I began working on a community college campus as a part-time math and chemistry tutor at the age of 20. It took me about 15 seconds to fall in love with the community college mission, and I knew that I had found the right place to invest my time and talents. Within a year, I became a full-time instructor. That was more than 25 years ago.
I, like all others who work in community colleges, embrace the value of access — a primary component of the community college mission. It’s a complicated equation for our colleges to balance providing access and the costs of providing a quality education. Colleges have responded with numerous federal, state and institutional financial aid programs to help provide access while maintaining quality, but there are still insurmountable gaps for community college students.
What is the sum of it? On any given community college campus, the Phi Theta Kappa chapter is where you will find the highest level of student success on campus — even when you compare our members to others who make the same grades but don’t join. Only one in 10 eligible students accepts Phi Theta Kappa membership. Why? Our research tells us that the cost of membership is the number one reason high-achieving community college students do not become members. Just like the colleges we serve, we must look at increasing access to Phi Theta Kappa without compromising the quality of our member experience.
In my position, I get to be a part of a lot of amazing things. Just this year, I have delivered a faculty convocation and a student commencement; awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships that will enable students to complete their educational journey; and celebrated the success of amazing members like you at our 2016 Annual Convention. But this fall, I get to be a part of something even more meaningful — the launch of a new scholarship.
The Golden Opportunity Scholarship is the first scholarship we have introduced since I became the President and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa. It is designed to increase access to the benefits of membership by helping students pay for membership when they simply cannot afford it. This scholarship is personal to me, because I know from experience the challenges many community college students face. I also know that membership in Phi Theta Kappa greatly increases their chances of reaching their educational goals and making their dreams a reality. With millions in scholarships and important opportunities to grow as scholars and leaders, we know that students can’t afford not to accept.
I became the President and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa because I believe there is no better place in the world to change the lives of community college students. I have known for many years the significance of Phi Theta Kappa’s mission in the lives of students and how clearly membership makes a difference. That same connection to the mission of Phi Theta Kappa continues to inspire me today. Whether it is a financial donation or a conversation about the benefits of membership, I hope you will join me in providing the Golden Opportunity of Membership to deserving students.
Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner is the President and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. To reach Lynn, contact Cassie Bryant, Special Projects Coordinator and Executive Assistant to the President and CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org.