Each year hundreds of thousands of community college students receive invitations to Phi Theta Kappa. For each invitation that’s accepted, a life is changed in some way.
Sixty-one year old Sherry Godman, her son and daughter have more in common than shared DNA — all three attended community college. When their invitations came, they all said yes to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, a decision that has made a great impact on their present and future.
Godman’s son transferred to Rockhurst University on a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship and hopes to complete graduate work at Duke, Georgetown or Columbia University.
“As for my daughter, who received an invitation last semester, I think this will help her in the future as she continues her studies at a university after earning her associate degree,” Godman said.
But, for herself, Godman said she is just dwelling in the present and enjoying the validation membership in Phi Theta Kappa has given her.
“I grew up very poor and have had to work all my life. I never thought I would ever be able to attend college and never thought I was smart enough,” she explained. “I proved myself wrong, and I am very proud of myself. My children say I am an inspiration.
“At this point in my life, it doesn’t matter about my future. What matters is that I accomplished something I never thought was possible for me, and I was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa. I am so honored and proud!”
The Godman family received this recognition, validation and college scholarships for one reason — the Beta Rho Lambda Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at Fort Scott Community College-Miami County Campus in Kansas offered an invitation that would change their lives.
In 2016, Phi Theta Kappa kicked off a new rewards program focused on Recognizing Excellence in Acceptance and Completion with Honors — REACH Rewards for short. Each chapter meeting or exceeding the 15 percent acceptance rate automatically received four free graduation stoles for their members to wear during commencement ceremonies with additional rewards based on chapter size.
Of Phi Theta Kappa’s 1,300 chapters, the Alpha Theta Omega and Beta Rho Lambda Chapters from Fort Scott Community College boasted 2016’s highest member acceptance rates — 81.7 percent!
“This is such a great opportunity and honor for our students,” said Beta Rho Lambda chapter advisor Buddy Tanck. “They deserve all the credit for working so hard to recruit and encourage their peers to be part of PTK.”
Taylor Remington, one of two Vice Presidents of the Alpha Theta Omega Chapter, believes her chapter’s leadership role on campus is key to their member recruitment success.
“We make sure to be involved, if not take the lead, on activities around FSCC,” she said. “It really helps with publicity for our chapter.
“Students see us helping, and want to help as well.”
Fellow Vice President Shelby Hutchison agrees.
“Our chapter had a membership drive to increase numbers, and some of the activities we completed were mailing letters and having students take the pledge to complete community college,” she said. “Having several community service opportunities throughout the year showed the college students and local community the importance of Phi Theta Kappa.”
Chapter advisor Susie Arvidson said that sometimes the community involvement allows parents and other family members to see what Phi Theta Kappa is about as well.
“I also send out emails, and make some phone calls, inviting members to encourage others or inviting individuals to join our organization,” she added. “My communication also involves the benefits of becoming a member of Phi Theta Kappa, which might include experience, local involvement and scholarships.”
These are just two of 422 Phi Theta Kappa chapters that received free graduation stoles this spring in recognition of achieving their REACH Rewards goals. In its inaugural year, the program awarded 4,700 free graduation stoles to chapters who are sharing the life-changing opportunities of Phi Theta Kappa membership with deserving students.
“It’s all about access to the opportunities Phi Theta Kappa has to offer,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner. “This is why we are investing back into our chapters by providing REACH Rewards.”