Keep the PTK Party of the Century Going

Before PTK Catalyst 2018, Lauren Doyle thought it was great enough meeting the many other Phi Theta Kappa members from Alabama at a regional conference. In her first year as a PTK member, Lauren had already had her life changed by the fellow members she’d worked with.

But the PTK annual convention April 19-21 in Kansas City, Missouri, changed all that.

“After going up on stage, seeing members … from 600 other chapters really put things into perspective,” Lauren, a member of the Beta Lambda Delta Chapter at Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby-Hoover Campus, said. “I’m part of something big, and I can’t get over how exciting that is.”

We billed PTK Catalyst as the PTK Party of the Century, and it delivered (relive it now). More than 4,100 students, advisors, alumni, college administrators, corporate partners, and friends attended; and for many chapters, annual convention can kick your momentum for the year ahead into overdrive.

Want to build on the experience and carry the impact of PTK Catalyst 2018 forward? Read on.

Know Your Next Steps

Every single person who attended PTK Catalyst had a unique experience. Sit down with your advisor and chapter officer team, and discuss your individual takeaways. Review the convention schedule to make a to-do list of actions you plan to take. Set a complete-by date, and hold yourself accountable.

If you attended an educational forum you believe would benefit your chapter or campus, reach out to the presenter and ask for a copy of the presentation. If you don’t know how to contact the presenter, reach out to a PTK staff member for help.

If you met a recruiter at the College Transfer Fairs and had a conversation about transferring to their institution, follow up. Send an email or schedule a call to discuss the transfer scholarship opportunities available to you.

Share the PTK Love

Not every member was able to attend PTK Catalyst. Present a conference summary with the other members of your chapter so they can benefit from your experience.

Stay connected with the speakers you heard and the members you met through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and other social media channels.

Your journey with PTK doesn’t end when you graduate. Find meaningful ways to stay connected by volunteering at the chapter, regional, or international level. Support scholarships and initiatives like the Golden Opportunity Scholarship. Volunteer with the PTK Foundation to participate in a donor phone drive or write donor thank-you notes. Mentor a member as they transition to college or into the workforce.

Say “Thank You”

If you received a scholarship or were recognized on stage in the Parade of Scholars, reach out to our Scholarship Department to see how you can connect with donors. Coca-Cola, the Oberndorf and Hites families, Pearson, GEICO, Hurst, and others would love to hear about the impact their gift has made on your life.

Thank your advisor for getting you safely to and from Kansas City and for their dedication to you and your chapter. Being an advisor is rewarding, but it isn’t always easy.

If you received financial support from your college president or from someone on your campus or in your community, send a thank-you note or email. Include what you learned, how it impacted you, and how you plan to use it.

Mark your calendars for PTK Catalyst 2019, April 4-6 in Orlando, Florida!

How You Can Impact PTK’s Next 100 Years

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Heather Yush, Phi Theta Kappa’s Associate Director of College and Transfer Relations.

As Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters staff, we often hear from members, advisors, alumni, and supporters who ask, “What more can I do for this organization?” A unified, consistent response to this common question will help us to effectively mobilize and move PTK’s mission forward.

In the same way that you first listen to a student’s needs before customizing a response as to why they should join PTK, it would be incredibly powerful and beneficial if everyone in the PTK community would consistently adopt this “assess then address” approach in daily interactions. This requires serving as a 24/7 ambassador of PTK.

The value of your membership or affiliation with PTK increases with each new person you attract to the inner circle. Adopting a mentality of everyone-and-anyone-as-prospect (i.e. member, partner, ally, or constituent) will not just launch but propel PTK into its second century of success.

So, what can you do? Help Phi Theta Kappa discover untapped potential and seize opportunity by providing your very best and most compelling customer service as you connect others (outsiders) to the appropriate contact within our organization (insiders). If that person has a positive experience and finds you impressive, then you’ve already broken ground on the future site of a PTK partnership.

Let’s run through a few practical examples.

EVERY time you’re in contact with a representative of a four-year institution, ask them about transfer scholarships and opportunities for PTK members on their campus. If they don’t intentionally recruit PTK members, or do not know about PTK, then let them know that the College and Transfer Relations team would be eager to hear from them at collegerelations@collegefish.org or 866.286.8453.

If more four-year colleges heard about Phi Theta Kappa through members or advisors, the number of new partnerships with these colleges could grow exponentially. Wouldn’t it be amazing if YOU are the reason a college or university creates a scholarship exclusively for PTK members? Or, if YOU are the reason a recruiter decides to use CollegeFish to invite more PTK members to enroll at their institution?

EVERY time you connect with a community college student, faculty/staff member, or administrator, ask about their PTK chapter’s level of engagement. If they don’t have a chapter or are inactive, direct them to contact Membership Services at help@ptk.org or 1.800.946.9995. If they do have a chapter and they have an amazing story to tell, connect them with the writers of The Reach blog by emailing news@ptk.org.

