What Will You Discover with a Mosal or Marshall Award?

Dr. Kevin Windham has been poring over books and periodicals related to Alabama History in his pursuit to become a leader in the field, but his work has also led to two unexpected discoveries: one of his ancestors fought in the American Revolution, and another relative was a Japanese prisoner of war in World War II with connections to the Bataan Death March.

Kevin’s work is being funded by a Marshall Award, which he received in 2018. The Marshall Award provides a $5,000 stipend to a Phi Theta Kappa advisor each year so he or she may pursue or complete a project that encourages personal leadership growth.

The award is named for Dr. Jo Marshall, former president of Somerset Community College in Kentucky and a former PTK advisor. She was the Alabama Regional Coordinator when Kevin was a member at Shelton State Community College and has been a hero for him ever since, making this award even more meaningful.

“The award was the motivation I needed to take my passion for Alabama History and put it in motion,” he said. “It is an honor and a personal challenge for me to go and learn and do good works where I can become a better leader and better servant.”

Kevin now works in student services at Shelton State and is an adjunct faculty member. Through the Marshall Award, he aims to develop an Alabama History curriculum he can teach at the college and that could even be used as a model for similar courses in other colleges throughout the state.

He also plans to create a series of recorded presentations from various historic sites in Alabama, such as the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, also known as Rocket City, USA; the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, site of 1965’s Bloody Sunday; and the Monroeville Courthouse, which inspired Harper Lee to write To Kill a Mockingbird.

“Through these on-site presentations, I will be able to transport students to a place we would be studying in class,” he said. “Through this project, I can contribute to the discipline, and I can teach.”

Dr. Payal Doctor’s discoveries will come this summer as she travels to India in July. Payal received the 2018 Mosal Award, which also carries a $5,000 stipend for a project leading to personal growth.

The Mosal Award is named in honor of Dr. Margaret Mosal, PTK’s first executive director.

Payal is a philosophy instructor at LaGuardia Community College in New York. She teaches Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Confucianism, and Taoism in her various courses, but she has struggled to help her students grasp these concepts without having practiced them herself. With the Mosal Award, she will travel to Amritsar, Dharamshala, and Palithana to immerse herself in the culture and language of each philosophy to better understand it as a practitioner.

“Armed with my philosophical training, I want to experience my culture and evaluate exactly how it has influenced my life, my work, and my belief system,” said Payal, who grew up practicing Hinduism. “Such an experience at this time would also enable me to clearly communicate these ideas with my peers and colleagues in ways that are not currently possible.”

In India, Payal will work with the Department of Guru Nanak Studies to learn about Sikhism in depth and how the philosophy is applied in daily life. She plans to live and volunteer with practicing Buddhists at the Dhamma Sikhara, Himachal Vipassana Center in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, where she’ll immerse herself in meditation and Buddhist scripture and culture.

She will also volunteer to help care for the Jain holy site of Mount Shatrunjaya near Bhavnagar, Gujarat, where she’ll experience living according to Jain principles as they are practiced on a daily basis and learn from Jain monks and nuns about how practice of this philosophy is possible for average people.

“This project will allow me the opportunity to understand my culture and religion, as well as seek answers to why I chose this field and how it can be made practical within academics,” she said. “My need to complete this project stems from my desire to know why I believe what I believe and how this fits into my identity as a person, colleague, teacher, and friend.”

Do you have a project you’d like to start or complete? Apply now for a 2019 Mosal or Marshall Award. The deadline is Wednesday, February 13. Awards will be presented at PTK Catalyst 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Swimming Upstream

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

At Kenyon College in 2005, David Foster Wallace began his commencement speech by stating the following:

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

He continues by discerning the knowledge one expects to gain from a college education and the awareness of the self that grows in tandem. This small parable that served as a final assignment for my junior year English class remains a monolith in my psyche. What does it mean to understand the water around oneself?

Schooling often felt militaristic. Wake up on time, go do what is expected, continue, and repeat. High school graduation marked the end of routine, and complete freedom felt liberating but also terrifying.

I spent a year off after high school working at my debate and public speaking academy. Seeing students understand various concepts was inspiring, but after a while, it too became a routine — motioning the same movements every day. I wondered if I was again swimming without questioning the water I found myself in.

Enrolling at Bergen Community College after a year of no formal education made me feel like I was submerging myself in a stream that I knew the limits of. I was going to be the older fish for once. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Attending classes at Bergen gave me something I never could’ve found anywhere else: a chance to learn and reflect at the same time. High school inundated me with class after class after class, with no moment to sit and think about what had just passed. My time at community college showed me that there are no bounds to the value of a college education. Each class honored my time, and every free moment after class offered chance for self-reflection.

