This time last year, Minnesota member Matt Cici was preparing to run for International President of Phi Theta Kappa at PTK Catalyst 2017. Matt was a finalist but didn’t win — or did he? We recently chatted with him about what he gained from the campaign experience.
1. How did you first learn about PTK?
My mom was a member of the Phi Xi Chapter at North Hennepin Community College (NHCC), and my older sister and brother followed in her footsteps. So, I had a pretty good idea it would provide me opportunities for personal and professional development that I couldn’t get anywhere else.
2. Did becoming a member of Phi Theta Kappa change your life?
Yes! I have made so many lifelong friends in addition to meeting my wife, Joehey. Implementing projects taught me leadership skills, and many of my lifelong passions were derived from or strengthened by my PTK experiences.
3. What made you decide to run for International Office?
I saw it as an opportunity to help others benefit from their PTK experience as much as I did.
4. What did you learn from the campaign experience?
It’s important to talk with members during all parts of PTK Catalyst — in the hallways, elevators, ed forums, etc. These conversations are as valuable as any end result.
I learned how to communicate effectively and work in groups. I soon realized that delegating tasks is less about assigning responsibilities and more about bringing people with you on a journey of growth.
5. Do you feel it was a worthwhile experience even if you didn’t win?
100%! You are surrounded by the most incredibly passionate people — your fellow candidates. I was awed by their talent, and I am a better person because I had the opportunity to meet them.
You become even more motivated to do great things locally because of all the members you meet. Some will become lifelong friends who see greatness in you and are there for you when you need them.
After my Honors Study Topic speech, individuals living with mental illness reached out to me. We connected, cried, and hugged. I was touched to meet many people who believe in changing the world.
6. Would you encourage others to run? If so, why?
Absolutely! You will develop soft skills, like interpersonal communication, public speaking, and team management on an entirely different level. You’ll meet people who believe in you, and that’s the most uplifting feeling you can have.
7. What advice would you give others about running?
Be yourself. Phi Theta Kappa invited you because of who you are. Let Phi Theta Kappa help you develop through these leadership opportunities. Open yourself to the possibility and give it all you have. Choose a solid campaign team — remember, quality over quantity. Find a campaign manager you would vote for if you didn’t run. Have fun. Laugh and make others laugh. Enjoy this campaign, and you’ll never forget it.
8. Are there things you learned from the campaign that will benefit you in the future?
Speaking in front of nearly 4,000 people has definitely made me feel more confident to do that again!
I learned more about what members want from each other and the Society, and I’m working with my chapter and region to implement those changes locally. You’ll develop a greater appreciation for this community of scholars that is changing the world.
Matt is a filmmaker, actor, and education coordinator for the non-profit Twin Cities Film Fest. He stays involved as an alum by managing the Minn-Kota Region’s website and social media. He and wife Joehey (also his campaign manager) have presented at regional meetings since their 2017 campaign experience.