A College President on Her Chapter’s Success

In April, we introduced the President’s List — recognition of the Top 25 chapters with the highest membership acceptance rates for 2015. The story featured an interview with Cathy Borysewicz, advisor to the No. 2 chapter on the list, Beta Zeta Sigma at Carolinas College of Health Sciences (CCHS) in North Carolina.

Borysewicz shared that the Beta Zeta Sigma Chapter, which had an 84 percent acceptance rate in 2015, holds three inductions a year — spring, summer and fall. She also noted that current PTK members distribute the invitations to eligible students during class.

“We encourage them to get excited about joining and have them share activities that the Phi Theta Kappa members are involved in,” she said. “I think the peer-to-peer aspect is what is most beneficial for us.”

(Several of the Top 25 chapters were later profiled on The Reach blog. You can read about the No. 1 chapter here.)

Soon after news of Beta Zeta Sigma’s success was announced, Dr. Ellen Sheppard, president of CCHS, reached out with six factors she believes to be behind the chapter’s impressive acceptance rate.

As we aim to connect with those eligible-but-still-undecided students who have yet to join PTK this year — and as we kickstart recruitment efforts for January — I want to share her words with you. You may be able to adapt some of this to your own campus and chapter.

Sheppard’s remarks have been slightly edited for clarity.

1. Without fail, the PTK chapter has space in every single monthly issue of the student newspaper. They use this regular, dependable visibility to highlight the work they do, to recognize their new members and to re-espouse the mission and goals of the organization. In this way all students are apprised of the good work being done, and they begin to WANT to be members even before they are eligible to be members.

2. PTK is highlighted in many ways at graduation, not just with special tassels and stoles, but also with special demarcation in the graduation program. PTK membership is also noted on the college transcript. This level of visibility is a powerful motivator.

3. Our Carolinas chapter of PTK is student-led. Students plan the ceremonies, particularly the inductions; they lead the outreach efforts; they lead the meetings. The degree of student leadership makes it a meaningful leadership opportunity that students want to be a part of.

4. The Carolinas College PTK chapter makes a difference in the community. This is important to today’s students, and they WANT to be a part of this! For many years PTK has done its primary outreach at the (local) men’s shelter and through blood drives. Thus, the chapter’s efforts are an integral part of meeting those organizations’ needs, and student members take pride in that!

To young people today, purpose is more important than process. Cathey (Miller, co-advisor) and Cathy (Borysewicz) assure that PTK never loses its focus on community benefit as a purpose. In fact, in both 2015 and 2016, both Cathey and Cathy were recognized by the very large non-profit healthcare system that owns Carolinas College for their commitment to community benefit through their work with PTK.

5. Today’s students are highly cost-conscious. Cathey and Cathy work with student members and leaders to keep expenses as low as possible. This allows the chapter to operate with little financial need. Keeping membership costs low isn’t easy, but these ladies and their student officers know it’s important, and they work hard to keep it that way.

6. They make it fun. Both co-advisors are humble individuals. As healthcare practitioners themselves — one a radiography educator, one a nurse educator — neither takes themselves too seriously. They know students need to keep their schoolwork and academic success as the more important thing, and they work with students, even the officers, to assure they do not overcommit and jeopardize their academic standing. Students appreciate that, and they genuinely respect and like these two advisors. What a difference that makes!

If your enrollment period for your chapter is still open, don’t forget about the eligible students on your campus. Adding a few extra members this year could help your chapter earn REACH Rewards, which will be calculated and distributed in 2017.

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