Two Anne Arundel Community College students were recently named to the first team of the All-Maryland Academic Team. Staff Sgt. Dysha Huggins-Hodge of Fort Meade and Barry P. McMenamin of Severna Park will be recognized in a May 4 ceremony honoring the All-Maryland Academic Team.
For both nominees to be named to the first team is unusual, but both students are exceptional, said Christine M. Storck, director of Student Life at AACC. Huggins-Hodge earned a 4.0 grade-point average in Transfer Studies, even though she completed much of her studies while deployed in Afghanistan as a biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear specialist. McMenamin, who is majoring in Engineering, also has a 4.0 grade-point average and has made either the Honor’s List or Dean’s List every term since he began at AACC. He is the recipient of the Kathy and Jerry Wood Scholarship, the Edward Reilly State Senatorial Scholarship, the Tony McConkey State Delegate Scholarship, and the James King State Delegate Scholarship.
Huggins-Hodge, 24, credits the Army for helping her learn self discipline, but it was the birth of her son, Micah – now 2 years old – that made her realize that she needed a plan so she could be the best parent she could be. Micah was born with Eagle-Barrett Syndrome, a condition that means he lacks abdominal muscles and often affects kidney and bladder function and lung development, so she had the added emotional tug of having to leave a sick child at home. She said focusing on her studies helped distract her from being in a dangerous spot and being away from her husband and son.
While deployed, she also found time to volunteer for the USO, establish a tutoring and mentoring program for deployed service members and head up the Combined Federal Campaign for her company, a charity campaign that supports nonprofit organizations around the world. Her husband has been going to college, too, and they both hope to complete their bachelor’s degrees at about the time they leave the Army.
McMenamin, 35, has had a couple of careers that have experienced downturns. For about 10 years, he was a bicycle messenger and lived in Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C., and London. Technology meant even huge designs could be e-mailed and the message delivery work was drying up. He started doing construction work while living with his parents in Alabama. He then moved up to Maryland to visit one of his sisters, who had just had a baby, and started doing construction jobs here. But even before the housing slowdown hit, he was diagnosed with arthritis in his elbow. So, he knew he had to make a career change.
It had been so long since he had graduated from high school that he started slowly, taking first one class and then two classes the next semester. While at AACC, McMenamin participated in Phi Theta Kappa activities and was a Supplemental Instructor for physics, which allowed him to help other students in a subject he enjoyed and in which he excelled. He has always had a fascination with electronics and attending a special robot speedway competition reinforced his plan to one day work in robotics. To do that, he discovered that he needed engineering skills. He is transferring to the engineering program at the University of Maryland next fall. He hopes to eventually work on humanoid robotics, which are robots that can perform human tasks.
Each two-year college in Maryland may nominate two students, who are chosen based on outstanding academic performance and service to the college and community. The All-Maryland Academic Team is the state component of the All-USA Academic Team, the recognition program sponsored by the Phi Theta Kappa academic honor society and USA Today publication. Students usually have at least a 3.5 grade point average.