Get to Know the 2023-2024 International Officer Team
Serving as a Phi Theta Kappa International Officer is an experience like no other. Throughout the year the team will serve as ambassadors for the organization while connecting with members at local, regional, and international events. Individually, each officer benefits from personal and professional development opportunities to prepare them for success in their next steps in life — whether they will be transferring and continuing their education or entering directly into the workforce.
Get to know more about this year’s team of International Officers here- you’ll be seeing a lot of them!
Liam Blakeway, International President
After facing unemployment resulting from the pandemic, Liam needed a fresh start. In 2020, Liam emigrated from his home in Johannesburg, South Africa to Texas. He moved in hopes of achieving his goal of entering the medical field as a Radiology Technician.
Beginning college in the midst of masking and social distancing policies allowed Liam to blend in with other students without his differences being recognized. However, as policies were changed or lifted, “I began peeling away the layers and suddenly found myself, vulnerable, exposed, and an imposter trying to blend in,” Liam said. “Being an unconventional student (who was older), a foreigner with an accent, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community I battled to find where I belonged or fitted within the community college society. I felt lost, sad, and started questioning if I had made the right decision in life.”
However, around this time, Liam received an invitation from PTK.
“Instantaneously, I went from having no friends, to suddenly finding friends that accepted me as I am and had similar interests,” Liam said. “Today, I often tell individuals inquiring about Phi Theta Kappa at college events that even though we are an honor society, we are a brotherhood and sisterhood that is there for one another.”
In PTK, Liam has honed his leadership skills through his positions as Beta Lambda Mu Vice President of Scholarship and Chapter President. PTK allows him to share his passion for people with others.
“I get joy in seeing others thrive, and to me that is the greatest reward in leadership,” Liam said. “I often finish off our chapter meetings with each attendee sharing one achievement for the week, and then have all the attendees applaud and celebrate that individual for their achievement. It’s become a tradition now, and I often can’t wait to finish our meeting to celebrate others.”
During his time in community college and PTK, he has developed a newfound desire to help others succeed academically. In the fall, he is returning to Lone Star College-CyFair to take education classes.
In his spare time, Liam loves creating “weird and wonderful” things and spending time with his husband and two adorable Boston Terriers, Mimi and Lola, who emigrated from South Africa with him.
Seong Kim, International Vice President – Division 1
After escaping North Korea, Seong’s parents were unable to get a job or college education due to the ostracization and discrimination towards refugees in South Korea. This led Seong’s family to immigrate to the United States when he was four.
However, life was not automatically simple for Seong when he arrived in the U.S. Seong was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome and ADHD. This coupled with the language and cultural differences between him and his peers made him a target for bullying. To escape, Seong retreated into video games and drawing. He became interested in graphic design, computer science, and drawing.
“Most of my escapism was through entertainment, either through computer games or movies, so discovery and adventure were something I always loved about life,” Seong said. “This led to my fascination with computers, technology, and artificial intelligence, so I attended my local community college to pursue Computer Science in hopes that I can work at NASA.”
Seong is working towards his dreams and computer science degree at Northampton Community College’s Monroe Campus in Pennsylvania.
Upon being invited to PTK, Seong was initially interested due to the benefits of scholarships, recommendation letters, and volunteer opportunities. However, PTK ended up offering him more than he imagined.
“If I didn’t make friends or have a lingering connection with the community in PTK, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Seong said.
Seong had always been introverted, but PTK encouraged him to forge connections and embrace his leadership capacity.
As an International Officer, Seong wants to build stronger student engagement and improve relationships between colleges and PTK. He also wants to help create more opportunities to recognize student success and recognition through leadership roles, activities, and scholarships.
Before his election to International Office, Seong also served on regional and chapter teams for PTK.
Seong finds comfort in his favorite music and TV shows as well as food, primarily seafood and ramen.
Leticia Laranjeira, International Vice President – Division 2
Coming to the United States from Brazil, Leticia did not meet the qualifications to begin college at a university due to the differences of the Brazilian education system. However, her cousin attended a community college and advised her that it was a smart option- especially for students like her unfamiliar with the American education system.
“Community college was my way to education in America. It is helping me open all doors to my future and to achieve my academic goals,” Leticia said. “If it wasn’t for community college, I would probably not be in the U.S. today.”
In Brazil, Leticia attended university, but the experience was isolating with no real emphasis on community. At Dallas College – North Lake Campus, things were different, and the communal and welcoming atmosphere of PTK further enriched her college experience.
“When I attended my first chapter meeting, it was like a warm hug,” Leticia said. “Everything I wanted for my college experience, I could have by joining PTK. So I did, and it has been one of the best experiences in my life.”
In her role as an International Officer, Leticia wants to serve members and give them the same attention and acceptance she has received since joining.
“Every member was incredibly nice, and I felt appreciated; I felt like I belonged there,” Leticia said. “I wanted to give back to PTK everything I got. I ran for IO because I want to make members feel this love and appreciation.”
Outside of PTK, Leticia finds joy in romance novels, celebrity interviews, and music.
Luis Medina, International Vice President – Division 3
Luis is the child of immigrants who sacrificed a lot for him and his siblings. To honor them, he makes the most out of every opportunity in his life.
He enrolled in the College of DuPage as a first-generation college student because of their outstanding culinary arts program. There he was introduced to PTK and became interested in the professional development opportunities it offered him and other students.
Inspired by the chapter leaders from his first year as a member, Luis ran for a leadership position in his chapter. His chapter elected him as chapter officer and then chapter president.
Motivated by the growth he experienced in PTK, Luis campaigned for International Office. His hope is to encourage others and help them grow as well.
“I ran for International Office because I wanted to be in a position to use my voice in motivating other college students, PTK members, and campus leaders to advocate for themselves and their college,” Luis said. “I believe that using one’s voice is empowerment, and I want to encourage people that look up to us as leaders to use their voice because it is the best way to create change in our communities.”
Since enrolling, Luis has completed his culinary arts program. He is now continuing classes at his community college to prepare for transferring and earning a degree in psychology.
In addition to being a student and leader, Luis is a musician and content creator.
Jasmine Garcia, International Vice President – Division 4
Jasmine’s academic drive has been apparent since elementary school, and she is passionate about education. As a first-generation college student, Mohave Community College offered her a pathway to higher education.
“I enrolled in community college to find my place of belonging and get my life back on track,” Jasmine said. “I signed up for community college as an opportunity to make connections and get a quality education in a more accessible institution. Also, I did so to model the way for my family members who also want to pursue their education.”
Inspired by her teachers and her own love of learning, Jasmine is pursuing her associates in mathematics. In the future, she wants to become a math professor.
“I want to make sure every student feels safe, happy, and valued through their education and lives,” Jasmine said.
PTK’s commitment to helping students on their educational journey is what drew her to join the organization.
“I have gained access to resources to aid me through my education, which creates more hope for myself and future generations of my family watching my accomplishments,” Jasmine said. “I have gained a PTK family, a source of networking, and a platform to be a voice for the silenced and underrepresented.”
In her chapter, Jasmine has served as the treasurer and is the current chapter president. She felt compelled to run for International Office to help further student success.
“I ran for International Office because I want to challenge myself and grow as a leader,” Jasmine said. “My main goal in life has always been to help the people around me succeed. This is the perfect outlet to be a catalyst for positive change through representation and awareness.”
Jasmine believes in investing in student leaders, and she is determined to be a beacon for inclusion, diversity, and individuality.
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