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Schoolcraft student racking up high-level scholarships, awards

May 18, 2021

Steffanie Hills stands proudly in a college hall wearing various awards and honor cords

Schoolcraft College student Steffanie Hills is working hard pursuing her dream of becoming a registered nurse, an extremely demanding major. She may need to put that aside for a moment to do a little home improvement project, however. Specifically, she might want to consider building a shelf or cabinet to hold all the awards she’s been receiving lately.

If she can find the time, that is.

Hills is currently majoring in the ADN program (Associate Degree in Nursing), minoring in Business Management and Administration and will start the nursing program this fall. That’s just the start of her studies, though. Here are just a few of her academic honors:

  • On the Dean’s List the last four semesters with a 4.0 GPA.
  • Schoolcraft Honors Scholar and a chairman for the Business Club.
  • Completed over 300 service/volunteer Hours in less than two years.
  • Led and presented at numerous leadership conferences and events on and off campus.
  • Founder of the SMS (Students Mentoring Students) Program at Schoolcraft as well as the Schoolcraft Votes Organization.
  • One of 33 College Students selected for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force that led to the Schoolcraft Votes initiative.
  • Named to the 2020 All-Michigan Academic Team.
  • Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) Fellow.
  • Past President of the Omicron Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
  • Received the Most Distinguished Officer Award for the Michigan Region, May 2019. 

In addition to her coursework, Hills works the midnight shift as an emergency tech at Beaumont, Farmington Hills’ Emergency and Trauma Center and has been a restaurant and bar manager at Bahama Breeze and PF Chang’s. 

As if all that’s not enough, she’s also a mother to a 5-year-old daughter.

A returning student, Hills previously earned an Associate Degree in General Studies from Schoolcraft as well as certificates as a Nursing Assistant, Phlebotomist and Medical Biller/Receptionist.

“How do I balance everything? I have no idea,” said Hills, who is a single mother. “Honestly, I keep a very detailed calendar and am constantly doing something. I try to remember that I am only one person and sometimes I cannot do it all.”

Thanks to excellent time-management skills and dedication, Hills received three of the nation’s top scholarships recognizing outstanding academic achievement. 

She is one of 20 students nationwide named to the All-USA Academic Team and will receive a $5,000 scholarship. The All-USA program is widely recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students attending associate degree-granting institutions. All-USA Academic Team members were selected for their outstanding intellectual achievement, leadership, and community and campus engagement.

The All-USA Academic Team is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, with additional support provided by Phi Theta Kappa and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. 

Hills also is the 2020 New Century Transfer Scholar from Michigan and will receive an additional $2,250 scholarship. New Century Transfer Scholars are selected based on their academic accomplishments, leadership activities and how well they extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom. Over 2,000 students were nominated from more than 1,200 college campuses across the country. Only one New Century Transfer Scholar is selected from each state. 

“We congratulate Steffanie for receiving these prestigious and highly competitive scholarships that recognize outstanding achievements both inside and outside the classroom,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “Scholarship programs like these not only recognize student achievement, but also create meaningful pathways for college students to succeed by putting completion within financial reach.”

Hills also is a 2020 Phi Theta Kappa Guistwhite Scholar, which includes a $5,000 scholarship. She was one of only 15 students out of more than 3,400 applicants to win this honor. 

Add them all up and that’s $12,250 in scholarship money, one of the highest amounts ever granted to a Phi Theta Kappa member.

"I just want to encourage others in the community that may be debating whether or not go to go back to college, that they can do it,” Hills said. “Whether the struggle to return is due to financial reasons, low grades in the past, or because they have children, Schoolcraft provides flexibility along with numerous services and programs that can help them. 

“If I can do it, so can you. It is never too late to be successful and accomplish your dreams.”

In addition, Hills recently was named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education. Schoolcraft President Dr. Conway A. Jeffress approved her nomination as the representative from Schoolcraft – only one student per college is selected.

Hills is one of 290 students, ranging from community colleges to large, four-year universities, who will make up the organization’s 2020-2021 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows. 

The Newman Civic Fellowship is a yearlong program for students from Campus Compact member institutions. The students selected for the fellowship are leaders on their campuses who demonstrate a commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities locally, nationally and internationally.

The desire to find solutions fits well with Hills’ career goal to manage an emergency department of a hospital in the community. She says her daughter is a driving force behind everything she does.

“I work hard so that she can have a better life than I did,” Hills said. “I have had to struggle since I was a child, but I still persevere knowing that someday I won't have to anymore. My daughter is my motivation and she is what keeps me going.”

Learn more about the Schoolcraft College’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter.