Panola College honors academic excellence

View the gallery of the 2019-2020 Academic Excellence Award recipients. Kamari Brown, Shauna Aycock, and Juan Apolonio are not pictured. Photos are recipient submitted.

Panola College announces the Academic Excellence Award recipients for the 2019-2020 academic year. Because of COVID-19, the awards ceremony was canceled, but recipients will be able to pick up their awards in the College Store, or have them mailed to their homes.

“Excellence deserves our acknowledgement wherever we find it, whether it be in the classroom or on the frontlines of dealing with a pandemic,” said Don Cocklin, faculty chair of this year’s Academic Excellence Awards committee. “To those who are doing both right now, we honor and acknowledge that though your life has become more challenging, you have risen to the occasion.”

The Academic Excellence Awards were created by Charles Moore, a math professor at Panola College for many years. The goal was to acknowledge students who excelled academically and recognize them with an award for their accomplishments.

Each department or field of study nominates two students who meet select criteria. The student must have, or be completing, 30 hours of coursework and be enrolled in two courses relating to the field in which they are nominated.

The recipients of the 2019-2020 Academic Excellence Awards are listed below, followed by the field of study in which they were nominated, their professor, and a quote.


Demetre Brewster:

CTI, Charlene Johnson

“I’m very excited and also thankful to receive this award. I have worked hard for the past two years to obtain my degree, and to be recognized for it feels amazing.”


Kamari Brown:

English, Tamara Mothershed

“I’m truly honored to receive this award. It feels great to be recognized for my academics and knowing my hard work is paying off.”


Misty Coleman:

Office Professional, Dwayne Ferguson

“I am honored to have been chosen for the Academic Excellence Award. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my family and friends stepping up to help and encourage me along the way.”


Nash Coultas:

Government, Brian Naples

“I am very honored and humble to receive this award. I want to thank my parents and everyone else that has supported me in my life and helped me get through the worst and best times of my life.”


Mitchell Fountain:

Math, Emily Zabcik

“I am very honored and grateful to have received the award in mathematics. I first of all give glory to God, because without him, I most certainly would not have been able to do it. I also give great honor to the incredible math professors here at Panola. I have learned so much through their impeccable teaching skills and friendly help over the past few years. I am very honored to not only call them teachers, but true friends. I am also very thankful for my wonderful family who have loved and supported me through my entire math and college career. Without their support, none of this would have been possible. Finally, I give honor to the faculty and staff at Panola Early College High School who have helped me every step of the way. Their guidance and support certainly does not go unnoticed.”


Abigail Garcia:

Science, Dr. Anthony Edwards

“I am honored to receive the Academic Excellence Award from Panola College. My first year at Panola has been filled with wonderful instructors who care about my goals and achieving success in their classes. Without them and their dedication, this year would have been more challenging. Thank you, Panola College.”


Melissa Garth:

ADN, Annissa Jackson

“When I first set out to attain my goal of becoming a nurse, I had God, my family, and my friend who supported me. Throughout my journey at Panola, I was blessed with some amazing teachers who pushed me to do my best. I also had a classroom full of strangers turn into a second family that gave special support that only other nursing students understand. As I near the last steps of my journey, I know that I could not have done this without any of them and I am grateful for each and every one of them. I am truly honored and grateful for being chosen to receive this award.”


Justin Gonzales:

Drama, Karen King

“I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Panola College for the opportunity to receive this award, and to Mrs. Karen King for choosing me. I believe that the Drama Department has a relatively strong lineup of individuals who all could have just as easily qualified, so I am flattered to have been considered exemplary amongst a wealth of dedicated people.”


Brittany Gregory:

Business (Technical), Dwayne Ferguson

“I want to express my sincere appreciation for being nominated for the Academic Excellence Award. It is a great honor to be chosen as a recipient for this award which recognizes the efforts that I put forth at Panola College. Thank you to my professors and family for their continuous support.”


Lindsey Leslie:

MA, Lynn Hanson

“Being chosen for this award is exciting and validating. I enjoyed my time in the MA program.”


Kaitlyn Nutt:

OTA, Cheri Lambert

“It means a lot to me to be receiving my department’s Academic Excellence Award. I, along with 21 excellent classmates, are a part of an outstanding program taught by outstanding professors and it is truly an honor and privilege to be able to represent my program.”


Daniel Quetzala Castillo:

HIT, Lynn Hanson

“Receiving this award came as a surprise to me, but I am honored. I can’t express enough gratitude to those who have pushed me forward in my academic and professional career.”


Leneve Williams:

Science, Dr. Kevin Rutherford

“I’m so thankful and honored to be nominated for the Academic Excellence Award for the science department. I would not have made it this far if it weren’t for all the people along my educational path. Panola College faculty and staff has exceeded my expectations in their ability to serve their students. Science classes are the highlight of my experience at Panola College because professors have a way of engaging with their students and creating a fun learning environment. One of my first classes at Panola was with Dr. Rutherford, and he challenged me in so many ways I could never imagine. But at the end of it all, he made me a better student, and I feel ready to take on nursing school this summer. I cannot thank Dr. Rutherford enough for all he’s done for me and being the biggest supporter at Panola.”


Hailey Woodworth:

History, Bill Offer

“This is an extremely special moment and I greatly appreciate everyone who has helped me along the way. I have faced several challenges on my way here, but each one of them has only strengthened me to make me the person I am today.”


Shauna Aycock:

English, Jaynellen Wylie


Juan Apolonio

Criminal Justice, Mark Dickerson