The 2015-2016 International Officers: Amie Bernstein, Elizabeth Taylor, Yanik Etan, Hayley Younce and Joe Spieldenner
These students are serving in Phi Theta Kappa’s highest level of leadership available to members. They will each serve one-year terms.
The International Officer team will meet at the Center for Excellence in Jackson, Mississippi, in May for orientation, and they will preside over the 2015 Honors Institute, June 15-20 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, the team will represent the Society during regional meetings and educational conferences.
Etan grew up in Saint Lucia and immigrated to the United States with his family in October 2012 to pursue higher education. He enrolled at the College of Central Florida and became a member of the Kappa Nu Chapter, where he served as chapter president from May 2014-May 2015.
“Initially I accepted (Phi Theta Kappa) membership with the sole purpose of scholarship opportunities; but gradually, the more I became involved in the activities of Kappa Nu on campus and most importantly throughout the community, my ambition changed,” he said. “I became driven to reach out to others in need while providing support and encouragement for those going through a diverse range of challenges.”
Etan is a business administration major who will soon begin work on his bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems at the College of Central Florida. He then plans to seek an MBA at Florida International University.
He is a sports enthusiast and enjoys playing basketball and Ping-Pong. He is also passionate about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and in 20 years hopes to own a well-established health and wellness organization.
International Vice President, Division I
Bernstein was born in Arkansas but raised in Holbrook, New York. Despite growing up in a family filled with educators, she dropped out of high school. She earned her GED at 16 and attempted college, but she soon realized that an anxiety disorder was at the root of the challenges she was facing while trying to get an education.
She entered the workforce but could never quite see a future for herself. So she registered as a part-time student at Suffolk County Community College.
“As it turned out, two out the three professors I had that first semester back were high school dropouts themselves,” she said. “Talk about inspiration! That semester was the tipping point of my future.”
Bernstein’s anxiety almost kept her from accepting her Phi Theta Kappa membership invitation. However, she attended the induction ceremony and was inspired by the keynote speaker to get involved and seek office. She first served as historian, then Alpha Zeta Nu Chapter president, before being named the New York Regional President.
International Vice President, Division II
Taylor is a member of the Omicron Psi Chapter at Grayson College in Texas, where she formerly served as vice president of special projects. She is a nursing major and plans to get both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing with an emphasis in oncology. She lost her father to cancer when she was just 5 years old, and her mother is currently battling leukemia.
Taylor was drawn to Phi Theta Kappa for the opportunity to participate in service projects and to earn scholarships. She initially feared that involvement would conflict with her studies, but she soon found herself drawn in by all the Society has to offer. She is a Five Star Competitive Edge member, and she has completed the Leadership Development Studies course.
“Phi Theta Kappa has given me a chance to see what I’m capable of,” she said. “It has helped me gain confidence and believe in myself. I now have an irreplaceable support group who push me to pursue my dreams and encourage me along the way.”
Taylor enjoys spending time outdoors, particularly through hiking, bicycling and kayaking. She likes listening to poetry and going to music concerts, shows and plays.
International Vice President, Division III
Younce is originally from Ashland, Ohio, but moved to Minooka, Illinois, in high school. She moved to Michigan to attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College, where she is majoring in secondary education – English.
“I became a member of Phi Theta Kappa after being encouraged by some friends at my community college,” she said, adding that her mother is a Phi Theta Kappa alumna. “I was in a rough patch in my life and really didn’t have a direction. Phi Theta Kappa helped me develop my leadership skills and grow tremendously.”
Seeing the International Officers at NerdNation 2014 in Orlando, Florida, inspired Younce to also seek office. She had previously served as campus liaison, vice president of public relations and president of her chapter, Alpha Rho Nu, as well as the public relations coordinator/historian for the Michigan Region.
Younce plans to transfer to Western Michigan University and would like to own a dance studio that specializes in dance therapy. She enjoys reading, writing, painting, crocheting and photography, and she loves playing outside with her dogs, Finn and Scout.
International Vice President, Division IV
Spieldenner was born in Chicago but lived in Tokyo until he was 6 years old. His family then relocated to the greater Seattle area, where he has lived ever since. He wasn’t a good high school student and didn’t feel like college was an option for him; but that changed when he spoke with a friend – and recent Renton Technical College (RTC) graduate – so he decided to give it a try.
There wasn’t a Phi Theta Kappa chapter at RTC, so Spieldenner worked with his student government advisor, former International Officer Jessica Supinski, and other students to charter one. The first induction ceremony featured 229 students.
“When I started RTC, I wanted to get in, get a degree in accounting, and get out,” he said. “My involvement in the student government and in Phi Theta Kappa has completely changed that attitude. I never realized how much of a leader I could really be.”
Spieldenner is a business administration major. He is a huge sports fan, following the Seattle Mariners, the Seattle Seahawks and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In addition, he is a percussionist who can also play the trumpet and guitar.