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OJC Press Release ID: 3038

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

OJC Students Named as 2020 Rising Stars


Two Otero Junior College students were named as Rising Stars for the 2019-2020 school year. Kayla Kascak of Thornton and Zach Thomas of Pueblo were chosen based on a number of criteria and were nominated by members of the OJC campus community. In previous years, these students would have been honored at a ceremony in Denver with their peers from other community colleges in Colorado. This year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Kayla Kascak graduated from Otero Junior College in May as a first-generation college student. In the fall, Kascak plans to transfer to the University of Northern Colorado. She hopes to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and minor in American Sign Language. She will then continue her education to earn a master’s degree. It is her deepest passion to work with children and to be able to connect to people in a variety of ways.

Kascak is a student-athlete, playing softball for the Rattlers. Some of her passions outside of education and softball are photography and hiking. She loves capturing still images of the beauty this world has to offer. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends. One of her favorite things to do is watch her brother play baseball.

According to Kascak, “I have been blessed with an amazing family and an enduring support system that allows me to have the confidence in working towards my goals and eventually achieving them. I hope to provide this to my future students as my parents and teachers have done to me in the past. I am very excited and humbled to see what my future holds.”

Zach Thomas received his Associate of Science degree and a certificate in the Agriculture program May 2 from OJC. He plans to continue his education by pursuing a degree in Wildlife Biology or Agriculture. Thomas enjoys being outdoors and has always been interested in studying and learning more about it. He hopes to one day work for the Colorado Division of Wildlife or become a science or agriculture teacher.

Thomas was a member of the OJC Baseball team for three years. For the last two seasons, he has been the pitcher for the Rattlers. He has been a member of the Ag Club and was a Residence Assistant for the last two years.

Thomas said, “I have fallen in love with Otero Junior College throughout the years, and enjoyed all the memories that I have made at this great college. I was deeply disappointed, as I am sure most of the students were, that this pandemic cut our time short at OJC. I want to thank all the coaches, teachers, students and staff who have made a positive impact on my life, and I am thankful for the lifelong relationships I have made.”

The Rising Star Award is sponsored by the State Student Advisory Council and recognizes individual students that have increased the level and quality of student engagement on campus. The criteria included being an enrolled student of a CCCS college taking at least six credit hours, demonstrating a high level of involvement in campus leadership activities and maintaining a college GPA of at least 3.0.

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Kayla Kascak, Thornton, has been named a Rising Star at OJC.

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Zach Thomas, Pueblo, has been named a Rising Star at OJC.