hosted by Dr. Aariel Charbonnet
Panelists: Anne McLeod and 2017-2018 International Officers: Obinna Muoh, Amanda Karpinski, Tasha Estein, Don Koch, and Jay Fritts
Panelists: Anne McLeod and 2017-2018 International Officers: Obinna Muoh, Amanda Karpinski, Tasha Estein, Don Koch, and Jay Fritts
Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Dr. Aariel Charbonnet, Phi Theta Kappa’s Manager of Member Support and Outreach.
Since joining Phi Theta Kappa in January 2017 as a staff member, I have welcomed eight groups to the Center for Excellence for customized training. Currently, we have six more visits planned throughout the summer. Over the course of the last few months, I have learned some tips to maximize a team’s training experience at PTK Headquarters.
1. Schedule early.
2. Be specific and intentional with what training you’d like to receive.
Our goal is to customize every group’s visit to meet its specific needs. Collaborate with your advisor(s), officers, and members to find out where your team needs the most help.
For example, one of the more popular presentations is Honors in Action and College Project. My best advice is to share your topics and/or research questions with us prior to your visit, so we can tailor your training session to meet your group’s expectations.
The more specific you can make your questions about your chapter’s plan for the Honors Study Topic and/or College Project, the better! Share your questions as part of your initial request for training.
3. Provide details about your group.
These details help our staff sharpen our focus, personalize our approach, and maximize the tangible and intangible benefits of your trainings.
4. Schedule at least 3-4 hours for a face-to-face visit.
Yes…four hours. It sounds like a lot, but believe me — time flies here. You’ll want to take complete advantage of the hours you spend at PTK Headquarters.
You’ll meet several staff members, interact with carefully selected individuals in one-on-one meetings, and learn more about what we do to support chapters, regions, Regional Coordinators, advisors, members, prospective members, alumni, and friends.
Plan time at the end of your visit to work on your group’s goals while at the Center. Do the work while you’re here and your momentum is high. It will pay off.
We like to talk! And we like YOU to talk! You’ll want to ask questions of every department you visit on the tour. Get answers about scholarship pointers, upcoming PTK events, transfer and career advice, and the like. The PTK network is expansive, and this is a good opportunity to leverage it.
5. Prepare for your visit by doing some research.
Do you know the name of our President and CEO? Do you know how many members we induct annually? Where and when was PTK founded? How is this relevant to our location for the 2018 international convention?
There may…or may not…be a pop quiz during your visit. (Don’t worry. Grades on this quiz will not affect your membership!)
I’ve found that some groups prepare for the visit on their drive to Headquarters. Road trip = Perfect opportunity to quiz each other on what you know about PTK.
To give you a glimpse of one team’s visit, here is a sample itinerary:
Tour of Headquarters
Breakout Session on Scholarships
11:50 a.m.-12: 45 p.m.
Breakout Session on Honors in Action and College Project
Competitive Edge and Chapter Officer Training
Breakout Session on Self-Presentation/Branding
Team Goals and Strategizing
If you are thinking of scheduling a visit to Headquarters, please consider these tips. We want your visit to be as meaningful as possible. To schedule a visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you soon!
Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Michael Onuchovsky, a member of the Alpha Gamma Omega Chapter at Valencia College in Florida and a 2017 Honors Institute Social Media Intern.
Attending Honors Institute is a tremendous opportunity. This is our time to grow personally and develop into scholars while surrounded by like-minded individuals in a close setting.
At Loyola University in Chicago, we networked with scholars from community colleges all over the world. We learned from experienced Phi Theta Kappans about Honors in Action and College Projects and gained insight on what knowledge, ideas, or methods we could bring back to our chapters to increase the impact of our endeavors over the next year.
The diverse group of advisors, keynote speakers, and alumni at Honors Institute brought monumental opportunities for our personal and intellectual development. But what’s next? How can we apply this to our lives and back to our chapters?
With networking comes great opportunities for collaboration, whether it’s through our Phi Theta Kappa chapters or personal endeavors. Honors Institute provided us the chance to meet many brilliant and accomplished individuals, so how do we take advantage of it?
“We can build better relationships with other chapters,” said Nicole Karam, co-president of the Omega Phi Chapter at Broward College’s North Campus in Florida. “We can include them in our chapter’s Honors in Action Project through fundraising, service, and fellowship events.”
Educational forums enlightened us about the Honors in Action and College Projects, running for international office, regional officer training, leadership, “Action, Awareness, and Advocacy,” developing regional honors experience, and Five Star Competitive Edge. They focused on specific principles and processes for participating in Phi Theta Kappa programs.
You can present everything you learned in the forums to your chapter, explaining how it can be applied it to your chapter. Make a slide show based on what you learned. Consider hosting workshops that replicate the ones you attended at Honors Institute. The endless hunger for knowledge is what drives Phi Theta Kappans, so feed your members!
I plan to host several different presentations and form committees based on the educational forum and keynote topics from Honors Institute. In addition, I spoke to my Regional Coordinator about leading workshops on running for International Office and on leadership at our upcoming regional conferences.
Nick Gorman, president of the Alpha Epsilon Omicron Chapter at Trident Technical College in South Carolina, assigned his fellow chapter officers to different sessions so they could learn as much about as many topics as possible.
“I’m trying to take back a variety of topics for our officers to teach chapter members,” he said. “It will set the tone for the next year by giving our officers a better idea of how to lead and which direction to pursue.”
The educational forums, keynote speaker presentations, and excursions, which illuminated the culture and history of Chicago, inspired members to overcome adversity and illustrated the beauty of how the world works through the global perspectives of vast diversity. How does this relate to our chapter endeavors throughout the year?
One way is through the obstacles we face during Honors in Action Projects. We will all face challenges during the year, so use the knowledge and inspiration you received from keynote speakers to push through.
Honors Institute’s keynote speakers can also change the way you look at the world, opening your eyes to opportunities you might never have noticed before. You’ll be inspired to think globally and act locally.
“We can bring home information about how we can shape our community for the better,” Nicole said.
Most importantly, when attending Phi Theta Kappa conferences, you develop a passion for PTK — that is the most amazing takeaway. When we go back to our chapters, our passion for PTK radiates to the other members. By sharing this passion with your chapter membership, you will see your projects have a greater impact on your college and community.
We were given a frame with no picture at Honors Institute. We now know what it takes to achieve the Hallmarks, but we can’t act alone. It is our responsibility to share our frame with our chapters and begin filling in the picture together.
As we approach the milestone of our centennial celebration, I can’t help but reflect on Phi Theta Kappa’s past and look toward its (very bright) future.
The original purpose statement of Phi Theta Kappa focused on the organization’s role within what were known at the time as “Accredited Junior Colleges.” However, throughout the 1960s, many colleges began changing their names from “junior” to “community” colleges, reflecting a mission expansion that was more inclusive of career and technical education programs that would directly impact local and national employment needs.
Phi Theta Kappa responded by revising its own language to be more inclusive of the expanding mission of its chapter institutions. In 1965, we revised the language in our constitution and mission statement to reflect our commitment to “two-year college students” — all the while keeping all eyes on academic achievement, leadership, service and fellowship.
Today, the mission of community, technical and junior colleges continues to expand. There are now 22 states that have authorized “community colleges” to offer baccalaureate degrees. Ironically, the expansion to baccalaureates by community colleges is in response to “community” needs for a more comprehensive education program — particularly in industries in need of employees with baccalaureates — in areas that are underserved by nearby (or not nearby) public four-year institutions.
As a result of the expanding mission of community colleges over the past 100 years, Phi Theta Kappa has active chapters at institutions that call themselves community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, colleges and even universities. While most of our chapters are established at community and technical colleges, we have 580 chapters (45 percent) established at institutions that are no longer referred to as “community” or “junior” or “technical” colleges.
But all PTK chapters, regardless of what flavor of school they serve, have a common thread — they seek to provide recognition within colleges and programs that are accessible to all students. And all members, regardless of which particular type of institution they attend, continue to take the same oath of membership as they did almost a century ago.
While we have informally responded to the recent changes in the community college mission, we hope to formalize these changes in the coming year by replacing the language “community college” with “college.” We believe that, in doing so, we will be staying true to our mission of recognizing academic achievement and providing opportunities to grow as scholars and leaders among deserving students. We hope you will continue to support us as we grow.
Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner is president and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. If you would like to reach Lynn, please contact her liaison, Fredrica Tyes, at email@example.com.
A native of Peru, and now a U.S. citizen, Valerie Castrillon has come a long way in more ways than one. The college preparatory school she attended in Lima had focused on what to expect from higher education, but provided little in the way of reassuring students to believe in themselves.
While she knew her family expected her to earn a college degree, Valerie admitted attending community college was not her original plan. But, her family had moved to Birmingham, Alabama, just before fall classes were due to start in 2009. Enrolling late at Jefferson State Community College (JSCC), she found most of the classes were full except for the night classes.
During her first semester at JSCC, she noticed photos in the hallway of some “very cool kids” doing all kinds of activities, from social nights to fundraisers and community service. So, she visited with Phi Theta Kappa advisor Dr. Liesl Harris, who invited her to attend a chapter meeting.
“I accepted that invitation, and soon after I became a member,” Valerie said. “It turned out that this honor society was much more than the photos could tell.”
Valerie had only been living in the U.S. for three years and had started her classes below college level. She conceded that her English was not the best; she wore braces and spoke with a thick accent.
“I never thought I would be capable of making all A’s, much less become a member of Phi Theta Kappa and serve as chapter president,” she said. “But Liesl saw something in me — she gave me the opportunity to join the Beta Lambda Delta Chapter and serve as chapter president.”
As Valerie pursued a degree in business, she fell in love with business calculus, took more math classes and discovered that she enjoyed the challenge of higher-level math. Coincidentally, when she attended Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention in Seattle that year, she heard from general session speakers Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, and Fred Haise, Apollo 13 astronaut.
A distinguished alumnus of Phi Theta Kappa, Fred took his Phi Theta Kappa membership pin with him on the nearly disastrous Apollo 13 mission. The pin, along with a NASA patch from his uniform, are now proudly displayed at Phi Theta Kappa’s Center for Excellence in Jackson, Mississippi.
Valerie saw Fred once more when she attended that year’s Honors Institute in Boston.
“When I came home, I told my parents that I wanted to become an aerospace engineer,” she said.
After completing her associate degree in business Valerie transferred to Auburn University, where she graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in aerospace engineering.
“It was not my plan to enroll at a community college — I didn’t know what would be ahead of me on this journey, but I truly believe this made me who I am today,” Valerie said. “I advise young people to do the same — attend a community college, and of course, join PTK.
“It influenced my career decisions and who I am today beyond measure.”
Valerie described her Phi Theta Kappa experience as so powerful, so meaningful that it changed her life completely, and said she continues to stay in touch with Liesl and her husband, John, to this day. In fact, when she landed her dream job at Airbus, Liesl was among the first to get a text.
Airbus is an international pioneer in the aerospace industry, designing, manufacturing and delivering aerospace products, services and solutions on a global scale. Valerie will serve as a flightline manufacturing engineer for the final assembly line (FAL) at the new Airbus facility in Mobile, Alabama.
Liesl is understandably proud of her former student.
“This is just one example of what we hear every day about how Phi Theta Kappa changes lives,” she said “The skills Valerie learned and the confidence she gained are serving her well!”
Valerie still calls Phi Theta Kappa one of her biggest accomplishments — even bigger than having a degree in aerospace engineering and working for her dream company.
“When I became a member, I started to see that I was capable and nothing is impossible, and I learned to believe more in myself,” she said. “I learned that I had a joy for public speaking, and that I wanted to become the best version of myself, and be a leader.
“I met people who wanted the same, and all of this was just the beginning of who I am today.”
And recently, Liesl received yet another text from Valerie:
I have to tell you lately I’ve been thinking a lot about PTK and my time there. Recently I got asked to be a leader and go to represent Airbus FAL USA and select my own team of six people from FALs in China, France and Germany! And all I can think is, ah, I’ve done this before. I’ve been a team leader before.
Valerie is currently in Hamburg, Germany, attending a summer camp organized by Olaf Lawrenze, Vice President of all Airbus A320 FALs across the globe. Daryl Taylor, General Manager of FAL Mobile, invited Valerie to be one of the “Young Tigers” to represent the U.S. and serve as one of the five team leaders selected from all FALs. She is the first team leader from the U.S. and speaks four languages.
“Like Liesl, I am not sure what Daryl has seen in me, but I love my job and I am very happy and humbled by this opportunity,” she said. “It motivates me more than I can explain. I am so thankful.”
This week Valerie and her colleagues had a meeting with Olaf to discuss problem solving and finding solutions.
“When he referred to the Apollo 13 mission and asked if we were familiar, I had to bite my tongue to not brag about how familiar I am,” she said. “I have a picture of Fred Haise in my office, along with a sign that says ‘Houston, we do not have a problem.’ “
Research associated with your Honors in Action Project can be overwhelming, especially getting started. This guide developed by Dr. Blake Ellis, advisor to the Beta Lambda Mu Chapter at Lone Star College-Cyfair in Texas and Humanities Representative to the Honors Program Council, can help make things a little easier. The Beta Lambda Mu Chapter was named the 2017 Most Distinguished Chapter earlier this year.
