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NSLS Members in the News

JULY 2023

Summer might be in full swing, but our members continue to use their leadership skills to make a positive impact on their careers and in their communities. See who made headlines this month.

Our mission is to Build Leaders Who Make a Better World. Our members participate in volunteer events and take part in a wide range of community service initiatives. Upon graduation, they apply the interpersonal skills they've acquired to start businesses, pursue promotions, and more.

Brain Tumor Survivor Empowers Others to Find Their Natural Beauty

Julie Laurence Brown found out in 2020 that she had a brain tumor. She started to feel self-conscious about her appearance, but rather than undergo cosmetic surgery, she refocused her efforts on using skin and hair products that enhance natural beauty without being invasive.

Doctors removed the tumor on December 15, 2020, and she began her new post-surgery life. Brown pursued her goals enthusiastically, starting Melanin Jewel, a beauty line offering products to enhance natural beauty with minimal effort, and she enrolled in Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Aesthetician program. Thanks to the Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program, she attended at no cost.

Brown shined in the program, earning a 4.0 GPA, volunteering at community churches, providing free facial treatments for women in shelters and refuge centers, and donating beauty products for holiday and community events. Looking toward the future, Brown dreams of expanding her brand empowering others to enhance their natural beauty with minimal effort so they can all shine as their best selves.

Read the full story from Milwaukee Area Technical College >>


Young Father and Graduate Pursues Better Future For His Family

Trini Gonzales put aside his dream of joining the Marines when he became a father at 17, but he didn’t give up his dream of one day providing a better life for himself and his family. The same year his son turned three, he enrolled at Weber State University (WSU) to study microbiology and chemistry.

Gonzales achieved much during his time at WSU, staying on top of his studies while also working full time painting aircraft components at Hill Air Force Base—and welcoming his daughter into the world. WSU provided the support and flexibility necessary for students who must also support families, and Gonzales was determined to get to the finish line no matter what.

He also found the time to branch out and became more involved in the community. He jumped wholeheartedly into acts of service, including serving as president of the Hispanic Area Council, acting as the WSU Davis Student Association’s director of leadership and diversity, taking on the role of treasurer for WSU’s chapter of the NSLS, and leading fundraising to support refugees and homeless youths. All told, he has completed over 150 hours of community service.

Gonzales has now achieved his bachelor’s degree, and his next step is to apply to medical school to build upon his goal of building a better life for his family.

Read the full story from Weber State University >>


Non-traditional Student Returns to School, Chasing Dreams

Rhonda Brown spent 20 years believing she had no interest in attending college, but everything changed when her husband went on disability for a medical condition in 2015 and her job at the time didn’t pay enough to support the family.

Brown’s research, along with a co-worker, into opening a childcare center, led her to the early childhood education program at Northeast Mississippi Community College. At the end of the program, Brown thought she was content with her 4.0 GPA and a position at the Resource and Referral Center on campus, but little did she know, her educational journey would continue from there. Encouraged by the president and her supervisor to continue her education, she enrolled in the University of Mississippi’s multidisciplinary studies program, minoring in education, psychology, and sociology.

Brown became more and more excited about the possibilities for her future and appreciates the multidisciplinary program for the ways it allowed her to explore her multiple passions. Brown has become a high-achieving student, maintaining her 4.0 GPA, acting as 2023 class marshal, earning recognition as Outstanding Senior for multidisciplinary studies, and receiving the prestigious 2023 Taylor Medal—the only multidisciplinary student to do so this year.

With the continuous support of her family, Brown plans on starting the online master’s program in clinical mental health counseling at Delta State University this fall.

Read the full story from the University of Mississippi >>


Alumnus Paying it Forward Through Undergraduate Mentorship

As a first-generation college graduate, something made possible by his parents’ sacrifices, Brian T. Bybee understands the value of a degree and the importance of investing in others.

As a student at the University of Colorado Denver, Bybee worked diligently on both academics and in student service and leadership. He maintained a 4.0 GPA pursuing a master's degree in management and organization with specializations in business strategy and innovation and leading change management. He participated in student government, studied international entrepreneurship in Barcelona, and acted as vice president of the CU Denver Society for Human Resource Management Club (SHRM), where he enlisted high-powered human resource leaders as speakers for the business school and facilitated connections between students and speakers.

In his twenty-seven-year career, Bybee says his proudest achievement was mentoring CU Denver undergraduate students. Though he is proud to have helped others discover their strengths, passions, and career goals, he admits it is a two-way street. His mentees have inspired him just as much.

