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Colin Student Named National Student Technology Champion

Collin Student Named National Student Technology Champion

March 7, 2007 - Mary Hawkins will never forget 2007. This week she received a national award, and in May she will become the first Collin College student to earn a degree in convergence technology.

Hawkins, a single parent who is paying her way through college, was stunned when the League for Innovation in the Community College notified her that she was the Terry O'Banion Award winner as Student Technology Champion. The league and award-sponsor Microsoft presented her with the prize March 6 along with $5,000 and a variety of software.

"Mary is a very talented individual who is working very hard for a college education," said Dr. Robert Collins who chairs the Collin College Board of Trustees. "Industry has been clamoring for graduates from this program, so Mary has a very promising future."

The award stems from Hawkins' undergraduate work in the convergence technology program at Collin. Convergence technology is the integration of voice, data, video and images all over the same network. It is a new field and a new degree program for the college, one that started with a $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Hawkins was the first to complete the coursework for an associate's degree in convergence technology, and the popularity of the program is growing at Collin as well as institutions that partnered in the NSF grant.

According to college president Cary Israel, the new program evolved at the request of industry. "Large companies that have a presence nationwide asked us to begin this program, and they participated in the development of the curriculum. We are proud to know that the National Science Foundation will be sharing the degree program created here at Collin as a model for students like Mary at colleges and universities across the country."

League officials said they selected Hawkins for the award because of her leadership and passion for convergence technology. They were particularly impressed by her service outside the classroom. She served as student representative to the NSF's Advanced Technology Educator conference, presenting papers and participating on a panel. She led and facilitated numerous convergence technology workshops and demonstrations with her college faculty. She developed demos and conducted a daylong seminar introducing high school girls to technology. She also performed software and hardware configuration tasks in the Collin convergence technology lab and set up customer training events.

"It is an amazing honor because I didn't even know I had been nominated, and to be nominated by faculty and staff members meant a lot to me," Hawkins said. "This award is a validation of the work that we are doing in the convergence technology program."

She plans to transfer to Fort Hays State University for a Bachelor of Science degree in information networking and telecommunications with a computer networking and telecommunications concentration.

For more information about the convergence technology program, visit

Collin County Community College District (Collin) serves more than 41,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development.