SPC Scholar Receives National Award

August 17, 2018

Public Information Officer


The first scholarship the honor society of two-year colleges is offering to its scholars for defraying costs while those scholars are actually enrolled in a community college includes the third scholar from St. Philip's College as an award offer recipient.

The returning scholar is Christopher Tanner, entering his second year as a student in the college’s globally-noted advanced manufacturing program. The awarding organization is the honor society of two-year colleges---Phi Theta Kappa---and the $1,000 award offer the society announced for Tanner in late July is the 2018 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar award.

Intended for a scholar who has demonstrated both leadership and scholarship but has not yet earned a college credential, the honor society launched the Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program in 2001 to assist new members in obtaining an associate degree while encouraging them to participate in society programs. 

In the award notification, Tanner was also encouraged by the society to assume further leadership roles through participation in honor society programs. The encouragement was part of the recommendations for Tanner that were made by a panel of independent judges engaged by the award offering organization to review the scholastic achievement, community service and leadership potential Tanner has compiled as part of his early St. Philip's College experience. 

“I'm driving to Six Flags with my daughter, and I almost cannot believe I’m talking about this,” Tanner said this week. “I'm in shock and excited, and I hadn't checked my email in a few days when everyone started reaching out to me to let me know about the award. Everything I’m doing is in preparation for the future. I want to work as an engineer in the future, and make good money. I want to own my own company. The field I'm in is very expensive. It's the type of million dollar business startup you don’t hear about these days,” said Tanner. 

“Robotics is the future. There will be more of it, and to be on the front lines will be cool and so much fun. Everybody who gets to be a part of that... it’s going to be magical, to be on the front edge of the newest... I'm excited to be part of it,” said Tanner.

Tanner said he is like many who have migrated to the nation’s seventh largest city in recent years in search of opportunity.

“I attended William Cristian High School in Independence, Mo., where I was a ninth grade dropout at a time when my brother committed suicide. Instead of turning to the wrong crowd, I stayed on the working side. I was doing embroidery for a shop, and times had gotten slow after nine-and-a-half years. My mother and father are here in Texas. I decided to move, and called my mother, and I’ve been here eight years now, in Windcrest,” said Tanner.

“I went to classes four-to-five days a week for seven weeks at the GED center on Walzem St. near Windcrest. I also went to work for Toyota where I saw what a great advanced manufacturing program St. Philip's College has through Texas FAME. I said, 'Wow, that's exactly what I need to work on right away!' By the time I finished my application, I missed the deadline for advanced manufacturing with Toyota and FAME." 

But Tanner had set up career options.

"I'm in my fifth year as an electrical journeyman, and I went with advanced manufacturing as a course of study at St. Philip’s College. The very first month of college... it's funny, I got a letter stating I could join the honor society, and a day before my first honor society meeting, I was so excited, I paid the membership fees in advance---you get a free t-shirt that way. I went in the next day. Scholars were there, and I applied for an office position. They were completing my paperwork, and they said, 'We are getting ready for the honor society Texas regional convention. We need a few more people, we're short.' I said, 'Okay. I don't have much going on... I understand you are looking for more people to go. I can go.' They said it takes months of preparation. Nobody really knew who I was. Our chapter advisor said yes. I went in there for a shirt, and come out with a trip to the regional in Houston! At one point since then, I had volunteered over 70 hours in a month, with Respite House and for reading Dr. Seuss at an elementary school among other things I was involved in. I continue to support the chapter. I talk to students about great leadership opportunities," Tanner said of accomplishments the first-time-in-college scholar achieved early in his educational journey.

"The regional event had over 600 people and I was taking a leadership role through campaign speeches, and asking very good questions. Our chapter members were like judges, and we met many honor society chapter presidents and vice presidents... a lot of informed people made it a lot of fun,” Tanner said.

St. Philip’s College faculty member John Haral is the chair of the college business unit that operates the advanced manufacturing program where Tanner is a rising student.

“Walmart and other manufacturing companies who are not part of Texas FAME---Continental Motors in Seguin, Amazon, Cott Beverages, Vision Works… are looking for the same type of outstanding college-educated technician Toyota employs. Although Texas FAME sponsors a limited and growing number of people, the demand for the same college-educated technician is very big within other companies. Other companies may not know about Texas FAME, but they know about us, and we are running a parallel non-sponsored program that satisfies the bigger picture. We are trying to align more manufacturing programs at our college with our AMT program, and we are in the process of building that pathway,” Haral said, explaining that Tanner is the first honor society student in the parallel program to earn the Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar award.

Tanner is St. Philip's College's third Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar award recipient following 2014 recipients Brandi Kemp and Hannah Mahaffey, and his name will be found on the 2018 recipients list when that list is published at the society web page.

For details on the college's honor society activity, contact the college chapter advisor. (SPC image by Julysa Sosa)