Alum Doing Good Works in All 50 States

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Phi Theta Kappa alumnus Mark Svensson is hitting the road with his wife Ismini to complete acts of good works in all 50 states.

Mark Svensson

“Ismini and I are both, you know, really so passionate about giving back and helping others,” Mark told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.

Mark attended SUNY Rockland Community College (RCC) in Suffern, New York, where he served as treasurer of the Alpha Phi Sigma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. He was named to USA TODAY’S 2010 All-USA Community College Academic Team and was New York’s New Century Scholar. He also won the Rockland County Distinguished Service Award and a Congressional Certificate of Appreciation.

“To this day, no other organization has influenced my development and empowered me to become a better individual,” Mark wrote in a 2012 editorial for the Community College Times. “Phi Theta Kappa instilled a degree of confidence and sense of worth in me that has allowed me to pursue my dreams to the fullest.”

He was selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University 2010 Conference in recognition of his involvement with the Anti-Slavery Committee, an organization he co-founded and co-chaired at RCC. Also in 2010, Mark represented Phi Theta Kappa by attending the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges, an event that highlighted the social value and continued challenges of community colleges in bolstering national education goals.

Mark continued his education at Georgetown University, where he received a degree in Government and International Relations. He remained in Washington, D.C., after graduation, with plans to work in the prestigious Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s Legal Assistant Program before applying to law school.

Mark and Ismini, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child, recently held a charity drive for a local Salvation Army center in Maryland. But they felt they could do more.

“We decided to make it bigger,” Ismini told Adams.

So the couple quit their jobs and hopped on a train to California. For the next year, they plan to perform charitable works in all 50 states. To fund their cause, the couple is using money that was meant for their wedding.

“We didn’t have a fancy wedding,” Ismini said. “It was just the two of us. We wanted to save every penny for this cause.”

It won’t be an easy road, especially with a new baby. They’re making plans for Ismini to deliver the child in California, and then they’ll be back at it, traveling the country and leaving good deeds in their wake, one state at a time.

“It was more a decision about what’s going to help others, and that’s why we decided we needed to focus on something greater than ourselves,” Mark said.