All-Pennsylvania Scholarship Winners Are Extraordinary Women
Fraidel Phelps and Shameka Sawyer, the College’s All-PA scholarship winners, members of the 2010 All-PA Academic Team and winners of 2010 Coca-Cola scholarships, are extraordinary women who successfully juggle college, marriage and motherhood, without losing their cool.
Each year, the College nominates two members of its Phi Theta Kappa Rho Upsilon chapter to receive All-PA scholarships, which allow them to attend any of the Commonwealth’s 14 public colleges and universities free of charge. Both students plan to attend West Chester University of Pennsylvania after receiving their associate’s degrees in May.
Both students also were entered into the All-USA Academic Team, where their scores earned them Coca-Cola scholarships. Sawyer, who was named a 2010 Coca-Cola Gold Scholar, will receive a $1,500 scholarship and will be listed in a special section of USA Today newspaper on April 19. Phelps was named a 2010 Coca-Cola National Finalist and will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
Phelps, 34, maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA while staying on top of her responsibilities as a wife and mother of six children. She is an Education major who wants to teach at the elementary school level. Before coming to the College, her only postsecondary education was at a teacher’s seminary in the state of New York. The seminary prepared her to teach in privately-run Jewish religious schools, but not in public schools, Phelps said.
A self-described quick learner, Phelps also is an ace at time management and multi-tasking. She spends 20 hours a week in the field doing classroom observation in addition to her regular class work. Ordinarily, such a schedule would make Phelps little more than a drive-by mom, but she has found a way to make this grueling schedule work. She does her field work and some volunteer tutoring at Politz Hebrew Academy, which serves nursery school through 8th grade. Five of her children attend Politz. The sixth child, a two-year-old, goes to a babysitter.
"My kids are thrilled because they see me several times a day," said Phelps, who takes all of her classes at the College’s Northeast Regional Center and is the NERC representative for Phi Theta Kappa.
Phelps is very efficient at staying on top of her class work. “Because I have so many responsibilities to juggle, I correspond with my teachers ahead of time so that anything I can get out of the way before the term starts I get out of the way,” said Phelps, who also said her husband, who is in Nursing school, is very supportive.
Sawyer, 32, is a Communications major with a 3.91 GPA. She is a single mom with three children ranging from two to 16 years old. The birth of her oldest son when she was a teen caused Sawyer to forego college. Upon graduating high school, she went right to work. Sawyer was employed as an administrative assistant in 2008 when she decided to go to college. She chose Community College of Philadelphia because it is affordable and has a diverse student body and flexible hours. “I knew that here I could get a fresh start and feel more comfortable than I would be at a university,” she said.
Sawyer is a full-time student with a Work-Study position in the College’s Marketing and Government Relations division. “I try my best to use my time here as best I can, so that when I go home, the majority of that time is for my kids,” she said. “Once they’re taken care of and are asleep, I finish whatever I have left to do. I am often up very late, but I know that it is all going to be worthwhile.”
Sawyer said she often studies until 2:30 a.m. Even though she is a co-president of the College’s Rho Upsilon chapter, she was surprised by her nomination as an All-PA Scholar. She is proud to be a role model for her children, especially her oldest son. “That is one reason I decided to come back to college, because I wanted to be the message not just preach it,” Sawyer said. “I wanted to show them that they can do it and that they don’t have to settle for less.”