‘If You Want to Lead, You Need to Serve’

Fifty-three chapter advisors and college administrators are now certified to teach Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Studies curriculum on their campuses. They were certified at seminars held during the summer.

“The ability to interact with a diversity of participants from different backgrounds and perspectives allows you to see different teaching techniques and styles that you wouldn’t otherwise experience,” said Dr. John Downey, President of Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia, who attended the seminar in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The content of the course is so rich in that it’s getting participants to think about not only their own leadership philosophies but also the leadership philosophies of others.”
Downey’s predecessor at Blue Ridge was certified in the Leadership Development program, and the two team-taught a course. Getting certified has been a goal of Downey’s for several years, and he ultimately hopes to develop a President’s Leadership Academy for his students.
Downey said the environment at Blue Ridge is built around servant leadership and that people are given opportunities to lead at all levels. He has been with the college since 1992 and worked his way up through the years.
“My predecessor always said that if you want to lead, you need to find opportunities to serve,” he said.
Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Studies program uses great leaders portrayed in books, films and history to guide students through the development of their own leadership philosophies. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has recognized the program as one of only eight exemplary leadership development programs in higher education.
“I’ve seen how Phi Theta Kappa has enriched the lives of so many people, especially if they participate,” Downey said. “I know if Phi Theta Kappa runs it, it must be good. I feel privileged to have been a part of it.”
Three certification seminars were held in July. The 2016 certified faculty members are:
July 14-17
Cal-Poly Pomona University’s Kellogg West Conference Center
Pomona, California
Larry Adams, Amarillo College, Texas
Melinda Bullen, Mt. Hood Community College, Oregon
Sima Dabir, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Iowa
Linda Duffy, Western Technical College, Wisconsin
Donna Gillespie, College of DuPage, Illinois
Patricia Hall, Cañada College, California
Dr. Aldena Harris, Lorain County Community College, Ohio
Samantha Hines, Missoula College, Montana
Brandi Howard, Laney College, California
Malory Klocke, Iowa Western Community College, Iowa
Michelle Pecheck, Long Beach City College, California
Beth Sammons, Mt. Hood Community College, Oregon
Richard Stroobant, SAIT Polytechnic, Alberta, Canada
Marion Synnott, SAIT Polytechnic, Alberta, Canada
Kirk Young, Jamestown Community College, New York
July 21-24
The Washington University Charles Knight Executive Education and Conference Center Hotel
St. Louis, Missouri
Adrienne Barkley Griffin, John A. Logan College, Illinois
Jennifer Corder, Hill College, Texas
Caryl Gibbs, Rose State College, Oklahoma
Angie Goldszmidt, Bergen Community College, New Jersey
Dr. Nicole Grose, Collin College, Texas
Ashley Hall, Black River Technical College, Arkansas
Kamar Hamilton, Lansing Community College, Michigan
Robert Knight, St. Louis Community College, Missouri
Kathy Kurosky, Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana
Mary Linder, Grayson College, Texas
Dr. Jamie Mahlberg, Rochester Community and Technical College, Minnesota
Lorie Maltby, Henderson Community College, Kentucky
Anna Page, Johnson County Community College, Kansas
Dr. Jody Peterson, Centralia College, Washington
Morgan Ricks, Northeast Mississippi Community College, Mississippi
Dr. Brigham Scallion, Dyersburg State Community College, Tennessee
Emily Washburn, Coffeyville Community College, Kansas
Benjamin Williams, Community College of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Jim Williamson, Hill College, Texas
July 28-31
Emory University’s Conference Center Hotel
Atlanta, Georgia
Margaret Bell, Hinds Community College, Mississippi
Jenny Bowers, Itawamba Community College, Mississippi
Amber Carey, Pensacola State College, Florida
Dr. John Downey, Blue Ridge Community College, Virginia
Dan Flores, Houston Community College, Texas
Teri Fuller, Waubonsee Community College, Illinois
Leroy Gibson, Florence-Darlington Technical College, South Carolina
Ronald Gray, Tidewater Community College, Virginia
Mamie Harris, Florence-Darlington Technical College, South Carolina
Kathryn Hix, Greenville Technical College, South Carolina
Jay Humphries, Itawamba Community College, Mississippi
Ira Lindsay Kinard, Itawamba Community College, Mississippi
Bobbi Lee, Greenville Technical College, South Carolina
Michael McGinnis, Lansing Community College, Michigan
Jessica Petersen, Pensacola State College, Florida
Joy Rhoads, Hinds Community College, Mississippi
James Rowland, Graduate Student, Florida
Deanne Schlanger, Houston Community College, Texas
Dr. Rebecca Tate, Lone Star College, Texas
To learn more about the Leadership Instructor Certification Seminars, check out this first-person blog post by Dr. Aldena Harris, who attended the seminar in Pomona, California.
Dates and locations for the 2017 Leadership Faculty Certification Seminars will be announced soon.