There is more to community college than achieving credits for a degree — it’s your chance to understand your water. The opportunity to think about discussions regarding the functions of the body from biology, familial situations from meeting new people, and changes happening to our world from club meetings all equate to an amalgam of looking at yourself and subverting the idea that you are the older fish in the stream.

The biggest gift that community college has presented to me has been giving me a new way of thinking. Thinking more before speaking on something, reading to learn for pleasure, and finding my voice by reflecting on big mistakes.

During my year off after high school, I used to daydream about being a time traveler. I wanted to go back into the past and change every mistake I ever made. I’m sure this fantasy is shared by anyone who has ever done anything remotely wrong. However, now I know that all my mistakes were necessary to understand my water.

Reflecting on it all now, I could not be more grateful for making big mistakes and having the chance to learn from them. I know that I can be better now for others in my community, at Bergen, and in Phi Theta Kappa.

I used to be afraid to tell people that I was attending community college. It felt like the stigma of community college resonated to all. It’s easy to get lost in the words of others. However, don’t forget the power of your own voice.

Teaching public speaking and debate, I felt that I knew my voice already. Again, I was wrong. All those who belittle community college have not attended a single class at a community college. Otherwise, they would know the opportunity it presents.

The stereotype of the community college student holds no ounce of truth. Transfer students are the brightest, most self-aware, and eager people on any campus. Statistics can back it up, but holding a conversation with anyone who is transfer-ready is enough to be certain of this empirical truth.

All community college students share a commonality among themselves that four-year institutions seem to ignore: they know their water. Their self-actualization against the grain of stigma and diligence despite their circumstances is enough to show that they are capable of anything and everything.

Transfer- and workforce-ready students can be found roaming the hallways, writing notes in classrooms, and sharing laughs in the walls of community colleges nationwide. They are ready to embark on their next steps. Four-year institutions are slowly beginning to realize that everything that comprises a community college student is inherently valuable.

The dedication of students like Phi Theta Kappans has helped to subvert the stigma that has been so tightly held by others. As more schools begin to realize the value of community college students, I hope they realize swimming upstream has become second nature to many of us.

This is our water.

This is our water.

Continue to break expectations, rile up good trouble, and be your greatest self. Be a proud community college student — say it a little prouder. Because there’s no one else like us. Because there will be no one else like you.

New Transfer Scholarship: King University

King University has joined more than 750 four-year colleges and universities in offering a transfer scholarship exclusively to Phi Theta Kappa members. King was founded in 1867 and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. It is located in Bristol, Tennessee, the twin city of Bristol, Virginia, and sits right on the Virginia-Tennessee state line in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

King has been named a Best Regional University in the South by U.S. News & World Report for nearly 30 consecutive years, and in 2016 it was ranked third in Tennessee for preparing students for high-paying careers by the Brookings Institution. It has seven academic schools of learning and features a wide variety of both national and international travel opportunities, some available as early as your first semester.

Learn more about the newest Phi Theta Kappa transfer scholarship and King University in this brief Q&A.

Tell us about your college’s new transfer scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa members.

King University is proud to offer this $1,000 per year award to Phi Theta Kappa members.

Why does your college feel it’s important to offer a scholarship opportunity for members?

Transfer students are an integral part of the college community at King. They find great success meeting their academic and career goals while contributing to our vibrant community.

Are there other transfer scholarships that could be stacked with your Phi Theta Kappa award?

Phi Theta Kappa students are also eligible for merit scholarships that may be as high as $14,000 per year. They may also qualify for another $1,000 per year if they meet the requirements of our honors program.

What other opportunities are available for transfer students at your institution to assist them in successfully transitioning from their previous college?

We provide an orientation session (called Access Day) and connect them to their academic advisor as quickly as possible.

In your opinion, what is one of the most impressive things about your college?

Without a doubt, it is our faculty. We have a beautiful campus and buildings, but our faculty are passionate about the success of our students.

Are there any special events or deadlines on your recruitment calendar that you would like to share?

We are a rolling admission university. That means we will consider and provide admission decisions up to the first day of classes.

Find more transfer scholarships like this one at PTK Connect.

I AM PTK: Brandon Green

Brandon Green can think of three times when he almost lost his life to gun violence.

Growing up across the South Side of Chicago, moving from “one bad place to another,” he would sometimes find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. But as he got older, he began to understand that his life didn’t have to be this way. Education would become his way out.

“In high school, I decided that I no longer wanted that lifestyle to be my ‘normal,’ ” he said.

Today, 22-year-old Brandon attends Heartland Community College in Illinois. He’s the public relations officer of the Alpha Omega Xi Chapter and is majoring in computer science.

