CHS graduate achieves top SouthArk scholarships

By April Clark Honaker

Kylee Portilloz, a 2022 graduate of Choudrant High School, has accepted South Arkansas Community College’s top academic scholarship and an athletic scholarship, meaning her education will be fully paid.

Portilloz, who is the daughter of Connie Portilloz of Choudrant, was heavily recruited by Nate Evans, SouthArk’s head women’s basketball coach.

Evans said, “Kylee was exactly what we were looking for. She gets after it on the court and also in the classroom.”

According to Health Waldrop, director of marketing and public relations at SouthArk, “Kylee is in pretty elite company.”

The number of SouthArk students receiving Presidential scholarships is in the single digits. Among junior colleges, SouthArk has made a name for itself. Its athletic programs place a high level of importance on academics. Waldrop said many of SouthArk’s student athletes are on academic scholarship, including 75% of their women’s basketball players. According to Evans, the women’s basketball program is no exception.

“We take the classroom seriously,” Evans said.

Last year, the women’s basketball program at SouthArk finished among the top 10 for NJCAA Academic Team of the Year in its sport. With a team GPA of 3.65, they ranked seventh for this national honor among 400 other programs, and second among 135 Division II programs.

A first-generation college student, Portilloz is grateful for the opportunity to attend SouthArk on scholarship. It allows her to pursue her academic and professional goals while playing a sport she loves.

“I just feel blessed because nobody in my family has gone to college,” she said, “and I’m trying to make my family proud.”

Portilloz is studying criminal justice with the goal of becoming a prosecution lawyer and later a judge.

“Law is always changing,” she said. “And I don’t want to be bored, and I want to be able to help people.”

Portilloz hopes to bring the same spirit of optimism, service, and excellence to her role on the court.

“I want to try to help pick everybody up and try to stay positive,” she said. “Whether I play a big role in wins or not, I want to play my best.”

As Portilloz looks forward to bringing her best to SouthArk athletically and academically, Waldrop pointed out that she’ll be in the company of other student athletes from Louisiana. A total of nearly 40 student athletes attending SouthArk are from Louisiana, and Portilloz will not be far from home. It’s only about an hour from Lincoln Parish to El Dorado.

Waldrop said, “We’re hoping that Kylee coming here to SouthArk may open the door for other students from Lincoln Parish to come here.”

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