OCCC students selected to All-Oregon Academic Team

Above: Kristin Meredith. Below: John Watson. (Courtesy photos)

On Friday, April 10, two Oregon Coast Community College (OCCC) students will travel to Salem withOCCC President Birgitte Ryslinge to be honored as two of Oregon’s academic standouts. There, they will be recognized by Governor Kate Brown and attend a luncheon in their honor, along with other members of the All-Oregon Academic Team. Both students, Kristin Meredith and John Watson, are due to graduate in June.

“We’re so proud of Kristin and John,” Ryslinge said. “They are wonderful ambassadors of our county and OCCC’s amazing student body, and I look forward to the celebration in Salem.”

The All-Oregon Community College Academic Team, a part of the national All-State Community College Academic Team program, recognizes high achieving two-year college students who demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership and service that extends their education beyond the classroom to benefit society. Phi Theta Kappa — the community college honor society — along with community college presidents and community college state associations sponsor All-State Community College Academic Team ceremonies in 38 participating states.

Volunteerism drives nominee

Meredith is accomplishing a lot. And quickly.

The home-schooled Yachats resident is maintaining an impressive 3.79 GPA while volunteering with a number of organizations over the past few years, including the Salvation Army, Helping Hands, Yachats Youth and Family Activities Program and more. She’s engaged in the OCCC community as a volunteer in a number of other ways, including serving as the treasurer for the College’s PTK Chapter and serving as the editor and publisher of Waves, OCCC’s Literary Journal. Meredith does all this while being a self-described “avid reader” and “enigmatologist” — someone involved in the science of puzzles. She’s going to graduate with her associate degree in June at the age of 17.

“I plan to transfer to Mississippi College, in Clinton, Miss.,” she said, “to pursue a degree in interior design.”

Days are numbered for pandemics

It’s fitting that the coronavirus outbreak is in the news at the same time as OCCC is announcing its All-Oregon Academic Team members. The college’s second team member, Watson, has some ambitious goals. Paramount among these is entering the field of medicine, perhaps studying at Oregon Health and Science University, to “study pathogens and cure diseases.”

Watson, 22, moved to Oregon from Utah in 2017, when he began his academic career at OCCC. He will earn his transfer degree this June and plans to transfer to Oregon State University where he’ll major in microbiology, then said he plans to “continue my schooling in OHSU’s MD/PhD program, where I will receive the necessary foundation in medicine and medical research to allow me to reach my dreams. Perhaps one day, a Nobel Prize.”

If that sounds ambitious, it’s worth noting that Watson has managed to maintain a 3.58 GPA while serving in a variety of volunteer capacities, including as a member of OCCC’s Associated Student Government, serving as PTK President, the Student Government Voting Representative on the OCCC College Council, STEM Club President and numerous other posts. Despite all of these obligations and his coursework, he’s also been an active competitor in jiu jitsu for the past two years.

Oregon Coast Community College is in its 33rd year of service to Lincoln County, with facilities in Waldport, Lincoln City and Newport. The College offers two-year transfer degrees, associate degrees and a variety of degree and certificate programs ranging from nursing to business, early childhood education to teaching. Learn more about OCCC at oregoncoastcc.org, or by calling 541-867-8501.

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