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​Contact: Debra Dennis; 214-378-1851

For immediate release — July 31, 2018

(DALLAS) — A church volunteer, a future environmental engineer, an aspiring psychologist and a prospective lawyer have been named this year’s recipients of the Dallas County Community College District’s Muse scholarships.

All four students were selected for their academic success, motivation, volunteer contributions and desire to succeed. The 2018-2019 recipients are:

  • Anais Alarcon of Farmers Branch, Brookhaven College, dental hygiene major;
  • Caitlyn Coleman of Dallas, Richland College, environmental engineering major;
  • Cindy Pineda of Dallas, Richland College, psychology major;
  • Nneka Nnaji of Farmers Branch, Brookhaven College, criminal justice major

In addition to tuition and books, Muse scholarships cover six consecutive semesters, and the program is open to new high school graduates as well as students who currently are enrolled at one of DCCCD’s seven colleges.

The scholarship is administered by the DCCCD Foundation. Candidates must be in good academic standing with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above.

Created by Lyn and John Muse, the scholarship provides a way for students to enrich their lives without worrying about finances. The longtime DCCCD Foundation supporters established the scholarship in 2009 for outstanding students who demonstrated determination and a willingness to succeed.

“These students are bright, determined and inspired,” said Lyn Muse. “The knowledge they gain as DCCCD students will serve them as well as our communities. Their shared interest in making the world a better place is an inspiration. John and I are honored to be their benefactors.”

Dr. Pyeper Wilkins, the district’s chief advancement officer and executive director of the DCCCD Foundation, said, “We are thrilled to announce our newest Muse Scholars. These students exhibit determination and focus, which we believe will take them far in their educational journey and beyond.”

Wilkins added, “They are future leaders in our community, and with John and Lyn Muse’s generous gift of scholarships and time, they will be poised to have a tremendous impact.”

DCCCD 2018-2019 Muse Scholars (Biographical Sketches)

Anais Alarcon

Anais Alarcon

As a volunteer at her church, Gateway Dallas, Alarcon is involved with several organizations, including Gateway Church Kids and the Students and Hispanic Ministry. She also has worked with several charities, including Operation Kindness, Wounded Warriors and Promise House.

Alarcon wants to follow a path set by her grandmother and become a dental hygienist. This goal, she said, would not only make her grandmother proud but also would be an inspiration to others. Eventually, she would like to become a dentist and assist underserved communities with disease prevention.

Alarcon’s family migrated from Venezuela in 2005. She graduated from Denton High School, where she earned a 3.36 grade point average and received the Mary Payne Lowe Apache Bell Endowed Scholarship from Tyler Junior College. She is working as an accounts receivable associate for Truco Enterprises, where she helps resolve billing issues and reduce delinquent accounts.

Caitlyn Coleman

Caitlyn Coleman

At age 16, Coleman started working for a restaurant, where she trained for and staffed almost every position in her reach. A hospitality enthusiast, she learned a variety of tasks, including pastry chef assistant, hostess, hostess trainer and prep cook. She also diversified her experience by completing an internship at Coldwater Technology, where she learned computer coding.

A recent graduate of J.J. Pearce High School, Coleman was a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Club; she also was a cheerleader.

Coleman’s career goals are still forming as she seeks to pair her passion for art with her concern for the environment. Environmental engineering is one area she may pursue while studying at DCCCD. Later, she plans to transfer to a four-year college. Coleman has volunteered her time at Meals on Wheels, Special Olympics, Scottish Rite Hospital, the North Texas Food Bank and One Million for Ann, a group that makes crafts for teens with cancer.

Cindy Pineda

Cindy Pineda

Cindy Pineda, who will attend Richland College this fall, knows her way around a restaurant. She has worn many hats there, ranging from pizza cook to server assistant. She also worked the salad station and prepped food in the kitchen. She got her first job at 16, working overtime (literally) to help with school expenses, and purchased a car.

Pineda has volunteered at the Dallas Arboretum. She was also a ceramics teacher’s aide and participated in last year “Color Run.” She plans to major in psychology and minor in business; transfer to the University of North Texas; and continue her studies by pursuing a post-graduate degree.

A first-degree black belt, Pineda, has trained and competed in tournaments. She is a graduate of Lake Highlands High School, where she was a member of the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), a group that encourages achievement and public service through leadership skills.

Nneka Nnaji

Nneka Nnaji

Nnaji grew up in Nigeria. She caught typhoid fever in high school, and it took months for her to recover — but Nnaji beat back the disease and went on to successfully take a pre-college aptitude test. After Nnaji received her diploma, she landed at Brookhaven College, where she works as student assistant.

Nnaji has been active in a number of organizations at Brookhaven, including Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She serves as the college chapter’s vice president for public relations office. She is also a student ambassador, orientation leader, founder of the UNICEF Campus Initiative Club and former vice president of African Cultures Club.

Nnaji has volunteered at the North Texas Food Bank and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service; she also has hosted an open book project titled “For Love of Country.” A criminal justice major and competitive debater, Nnaji has her eyes set on becoming a lawyer. She expects to graduate next year from Brookhaven and hopes to transfer to a four-year university, go to law school and eventually work for the United Nations.

Jasmine Roberts is a returning Muse Scholar; she attends Brookhaven College and is a business major.

For more information, contact Kathye Hammontree in the DCCCD Foundation at or 214-378-1536.

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