Best Practices for College Projects

Planning and completing a College Project is a great way to establish or strengthen a relationship between your chapter and your college administration.

Dr. Molly Harris, Mary Linder and Cassie Bryant outlined best practices for College Projects in an educational forum at the 2016 Honors Institute and again in a webinar this summer. Harris and Linder are advisors to the Omicron Psi Chapter at Grayson College in Texas, and Bryant is the Special Initiatives Coordinator at Phi Theta Kappa.
The webinar focused on the purpose of the College Project, the application process and writing reminders. A recording of the webinar is now available online, as is the full PowerPoint presentation. Note: After clicking the link to the webinar, you will need to download the files to properly view the full presentation. Some highlights:
The Application
Using the essay questions, briefly describe your College Project and list those from both the chapter and the college administration who were involved in determining the project.
“This is one of the most important aspects,” Bryant said. “It needs to be a joint project that supports the college’s mission as well as what the chapter hopes to gain and learn from this.”
Summarize your chapter’s objectives for the College Project, but also be sure to summarize the process by which the chapter and the college administration set these objectives.
And, detail the outcomes of your project, including the lessons learned by chapter members and others.

“So many times, we’ll see chapters that just describe their projects qualitatively, but we also want to see how you made an impact quantitatively,” Bryant said.

Tips from the Trenches

Harris and Linder shared tips they have learned through their experiences as chapter advisors. A big one — particularly when completing the College Project Hallmark Award application — is to focus on the process, not the project itself.

“Don’t focus so much on what the project is; focus on how you got to the project selection, how you worked to get it together and what the outcome was,” Harris said.

Communication among the chapter and the college administration should be intentional and ongoing. Leadership development should also be intentional, providing training to chapter officers and members that will directly impact the success of the College Project.

And, be sure to keep a journal, both as a team and individually.

The Writing Process

As you begin the Hallmark Award application process, be specific with your answers. Who did you meet with? Who did what? Why were certain decisions or choices made?

“Don’t just paint a picture like everything was beautiful and rosy,” Linder said. “We want to see the stuff where things went wrong as well, because that’s part of the process, and you learn from the process. Put everything in there — the good and the bad and how you overcame the roadblocks.”

Edits should go before at least three groups: peers, advisors and outsiders. Track changes through each edit, and read your entry out loud.

Submit your entry early, and, most importantly, do not miss the deadline. Applications are due to Headquarters by 5 p.m. CT on January 25, 2017.

View the College Project Best Practices presentation and webinar. See the full library of presentations and webinars.

Give Your College President a (figurative) Gold Medal

The world may be focused on gold-medal athletes, but we’re celebrating champions of a different sort — those focused on student success.

In celebration of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, we’re waiving the cost of honorary membership for the community college presidents who provide unwavering support of our chapters, their members and the Society as a whole. Phi Theta Kappa has chapters on more than 1,800 college campuses throughout the world.

“Our chapters are fortunate to have some incredible college presidents supporting them,” Phi Theta Kappa President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner said. “An honorary membership in Phi Theta Kappa is a meaningful way to give them a well-deserved thank you, and we’re glad to offer this opportunity to our chapters for free.”

Honorary membership is a way to pay tribute to outstanding supporters of Phi Theta Kappa. Individuals selected for honorary membership should represent the ideals on which Phi Theta Kappa is based.

They are afforded all rights and privileges of membership, with the exception of the right to vote or hold office. Honorary members do not pay membership fees.

If your college president is worthy of a gold medal, contact your Key Services Consultant to name them an honorary member, and we’ll send them an official certificate of membership. Or, click here.

Support Free Community College, Invest in the Future

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by 2016-17 International President Andrew Porter.

