Academic team times two
JCCC student Silvana Palau Valiente has a calendar that would confuse even the most organized student. She belongs to two teams – both with the words “academic” and “team” in their title – yet they are entirely different in their purpose and scope.
The first “academic team” is the Academic Excellence Challenge Team, a quiz-bowl type of competition for Kansas community colleges.
She has two specialties, and the first one makes common sense. She’s an expert on South America because she grew up in Paraguay, her father now lives in Bolivia, and she’s only been in the United States for the last two years to attend JCCC.
The second expertise takes a little more explaining. She is the team expert on American television.
“I love American TV shows,” she said. “Do you know the channel Nickelodeon? I love Nickelodeon. ”
From TV shows like “Sister, Sister” and “Friends” she learned about American life and decided to attend college in the U.S. Her uncle lived in Gardner, so she applied at JCCC. Thanks to a partnership between Paraguay and Kansas, Paraguayans can attend public colleges in Kansas for in-state tuition.
After the first semester, even that cost was eliminated as she earned an honors scholarship for full tuition.
To keep up with her studies and activities – president of the college’s honor society, practice for the Academic Excellence Challenge, a job as a student ambassador, her honors contract in managerial accounting – she’s had to give up some TV time. Nowadays, she’s loyal only to “The Vampire Diaries” and “Alcatraz.”
Shutting off the shows and hitting the books may have paid off, and that’s where the second “academic team” fits into the schedule. Palau Valiente was named to the All-Kansas Academic Team, an honor that lets her compete to be on the 2012 All-USA Academic Team.
It’s a bit confusing, since the Academic Excellence Challenge Team and the All-Kansas Academic Team sound so similar, and now Palau Valiente is a member of both.
But the main difference is that the Academic Excellence Challenge Team is an activity open to any JCCC student who wants to compete by answering trivia and curriculum-related questions.
The All-Kansas Academic Team is an award. Students are selected by their own community college for the annual statewide academic team. The 2012 All-USA Academic Team is sponsored by USA Today, Phi Theta Kappa international honor society and the American Association of Community Colleges.
Palau Valiente has been recognized at an award ceremony hosted by educators and legislators in Topeka.
That other “academic team” – the Academic Excellence Challenge Team – won sectional play, entitling them to compete in the national tournament in Florida. Palau Valiente had to pencil that event into her calendar as well, and the trips are so close together, she might as well keep her suitcase packed.
Mindy Kinnaman, manager, student life and leadership development, and adviser to the Academic Excellence Challenge Team, said Palau Valiente is a joy to be around.
“She’s friendly, kind and very hard working,” Kinnaman said. “No matter what, she gives her best to Johnson County Community College, and it is that thoughtfulness that makes her a tremendous asset to JCCC.”
Palau Valiente said she’ll try for a bit of fun on the beaches while at the National Academic Quiz Tournaments. As long as it doesn’t interfere with “The Vampire Diaries…”