Chipola College honors its Coca-Cola Scholars

MARIANNA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Inside the atrium of the Literature and Language building at Chipola College- you'll find what's called the Wall of Honor.

The wall is covered with portraits of former Chipola College students- who had the highest academic records.

On Tuesday, two new portraits were added to the wall.

Jayde Smelcer and Elizabeth Varnum were recently named Coca-Cola Scholars- a distinction placing them among the top community college students in the country.

"They're just the best of the best out of you know, like Dr. Clemmons said, 11 million community colleges students in the nation and they're in the top 50," said Phi Theta Kappy Honor Society sponsor Pam Rentz. "We could not be prouder."

The honor that came as a surprise to both Smelcer and Varnum.

"We were really surprised and shocked that we made it to the level that we did," said Smelcer. "It's definitely really humbling."

"I was so shocked. I was just like 'oh my gosh' and definitely humbled because I know I don't deserve it, but I'm grateful that I got it," said Varnum.

Their humility made Rentz even prouder.

"They work hard- not to get their portrait, they work hard because they believe in the projects that they're doing," said Rentz. "This is something that is important to them as a reward for their accomplishments."

Like the portraits on the wall, Smelcer and Varnum will leave behind a lasting imprint on Chipola College.

"It's nice to think that there are going to be future students who look at my picture and think that, 'I want to be like what she did,'" Smelcer said.

She said she plans to attend Florida State University to study Exercise Science before continuing on to medical school.

Varnum will transfer to Huntington College to study Religion, with hopes of attending Seminary at Emory University.