Support Golden Opportunity While You Shop

Few things are better than giving — giving gifts to those you love, giving thanks for what you have, and giving back to the world around you. Through AmazonSmile, you can also give the life-changing benefits of Phi Theta Kappa membership to students who need them most.

When you shop at, Amazon will donate .5 percent of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the new Golden Opportunity Scholarship through the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. If you ever needed a reason to shop on Cyber Monday, this is it.

The Golden Opportunity Scholarship will cover the international membership fee for hundreds of community college students each year. Up to 150 scholarships will be awarded before 2016 is up.

This isn’t only during the holidays — you can support our mission to give opportunities for students like yourself all year long. Be sure to log in to your Amazon account with our unique AmazonSmile link, and join us as we give the gift of Phi Theta Kappa membership.

Our Commitment to You

To our members,

We have just experienced one of the most divisive and heated political campaigns in modern U.S. history. This presidential election has created anxiety and uncertainty among many within the Phi Theta Kappa community. I want to reassure everyone that Phi Theta Kappa will continue to embrace and celebrate the diversity of our members.

Phi Theta Kappa remains committed to creating an inclusive environment for all members of the Society. As part of our ongoing strategic planning efforts, we will continue to explore new ways to support our students as they navigate these complex issues within their own communities.

Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner
President and CEO
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society

Hallmark Award Apps Now Live

Good news — all Hallmark Award applications are now live on!

Hallmark Awards recognize individuals, chapters and regions for the work they’ve done through Honors in Action to exemplify the Society’s Hallmarks of Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Fellowship this year. Winners will be recognized at PTK Catalyst 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee, in April.

There are several categories, and each has its own deadline.

Administrator Awards — due by 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, December 7

  • Distinguished College Administrator
  • Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction
  • Michael Bennett Lifetime Achievement
  • Community College State Director

Individual Awards — due by 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

  • Distinguished Chapter Officer Team
  • Distinguished Chapter Officer
  • Distinguished Chapter Member
  • Distinguished Advisor Team
  • Paragon Advisor
  • Distinguished Advisor
  • Continued Excellence Advisor
  • Distinguished Regional Officer Team
  • Distinguished Regional Officer

Chapter Awards — due by 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, January 25, 2017

  • Distinguished Honors in Action Project
  • Distinguished College Project

Some slight changes have been made to the Hallmark Awards program this year that will allow even more chapters to be recognized. Read more.

You can find FAQ’s, helpful tips, webinars and more on the Hallmark Awards page. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to this year!

Veterans Day Lessons in Leadership

Amberdawn Howard’s grandfather was a Vietnam and Korean War veteran. He instilled a love of the military in her at a young age — a love that only grew stronger after the events on 9/11.

High school was difficult for her. She’d planned to enlist straight out of school, but she got pregnant instead. She earned her GED and started raising her child.

Her love of the military didn’t go away, though, and she finally joined the army when she was 24.

“The army shaped me into who I am today,” she said. “I have goals and plans now that I didn’t have before I joined.”

On this Veterans Day — and every day — we’re proud to celebrate our active duty and veteran military members. In fact, we’re now offering red, white and blue Military Service Honor Cords at no cost for our military members to wear at graduation with their Phi Theta Kappa regalia. Learn more.

A 2014 National Conference of State Legislatures article about veterans and college reported that veterans often face challenges on college campuses, including a lack of camaraderie and understanding among other students. Many veterans are finding that Phi Theta Kappa helps fill that void while also building on the importance of community, teamwork and leadership development they first discovered in the military.

“The military is all about leadership,” said Howard, who at 32 is now a student at Ashland Community and Technical College in Kentucky and Vice President of the Alpha Omega Gamma Chapter. “I learned so much from numerous team and squad leaders that prepared me for my role as a team leader while in the military and a leader in the civilian world.

“Being able to effectively and efficiently work in a team has been a huge asset to not only schoolwork but to Phi Theta Kappa work as well. Without teamwork, a chapter cannot function properly.”

The military gave Thomas Scheibe the confidence to lead, first when he was put in charge of others before he felt ready for the task, and then again when he started at Pueblo Community College in Colorado and became Vice President of Leadership for the Alpha Rho Theta Chapter.

