Chipola College officials recognized the accomplishments of two students, Elizabeth Varnum and Jayde Smelcer, at a press conference at the college Tuesday, April 11.

Both students were recently named Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholars. Both are members of the All-Florida Academic Team sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa and USA Today. Portraits of the students will hang on Chipola’s Academic Wall of Honor.

Elizabeth Varnum coordinated the Christmas in May event which provided 170 health care packages to residents of the Marianna Health and Rehabilitation Center. She was part of the first annual Science Day at Chipola for local high students who were invited to learn fun aspects of science while exploring careers in science. She also was part of a group of students who visited children in Shands Hospital. She also served as a volunteer note-taker for students with disabilities. Varnum has served as a tutor in Chipola’s ACE Lab, and has worked as a student assistant in the Chipola Public Relations Office. She is secretary of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is a member of Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honorary, the Chipola Pre-Med Society, the Science Club and the Chipola Honors Program. She won Chipola’s Biology for Science Majors award in 2016.

Varnum was Valedictorian of Marianna High School in 2015. She is the daughter of Keith and Melissa Varnum of Marianna. Her major is currently Exercise Science. She has been accepted to Huntingdon College where she will study Religion. She hopes to go on to seminary at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Jayde Smelcer was a two-year member of the Chipola women’s cross country team and was named a Scholar All-American athlete by the NJCAA and the FCSAA All-Academic Team for maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She served as President of the Chipola chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Vice-President of the Pre-Med Society, and Treasurer of the Science Club. She was a member of the Chipola Honors program, Mu Alpha Theta, Student Government Association and Student Ambassadors. Smelcer led a project to raise money for Louisiana flood victims. She conducted and led experiments for area high school students at the first annual Chipola Science Day. She collected care packages for the Christmas in May project for senior citizens. She also served as a volunteer for the Partners for Pets Fall Festival. Smelcer has served as an assistant teacher of a Kindergarten Sunday School class and the AWANA children’s program at First Baptist Church of Chipley. She is a certified Pharmacy Technician and works as CVS Pharmacy an average of 25 hours per week.

Smelcer is the daughter of Gary and Connie Smelcer of Chipley. She is part of the Smelcer Family’s Big Sister program in which she plays a major role in helping her parents transport her two younger brothers to school and sports activities, as well as cooking and cleaning at home. She was a 2015 graduate of Chipley High School and a National Merit Scholar. She was accepted to the University of Florida Pharmacy School, but now plans to attend Florida State University to study Exercise Science and continue on to medical school.

Chipola president Dr. Sarah Clemmons, says, “We congratulate Elizabeth and Jayde for their outstanding academic records and for their leadership in community service. We are so pleased they chose to attend Chipola, and we know they will continue to make us proud to call them alumni.”

Both students are active in the college chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,275 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 states and around the world. Dr. Pam Rentz, Dean of the Chipola School of Education, is the faculty adviser to PTK.