Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Philippe Schicker, International Vice President for Division 4.
Last week, Phi Theta Kappa held its annual Honors Institute for members across the country. This year, students got to enjoy general sessions, seminars, and the hunt for knowledge at the beautiful campus of Villanova University. The campus itself is marvelous, more closely resembling a medieval castle than a university, which led to a lot of walking during the week.
My fellow International Officers and I arrived one day early to help with preparations, learn to get around the school, and, most importantly, be there to greet guests as they arrived. While we spent significant amounts of time rehearsing to make sure that the general sessions went flawlessly, we also had time to share joyful moments with likeminded Phi Theta Kappans.
Apart from David and Carol, who had the opportunity to attend last year’s Honors Institute, it was our first time. Each of us walked away energized and excited about the future of Phi Theta Kappa.
During the first general session, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz inspired us all with his analysis of people and ideas using big-data trends to explain and uncover areas in life where people might be bending the truth. Throughout the week, all speakers brought Phi Theta Kappans closer by challenging our view on the world and asking us to think critically about innovative ways of tackling old problems. These discussions electrified students both in their seminar groups and across the Villanova campus.
One of the most refreshing aspects of Honors Institute was that the seminar groups were incredibly diverse. Phi Theta Kappa tried to mix up regions, chapters, and friend groups, forcing everyone to step out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves in discussions with strangers.
At the end of the week, it was beautiful to see that these groups that initially had very little in common grew into close-knit, family-like groups after a week of passionate discussions about current topics. It did not matter whether one was a Regional Officer, Chapter Officer, member, or International Officer, or whether one was a traditional, non-traditional, or international student — everyone was treated with equal respect.
These discussions could never have happened without the brilliant help of our amazing faculty scholars. Barbara Ebert, an alumnus and the Faculty Scholar leading my group, was incredibly inspiring.
In my conversations with other attendees, I heard from so many members who also loved their Faculty Scholar. Honors Institute was a place to grow, surrounded by old and new friends with a common goal of developing ourselves to become better and more knowledgeable leaders to, in turn, become examples throughout the country and at our own campuses.
Honors Institute 2018 was my very first time attending an event like this and, compared to PTK Catalyst 2018, was a much more intimate one. I will not only cherish the moments there but more importantly will be able to look back at the amazing people I had the chance of meeting and the skills I was able to gain. If it is possible for you to attend in the future, you will not regret going!