Education is a way to improve oneself and one’s chance at securing a better future. That’s why I returned to college after my active military service.

At that time, I was deciding between a community college and a university. I chose community college for many reasons, one of the most important ones being the financial cost. My options were a lower-cost community college or a (much) higher-cost university. I was fortunate to even have those options — many people don’t.

What if my financial situation was not affecting which educational institution I could attend, but whether I could attend college at all? Many people face that choice, and it makes me wonder if education is a right or a privilege.

I recognize, and am thankful, that I had the means to go back to college. In fact, most of my education is paid for in part by the GI bill because of my time in service and veteran status from serving in Iraq. Some people will offhandedly remark how lucky I am to have my school paid for by the government. I look at it as an investment in me in response to the investment I made in our country.

I don’t feel it is a handout, but rather a way to show belief in potential. That investment encourages me to do better and to give back to my community.

Think about what an investment like this could do on a national level. How would our country look if community college was free for students? How would it affect you? I pose these questions to you all because Phi Theta Kappa is a collection of students who do work hard, who value their education and who are dedicated to improving themselves and their community. I want to know what you have to say, and so does the world.

Recently, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with leadership from organizations working to make community college free. They are searching for students like you to be the difference and take action to further this initiative.

Heads Up America is a nonpartisan, grassroots campaign to make two years of community college free for all hardworking students. You can sign their pledge at headsupamerica.us or learn more about their campaign by joining a webinar they’re hosting on August 29 at 4 p.m. ET. Register for the webinar.

Another group, Young Invincibles (YI), is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for young adults. YI researches critical issues facing Millennials, builds campaigns to fight for solutions, and engages young people across the country. You can follow them on social media @YoungInvincible and email Krieg Rajaram to get more involved in their work to make higher education accessible to this generation.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this conversation and all the possibilities to which Phi Theta Kappa has given me access. I know that I made the right choice in attending community college and joining Phi Theta Kappa.

By making community college more affordable, we can make the difference for others who are deciding whether they will attend college and invest in others so they may have a better future.

Regardless of whether you agree free community college is the answer, I urge you to apply the principles of research and be involved in this conversation because the world is listening. I believe that greater access to education is an undeniably positive goal to work toward; however, to achieve this goal effectively, we must understand this issue from many perspectives.

Webinar on Aug. 19: International Honors Certificates

Advisors — make plans to attend an informative webinar on our International Honors Certificates (IHC) program on Friday, August 19, at 2 p.m. CT to see how you can take an IHC course for free.

The IHC program is an opportunity for both Phi Theta Kappa members and prospective members to “internationalize” their resumes through online courses from top universities around the world.

“Courses such as Global Entrepreneurship, International Business HR and Contemporary China and Chinese Culture are an excellent way for students to enhance their global skills and gain an important credential for their resumes,” said Jennifer Stanford, Phi Theta Kappa’s Chief Student Engagement Officer.

As an advisor, you can now take an IHC course of your choice at no cost so you can learn more about the student experience in the program and how to make these courses available at your college.

There are four courses available:

  • Global Entrepreneurship at UCLA Anderson
  • International Business HR at the University of South Carolina
  • Organizational Leadership at the University of Johannesburg
  • Contemporary China and Chinese Culture at Beijing Language and Culture University

“The development of global awareness and global competencies in the workforce is more important to collaboration and other workplace skills that employers are increasingly expecting,” said Monika Byrd, Phi Theta Kappa’s Dean of Leadership Development and Service Learning. “We’re excited to offer this opportunity to advisors so they can see just how impactful this course can be.”

Register for the webinar.

First Person: “It’s always about expectations.”

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Aaron Burtch, Associate Director of Transfer Admissions at Lipscomb University, a four-year college partner.

I pulled into the parking garage at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, having no idea what to expect. I was getting ready to represent Lipscomb University at what I thought was just another transfer fair.

My experience with Phi Theta Kappa was limited to an in-office meeting, so as I began to get ready to work my first Phi Theta Kappa College Transfer Fair — and already having a misguided perception of what other transfer fairs were like — I quickly realized I was under-manned and under-prepared.

Oh, the amount of faces and looks and questions and colors and excitement. I had actually brought work to do during my “down” time. Yeah, I know…”down” time at the international convention. Please forgive me; I was a rookie.

