Posted on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

“We bounced from motels to homeless shelters and were even forced to sleep in our car during my sophomore year in high school.”

Niketas Koussis doesn’t hold back when asked about his upbringing.

“I experienced days where my only meal was the free one at school and I struggled because I didn’t have access to the technology I needed to complete my homework. But, I didn’t give up and I made sure all of my assignments were turned in, on time.”


Regardless of how problematic life became for Koussis, he pushed through the adversity and he never looked for pity regarding his situation. And this month, Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society awarded the 19-year old Northern Virginia Community College student two of the nation’s top scholarships recognizing outstanding academic achievement.

Koussis is one of 20 students to be named to the All-USA Academic Team and will receive a $5,000 scholarship. The All-USA program is widely recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students attending associate degree-granting institutions.

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

“Niko,” as he’s known to friends, is a business administration student at NOVA’s Sterling Campus, expects to graduate in May, and plans to transfer to one of Virginia’s top universities.

His decision to attend NOVA was two-fold, a desire to finish college with as little debt as possible and awareness that college was his “second chance” — a time to show the world what he can do.

Niko is always quick with words of encouragement for other students, “NOVA has so many opportunities available for students to succeed. As a student, you just have to seek them out; get involved. It’s all about finding and making the connections.”

You can read more, and view a video about Koussis here.'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.


  1. ?

    Ellen Oliver

    You need to edit the fourth paragraph to be the actual correct name of PTK. Currently it says Phi Beta Kappa, but it’s Phi Theta Kappa. Also, to be nit-picky, also in the fourth paragraph, you have a hyphen that does not belong there (between “looked” and “for”). Thanks!

    • ?

      Craig Butterworth



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