Convention Competitions in the Fourth General Session

During the Fourth General Session on Saturday, attendees were officially introduced to Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, who shared with the crowd that she is an educator who cares about students and student success.

“I’m a nerd, like you,” she said. “We are all the same because we choose to do more. We seek out challenges. We expect more of ourselves. Let’s commit to each other to always do more than what is asked of us.”

The Fourth General Session opened with a Parade of Scholarship winners. It also recognized Beverley York, the winner of the NerdNation 2016 T-Shirt Design Competition. York is a member of the Beta Zeta Upsilon Chapter at Scott Community College in Iowa.

The winner of the Prepared Speech Competition, Stephen Holmes of the Alpha Gamma Alpha Chapter at Pikes Peak Community College, presented his speech on why someone should accept membership in Phi Theta Kappa.

The final round of the first NerdNation Scholar Bowl was played live on stage. The Blue Jackets — Bridget Brian, Nellie Schalasky and Heather Vaupel of the Alpha Theta Eta Chapter from Olney Central College in Illinois and Ahmed Shawhatti of the Alpha Xi Mu Chapter at Henry Ford College in Michigan — took the top prize.

“The students were so smart, and it was nice to know that I’m a part of this group of scholars,” said Elizabeth Wantland, a member of the Beta Zeta Mu Chapter from Western Iowa Tech Community College in Iowa. “I was following along, and I felt like one of the people on the stage. It shows that Phi Theta Kappa members have a lot of mental energy.”

Meet Your 2016-2017 International Officers

The 2016-2017 International Officer team has been named! They are:

International President
Andrew Porter
Alpha Gamma Omega
Valencia College – East Campus

Vice President, Division I
Sara Hwang
Alpha Epsilon Phi
Bergen Community College
New Jersey

Vice President, Division II
Ashlynne Banks
Alpha Lambda Sigma
Holmes Community College, Ridgeland Campus

Vice President, Division III
Sydney Pemberton
Tau Theta
Labette Community College

Vice President, Division IV
Alexa Greer
Beta Gamma Chi
Coconino Community College

Also, Division IV International Vice President candidate Nor Rizek was given the 2016 Orlowski Candidate Award. This award is given to the International Officer candidate who best reflects the ideals of Phi Theta Kappa. It honors the memory of the late Steve Orlowski of the Theta Omega Chapter from Wilbur Wright College in Chicago, who died while serving as 1986-87 North Central Vice President.

Rizek is a member of the Alpha Lambda Gamma Chapter at Leeward Community College in Hawaii.

Earlier: See the 10 International Officer candidate finalists.

Alpha Rho Mu Named 2016 Most Distinguished Chapter!

For the second year in a row, the Alpha Rho Mu Chapter from Lone Star College-Tomball in Texas has been named Phi Theta Kappa’s Most Distinguished Chapter!

This is the highest honor given to a Phi Theta Kappa chapter. Chapter advisors are Dr. Rebecca Tate and William Joe Simcik. Congratulations!

These awards were presented during the Hallmark Awards Gala Saturday evening. The Gala is sponsored by Mississippi College, which has generously sponsored the Gala for several years.

Also presented during the Hallmark Awards Gala were awards for College Project, Honors in Action Project, Honors in Action Theme and Distinguished Chapter. Beta Alpha Awards also went to chapters that have received a Distinguished Chapter Award for three consecutive years.

Names of the Alumni Award of Appreciation and the Alumni Association Award of Merit were shared with the audience, and those awards were officially presented during the Alumni Social Saturday evening.

View the 2016 Awards Program to see all 2016 Hallmark Award winners.

The nine finalists to Most Distinguished Chapter are:

First Finalist
Alpha Zeta Omicron
Cedar Valley College
Lancaster, Texas

Second Finalist
Iota Alpha
Trinity Valley Community College
Athens, Texas

Third Finalist
Omicron Beta
Mesa Community College
Mesa, Arizona

Fourth Finalist
Beta Gamma Zeta
Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana
Logansport, Indiana

Fifth Finalist
Alpha Epsilon Omicron
Trident Technical College
North Charleston, South Carolina

Sixth Finalist
Omega Sigma
Houston Community College
Houston, Texas

Seventh Finalist
Alpha Zeta Sigma
Greenville Technical College
Greenville, South Carolina

Eighth Finalist
Alpha Zeta Iota
Northwest Shoals Community College
Phil Campbell, Alabama

Ninth Finalist
Alpha Zeta Eta
North Lake College
Irving, Texas

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.