MCC-Blue River student named Missouri’s No. 1 in national scholarship contest

Aubrey Kent, a single mom of two, says MCC-Blue River "has been more than a college to me -- it is like a second home."

Aubrey Kent, a single mom of two, says MCC-Blue River “has been more than a college to me — it is like a second home.”

Aubrey Kent, a student at Metropolitan Community College-Blue River in Independence, has been named a 2016 New Century Scholar by earning the top Missouri score in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition.

The honor comes with a $2,000 scholarship, which will be presented to Kent on April 12 in Chicago at the American Association of Community Colleges convention.

Kent, of Independence, is majoring in general studies at MCC-Blue River, where she has a 4.0 GPA. She expects to graduate from MCC this spring.

More than 1,900 students across the country were nominated for New Century Scholars honors. Judges consider grades, leadership, activities and, most important, how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom.

The student receiving the highest application score in each state is named a New Century Scholar.

Kent says she was “extremely shocked” when she learned she was Missouri’s top scorer.

Why does she think she won? “Perhaps it is because on top of being a single mother of two, juggling family responsibilities and working, I have been able to achieve many accomplishments,” she says.

Kent is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology at William Jewell College in Liberty and wants to work in genetic research.

She was on track to graduate from high school in 2003, but she ended up putting her education on hold. She says setting an example for her two children ultimately pushed her to earn her high school diploma and go on to college.

“Receiving this scholarship is an extreme honor, especially when there are so many amazing and talented students who applied,” Kent says. “Having been the only student in Missouri to have won is a feeling that is almost impossible to articulate.”

MCC-Blue River, she adds, “has been more than a college to me — it is like a second home. The students, staff and faculty are all amazing people who I appreciate so very much.”

Dr. Michael Banks, MCC-Blue River president, says he’s thrilled that the top community college student in the state comes from Blue River.

“This is a huge accomplishment for Aubrey, but also for our dedicated faculty, staff and students, who all support each other on their educational journey,” Banks says.

Mark James, MCC chancellor, says: “Success stories like Aubrey’s validate the hard work and passion so many MCC employees and students display every day.

“To see a student from MCC honored as the best in the state is what we aspire to every day at MCC. We have amazing students who are second to none. Opportunities and awards such as the New Century Scholars program help make the goal of college completion possible for even more students.”

To be eligible for the New Century honor, students submit applications for the All-USA Community College Academic Team and must be selected as a nominee by their college. The application process opens in September; applications are due in early December each year.

An independent team of judges reviews the applications to determine scholarship recipients. Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society of students at two-year colleges, notifies winners in March.

The New Century Scholars Program is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Phi Theta Kappa and the American Association of Community Colleges.