Why You Should Run for Regional Office

Regional officers are critical to Phi Theta Kappa — they serve as a crucial link between the chapters in their region and PTK Headquarters staff.

Most regions will elect new officers at upcoming spring conventions. If you’re interested in a leadership position, this may be the perfect fit — even if you’re a new member.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand new member, if you’re a seasoned member or if you’re already a chapter officer — don’t doubt your leadership,” said Katty Vasquez, 2015-16 Kansas-Nebraska Northern District Vice President. “Don’t doubt what you can do.”

Patty Hawkins served as 2015-16 Wisconsin Regional President. She’d already held two leadership positions in her chapter, and she saw regional office as an opportunity to further develop her leadership skills and help other chapters in her region grow and become more active.

Officers set goals for their region’s participation in PTK programs. They attend chapter inductions and special events. They act as a resource for chapter officers. And, they plan and preside over regional meetings.

“When I started in this position, I did not realize I would learn as much as I have,” Hawkins said. “Being part of this team has helped me to understand the importance of working on a team that supports hundreds of members. We have set goals while learning and encouraging each other to succeed.”

The reasons to seek regional office are as varied as the positions’ responsibilities. Wisconsin Regional Coordinator Linda Duffy listed seven:

  1. Special regional officer training designed to help you understand your own strengths and develop as a leader
  2. Opportunities to work as a high-functioning team member helping to promote growth among the many chapters in your region
  3. Opportunities to plan, develop and present a workshop at one or more professional conferences
  4. Training on PTK programs that can benefit you and your chapter
  5. Opportunities for recognition at the regional and international levels
  6. Opportunities for travel within the region and to international events such as PTK Catalyst and Honors Institute
  7. Opportunity to earn a recommendation letter from your Regional Coordinator

Many of these reasons come with a bonus — they look great on a resume and can give you an edge when you’re competing for scholarships.

“The more you are involved in your chapter and region, the more likely you are to get free money,” said Sydney Pemberton, 2015-16 Kansas-Nebraska Southern District Vice President and 2016-17 International Vice President for Division 3. “Building your Phi Theta Kappa resume through leadership positions like this and service projects is key when filling out scholarship applications.

“Confidence, knowledge and teamwork are three characteristics you can gain just by running for regional positions.”

Learn more about serving as a regional officer.

Mosal, Marshall Awards Fund Personal Growth for Advisors

Dr. Joy Moses-Hall really likes rocks.

She holds a Ph.D. in oceanography, but she says the most fascinating part of the curriculum was geology. That likely stems from a childhood spent traveling around the continent visiting natural wonders with her family.

This love of rocks — and family — has inspired The Motherland Project, a geological biography of the planet sprinkled with familial anecdotes of mountains scaled and museums toured. The proposal for this project earned Moses-Hall the 2016 Mosal Award.

“It is allowing me to complete a project that has long been on my bucket list,” Moses-Hall said. “Even better, it turned a someday half-ambition of ifs and maybes into a real project.”

The Mosal Award carries a $5,000 stipend for the completion of a project that encourages professional development. The award is named for Dr. Margaret Mosal, Phi Theta Kappa’s first Executive Director.

After receiving the award in 2016, Moses-Hall spent months going on geology field trips, reading about and visiting the National Parks and Monuments and “hiking to my heart’s content.” News of the award led to her writing a science column in her local newspaper in Greenville, North Carolina, and she sends clips of the stories to her parents so they can travel with her in spirit.

“The award has cascaded through other layers and goals in my life in ways I didn’t anticipate,” she said. “After the first column was published, the local university called and asked if I wanted to teach an oceanography course there — a subject unavailable at the community college level.”

Moses-Hall is advisor to the Beta Nu Upsilon Chapter at Pitt Community College, where she teaches physics, astronomy and Earth science. Her Mosal medallion is proudly displayed in her office, where both students and colleagues see it and are inspired to put their own dreams on paper.

“They think if I can win something, then they should apply for PTK scholarships and other awards, and they could win, too,” she said. “The world outside PTK benefits too, because many of the projects funded are service-minded and provide benefits to people all over the globe.”

Just as Moses-Hall really likes rocks, Steve Fritts really likes comedy — improvisational comedy, to be specific. Fritts has been developing a unique approach to leadership through the use of improv, and he used his 2016 Marshall Award to further his study this year.

The Marshall Award carries a $5,000 stipend for the completion of a project that encourages personal leadership growth. It is named for Dr. Jo Marshall, President of Somerset Community College in Kentucky who, among other things, is a facilitator of Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Certification Program.

