Brookdale Community College Honor student Heather O’Donnell has been named a 2021 Coca-Cola Academic Team Silver Scholar and will receive a $1,250 scholarship.

“I am honored and grateful to receive this scholarship and recognition, and I am proud to represent Brookdale and our PTK chapter as a Silver Scholar,” O’Donnell said. “This accomplishment would not have been possible without the support of my family, advisor, professors, fellow PTK members and officers, and President David Stout.”

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation sponsors the Coca-Cola Academic Team program by recognizing 50 Gold, 50 Silver, and 50 Bronze Scholars with nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually. Each scholar also receives a commemorative medallion.

“The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has a long history of providing financial assistance to outstanding students at community colleges,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, President of the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation. “We are proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa and make it possible for deserving students to achieve their educational goals.”

Students are nominated for the academic team by their college administrators. Selection is based on academic achievement, leadership, and engagement in college and community service.

During her time at Brookdale, O’Donnell has served as PTK Vice President of Service, Honors Association President, Biology Club Secretary and Features Editor of The Current. She also volunteers with organizations such as Lunch Break, Red Bank Recreation and the Children’s Home Society, a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk infants, children, youth, and families achieve their potential. O’Donnell also serves as a mentor and ambassador for the Honors Program, writes for The Innovation Network Environmental Blog, Environmentality and participates in the Friends Connect Foundation Virtual Volunteer-from-Home Program.

“Becoming a PTK Officer has allowed me to meet new people, improve my leadership, communication, and organizational skills and serve the campus and community,” O’Donnell said. “It has been rewarding for me to work as part of a team to catalyze positive change through our Honors in Action and College Projects as well as our various service projects. I enjoy helping our chapter members grow as scholars and leaders who will leave a lasting legacy on future generations.”

After graduating from Brookdale this May, O’Donnell hopes to continue her education at Rutgers University and eventually pursue a career in public health.

“I would like to play a role in stamping out global, cultural and racial inequalities and helping underserved populations gain access to healthcare,” O’Donnell said. “I want to ensure that all children with disabilities and chronic diseases, regardless of their social status or ethnicity, have access to the healthcare resources they need to maintain optimal health and lead fulfilling lives.”

Coca-Cola Academic Team members will be recognized in both local and statewide ceremonies and will also be recognized internationally during Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention, PTK Catalyst, to be held virtually April 8-10.

“It has been a wonderful experience to work with my advisor and fellow PTK officers and members this year. They are among the most creative, driven, hardworking and compassionate individuals I have ever met,” O’Donnell said. “They inspire me to step out of my comfort zone and work towards my goals despite the obstacles I may face. Being a part of PTK has truly enriched my experience at Brookdale and given me the tools I need for future success.”

Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The Society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations, with approximately 240,000 active members in the nation’s colleges. Learn more at

“I am so proud of Heather and everything she has done this year. As our Vice President of Service, Heather has gone above and beyond to provide safe volunteer opportunities for our students, including virtual activities,” said English professor and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Advisor, Angela Saragusa. “She is a true example of hard work and dedication and I am not at all surprised that she is an All USA Silver Scholar. I am truly inspired by her.”

To learn more about the Honors Program at Brookdale Community College go to