Two years later, I walked into my first opening general session. Again, how quickly I realized this wasn’t your normal conference “session.” This was a mixed bag of Opening Ceremonies at the Olympics meets Celebrate the Magic at Disney and that scene in the first Harry Potter movie where everyone is in the dining area and Dumbledore introduces everyone and, as I looked around, I would not have been surprised if a sorting hat would have made an appearance. My mind was blown as I soaked in the excitement surrounding groups of students gathered from every corner of the United States and then some.

I mention these moments because, as a transfer recruiter, perceptions and expectations can get the best of you and may keep you from really enjoying and appreciating an experience. For those of us at private universities, we focus on academics, experience and fit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

I forget how transfer students have some of the same feelings stepping foot on my campus and many other campuses around the world to start another chapter in their academic career. It’s new and exciting, but — if both parties have assumed that they know everything that will go on — it makes for an overwhelming experience.

For the last seven years, I’ve seen numerous students leave their home Phi Theta Kappa chapters and become involved on our campus. What’s awesome is that, in the first couple of weeks, alumni will get together and share stories, compare chapters and just be thankful that they found each other on this new journey. Usually, within the first month, they’re immediately plugged into their new major with new faculty, staff, administrators, students (who, on average, have already been in the major for about a year) and, of course, expectations.

It’s always about expectations. High or low, big or small, someone has them of you and you have them about the college you are searching for. The first question I always hear, and honestly cringe at, is what scholarships do you have? If money is what drives you, then, good question.

The better question to ask may be, “How will your school change my life?” Here’s some help: a smaller school doesn’t always mean better engagement and opportunity. A bigger school doesn’t always mean you’ll get lost. You have to invest in yourself from day one, and that begins at your induction ceremony.

Phi Theta Kappa students who have invested in themselves and in the organization do remarkably well at Lipscomb. One student finished at Columbia State Community College in Tennessee and came to Lipscomb to prepare to be a nurse in her hometown of Blacksburg, Virginia. Another graduated from Nashville State Community College, got married and had kids, completed a bachelor’s degree, got accepted into our pharmacy school and is now working in California as a pharmacy research assistant.

How about the guy who thought he was going to work in the State Capitol Building and decided instead to work with kids and become an advocate for one of Nashville’s biggest non-profits, Second Harvest Food Bank?

How about the non-traditional student who overcame a life of drugs and, after finding herself inches from death, turned her life around, transferred to Lipscomb and is now working as a case manager for an organization that helps women?

What about the guy who came to us from a community college in Colorado and helped pitch us to our second Atlantic Sun Conference championship in baseball and to a trip to the NCAA Division 1 Regionals?

What about the guy who, as I speak, just broke the school record for runs batted in for one season, which was previously held by a current member of the Baltimore Orioles?

If you would have asked me, at that moment in Grapevine, Texas, if I was impressed by Phi Theta Kappa, I would have probably looked back at you with a “deer in the headlights” look from being wowed by the moment. It took time for me to learn what students like you are about. Now, as I work with students year after year, I do expect more of these stories, and I hope the university you look for provides those expectations as well.

Come visit us in Nashville. I hope to see you in our backyard at your annual convention next year. I promise I’ll be ready.

Rocket Science, Soap and Everything in Between

There are high-achieving students, and then there’s George Pandya.

In 2016, 18-year-old Pandya received his third associate degree as well as a certificate from Arapahoe Community College (ACC) in Colorado. This same year, he graduated from high school — STEM School Academy in Highlands Ranch, Colorado — as valedictorian.

This fall, Pandya will begin classes at the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, a dual degree program that awards degrees from both the Wharton School of Business and Penn Engineering. Only about 50 students from around the world are accepted into the program each year.

“It’s a real honor to get in,” he said. “I applied as a long shot; I never expected to get in. But it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Pandya’s love of learning ranges from rocket science to history, politics to literature. He grew up in a home where “exploration of science and technology was nurtured” — both of his parents have engineering backgrounds, and Pandya was often taking things like remote controls apart.

One grandparent was an educator; the other, an entrepreneur. Pandya inherited qualities of both and is committed to doing the most with what he’s been given.