Read the full story from the University of Colorado Denver >>


Entrepreneur and Civil Advocacy Leader Recognized for Accomplishments in Athletics and Business

Desmond L. Early founded the athleisure company New Generation Athlete, but that’s not all he has accomplished; his achievements span a wide variety of areas and include sports, business, civil advocacy, and more.

Prior to his business career, Early was an accomplished professional football player and boxer, pursuing the Olympics in boxing twice, breaking numerous state and national records, and setting two world records in powerlifting. As he began his professional business career, working first as assistant manager for Cal Ranch and then as territory representative for Ecolab, he pursued coursework in liberal arts and science at the University of Oregon and earned a bachelor's degree in management from the University of Phoenix.

Early returned to the University of Phoenix for a Masters of Business Administration in 2020 and a Masters of Science in Information Systems in 2022 to further his education. He is also a dedicated proponent of civil advocacy, volunteering to work with local businesses across California and providing mentality cultivation and preparedness training for student athletes at area high schools.

His community engagement extends to the political arena as well, where he has volunteered with the City Council of Bakersfield and the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, acted as community volunteer with the Police Activities League since 2001, and volunteered with the American Red Cross of Southern California.

With all these achievements behind him, Early still plans to further his education, intending to complete a doctorate in organizational leadership and information technology from the University of Phoenix. With this he hopes to continue working toward the betterment of society, growing his company, and working to create corporations that cater to the people they serve in a more ethical way.

Read the full story from 24/7 Press Release >>


Other NSLS Members Receiving Recognition IN JULY:

Stone Cole Hudson, Wallace State Community College-Hanceville, graduated with a 4.0 GPA, specializing in computer information technology after earning President’s List every semester. Full Story >>

Regan Lytle, Niagara County Community College (NCCC), was honored with the prestigious  NCCC’s President’s Medallion Award for her academic success, involvement on campus, and community impact. Lytle has worked with Habitat for Humanity and raised money for both animal shelters and organizations that fight human sex trafficking. Full Story >>

Kaitlyn Fowler, Mercer University - Macon, was accepted into the Mississippi Teacher Corps, a graduate teacher preparation program that places educators in critical-needs public schools and provides training, support, teaching certification, and a full scholarship for a master's degree in teaching from the University of Mississippi. Full Story >>

Zyrus Craft, Alcorn State University, an early 2022 high school graduate, received several scholarships for the 2022-23 academic year and has been honored with several more for 2023-24, including a full athletic scholarship for football, the Alcorn State University Scholar award, and the Alcorn State University School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences Scholars Program scholarship, amongst other honors. Full Story >>

Saylor Lancaster, Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus, has been selected as a candidate for the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair queen. 4-H provides students with hands-on experience on projects in health, science, agriculture, and civic engagement. Lancaster has already completed more than 300 projects during her 10 years as a 4-Her and has held a number of leadership roles. Full Story >>

Rebecca Catlos, Youngstown State University (YSU), is one of fourteen business students chosen to participate in the pilot Ohio Procurement Internship Program in the Williamson College of Business Administration at YSU.  A double major in marketing and supply chain management, she is also a nurse aide at St. Mary’s Alzheimer’s Center and plans on pursuing  a Masters of Business Administration. Full Story >>

Jace Cline, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is one of twenty members of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, in Salisbury, NC, chosen to receive a $1000 scholarship for the 2023-24 academic year. Cline, a sophomore, is a Dean’s List student majoring in mechanical/civil engineering. Full Story >>

Justina Johnson, Mount Wachusett Community College Online (MWCC), has been elected by the Student Government Association to represent MWCC students on the Board of Trustees. Johnson, a mother of two, is pursuing associate degrees in interdisciplinary studies and business administration, and she earned her business administration certificate in 2022. She holds many leadership roles on campus, including as Chapter President of the MWCC NSLS chapter. Full Story >>

Trey Moss, University of South Florida, has joined the William & Mary basketball program after spending the last two seasons in the American Athletic Conference program in Florida. Moss maintains academic excellence alongside his athletic success, having been selected as the South Florida Student-Athlete of the Month in December 2022. Full Story >>

Bailey Hudgeons, Texas Lutheran University, has been named as one of five finalists for the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Woman of the Year award, which recognizes the conference’s senior female athlete who has distinguished herself throughout her collegiate career in academic achievement, athletic excellence, and service and leadership. Full Story >>