Skip to main content



18 award recipients with their certificates in the Foundation Lobby

College names Fall 2023 Students of Semester

By: Mike Gavin
Published: November 30, 2023

SPINDALE (Nov. 30, 2023) – Eighteen Isothermal Community College students were recognized for exemplary performance recently.   

The Fall 2023 Learning College Students of the Semester Awards were presented during a ceremony in the lobby of The Foundation Performing Arts and Conference Center on Thursday, Nov. 30.    

This semester’s award winners are Jackson Arrowood, Morgan "Jay" Beheler, Ellianna Byrd, Renett Carson, Jacqueline Gordy, Chris Hall, Karla Hernandez, Jordan Tyler Keller, Jackie McSwain, Adrian Murray, Rosario Ortiz, Dominic C. Painter, Phoenix Roush, Hannah Smith, MacKenzie Thomson, Victoria Jane Vess, Amanda Vogel, and Lirah Wiggen.  

The awards were presented by Dr. Greg Thomas, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs. The audience was welcomed and congratulated by Pres. Margaret Annunziata.   

Each student was nominated by one or several of their instructors. The nomination forms included a section of comments about the qualifications of each student:   


Jackson Arrowood 

Applied Technologies, Career and College Promise 

Jackson is a hardworking student who strives for excellence both in and out of the classroom.  He takes pride is his course work and is a great representative of an Applied Sciences CCP exemplary student.  He is excelling in his iTECH courses and is pursuing further machining courses to complete a Machining Certificate next semester.  When he is not in school he is volunteering at his local fire department.   


Morgan "Jay" Beheler 

Arts & Sciences 

Morgan “Jay” Beheler is highly engaged in activities and class discussions, asking thought-provoking questions and helping to foster the learning and writing community English instructors strive to create among students. Jay has a positive attitude toward learning, is kind, and encourages others.  While quiet and somewhat introspective, it is clear that Jay is not only attentive, but also is constantly thinking about the task at hand and how course material connects to form a bigger picture. 


Elliana Byrd 

Applied Technologies 

Congratulations to Elliana Byrd for her outstanding dedication, hard work, and academic excellence. She began her college academic journey while in high school and has consistently demonstrated an exceptional work ethic, thirst for knowledge, and a commitment to her education. Her passion and determination are why she was selected to receive the Student of the Semester Award. 


Renett Carson 

College & Career Readiness 

Renett is a student in the High School Equivalency preparation program. She wears many hats.  She is a mom and grandmother, works full-time, and still makes time to commit to studying.  There have been many times when Renett joins class Zooms from work or from her grandchildren's events, setting the example for them that learning is a lifelong choice. Her commitment has paid off; she has made consistent progress in her program of study and in March of this year she passed the official HiSET Reading exam. Renett works very hard to balance everything in her life and is very deserving of the Student of the Semester Award. We look forward to helping her prepare for the remaining HiSET exams and seeing her graduate. 


Jacqueline Gordy 

Academic Development 

Right from the beginning of the term, Jacqueline stood out as a student with the drive to excel. Thirsty for feedback, Jacqueline used every opportunity to communicate with her instructors, peers, and writing center tutors in order to produce the best possible product at each stage of the writing process. As a result, Jacqueline showed tremendous growth in her writing over the course of the term. 


Chris Hall 

Health & Public Services  

Chris has served his country in the Army and the discipline and leadership skills acquired from enlistment have carried over to his current role as BLET assistant class leader. Chris demonstrates excellent leadership, communication, and social interaction skills which allow him to be a role model to those around him. His positive attitude, work ethic, dedication and willingness to lead class activities make him a valuable asset to everyone he encounters. He continues to excel in all BLET topics and will make an excellent officer and ambassador for the college upon completion of the program. 


Karla Hernandez 

Health & Public Services, Career and College Promise 

Karla is an East High student enrolled in traditional criminal justice courses and an absolute pleasure to teach. She is extremely dedicated to her academics and her work ethic is unmatched. She is quiet and unassuming but always soaking up the information provided to her. She will complete her criminal justice certificate in May with future plans that include law school. It has been an honor to be a part of her academic endeavors. 


Jordan Tyler Keller 

Occupational Education, Rutherford 

Jordan was an outstanding student in his phlebotomy class. Jordan was always motivated during class to do his best. Jordan would bring his lunch to class every day so he could practice & study during break times.  

The clinical site (RIMA) stated Jordan was the best and most improved student they had ever had. They said Jordan would "stick" up to 40 patients a day. The patients would say that Jordan was a "good sticker" and they oftentimes did not feel it. 