Although Scheibe received his membership invitation early, he didn’t join until just before he was set to graduate with an associate degree so he could add it to his resume. Once he became more involved though, he started a new associate degree so he could continue working with the chapter.

“I’ve gained more confidence in myself and gotten many networking opportunities and been able to learn a great deal that I would have missed out on otherwise,” he said. “One day, when it is time for me to move on to a four-year university, I will certainly miss the days I’ve spent with the chapter.”

Scheibe had almost no plans for his future beyond high school. He joined the military because it seemed like the easiest way for him to move out and start his own life. He grew up a lot and finally found some direction — he’s working toward a doctorate in electrical engineering so he can design new systems for the Department of Defense to help protect the men and women in our military.

“I grew up, but it was more than that,” he said. “Learning how to work as a team to complete tasks was huge. Everyone has to look out for each other.”

This desire to help people drove Trisha Norfleet to join the Air Force. When she received an unexpected medical discharge, she had to reevaluate her future.

She was led to Ivy Tech Community College’s Kokomo Campus in Indiana, where an on-campus veteran resources coordinator helped her access her military educational benefits. She joined the Alpha Phi Pi Chapter.

While in the military, Norfleet was a leader in the Airmans Council, which promotes morale and camaraderie among airmen and creates solutions to ensure the squadron runs smoothly. She gained communication skills and learned how to motivate others and delegate responsibilities.

She’s put these skills to good use while in college and as a PTK member. She’s received $6,000 in scholarships so far, including the 2016 Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education.

“During my enlistment I was able to recognize the importance of teamwork and the strength of a group’s potential,” Norfleet said. “I have gained phenomenal support from my chapter, and they all challenge me to become a better leader and a stronger person.”

Practicing What They Preach

Phi Theta Kappa has long advocated for student success and the finances to make that possible. Now, staff members are taking a more hands-on approach – by helping local students and their parents to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Get2College, a Mississippi-based, non-profit organization, is working to assist families by hosting FAFSA completion days at local high schools and community centers throughout the state, where they sit down with families and help them complete and understand the FAFSA.

This fall Get2College staff is being joined by college admission and financial aid representatives and community partners such as Phi Theta Kappa in hosting FAFSA Completion Days in more than 200 high schools throughout the state.

Ten Phi Theta Kappa staff members — including CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner — received FAFSA training through Get2College in September and are now volunteering at local high schools and helping families fill out the FAFSA.

“We can’t expect our members to participate in the Service Hallmark unless we set a good example,” Tincher-Ladner said.

In the past the FAFSA form was not offered until January 1 of a student’s senior year, but this year it was made available on October 1. Completion of the FAFSA is the first step for a student to become eligible for federal grants, work-study and loans, plus some state, college and private monies.

Most families believe that they either do not qualify for a federal grant, or they think that the FAFSA is only for low-income families. As a result, many leave Pell and other funding resources untapped – up to $3 billion annually.

Scholarship Operations Specialist Laurie Brown said sending her last child off to college last year made her realize the importance of completing the FAFSA.

“With the potential for both federal and state aid hinging on the submission of this free process, we can impact so many kids who might not have had the opportunity to even think about college,” Brown said. “So far, I’ve worked with many excited high school seniors — they’re ready to face the next part of their educational journey, and for some, this FAFSA process is opening doors they didn’t realize were available to them.

“It feels good to give back through sharing my knowledge and encouraging them to reach further than they thought they could.”

Read more about the Get2College effort in the Clarion-Ledger newspaper.

Read Tincher-Ladner’s guest editorial about FAFSA in the Meridian Star newspaper.

Celebrate International Education Week – November 14 – 18, 2016

Take advantage of a truly international experience without leaving home in a webinar with the Beijing Language and Culture University.

International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to highlight the importance of preparation for a global environment. We invite you to learn about and celebrate the benefits of international education in a webinar November 17 featuring one of Phi Theta Kappa’s International Honors Certificates Program partners, the Beijing Language and Culture University.

