ACT Names National College and Career Readiness Award Recipients
IOWA CITY, Iowa—Four honorees received awards last night in Washington, D.C., at the gala which culminated ACT’s inaugural College and Career Readiness Campaign.
Receiving awards were:
- Sheree Gremillion of Florence, Alabama (Student Readiness Award)
- Rufus King International School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (College and Career Transition Award)
- Edgecombe Community College in Tarboro, North Carolina (Career Preparedness Award)
- Sargento Foods, Inc., of Plymouth, Wisconsin (Workplace Success Award)
ACT established this annual campaign to create awareness around the goal of college and career readiness for all and to recognize exemplary efforts across states in advancing this goal. Six states participated in this first year of the campaign: Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
The national award recipients were selected from finalists nominated in the six participating states. A national committee comprised of nine respected leaders in education and workforce development evaluated the state nominations and selected award recipients in each of the four categories.
“As a nation, we have work to do in terms of college and career readiness, but we can get there,” said Jon Whitmore, ACT’s chief executive officer. “The individuals and organizations we honored this week prove that college and career readiness can be achieved. Our campaign is intended to encourage more people to take up the cause, to support them in their efforts, and to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments.”
The six high school students nominated by their states will each receive a scholarship from ACT toward their college expenses. Sheree Gremillion, the national awardee, will receive $4,000, and the remaining five will each receive $2,000. The high school, community college and employer national honorees each received an engraved crystal award commemorating their achievement.
Student Readiness Award—Student: Sheree Gremillion, Alabama
A senior at Rogers High School in Florence, Alabama, Sheree has excelled academically—earning a 3.98 grade point average and a Composite score of 33 on the ACT® college readiness assessment. Even more impressively, Sheree has maintained these academic achievements while participating in a number of extracurricular activities and overcoming many hardships in her life.
Named by her classmates as “Most Likely to Succeed,” Sheree serves on her student council and volunteers on mission trips and other service activities. She plans to attend Freed-Hardeman University in the fall, double majoring in nursing and Spanish with a goal of becoming a bilingual nurse and helping those in need, both in America and on mission trips to other countries. Sheree’s plan is to help those who are less fortunate, just as she has been helped.
The remaining five state recipients in this category receiving scholarships included:
- Martin Roman, West Leyden High School, Northlake, Illinois
- Hannah Hayde, Indianola High School, Indianola, Iowa
- Devin Morton, Lafayette High School, Lexington, Kentucky
- Jaquesha Stokes, Mount Tabor High School, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
- Tre Nowaczynski, West Allis Central High School, West Allis, Wisconsin
[Selection criteria for this award include ACT score performance; growth in reaching ACT benchmarks in grades 8–12; high school GPA; involvement in extracurricular activities, community service and work experience; and success in the face of adversity or other extraordinary circumstances.]
College and Career Transition Award—High School: Rufus King International School, Wisconsin
Located in north Milwaukee, Rufus King International School has created a “college-bound atmosphere” for the 1,440 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse students it serves—many of whom will be first-generation college students. All staff members are dedicated to college and career planning—with framed university posters displayed throughout the building, students’ college acceptance letters and scholarship awards displayed and celebrated, and teachers’ college credentials displayed outside each classroom with an invitation to talk about their college experience.
Students are prepared for life after high school through rigorous International Baccalaureate programming, quarterly assessments to monitor student growth, career exploration and college search support, and community service requirements for all students. Rufus King International School has received numerous honors for its work, including top rankings by U.S. News & World Report and Newsweek magazines, as well as being consistently named a New Wisconsin Promise School of Recognition by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
[Selection criteria for this award include growth in reaching ACT benchmarks for grades 8–12; aggregate ACT scores and percentage meeting benchmarks; success in serving students of underrepresented racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds; dedication to ensuring students are prepared for success after high school; and leadership opportunities for students outside the classroom.]
Career Preparedness Award—Community College: Edgecombe Community College, North Carolina
Edgecombe Community College recognizes the struggles facing its students in today’s labor market. Located in a county facing a 16.6% unemployment rate, Edgecombe actively combats these difficulties through job fairs, mentoring programs, student assistance funds, and other programs meant to ensure that students are ready to succeed after graduation. Over the past three years, 70% of Edgecombe graduates have earned a Certificate of Career Readiness.
With campuses in Tarboro and Rocky Mount, Edgecombe Community College led the process for Edgecombe County to be recognized as one of the first Work Ready Communities in North Carolina, and it frequently partners with area companies to ensure that its students graduate with the skills and the recognition needed to be successful in their careers.
[Selection criteria for this award include accessibility of career readiness assessments and career preparation programs; relationship with local employers; student success indicators including graduation and transfer rates to four-year colleges; dedication to career planning; and leadership opportunities for students outside the classroom.]
Workplace Success Award—Employer: Sargento Foods, Inc., Wisconsin
Sargento Foods, a pillar of Wisconsin’s dairy industry for the past 60 years, has been working toward profiling a majority of its positions in the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™) system so that, in the near future, 90% of its positions will use the NCRC to aid in the employment process. Headquartered in Plymouth, the company has earned Top Workplaces in Southeastern Wisconsin honors for the past four years, and its innovations have frequently been recognized in the dairy industry.
An active community participant, Sargento Foods collaborates with area schools, including the Plymouth High School Science and Technology Center and Lakeshore Technical College, to give students real experience in cheese packaging that will pave the way to future employment locally. Sargento Foods works with local high schools to ensure that students are equipped with the soft skills needed for workplace success, such as collaboration, respect, initiative, and a strong work ethic, as well as being prepared academically.
[Selection criteria for this award include relationships with local high schools and colleges; use of career readiness assessments for recruitment and career advancement; dedication to employee development; and workforce diversity and community involvement.]
Virginia Edwards, president of Editorial Projects in Education, chaired the national selection committee. Members of the committee are:
- Betsy Brand, executive director, American Youth Policy Forum
- J. Noah Brown, president, Association of Community College Trustees
- Walter Bumphus, president, American Association of Community Colleges
- Brian Fitzgerald, chief executive officer, Business-Higher Education Forum
- Christy Levings, executive committee member, National Education Association
- Chris Minnich, executive director, Council of Chief State School Officers
- Scott Montgomery, vice president, strategic initiatives, ACT
- Cheryl Oldham, vice president, Institute for a Competitive Workforce, US Chamber of Commerce