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Selected through a competitive application process, Melissa Hernandez-Pacheco and Cora Kehr have been announced as Oregon Coast Community College’s members of the All-Oregon Academic Team.

This marks the second consecutive year that the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled the All-Oregon Academic Team luncheon, at which these two students – along with their counterparts from Community Colleges across the state – would have been honored in person by Governor Kate Brown.

“As much as we’d love to see our students receive the full recognition they deserve with a special day at the Capitol, we refuse to let COVID-19 take anything away from the accomplishments of these two amazing OCCC Sharks,” said OCCC President Dr. Birgitte Ryslinge. “In fact, their accomplishments are even more impressive given the circumstances they encountered in this challenging year. Melissa and Cora are emblematic of the drive and determination shown by so many of their classmates, and all of Lincoln County is proud of their achievement.”

Melissa Hernandez-Pacheco is planning to transfer to Oregon State University where she will be pursuing a degree in Public Health.

“As the eldest sibling in my family, I am a first-generation college student,” Melissa said. “My long-term goal is to pursue a career in Public Health. My first step towards achieving this goal was enrolling at Oregon Coast Community College. This Spring term, I will graduate with my Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree. I plan to attend Oregon State University to earn my bachelor’s degree in Public Health. Additionally, I hope to further my education while still helping those in my community. I began volunteering with many organizations and have been able to observe the impact I have made in my community. Overall, the memories I have made while volunteering has reinforced my desire to pursue a career in this field.”

Melissa has volunteered for The Gabriel Project, through the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Newport, and with the Lincoln County Health and Human Services call center. Her hobbies include soccer, baking, and writing.

Cora Kehr – who, like Melissa, is maintaining a 4.0 GPA – plans to transfer to the University of Oregon in Eugene to pursue a degree in psychology.

“Growing up struggling with mental health issues that I didn’t know how to successfully manage has caused me to be greatly passionate about helping others reach out for help with their mental well-being,” she said. “I remember feeling hopeless and unmotivated towards school because of my mental health, despite a drive to learn and further my education. These feelings made school a miserable and stressful experience instead of exciting and enriching, and I want to help other students avoid this experience. I plan to study psychology in order to acquire the skills needed for me to provide people struggling with mental health issues with healthy coping mechanisms and treatments.”

Cora has participated in a number of charitable endeavors on behalf of the community, including organizing beach clean-ups after summer holidays, collecting donations for families affected by the Echo Mountain Complex Fires, and by gathering donations of bras for trans and homeless women in need.

Sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), community college presidents, and the Oregon Community College Association, the All-Oregon Community College Academic Team award recognizes high achieving two-year college students who demonstrate academic excellence, intellectual rigor, leadership, and service that extends beyond the classroom to benefit society. Each community college in the state has an opportunity to nominate students for this honor as part of the All-State Community College Academic Team program.

For more information, call Andrea Spirtos at 541-867-8531 or visit the OCCC website, Be sure to follow OCCC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – @occcsharks – for updates and news about other special events.

Registration is open now for the Spring term at Oregon Coast Community College, and applications are being accepted for OCCC Foundation scholarships through March 26, 2021. Anyone interested in launching or resuming their college career this Spring should apply to OCCC ( and schedule an appointment with a friendly academic advisor (


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