International Officers

Find out more about campaigning for International Office.

Each year at Phi Theta Kappa’s Annual Convention, five students are elected to serve a one-year term as International Officers. This is the highest position of student leadership within the organization. The International Officer Team includes a president and four vice presidents, each representing one of the Society’s opens in a new windowfour geographic divisions.

View National/International Officer History

Lavada Burse photo

Lavada Burse

International President

Omicron Psi Chapter
Grayson College
Texas

Meet Lavada

Victoria Orifice

Victoria Orifice

International Vice President Division I

Alpha Lambda Zeta Chapter
Asnuntuck Community College
Connecticut

Meet Victoria
Jacob Lambie photo

Jacob Lambie

International Vice President Division II

Alpha Mu Chi Chapter
Northeast Texas Community College
Texas

Meet Jacob
Elana Wong

Elena Wong

International Vice President Division III

Alpha Omicron Rho Chapter
Oakland Community College
Michigan

Meet Elena
Mariah Mayhugh

Mariah Mayhugh

International Vice President Division IV

Alpha Gamma Alpha Chapter
Pikes Peak Community College
Colorado

Meet Mariah

Lavada Burse
International President

Significant financial barriers and food insecurity brought Lavada’s first attempt at college to an early end. Eighteen years later, wanting to set an example for her sons, she enrolled at Grayson College to fulfill her dream of owning her own accounting firm.

Lavada, 40, did well and soon joined Phi Theta Kappa. But, around the same time, she began battling depression and often struggled to get out of bed. Her counselor encouraged her to find something that would motivate her, so she forced herself to go to her PTK induction ceremony. There, she reconnected with one of the chapter officers she’d met and was inspired by his excitement.

She sought opportunities to get involved and went on to serve as her chapter president and as president of the Texas Region. She had found a way to manage her depression, and she now says without hesitation that Phi Theta Kappa saved her life.

“I want to share my story in hopes of helping others with a mental illness not be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “I want students to know that you can change your story. It’s not the end for them, even though it may feel like it.”

Before Phi Theta Kappa, Lavada wouldn’t speak in a small meeting; now, she is comfortable speaking in front of large crowds, even serving as keynote speaker at the Texas Community College Teachers Association Annual Convention. She is the student liaison to the Grayson College Board of Directors, and she writes for the campus newspaper.

Victoria Orifice
International Vice President, Division I

Community college was more than a first step for Victoria, it was a second-chance. Due to chronic medical issues dating back to middle school, Victoria’s high school experience was riddled with challenges. While she was able to graduate, she hadn’t had an opportunity to explore her interests or work on long-term planning.

That changed when she joined Phi Theta Kappa as a student at Asnuntuck Community College. Victoria, 22, was given a vehicle with which to explore her interests and find her focus. She served as vice president of communications, co-president, and vice president of leadership for her chapter over the last three years, and she also served as president and then vice president-at-large of the New England Region.

Victoria studies communications and media production, though she is undecided on her future plans. She started an independent chapter podcast and radio show, “PTK After Hours,” to share her chapter’s PTK experience, and she founded her college’s student-run newspaper. She loves writing and was published in the 2019 issue of Nota Bene, PTK’s literary anthology, as well as several editions of Freshwater, Asnuntuck Community College’s literary journal.

“The ideal career for me is something where I can make a difference in people’s lives, inspire people, and utilize my skills and talents to their fullest,” she said. “How exactly that will manifest is something I’m still working on.”

Due in part to her experiences in high school, Victoria is a passionate advocate for those with disabilities, those in the LGBTQ+ community, and community colleges in general. She co-founded a Disability Advocacy Squad on her campus and served as a student voice on the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system’s Accessibility Council.

 

Jacob Lambie
International Vice President, Division II

Jacob suffered a sports-related injury in taekwondo in 2014 that left him with serious medical problems, including seizures and blackouts. He had trouble learning and remembering, making it nearly impossible for him to attend a typical high school.

A dedicated psychiatrist helped guide his family through years of tests and medications, inspiring Jacob, 20, to become a child psychiatrist and serve his local community. He plans to transfer to Texarkana College.

Jacob is extremely passionate about mental health and removing the stigma that comes with being different. His college doesn’t offer on-site counseling services to students, so he founded “More Alike Than Different,” a student organization that welcomes students who feel challenged by their differences, regardless of what they might be. His region of Texas has been called a “mental health desert,” again driving him to find ways to impact those around him.

In Phi Theta Kappa, Jacob has served on his chapter’s Executive Officer Board and as the District III Vice President of the Texas Region. He was vice president of the Bio-Chem Club and directed two award-winning regional films.

He also eats far too many chicken nuggets and has a fully cited research paper arguing why McDonalds has the best.

“It is particularly important that no matter where I go, I stay true to who I am and what I believe,” he said. “I desire to always be honest with myself and never change in order to conform to a social image.”

 

Elena Wong

International Vice President – Division 3

Elena and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 2015. She left behind a country where women and children can experience a dangerous amount of violence in their everyday lives. Frustrated by the lack of attention this problem receives, she is majoring in political science to learn how she can best help people by becoming an organizer.

“I am passionate about social change and contributing to society positively,” she said. “Knowing that millions of people have to endure violence, hunger, and hardship keeps me up at night. That is why I want to dedicate my life to serving people in need through a nonprofit.”

Elena, 21, joined Phi Theta Kappa because she wanted to create projects that would benefit her campus community. She first served as communications director of her chapter, then president for two years, leading efforts to establish a scholarship for human trafficking survivors that will enable them to pursue an education. She also served as president of the Michigan Region.

She has served as a Student Ambassador for her college, the International Student Club Event Coordinator, the Net Impact Chapter President, and a Student Government Representative.

As an international student, Elena struggled to adjust to a new country and educational environment. Now, she is dedicated to supporting and celebrating her international peers, as well as non-traditional and career-tech students who may have struggled in their own educational journeys, by helping them find a place they feel accepted.

Mariah Mayhugh

International Vice President – Division 4

Mariah was diagnosed with two types of epilepsy when she was 7 years old. Growing up, she didn’t have any role models who were like her and was told she likely wouldn’t succeed in school. Now 19, she is devoted to being the positive example for children with epilepsy and other neurodiversities that she never had.

Mariah wrote and self-published Mimi: A Story About Seizures, a children’s book aimed at alleviating the fears of being cast as different or less than because of a medical diagnosis. She aims to put a copy in every school and hospital across the country. Publicity from the book led her to be the youngest participant ever invited to the Winter Story Summit writer’s workshop. She also runs a support group for families in Colorado Springs coping with an epilepsy diagnosis.

She was planning a 26-day campaign to raise awareness for childhood epilepsy in her local community when she reached out to her school’s PTK chapter for help. After one meeting, she was hooked, but the cost was daunting. She applied for and received PTK’s Golden Opportunity Scholarship, which waives the international portion of the membership fee. She served as executive vice president of her chapter.

“Before joining PTK, I had big dreams and plans and goals, but I thought I was going to have to wait before I could change the world,” she said. “Phi Theta Kappa was the first organization that showed me I didn’t have to wait to make a difference.”

Mariah is dually enrolled as an Interdisciplinary Studies major at the University of Colorado, weaving together child development, biopsychology, communications, and sociology into a one-of-a-kind degree. She hopes to always be a strong advocate for children and students with epilepsy through writing more books and sharing her story publicly.