Paula Villacres, ʻ13, has received the 2013 Phi Beta Kappa Association of New York Scholarship, awarded to outstanding students who started at a community college and are inspired to continue their liberal arts education leading to a Bachelor’s degree.
In the application, Paula described her volunteer work in her native country of Colombia for the American Rotary Club. There, in the city of Pereira, she served as a translator for English speaking doctors who performed plastic surgery on children with cleft lip palates and related problems.
“My role was to communicate clearly with young patients in a way that was both reassuring and calming,” said Paula, who added, “To this day, it is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”
Paula’s passion for languages started early. As a young girl in Colombia, she studied English; then tutored school children and eventually taught English as a Second Language (ESL) before she came to the U.S. in 2008 to join her family in Queens.
Her cousin, Maria Cristina Franco, is a part-time student at QCC studying Business Administration. Maria highly recommended QCC to Paula because of its high academic standards, beautiful campus and friendly, supportive people.
Paula was convinced QCC was the school for her and enrolled in the spring of 2011. During this period, Paula taught Spanish part-time at the Berlitz Learning Center in Manhattan. Even with her hectic schedule, she maintained a perfect G.P.A. and was named a member of the College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in December 2012. During the commencement ceremony on May 31, she was presented with The President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Associate in Arts Degree.
“It was wonderful for my family to attend the Honors Convocation this past spring and see for themselves how hard I’ve worked to excel.”
Paula credits the “amazing” faculty for providing the necessary tools to develop and nurture an in-depth knowledge of languages and diverse cultures.
In the fall of 2013, Paula will continue her studies at Queens College, majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She plans to participate in volunteer work, pursue an advanced degree and work as a Speech Pathologist in the public elementary schools.