“Advisor support programs like the Marshall, Mosal and Faculty Scholars are vital to the success of Phi Theta Kappa,” Fritts said. “The role of advisor in our society is a labor of love, oft with no pay and long hours.

“Programs like these validate the work that advisors do and recognize our own professional development as a vital part of our society.”

Academia is embracing improv, with universities like Harvard and Yale utilizing it in their MBA programs to teach such leadership skills as listening, teamwork and collaboration. As a certified instructor of PTK’s Leadership Development Program, Fritts has sought to incorporate improv into his own leadership instruction at Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri.

He began training in the summer of 2016 at The Second City Training Center, the education arm of the famous Chicago theater where performers like Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Keegan-Michael Key and others got their start. He’s also done extensive reading in the field.

“This training is the foundation of my project as I seek to bring my readings and training together to create a practical leadership program using improv to develop the real skills of leadership: listening, collaboration and critical thinking,” he said.

Fritts’ training will continue with courses again this year. He will then collaborate with local improv workshop presenters in his community to develop a leadership workshop.

He already has plans to hold a workshop at The Middle College Program, a program for at-risk youth in his community, and he hopes to take the workshop on the road to several Phi Theta Kappa regions.

Much like the Mosal Award did for Moses-Hall, the Marshall Award has allowed Fritts to dust off his dreams and check a few items off his own bucket list.

“As we go about our daily lives and fulfill our duties at our colleges and within the society, we often forget our own personal and professional developmental growth,” he said. “This award allows an advisor to follow a dream that they may have put aside in order to focus on their collegial roles.”

The deadline to apply for the 2017 Mosal and Marshall Awards is February 17.

Meet Me at the Center for Excellence

It is hard to believe I’ve been a part of Phi Theta Kappa for less than one month. In this short span of time, I have met many members, regional coordinators, international officers and alumni. I have witnessed our dedicated staff work relentlessly on behalf of our members and advisors.

I have interacted with Phi Theta Kappans, whose commitment to academic excellence and professional growth astounds me. I have absorbed every hour, every day, every meeting and every new face. The past month has been nothing short of remarkable.

I am incredibly excited to join the Phi Theta Kappa family as Manager of Member Support and Outreach. Prior to joining PTK, I worked at Louisiana State University in transfer admissions and recruitment, where I served as the liaison between prospective and current transfer applicants and the Undergraduate Office of Admissions.

My professional roots are in both higher education administration and journalism and mass communication. In my former life, I was a reporter, a copy editor, a mass communication instructor and the manager of a statewide scholastic press association. I am eager to use my knowledge and skills to support Phi Theta Kappa’s student-centered vision of scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship.

As a full-time staff member based at PTK’s Headquarters, the Center for Excellence, I will be responsible for supporting membership recruitment and acceptance, as well as chapter development and engagement. In this capacity, I will continue to foster our culture of high-quality customer service.

Creating and developing strategic, yet meaningful, outreach practices with PTK constituents will play a significant part in my role here. Our members represent the heart of our organization. As such, we strive to maintain robust, valuable interaction with our chapters. By providing detailed, personalized and sincere service through outreach initiatives, we are prioritizing our PTK family. I am honored to contribute to this mission.

You’ll hear from me regularly, as I plan to contribute monthly on topics related to membership support and outreach … which brings me to my first topic: an open invitation to visit PTK Headquarters!

One of the hidden gems of Phi Theta Kappa membership is a chapter or prospective member visit to PTK Headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi. I want to extend an open invitation to schedule a visit to the Center for Excellence. (Fun fact: Last year, our PTK family from the Indiana Region traveled the farthest — more than 700 miles — to visit us!)

We welcome you, all members, prospective members, PTK alumni and affiliates to our home base. Join us for an opportunity to

  • Tour the Center for Excellence
  • Network with local PTK chapters
  • Meet our staff
  • Attend in-house breakout sessions on topics such as professional development, membership recruitment strategies, scholarships and/or running for office
  • Document your trip using #PTKVisit on social media
  • Provide valuable feedback to Headquarters staff about your PTK experience

Our staff is looking forward to meeting you. We will gladly provide refreshments during your visit. Additionally, the brand new Residence Inn by Marriott: Jackson The District at Eastover is conveniently located 0.4 miles from PTK Headquarters.

