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2007 Terry O'Banion Student Technology Awards

The League for Innovation in the Community College and Platinum Partner Microsoft Corporation are pleased to announce the selection of Mary Hawkins, Collin College (Frisco, TX); Letzen Maldonado, Greenville Technical College (Greenville, SC); Kirk Smiley, Sheridan College (Sheridan, WY); and Tina Russell, Mississippi Gulf Community College (Gulfport, MS), as the 2007 Terry O'Banion Student Technology Champions. Microsoft sponsors the Terry O'Banion Student Technology Champions awards annually in honor of Terry O'Banion, Senior League Fellow and President Emeritus of the League.

The students selected for this year’s awards demonstrated a special passion for technology that is leading them to pursue a career in IT. The Microsoft Review Committee felt that passion for IT and leadership were the key qualities that set the winners apart. Strong letters of recommendation submitted this year made this a truly competitive field of nominees and led Microsoft to select a Student Technology winner, a Student Developer winner, and two Special Achievement winners. Each student had something extra special that stood out to the committee. The committee was impressed by Mary Hawkin’s leadership and determination to stay in school as a single parent with limited resources. Letzen Maldonado came to the top of the list when the committee noticed her academic, analytic, and logic skills as well as her struggle to continue school after losing her job to downsizing. Looking through the applicants that were sent, the committee could not help but recognize two other outstanding students. They were impressed with Tina Russell and Kirk Smiley’s perseverance to achieve a lifelong dream of education, despite numerous obstacles and financial set-backs. Deb Sanders, Microsoft Corporation, said it best when she stated, “At Microsoft, we look for individuals who possess Individual Excellence, and these four winners clearly demonstrated this through their leadership activities and personal convictions.”

Student Technology Champion Mary Hawkins, Student Developer Champion Letzen Maldonado and the Special Achievement award winners, Kirk Smiley and Tina Russell, each received $5,000, plus a variety of software products from Microsoft. The winning letters of nomination were read during the League’s Innovations 2007 conference in New Orleans. Announcements of the winning scholars will be made on the League's website.