Del Tech student James Elliott finds a chance at success through education

A Delaware Technical Community College student from Pike Creek is not letting his past mistakes stop him from eyeing a successful future.

James Elliott, 27, is one of 20 students to be named to the All-USA Academic Team and will receive a $5,000 scholarship.

According to a press release from Del Tech, the All-USA program is recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students attending associate degree-granting institutions.

“All-USA Academic Team members were selected for their outstanding intellectual achievement, leadership, and community and campus engagement,” the release states.

Elliott has also been named a 2019 New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar and will receive an additional $2,250 scholarship.

Back in 2011, however, Elliott was on a different path.

Eight years ago, Elliott and a group of friends engaged a home invasion in his former hometown of Newark, to steal drugs and money from an alleged dealer. Elliott was caught, convicted, and sentenced to 14 years.

Released after nearly six years, Elliott went through an additional six months in a halfway house, then six months of house arrest and another year of probation.

Having been an off/on again student at Del Tech after high school, Elliott said he would hang in long enough to look like he was making an effort, and drop out before any financial impact.

“My parents were a big part of my life and I was going to please them,” Elliott said.

While serving his sentence, Elliott came to realize the importance of education and completed a correspondence course; he signed back up for Del Tech when he was released, focusing on human services and drug and alcohol counseling.

Now, with graduation a semester away, Elliott is thankful for the opportunities that have helped change his path.

“Del Tech has been so supportive,” Elliott said. “Coming out of prison, [secondary education] didn’t seem like it was an option, but they didn’t let my label of an ex-felon affect me. They gave me the opportunity, saw potential in me. They worked with the limitations placed on me by probation.”

He also had some advice for others who may find themselves in a similar situation.

“I would say be patient with yourself, give yourself time to get back,” Elliott said. “And build a positive support structure around you – one that will help you to grow and succeed.”

New Century Transfer Pathway Scholars are selected based on their academic accomplishments, leadership activities, and how well they extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom. Over 2,000 students were nominated from more than 1,200 college campuses across the country. Only one New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar is selected from each state.

Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Lynn Tincher-Ladner congratulated Elliott and the other scholarship winners for receiving  prestigious and highly competitive scholarships that recognize outstanding achievements both inside and outside the classroom.

“Scholarship programs like these not only recognize student achievement, but also create meaningful pathways for college students to succeed by putting completion within financial reach,” Tincher-Ladner said.

“We are especially proud of James because he exemplifies the hard work, determination and commitment it takes to be successful in life,” said Dr. Mark Brainard, president of Delaware Tech.

The All-USA Academic Team is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, with additional support provided by Phi Theta Kappa and the American Association of Community Colleges.

The New Century Program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Phi Theta Kappa, and AACC.

Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders.