Online Membership = Less Work, More Members for Your Chapter

Rocky Mountain-Cascade Regional Coordinator DeLinda Martin-Huggins and Associate Regional Coordinator Michelle Gietl said there were a few challenges in their path to making online membership available to students at their colleges, but they persevered and were rewarded with increased membership, a more streamlined process for those joining and less work for the chapter advisors.

Michelle, who also serves as an advisor for Alpha Sigma Xi at Columbia Gorge Community College, said her chapter chose online membership acceptance for a number of reasons.

“We took into consideration convenience for our students, especially our distance education students who do not come to campus, but would benefit from Phi Theta Kappa membership,” she said. “Members fill out everything online, pay online and they are done.”

Michelle added that not having to manually enter student information into the website also means fewer errors.

“Our registrar was concerned about FERPA issues,” she said. “But after I was able to put together a presentation with the information, she was willing to do it.”

DeLinda said her college — Portland Community College (PCC) — wanted to offer online membership acceptance as soon as it became available, but it did take some effort to accomplish the transition.

After several meetings with the Student Records office, the Center for Excellence and Phi Theta Kappa advisors from each of the college’s four chapters, DeLinda said PCC was able to work around the FERPA issue by using the following process:

· Student Records sends advisors a list of eligible students at the beginning of each term.
· Advisors send eligibility email to students with a link to a release form to receive an application from Phi Theta Kappa’s Headquarters.
· The link stays live for three weeks, and students have until the last day of the term to join.

Both advisors have some advice for chapters who want to start using online acceptance.

“Once we determined a process that benefitted other college departments, instead of just a benefit to our PTK chapter, then we were all able to work together to come up with a solution,” DeLinda said. “It really is about finding someone within the college who wants to make it happen, and finding a way to engage all parties involved.”

Since making online membership acceptance available, chapters at PCC and Columbia Gorge have seen a significant increase in membership acceptance and ease of payment/application for invited members.

“The advisors are spending much less time on applications and making more time available to spend with members and officers,” DeLinda added.

Michelle encourages chapters that want to implement online membership to communicate with other chapters already using the system.

“During our advisor meetings at regional conferences, we discuss online acceptance and the barriers that prevent chapters from implementing it,” she said. “I encourage all chapters to implement online acceptance as part of their best practices.”

For more information about implementing online membership acceptance contact Melissa Price, Membership Services Senior Specialist, at

16 New Chapters Chartered in 2016

Congratulations to the 15 new Phi Theta Kappa chapters and one new alumni association chartered in 2016!

H. Councill Trenholm State Community College
Beta Phi Phi Chapter
Montgomery, Alabama

La Salle University
Beta Phi Chi Chapter
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ivy Tech Community College
Beta Phi Tau Chapter
Marion, Indiana

Arrupe College of Loyola University of Chicago
Beta Phi Pi Chapter
Chicago, Illinois

Cowley College
Beta Phi Upsilon Chapter
Mulvane, Kansas

SOWELA Technical Community College
Beta Phi Iota Chapter
Lake Charles, Louisiana

Southeastern Technical College
Beta Phi Psi Chapter
Vidalia, Georgia

Northwest Louisiana Technical College
Beta Chi Alpha Chapter
Minden, Louisiana

Tougaloo College
Beta Phi Omega Chapter
Tougaloo, Mississippi

Keiser University
Beta Chi Gamma Chapter
West Palm Beach, Florida

South Central Louisiana Technical College
Beta Chi Delta Chapter
Morgan City, Louisiana

Community College of Vermont
Beta Phi Omicron Chapter
Montpelier, Vermont

Jefferson Community and Technical College
Beta Phi Rho Chapter
Shepherdsville, Kentucky

Brenau University
Beta Phi Sigma Chapter
Gainesville, Georgia

West Hills College
Beta Phi Lambda Chapter
Lemoore, California

Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University Alumni Association
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Welcome to the Phi Theta Kappa Family!

Hallmarks are the tip of the Phi Theta Kappa iceberg

In a lot of ways, Phi Theta Kappa is like an iceberg. We only see the very tip of the good things happening in the lives of our members, chapters and regions. The Hallmark Awards process is a tool, providing us with insight into some of the activities that happen at the chapter and regional levels and into the leadership displayed by members, advisors and regional leaders.

Each year, we are privileged to read stories of chapters who are using research and collaboration to tackle big problems like college completion, food insecurity among their peers and climate change.

Individual award entries remind us of the dedication of our more than 3,000 volunteer advisors and regional coordinators, who carry the mission of Phi Theta Kappa into the lives of our members — and of supportive college administrators and presidents who recognize that Phi Theta Kappa makes a difference on the campuses of almost 1,300 community colleges.

Hallmark Awards also introduce us to the outstanding work of individual chapter members, chapter officers and regional officers, who are living examples of PTK’s Hallmarks of Leadership, Scholarship, Fellowship and Service.

Alumni awards recognize the commitment of dedicated alumni and alumni chapters, who continue to support the mission and vision of Phi Theta Kappa through their support of local chapters and regions.

Our scholarship awards process highlights that Phi Theta Kappa members are more than scholars — they are also hardworking, community-minded and committed to overcoming adversity.

But, as I said, these awards provide only a snapshot of what I consider to be the full picture of Phi Theta Kappa. We know that, for every advisor who walks across the stage, there are dozens more who are making a difference in the lives of their chapter members. For every member who walks across stage in the Parade of Scholars, there are many more who are receiving Phi Theta Kappa Transfer Scholarships to colleges and universities. For every chapter who receives recognition for outstanding College Project Award entries, there are hundreds more doing great work on their campuses and in their communities.

Recognition is a big part of the Phi Theta Kappa mission, and we do our best to find ways to recognize chapters, advisors, college leaders and members — but we recognize that, just like icebergs, there is much, much more to Phi Theta Kappa than meets the eye.

Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner is the President and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. If you want to get in touch with Lynn, please contact

Honors in Action and College Project Hallmark Award entries are due by 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, January 25. Nominations for Alumni Awards are due by 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, February 15.

4 New Year’s Goals for Your Chapter

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Alexa Greer, International Vice President for Division 4.

Happy New Year, Phi Theta Kappans! While I don’t necessarily believe in New Year’s Resolutions, I see January as a time for reflection and intention-setting in both my personal life and professional life. It’s a time to adjust our priorities, people and plans so they can align with our greater purpose, be it our personal missions, career goals or simply getting through the school year smoothly.

I’m sure many of you are jumping back into your spring semester. In the following weeks, I suggest you get together with your chapter and have a conversation about the direction you’d like to go as the year continues.

Identify a Need

Whether you are a chapter that’s just starting out, or an established chapter with a full team of officers, there are always areas of opportunity to build from. Have a conversation with your chapter — try and get faculty members or your college president involved if possible. Are there opportunities on campus for PTK to get involved and make a difference with students? Are there vacant officer positions that need to be filled? Do new officers feel comfortable with their job responsibilities? Are community college advisors educated on what PTK does so they can mention it to new students?


Once you’ve identified the needs of your chapter, it’s important to set a broad intention and make sure everyone on board understands why what you’re doing is important. Krisee Bailey, the Regional President of Virginia/West Virginia Region, said her region has set an intention of making outreach a priority on their campuses.

Define Goals

Once your team has done some intention-setting and set a couple of broad goals to accomplish, it’s time to fine-tune what it will take to deliver on those intentions. Sandra Lunday-Dihlmann, co-advisor for Beta Gamma Chi, noted that her chapter intends to use less plastic this year. Beta Gamma Chi will do this by making food for their meetings rather than buying pre-packed foods, using reusable plastic water bottles when possible, and refilling existing cleaning bottles rather than buying new supplies for the chapter.

Establish Accountability

Once you’ve set your overarching intentions and the concrete goals that will get you there, it’s important to establish accountability to make sure everyone can stick to the plan. This can be done by assigning officers and members tasks that correlate with their specialties. Making sure up front that everyone understands their duties and can fulfill them leads to a smooth transition into the spring semester.

Furthermore, as the semester continues, be sure to find individuals who are willing to take the place of outgoing officers. Provide them with training so they come into the following semester ready to start making changes on campus and within your region. I especially love this from Jason Ward, Regional Vice President of the Rocky Mountain Cascade Region: “I will not judge my time as an officer by the results of my year, but by the results of those that come after me.”

A Career Tech Educator Shares her PTK Experience

Phi Theta Kappa alumna Amy Whittington has recently been promoted to District Director of Career-Technical Education for Holmes Community College. Amy was inducted into the Kappa Alpha Chapter when she attended Holmes Community College’s Goodman campus, where she served as Vice President of Fellowship.

Below, Amy shares how Phi Theta Kappa impacted her life and why she believes PTK is for everyone — including career-technical students.

Q: How would you describe your Phi Theta Kappa experience?

A: It allowed me the opportunity to enjoy fellowship with other students at my school, while making a lasting contribution to our campus and community through service projects. Just being a member and putting that on your resume alone garners much prestige. It is a well-recognized honor society that has a respected mission. My time spent in Phi Theta Kappa at Holmes was so valuable to me in many ways.

Q: Did it shape your life in some way?

A: I would definitely say it had an impact on my life. The relationships formed and networking opportunities gained during my time in Phi Theta Kappa were invaluable. I was able to travel places in our state and our country and meet people that I would have otherwise never known.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job as District Director of Career-Technical Education?

A: What I value most about my job is having the opportunity to impact so many students at one time, through policy or campus decisions. My favorite part, though, is when students come to me with a problem, and we are able to make their dream of a college education real. In career technical education, our students are looking for not only an education, but also a career. Having the opportunity to make a lifelong impact and positive change for a person that could reach their entire family is really awesome!

Q: Currently the majority of Phi Theta Kappa members intend to transfer to a university to complete a baccalaureate degree. What would you say to students in technical programs about the value of participation in Phi Theta Kappa even if they don’t plan to transfer?

A: I would, and do, share with our career technical students that Phi Theta Kappa is about so much more than transfer. I strongly encourage all of our career technical students who are invited to join. For me, I truly believed it helped convert me from an introvert to an extrovert. I was so shy and quiet when I started my college career. My role in Kappa Alpha presented me with opportunities to help me develop both as a person and a scholar. The activities we held on campus or attended at a state level were always beneficial and value-added for me. It laid the foundation for my leadership skills. I am a proud alumna, and I share that with students every chance I get!

Read more about Amy online.

How PTK Gave Me a Competitive Edge

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Veronica Sanders, a member of the Sigma Tau Chapter at El Centro College in Texas.

Education has always been a priority of mine. Graduating at the top 25 percent of a high school class of over 1,000 graduates was a goal that I knew I could obtain. I had to give myself an extra push to obtain that goal given that I was a teenage mother of two boys, especially with naysayers telling me how I would never finish school or amount to anything.

It took me 10 years after graduating high school to not only find the sense to believe in myself again, but this was also when I finally found my purpose and the courage to go back to school. My husband was my biggest supporter, and my children were my driving force to start an educational career and pursue my dreams of becoming an interior designer.

I enrolled at El Centro College in 2013. It was at the Downtown Dallas campus that I would learn how being smart was not shunned, but instead rewarded through Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

When I was inducted, I gained the courage to take on a leadership role as the President-Elect of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) student chapter. The Competitive Edge courses and Honors program taught me leadership skills that I probably wouldn’t have learned from anywhere else other than self-help books.

Because of my newfound confidence in being a leader, I was offered a volunteer student leadership role on the ASID Dallas Design Community Board as the Student Liaison. I was the first to obtain that position and held it for three consecutive years.

Involvement in the community became a passion, and I spent a lot of my time volunteering with the PTK White Rock Lake Shoreline Spruce-Up, Habitat for Humanity, Dwell with Dignity and even Whole Foods. Volunteering taught me hands-on skills that I would need in my chosen career, but it also showed me the importance of giving back to the community and those in need.

It is also because of Phi Theta Kappa that I could transfer to UT Arlington and continue to further my education. Due to obtaining a PTK transfer scholarship, I am now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design. Since then, I have joined another honor society, as PTK showed me the value of being involved in academic organizations on campus.

