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When Essex County College sophomore Ashma Thomas received the letter from Essex County’s top official, she couldn’t have been more surprised. “You have been chosen to receive the Essex County Althea Gibson Leadership Award,” County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. wrote to Ashma, an East Orange resident.
“I am definitely surprised, and honored, to be first nominated and then to receive such a wonderful award,” said Ashma, a Biology, Pre-Medicine major. “There are so many other women who could have been nominated.”
Ashma was nominated by Dr. Keith Kirkland, ECC’s Dean of Student Affairs.
“Ashma represents the quality of students who grow up in our community and choose to come to Essex County College,” Dr. Kirkland said. “She is an outstanding representative of Essex County College,” he added.
“As a student at Essex County College, you have demonstrated academic success, contributed to your school and local communities, and show promise to become a future leader,” County Executive DiVincenzo wrote.
Ashma will receive her award later this spring. The awards are part of the 2020 Essex County Women’s History Month Celebration, with a theme this year of “Students Achieving Today – Our Leaders of Tomorrow.”
Ashma is corresponding secretary for the College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Chapter Alpha Theta Theta. She is a semi-finalist for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The scholarship carries an award of $120,000 for three years at a four-year college or university.
Following her graduation from ECC, she is considering transferring to Rutgers University-Newark. At Rutgers, she hopes to be part of the Honors Living-Learning Community.