Katty Kay Gives a Glimpse of Global News Coverage

BBC World News America anchor Katty Kay gave NerdNation 2016 attendees a look at how coverage of the top news stories from around the world — from the civil war in Syria to the American presidential race — impact how the world works during the Third General Session on Friday afternoon.

“I think she did the best job of any news reporter I’ve ever heard of covering both sides of a controversial issue,” said Cassandra Meaker, a member of the Nu Pi Chapter at Sinclair Community College in Ohio. “It’s not just powerful when someone is able to do that, but it’s inspirational too.”

Kay has covered everything from the ending of apartheid in South America to the Kobe earthquake in Japan. She was at the Pentagon just 20 minutes after a hijacked airplane flew into the building.

Kay shared some comical tweets, letters and emails she has received from viewers. She also discussed the connectedness of the world today and how everyone — even residents of small villages in France, where her parents live — keep up with American politics.

Also during the Third General Session, the 10 International Officer Candidate Finalists presented their Honors Study Topic speeches. And, Individual Hallmark Award winners were recognized.

Advisor, Alumni Election Results Announced

The results are in:

Association of Chapter Advisors

Jackie Pierce has been elected to serve as the Secretary representing Division II on the Association of Chapter Advisors board. Congratulations!

Pierce is advisor to the Rho Eta Chapter at Lake Sumter State College in Florida.

The ACA board consists of four advisors — one from each of Phi Theta Kappa’s divisions — elected to serve as liaisons between advisors and Phi Theta Kappa headquarters staff. Officers begin in the position of Secretary and progress to Vice Chair, Chair and Immediate Past Chair during their four-year terms.

Board of Directors Regional Coordinator Representative

Pattie VanAtter has been elected to serve as Regional Coordinator Representative to the Phi Theta Kappa Board of Directors. She will serve a three-year term.

Van Atter, from Delaware Technical Community College in Delaware, is the Middle States Regional Coordinator. Congratulations!

Alumni Advisory Council

Congratulations to former International President Ebonee Carpenter, who has been elected to serve on the Alumni Advisory Council. Council members act as liaisons between alumni, alumni associations and Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters. She will serve a one-year term.

Carpenter is an alumna of the Alpha Lambda Alpha Chapter at Hillsborough Community College in Florida.

More than $65,000 raised for American Cancer Society

In 2015, Phi Theta Kappa chapters raised $65,860 for the American Cancer Society through participation in Relay For Life events. The Top 10 fundraising chapters were recognized during an Educational Forum Friday morning, April 8, at NerdNation 2016.

This brings the 13-year fundraising total to more than $3.8 million. Phi Theta Kappa chapters began fundraising for the American Cancer Society in 2002, and it is the longest and most robust partnership the nonprofit has had with a member-based organization.

“We are so impressed with the level of continued commitment Phi Theta Kappa members invest in our fight against cancer and are inspired by their enthusiasm and genuine philanthropy,” said Kristen Solt, Vice President of the Hope Lodge Network with the American Cancer Society. “There is a spirit of service within Phi Theta Kappa, and the American Cancer Society is honored to count Phi Theta Kappa as a true partner in our work.”

Forty-seven chapters and 514 team members participated in Relay For Life events during 2015 and committed over 10,000 hours to their efforts.

The Top 10 fundraising chapters in 2015 were:

Alpha Nu Omega
Harrisburg Area Community College
Alumni, Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses

Rho Kappa
Elgin Community College
Elgin, Illinois

Alpha Mu Tau
Collin College
Frisco, Texas

Alpha Lambda Alpha
Hillsborough Community College – Brandon campus
Tampa, Florida

Beta Theta Omicron
Skyline College
San Bruno, California

Upsilon Eta
Florida Community College
Jacksonville, Florida

Beta Gamma Chi
Coconino Community College
Flagstaff, Arizona

Omicron Psi
Grayson College
Denison, Texas

Alpha Chi Eta
Salt Lake Community College
Taylorsville, Utah

Beta Theta Kappa
Butte College
Oroville, California

Additionally, the Beta Beta Omicron Chapter from Eastern Maine Community College organized a Relay For Life event on its campus. Total funds raised from the event reached $9,000.