EVERY time you are researching a four-year institution or visiting a campus, find out if they offer a PTK alumni association. Email the institution’s transfer admissions counselor or student life coordinator, or take a moment to visit with an enrolled student on campus to explain the benefits of forming one. PTK alumni associations provide a supportive (and familiar) community for inbound transfer students and create opportunities for PTK alumni to assist with recruitment, orientation, and retention of their fellow scholars.

Some forward-thinking institutions even ask about PTK membership on their transfer admissions application, making it easier to identify scholarship-eligible students early in the admissions process and to quickly locate students to invite to join their PTK alumni association.

EVERY time you interact with an employer, ask if their business or company hires PTK members or supports their local chapter. Providing objective data from our state and national Student Success Profile will illustrate that investing in PTK members yields high returns.

Connect representatives from the workforce with the advisor of their local PTK chapter. Perhaps the company is willing to invest time or share resources with the chapter by sending a staff member to participate in a career fair or host a workshop. An organization may be interested in hearing and considering a proposal to fund a membership scholarship, sponsor a chapter meeting, or pay the chartering fee to create a PTK chapter on a two-year campus or an alumni association on a four-year campus.

EVERY time YOU consider a philanthropic act or charitable giving, will you contribute to PTK? Small acts over time, such as putting aside a portion of your paycheck or collecting spare change, could snowball into paying for an eligible student’s membership fee. Support the PTK Foundation when you shop at AmazonSmile, and proudly wear items purchased from the PTK Store to benefit the next generation of scholar leaders.

When someone asks about your role or affiliation with PTK, follow up your response by asking if they know anyone who currently attends or may benefit from attending community college. As a call to action, share your contact information and the PTK website to connect more individuals to the mission of PTK.

It’s a powerful thing to connect with others and forge a mutually beneficial relationship. Being mindful enough to engage in any of these acts will simultaneously enrich your life and the lives of others. The sooner you recognize that you possess the special gift of insider influence, the sooner you can leverage this power to best position PTK for success. The art of determining need and customizing a solution is also an incredibly valuable, transferable life skill.

Phi Theta Kappa chapters can already be found in 50 states and 10 nations, but creating a global PTK presence starts with small actions over time for the next 100 years and beyond. Imagine a student in a city or country you’ve never visited, or possibly never heard of, discovering his or her potential in large part due to your efforts to bring PTK to their campus. A challenge of this magnitude can only be met by mission-minded servant leaders; thus, it is well within the reach of Team Phi Theta Kappa.

I AM PTK: Michael Aguilar

As a child, Michael Aguilar’s father frequently took him and his siblings to the library at Lone Star College-CyFair in Texas. Despite dropping out of high school and becoming a parent as a teenager, Michael’s father understood the impact reading can have on children.

In May, Michael will come full circle, graduating from LSC-CyFair as a decorated scholarship recipient bound for Emory University this fall. It’s something he never could have imagined years earlier.

“Ultimately, I see the completion of my education as a way to thank my father for the tremendous sacrifices he made while raising my family,” he said.

Michael was among 53 two-year college students honored by Phi Theta Kappa on April 30 at its annual President’s Breakfast, held during the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) annual conference in Dallas, Texas. He was recognized as a member of the 2018 All-USA Academic Team, and he addressed attendees as the 2018 Dr. David Pierce Scholar. Watch his speech here.

Michael is also a Phi Theta Kappa Guistwhite Scholar and a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholar.

“These scholarships completely validate three years of academics, extracurricular activities, and working both full-time and part-time jobs to make sure I was financially stable,” he said. “I often felt like I couldn’t handle the stress of balancing each activity, but now I look back and see that it was all worth it.

“I have become a better student and a stronger individual through Phi Theta Kappa.”

By the time Michael was 18, he had lived in 16 different homes. This instability led him to act out — in middle and high school, he was suspended 15 times for bad behavior and ended up in a disciplinary school. He watched friends struggle with the juvenile justice system and found himself caught in the same school-to-prison pipeline.

His life completely changed, though, when he enrolled at LSC-CyFair. He found a support system at the college and through his PTK chapter that gave him confidence and inspired him to give back.

Michael led his chapter in its 2016 Honors in Action Project, “Pens, Not Penitentiaries: An Examination of the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” through which more than 60 PTK members mentored 400 at-risk high school students at the same disciplinary school he had previously attended. The Beta Lambda Mu Chapter was named PTK’s Most Distinguished Chapter in 2017.

He also worked with his chapter to revitalize the campus’ food pantry, which was especially important after Hurricane Harvey struck in 2017. They collected more than 1,000 items to restock the pantry and designated it as the honors college service project, providing a constant stream of volunteers.

After serving as a chapter officer, Michael was elected president of the Texas Region.

“I believe I truly came into my own in this role,” he said. “I’ve discovered valuable leadership lessons that I will take into the future.

“Although I did not know it in the beginning, I joined Phi Theta Kappa because I wanted to develop into a leader.”