It’s an exciting time for recent Prairie State College (PSC) graduate Monique Ocanas. She was honored with the 2015 PSC Social Science Academic Achievement Award, she graduated summa cum laude with her Associate in Arts degree from PSC this month, and she recently learned she was selected as one of the recipients of the Governors State University (GSU) Dual Degree Program Honors Scholarship.

The full-tuition scholarship is for high-achieving, first-time, transfer students who are enrolled in the Dual Degree Program with GSU. Students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5. The scholarship covers tuition and fees for up to four semesters.

Ocanas, who plans to study psychology at GSU and ultimately attend graduate school, focusing on art therapy, said a Hemingway novel she read in high school first peaked her interest in the field.

“A quote resonated with me: ‘The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places,’” she said. “I have always been moved by the power of the human spirit. Being a student in this field, I want to share in the experience of helping individuals realize and achieve their potential, assisting them in their journey to make themselves ‘strong in the broken places,” she added.

She says the faculty at PSC convinced her that she had made the right choice.

“The professors I had were extraordinary,” she said. “I have come to know them as inspiring and influential people, and it is their passion and drive that has reinforced my decision to study psychology. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The faculty she highly praises recently returned the sentiment with presenting Ocanas the Social Science Academic Achievement Award, which recognizes the most outstanding student in the department.

The Park Forest native is a 2013 graduate from Rich East High School.

Ocanas is one of nine PSC students who were awarded scholarships from GSU. Also receiving the Dual Degree Program Honors scholarships were Kevin Adams of Homewood and Linda Coleman of Park Forest.

Several PSC students also were named recipients of the GSU Promise Scholarship, which is a scholarship created by President Elaine P. Maimon to assist economically disadvantaged students to complete a bachelor’s degree at GSU. Eligible students must be active participants in the Dual Degree Program and be eligible for the Pell Grant. To apply, students must have a GPA of 2.75/4.0.

PSC students named recipients of the Promise Scholarship were Samantha Adindu and Janelle Cooper of Hazel Crest, Renee Donlan of Park Forest, Sean Horan of Homewood, Diamond Robinson of Richton Park, and Larissa Swanson of Beecher.