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Eight students recognized for excellence, one wins national Coke scholarship

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Tony Vezina’s incredible comeback is now complete.

Vezina, PCC’s Cascade Campus student body president and leader of PCC’s District Student Council, has been chosen as a 2016 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar by national two-year college honor society Phi Theta Kappa. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation recognizes 50 Gold, 50 Silver and 50 Bronze scholars nationally, and provides nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually. Each Gold Scholar receives a $1,500 scholarship and a special medallion.

His selection as a Coca-Cola Gold Scholar was based on scores in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition, which included 19 other students nationwide. In addition, Vezina and seven other PCC students earned OCCA All Academic Scholar designations, getting to meet Gov. Kate Brown at a ceremony in Salem in April.

“I was born into poverty, generational drug addiction and incarceration, and survived a childhood of abuse that led me to drug use, criminality, the criminal justice system and eventually homelessness,” Vezina said. “I’ve been sober almost four years, three of them spent in higher education, which gave me the context to understand societal elements that led to my inadequacies.”

After earning his GED through a Multnomah County program, the Northeast Portland resident found his way to PCC by way of a recovery scholarship offered through the Cascade Campus Women’s Resource Center.

After earning his GED through a Multnomah County program, the Northeast Portland resident found his way to PCC by way of a recovery scholarship offered through the Cascade Campus Women’s Resource Center.

After trying several times to kick his addiction on his own, he found support at Volunteers of America, a nonprofit that provides a range of services for low-income and marginalized people. Once clean and sober, Vezina co-founded the 4th Dimension Recovery Center (4D), a Northeast Portland-based “event-driven” center for young people in recovery, offering a range of drug-free activities.

After earning his GED through a Multnomah County program, the Northeast Portland resident found his way to PCC by way of a recovery scholarship offered through the Cascade Campus Women’s Resource Center. Vezina started a student recovery club at the campus and joined student government. He was named president of Cascade’s PTK chapter and Cascade’s ASPCC office this year before being elected by his peers as District Student Council leader.

“PCC has been revolutionary in my life,” he said. “It’s changed how I see the world and my place in it. ASPCC has become my bread and butter. Working with diverse populations has expanded my reality so much. The things I learn from my colleagues every day are helping me to be a better human being.”

For more on his story, check out our in-depth profile on him.

The complete list of OCCA All-Academic Team winners from PCC include Vy Vo (Southeast Portland) and Gaetan-Dauphin Nzowo (Beaverton) of the Rock Creek Campus; Mana Amadon (Southeast Portland) and April Mogwai Turner (Southeast Portland) of the Sylvania Campus; Mallory Jasperson (Southeast Portland) and Tai Pham (Northeast Portland) from the Southeast Campus; and Andrew Viceroy (Southeast Portland) and Vezina from the Cascade Campus.

To read more about PCC’s OCCA All-Academic Team, check out The Bridge article.

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About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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Comments

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x by Linda 1 year ago

Congratulations on your award, Tony, and your ongoing success in life. You are a testament to the power of education and hard work.

x by Lukas Soto 1 year ago

It has been a blessing to watch you grow and mature into the man you are today Tony. You’re a bright light in the community and a wonderful role model, keep up the great work man!

x by Tony Greiner 1 year ago

For more details on all the candidates, with photos, visit:

http://pccbridge.com/index.php/2016/05/11/eight-students-recognized-for-oregon-all-academic-team/

Congratulations to you all!

x by Adam 1 year ago

Seems like people are taught to like an “underdog” story.

x by Adam 1 year ago

Stay sober.

x by Heidi Dombek 1 year ago

Tony, use the memories and gain wisdom from past experiences. Then, keep pushing ahead like you always do. Thank you for being the caring, and authentic leader that you are at ASPCC. You have definitely made a ripple in the PCC waters. Congratulations on the DSC getting student representation on the PCC Board of Directors. Best wishes for your future as a scholar, and advocate.

x by Rhianna Johnson 1 year ago

Great story! Reminds me of this quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

x by Dani Dennenberg 1 year ago

Beautiful story of resilience!

x by Josh 1 year ago

Every time I see Tony in the community – he is leading. Thanks for the inspiration!

x by elizabeth baker 1 year ago

I just want to say to you what an awesome job you have done and even though I don’t know you know I will be praying for you.. Keep up the good work

x by Teresa 1 year ago

What an incredible story! Great job Tony!

x by Tammy Louie 1 year ago

Well deserved! Congratulations and a big THANK YOU for all you’ve done for the PCC Cascade community.

x by Gregory 1 year ago

damn good seeing you up here Tony, and i will be going back for summer term. And if you are around maybe you can give me a hand on looking up scholarships. Love you brother.

x by Steven DeLorenzo 1 year ago

Well, I think we are missing a very important point made by a very important person. Martin Luther King made a very righteous and honest observation to the effect that it is not important the color of a person’s skin, but rather that it is the content of his or her character that makes the difference. That is a perspective that will add value to all lives in all circumstances. One that we all can live up to by demonstrating better character and making less demands.

x by O’Nesha Cochran 1 year ago

Watching Tony Vezina become this amazing trail blazer for social justice has been amazing. He was already simmering for being a part of radical change in all fields of social work, working to demand equity over, what the masses label as “equality”. But after our alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama, he came back a new person. It was like the blinders were taken off and he could see the world through a lenses of cultural acceptance. A new acceptance, where he understood, he could not readily identify with Every aspect of other peoples pain, but he could be a part of the solution to end racial inequality. Many people talk about cultural competency, but Tony is and always has been more than a talker. He is a person of action. I am proud to walk beside him in any organized effort to bring about change in our community. He is a leader, and I believe, his rise to leadership is only beginning.

x by lorri oneill 1 year ago

Thank you for being the kind of person that you are “Keep winning”

x by Maria Velazquez Ortiz 1 year ago

Hi,

I like the news. It is a great article about students’ success, but I think there is something to fix on the following paragraph:

His selection as a Coca-Cola Gold Scholar was based on scores “the” earned in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition, which included 19 other students nationwide. In addition, Vezina and seven other PCC students earned OCCA All Academic Scholar designations, getting to meet Gov. Kate Brown at a ceremony in Salem in April.

On the first line between “scores” and “earn” I think it should say “he” instead of “the.”

Thanks,

x by elizabeth knight 1 year ago

Recovery and transformation are not in a zero sum relationships. The success of one, is the success of all. Congratulations to all the winners.

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