Mississippi Lt. Gov. Named Honorary Member

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is now an honorary member of Phi Theta Kappa. The presentation was made during the Mississippi/Louisiana Fall Leadership Conference, which was held August 26-27 at Mississippi College in Clinton.

More than 225 Phi Theta Kappa members heard Reeves speak during the conference on Saturday morning. Reeves will be listed as a member of the Beta Tau Gamma Chapter at Pearl River Community College’s Forrest County Center.

“Thank you to the Mississippi/Louisiana Region of Phi Theta Kappa for the warm welcome and sharp questions,” Reeves wrote in a Facebook post following the event. “These students definitely have a bright future.”

Mississippi College alumnus Dr. William Lewis, Pearl River Community College President and a past Phi Theta Kappa Shirley B. Gordon Award recipient, introduced Reeves to the crowd.

Twenty-six chapters from Mississippi and Louisiana attended the Leadership Conference. Associate Regional Coordinator Dr. Terri Smith Ruckel said this conference — the region’s second to focus specifically on leadership — saw a 10 percent increase in attendance over last year’s.

One highlight of the event was a keynote address by Dr. Benny J. Hornsby, who recently retired as Chair of Psychology and Director of Institutional Research at William Carey University and who served for 36 years in the U.S. Navy and its Chaplain Corps.

The weekend also featured multiple educational forums, including some led by Mississippi College faculty and administrators. Dr. Mignon Kucia, professor of communication, led “Developing Leadership: Rules, Roles and Membership;” Michael Wright, Assistant Director of Enrollment Services, led “Playing the Leading Role;” and Chris Smith, professor of business, led “Personal Branding: The Value of Ethical Leadership.”

“Mississippi College was very supportive of our conference, and they went out of their way to accommodate us,” Ruckel said. “They were also responsible for goodie bags, and those bags were literally stuffed with an MC t-shirt and other souvenirs, which the students really enjoyed and appreciated.”

Mississippi College President Dr. Lee G. Royce welcomed the region on behalf of the college in the opening general session Friday evening. He also had dinner with the Mississippi/Louisiana Regional Officer Team — a great treat for the students.

“We would also like to thank Angie Hardin, Director of Transfer Recruitment, and her staff, as well as Brandon Cervenka, Admissions Counselor, and Renee Hood, Coordinator of Campus Visits and Special Events, for their vision, flexibility and dedication,” said Dr. Ryan Ruckel, Mississippi/Louisiana Regional Coordinator.

Attendees also collected $5,000 to be donated to and divided evenly among four community colleges in Louisiana and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System that were impacted by the recent extreme flooding in the state.

Membership Recruitment Best Practices

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Sara Hwang, International Vice President for Division 1.

As we head back to school for the fall, I’m sure most of you have started brainstorming membership recruitment strategies. The International Officer Team and I recently hosted a webinar on Membership Recruitment Best Practices to hear about the challenges you’re facing and what’s working for your chapter.

From listening to members and from our own experiences, we know being a part of Phi Theta Kappa enhances the community college experience; so we want to find more ways to encourage more eligible students to accept membership so they can benefit from our programs and resources.

Below are some of the questions we posed to the webinar attendees. Responses from attendees are in italics.

Why did you accept membership to Phi Theta kappa, yet other eligible students on your campus did not?

“I accepted membership because of the scholarships; but after joining, I realized that I have a lot to learn.”

While it is a good incentive to attract eligible members, Phi Theta Kappa has a lot more to offer than just scholarships. I personally have built my skills in professional development and networking and have grown as an academic scholar.

“Almost every member I have talked to found the membership letter vague and unclear. They always ask, ‘What is this?’ ”

While the invitation from Phi Theta Kappa may seem mysterious and sound too good to be true, it’s up to us as campus leaders to put a friendly face to the invitation since we already have that presence on campus. Establish that relationship with eligible students so they’ll feel welcome and will come to you with questions.

In your experience, what is the value of membership?

Membership allows networking on a regional and international level. Networking is so important in today’s world, no matter what your career field is. Information is so valuable, and only through networking can you meet new people and gain other perspectives.”

