Posted on May 6th in Press Room

Tam Ho Selected as Phi Theta Kappa’s 2024 Founders Medal Award Recipient

Tam Ho, Founder's Medal Recipient

Tam Ho, a student at Tarrant County College in Texas, has been named the 2024 Phi Theta Kappa Founders Medal Award recipient. Tam received a $1,000 scholarship and the 2024 Founders Medal Medallion at an in-person ceremony on the Southeast campus of TCC on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.

This award recognizes one graduating PTK member who best expressed the value of a community college education.

“Tam represents the very best evidence of what community colleges have to offer. Not only are America’s community colleges affordable and accessible—they are quality institutions where students learn and grow academically, socially, personally, and professionally,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “We are proud of Tam and students like her who make their community college  experience transformational.”

During her time at Tarrant County College, Tam was an active member and chapter officer of Phi Theta Kappa and served as a Student Government Senator. She also served as President of the Texas Region of Phi Theta Kappa, representing 25,000 hardworking, high-achieving community college students throughout Texas. Tam was also recognized nationally as a Guistwhite Scholarship Award Winner.

Read excerpts from Tam’s Founders Medal Award essay below:

At my college, Tarrant County College‐Southeast Campus, in the Dallas‐Fort Worth area, I serve as a New Student Orientation leader. In that role, I have had conversations with hundreds of my peers who are entering community college for the first time.

They come with apprehension and sometimes even embarrassment because they have been told that a community college isn’t good enough. But, I know from experience, this is not true. I am then able to share my own community college experience and tell them about the numerous academic and extracurricular opportunities available on community college campuses.  

I was born and raised in Vietnam. When I was sixteen, I traveled with my mom and my stepfather to America. Honestly, these years living in the United States have been challenging for my mom and me primarily because we did not speak English. But, the first time I went to Tarrant County College‐Southeast, I was overwhelmed by the welcoming environment and the numerous resources my campus has to help students. With my mother as my encourager, I overcame my fears. With her motivation, I practiced my English, attended TCC, worked hard, and, like my mother, learned to be strong. I now actively seek opportunities to advance my education and make friends by serving as an Anime and Japanese Culture Club officer, Student Government Association Senator, and Texas Regional President for Phi Theta Kappa.

As an immigrant, I struggled learning in an unfamiliar country in an unfamiliar language. Never in my life would I have thought that one history professor could change my opinion about this subject. Mr. Salas Eric made his lectures interesting. He prepares his students for the upper‐level coursework they will take when they transfer to a four‐year university. He assisted me with researching and brainstorming topics so that in the future I am able to do so on my own.

Every professor and every class I have attended has taught me a new lesson. In my experience, community college professors motivate their students to be successful in class and outside of class too. They are willing to do their best to help us graduate and continue our education. I am receiving a quality education from the faculty and staff that are 100% committed to my success.

I feel a sense of belonging on my campus.  Because of the diversity of my campus, I have had the opportunity to make friends with people from all over the world. My school usually hosts multicultural events such as the Hispanic Heritage month, Lunar New Year, and Ramadan for students to experience different cultures. These events bring me a well‐known knowledge about other cultures where I can develop myself. In particular, joining Phi Theta Kappa has been a privilege for me. Phi Theta Kappa gave me a chance to know other students and build relationships. With my year-plus involvement in the honor society, I can honestly say that being a member of Phi Theta Kappa has been life-changing. I have been awarded several scholarships that I never imagined I could have earned.

Through my involvement in PTK, I was able to take part in the CCSmart campaign  are spread awareness that community college is a smart choice for students because they provide access to a quality education, campus resources, Phi Theta Kappa, and more.

Attending community college was a great choice for me and I am incredibly thankful for my community college experience. Upon graduating, I am planning to transfer to the University of Texas at Arlington. I am a bit hesitant to transfer because transferring to a new school means I have to start everything over again, from knowing the campus to making new friends. However, community college has given me the confidence to keep going to grow, to be engaged fully, and to be a leader. College can be overwhelming, but the entire community college experience helps students rise to the occasion.

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