“I don’t like boring”

Pandya started at ACC when he was 15 years old through his school’s dual enrollment program. He took “everything (he) found interesting,” resulting in the multiple degrees. He joined the Sigma Phi Chapter, serving as Vice President of Leadership and then President.

“I guess I’m never satisfied,” he said. “I always want to see what else I can do. I don’t like boring, but I find everything interesting, so I end up having a lot of great experiences.”

One such experience? Being one of the youngest people ever to intern with United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Colorado, which he has done in the summer of 2015 and 2016. Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company formed ULA to provide “reliable, cost-efficient access to space for U.S. government missions.”

Among Pandya’s assignments was to design a “real-time, integrated, data-filtering” algorithm that would make rocket launches easier to monitor. He did so successfully and was invited into the mission control room for the Delta IV launch.

His most recent internship found him helping to design the new Vulcan rocket, among other projects.

Pandya previously got experience with ULA when he led a team of 10 students from his high school to design a payload that launched on a ULA intern-build rocket.

For this particular payload, Pandya needed a lift-off sensor that would trigger functions only after launch and save battery power. The ones he could find were bulky, expensive and not accurate enough; so, he designed one himself. The patent is pending.

“It was really very simple,” he said. “This invention has been especially useful for model rocket makers who need such a sensor.”

Pandya also worked on teams developing payloads for the Colorado Space Grant Consortium RockSat-C and DemoSat programs, both sponsored by NASA.

“It was something I did for fun”

In 2014, Pandya was curious about the effect the sitting President’s approval rating would have on the approaching U.S. midterm congressional elections. He began looking through historical data going back to 1946 to see if there might be a connection.

The results of his research led him to create a predictive model for future midterm elections, which he used to accurately predict the number of seats won and lost in Congress in the 2014 election.

He watched anxiously as election results were announced — and finally breathed when he saw they matched his predictions, validating his model. He wanted to share his findings, so he turned to ACC math professor Jeff Berg for guidance.

With Berg’s help, Pandya’s findings were published in the Cornell University Library Journal of Social and Information Networks. He was only 17 at the time.

“Mr. Pandya has outstanding initiative, work ethic and drive,” Berg said in a letter of recommendation. “He has maturity beyond his years and the drive to take himself to the next level, especially in an academic environment.”

Pandya was invited by the Mathematical Association of America to present his research at the 12th Annual Pikes Peak Regional Undergraduate Mathematical Conference at the United States Air Force Academy in 2015. He was also invited to speak at the Rocky Mountain Sectional Math Conference.

“It was a good experience,” he said. “It was something I did for fun. Whether it got published was icing on the cake. I just enjoyed going through the research and learning something new.”

“If you have the merit to succeed, you should be able to succeed”

In April 2016, Pandya helped found Starts with Soap, a non-profit that provides soap and other necessary items to underfunded schools across the country.

This is a grass-roots effort: high schools and colleges establish chapters that partner with an underfunded school. A team of regional executives and managers oversee the chapters. Pandya serves as the Chief Operating Officer.

“It promotes equitable education,” he said. “I believe that if you have the merit to succeed, you should be able to succeed. Of course, you also have to have the resources to succeed.”

In addition to his work with Starts with Soap, Pandya serves on the Board of Directors for Front Range BEST Robotics, a non-profit that hosts robotics competitions for middle and high school students.

In 2015, he mentored middle school students in his high school’s STEM Kids Care Club, who in turn mentored younger underprivileged ESL children in a local Early Childhood Center. He also created personalized notes of encouragement to post in the lockers of middle school students to curb bullying.

“Since much of bullying is caused by self-esteem issues, this initiative significantly reduced bullying on campus,” he said.

At ACC, as part of his Phi Theta Kappa chapter’s Honors in Action Project, he led research and worked with the school’s sewing students to design and create clothing that adapts to the form of disabled people and improves their comfort and range of motion.

Pandya’s achievements are many — being named a 2016 Hites Scholar and a 2016 Coca-Cola Scholar among them — but he knows they were only possible because he took advantage of the opportunities presented to him. And he fully intends to pass such opportunities on to as many students as he can.

“If George has a weakness, I don’t know what it is,” Elijah Dicks, an ACC history professor, said in a letter of recommendation. “I’ve had a lot of students over the years, and I can confidently say that if I was going to select one that I thought was going to go on to do big things with his life, it would be George.”