Lord John Eatwell and Economics in the Second General Session

The Second General Session of NerdNation 2016 gave attendees a “crash course” in world economics through a presentation by keynote speaker Lord John Eatwell.

Eatwell walked the crowd through the way the world works from an economics perspective, including a timeline of major economic crises and the causes behind them.

“I thought it was very informative, and I thought he posed interesting facts before us, and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Joshua Klarich, the Officer of Recruiting for the Beta Rho Epsilon Chapter at St. Louis Community College at Wildwood in Missouri. “I’m an Industrial Labor Relations major, which is a mix of law, labor and economics, so it was very nice to hear a presentation geared toward that.”

Eatwell is the President of Queens’ College Cambridge, a constituent college of Cambridge University. He has taught Economics and Finance at Cambridge since the early 1970s, and his recent work has focused on problems of international finance and unemployment, financial markets and regulation.

The Second General Session began with the recognition of College Administrator and Advisor Hallmark Award winners. Following Eatwell’s presentation, the 10 International Officer candidate finalists were announced.

Dr. Paul Stoltz Talks GRIT at NerdNation 2016

Dr. Paul G. Stoltz opened NerdNation 2016 with a presentation on GRIT — the capacity to dig deep and do whatever it takes to achieve your goals.

Stoltz was the keynote speaker in the First General Session, which also included recognition of Regional Hallmark Award winners, a special welcome by the Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden and a speech by 2015-2016 International President Yanik Etan. Stoltz’s presentation was sponsored by Pearson Higher Education Group.

NerdNation 2016 is underway in National Harbor, Maryland, where more than 3,800 community college students, chapter advisors, college administrators, alumni and more have gathered.

“I had no idea what GRIT was, but his presentation definitely made me rethink how I create resumes and the process I go through when I apply for jobs and even how I apply for scholarships,” said Nicole Clarke, Vice President of the Beta Lambda Kappa Chapter at Macomb Community College in Michigan.

Stoltz outlined key points of GRIT — growth, resilience, instinct and tenacity — as they relate to realizing and achieving your most important and rewarding ambitions. He is considered the world’s leading authority on the integration and application of grit and resilience.

Stoltz’s Adversity Quotient (AQ) theory is used at Harvard Business School’s executive development and MBA programs. Today, GRIT and AQ are the most widely adopted methods of their kind in the world for measurably enhancing one’s resilience, agility and grit. He is the author of four books, including his newest one, GRIT — The New Science of What it Takes to Persevere, Flourish, Succeed.

NerdNation attendees also received a challenge from the First General Session sponsor GEICO to submit more than 1,300 quotes for car insurance throughout the week, both on site and online from those not in attendance. If that goal is met, GEICO will donate $16,000 to Phi Theta Kappa scholarships and programs. Get a free quote.

And Then There Were 10

The field of 37 International Officer candidates has been narrowed to 10! The finalists for each office are:

International President
Andrew Porter, Valencia College, Florida
Brandon Robinson, Grayson College, Texas

Vice President, Division I
Angela Graves, J. Sargeant Community College, Virginia
Sara Hweng, Bergen Community College, New Jersey

Vice President, Division II
Ashlynne Banks, Holmes Community College’s Ridgeland Campus, Mississippi
Emily Phillips, Cleveland State Community College, Tennessee

Vice President, Division III
Dominique Dailey, Inver Hills Community College, Minnesota
Sydney Pemberton, Labette Community College, Kansas

Vice President, Division IV
Kaycee Campbell, Mesa Community College, Arizona
Alexa Greer, Coconino Community College, Arizona

Each of these finalists has received a $500 International Officer Finalist Award, generously provided by the Oberndorf Family Foundation.

The 10 candidate finalists will return in the Third General Session Friday afternoon to deliver their Honors Study Topic speeches. Winners will be announced at the end of the Hallmark Awards Gala on Saturday evening.

NerdNation 2016 is Underway!

This week, The Reach is coming to you live from NerdNation 2016, Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention, in National Harbor, Maryland.

Chapters from across the country (including the Omicron Pi Chapter from Allegany College of Maryland, pictured above) began arriving Wednesday. Nearly 4,000 members, advisors, alumni, four-year colleges, sponsors and friends will gather over the next few days to hear from dynamic speakers, be recognized for their hard work over the last year and meet new friends.

