4-2-2015: Caroline France Receives Top Community College Honors

Caroline France, a student at Greenville Technical College, was selected from 1,700 applicants as one of only 15 recipients nationwide to be a 2015 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Guistwhite Scholar. Guistwhite Scholars are chosen based on academic achievement, leadership accomplishment, and engagement in Phi Theta Kappa programs. Each Guistwhite Scholar is awarded a medallion and a $5,000 scholarship. Academic honor society PTK is the two-year college equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa.

In addition, France received the highest score of any South Carolina student in the All USA Community College Academic Team competition and as a result was named a 2015 Coca-Cola New Century Scholar, making her one of only 50 students nationwide selected this year. The program is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, with support provided by the American Association of Community Colleges and PTK. This award carries a $2,000 scholarship.

“These are the highest honors a two-year college student can receive,” said Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College. “Caroline’s selection as both a Guistwhite Scholar and South Carolina’s Coca-Cola New Century Scholar is an amazing achievement reflecting her commitment to academics, leadership, and service.”
France served on Greenville Technical College’s All-USA Community College Academic Team along with Christy Martinson, Jason Gribick, and Denise Jackson. In all, there were 29 members selected across the state. According to PTK, judges consider grades, leadership, activities, and most important, how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom.

France previously earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Northern Colorado. She worked in New York as a writer/editor for a media research firm and later in China, teaching English, history, and Business English. While teaching, she filled in for a science instructor and discovered a new passion.
When family commitments brought her to Greenville, she enrolled at Greenville Technical College to improve her math skills so that she could take the GRE and pursue a master’s degree in a science-related field. Once she started, she realized she needed to broaden her science background as well, so she decided to earn an associate degree.

At GTC, France became involved in the Honors program and quickly assumed a leadership role in Phi Theta Kappa. She earned a 4.0 GPA and served as vice president for communications and later president of PTK. Under her leadership, the organization launched a successful Radon Awareness Flash Mob, which alerted people in the Upstate to the dangers of radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. The group also held the college’s first diversity fair, an event that promoted acceptance and inclusion. Other service related activities led by France, while a PTK officer, included a campus-wide toy drive, clean-up of roadways through Adopt-a-Highway, and work in Synergy Garden, a community garden providing fresh produce aimed at improving the health and well-being of neighborhood residents. France has also served as vice president of the college’s Biology Club.

As she completes her degree at Greenville Technical College, France is considering two different educational paths. She will either earn a master’s degree for a career in medical research or will pursue medical school to become a doctor of osteology.
“I feel very fortunate to have had some really wonderful professors at Greenville Tech,” France said. “Lisa McDonald taught Honors Zoology and got me involved in scientific research on snakes. Tom Treffinger took writing that I thought was good to the next level. Dr. Frank Provenzano, who was head of the Honors program, was a life-changing individual for me not only as an advisor but as a role model for what a human being should be.”