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  • News Release
  • Date: April 11, 2005
    Media Contact: Elizabeth Homan, 301-251-7970; Steve Simon, 301-251-7952

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    Montgomery College Student Named to All-USA Academic First Team
    Gabby Molinolo of Rockville, Md. One of 20 Honorees from Nation’s Two-year Schools

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    For those within the Montgomery College community who know Gabriela Molinolo, it’s not surprising to learn that the 24-year-old honors student has been recognized for her academic excellence by being named to the First Team of the 2005 All-USA Community and Junior College Academic Team.  Only 20 students nationwide receive this honor, which includes a cash award of $2,500.  Another 20 each are named to the Second and Third Teams.  Sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges, USA Today, and the American Association of Community Colleges, the annual award recognizes just 60 outstanding two-year college students nationwide.

    Molinolo’s achievement was announced in Boston, Massachusetts, today at the 2005 convention of the American Association of Community Colleges.  Montgomery College President Charlene R. Nunley, who was on hand for the ceremony, said, “As educators in the community college environment, we have the great privilege of working with students who have a passion for learning, a desire to succeed, and perhaps most notably, the willingness to give back to the college and the community.  Our mission states that we are in the business of changing lives—and that we do—but extraordinary students like Gabby Molinolo remind all of us how the wonderful stories and accomplishments of our students affect us, as well.”

    Beyond her 4.0 grade point average, Gabriela Molinolo has demonstrated stand-out leadership in student life and as a community volunteer.  Currently, she works as the assistant to the International Student Coordinators at the College’s Rockville Campus and serves as president of the Rockville Campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.  Molinolo was nominated for the prestigious national award by her Phi Theta Kappa adviser, Professor Sue Adler. 

    “I have gotten to know deans, department chairpersons, professors, and counselors.  It’s been an incredible experience,” said Molinolo.  “I have advocated for changes in services for international students and for permanent office space for the Honor Society.  How can I attend a school that is giving me so much and not give at least a little back? How could I not help someone when it is in my grasp to do so?”

    Math Professor Debra Poese was among several faculty and staff who recommended Molinolo for the award, writing: “Gabby is a warm, enthusiastic young woman who skillfully balances a hefty academic load, her work in the International Student Office, and her commitment to service in a wide variety of venues.”

    Brought to Rockville the first time at age five from Buenos Aries, Argentina, Molinolo said she was “raised in a house full of books and knowledge,” by parents who encouraged intellectual curiosity and research.  “I knew I had excellent people skills, and I wanted to help people,” said Molinolo, “but most of all, I enjoyed learning.”

    After her parents completed their postdoctoral work at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, and she had completed third grade, they returned to Buenos Aires.  She excelled in school continually, but quit university at 19 for a full-time job at a fragrance factory.

    Outside of her day job, she worked as an on-air personality for a national radio show.  In 2002, Molinolo came back to the U.S. permanently with her family and enrolled at Montgomery College.

    After graduating this May with an associate of arts (AA) degree in general studies, Molinolo will attend the prestigious Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts—her first choice.  Just prior to receiving the All-USA Academic Team honor, she learned that she had been accepted into the Ada Comstock Scholars program for non-traditional students at Smith College.  The college also awarded her almost $35,000 towards her education, which includes more than $20,000 in grant money.  Additionally, Molinolo was named Maryland’s New Century Scholar for 2005, for which she will receive a $2,000 scholarship, presented by the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.  Each state’s highest-scoring nominee for the All-USA Academic Team is chosen a New Century Scholar, according to Phi Theta Kappa. 

    “I hope to excel in Smith, and give as much there as I have given Montgomery College, or more.”  Molinolo is now engaged to Jean-Baptiste Sankara, an MC alumnus and former president of the College’s MC International Student Network—a student organization she helped launch.

    This year, Molinolo is one of three Maryland community college students named to the First Team of the All-USA Community and Junior College Academic Team.  Prior to Molinolo’s receipt of the honor, Montgomery College had last placed a student on the First Team in 1996, when Maureen Harrigan earned the recognition.

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    Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md.  The College serves nearly 50,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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