One of the most important lessons I learned through Phi Theta Kappa is how important networking is. Networking is not just being friendly; it’s about starting, building and maintaining a relationship.

“Working on the Honors in Action Project forces you to dig deeper into what you want to say for all to learn with the least amount of words. With the research you learn to follow the trail to dig deeper as to why someone writes what they do instead of just taking the surface of a topic.”

Not only do you grow professionally, but you also grow academically. The Honors in Action Project gives your chapter a chance to learn about a topic in such depth. It’s not just research though — you have to understand the problem and see how you can tackle the problem from different angles.

“When I joined, not only did I benefit from scholarship opportunities, but I was able to connect with and form lasting relationships with people that were just like me! It gives you a sense of belonging.”

Going into a community college, I did not feel like I could make friendships. Through Phi Theta Kappa, I have joined a community of high-achieving scholars who motivate each other. For me personally, I didn’t have confidence in myself; but my advisors and fellow members saw potential in me and encouraged me to take more leadership roles in the community.

Is your chapter striving to grow? How?

“A big reason why many members from our chapter joined is because people from our college tried to recruit early. We actually had people from PTK come talk to us in high school on what PTK was and what it stood for.”

It’s very important to get all the information out there so eligible students know what benefits they can take advantage of. Getting that information out there early can help those high school students to have a goal in mind as they start community college.

“We are a small chapter, so I have been taking the time to meet with members one on one versus just a group meeting. Most of our members are new and have no idea what we do. Also I let them know to bring a friend along with them; that way they feel in their comfort zone, and we have a potential new member or provisional member.”

That’s a great way to start opening communication channels between officers and members. Officers and Phi Theta Kappa programming may seem a little intimidating at first, but putting yourself out there first will allow students to feel more comfortable. Break down that barrier and build a personal relationship with them.

What does member recruitment look like on your campus?

As a new member, some of the most important information I received came during a new member orientation from an advisor and current chapter officers. Hearing the stories of how the current members benefited from Phi Theta Kappa helped me see how I could benefit as well. Nothing beats a personal testimony.

Overcoming Struggles

As we progressed with the webinar, we came across some struggles facing membership recruitment as well. Two main obstacles were the membership fee and how to establish a relationship with a stranger.

As a Phi Theta Kappa member, you already have a presence on campus, so begin building that relationship. Reach out to college administration and explore the possibility of setting up a scholarship for eligible students who can’t afford the membership fee.

By being a part of this organization, you’ve already established yourself as a role model. Show others you are someone they can go to. Be approachable, and put a friendly face to the name of the organization. Remember, you were once in their shoes.

I hope you’ll incorporate some of these techniques on your own campus. It was an honor to host this webinar and get all of your input. As always, your IO team is available for questions or even a quick conversation. Feel free to contact us through email at intoff@ptk.org or on Facebook. We’re only a few keystrokes or a phone call away.

Introducing PTK Catalyst

Catalyst: an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.

We’ve witnessed the change and action the Phi Theta Kappa experience has spurred in our members and advisors. In fact, our annual convention is such a catalyst for success that we’re adding it to the name. Introducing, PTK Catalyst.

You can expect PTK Catalyst 2017, the annual convention April 6-8 in Nashville, Tennessee, to be a truly transformative experience that will catalyze both your chapter and you as an individual.

The name change isn’t the only thing that’s new with our convention. We’ve added two new Convention Competitions to the mix.

#PTKMembershipMatters Video Competition
Deadline: December 31

Create a 30-second video telling others why membership in Phi Theta Kappa matters. Upload it to Instagram and tag it with #PTKMembershipMatters.

The person with the most likes could win a $500 scholarship.

Learn more.

#PTKHasTalent Music Competition
Deadline: December 31

Create a 30-second video of you performing an original or previously recorded song. Post it on Instagram and tag it with #PTKHasTalent.

The person with the most likes could get the opportunity to perform the full song LIVE at PTK Catalyst 2017.

Learn more.

More information, including registration rates, details about other Convention Competitions and our new TED Talk-style educational forums, will be released soon.

