Brookdale student and Howell resident Kelsey Giggenbach has been named New Jersey’s top achieving community college student in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition.
Giggenbach, 20, has been named a 2017 New Century Scholar, joining 51 top scorers from across the U.S., Canada and internationally. She will receive a $2,000 scholarship sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, the American Association of Community Colleges and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) international honor society.
The competition, which included more than 1,800 nominees from more than 1,000 community colleges, evaluated students on grades, leadership, activities and their contributions outside of the classroom.
A social sciences major and aspiring occupational therapist, Giggenbach was nominated for her work as a PTK officer, a peer mentor in the Brookdale honors program and for her community service efforts on and off campus.
Giggenbach currently volunteers at the Brighton Gardens of Middletown assisted living facility while working as a youth reading instructor at the Kumon Math and Reading Center in Howell. She also works part-time at a local restaurant while enrolled as a full-time student at Brookdale.
“I am kind of shocked, but very humbled to receive this recognition,” said Giggenbach, a graduate of Howell High School. “To be selected from among so many outstanding students is a tremendous honor.”
After graduating from Brookdale this May, Giggenbach plans to pursue a master’s degree and a career working with autistic children and their families. Her passion, she said, began in high school, when she joined a program allowing her to spend time with a young autistic student during the school day.
“It gave me purpose, in a way, to be able to witness how pure his heart was,” Giggenbach said. “Luckily he had a wonderful family. But upon research and in some other experiences that I’ve had, that’s not always the case. Not all parents are willing or able to allow their child to develop fully when they have autism. I’d like to be that middle man, so to speak, to make the process easier. I want to help parents adapt and assimilate to their child being autistic, and to help those children have the happiest and most fulfilling life possible.”
Giggenbach is the second consecutive Brookdale student to be named a New Century Scholar. Fellow PTK member and Brookdale honor student Sameerah Wahab earned the honor in 2016.
Giggenbach will be recognized with her fellow New Century Scholars during the American Association of Community Colleges national convention in New Orleans, LA on April 24. The All-USA Program is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group and presented by USA Today and Phi Theta Kappa.
Learn more about Brookdale’s PTK chapter here.