Regions Put Grant Funds to Use

From motivational speakers to experiential learning and a drummer’s cafe, $110,000 in grants from the Center for Excellence strengthened local programming in 22 regions this fall.

Twenty-two of the 29 Phi Theta Kappa regions received grants of $5,000 each to supplement costs for conference programming and regional projects that will directly impact students in 2016-2017. View the list of regions receiving grants.

“With our grant, we brought in the Drum Café to conclude our 2016 Texas Honors Institute,” explained Texas Regional Coordinator Debbra Esparza. “The conference ended by looking at theme two of the Honors Program, ‘Individualism and Collectivism,’ and this interactive presentation focused on the idea of the southern African proverb of UBUNTU —’I am because we are.’

“All 403 people in attendance received a drum and participated in building an amazing community of drummers.”

The Wisconsin Region used $3,000 of their grant to bring in teambuilding facilitators from the Kohler Experiential Learning Center for the keynote session and workshops on October 14. They plan to use the remaining funds for their regional convention.

“The students loved it, and we built our conference theme around it,” said Wisconsin Regional Coordinator Linda Duffy. “It was educational and interactive and thoroughly enjoyable!”

Iowa Regional Coordinator Sima Dabir said their region used the funds to bring in an out-of-state motivational speaker, former national officer Matt Jones, as their keynote speaker for the Iowa Regional Leadership Conference, on October 7, 2016. Jones currently serves as State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor in Illinois. They hope to use the remainder of the money to bring another professional speaker for their spring regional convention or regional honors institute.

“Thank you so much for making this possible for our region by allocating the $5,000 to our region for the regional growth,” Dabir said. “We appreciate all you do for all of our Phi Theta Kappa students.”

Middle States Completes!

More than 3,000 students participated in the Middle States Community College Completion Challenge Week October 17-21, with all states in the region taking part in the event for the first time. During the week, each community college in the region held a series of campus-based college completion activities.

The Middle States Region includes 80 Phi Theta Kappa chapters in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

Events included a “Pathway to Graduation” question and answer session, a 5K run to raise awareness, and a panel of alumni discussing the importance of college completion, among others. The common goal of all the activities was to encourage students to sign the pledge to complete their degrees or certificates and commit to helping fellow students do the same. Faculty and staff members were also asked to sign pledges to serve as Completion Champions to assist students in their efforts.

“We know that earning a community college credential not only benefits the lives of students, but also strengthens community and the nation as a whole,” said Phi Theta Kappa CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “We applaud the Middle States Region for being a leader in their support, encouragement and advocacy of community college completion among members and non-members.”

The Community College Completion Corps (C4) is a campaign created to increase the number of students at community colleges completing their associate degrees and certificates so that they can successfully transfer to four-year colleges and universities, earn their bachelor’s degrees, and enter careers that provide family-sustaining wages. The initiative was created to in an effort to produce 50 percent more students with high-quality degrees and certificates by 2020.

So far this year more than 100,000 students have signed the C4 pledge — that’s 100,000 people who have committed to completing college!
Learn more about Phi Theta Kappa’s C4 effort and how you can participate, see the Middle States Completes video, and read media coverage online.

Finding Self-Worth Through Free Membership

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

During my sophomore year of high school, my family and I found ourselves on the streets after my father became unemployed. In addition to the normal stressors of being a teenager, I faced the additional stress and uncertainty of moving from place to place. Because of the stigma associated with poverty, I felt ashamed. Instead of talking about it or asking for help, I kept up appearances, pretending everything was fine.

My senior year of high school, I worked two jobs and used my earnings to help my family relocate. This experience brought me feelings of pride and independence, but also feelings of disappointment and disillusionment. I felt confused.

Even after my family was able to permanently move into a home, I found myself lonely and depressed. Instead of feeling carefree and optimistic about my future, I felt disconnected until I realized that I wasn’t alone and that my suffering was not unique to me. Like Kevin Conroy said, “Everyone is handed adversity in life. No one’s journey is easy. It’s how they handle it that makes people unique.” Eventually, I realized that my situation was not a roadblock; it was an opportunity. I had been holding myself back.

I realized that rather than being ashamed of my finances, I should be proud of what I’ve accomplished despite my obstacles. And it was through Phi Theta Kappa that I started seeing myself as the leader I am.

Every year my college raises money to donate to a scholarship for eligible Phi Theta Kappa members who cannot afford the membership fee. Fortunately, I was chosen as one of the few to be sponsored. One week later I was able to attend the induction ceremony in spring 2015 and become a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

I cannot imagine how different my life would’ve been if I hadn’t been sponsored and become a Phi Theta Kappa member. I’ve been welcomed into a supportive community of scholars that creates an environment of success, one that produces critical thinking skills and tackles real life problems.

By becoming a leader on campus, I began taking an active role in my community while building my self-confidence and re-evaluating my self-worth. Not only did I develop my leadership skills, but I was also able to work on my professional development. Through programming such as the College Project, I established and maintained relationships with my college’s administration. Most importantly, Phi Theta Kappa has helped me find myself and pushed me to become a better human being.

The Golden Opportunity Scholarship is an initiative to help eligible members cover their international membership fee. This would give a chance for students from low-income families such as myself to be able to afford the cost of membership so they have access to all of the benefits Phi Theta Kappa has to offer.

This is an exciting step forward in giving the life-changing opportunities that come with Phi Theta Kappa membership to those who often need them the most. I hope you’ll join us in supporting this initiative as we work to change someone else’s life for the better, just as Phi Theta Kappa changed mine.

Learn more about the Golden Opportunity Scholarship. Nominations are due Friday, November 4.