Co-Lin’s Kolpek named state’s New Century Scholar

Published 9:00 pm Thursday, March 8, 2012

She made everyone cry.

     Kimberly Kolpek of Copiah-Lincoln Community College was named Mississippi’s New Century Scholar at a banquet in Jackson Wednesday, and she gave a speech that brought the room to tears.

     “I felt like all the work I’ve done throughout all my time at Co-Lin had finally paid off,” Kolpek said Thursday.

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     Only one Mississippi student per year nets the New Century Scholar award. The last time a Co-Lin student took the title was in 2007.

     “As a community college student, this is the most recognized you can get for scholastic achievement,” said Erin Smith, a Co-Lin academic counsler and Phi Theta Kappa adviser.

     The award brings Kolpek a $2,000 scholarship and a trip to Orlando, Fla., in April to be recognized.

     Kolpek, a graduate of Wesson Attendance Center, keeps herself busy at Co-Lin.

     She’s involved in Phi Theta Kappa, the Student Government Association and the Baptist Student Union among other groups. She’s also a Taylor Presidential Scholar, the highest scholarship given by Co-Lin.

     Smith described Kolpek as a quiet leader and someone who has given more than she’s received.

     “Kimberly is one of the most dedicated and hardest working students I’ve had the privilege of working as an adviser to,” Smith said.

     Kolpek pointed to the example of others as motivating her involvement and service.

     “Even though we have a small community, there have always been people in the community that have stood up and been there for me whenever I was having a hard time,” Kolpek said. “I like to feel like I’m giving them back something.”

     Community college students have the opportunity every year to apply to be on the All-Mississippi Academic Team, and from there possibly be chosen for the All-USA Academic Team. The highest scoring applicant from each state is named that state’s New Century Scholar.

     “It is a very rigorous application,” Smith said. “You have to write an in-depth essay. You have to have letters of application on your behalf.”

     Representatives from every Mississippi community college are on the All-Mississippi Academic Team. Members of the All-USA team will be announced later this spring.

     Kolpek finishes her time at Co-Lin this semester, studying English education. In the fall, she will continue her college career at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she plans to finish her undergraduate degree and pursue a master’s.

     She doesn’t want to leave community college behind forever, though.

     “I’d like to teach at a community college,” Kolpek said.

     Once again, she points to the influence of others in her life.

     “I’ve had excellent teachers throughout high school and at Co-Lin,” Kolpek said. “They’ve been such an example for me.”