In 2016, a total of 12 chapters, alumni groups and regional officer groups visited the Center for Excellence. I am confident we will increase that number significantly in 2017. I encourage you to take full advantage of Phi Theta Kappa membership by scheduling a visit to the Center for Excellence. We would be honored to have you as our esteemed guests.

Feel free to contact me at aariel.charbonnet@ptk.org with any questions. I hope to meet all of you very soon.

Dr. Aariel Charbonnet is Phi Theta Kappa’s Manager of Member Support and Outreach.

Meet the Speakers for PTK Catalyst 2017

An exciting program is being planned for PTK Catalyst 2017, with General Session speakers including Jason Silva, Dr. Jennifer Arnold and Platon.

Silva is the Emmy-nominated host of National Geographic Channel’s #1 rated and Emmy-nominated series, “Brain Games.”

Dr. Arnold is an attending neonatologist at Baylor College of Medicine, Medical Director of the Simulation Center at Texas Children’s Hospital and star of the TLC television series “The Little Couple.”

Photos by international award-winning photographer Platon have appeared inside the pages and on the covers of Rolling Stone, The New York Times magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ and Time magazine.

Phi Theta Kappa President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner and International President Andrew Porter will also address attendees. Read more about Catalyst 2017 speakers.

Convention Competitions

The entries are in for the #PTKMembershipMatters Video Competition and #PTKHasTalent Music Competition. Go to Instagram to vote for your favorites in the music and video contests before February 1.

Winners have been announced in the t-shirt and pin design competitions. The winning designs will serve as inspiration for the official PTK Catalyst shirt and pin.

Also, don’t forget to enter these other PTK Catalyst competitions by February 1:

Scholar Bowl Competition — Eight teams of five members each will compete to answer questions in a modified quiz bowl format. The competition will be single elimination, with the final two teams competing during General Session 4 on Saturday, April 8. Each member of the winning team will receive a $100 scholarship. View contest rules & details.

Extemporaneous Speech — Give a concise and informative speech with limited preparation, and you could win $500. View contest rules & details.

Prepared Speech Competition — You know why Phi Theta Kappa rocks, now tell others by participating in our Prepared Speech Competition, and you can win $500. View contest rules & details.

Get the Lowest Rate to Reserve Your Spot

PTK Catalyst 2017 will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center April 6-8. The official convention venue typically fills up fast, so make your hotel reservations today.

Remember, the best registration rates are offered prior to February 1. Register now!

Stay tuned for more PTK Catalyst 2017 information coming soon, including details about our new TED Talk-style educational forums.

College Admin Shares PTK in High School Outreach

Dr. Norman Session has learned a lot in his 20-plus years as an educator; but there are two key lessons he’s especially passionate about, and he shares them often: the value of community college, and the value of Phi Theta Kappa.

As vice president of the Rankin Campus and Jackson Campus-Academic/Technical Center (JATC) at Hinds Community College in Mississippi, Session speaks to high school juniors and seniors about taking dual credit courses, attending a community college and joining PTK.

“It looks really strong on a resume,” he said. “Every leg up you can get on your resume when you’re competing for scholarships — even at the high school level — is going to help.”

The value of community college came early. Session received his associate degree from Hinds in 1988 and then transferred to Mississippi College, where he received a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees. After completing his first master’s degree, Session taught as an adjunct instructor at Hinds’ JATC.

Session earned a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi in 2000.

He began his professional career teaching in local public schools. He served as assistant principal at several middle and high schools before becoming principal at Pisgah High School in 2002.

As Session was settling in to his new position, Hinds was expanding its dual credit program to area high schools. He saw the potential, and soon his small, rural school was offering more dual credit hours than high schools in his district that were twice as big.

His students began receiving invitations to join Hinds’ Phi Theta Kappa chapter. Session and his colleagues learned more about the honor society, found out which students were invited and encouraged them to become members. He was made an honorary member in 2016.

“When I first got to Hinds Rankin (in 2015), I saw a list of PTK members with their ages listed,” he said. “I knew every 17-year-old student on that list except for one, because they all came from my high school.”

As Session began talking up community college and Phi Theta Kappa, he focused on the one thing he knew would resonate with students and parents alike: money.

Students attending high schools partnering with Hinds’ dual credit program can earn college credit for free. If they become Phi Theta Kappa members, attend a two-year college, get involved on campus and develop their leadership skills, they often stand to receive a better scholarship offer from their university of choice than they may have been initially offered as freshmen.