When conducting research for your Honors in Action Project, follow your chapter’s intellectual curiosity. You need at least eight academic resources. Some tips:
As you evaluate and analyze your sources, ask these questions:
In developing conclusions based on your research, start by reviewing what you know. Develop a thesis or main argument, and write a clear statement of that thesis. Keep an annotated bibliography as you go.
Then, pause to consider whether you have enough variety in your sources. And ask, “What do I still need to know?”
Once your conclusions are clear, consider the action(s) you can take. Based on your conclusions, what action can you take to address a real-world problem in your community?
If you get stuck, turn to one of these tips:
Learn more about the 2016-17 Honors Study Topic, How the World Works: Global Perspectives.
Each year hundreds of thousands of community college students receive invitations to Phi Theta Kappa. For each invitation that’s accepted, a life is changed in some way.
Sixty-one year old Sherry Godman, her son and daughter have more in common than shared DNA — all three attended community college. When their invitations came, they all said yes to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, a decision that has made a great impact on their present and future.
Godman’s son transferred to Rockhurst University on a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship and hopes to complete graduate work at Duke, Georgetown or Columbia University.
“As for my daughter, who received an invitation last semester, I think this will help her in the future as she continues her studies at a university after earning her associate degree,” Godman said.
But, for herself, Godman said she is just dwelling in the present and enjoying the validation membership in Phi Theta Kappa has given her.
“I grew up very poor and have had to work all my life. I never thought I would ever be able to attend college and never thought I was smart enough,” she explained. “I proved myself wrong, and I am very proud of myself. My children say I am an inspiration.
“At this point in my life, it doesn’t matter about my future. What matters is that I accomplished something I never thought was possible for me, and I was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa. I am so honored and proud!”
The Godman family received this recognition, validation and college scholarships for one reason — the Beta Rho Lambda Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at Fort Scott Community College-Miami County Campus in Kansas offered an invitation that would change their lives.
In 2016, Phi Theta Kappa kicked off a new rewards program focused on Recognizing Excellence in Acceptance and Completion with Honors — REACH Rewards for short. Each chapter meeting or exceeding the 15 percent acceptance rate automatically received four free graduation stoles for their members to wear during commencement ceremonies with additional rewards based on chapter size.
Of Phi Theta Kappa’s 1,300 chapters, the Alpha Theta Omega and Beta Rho Lambda Chapters from Fort Scott Community College boasted 2016’s highest member acceptance rates — 81.7 percent!
“This is such a great opportunity and honor for our students,” said Beta Rho Lambda chapter advisor Buddy Tanck. “They deserve all the credit for working so hard to recruit and encourage their peers to be part of PTK.”
Taylor Remington, one of two Vice Presidents of the Alpha Theta Omega Chapter, believes her chapter’s leadership role on campus is key to their member recruitment success.
“We make sure to be involved, if not take the lead, on activities around FSCC,” she said. “It really helps with publicity for our chapter.
“Students see us helping, and want to help as well.”
Fellow Vice President Shelby Hutchison agrees.
“Our chapter had a membership drive to increase numbers, and some of the activities we completed were mailing letters and having students take the pledge to complete community college,” she said. “Having several community service opportunities throughout the year showed the college students and local community the importance of Phi Theta Kappa.”
Chapter advisor Susie Arvidson said that sometimes the community involvement allows parents and other family members to see what Phi Theta Kappa is about as well.
“I also send out emails, and make some phone calls, inviting members to encourage others or inviting individuals to join our organization,” she added. “My communication also involves the benefits of becoming a member of Phi Theta Kappa, which might include experience, local involvement and scholarships.”
These are just two of 422 Phi Theta Kappa chapters that received free graduation stoles this spring in recognition of achieving their REACH Rewards goals. In its inaugural year, the program awarded 4,700 free graduation stoles to chapters who are sharing the life-changing opportunities of Phi Theta Kappa membership with deserving students.
“It’s all about access to the opportunities Phi Theta Kappa has to offer,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “This is why we are investing back into our chapters by providing REACH Rewards.”
Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by George Melchor, a member of the Eta Beta Chapter at Southwest Texas Junior College and a 2014 Jack Kent Cooke Scholar.
In search of a better life, my parents separately immigrated to the United States when they were children. They met during high school, fell in love, and achieved their American Dream by providing for and supporting our family in this nation of opportunities. I am a proud, first-generation Mexican-American college student.
I had a lot of self-determination growing up and always wanted to do my best. Poised to be fourth in my high school graduating class, not once did I consider community college a viable choice for higher education. It had been highly stigmatized in my community, and I honestly thought it was a place for those who failed to be accepted elsewhere.
