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RCSJ Students Named Coca-Cola Leaders Of Promise Scholars

Photo: (Pictured left to right) 2019 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars Candice Giunta, of Williamstown, and Paige Starr, of Franklinville.

Deptford Twp. – For two Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) students—Candice Giunta of Williamstown and Paige Starr of Franklinville—being awarded the 2019 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholarship is the “real thing” when it comes to acknowledging that the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) officers are thinking globally and acting locally as community leaders.

Giunta and Starr serve as chapter president and executive vice president, respectively, of RCSJ’s Alpha Psi Phi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, a premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges. Funded by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, nearly 900 applications were received, with 207 students selected based on scholastic achievement, community service and leadership potential. Giunta and Starr each received a $1,000 scholarship to aid with college expenses.

“My experience in PTK has taught me a great amount. I have learned to work with various people, as well as become more than just a member of the team; I have learned to lead,” said Giunta, a wife and mother of three who juggles being involved in her church, mentoring individuals recovering from drug dependency and participating in PTK and other community activities, all while maintaining a 3.88 grade point average (GPA). “This experience has brought me an abundance of newly found skills within myself such as soft skills, public speaking and time management. The road has not been easy for me, but it has taught me so much in such a short period of time and has molded me into a better version of myself in which I cannot be more proud.”

Starr, the recipient of four RCSJ scholarships, echoes Giunta’s sentiments, finding the challenges of being a leader an experience that is well worth the effort. With a 4.0 GPA and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education at Rowan University, Starr is motivated by the opportunity to bring about positive change as a leader and as a teacher.   

“To be seen as a leader from such an established platform gives me a sense of pride I never knew I could feel for myself,” admitted Starr. “Within this past year specifically, I have worked harder than ever before in my classes to not only be successful on paper, but to also have complete understanding of the content I am receiving, to be able to be the best possible teacher I can be at the end of my colligate journey. Receiving this award means that all of my hard work has been recognized, and that I have yet again been challenged to continue to be a leader both academically and socially.”

“I am very proud of both students for being awarded this scholarship opportunity. Candice and Paige demonstrate great leadership ability and possess the determination, passion and commitment necessary to achieve any goal they desire,” said Phi Theta Kappa Advisor Shawn Rutter. “The Alpha Psi Pi chapter and the College commend them both for their academic excellence as members of Phi Theta Kappa and recipients of this scholarship.”

“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, president of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa, make it possible for more deserving students to achieve their educational goals, and support tomorrow’s leaders of the global community.” 

 “It is my passion to see others succeed and grow and help my community in any and everyway possible. PTK has taught me to ‘think globally and act locally’ and that’s exactly how I plan to change the world one step at a time,” said Giunta.

“As a future educator, I recognize the importance of being a leader and that everyone has the opportunity to be a leader, sometimes they just need someone to believe in them enough,” added Starr.

PTK, an international honor society for two-year colleges that also includes associate degree-granting programs offered by four-year colleges, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018 and is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations.

For more information about Rowan College of South Jersey’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, visit
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