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Four QCC Students Named to 2021 Phi Theta Kappa All-Massachusetts Academic Team

April 2021
  •  PTK student Edmilse Diaz
    PTK student Edmilse Diaz
  • PTK student Alexander Riopel
    PTK student Alexander Riopel
  • PTK student Vincent Carl Strzelecki
    PTK student Vincent Carl Strzelecki
  • PTK student Bradley Sylvestre
    PTK student Bradley Sylvestre

Four Quinsigamond Community College Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) students, Edmilse Diaz, Alexander Riopel, Vincent Carl Strzelecki and Bradley Sylvestre, have been recognized for their outstanding achievements as members of the 2021 Phi Theta Kappa All-Massachusetts Academic Team. 

Each year, the highest academic achievers in the state’s 15-member community college system are selected for the team. Students are chosen for their high academic achievement, as well as their exceptional student service and are honored by the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges (MACC). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony is being held virtually, as opposed to its traditional venue of the Massachusetts State House. Each student is currently being spotlighted through MACC’s social media, through a virtual “PTK Community College Excellence Week,” during the last week of April.

“This is an honor not only for these outstanding students, but also for QCC. These students have worked hard to get to where they are. Their dedication and perseverance are an inspiration to everyone who dreams of a better life through higher education,” said QCC President Luis G. Pedraja, Ph.D.

Edmilse Diaz is a member of the Class of 2022 Dental Hygiene program. Originally from the Dominican Republic, she moved to the U.S. as a child.

“I received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Saint Michael’s College in 2015. Throughout my life, I have continued to pursue learning and have always challenged myself. I came to QCC when I decided to pursue a career in dental hygiene, because I wanted to help raise awareness on the importance of oral health and its affect on a person’s overall health,” Ms. Diaz said.

During her spare time, Ms. Diaz can be found training in Jiu Jitsu and mantis boxing.

"I also love spending time with my dog, 'Johnny,' and when the sun is shining, you can often catch me on a hiking trail somewhere," she added. 

Alexander Riopel chose QCC because of its MassTransfer program with UMass Amherst.

“I am currently a business transfer major and plan on pursuing a finance degree at a four-year university in the fall. QCC has done a great job preparing me for a four-year university,” Mr. Riopel said. “As the former president of QCC’s PTK Honor Society, I was fortunate to be part of a group that affected real change within the community.”

Mr. Riopel continues to push himself academically and is part of the Commonwealth Honors Program. In addition to his extracurricular activities and academics, he consistently works 20-plus hours a week, to support himself financially while in school.

"I am proud to say that I have made the most of my time at QCC, and look forward to continuing on to a four-year university," he said. 

Vincent Carl Strzelecki came to QCC to pursue a degree in Computer Science. He was also named a 2021 New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar. Mr. Strzelecki said QCC’s math and writing centers were both important resources he utilized. 

“My life’s goal is to help as many people as I can, and I am working hard to build a career in video game development, so I can create games that are inexpensive, highly accessible, and very enjoyable,” he said.

Bradley Sylvestre is in QCC’s Nurse Education program and is a member of the Class of 2022.

“Despite classes being online with limited time in a physical classroom, I have been able to learn from the best and apply that knowledge in my clinical settings. I was able to go to a local nursing home in Westborough and make a difference with the elderly; see a birth at UMass Hospital in Leominster, and have been able to bond with patients in need of companionship. I was able to do all of this thanks to the hardworking educators at QCC, who were constantly advocating for me and my fellow nursing students, despite the grueling process of running a nursing school during a pandemic,” Mr. Sylvestre said. “QCC is a community college, and for me, a new nursing student from Rhode Island, QCC has become my community.”

According to Bonnie Coleman, QCC’s manager for Student Resources and PTK advisor, the Spring 2021 class of new inductees is the largest group in the College’s history, with 240 new students becoming PTK members. There are 555 total active PTK members at this time.

“The four students honored are a part of a large and impactful student organization. It is an honor to work with such amazing students,” she said.