“I was a high school principal for 13 years, and I did not know it was fairly easy for a transfer scholarship to be larger than a freshman offer,” Session said. “The average parent and the average student do not know it’s possible.”

But Phi Theta Kappa isn’t only for dual credit students planning to attend community college. Session also encourages those enrolling in universities as freshmen to join the Society and become involved.

“If they’re going head-to-head with other freshmen for scholarships, anything they can do to get an advantage is worth it,” he said. “These are things we need to make sure the students know. It’s our job to prepare them for the next step.”

In addition to money, Session has seen students’ confidence levels grow after becoming involved with PTK and taking on leadership roles. They’re taking that confidence with them to interviews for scholarships and admission to honors programs, and one day they’ll take it with them to job interviews.

Session saw it in his own son, a dual credit student who came to Hinds and then transferred to Mississippi College. His son was named to the All-Mississippi Community College Academic Team and received additional transfer scholarships.

“He just had one year of community college, but he had more confidence going into scholarship and business school interviews,” he said. “Phi Theta Kappa really gets some of them to come out of their shells and embrace or fine-tune their leadership skills, and they come away with a whole new level of self-worth.”

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Achieve Five Star Success

The Five Star Chapter Plan helps you put the mission of Phi Theta Kappa into action in your chapter and on your campus, and provides recognition for chapters that report their annual progress online by midnight January 25.

Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters will automatically update some items on the Five Star Plan checklist including inductions and Hallmark Awards participation.

Your chapter should have set a goal based on the level of your desired involvement in Society programs and reported your progress as you went along. All chapters have a default goal to be a One Star chapter, with the ability to update the goal at any point during the year.

Participation is optional, but many chapters are likely already doing the activities necessary to move up to the next level. Following the plan can result in your chapter being more active and engaged on campus and in your community in addition to receiving recognition for your progress.

Below are the requirements for each level of the plan, in brief:

· One Star — Recognizing Academic Excellence, Chapter Foundations
· Two Star — Organized Chapter Leadership and Getting Started with Honors in Action
· Three Star — Developing an Honors in Action Project and a College Project
· Four Star — Increased Presence on Campus and Increased Engagement in the Region
· Five Star — Further Involvement in the Region and in International Activities or Events

Activities that help you reach your Five Star goals, such as organizing member recruitment campaigns, can also bring you closer to REACH Rewards. This program recognizes chapters that achieve or exceed a 15 percent acceptance rate and rewards them with free graduation stoles. The first awards will be presented this spring.

For more information on the Five Star Chapter Plan, see the online Chapter Leaders’ Guide to Success. Other resources are also available, such as level requirements, college project ideas and the Five Star Plan poster.

Chapters recognized for Five Star Chapter Plan achievements will be recognized with certificates at spring regional meetings and at PTK Catalyst 2017. Every level of achievement is important.

In addition, chapters with the most outstanding chapter projects will be recognized at PTK Catalyst 2017 with Hallmark Awards. The deadline for submitting the Honors in Action Project and College Project Hallmark Awards applications is January 25 at 5 p.m. Central Time.

Be sure to update your chapter’s progress on the Five Star Plan online by January 25 and don’t miss out on the opportunity to celebrate your chapter’s achievements!

Why You Should Study Abroad & How You Can Get There

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by the International Scholar Laureate Program.

When you think about traveling, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A tropical island? A road trip? A dream?

For Phi Theta Kappa member Sarah Monalisa Wisniewski, traveling was just that — a childhood dream. But thanks to the International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP), she was able to accomplish her dream and so much more.

What started as a plan to go to China turned into an “opportunity to experience the Chinese culture to the fullest,” Sarah said. “I learned a bit of Chinese, got to spend some time with the locals, and enjoyed authentic Chinese cuisine, which was truly amazing.”

Why should you make studying abroad part of your academic plan?

The benefits of studying abroad expand beyond your academic life into your professional and personal lives. Study abroad programs encapsulate experiential learning. For Sarah, learning while traveling had many benefits.

“Students who study abroad experience a new perspective on education and their major,” she said. “These students get the opportunity to see a different style of education while they immerse themselves in their host country.”

For example, instead of reading about Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM), studying abroad gives you the opportunity to see medicines being created, watch treatment being performed, connect with medical students, and discuss the differences between CTM and your own country’s medicine. Studying abroad may also give you the chance to learn about startup technology companies from their founders. Not only will you return home with a better knowledge of your field of study, but you will also meet like-minded professionals and students.