Things kicked off Wednesday evening with the Phi Theta Kappa Academy, which took participants on a moonlight tour of some of Washington, D.C.’s top tourist attractions. This morning, Academy participants broke into small groups and then presented their perspectives on how the tour has impacted how the world works — a tie-in to the current Honors Study Topic.

The Marketplace is set up and filled with opportunities for participants to connect with the 37 International Officer candidates, watch the Scholar Bowl and explore opportunities offered through our corporate sponsors. This year, the Phi Theta Kappa Store is a true shopping experience — a boutique-style setup that allows you to browse merchandise.

For the first time, International Officer candidates will participate in a Live Candidate Caucus today at 3 p.m., moderated by former International President Cassius Johnson. In fact, 17 past International Officers will be attending NerdNation 2016.

The First General Session will officially kick off NerdNation 2016 tonight at 7:30 p.m. and with the recognition of Regional Hallmark Award winners, a speech by 2015-2016 International President Yanik Etan and a featured presentation by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz.

Watch for news and announcements throughout the event here on The Reach and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also view photos on our Flickr Photostream.

See You at NerdNation!

Phi Theta Kappa is headed to National Harbor, Maryland, next week, April 7-9, for NerdNation 2016! It’s the ultimate Phi Theta Kappa Experience, and we can’t wait to see you there!

Here are some important reminders (for everyone!):

Get Social

Whether you’ll be with us in Maryland or staying home, you can keep up with the latest news here on The Reach blog — we’ll send out an email after the Hallmark Awards Gala wraps up Saturday night to recap all of the NerdNation highlights.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we capture the best NerdNation moments live. And, all photos from the week will be available for FREE download on our Flickr Photostream beginning April 5.

NerdNation attendees: like and share our posts from the week using #PTKNerdNation for a chance to win a 14-karat Gold Key Pin!

Get Your GEICO Quote

The GEICO Gecko wrote a lot of free car insurance quotes during NerdNation 2015, and this year he’s challenging us to top 1,300! All quotes requested on site at the Gecko’s Marketplace Booth at NerdNation as well as those submitted online April 3-9 will count — AND, they’ll support Phi Theta Kappa scholarships and programs.

Anything You’d Like to Know about the International Officer Candidates?

New this year at NerdNation is a live Candidate Caucus on Thursday, April 7, from 3-5 p.m. If you’ll be in DC, stop by to get to know them better.

If you have a question for the candidates, tweet us @PhiThetaKappa or comment on our Facebook or Instagram posts (there’s a special post asking for questions). The caucus moderator may ask yours!

Explore DC

We hope you’ll find time to explore the National Harbor and Washington, D.C. areas.

The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center — the home of NerdNation 2016 — offers dining, entertainment, shopping and more. Be sure to check the bag you receive upon check-in for fliers detailing discounts in the area exclusively for you. View their Entertainment Guide.

Sightseeing tours of Washington, D.C.’s top tourist spots depart directly from the Gaylord. Several options are available.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival will be underway in Washington, D.C., while we’re there, ushering in spring for the millions of visitors who attend each year.

See also: 100 Free (& Almost Free) Things to Do in Washington DC

Have you been to DC before? What’s on your must-see list? Comment with a suggestion to help NerdNation attendees plan their trip.

Apply Today for Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Applications are now being accepted for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. The deadline to apply is October 11.

These grants enable Fulbrighters to meet, work, live with and learn from the people of their host country. Grant lengths and dates vary by country.

There are opportunities in East Asia-Pacific, South and Central Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa and the Western Hemisphere. Check out the country summaries and details.

Deeneaus Polk, an alumnus of the Pi Epsilon Chapter at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jackson County Campus and the 2007-08 International Vice President for Division II, was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Germany in 2011-12 (read about his experience). He is now a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador who serves as a representative, recruiter and spokesperson for the Fulbright Program.

Polk attended NerdNation 2015 in San Antonio, Texas, and spoke with attendees about his experience overseas.

“One of the things that motivates me to go to work every day is the idea that I can expose folks to the opportunities and experiences that I have been extraordinarily lucky to be a part of,” he said in a blog post about attending NerdNation. “Speaking to so many students about my life after having served as an officer was amazing because I could see in their eyes how they were making plans to take advantage of the same opportunities I had.”