Phi Theta Kappa’s International Honors Certificates help prepare students to reach personal and professional goals in a global environment. The world is interconnected and skills to work in multi-cultural contexts are vital. As a major economy, China has great impact across the world in many ways, and the chances are good that you will encounter people, participate in business, or engage with issues connected to China. Understanding of China and Chinese culture can enhance your success. Join us for the webinar and meet faculty from the Beijing Language and Culture University, participating live from Beijing, and learn about the International Honors Certificate in Contemporary China and Chinese Culture they designed.

Webinar details:

“IHC University Partner: Beijing Language & Culture University”

Register Here:

When: Thursday, November 17, at 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Central

Who Should Attend:

  • Anyone interested in learning more about the International Honors Certificate program and the Contemporary China and Chinese Culture course – we will provide an overview of the International Honors Certificate program and of the Contemporary China and Chinese Culture course
  • Anyone currently enrolled in the International Honors Certificate course “Contemporary China and Chinese Culture” – we will have an opportunity for you to share your experience in the course with faculty in Beijing and ask questions


  • Provide an introduction to the International Honors Certificates (IHC) program
  • Provide an overview of one of the IHC courses, Contemporary China and Chinese Culture
  • Learn about the student experience in the course from individuals who have completed or are currently enrolled
  • Q & A with faculty of the Beijing Language and Culture University who designed the IHC

6 Tips for a Last-Minute Honors in Action Project

Let us be clear: an ideal Honors in Action Project is well planned and takes place over much of a calendar year. But life is what happens while you’re busy making plans, right?

There is much to be learned from completing an Honors in Action Project. The process of planning one alone holds big benefits in the development of leadership and job skills.

If life got in the way and your chapter wasn’t able to plan out the perfect Honors in Action Project, fear not — there’s still time. Projects must be completed by December 31, and Hallmark Award entries for your Honors in Action Project are due January 25.

Here are six steps to getting it done, courtesy of Phi Theta Kappa’s Dean of Academic Affairs and Honors Programs, Susan Edwards.

1. Even with a short time to work through the Honors in Action process, be sure to follow the process. You still have time if you move fast and focus. Check out the resources that show the process in the 2016/2017 Honors Program Guide.

2. Set some measurable, achievable goals for each piece of the Honors in Action process. That will help you focus your efforts as you move forward.

3. Spend a few days picking your Theme and then work with your college’s research librarian. She/he can help you focus quickly on academic sources that can help you do the foundational research for Honors in Action. Don’t worry at this point about doing surveys or interviews. Those take time and energy and aren’t necessary for your project.

4. Once you complete your Honors Study Topic and Theme research, analyze what you’ve found and concentrate on an action piece of the project that is doable. It may be a traditional service event or something that raises awareness of an issue. Think big in terms of direct connection to your research, but think small in terms of the work that needs to be done to complete the action. For example, it may be best to plan an event or action that takes place over the course of a day rather than, say, a week.

5. You’ll have to do some leadership development; but if you work with your research librarian to learn how to focus your academic research, you will be able to count that in this category.

6. Keep track of your progress and your outcomes along the way. What did you learn about setting a goal and then having to focus to get your Honors in Action Project completed? There are lots of valuable leadership lessons to be learned as you go through the Honors in Action process.

Don’t get stuck in a rush next year. Start planning your Honors in Action Project as early as possible so you have time to fully develop it.

You’ll also have time to include more chapter members so they too can gain from this valuable learning experience.

Van Atter Inducted into Rowan College Alumni Hall of Fame

Patricia (Pattie) Van Atter, who serves as Vice Chair of the Phi Theta Kappa Board of Directors and Middle States Regional Coordinator, has been inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame for her alma mater.

On November 2, Rowan College at Gloucester County, New Jersey, celebrated the achievements of seven distinguished Gloucester County College (now RCGC) alumni to be inducted into the College’s Alumni Hall of Fame.

Van Atter was selected for recognition because of her commitment to education and involvement with Phi Theta Kappa,

Her service to Phi Theta Kappa spans 18 years, beginning at Gloucester County College where she was a chapter officer and member of the All-New Jersey Academic Team. Van Atter was an active member of the Society and received the President’s Medallion for Service and Leadership.

As a charter member of the Middle States Regional Alumni Association, she served as president in 2003-2004 and was later named the Middle States Regional Coordinator. In 2015 Van Atter was chosen to serve on the Society’s Board of Directors and at their January 2016 meeting was elected as the Board’s Vice-Chair for a three-year term.