However, once graduation was upon me, reality struck. I realized the costs of attending a university were simply out of reach. I could not bring myself to financially burden my parents with loans and ultimately decided that attending Southwest Texas Junior College (SWTJC) would be my best, and really only, option.
I worked two to three jobs every semester to pay for my tuition and save for my eventual transfer. I followed this routine for four semesters, not ever really getting involved in my community college. In my fifth semester, however, my life would change dramatically.
I had been invited to join Phi Theta Kappa every semester since I began attending SWTJC but had been too preoccupied with my classes and work schedule to give it a second glance. A dear friend of mine convinced me to accept my invitation, and ever since then I have not looked back.
I got involved with my local chapter, Eta Beta, and attended the Texas Regional Convention and then the international convention. I attended not knowing much about Phi Theta Kappa, and ended up leaving as a Texas regional officer. Initially, I was worried beyond belief about accepting this opportunity. I felt behind in my educational journey, but I was convinced yet again to roll the dice and see it through.
I also actively searched for scholarships, since I had learned this was a major component to Phi Theta Kappa. During a conference that year, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF) Undergraduate Scholarship was showcased, and I knew I had to apply.
Applying for the JKCF Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship was an endeavor to say the least. It required me to delve deep and reflect on everything that had brought me to that point in my education and in my life. The application process required me to ask for help from so many people. I honestly felt it was my entire support team applying for the scholarship.
After months of waiting to hear back from JKCF, I was convinced I had not won. But, in a surprise announcement, in front of most of my peers, I was named a winner of the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, and once again my life changed dramatically.
Not only did winning the scholarship allow me to attend an amazing undergraduate institution (Austin College), but it also fulfilled a mission of mine. I had finally succeeded in securing my pursuit of a higher education without debt.
My situation was not unique; there were plenty of able, hard-working students in my community who could not afford college. I seized the right opportunities, leaned on a support system, and believed in myself when it mattered most. It was one of the most freeing moments in my life, and I was proud of myself. I was unafraid in that application and embraced my life story, probably for the first time.
At Austin College I made amazing friendships and benefited from support systems comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators that allowed me to thrive. I was allowed to conduct independent research on cancer biology, to present that research at a national meeting in a poster competition, to intern for an educational non-profit in Washington, D.C., to study comparative identity politics in Europe, and to ultimately find my passion in the neurosciences and learn what it means to be a scientist.
I’ve also had the unique opportunity to serve as an advisor for Phi Theta Kappa at Grayson College. To give back to the organization that changed my life has been monumental for me. This experience was full of many amazing triumphs (our chapter was named No. 2 in the world this year) and many opportunities for growth. I will cherish each of these experiences forever.
I have recently been accepted to the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in neuroscience at Georgetown University. I have also been awarded a Georgetown University Healy Fellowship that will ensure funding for my Ph.D. for five years.
I can trace my current position and this next step in my educational journey back to the moment I decided to join Phi Theta Kappa. The moment I decided to give this organization a chance to change my life, it did.
I am grateful to Phi Theta Kappa and all the friends and family that I have made along this journey for shaping me into the person I am today. I am ready to excel in graduate school, to learn more, to continue seizing opportunities, and to positively influence the world and all the people I will continue to meet as I venture forward in life.
Ursinus College is a liberal arts college in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1869 and combines personalized education, interdisciplinary opportunities, and experiential learning for a distinctive and rigorous education.
The student-to-faculty ratio is small — just 12:1 — and its student body is comprised of students from 35 states and 12 countries. The school is located 25 miles from downtown Philadelphia.
A few key facts from Ursinus’ website:
Learn more about Ursinus’ new transfer scholarship in the brief Q&A below.
Tell us about your college’s new transfer scholarship for members of Phi Theta Kappa.
The Ursinus PTK Scholarship is a $30,000 a year commitment from Ursinus to PTK members. Apply through the college’s Common Application.
Why does your college feel that it is important to offer a scholarship opportunity for members?
PTK members have shown a level of grit, determination, and academic excellence in their work. At Ursinus, we believe students with those characteristics add to our campus community.
In your opinion, what is one of the most impressive things about your college?
Our community. We are definitely the Ursinus family, and you have to see it to believe it.
Are there any special events or admissions deadlines our members should be aware of?
August 1 is our deadline to apply for fall admission. Contact the Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.409.3200.
Find more transfer scholarships exclusively for Phi Theta Kappa members at CollegeFish.org.