Lessons Learned from the Honors Program Council

Lisa York’s relationship with Phi Theta Kappa began in 1998, when she became an honorary member of the Alpha Epsilon Omicron Chapter at Trident Technical College in South Carolina. Her aunt, the late Joanie Keller, was the chapter advisor there as well as the Carolinas Regional Coordinator, and she was trying to provide York with a new avenue in life following the death of her husband in 1992.

When York finally became an advisor to the Alpha Upsilon Eta Chapter at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina nearly eight years ago, she thought her journey with the Society had reached its peak.

“Thankfully, I was very mistaken,” York said.

While attending Honors Institute at Boston University in 2011, York was encouraged by Faculty Scholar Pat West to apply to become a Faculty Scholar the following year. Later, West encouraged her to apply for the Honors Program Council, which develops the Honors Study Topic and assists with the compilation of the Honors Program Guide.

“Serving on the Council as the Cultural Studies Representative provided me with a chance to focus intellectually on the issues that were important to me as an academic and helped me find new ways to bring those ideas not only to my chapter, but to all of my students,” York said.

York, Jo Fritts and Dr. Sauda Smith will complete their four-year terms on the Honors Program Council this summer. Applications to fill their spots are due May 2, and a Humanities Representative, a Social Sciences-Communications Representative and, for the first time, a Technical-Workforce Representative will be selected. (Apply today.)

York said the leadership skills and knowledge she has gained from Susan Edwards, Phi Theta Kappa’s Dean of Academic Affairs and Honors Programs, and from interactions with other Council members have proven invaluable both for her personally and for her students and chapter officers and have made her a better teacher and advisor.

“(Students) must know how to cooperate with others, how to lead and what constitutes effective leadership, how to successfully communicate complicated ideas, how best to serve others, why a life of service matters, and how to self-assess,” she said. “My greatest lesson, perhaps, is learning to continually set goals and assess personal growth and professional growth, which we can easily forget to do when we are so focused on our students’ personal and professional growth.”

York is a literature professor, but her time on the Council has allowed her to explore other areas of study such as accounting, the hard sciences and technology and to see how they’re all connected. She’s also made close friends with her fellow Council members — she and Smith now consider each other sisters.

“The camaraderie, the friendships and the participation in something so intellectual have become monumental for me,” said Smith, Associate Vice President of H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the British Virgin Islands and founding advisor of the Beta Omicron Sigma Chapter. “For me, it’s been the ability to be in a room where a group of super-intellectual people can clash, and from that clash can come the most wonderful ideas and creativity. It’s absolutely been a priceless opportunity for me.”

Smith has used her experience on the Honors Program Council to show her students and even her co-advisors that it’s okay to disagree, as long as from that disagreement you arrive at a place where the common good and a common goal emerge.

The research aspect that goes into developing the Honors Study Topic and producing the Honors Program Guide has also been a valuable teaching tool for Smith.

“In a community college setting, we’re not often given the opportunity to do research and get published, unlike our colleagues in the universities,” she said. “The Honors Program Council enables you to create and contribute to the publication of a document that’s actually a teaching tool. It gives you an opportunity to use your intellect.

“We push our students to be on top of their games, so why shouldn’t we push ourselves?”

The opportunity to do research was a big draw for Fritts, a self-proclaimed “research geek.” Fritts is the advisor of the Alpha Psi Tau Chapter at Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri and is the Missouri Regional Coordinator. She patiently waited for several years for a spot on the Council to open up so she could apply.

Fritts has shared her first-hand experience as a Council member with her students and her region to show them that Honors Study Topics are not chosen lightly and that two years of repeated researching, writing and editing goes into the Honors Program Guide. It was important for her to show that it truly is a team effort, she said.

She is also ending her term on the Council with close friendships. Although she tends to be a private person, the connection Fritts has developed with her peers on the Council and the memories she has made with them have made it easier for her to open up.

“Knowing that my comments would be responded to in a respectful fashion (even if they were not agreed upon) was refreshing,” she said. “I know that I have developed a special bond with a handful of wonderful people that I will forever cherish.

“I feel as if I have lived the past four years in Williams Shakespeare’s quote, ‘We few, we happy, few, we band of brothers,’ because I look upon my fellow Council members as my brothers and sisters.”