For the Lone Star College Phi Theta Kappa chapters in Texas, the third time was definitely the charm.
When the Beta Lambda Mu Chapter of Lone Star College-CyFair Campus was crowned Most Distinguished Chapter for 2017, it marked the third year in a row that one of the Lone Star College chapters received the coveted title. LSC-Tomball received the award in 2015 and 2016, and this year it was CyFair’s turn to shine.
“To receive this recognition once is quite an achievement,” said Debbra Esparza, Lone Star College (LSC) executive director of Organizational Development and PTK Regional Coordinator for Texas. “But for Lone Star College to win it three years in a row is incredible.”
And there’s plenty of credit to go around — the chapter benefited from strong leadership and support on the regional, college, and chapter levels.
“I am very proud of this impressive achievement of our students,” said Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., LSC chancellor. “This award validates our commitment to ensuring excellence in teaching and learning to promote student success.”
The college and chapter have taken the strength of their current members and built on a strong legacy provided by their faculty advisors and previous chapter officers and members.
“The most distinguished chapter showcases the hard work of the members and represents the highest institutional commitment to student learning and student success, both in and out of the classroom,” Phi Theta Kappa President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner said.
To be considered for a Distinguished Chapter Award, a chapter must submit entries for both the Honors in Action Project and College Project Award. Selection of the Distinguished Chapters was based solely on the entries for these Hallmark Awards. The scores in each of the two Hallmark Awards categories were averaged to determine a chapter’s overall ranking.
For its College Project, the chapter worked with their new LSC-CyFair president, Dr. Seelpa Keshvala, to establish a program they named “Backpack to Briefcase.” Beta Lambda Mu members partnered with their local chamber of commerce to connect students with jobs available in the community. The new website they created received 1,822 unique visits and connected 226 graduates with relevant job listings.
“We are so proud of our students,” Keshvala said. “This is an amazing accomplishment, and we are very grateful to our chapter advisors for their leadership, Dr. Blake Ellis and Veronica Martinez, who dedicated their efforts to help our students experience such great success.”
Beta Lambda Mu’s Honors in Action Project focused on juvenile justice around the world and resulted in a speaker series on the issue and the development of a mentoring program in partnership with the Alternative Learning Center-East, the district’s school for expelled high school students.
“I knew early in the year that this officer team had a chance to be very successful,” said Dr. Blake Ellis, one of the chapter’s advisors. “They were uniquely curious about ‘how the world works,’ and they were especially dedicated to the hallmarks of Phi Theta Kappa. They spent hours researching the Honors Study Topic, and they resolved to make a positive difference in our community.
“Their projects were life-changing for many people.”
The chapter provided training for 67 Phi Theta Kappa members, enabling them to serve as mentors at the Disciplinary Alternative Education Center.
“Until you came to my class, I thought no one cared,” one mentored high school student explained. “Now, I can’t wait for college!”
For chapter members, making a difference provided unique satisfaction, but receiving the award at PTK Catalyst was definitely an added bonus.
“Beta Lambda Mu’s achievement is more than I ever could have hoped for, but what I will truly relish is the time I’ve been given to work alongside such driven, thoughtful, and creative people,” said chapter president Noah Miller. “It has been a true honor, and I think it’s important to say that this would not have happened without Dr. Ellis.”
As for Ellis, he believes part of the chapter’s success blossomed from their focus on recruiting new members.
“As they pursued their projects, they focused on the benefits of PTK membership, convincing many students to join our chapter in the process,” he said. “Ultimately, they provided a perfect demonstration of why every eligible student should take advantage of Phi Theta Kappa membership.”