Ebony Nava, USA Today’s 20 Winners of the 2013 All-USA Community College Academic Team and Coca-Cola New Century Scholar

Ebony Nava

The New Century Scholar award is part of a national program sponsored by the national honor society Phi Theta Kappa, USA Today and the American Association of Community Colleges. Ebony Nava was named the 2013 New Century Scholar for Kentucky.

In addition, Nava was the recipient of the KCTCS Martha C. Johnson Scholarship for $2,500. Martha Johnson is a native of Ashland and a graduate of Ashland Community and Technical College. She is retired from Ashland, Inc. and is the founding chair of the KCTCS Board of Regents. "Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) has given me a way out of demanding and low paying jobs, opened my eyes to possibility, and made me aware of an array of available career options," said Nava. "The opportunity to attend a community college has truly been my stepping stone into a world of higher learning."

Nava will graduate from BCTC in spring 2014 with an associate of science degree.

Ebony's story in her own words

Ebony Nava on stage at the New Horizons awards luncheon accepting the 2013 New Century Scholar awardI am both honored and overwhelmed by the recognition my recent accomplishments have awarded me. Honored because I am happy to represent a community college success, and overwhelmed because my ultimate goal is not recognition.

Three years ago, I was a 21 year old with a second grade education. I had no transcripts, no record of standardized testing, and had just received custody of my six younger siblings. While I could read, I lived my life trying to hide a huge secret, I was dumb... or at least that's what I genuinely believed.

I was already accustomed to working multiple jobs in order to survive financially, and had given up on the idea of ever receiving a formal education. I was, un-in-spired, and unaware of my own potential.

Had it not been for a family counselor, Ms. Higgins, believing in me, who knows how many years would have slipped by? Instead, her faith in my ability along with kind words of encouragement served to plant the beginnings of inspiration in me.

At the time, I was conflicted and had many misconceptions about the adult education system. While I was ashamed because I couldn’t even help with one of my sibling’s third grade arithmetic problems, I thought that receiving a GED would be a permanent brand of failure. Ms. Higgins, however, explained to me that receiving a GED would not mark me a failure, but instead would open the door to the possibility of higher education.

I received my GED with honors in 2011 and those beginnings of inspiration planted in me by Ms. Higgins were showing through, as I, also, began to believe in myself and in my ability.

I took the next step and applied to BCTC for the fall 2011 semester. I was lucky to have instructors, such as my Communications professor Ms. Leonard, who nurtured my inspiration by challenging me and taking the time to encourage me academically.

I completed that first semester with a 4.0 GPA and was fully inspired by my unexpected success to continue the pattern of academic excellence.

Late nights, more than a few Red Bulls, and a couple hundred hours spent in the BCTC tutoring lab later, I have now proven myself to be a success at the college level, maintaining a 4.0 GPA while also being involved in several extracurricular activities. I am also thrilled to be preparing to transfer to a four year university after my anticipated spring 2014 graduation from BCTC.

While my will to overcome and desire for academic success has opened doors, both academically and within my community, I would not have begun this educational journey without the initial inspiration planted in me by Ms. Higgins; nor would I have continued it had I not been nurtured by numerous others along the way.

My ultimate goal, then, is not recognition, but to inspireMy ultimate goal, then, is not recognition, but is to inspire and encourage inspiration and therefore continued success. My own life took a drastic turn for the better after someone took a few moments of time to inspire and encourage me; the least I can do is try to make an equally worthwhile and memorable impact on another’s life.

As educators who are in positions of authority and mentorship, I challenge you to remember the power you have to change lives. Whether or not you see immediate results, you are impacting your students one way or another. Make everyday encounters worthwhile; plant and cultivate inspiration in those individuals you have the opportunity to influence.

I would like to now thank several instructors who impacted me in an especially positive way during my time at BCTC. I’d like to thank Professor Leonard, Mr. Reece, Professor Adair, and Professor Breeding. While these instructors challenged me intellectually, they were also committed to inspiring their students through their own passion for their respective fields – as well as through their genuine concern for the success of their students.

I would also like to extend my personal thanks to Dr. Augusta Julian, the President of Bluegrass Community and Technical College, to Ms. Hamm, the KY region Phi Theta Kappa Coordinator, as well as to my Phi Theta Kappa advisors of the BCTC chapter of Alpha Phi Kappa, Ms. Baker, Mr. Rogers, and Ms. Tucker. Thank you for your inspiring and nurturing inspiration.

See more about Ebony on the BCTC website