When Brandon was young, his cousin was killed by gun violence. He couldn’t process what happened; he only felt afraid, and his fear increased as he grew older.

“There was an atmosphere around my neighborhoods that you could die any day at any second,” he said. “I would walk around filled with anxiety. After I saw person after person get shot or come close to death, eventually the anxiety became normal, and losing people around me became an expectation.”

Brandon enjoyed learning, but school wasn’t a priority in his neighborhood. Succeeding at school would get you bullied or teased; going to college was considered “lame.”

As a result, he hid his love for school. He never saw college as an option because he didn’t have any real-life examples that showed him it was possible.

“The ‘hood’ teaches you to join its tribe very young,” he said.

Things changed in high school. Brandon attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School, where, for the first time, he saw that people who looked like him and came from a similar situation could succeed. He found faculty and staff that believed in his abilities.

Brandon joined the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), which taught him leadership and service skills and kickstarted a desire to become more involved in school. He grew as a leader, learning patience, understanding, and teamwork.

After-school activities and a love of reading helped Brandon avoid the violence in his neighborhood. Friends and family gave him spaces where he could be himself, which helped him stay centered. He surrounded himself with people who were removed from the violence, and he began thinking beyond his surroundings.

Brandon was accepted to Illinois State University, which he attended for a semester before dropping out to care for his first child. A year later, he decided he was ready to get back to school, and he enrolled at Heartland Community College, where he earned a scholarship to pay for tuition and books.

Joining Phi Theta Kappa was a way for him to give back to Heartland. He had seen the Alpha Omega Xi Chapter’s work and commitment to improving the school and community and wanted to be part of it.

Through PTK, Brandon learned to manage his time more efficiently. He found balance, and he found the same level of support he had found in high school. Attending the 2018 annual convention in Kansas City, Missouri, was a particularly life-changing moment for him.

“The fact that thousands of people came together to celebrate education filled me with joy,” he said. “It gave me a moment to reflect about where I came from and where I am now.”

Brandon said Phi Theta Kappa gave him the confidence and willpower to co-found the college’s first Black Student Union with fellow student Seyveon Martin and to hold officer positions in other organizations. Now with a 3-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter, he believes he has become a better leader, friend, and father.

Looking back, Brandon could see how the violence of his childhood and youth had shaped him. He recalled a time at Illinois State University when he heard fireworks going off in the distance.

“I jumped out of bed and laid on the flood because I thought they were gunshots, but my roommates continued to sleep soundly,” he said. “That was the first moment I realized the damage that was done.”

Done, but not irreparable. Heartland gave him a second chance, and Phi Theta Kappa gave him a support system.

“Heartland felt like home, but Phi Theta Kappa felt like family,” he said.

New Transfer Scholarship: Ashford University

Ashford University, an online university based in San Diego, California, offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees* — and now Phi Theta Kappa members can save 15 percent on tuition and receive waivers on technology and course materials.

Ashford’s technology meets you where you are, letting you research, study, and participate in class from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. And, just because it’s online learning doesn’t mean it’s impersonal or solitary — you have access to faculty, classmates, librarians, writing assistants, and career services specialists to help you navigate college and earn your degree.

This is more than a transfer scholarship; PTK members have an exclusive opportunity to save 15 percent on tuition. Learn more about the savings and Ashford University in this brief Q&A.

Tell us about your college’s new savings for Phi Theta Kappa members.

Phi Theta Kappa has partnered with Ashford University to give its members the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree at a reduced cost. A college education will expand your knowledge, prepare you for the next step on your career path, and build your confidence. We offer PTK members a 15 percent tuition savings benefit, technology fee waiver, and a waiver for the first course materials! For more information, visit ashford.edu/ptk.

Why does your college feel it’s important to offer a scholarship opportunity for members?

We feel that it is important to recognize high-achieving students for their hard work and dedication. Some students are not able to go to a campus, therefore we invite all PTK members that are interested to continue their education online at Ashford University.

What other opportunities are available for transfer students at your institution to assist them in successfully transitioning from their previous college?

Ashford offers many opportunities for transfer students. For students who are new to the online learning environment, the CHAMPS Peer Mentoring program is a great place for transferring students to orient themselves to the Ashford Experience with the help of a peer mentor. Ashford also offers other opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, such as honor societies besides Phi Theta Kappa that students may be eligible to join, and other student clubs and organizations to choose from.

In your opinion, what is one of the most impressive things about your college?

Ashford has an Honors College! If you are an undergraduate student seeking a bachelor’s degree who has achieved an excellent academic record, you can elevate your degree program by applying for entry into Ashford’s Honors College. The Honors College curriculum adds a prestigious enhancement to your degree by substituting select general education and/or elective courses in your degree program for Honors College classes. (Please note: The Honors College is not available to graduate students.)

