Nikki Plunket, a recent graduate of Faribault High School, was named South Central College’s first-year Presidential Scholar. In the fall, Plunket will enter SCC’s Pre-Social Work Transfer Pathway with her tuition fully paid. (Photo courtesy of South Central College)

Nikki Plunket knew she wanted to attend South Central College from the time she was a child, especially because she lived close to the Faribault campus.

This fall, the Faribault High School graduate will enter SCC’s Pre-Social Work Transfer Pathway as a freshman. What’s more surreal about her acceptance is she was named a first-year Presidential Scholar, receiving a two-year, full-tuition scholarship.

“I was so shocked,” said Plunket, who learned the news in May. “I called my mom because she was at work. She said, ‘I bought you flowers because I knew you were going to get it.’ I was unsure because you never know with those sorts of things. When I found out, I had no words. I was so happy.”

The Presidential Scholarship through SCC began 14 years ago to attract the area’s brightest students to come to SCC for a free education, said Shelly Rockman, executive director of the SCC Faribault Campus Foundation. In order to qualify for the competitive scholarship, students must have a high school grade point average of 3.75 or higher, meet college-ready requirements, and show leadership skills and community involvement.

Rockman and SCC President Annette Parker interviewed Plunket for the scholarship in the spring and felt she exhibited the skills and qualities that exemplify a Presidential Scholar.

“She is a very articulate and enthusiastic young woman,” said Rockman. “Her interview was done via Zoom because of COVID. Sometimes it’s hard to come across in a Zoom interview with your complete personality shining through, but she really did.”

During high school, Plunket served as president of Students Together Offer Peer Support (STOPS), a student organization that planned and held volunteer events like a mock car crash to promote safe driving and a lock-in for fifth-graders. She acted with the Faribault High School Theatre Troupe and participated in choir as a secretary and section leader.

On top of her student involvement, Plunket kept her grades up throughout high school. She credits her parents, Nancy and Dean Plunket, for making education fun.

“My parents never were strict about [my education],” said Plunket. “I just really loved to learn, and I guess that showed in my grades.”

Two classes Plunket particularly enjoyed at FHS were Advanced Placement psychology with Zachary Roble and choir with Jonah Heinen.

Even before she knew what she wanted to do for a career, Plunket knew she wanted to help others directly. That desire put her on the path to pursue a degree in social work.

Based on Plunket’s career choice, Rockman said SCC’s Pre-Social Work Transfer Pathway sounded like a great fit for her. Through the two-year program, Plunket can earn her associate of science degree and then transfer to a Minnesota college or university to earn a four-year degree. Right now, Plunket is leaning toward Minnesota State University, Mankato, as her college of choice after earning her associate degree.

In the meantime, as a Presidential Scholar, Plunket will become an ambassador for SCC and participate in college and Faribault Campus Foundation events as a speaker. She’ll also be expected to play a leadership role in at least one campus organization.

Of this opportunity to serve as an ambassador, Plunket said, “It feels amazing. It feels great to represent such a wonderful college.”

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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