Dr. Joy Moses-Hall really likes rocks.
She holds a Ph.D. in oceanography, but she says the most fascinating part of the curriculum was geology. That likely stems from a childhood spent traveling around the continent visiting natural wonders with her family.
This love of rocks — and family — has inspired The Motherland Project, a geological biography of the planet sprinkled with familial anecdotes of mountains scaled and museums toured. The proposal for this project earned Moses-Hall the 2016 Mosal Award.
“It is allowing me to complete a project that has long been on my bucket list,” Moses-Hall said. “Even better, it turned a someday half-ambition of ifs and maybes into a real project.”
The Mosal Award carries a $5,000 stipend for the completion of a project that encourages professional development. The award is named for Dr. Margaret Mosal, Phi Theta Kappa’s first Executive Director.
After receiving the award in 2016, Moses-Hall spent months going on geology field trips, reading about and visiting the National Parks and Monuments and “hiking to my heart’s content.” News of the award led to her writing a science column in her local newspaper in Greenville, North Carolina, and she sends clips of the stories to her parents so they can travel with her in spirit.
“The award has cascaded through other layers and goals in my life in ways I didn’t anticipate,” she said. “After the first column was published, the local university called and asked if I wanted to teach an oceanography course there — a subject unavailable at the community college level.”
Moses-Hall is advisor to the Beta Nu Upsilon Chapter at Pitt Community College, where she teaches physics, astronomy and Earth science. Her Mosal medallion is proudly displayed in her office, where both students and colleagues see it and are inspired to put their own dreams on paper.
“They think if I can win something, then they should apply for PTK scholarships and other awards, and they could win, too,” she said. “The world outside PTK benefits too, because many of the projects funded are service-minded and provide benefits to people all over the globe.”
Just as Moses-Hall really likes rocks, Steve Fritts really likes comedy — improvisational comedy, to be specific. Fritts has been developing a unique approach to leadership through the use of improv, and he used his 2016 Marshall Award to further his study this year.
The Marshall Award carries a $5,000 stipend for the completion of a project that encourages personal leadership growth. It is named for Dr. Jo Marshall, President of Somerset Community College in Kentucky who, among other things, is a facilitator of Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Certification Program.
“Advisor support programs like the Marshall, Mosal and Faculty Scholars are vital to the success of Phi Theta Kappa,” Fritts said. “The role of advisor in our society is a labor of love, oft with no pay and long hours.
“Programs like these validate the work that advisors do and recognize our own professional development as a vital part of our society.”
Academia is embracing improv, with universities like Harvard and Yale utilizing it in their MBA programs to teach such leadership skills as listening, teamwork and collaboration. As a certified instructor of PTK’s Leadership Development Program, Fritts has sought to incorporate improv into his own leadership instruction at Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri.
He began training in the summer of 2016 at The Second City Training Center, the education arm of the famous Chicago theater where performers like Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Keegan-Michael Key and others got their start. He’s also done extensive reading in the field.
“This training is the foundation of my project as I seek to bring my readings and training together to create a practical leadership program using improv to develop the real skills of leadership: listening, collaboration and critical thinking,” he said.
Fritts’ training will continue with courses again this year. He will then collaborate with local improv workshop presenters in his community to develop a leadership workshop.
He already has plans to hold a workshop at The Middle College Program, a program for at-risk youth in his community, and he hopes to take the workshop on the road to several Phi Theta Kappa regions.
Much like the Mosal Award did for Moses-Hall, the Marshall Award has allowed Fritts to dust off his dreams and check a few items off his own bucket list.
“As we go about our daily lives and fulfill our duties at our colleges and within the society, we often forget our own personal and professional developmental growth,” he said. “This award allows an advisor to follow a dream that they may have put aside in order to focus on their collegial roles.”