“Another benefit for traveling abroad to study is being able to meet new people from other countries,” Sarah said. “Students get an opportunity to not only learn about the culture and studies at the host country, but also to learn about other traditions while making lifelong friends.”

How can you turn a dream of studying abroad into a reality?

Explore the opportunities available to you. ISLP offers short-term, immersive, career-focused programs in four countries: Australia, China, New Zealand and South Africa. Students from around the world sign up for ISLP to study Business & Entrepreneurship, Diplomacy & International Relations, Engineering & Technology, Nursing & Healthcare, or Medicine & Science.

Speak to the ISLP Office of Admissions at 800.778.0164 or via email at admissions@scholarlaureate.org to discuss which program is best for you, what to expect when travelling and the best ways to fund your study. Students come to the program for a variety of reasons, but they leave seeing the world from a different lens.

“Now [I am] open to more travel opportunities in my law enforcement career, … [and] would definitely recommend this experience to anyone,” Sarah said.

Start today. Visit the ISLP website and see which programs fit your dreams. Choose your career delegation. Select a destination. Apply now for 2017 International Scholar Laureate. The deadline to enroll is February 24, 2017.

Connect with ISLP scholars using the hashtag #ScholarLaureate on Facebook: @ScholarLaureateProgram I Twitter: twitter.com/scholarlaureate I Instagram: instagram.com/scholarlaureate/

People of PTK: Mohamed Abdelghany

Mohamed Abdelghany saw sports as his way to a college scholarship; but when injuries sidelined him in his junior and senior years of high school, he needed another way.

It came from somewhere he never planned to be in the first place: Passaic County Community College in New Jersey.

Abdelghany spent the first half of his life in the public schools of Queens, New York — “a real urban jungle.” He then moved to New Jersey, where he enrolled in Clifton High School, a much more rural and quiet setting.

“I wasn’t used to having to drive everywhere,” he said. “I missed having everything I wanted to do within walking distance.

“It felt like it wasn’t home. I didn’t feel comfortable there. So in high school, I wasn’t able to focus.”

Playing sports helped. He was on the swim, track and football teams and was doing well — his talents were recognized. Trouble started when he tore his ACL doing the long jump his junior year. Then, he broke his leg at football practice his senior year.

He’d lost his opportunity to play, and his chance to compete for a sports scholarship was gone.

“When I first got injured, my first questions were, ‘Will I walk again? Did I let my teammates down?’ ” he said. “Then, ‘How will I ever pay for college?’ “

Abdelghany was accepted to Rutgers University, but they offered no financial aid package. He was left with a tough decision but ultimately enrolled at Passaic County Community College.

He wasn’t expecting a challenge — he’d been a solid B student in high school and thought of community college as 13th and 14th grades. He was wrong.

His first test came the very first week of classes as he learned how to manage his time.

“I maintained a 3.9 GPA throughout college — got A’s in all my courses, but they didn’t come easily,” he said. “I was really pushed outside my comfort zone.”

Abdelghany was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa in the spring semester of his freshman year. He didn’t want to pay the $65 membership fee; he didn’t have time for extracurricular activities. He signed up anyway, but he wasn’t very active.

Then, a surprise: the Vice President of Student Affairs wanted to nominate him for the All-USA Community College Academic Team. He would be one of two students representing his college.

He applied to win, putting his heart into the application essays. He was named to the New Jersey All-State Academic Team, and he earned a Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Silver Scholarship.

The good news kept coming. He was invited to be the commencement speaker at graduation. He worked as a research assistant at the Bronx Zoo in New York. And he was inspired to do even more, working as the Director of Ramadan Operations at the Islamic Center of Passaic County and volunteering on local election campaigns.

“Boy, if Phi Theta Kappa didn’t pay off,” he said. “And it was all because I took that initial footstep and invested $65.”

Today, Abdelghany is at Rutgers on a full ride scholarship. He’s on the Debate Team, he’s part of the Honors Living-Learning Community and he’s a Braven Fellow.

He’s a public administration major with a concentration on public policy. He plans on pursuing a juris doctorate and running for elected office.

“In my profession, I’ll be creating public service leaders,” he said. “I want to do something that will bring about more change.”

Abdelghany keeps coming back to the investment he made in Phi Theta Kappa. He has taken advantage of every opportunity that has come his way, and now the thing he’s most proud of is that his parents will never have to pay for him to go to college.

“Not everyone is going to have the same experiences that I’ve had, but everyone is given the same opportunities,” he said. “It’s up to you to make the most of it.”