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NWTC student receives national honors from Achieving the Dream

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Cyan Hite, 2022 DREAM Scholar, uses a microscope in the lab.
Cyan Hite, 2022 DREAM Scholar, uses a microscope in the lab.

In January, NWTC Laboratory Science student Cyan Hite became one of eight students recognized nationwide as a 2022 DREAM Scholar by Achieving the Dream (ATD). The DREAM Scholars program is an experiential learning opportunity for student leaders looking to make a difference on their campus and in their community.

“NWTC is proud of Cyan and for this recognition for the hard work that has led them here,” said Dr. Jeff Rafn, NWTC president. “Cyan’s resilience, positive outlook, and commitment continue to inspire our college every day. It is students like this who remind us as educators of why we are here and why we continue to help build pathways to achieve their success.”  

After being nominated by their institutions, the Scholars are chosen through a competitive application process, sharing their journey, educational goals, and more. Like so many, Hite’s journey included unexpected twists along the way. Hite became a single parent of three children by the age of 24, encountering obstacles of divorce, housing insecurity, and family loss. Later joining the LGBTQ+ community, Hite withstood a lack of acceptance regarding gender identity and sexual orientation but persisted through, never losing sight of who they were along the way.   

“I am incredibly honored for this recognition and opportunity to represent NWTC,” said Hite. “This award holds a personal significance for me as I look back at how I arrived here today.”   

Scholars participate in a program designed to enhance their professional and personal skills through workshops, networking, and financial awards. In addition, each Scholar presented at the DREAM 2022 Conference in February, where thousands of attendees heard their insights into the diverse experiences, challenges, and hopes of community college students across the country. During the conference, Hite also received the Harvey Lincoln Scholarship from ATD, which recognizes their unwavering dedication to education despite personal hardships.  

“I hope that anyone who hears my story recognizes the magnitude of the diversity of those around them,” said Hite. “It’s important that we instill these core values within ourselves and future generations, so we are creating a more equitable world.”

What is Achieving the Dream? 

Achieving the Dream (ATD) is a national nonprofit championing evidence-based institutional improvement in education. With a network of over 300 institutions of higher education, ATD is considered the nation’s most comprehensive organization in advancing student success and equity. NWTC has been a member of ATD since 2011 and is one of only 26 colleges to earn Leader College of Distinction status in the organization for its outstanding commitment to equity-centered cultural change. In addition, NWTC received the 2021 Leah Meyer Austin Award – Achieving the Dream’s highest honor – for increasing credit completion and baccalaureate attainment and closing equity gaps. NWTC continues to partner with ATD and network members throughout the country to share best practices for student success. The partnership helps center the College’s work on improving student outcomes and builds momentum on the success of previous institutional changes.