For academic excellence and leadership, College of the Mainland student Raquel Balderas has been selected as a Silver Scholar on Coca-Cola's 2015 Community College Academic Team.

Balderas, 21, of Texas City, will receive a scholarship check for $1,250.

Balderas earned the honor based on the score she earned in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition, with more than 1,700 applicants.

Balderas serves as Phi Theta Kappa president and will graduate from COM in May with an Associate of Arts in general studies. The scholarship will help her continue her studies at a university.

"I was ecstatic," said Balderas.

Balderas joined Phi Theta Kappa, which requires students maintain a 3.5 GPA, during her freshman year at COM.

"Professor (Dalel) Serda helped me along the many steps of Phi Theta Kappa from member to secretary to president," said Balderas. "The leadership skills (Phi Theta Kappa) gives us and meeting with other chapters' officers definitely helps us. It's like a family. It requires a lot of work, but it's fun too."

Besides volunteering during student events on campus, Balderas helped with the chapter's honors in action and college projects, which this year focused on campus beautification as students planted flowers, painted benches and cleaned grounds.

“Raquel is the kind of student who makes teachers remember why we joined the profession: She is deeply reflective, analytical, methodical, and has the work ethic and integrity of a servant leader,” said COM Phi Theta Kappa co-advisor Dalel Serda. “I am proud to attach my name to hers because she will achieve much in the next many years; I will miss her greatly. I look forward to seeing where her education and experiences take her and am thankful to her for her dedication to her Phi Theta Kappa chapter and COM.”

Each year COM's chapter coordinates academic and service projects on campus and in the community. The chapter has been named a Five Star Chapter for its service, scholastic excellence and involvement in the society on the local, regional and international levels.

For more information about Phi Theta Kappa at COM, email Serda at