Allan Hancock College student Victor DeAlba, center, with is mother, Leonore DeAlba, and step-father, Rodolfo Fernandez. (Allan Hancock College)

Allan Hancock College student Victor DeAlba continues to see his hard work pay big dividends.

Last month, the Lompoc native was one of just 28 community college students in California selected to Phi Theta Kappa’s All-California Academic First Team.

During a banquet held in Sacramento to recognize students named to the All-California teams, DeAlba also was honored as a Coca-Cola Gold Scholarship recipient.

DeAlba, 22, was one of just five community college students from California and one of 50 nationwide to earn a gold scholarship.

“I was shocked when I heard the news,” said DeAlba, who attended the conference with his mother, Leonore, and his step-father, Rodolfo.

“When I explained what was happening to my mother, she started crying because she was so proud and excited for me. To be recognized by a company of that magnitude is an honor,” he said.

Campus administrators nominated high-achieving students for the award. An independent panel of judges evaluated nominations based on academic achievement, leadership and engagement in college and community services.

“To my knowledge, Victor is the first Hancock student ever to receive a Coca-Cola Gold Scholarship,” said Kathy Headtke, co-advisor of the college’s Alpha Gamma Sigma (AGS) Honor Society.

“I could not think of a better recipient. His story is so compelling because of the courage he has shown to follow the advice of his mentors to rise above the circumstances and make the world better, not worse,” she said.

DeAlba currently serves as the director of external affairs for Hancock’s Associated Student Body Government, and was a founding member of the Students Organizing for Advocacy and Retention Club on campus that is dedicated to improving student life at the Lompoc Valley Center.

Headtke credited DeAlba for helping expand the college’s Food Share Because We Care Program to the Lompoc Valley Center to provide free food for more than 500 students and their families this year. Previously, he served as president of AGS.

“The faculty and staff at Allan Hancock College are dedicated to changing the odds for our students, like Victor,” said Kevin G. Walthers, the college’s superintendent/president.

“What is inspiring is how Victor has taken on our mission himself to make a difference at the college and in his community,” Walthers said.

DeAlba said the $1,500 scholarship he received would help when he transfers next fall to a four-year university.

“The money will make a difference. Whenever I sit down with my mother to talk about college, it always comes down to finances. The scholarship alleviates some stress,” said DeAlba.

He is set to graduate in May with an associate degree in liberal arts for transfer in social and behavioral sciences. He earned two additional associate degrees last spring.

With a 3.66 cumulative grade point average, DeAlba has been accepted to California State University, Los Angeles; Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; UCSB; and California State University, Northridge.

He plans to major in sociology to become a career and guidance counselor with at-risk students or pursue a career in politics.

— Rebecca Fries for Allan Hancock College.