans.His initial reaction to the honor was shock, followed by satisfaction, he said.Since entering PRCC and the community college system, I have been determined to have something to show for my life, he said. This certainly is an honor that fulfills that desire. I did it; I finally made my mom and dad proud.PRCC has had one other student named to the All-USA Academic Team – Tiffany Vines Melancon, now of Hattiesburg, in 2000.The son of Vernon and Janice Kinabrew of Bogalusa, La., Kinabrew graduated in 1999 with high honors as a Board of Regents Scholar from Varnado High School in Bogalusa and enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana University. But he dropped out in his second semester and spent years working in hotels before he enrolled at PRCC in the fall of 2009.He chose PRCC because his mother received an associate degree in nursing from Pearl River in 1995. He chose the Forrest County Center to be near his sister, Adriane Tarver of Hattiesburg, while her husband is deployed to Afghanistan. Another sister, Tiffany Goin, also moved to Hattiesburg.Kinabrew was named Sociology Student of the Year and received second place in the annual essay writing competition at the Forrest County Center in the spring of 2010 and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for students in two-year colleges, during the fall 2010 semester.Lee is a very confident student, said Dr. Terri Smith Ruckel, who has taught Kinabrew for three semesters. He outspoken. He doesnt shy away from giving his opinion. He certainly developed a much stronger and more informed voice over the past year and a half.He is a charter member and vice president of Sigma Kappa Delta, an English honor society for two-year colleges, and a member of the History and Humanities Club.In one of my essays I wrote for the Phi Theta Kappa competition, I refer to the incredible sense of accomplishment I felt standing in line at my Phi Theta Kappa induction, Kinabrew said. I feel accomplished and I feel proud for myself, my college and for those faculty members who have worked with me to achieve this honor.And for those who will listen, I would just like to say starting and completing community college might just be a watershed moment in your lives. It was in mine.An English and history major, Kinabrew carries a 3.92 grade point average and was named to the All-Mississippi Academic Team in March. He received a $1,000 stipend as a member of the first team.Kinabrew, who works at Comfort Inn in Hattiesburg, plans to continue his education at the University of Southern Mississippi where he will major in casino, hospitality and tourism management. He hopes to eventually own an inn.I would love a bed-and-breakfast on the coast of Maine, he said.As a member of the All-USA Community College Academic Team, he received a $2,500 scholarship and a medallion and PRCC received a commemorative obelisk.Lee Kinabrew selection as a member of the All_USA Academic Team is indeed a personal honor for Lee, but also brings great distinction to Pearl River Community College, said Dr. William Lewis, PRCC president. To become recognized by Phi Theta Kappa in such a manner is a special honor. We are certainly proud of Lee and have every confidence that he will build on his success throughout life.The All-USA Community College Academic Team is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group and featured in the April 11 edition of USA Today. Selection is based on grades, academic rigor, growth and how well the students use their education to benefit their schools and communities.
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