State Champions

2019 ACT College and Career Readiness Champions

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Ina Harbison

K-12 Champion

Teacher , Cordova High School

Lisa Smith

Postsecondary Champion

Director fo Student Resource Center , Wallace State Community College

College and career readiness means students are equipped with not only content knowledge but work place skills as well. Students have been taught the art of “learning” so they can scaffold knowledge and become life-long learners. This holistic approach allows students to prosper educationally, economically, and socially.

Katherine Grubbs

Student Champion

Virgil I. Grissom High School

To be college and career ready a student has to have the ability to step out of their comfort zone, the ability to leave their past behind and look towards the future and know, this is what you are meant to do.

Jeremy Hodge

Workforce Champion

Director of Career Services , Alabama State University

"Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your Good is better and your Better is your Best." - St. Jerome

As students, faculty and staff, it is imperative that we start with the end in mind. We must realize that each student comes to college with a vision. A vision of success to make a better life for themselves and/or their community. As Career Readiness Practitioners, it is our responsibility to work to identify resources and/or opportunities that will support the student into bringing those visions of success to fruition. There is nothing more rewarding than to see a student walk across the stage during graduation and directly into their career. When that happens, we all win!


Erika Schneider

K-12 Champion

Teacher, Dillingham City School District

Our small rural school is full of incredibly smart students. It is a joy to teach them how to show their smarts in a variety of ways.

Kaitlin DeMarcus

Postsecondary Champion

Director, TRiO Upward Bound, University of Alaska Anchorage

Equitable access to higher education is a critical component to moving communities forward. TRIO programs work alongside limited-income and potential first-generation college students to provide the perfect mixture of academic and social-emotional supports necessary for postsecondary success. I am honored to be a part of the TRIO family and am grateful to work with such a strong team of talented and dedicated professionals striving to make a difference for our young people and their families.

Franklyn Correa

Student Champion

Ketchikan High School

Students who are college and career ready are people who not only have overcome great adversity, but also people who are not afraid of facing the obstacles that follow. For they know that past those walls are significant character development and intellectual growth. They are the ones who best understand that one cannot attain greater skills and vast knowledge without hard work and dedication. With each step they take, they are one step closer to achieving the vision they set out to fulfill. With the help of the community that has acted as their pillars, the seemingly impossible suddenly becomes attainable.

Miranda Musich

Workforce Champion

Assistant Professor of Applied Business , University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus

It is an honor to be chosen for this award. I am very passionate about career readiness because employers hire the total person and not just a certain set of skills. By creating and teaching micro-credentials within my department, I have not only helped students take workforce relevant courses, but also help them achieve goals that provide motivation to continue their education.


Rocio Ruiz

K-12 Champion

Teacher/AVID Coordinator , Yuma High School

I have the privilege of working with English Language Learners at Yuma High School. My goal is not only to get them college and career ready but to prepare them for life. In order to do so, I incorporate non-cognitive skills in my lessons. These skills are essential to determine their success after high school. Getting them ready for the future does not only benefit them, it also benefits their families, and ultimately our community.

Marcela Lopez

Postsecondary Champion

Director of School Partnerships , Arizona State University

Partnering with our community means being a trusted resource that can provide direct information and serve as connector. Decisions about higher education are often made as a family and including them in the process as early as possible is my priority. For the last eight years I’ve had the privilege to work with two parent engagement programs that have allowed me to create wonderful relationships with community and school leaders to help our students succeed but most important to help parents/guardians feel part of the process! “It takes a village to raise a child."

Mac McGraw

Student Champion

Paradise Valley High School

I am doing everything in my power to raise awareness about type one diabetes by serving as a Youth Ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I hope to utilize this experience and further my impact by becoming an endocrinologist to help other people fighting the same battle.

Richard Branam

Workforce Champion

CVS Health , Senior Training Consultant

I enjoy assisting the community and employees in reaching their goals.


Barbara Miller

K-12 Champion

Lead High School Counselor, Cabot High School

My goal and hope for all students is for them to be prepared for "life after high school". There are so many opportunities for students - college, military, technical school, and work. All of these are choices to be made and I want the students prepared. I offer ACT preparatory sessions on a regular basis in order to help students achieve their highest ACT score. I feel if students are prepared for this exam and truly study how it is arranged, they can conquer any fears they may have and do well. Doing well on this exam can open many more doors for students and I am trying to do my part in helping students acquire this knowledge. The students are our future and we must prepare them for the world.

Amber Smith

Postsecondary Champion

Assistant Vice Chancellor/ Director of Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

It is my belief that all children are capable of excelling academically and in life outside of the classroom. Through music, fun, and interactive games, our team has seen great success with students from all academic backgrounds.

Adam Ray

Student Champion

Berryville High School

Ruthie Courtney

Workforce Champion

Internship Coordinator , Warren School District

Community partnerships and opportunities lead to student growth and a stronger workforce. Opportunities for our students include internships with business and industry partnerships, concurrent college credit with postsecondary education partners, and the National Career Readiness Certification and other industry certifications. These opportunities, along with career and technical skills, will help students grow into a stronger workforce for our community. We are also working together to become an ACT Work Ready Community.

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