Daniela Calderon was one of 30 students named to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s 2015 All-California Academic First Team. She graduated from Allan Hancock College last fall and transferred to Cal State University, Chico.

A recent Allan Hancock College graduate has been recognized as one of the top 30 students enrolled in California’s 112 community colleges. Daniela Calderon was one of 30 students from 24 community colleges selected to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s 2015 All-California Academic Team.

“I sat in my car and cried when I realized what happened. I thought of everything before that moment and couldn’t believe how far I had come,” said Calderon, who was a member of Hancock’s Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society. “I have always done very well in school and received awards. But for some reason, this one is different. This time is different, and I am different.”

The first member of her family to attend college, Calderon graduated from Hancock in 2014 with an Associate in Arts degree in communication studies. She had a 3.55 cumulative grade point average. Calderon transferred to California State University, Chico where she is an organizational communication major with a minor in marketing.

Calderon will be honored during a Phi Theta Kappa awards luncheon in Sacramento, CA on April 7. The mission of Phi Theta Kappa is to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students, and to provide opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming.

The selection of the All-California first, second and third teams was based on scores nominees received from the Phil Theta Kappa judges at the national level. Thirty-one additional students were named to the second team, and 31 to the third team. The Community College League of California sponsors the awards ceremony where all team members receive medallions of honor and a certificate.

Calderon admitted she did not believe the news when she first heard the announcement. She contacted her Alpha Gamma Sigma advisor at Hancock, Mary Alice Majoue, who confirmed the news. Majoue was part of an on-campus committee that nominated Calderon for the award.

“Daniela comes from a challenging family life and worked 90 hours per week while attending Hancock,” said Majoue. “She always had a lot on her plate, but she was always very positive, motivated and put other people’s needs before hers. Now, it is her time to be in the spotlight.”

Calderon had plenty of praise for Majoue and other Hancock faculty and staff.

“I would not have been able to grow without the college and all the help and inspiration I received from people like Mary Alice Majoue, who helped me in the Math Center as an advisor and friend. Herb Elliot and Rob Meyer put in extra effort to help me overcome my struggles. Last, but certainly not least, Basil Jenkins inspired me more than any other person I have ever met. I will always be grateful to all of them.”

During the awards ceremony next month, a handful of students will be named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-American Community College Scholarship Team. Last year, 12 Californians were selected and awarded generous scholarships.

“To be named an All-American would be the ultimate recognition and acknowledgement of my life. Either way, I am extremely proud and honored to represent Hancock on the All-California Academic Team,” Calderon said.

Calderon hopes to become a motivational speaker after graduation to share her personal story.