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People of PTK: 2017-2018 International Officers

People of PTK: 2017-2018 International Officers

Five Phi Theta Kappa members have an incredibly exciting year ahead after being elected as International Officers during PTK Catalyst 2017. 

International Officers are elected by the delegate body attending the annual convention to serve one-year terms. Throughout the year they will represent Phi Theta Kappa at Honors Institute, regional meetings, and at the 2018 Centennial Catalyst in Kansas City, Missouri.

Let’s get to know them.

International President

Amanda Karpinski
Alpha Epsilon Phi Chapter
Bergen Community College
New Jersey

Amanda started her education at Bergen Community College following her high school graduation, receiving a full-tuition scholarship through the New Jersey Stars program.

She describes attending the information session about Phi Theta Kappa as “the first time I had that moment of ‘I belong here.’ ”

After being inducted as a member, Amanda was elected president of her chapter and is an advocate for community college education and Phi Theta Kappa membership. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and wants to attend law school.

During her term as International President, Amanda hopes to destigmatize community colleges and promote further involvement among advisors and members.

“Phi Theta Kappa has the ability to transform you into a person that you never thought possible,” she said. “The biggest benefit is realizing your own potential.”

Vice President, Division 1

Don Koch
Alpha Omicron Alpha Chapter
Lehigh Carbon Community College

Retired from the workforce, Don is a part-time student at Lehigh Carbon Community College, who received his first associate degree in business management in 2012. He plans to continue his education and hopes to have a second career as a psychologist.

Don is actively involved in the advocacy of returning adult students and is co-founding the National Association for Returning Adult Students. He also serves as president of the Returning Adult Student Association and the Photography Club on campus.

Since his induction into Phi Theta Kappa in November of 2011, Don has served three successive terms as an officer in the Alpha Omicron Alpha Chapter at LCCC, two of them as chapter president. He recently completed his term as Pennsylvania President for the Middle States Region. 

At the age of 61, Don said he wants to be an example to all students that you can accomplish anything.

“How far you go with Phi Theta Kappa is only limited by how far you are willing to go,” he said.

Vice President, Division 2

Jay Fritts
Nu Upsilon Chapter
Meridian Community College

Jay Fritts said that in the past he would always settle for “good enough,” but that changed when he began attending Meridian Community College. A bio-chemistry major, Jay made a promise to himself to do his best, both inside and outside the classroom.  

“Phi Theta Kappa picks the best and brightest students in the nation and tries to make them better,” Jay said. “If you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will see your own life beginning to change for the better.”

Although he was born to Korean immigrants in Redwood, California, Jay has lived in Mississippi since he was an infant.

He previously served as co-vice president of his chapter and Vice President of the Mississippi/Louisiana Region of Phi Theta Kappa.

Jay hopes to attend medical school and someday operate his own clinic. 

Vice President, Division 3

Obinna Muoh
Alpha Zeta Gamma Chapter
Highland Community College

Born in Nigeria and raised in Benin Republic (West Africa), Obinna graduated high school in 2013 but could not immediately pursue his dream to study abroad. He worked for two years to save money, but was rejected for a student visa twice.

Today, Obinna is majoring in pre-engineering at Highland Community College and plans to focus on chemical engineering when he transfers to a university. He serves as president of his chapter, a student peer tutor, resident assistant, and works in the college cafeteria as a dishwasher.

At PTK Catalyst 2017 Obinna’s fellow International Officer candidates elected him as the recipient of the $1,000 Orlowski Scholarship for the candidate who best exemplifies the spirit of Phi Theta Kappa.

“Joining Phi Theta Kappa has been a source of blessing, strength, and hope to never give up,” he said. “Being a part of this great honor society has taught me that true leaders are meant to use their platform to support others.

“PTK gives you a chance to give back to your community and experience leadership at a different level.”

Vice President, Division 4

Tasha Estein
Sigma Phi Chapter
Arapahoe Community College

A self-described science nerd, Tasha has always valued knowledge, but attending Arapahoe Community College brought her future into focus.

After joining the Astronomy Club, she became more passionate about STEM and declared physics as her major. She visited the Kennedy Space Center as part of the 2016 NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program and eventually wants to earn a Ph.D. and work at NASA.

“I look at every day of school as a blessing and something that I will do everything to maintain.” she said. “Knowledge is the only thing that no one can take from you, and with it you can change the world.”

A former martial arts instructor, Tasha is the only member of her family who has pursued a college education, and membership in Phi Theta Kappa was one of her top goals.

“Imagine the most amazing student at your school—the one who is focused, driven, helps you when needed and has inspired you,” she said. “In Phi Theta Kappa everyone is that same kind of student.”

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