Cleveland State Community College student Teko Amouzou won the Tennessee Association for Student Success and Retention (TASSR) Student Honorarium for his academic achievement and personal growth.
In order to qualify for the Student Honorarium Award, eligible students had to be first-time freshmen, attending a Tennessee higher-education institution, nominated by a TASSR Member, submit a 500 – 1000 word essay regarding impressions of the first-year experience and speak at the Honorarium Luncheon and share the first-year experience.
“I was very excited to win this award,” stated Mr. Amouzou. “I came here last January from Togo, West Africa, a French country, so I spoke French there. I have always been very passionate about the English language—even before I came here. I love to read, but I was not used to speaking English because we don’t speak English in my country. I am much better at writing than speaking.”
CSCC English Instructor Jennie Eble nominated Mr. Amouzou for the award. “Teko is focused on working toward academic success and benefiting from his college educational opportunities. Although he has struggled academically at times, through perseverance and a positive attitude, he has used these challenges as opportunities to enrich his own education. It is obvious from his attitude that education means more to him than receiving a diploma; rather, education is a tool for his growth as a person and a member of the community.”
It was because of his dedicated approach to his academic career that Eble invited Amouzou to join CSCC’s Supplemental Instruction Program so that he could help other students who underperform academically. Mr. Amouzou accepted the position and according to Ms. Eble, is showing as much dedication to the other students as he does for his own academic career. It is apparent, not only from the improvement in grades, but from the student feedback that Mr. Amouzou is making a positive impact on the students.
Ms. Eble said, “Teko has been a wonderful student, and his writing shows so much creativity and thought. I am just so proud of him!”
Before enrolling at CSCC, Mr. Amouzou came on campus to apply for financial aid. On the way in, he said he noticed his country’s flag among the multitude of flags posted all around the sides of the main common’s area in the George L. Mathis Student Center. These flags represent all of the many students from different countries enrolled at Cleveland State.
“Instead of being just a discovery, that increased my excitement! I had anxiety that I was not going to see students like me here, but all of that anxiety vanished when I got here and saw all the nationalities on this campus.”
Mr. Amouzou reflected on this occurrence in his essay. “A college that does not discriminate and fight to reduce prejudices and establishes activities that gather them together in the school environment should be supported and encouraged.”
Mr. Amouzou said, “I have really enjoyed my experience at Cleveland State. My instructors have been so supportive of me. They are very sincere and considerate of me. I feel like I really know them and they really know me. I hope this award inspires my fellow students and moves some of them to put much effort in the writing course.”
Ms. Eble said, “In a recent conversation, Teko related to me how important it is to him to be able to use his education to give back to the community, even if it is only one person. This is a goal that Teko has achieved and exceeded. He has become a leader through his commitment to the value of education and through the dedication he feels to bring that value to his fellow students, and the community as a whole.”