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Connect with Your Peers through International Events

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With registration for both NerdNation 2014, Phi Theta Kappa’s Annual Convention, and Honors Institute now open — in addition to spring regional meetings being held all over the country — there are many opportunities available for your chapter and members to reach out and network with others.

“It’s important for students to meet others like themselves…to think about topics and to challenge their own points of view and biases,” said Paul Roscelli, advisor of the Beta Zeta Nu Chapter at Canada College in California.

NerdNation is more than just a pep rally; opportunities for advisor and student engagement resulting in long-term chapter and student success are abundant, beginning with the Phi Theta Kappa Academy on April 24. Register before March 31 for the lowest rate available.

The 2014 Academy program focuses on the powerful role of diversity and inclusivity in Society chapters, on college campuses and in the world. Keynote speakers are award-winning entrepreneur Justin Jones-Fosu and German Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher.

Educational Forums allow for small-group discussions on topics ranging from Honors in Action  and scholarship opportunities to college transfer tips and professional development. Five rounds of forums — approximately 75 topics in all — will be presented April 24-26.

“With more than 3,500 people in the General Sessions, the Ed Forums are where you’ll be able to talk in a more intimate setting with the Headquarters staff, other expert presenters and, of course, like-minded Phi Theta Kappa members and advisors,” said Jennifer Stanford, Phi Theta Kappa’s Chief Student Engagement Officer.

Similarly, Marketplace Mini Sessions are 25-minute discussions on various Phi Theta Kappa topics that often include lively Q&A with the audience. These small-group settings allow members and advisors alike to mingle with their peers, hear about best practices they can use in their own chapters, and broaden their horizons by networking with people from all over the world.

“The impact of these kinds of opportunities extends way beyond lectures and sessions,” said Will Alexander, advisor of the Kappa Alpha Chapter at Holmes Community College in Mississippi.

Alexander recalled one of his favorite stories about the impact an international Phi Theta Kappa event has had on a student: it involves a former member who was given the opportunity to travel as a part of a Phi Theta Kappa trip.

“This particular trip was the student’s first opportunity to leave the state of Mississippi, and the student’s first opportunity to fly,” he said. “As a result of that trip, the student later became a professional pilot for a major airline.

“Had it not been for the student’s involvement in Phi Theta Kappa and (our college’s) commitment to provide our students with the most comprehensive educational experience, the student likely would have never had the opportunity to even consider that as a career.”

The Kappa Alpha Chapter also regularly sends representatives to Honors Institute, a weeklong exploration of the current Honors Study Topic held on the campus of a four-year college. The 2014 Honors Institute will be June 16-21 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Registration is open now through May 15 and is first-come, first-served.

“We feel as though our participation in Honors Institute has been a significant contributing factor in our success on the international level,” Alexander said. “Through its innovative programming, Honors Institute continues to give Kappa Alpha students and advisors an opportunity to dig deeper into the Honors Study Topic.”

Honors Institute is limited to around 500 attendees, giving it a more intimate feel from the start. Students and advisors stay in dormitories and eat in a common dining room, which encourages fellowship and interaction.

And while there are keynote speakers in each session, the small-group seminar groups that meet throughout the week are the key to making those invaluable connections.

“The Honors Institute Experience augments student understanding of learning as multidimensional and not restricted to the classroom,” said Rob Carey, advisor to the Alpha Beta Chi Chapter at Pima Community College in Arizona. “It helps them comprehend connections between their personal beliefs, values and actions. These opportunities are important because they break down isolationist barriers to intellectual exchange that may exist within their own communities and regions, even if those areas are culturally and ethnically diverse.”