I have had the courage to enter award competitions. I have won four from ASID — one of which was published in Luxe Interiors + Design magazine this fall, received multiple scholarships, and taken on multiple leadership roles in the community as well as on campus.

The leadership confidence that I gained through Competitive Edge has not only helped educationally, but in my career as well. In January 2016, I took on an internship with Mikel Welch. Welch is the CEO/Principal Designer of Mikel Welch, LLC; a Top 4 Finalist of HGTV’s Design Star Season 7; the former set designer for the Steve Harvey Show; and the personal interior designer for Steve Harvey.

Aside from the design skills I have gained through personal growth and education, the leadership skills I have learned through PTK have shone through in the workplace. In a matter of six months of employment, I went from making digital mood boards and renderings to Project Management and assisting in design for the Karli (Harvey) Raymond nursery, which was recently aired on the Steve Harvey Show, as well as the 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards. There I had the pleasure of working on product displays, stage designs, event space planning and even assisting with designing dressing rooms for celebrities.

The writing skills I have obtained from my education as well as through the Honors in Action research have helped me assist in writing design content that has been published in multiple magazines such as People, Ebony, and Brit + Co, and online for the firm with which I work.

I have been promoted from an intern to a Design Assistant and am working on high-end projects and continuing to pursue my design education. I plan to stay on track for graduation in May 2018 and continue to be a Hospitality or Aeronautics Interior Designer. I’ve even dabbled with the idea of getting a master’s degree so that I can teach interior design.

Phi Theta Kappa, encouragement from my loved ones, self-determination and God watching over me has given me a competitive edge. I see myself going nowhere but up from here. If you’re wondering if PTK can be a stepping stone to furthering your career and education, I’m here to tell you that if you get active in your local chapter, it can and it WILL!

The Key to Completing Hallmark Awards Entries? Teamwork.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” — Andrew Carnegie

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” — Ken Blanchard

So the countdown is on… Chapter Hallmark Awards applications are due in 20 days. Don’t panic – divide and conquer with teamwork!

Are you feeling overwhelmed as the Hallmark deadline approaches? Remember, many hands make light work. Chapter Hallmark awards applications shouldn’t be completed by just one or two people – instead it takes a team to complete projects, document, write, proofread and submit entries.

The Hallmark Awards process is more than just a way to receive recognition, but also a way to bring your chapter together to catalog and celebrate your success.

Find inspiration for your team in this article from Inc. of 15 memorable quotes about teamwork. Then, take advantage of these resources available to you on the Phi Theta Kappa website:

14 Things Hallmark Award Judges Wish You Knew
Read This Before You Submit Hallmark Awards
Hallmark Awards to Expand Recognition in 2017

Visit our Hallmark Awards page for more videos, nomination tips, best practices and sample winning entries.

All Hallmark Awards applications must be submitted online and by 5 p.m. CST on the deadline dates. Individual awards applications are due January 11, and chapter awards applications (including Honors in Action and College Project) are due January 25. Find the applications with complete instructions and rubrics online.

Go Global with a Transfer Scholarship to Minerva

Minerva Schools at KGI is the latest four-year school to establish a transfer scholarship exclusively for Phi Theta Kappa members. Check out the Q&A below to learn more about the offer, and visit CollegeFish to find other transfer opportunities just for you.

Tell us about your college’s new transfer scholarship for members of Phi Theta Kappa.
Minerva is offering a $5,000 tuition scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa students who have financial need. This scholarship is especially significant because Minerva’s tuition is approximately $12,500 per year — barely a quarter of the cost of other top university programs. Learn more and apply here:

In your opinion, what is one of the most impressive things about your college?
Global immersion and experiential learning. At Minerva, students live and learn in seven world cities during their four years — San Francisco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Hyderabad, Taipei and London.

This travel is not typical study abroad. In each city, Minerva students live in residence halls with their classmates and participate in rigorous, active learning seminars Monday through Thursday, spending Friday immersed in co-curricular experiences with local organizations in the public and private sectors.

For example, students in San Francisco recently pitched new products to leaders at Google, while those in Berlin worked on the refugee crisis with a local nonprofit. By applying academic coursework to real world contexts, students gain a deeper understanding of how the world works.

