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Inspiring Semifinalists Highlight College and Career Readiness across the United States

Posted by Berkeley Chamber of Commerce on May 11, 2015 in Press Releases
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Inspiring Semifinalists Highlight College and Career Readiness across the United StatesExemplars from ACT’s National College and Career Readiness Campaign Include

Students, High Schools, Community Colleges and Businesses 

IOWA CITY, Iowa—The goal of college and career readiness for all has bright prospects based on the semifinalists in ACT’s third National College and Career Readiness Campaign. This annual program honors a distinguished group of students, schools and employers for exemplifying what is being done in states across the country to improve individuals’ prospects for success.

“Each of the semifinalists represent the truest form of commitment to the importance of college and career readiness,” said Scott Montgomery, ACT vice president for policy, advocacy and government relations. “State leaders should be very proud of the students, high schools, community colleges and employers they’ve identified. They all have overcome challenges and made important strides to improve academic achievement and professional advancement across their states.”

The national semifinalists were selected from nominations by each of 34 participating states across four award categories: Student Readiness (student), College and Career Transition (high school), Career Preparedness (community college) and Workplace Success (employer). Each of these categories represents a critical juncture in the college and career readiness continuum.

The semifinalists are as follows:


  • Sandy Flores, Los Angeles
  • Lamar Greene, Richmond, Va.
  • Derek Larson, Honaunau, Hawaii
  • Brittany Roney, Oakes, N.D.

High Schools

  • Dorman High School, Roebuck, S.C.
  • James Madison Memorial High School, Madison, Wis.
  • Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Timpview High School, Provo, Utah

Community Colleges

  • Iowa Lakes Community College, Estherville, Iowa
  • Mid-Plains Community College, North Platte, Neb.
  • Mitchell Technical Institute, Mitchell, S.D.
  • Valencia College, Orlando, Fla.


  • East Alabama Healthcare Authority, Opelika, Ala.
  • Eastman, Kingsport, Tenn.
  • Safran Aerospace Composites, Rochester, N.H.
  • Santee Cooper, South Carolina

The exemplars will be feted at a gala in Washington, D.C., in June. They were determined earlier this week by the 2015 National Selection Committee comprising education, business, and political leaders.

The committee was chaired by Virginia “Ginny” Edwards of Editorial Projects in Education and included Kris Amundson from the National Association of State Boards of Education; Jeremy Anderson of the Education Commission of the States; Lisa Brady Gill, formerly of Texas Instruments; Maureen Hoyler of the Council for Opportunity in Education; former governor Jock McKernan of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Elisabeth Pearson of the Democratic Governors Association; Andy Rotherham of Real Clear Education; and McKenzie Vaughn of the Republican Governors Association.

The Campaign’s goal is to bring attention to the hard work and exceptional achievements of education leaders, teachers, top employers, and students. Each state exemplar, regardless of semifinalist status, will receive an academic scholarship from ACT.

Further details are available at

Below are more details on the accomplishments of each semifinalist.


Sandy Flores, Los Angeles

Sandy balances major responsibilities for caring for her two younger siblings with finding time to excel in academics and school and church leadership roles. She manages all of her commitments while maintaining an exceptional GPA and serving as a technology leader at her school.

Lamar Greene, Richmond, Va.

Lamar has been heavily involved as a leader in his local Boys and Girls Club, served as a page in the U.S. Senate and interned at a laboratory dedicated to the early detection of heart disease. He has accomplished these varying and impressive roles and done extraordinarily well academically while struggling to find a male role model.

Derek Larson, Honaunau, Hawaii

Derek is a recovering drug addict who has become a leader in Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. He has risen above his struggles to perform very strongly in dual enrollment. Derek has been taking college courses from Hawai‘i Community College as part of Early College. He is on the Dean’s List and projected to receive 36 college credits by the time he graduates from high school this spring.

Brittany Roney, Oakes, N.D.

Brittany was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the fall of 2014, yet still has been able to focus on her studies. She continues to maintain good grades, contribute her time and talent to extra-curricular activities, and hold down two part-time jobs. She plans to attend Valley City State University in Valley City, N.D., to secure a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in accounting and/or agribusiness.