“Twenty years ago I came to this college to take get my GED. As a high school drop out, I didn’t believe that I could properly encourage my kids to finish school if I myself hadn’t. I came to RCGC to get my dignity back and do better by them,” Van Atter said. “Along the way, and because of the gift of membership to Phi Theta Kappa, I entered into a world of opportunities that would not have been afforded to me otherwise.

“I ask that each of us here to find ways big and small to reach out and help each other, because they too will make it their personal mission to return the favor.”

Read coverage online.

Virginia Member Takes Top Prize in Nota Bene

Mark Chevalier has always loved writing, but he didn’t take it seriously until he finished his first novel in 2007.

He also writes short stories and poetry, and it was one of the latter that earned him the Ewing Citation Award for the most outstanding submission to the 2016 Nota Bene literary competition and a $1,000 scholarship.

The Ewing Citation Award is named in honor of Nell Ewing, a long-time Phi Theta Kappa staff member who was a driving force behind Nota Bene. She retired in 2012 after serving 26 years with the organization.

“My main reason (for submitting to Nota Bene) is because I love poetry, and I wanted to share my love of the craft,” he said. “I also wanted to see if I have what it takes to be read in the community — did I have the proverbial chops? PTK gave me the opportunity to explore those boundaries.”

Chevalier attends Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia. His poem, “The Lie,” beat out more than 600 entries to take the top award. Another of his poems, “Who Knew,” will also be published in the 2016 issue.

“I am in love with language and how we use it to describe and feel the world around us,” he said.

Four other submissions were also singled out as outstanding, and those authors will each receive a Reynolds Award of $500. This award is endowed by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and honors the memory of the late Donald W. Reynolds, founder of the Donrey Media Group.

Reynolds Award recipients are

  • Zariah Hedge of San Jacinto College’s North Campus in Texas for her poem “Stationary”
  • Jena Picard of Palm Beach State College in Florida for her short story “The Devil Came to Pray”
  • Kimberly Smith of Wenatchee Valley College in Washington for her essay “Finale and Encore”
  • Jonathan Zelaya of Palm Beach State College in Florida for his short story “American Dream Bound”

Other works being published in the 2016 issue of Nota Bene:

Research Papers
“Income Inequality” by Nora Sheskey of Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College in Kentucky
“Aquaculture” by Hadassha Tofilau of American Samoa Community College in American Samoa
“The Oil Producer’s Dilemma” by Kevin Baisden of Northern Virginia Community College in Virginia
“The New Lynching” by Kevin Baisden of Northern Virginia Community College in Virginia

“The Creative Medicine” by Abby Jewett of Riverland Community College in Minnesota
“Maid Trade” by Jennifer Peterson of Cañada College in California
“Guilt in ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’ ” by Alexandra Borsdorf of Perimeter College at Georgia State University in Georgia
“Girl Whose Brother has Regressive Autism” by Michelle Jones of Zane State College in Ohio
“Meditation on Motherhood” by AnnMarie Vanek of Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio
“Little Girl” by Sarakrystin Simon of Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado
“The Metaphors They Carry” by Melissa May Marsh of MiraCosta College in California

Short Stories
“A Fearful Hero” by Nicole McGee of Amarillo College in Texas
“The Color of Hearts” by Cassia Rose of Northeast Texas Community College in Texas
“The Piano on 54th Street” by Caroline France of Greenville Technical College in South Carolina

“Who Knew” by Mark Chevalier of Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia
“Newton’s Cradle” by Zariah Hedge of San Jacinto College’s North Campus in Texas
“Waiting Room” by Nicole McDonald of Harold Washington College in Illinois
“Night One” by Janie Ensor of Metropolitan Community College in Nebraska
“Lust” by Jessica Rigby of Clinton Community College in New York
“A Blessing” by Luisa Black of Tidewater Community College in Virginia
“I’ll Die a Child” by Bailey McManus of Columbia Gorge Community College in Oregon

All chapter advisors will receive two copies of the printed 2016 Nota Bene issue.

We are now accepting entries for the 2017 Nota Bene literary competition. The deadline to enter is April 28, 2017. See full rules and upload your entry.