Juanita Artis, a Prince George’s Community College senior, experienced a myriad of tribulations before enrolling in college.
She graduated from high school with a 1.2 grade point average and faced tremendous personal family struggles. But she overcame her obstacles and excelled following her entrance into PGCC.
Now, Artis will deliver the student address the college’s 54th Commencement exercises, May 23, 7 p.m. at The Showplace Arena and Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Md.
Artis will receive an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice and associate of arts degree in psychology. She plans to attend University of Maryland, College Park next fall.
“Prince George's Community College has transformed me as a leader, a student and a woman,” Artis said in a statement. “The message that I want students to take away from my speech is that you can dictate your own future through the lessons you have learned here at the college,” she added.
Artis was selected as the 2013 Student Commencement Speaker after participating in a rigorous review process. Candidates were asked to submit an application and an essay. Finalists performed a version of their essay and speech before a committee of faculty and staff.
In her second year, she joined the Student Governance Association, developed confidence and enhanced her public speaking skills. Artis credits her professors for challenging her to understand that “A’s” in the classroom and in life are earned through hard work. Today, she has a 3.48 grade point average.
“Ms. Artis’ significant academic achievements, thoughtful essay responses and her commitment to her community were major reasons the committee chose her for the prestigious honor,” Clover Baker-Brown, professor of communications and chair of the Student Commencement Speaker Committee at Prince George’s Community College said in a statement. “As someone who has overcome educational obstacles and grown to become an exceptional student, Ms. Artis has made us proud to have her as a role model and to share her story of success with the larger college community,” she added.
Artis is a member of the Dean’s List, Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, Psi Beta Honor Society (National Honor Society in Psychology for Community and Junior Colleges) and the first cohort of Women of Wisdom. She was named to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges,” served as student speaker at Student Advocacy Day and mentor with A.L.A.N.A. (African, Latino, Asian, Native American), elected president of the Student Governance Association and participated in the Pathways to Student Leadership Program.
In addition to her academic success, she volunteered to organize a food drive at Martha’s Table, walked to raise money for Autism and Alzheimer’s charities and volunteered at Career Works and Café 458 in Atlanta during the college’s Alternate Spring Break trip. Currently, she is working part time at PGCC as an activities assistant in the College Life Services Department.