High Schools

Dorman High School, Roebuck, S.C.

Dorman High School has been divided into five schools of study, all headed by a dean. This allows students access to courses, information, community members, internships and preparation for their desired college/career path. Dorman has specific programs for seniors at risk of not graduating, ESOL students, young women and women in STEM.

James Madison Memorial High School, Madison, Wis.

JMMHS works to ensure the career and college readiness of every student through use of a multi-tiered system of supports. This includes an array of tutoring and mentoring programs, such as an after-school study center where teachers stay to assist students with homework. It also has an action team focused on increasing access to and participation in advanced, honors and Advanced Placement coursework for students in underrepresented groups.

Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, Kansas City, Kan.

100% of Sumner’s seniors are admitted to a post-secondary institution, and every student who attends Sumner participates in a minimum of two college visits by the time they graduate. All students also take ACT WorkKeys assessments, designed to measure their job-readiness skills.

Timpview High School, Provo, Utah

THS supports struggling students through a tiered system of intervention and support. This system provides students with the opportunity to receive additional support and instruction from teachers that meet the individual needs of the student. ACT Explore assessment data have been instrumental in helping THS identify struggling students before they enter the ninth grade.

Community Colleges

Iowa Lakes Community College, Estherville, Iowa

Iowa Lakes Community College partners with local employers on training, continuing education, advanced career placement and degree opportunities. Many students mentor high schoolers interested in STEM careers. Each spring, Iowa Lakes hosts a “CAAP It” day where students complete ACT WorkKeys assessments free of charge to earn their National Career Readiness Certificate.

Mid-Plains Community College, North Platte, Neb.

Mid-Plains Community College has multiple relationships with local employers, including networking events, advisory committees and internship programs. It ranks highest among its peer institutions in “success rate,” the three-year graduation/transfer rate. Students are involved with many leadership and volunteer organizations and receive hands-on training in their fields of study.

Mitchell Technical Institute, Mitchell, S.D.

MTI hosts a Career Expo each year that brings together business/industry and post-secondary education representatives so that high school juniors and seniors can begin connecting the dots between their interests, education after high school and career goals. The school’s 99 percent job placement rate shows that its graduates are well prepared and in high demand in their chosen career area.

Valencia College, Orlando, Fla.

Valencia offers 118 associate of science degrees/certificate programs, preparing students for immediate entry into the workforce with an average 96 percent job placement rate. The Accelerated Career Pathways partnership with K-12 schools and local employers creates an educational pathway where students complete college coursework while still in high school. Valencia’s Bridges to Success team works with at-risk populations to support postsecondary transition from application to enrollment and graduation.


East Alabama Healthcare Authority, Opelika, Ala.

The East Alabama Healthcare Authority offers a variety of free educational and developmental opportunities throughout the year for entry-level employees, managers, directors, senior leadership and everyone in between. It also offers employees financial support to further their careers and opens job opportunities with several scholarship programs.

Eastman, Kingsport, Tenn.

Eastman supports individual growth and development of employees by offering a dedicated training and development group focused on building the skills and knowledge of employees through classroom courses, online courses, just-in-time training, tuition reimbursement, leadership development and other training and development resources. The program has a strong emphasis on coaching and mentoring employees through their careers, allowing the company to promote from within.

Safran Aerospace Composites, Rochester, N.H.

Safran Aerospace Composites develops an annual training plan for every employee, using internal and external programs to meet its training needs. For example, in 2014 Safran enrolled production operators in the WorkReadyNH workforce development program, in which employees earned both a National Career Readiness Certificate and a community college certificate. Safran also partners with local high schools via The Little League of Manufacturing.

Santee Cooper, South Carolina

Santee Cooper has a very competitive tuition assistance program for its employees who want to pursue educational degrees, as well as its own training and development unit. Santee Cooper also offers an associate and certificate program to high school seniors, who then attend a technical school in order to gain the skills necessary to gain hands-on skills working for Santee Cooper.

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ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as the nation’s leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality achievement assessments grounded in more than 50 years of research and experience. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions that help people succeed from elementary school through career, providing insights that unlock potential. To learn more about ACT, go to

Inspiring Semifinalists Highlight College and Career Readiness across the United States