Two LaGuardia Community College Students Awarded by an International Honor Society

Long Island City, NY In a highly competitive statewide academic contest, two LaGuardia Community College students were awarded by the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society for their outstanding scholarship, leadership, and service to the college community.

Si Hyun Kim and Rhazi Mohamed Kone were selected as members of the prestigious 2007 All-New York Academic Team, which is made up of the state s best and brightest community college students. Si Hyun was selected to the first team and Rhazi made the second team.

The competition, which is sponsored by the New York Community College Trustees, The Association of Presidents of Public Community Colleges, the Faculty Council of Community College, and the Phi Theta Kappa International Society, attracted over 1,400 students from New York State community colleges.

Si Hyun and Rhazi are outstanding student scholars and leaders who will leave an indelible mark on the college, said President Gail O. Mellow. Their achievement is a testament to the college s nurturing environment and the faculty and staff s strong commitment to help students develop the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life.

When Si Hyun graduated from Hunter College High School in 2005, he could have gone directly to a four-year institution, but instead opted to go to LaGuardia. While my friends were all going to four-year colleges, said Si Hyun, I wanted to see what it was like to go to a community college that served non-traditional students.

So how was it for the student with rather traditional credentials: 19-years old, immigrated from Korea in 1994 with his family and settled in Flushing, and attended the city s public school system? My experience was absolutely great, he said.

Along with the knowledge he obtained in the classroom, Si Hyun said his fellow classmates taught him a valuable lesson. There are students here who have children, life commitments, and personal challenges, he said, but they still have the time to put their energies into their studies and college projects. They have inspired me.

He, too, is an inspiration. The liberal arts: math and science major excelled in the classes related to his major but exhibited a true talent for writing. Mathematics Professor Frank Wang described Si Hyun as among the most promising students whom I ve encountered in our college.

The college formally recognized his overall academic performance in 2006 when it presented him with the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award.

He is also one of the college s most dedicated campus leaders serving as PTK s publications officer and a participant in recruitment and fund-raising events. Si Hyun is a valuable chapter team-member with focus, drive, and discipline, said Karlyn Koh, director of the Honors Program. Officers like Si Hyun truly enable the chapter to remain active, vibrant, and of service to members of not only the honor society, but the college community as well.

The honor student will be graduating this spring and will veer away from the math and sciences to pursue a baccalaureate degree in history. I want to go into history because it has intensive writing classes, he said, and then I would like to pursue a degree in law.

Rhazi always wanted to pursue a career in architecture but educational options in his native country of the Ivory Coast were limited. Realizing his son s dream, his father convinced him to immigrate to the United States, and with that, he left his African homeland in 2004 and settled in East Elmhurst.

Upon his arrival, Rhazi s immediate goal was to learn English. He enrolled in LaGuardia s ESL program and after three semesters of intensive language instruction enrolled in the college s credit program.

He declared liberal arts: math and science as his major and from the onset distinguished himself as an outstanding student who has maintained a near-perfect 3.9 grade point average.

Rhazi displayed an impressive capacity for intellectual achievement, a versatile creative imagination, and strong motivation for scholastic success, said Sigmund Shen, one of his English professors.

The dedication he exhibits in the classroom extends to extracurricular activities on campus. There, he is a member of college s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, the math and science club, and the National Model United Nations.

He also shares his academic expertise with his fellow classmates serving as a math tutor and peer mentor. Leading and helping others is a tremendous experience, said Rhazi. It has made me understand that knowledge is something too precious to be selfishly kept and that it is only revealed when it is shared with others.

And as an instructional design assistant, Rhazi teaches faculty members how they can incorporate the latest pedagogical technology in their classroom instruction. For professor Stafford Gregoire of the English Department, Rhazi designed an academic website for one of his English classes. His excellent technology skills made my class run more smoothly, the professor said.

With graduation set for the spring, Rhazi has already gained acceptance to City College and the University of Florida and is waiting to hear from Cornell, Columbia and MIT. Whether he majors in civil engineering or architecture depends on where he decides to go.

But, ultimately, I will be an architect, Rhazi said with assurance.

LaGuardia Community College, part of the City University of New York, is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges. Its vibrant and culturally diverse student body, representing 159 countries and speaking 110 languages, has established LaGuardia as The World s Community College. The college provides a broad array of academic, workforce development, and continuing education programs to over 41,000 students. LaGuardia is located in the heart of western Queens. To learn about our exciting college, please go to