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Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Receives Awards

Napa Valley College Honor Society Students Receive Regional/National Awards from Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society

NAPA, CA, MAY 28, 2020 – Napa Valley College student Huzaifa Kamran Khawaja is one of just 10 students selected from a nationwide pool of 3,400 applicants to be named a 2020 Hites Scholar by the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. The Hites Transfer Scholarship, which offers support of $7,500 to each of the honorees, is the honor society’s largest and most prestigious award.

Khawaja is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate’s degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. 

The Hites Transfer Scholarship is awarded to Phi Theta Kappa members who are preparing to transfer to a bachelor’s degree-granting college or university. Winners are selected for their outstanding academic achievement and rigor, leadership accomplishments and engagement in college and community activities. The Hites Transfer Scholarship Program is made possible by support from the Hites Family Foundation and the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. 

Khawaja is majoring in molecular and cellular biology at Napa Valley College and will transfer to UC Berkeley in fall 2020 with two associate’s degrees, one in natural science and mathematics, and one in natural science with an emphasis on life sciences. He was elected to the Associated Students Napa Valley College (ASNVC) in 2018-2019 and represented the student body as the student trustee on the Napa Valley College Board of Trustees. Khawaja also served on two board committees, Real Property and Finance, as well as on two hiring committees and the student discipline hearing panel. He currently serves as an officer on the Dreamers of Community Change student club and is vice president for NVC’s Phi Theta Kappa college project. 

“I am thankful to The Almighty, my family, NVC teachers and friends as I could not have done this without them. Special thanks to Cathy Gillis for showering her trust onto me and being my mentor. Napa Valley College is the platform that has given me the opportunity and resources to launch to the sky; I will forever be grateful for the love, recognition, and ample possibilities to mold myself into a dynamic student.”

In addition to this award, Khawaja was a semi-finalist on the All-USA Academic Team; he was named a 2020 Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar and will receive a $5,000 scholarship. The Coca-Cola Academic Team recognizes high-achieving college students who demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership and service that extends their education beyond the classroom to benefit society. Khawaja is one of only 50 students selected from across the country for this honor.

Khawaja and fellow Phi Theta Kappa scholar Tyler Kirby were selected to represent Napa Valley College on the All-CA Academic Team, with All-California Community College Academic Team awards this year.  

“Being named a Hites Scholar is a tremendous honor, and I am so proud of Huzaifa for being one of just 10 students selected from across the country for this scholarship. I am also proud of Huzaifa and Tyler for being honored by the largest two-year college honor society in America,” said Cathy Gillis, Napa Valley College’s Phi Theta Kappa faculty advisor. “I have had the pleasure of working directly with these two outstanding students in our local chapter and getting to know them as individuals.”

An engineering major, Tyler Kirby will be starting his third year at Napa Valley College in the fall.  “Through my tutoring job at the Math Success Center on campus, I have been inspired to possibly become a teacher one day,” he said. Whether he decides to continue in the engineering field or become a teacher is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure, Kirby has a bright future.

Napa Valley College’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) also received a number of honors and awards this year. It was named one of the top 100 honor society chapters in PTK International Society and received the Distinguished Chapter Award and the Distinguished Honors in Action Project Award. Regionally, Napa Valley College, which achieved Five Star status in the 2019-2020 Five Star Chapter Plan for Phi Theta Kappa, received second place for Most Distinguished Chapter in the Nevada/California Region; second place Regional Award for Honors in Action project and essay (on sustainability with climate change); third place Regional Award for Most Distinguished College Project (successfully advocating for more water filtration and filling stations at the college); and recognition for Environmental Outreach and Mentor Project.

The students were honored on May 15 at a virtual Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society induction and at the Napa Valley College Board of Trustees meeting the night before. 

About Napa Valley College
Napa Valley College prepares students for evolving roles in a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world. The college is an accredited open-access, degree- and certificate-granting institution that is committed to student achievement through high-quality programs and services that are continuously evaluated and improved. The college serves students and the community in the following areas:  transfer courses, career-technical education and training, basic skills, and self-supporting contract education and community education classes. Napa Valley College is located at 2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway in Napa. Learn more at

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: Holly Dawson, Public Information Officer, Napa Valley College
(707) 256-7112

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