Jordan has earned the student of the semester award. 


Adrian Murray 

Academic Development 

Adrian always comes to class with a smile on his face, a positive attitude, and a kind word to say to me and his classmates. With five children and a full-time job, he manages to come every day and often works on his assignments when he has a break at work. 

In his words “I try my best to impact the world with the blessings God has blessed me with. Even though I am far from perfect, I will always try my best at what task is in front of me.” 



Jackie McSwain 

Occupational Education, Polk 

Like many of the students in Continuing Education programs, Jackie works full-time during the week and has sacrificed her evenings to attend classes preparing her for a new career.  She has excelled both academically and in the development of her hands-on technical skills. Jackie is always prepared for class and contributes to our discussions in meaningful ways.  She is always willing to share her previous knowledge of holistic care and supports her classmates and the program.  Jackie will be an asset to the Massage Therapy profession and already represents the goals and mission of Isothermal Community College. 


Rosario Ortiz 

College & Career Readiness 

Rosario Ortiz is a College and Career Readiness student in the high school completion program. She is determined, hardworking, and a joy to have in class. She previously attended English as a Second Language classes in the evenings and online where she developed strong English language skills. She attends class daily, as well as working a full-time job every evening. In class, Rosario sets high expectations for herself, asks questions when she needs help, and seeks guidance from her instructors on what she can do to keep improving her academic skills when not in school. Because she is determined to succeed, we are confident that Rosario will not only achieve her goal of earning a high school diploma, but she will also achieve her dream of owning her own business. We are proud of Rosario and look forward to celebrating her continued success. 


Dominic C. Painter 

Polk County Early College 

Dominic is an incredible student who is well-regarded by his peers and teachers alike. He participates in various clubs at school and is always eager to volunteer in the community when there is an opportunity. Because he does exceptional academic work, but also recognizes that making positive contributions outside of academics is important. Dominic sets a positive example and deserves to be congratulated and celebrated for all of his accomplishments.   


Phoenix Roush 

Arts & Sciences 

Phoenix Roush is a quiet but diligent student who pays close attention to details, contributes thoughtful and insightful responses to class discussions, and consistently comes to class prepared, always going above and beyond in completing assignments.  In the true spirit of the Learning College, Phoenix not only strives to excel but also is helpful to others, setting an example of leadership that will surely lead to a successful transfer experience, future career, and exemplary citizenship. 


Hannah Smith 

Rutherford Early College High School 

Hannah, a REaCH junior, embodies excellence at both REaCH and Isothermal. Her college instructors report that she tackles challenging coursework and assignments with determination and proactiveness beyond that of most other students. In the classroom, Hannah's caring and helpful nature shines through, creating a positive atmosphere. She consistently demonstrates an exceptional level of preparedness, not only in her coursework but also in post-secondary planning. Hannah is an outstanding student and a well-deserving award recipient. 


Mackenzie Thomson 

Applied Technologies 

Mackenzie is a great student who always shows up to class with a great attitude.  She is always willing to help do extra work in her spare time and to help students and instructors alike.  Mackenzie strives to do her best work and is always trying to perfect her welding technique. She is a pleasure to be around and has a heart as big as her smile. 


Victoria Jane Vess  

Career & College Promise, College Transfer Pathway 

Victoria is a senior at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy. She is an outstanding student academically that participates in two sports teams - cheerleading and swimming - and is also the manager of the tennis team. Additionally, she is a member of the Jr. Civitan. After graduation, Victoria plans to major in child psychology at UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, or the College of Charleston. 


Amanda Vogel 

Health and Public Services 

Mandi is a dedicated student who truly cares not only for her classmates in the human services program, but for Isothermal and the greater community we serve.  Mandi has been instrumental in getting the human services club started from initiating the request, completing the necessary paperwork, and facilitating the first meetings.  Starting a brand-new club from scratch is no small feat. She readily volunteers for things like creating campus bulletin board to raise mental health and diversity awareness and meeting with board of trustee members as well as collecting donations for the Patriot Pantry.  She is a voice for the marginalized advocating for their needs.  Mandi truly deserves recognition for her hard work. 


Lirah Wiggen 

Arts & Sciences 

Lirah Wiggen is always present, in every sense of the word.  She is bright, attentive, inquisitive, and eager to grow and develop from one learning activity, essay, collaborative project, or workshop session to the next. She volunteers for anything, does not hesitate to ask questions, and has emerged as a role model and leader among her peers.  Because she conducts herself in such a courteous, professional, and mature manner, Lirah is highly deserving of this award. 

Category: Awards