Harrell Receives 2020 Outstanding Student Award

July 2, 2020 |

Union resident Jennifer Harrell is the recipient of the 2020 East Central College Outstanding Student Award.

In the past two years, Harrell has been heavily involved with campus and community organizations, including the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society.

The Outstanding Student Award is voted on by ECC employees.

“I am totally humbled and grateful that the faculty and staff thought me worthy of this prestigious award,” she said. “I endeavor to make everyone feel special and help those around us who need it.”

“I will always feel like ECC is home,” Harrell added.

To be considered for the honor, an ECC student must have maintained a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. In addition to academic achievements, participation in campus and community activities is also considered.

Harrell is a 2020 graduate with a 3.516 Cumulative GPA. She received an associate of arts in the STEM pathway, with an emphasis in chemistry. She graduated with PTK honors.

Each year the Outstanding Student Award winner is presented a plaque at graduation and given a $100 award. Harrell will be recognized later this year during a commencement ceremony.

Harrell was the PTK vice president of public relations in 2019-20 and she served as an ECC Student Ambassador from March 2019 to May 2020.

“I would not have been able to accomplish nearly what I did without the unconditional support and love of my family,” she said. ”My husband, Jeff, our six sons, and my mom all played a role in getting me to this point.”

Harrell is taking summer courses at Missouri S&T, Rolla, in the Honors Program where she is working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, with a focus in biochemistry.

“My end goal is to work in pharmaceutical research developing new mental health medications to help alleviate the suffering many of our fellow humans experience.”

Faculty/Staff 

In April, Harrell was named a winner of the 2020 Scott Wright Student Essay Contest from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD).

Her essay From Uncertain to Unstoppable tells how ECC’s Dr. Matthew Monzyk, associate professor of chemistry, inspired, challenged and encouraged her.

Harrell credited Monzyk and many other ECC faculty and staff members who helped her attain her goals, including Phi Theta Kappa Advisors Kevin and Melanie Dixon.

She added that instructor Wendy Pecka encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone, and instructors Anne Estes and Shaun Roberson assisted her in her math courses and increased her “confidence in my academic ability.”

Harrell said that faculty member Sue Henderson encouraged her to “find a room of [her] own,” Dr. Monzyk challenged her with the course load and material, and Linda Arrington tutored her and encouraged her, pushing Harrell to excel, she added.

Community Service

Outside of ECC, Harrell was a First Baptist Church of St. Clair Vacation Bible School teacher in 2019 and 2020.

She is heavily involved with the Boy Scouts of America and served as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout STEM Counselor since 2016. Harrell also is a Cub and Boy Scout SuperNOVA mentor; the Cub Scout Pack 3449 Advancement Chair since 2018; Scout Pack 3449 Public Relations Officer since 2018; and Troop 82 Committee Chair since 2019.