Beginning at a university, Kristin LaValle found success with small classes and support at College of the Mainland.

LaValle, of League City, has been selected as one of 20 students across the nation for the Frank Lanza Memorial Scholarship. She was recently awarded the nursing and emergency medical services scholarship for her academic and leadership accomplishments at the international Phi Theta Kappa conference in Washington, D.C.

“I got to shake my scholarship donor’s hand and say thank you,” said LaValle.

Now president of the COM chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, LaValle first became involved on campus as a supplemental instruction leader sharing class notes, playing review games and answering students’ questions. Seeing her potential, professor Chris Allen encouraged her to become involved in the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa at COM.

“I credit a lot of my success to being at a community college,” said LaValle. “I started at a university. I know what it’s like to come from a biology class of 200 [at a university] to a biology class of 28 [at COM]. I got a more focused education. I was able to get to know professors one-on-one.”

LaValle was involved with the chapter’s College Project peer mentoring program and its Honors in Action Project, which created a one-day conference to help high school student learn what its like to enroll in college and how to succeed. The chapter was honored for its work and is a top 100 chapter internationally.

LaValle also worked as a COM lab assistant and served with the COM Biology Club.

“I got to volunteer with Audubon Texas with the Biology Club. I was able to have more opportunities at COM,” said LaValle.

Last year, LaValle was inducted into the Texas Phi Theta Kappa Hall of Honor and was 1 of 30 awarded Distinguished Chapter Officer in the international honor society. 

“Kristin is above all a mother. This makes her an extremely fearless hard worker; additionally, she's passionate, dependable, professional, dedicated, and kind,” said Phi Theta Kappa co-advisor Dalel Serda. “Kristin thinks two steps ahead--she is earning her nursing degree, but she's already highly employable, she's already developed the soft skills required for lifelong adaptability and success.”

She will graduate with an associate degree in nursing this spring and has already been accepted to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“I have all of my pre-requisites for my bachelor’s in nursing and will only take about a year to complete that program and I can be working as an registered nurse while I do it,” said LaValle. “I have an amazing seven-year-old daughter. She is my inspiration and motivation for completion of my degrees. I want to be a parent she can be proud of and be able to provide for her.”

For more information on Phi Theta Kappa, contact Serda at