PTK Catalyst 2017 will be at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Reserve your room today!

$50,000 Grant = Membership Scholarships for 750 Miss. Students

Phi Theta Kappa has received a $50,000 grant from the Education Services Foundation (ESF) to fund membership scholarships for 750 low-income community college students in Mississippi.

ESF President and CEO Jim McHale announced the grant in a press conference Tuesday at the Center for Excellence in Jackson, Mississippi. Mississippi Community College Board Executive Director Andrea Mayfield joined McHale in making the announcement. Watch the press conference.

Phi Theta Kappa has 34 chapters in Mississippi’s 15 community colleges. Nearly 10,000 students in Mississippi are active members of Phi Theta Kappa. On average, these students access over $27 million annually in scholarships from Mississippi’s public and private universities.

“Our research tells us that the cost of membership is a barrier for these students,” Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner said. “With thousands of dollars in scholarships and college completion rates hanging in the balance, the grant from ESF for Phi Theta Kappa member scholarships will have an enormous impact on the lives of Mississippi’s most talented community college students and the economic future of their communities.”

ESF helps Mississippians achieve a better life through education by providing services and philanthropic grants to educational organizations. The organization’s Get2College initiative offers a comprehensive program to help families plan, prepare and pay for college.

Representatives from the ESF and the Mississippi Community College Board and community college presidents from throughout the state were also in attendance. Read more.

400 Million People are on LinkedIn — Are You?

LinkedIn may be the No. 1 professional social media site, but that doesn’t mean it’s only for professionals. NOW is the time for you to start building your profile — and your brand.

That’s why we, in partnership with Pearson, are thrilled to offer you a series of webinars featuring Ron Nash, a LinkedIn Expert and Career Strategist.

Nash has worked as a human resources business partner for more than 20 years, providing talent acquisition and strategies to help organizations attract top talent.

He has worked with Fortune 50 to 500 companies, including Microsoft, Belkin Wireless, Samsung, Cardinal Health and LinkedIn. He led an Educational Forum exclusively for Phi Theta Kappa’s Competitive Edge members during the 2016 Annual Convention.

“We are so excited to offer this opportunity to all of our members,” said Jennifer Stanford, Phi Theta Kappa’s Chief Student Engagement Officer. “These webinars with Ron Nash will be a great complement to the workplace skills and personal and professional development we already offer through programs like Competitive Edge.”

Nash says 97 percent of human resources professional and hiring managers use LinkedIn to recruit new talent; and if you’re not on the social networking site, you’re nearly invisible to them.

See descriptions for the first two webinars below. We welcome your feedback about other professional development webinars you’d like to see. Email us at competitive_edge@ptk.org.

How to LinkedIn: Introduction to the LinkedIn Platform
Date: Thursday, August 25
Time: 7:30-8:15 p.m. CT

Do you have your professional profile and resume available on the LinkedIn platform? Or, are you intimidated by trying to navigate the site?

Nash will share insider secrets and tips, including:

  • Why you should have your profile on LinkedIn, build your personal brand now and start networking while you are still in college
  • Insider tips for setting up a professional-looking profile that will set you apart from the competition when applying for a job
  • Recruiter secrets to optimize your LinkedIn profile so recruiters and hiring managers will find you on LinkedIn

Register for the webinar.

How to LinkedIn: Building Your Profile
Date: Thursday, September 29
Time: 7:30-8:15 p.m. CT

Learn steps that are essential to setting up your profile so you can start networking now.

Nash will break down the fundamentals of a LinkedIn profile page and cover several related topics:

  • What you need to know about adding a profile picture and a background banner
  • The Coach Ron Nash formula to writing an attention-grabbing professional headline
  • Writing your profile summary and adding the Coach Ron Nash PAR (Problem-Action-Result) strategy

Register for the webinar.

You’ll also have a chance to ask Nash questions specific to your career strategy during both sessions. And, Phi Theta Kappa members and advisors can download Nash’s book, How to LinkedIn, for the discounted price of $9.97 at CoachRonNash.com.