Are there any special events or deadlines on your recruitment calendar that you would like to share?

Graduation! Twice a year, graduating students and their families are invited to attend Ashford University commencement festivities. In addition, we also offer a virtual graduation experience by streaming Ashford Universities commencement ceremonies live to students and families all around the world.

*Certain programs may not be available in all states.

Find more transfer scholarships like this one at PTK Connect.

E-Nable: A Guide to Creating 3D-Printed Prosthetics

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by International President Elda Pere.

The cost of prosthetics nowadays reaches up to tens of thousands of dollars. As a result, many amputees are forced to live without the means of making their lives easier for this two hands-, two legs-based world.

“Project E-Nable” is a movement that provides open-source designs and guides to creating 3D-printed prosthetics free of charge for amputees. These prosthetics are purely mechanical and can bear daily functions like lifting objects, driving, etc. They are cost-efficient, easy to build, and require a single semi-large investment: buying a 3D printer.

With support from your college and a desire to leave a mark in your community, you can also begin your journey of giving someone a helping hand — literally.

The Process

A. Modeling and Customizing the Design

To create prosthetic hands, you would have to know how to 3D print. To 3D print, you would first have to be able to slice a design. To slice a design, you would first have to have created or edited the design using CAD — where it all begins.

CAD stands for “computer-aided design.” It is the first step to manufacturing most things in the room you’re in. Common CAD software are “SolidWorks” and “Fusion 360,” the latter being the more affordable version. There are plenty of sources online that teach you how to design models with these software. YouTube tutorials seem to be the most effective.

Although very useful, CAD is not crucial to making 3D-printed prosthetics. This is because there is already a great variety of open-source models readily available. Our “Project E-Nable” stems from a nationwide movement whose website provides sources to start you off as an E-Nable chapter.

The designs that are available depend on your amputees’ needs. You may need a design that is wrist-powered, like the design that we are generally referencing in this article: the Phoenix hand. If your amputee does not have a functional wrist, you might look into the elbow-powered designs. If you’re trying to build fingers alone, there are links for that as well.

B. 3D Printing

Although unknown to many, 3D printing is a common tool in the engineering world. Generally, 3D printer prices range from $200 to tens of thousands of dollars. The printer used by the Bergen Community College E-Nable chapter that I was a part of is an Ultimaker 2.

Once a design is downloaded (in .stl format), there is an intermediate step before printing the design. It has to go through what is called a “slicing software” that prepares the file for the printer. A good slicing software is “Cura,” whose settings you can manipulate based on the type of print you are looking for.

For new users, a “Simple Mode” option is available in the Print Set-up tab. Other options include the print quality, percentage of infill (material inside of the design, generally set to 30 percent), and more. Once the slicer prepares the file, it should be saved on an SD card and transferred to the printer.

Before printing the design, one must go through the tedious task of levelling the bed, which is a process that the printer itself should guide you through. After that, use a common glue stick to add glue onto the bed of the printer and start the print.

Printing the parts of a prosthetic can take about 20 hours, but be sure to check the print once in awhile. 3D printers are known to bring about challenges that can be overcome by reading what others have experienced in a variety of online forums.

C. Assembly

The multitude of parts that the 3D printer spits out aren’t good for anything until somebody puts them together. This process can take about an hour if you have the right materials on you: flexible and non-flexible string, screws, a screwdriver, foam padding, velcro, and a heat gun or bucket of hot water, depending on the kind of filament you’re printing with.

A fairly straightforward model to assemble is the Phoenix hand. There is a very visual guide to assembling the hand that comes with the downloadable Phoenix hand at.

D. Reaching Amputees

Once you have followed the steps to creating hands, it is equally important to work on your accessibility. Give amputees on your campus the ability to connect with you through email or social media by posting fliers on campus and advertising your projects online. Also, follow the instructions on enablingthefuture.org to become an official E-Nable chapter so amputees in your area can reach you.

It doesn’t take a superhuman to begin an E-Nable chapter. Although a variety of efforts are being made to assist differently abled individuals, Project E-Nable is something you can take part in right now to change a life near you. It is also something that can continue on your campus long after you complete your degree.

Naturally, challenges can arise when taking on a task like this, but there is support in every direction you look. From my experience in Bergen Community College’s E-Nable chapter, college officials would not say no to this low-cost, life-changing project, and a variety of online forums can help with any problems you run into. You can find solutions in the blog that my team and I have kept, and you can always contact me with questions.

If you do decide to begin this journey, keep in mind our motto, a quote from Hugh Herr: “There are no disabled people in the world, only disabled technology.” And, may you have the best of luck!