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Two Students Join 2022 All-Washington Academic Team

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2022-11-04T18:00:13+00:00 May 12, 2022|News|
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Two Students Join 2022 All-Washington Academic Team

  • Photo of Sameer Koirala and Caitlyn (Cat) Jonson

Both Students Receive $500 in Scholarships

Two Highline College students have earned statewide recognition and scholarships for their educational achievements this past year.

Sameer Koirala and Caitlyn (Cat) Jonson were honored as members of the 2022 All-Washington Academic Team for their academic achievement, community service and involvement in college. Koirala, Jonson and other top scholars from the state’s 34 community and technical colleges were recognized during the May 12 virtual awards ceremony through South Puget Sound Community College.

Each college can nominate up to four students for the award. To qualify, students must apply for recognition and be members of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Pi Sigma is the Highline chapter of the international honor society.

By being named to the All-Washington team, Koirala and Jonson have each earned $500: $250 given by KeyBank and $250 by the Highline College Foundation.

Sameer Koirala
Koirala, a 27-year-old living in Kent, holds a 3.85 GPA after recently graduating from Highline College with a nursing associate degree. The first-generation, international college student plans to earn his bachelor’s degree in nursing (RN-BSN) at Bellevue College so that he can become a nurse at a local hospital.

Koirala was inspired to study nursing early on in life when he lived in Nepal. When he was a child, he sustained more than one bone fracture but was always met with a smile from a nurse during his care.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve known what I wanted to do with my life,” Koirala said. “Helping others has always been a passion of mine, and nursing, in particular, has interested me. Dedicating my life to improving the lives of others is very appealing to me.”

Eventually, after gaining valuable experience in the field, Koirala hopes to go back to school to get his master’s and his doctorate.

But getting to where he is today hasn’t always been easy.

Upon returning to the U.S. from visiting his family in Nepal, the happy news of Koirala’s acceptance into Highline College was shadowed by his father’s death. Despite the shock, Koirala “glued” himself together, stuck with his education and excelled. Now he looks forward to advancing his education to help others during their most vulnerable moments.

Caitlyn (Cat) Jonson
Jonson, an 18-year-old living in Kent, holds a 4.0 GPA and is studying health care at Highline College. After Highline, she hopes to transfer to a university to earn her doctorate to become a physical therapist.

Two major life events steered Caitlyn Jonson toward a career focused on helping others.

When she was 16 years old, she suffered a major kickboxing injury that required help from a physical therapist to regain her strength and stability.

“Going through physical therapy made me so thankful to the workers with their patience, gentleness, kindness and understanding,” Jonson said. “From that moment forward, I knew that I would be a physical therapist one day as well so that I could repay the favor and help heal people.”

Jonson’s mother also sustained massive chemical burns when she was a teenager. And it was Jonson who took on the caregiver role for three years. Drawing upon both of these experiences, Jonson hopes to pursue a career specializing in children’s physical therapy or sports rehabilitation.

The All-Washington Academic Team program is sponsored by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges, Washington State Association of College Trustees and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Learn About Phi Theta Kappa at Highline

Phi Theta Kappa has more than 2 million members worldwide and is active in more than 1,250 chapters. Highline is home to the Pi Sigma chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. The chapter recognizes and encourages the academic achievements of two-year college students. It also provides opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming. Learn about the benefits of membership, including scholarships, career resources and more.