Minerva was founded by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a Harvard Dean who both believe the world is changing rapidly, though existing institutions continue to stagnate. Every aspect of Minerva, including the global experience, is intentionally designed to prepare students for the 21st century.

Are there other transfer scholarships that could be stacked with your Phi Theta Kappa award? If so, please explain.
Minerva is an anomaly among higher education institutions: when we say need-blind and merit-based admissions, we mean it. That means Minerva students are admitted based only on their accomplishments and performance in a set of unique admissions challenges.

Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring that every admitted student is able to attend, regardless of financial constraints.

In addition to this special scholarship, PTK students may also be eligible for low-interest loans, work-study opportunities and other financial assistance.

Are there any special events or admissions deadlines our members should be aware of?
Minerva’s Regular Decision I deadline is January 17. It is not too late to start the admissions process because it is different from others: no fees, no essays and no standardized test scores are needed. Instead, Minerva asks applicants to take part in a series of engaging challenges that allow them to demonstrate their critical thinking and creativity. Learn more and apply here:

14 Things Hallmark Award Judges Wish You Knew

Have you ever wanted to peek inside the mind of a Phi Theta Kappa Hallmark Award judge? What secrets could he or she share that could improve your submissions?

You’re not alone, and this isn’t one-sided. After decades of applications, common issues have arisen that Hallmark Award judges would like to share. Here are 14 things the judges wish you knew, in no particular order.

1. When answering questions about an individual award nominee, use specific facts to back up the person’s qualities. Saying “so and so has done wonderful things for the chapter” isn’t enough; tell us what the wonderful things are. Quotes are also great when describing the influence the individual has had on others. Avoid using generic descriptions that aren’t useful in evaluating the person’s impact on a chapter, such as “Her smile lights up a room,” or “He’s the nicest person in our chapter.”

2. For the Honors in Action Project award and the Chapter Project award, we need to learn about the processes people engaged in, not simply the end results of the processes.

3. We can tell that you use a thesaurus to look for various ways to convey the same thought. Be sure your message is still the same and makes sense when using words or phrases from a thesaurus.

4. The word count limit is not a required word count. Don’t use fluff and filler that detracts from the content of your chapter’s accomplishments just because you have a certain number of words allotted for the application responses. Keep your writing clean, clear and concise.

5. Judges read a specific award category, not ALL of your chapter’s award entries. So please don’t assume we will know what you wrote about in your Honors in Action Project entry when writing your Distinguished Chapter Officer entry.

6. Don’t assume we know your local community partners by just providing their acronym. Spell it out first, and then you can use initials in all other references to save on word counts.

7. On Honors in Action projects specifically, do your research first. We can tell when it’s an afterthought.

8. Although we do not designate a specific formatting form for documenting your sources, pick a style and stick to it (APA style for example).

9. When it comes to sources, be creative — sources can be found everywhere. Think outside the box and use sources like personal interviews and surveys, in addition to academic journals.

10. Use sources that show you actually researched the Honors Study Topic theme, meaning that all of your sources do not point to one opinion or conclusion. Show us that you looked into varying perspectives on a topic.

11. Please, please, please proofread your entries before sending. Although grammar and punctuation only account for a small number of points, these points are sometimes the difference between winning entries and non-winning entries.

12. Don’t assume you’ve hit all of the key points on the Judging Rubric until you have someone completely unfamiliar with your project or individual’s accomplishments “grade” your entry using the rubric. They’ll be able to spot holes you weren’t even aware of because you know the project/person so well.

13. When judging, I always have the rubric in front of me. Award entries that go specifically by the rubric are so easy for me to judge. I look at the rubric, and I see that the answer is in the nomination — it’s scored! I move on!

14. When nominating advisors for awards, always check to see what they have accomplished prior to your joining the chapter. If an advisor has previously held a leadership role in the organization, it will definitely add points to their score. Not mentioning previous accomplishments indicates to the reader that you do not know the advisor very well or that you did not do your homework.

Individual Awards are due by 5 pm CST January 11, 2017, and Chapter Awards are due by 5 pm CST January 25, 2017. Read more.