The Reach - Phi Theta Kappa's Blog

The Reach

All the latest information, news and stories to inspire and inform Phi Theta Kappa members

I AM PTK: Adam Dince

I AM PTK: Adam Dince

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Adam Dince, an alumnus of the Beta Theta Chi Chapter at Grossmont College in California.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

When I graduated from Grossmont College in May of 2001, I promised myself that one day I’d return to college as an instructor to pay it forward. “Pay forward, what?” you ask. The gift of planting seeds in rich soil. Let me explain.

Early in my childhood, my parents divorced. My mother struggled with a nasty drug addiction and my dad just couldn’t take it anymore. After the divorce, my father took custody of me and the responsibilities of being a single dad. The traumas I suffered in those formative years became the catalyst for a litany of failure, culminating with dropping out of high school after barely completing my junior year.

With no decent job prospects for high school dropouts, I joined the Navy and served aboard aircraft carrier U.S.S. Constellation. The Navy did for me what I hoped it would. It taught me discipline, it gave me independence, and it provided me an opportunity to go to college.

Shortly after my enlistment expired, I reluctantly enrolled in Grossmont College. I say “reluctantly” because I’d never been a good student and didn’t think I had the chops to do well at the collegiate level.

Fortunately, in my first semester I earned a 4.0 GPA and an invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa. My biggest fear about joining Phi Theta Kappa was that, as soon as courses got tougher, my grades would drop — thus costing me membership rights. However, that fear became the motivation I needed to keep pushing hard.

Throughout my second semester at Grossmont, I attended a plethora of chapter events. At one event, our president, Darin Cyr, pulled me aside and encouraged me to run for chapter vice president. Of course, I thought he was joking and laughed it off. Yet, Darin persisted. He told me that he believed I was a perfect for the role. So, I took his advice — ran — and was elected. Darin saw something in me, that I didn’t. He wouldn’t let my lack of self-confidence deter me from achieving something I was capable of doing.

Shortly after getting settled in as the chapter vice-president, our newly elected president transferred to a different college. Our faculty advisor, Israel Cardona, asked me if I’d be willing to take on the responsibilities of president. My response to “Iz” was like my initial response to Darin — I laughed it off.

However, Iz saw something in me that I didn’t. He believed in my ability to do a good job leading the chapter and urged me to get out of my comfort zone. So, I accepted his invitation and took the helm as chapter president.

After completing my term as chapter president, Iz asked me if I’d be interested in running for Nevada/California Regional President. To this, I said no. I told Iz that I had no chance of winning and felt like there were better candidates from our chapter. But, Iz wanted ME to run. He didn’t care if I won or lost — he simply wanted me to represent Grossmont College at the regional conference.

Fortunately, the members of the Nevada/California Region believed in my message and elected me as president. Throughout my year of regional service, I had the honor of working with Headquarters administrators and staff on major projects.

One the most memorable ventures occurred shortly after 9/11. Over 40 chapters from across the Nevada/California region helped raised over $30,000 in donations for the American Red Cross. Our continued pursuit of excellence across the entirety of Nevada and California Phi Theta Kappa chapters helped us win the Distinguished Region Award.

Upon graduating from Grossmont College, I finished my undergraduate degree at San Diego State University with honors, and I recently attained my MBA with a focus in Integrated Marketing Communication from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

What I learned about leadership and dedication to excellence in Phi Theta Kappa has helped me succeed in ways I never thought possible. A few examples:

  • I've become a subject-matter expert in digital marketing and have helped some of the most recognized brands in the world with their marketing strategies.
  • I've built and led teams for a few of the most prestigious ad agencies and brands.
  • I serve as an adjunct digital marketing instructor at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
  • I sit on the digital marketing technology board at the University of Wisconsin, Stout.
  • In November of 2016, my first book Hopeful to Hired: How to Score the Job You Want Straight Out of College, was published.
  • I speak at marketing industry events and higher-educational institutions across the country.

So, what does it all mean? What’s the takeaway?

Many of us are beds of rich soil. When we’re fortunate enough to cross paths with people who plant seeds of mentorship in our lives, we have the opportunity grow into beautiful gardens.

Phi Theta Kappa and Grossmont College faculty and staff saw leadership potential in me that I didn’t. They pushed me to stretch. The fine chapter and regional officers I served beside helped keep my budding garden alive throughout my community college experience. And I’ve been fortunate enough throughout my career to find people who continue to plant and water new seeds. Everything I’ve accomplished in life is a result of someone investing in me.

I encourage you to find and surround yourselves with people that inspire you to take it to the next level. To achieve more than you think you’re capable of. I also encourage you to plant seeds in others. Being a mentor is one of the most rewarding activities you’ll ever experience.

Fifteen years after graduating from Grossmont College, I am fulfilling my promise to pay it forward to students who are in the same shoes I once wore. I hope to be able to continue to do so for the rest of my career.

Thank you, Phi Theta Kappa! I have so much love for the garden you helped grow.

Connect with Adam on Twitter @AdamDince.



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