Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Angie Goldszmidt, Honors Programs Coordinator and co-advisor of the Alpha Epsilon Phi Chapter at Bergen Community College in New Jersey and a 2018-2019 Faculty Scholar.
Full disclosure — I almost did not apply to become a Faculty Scholar. I remember seeing the emails about the application and meeting Faculty Scholars at PTK conventions and thinking to myself that it looked like a nice opportunity. But I thought I didn’t have the time or I hadn’t served as an advisor long enough. Plus, I am a community college staff member, not a faculty member, and the list went on and on.
Thankfully, one of our chapter alumni saw the application and insisted that I apply, and I am so grateful that I did because it truly was one of the best experiences I’ve had with Phi Theta Kappa.
So, as a former skeptic, I decided to write about the one main reason I think you should apply for this program:
Becoming a Faculty Scholar is an opportunity to change lives.
I don’t know all PTK advisors, not even close. However, of the ones I’ve met, despite all of the diversity, there is always a common thread — a deep passion for making a positive impact in this world through education. I am not saying this to be dramatic, but Honors Institute changes the lives of students who attend it.
I thought I would be going in to do some ice-breakers and ask my seminar group some provocative questions to get them to think more deeply about the world. What I did not really comprehend was what it meant to have a group of students from New York, Alabama, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and California (to name a few of the states my students were from) sit together and discuss racial issues, gender inequality, immigration reform, and climate change. I’ve discussed these issues many times before with students, but this was a completely different experience.
The students in my seminar groups came from extremely different walks of life. Some of them had never left the state they grew up in before the Institute, and some had traveled the world. Some supported Clinton, and some supported Trump. Some were pro-immigration reform, and some were international or undocumented students. Some believed that there were no longer racial issues in the United States, and some went through personal experiences that suggested otherwise.
Through this conference, they were able to learn from and listen to one another and question some fundamental beliefs they had coming into this Institute.
I will put a disclaimer here that if you don’t like to facilitate complex discussions, this may not be the best program for you. Some of these seminar sessions were heated and raw and very emotional, and I found myself needing help to process some of these loaded conversations afterward.
However, the fact that students were able to engage in these types of conversations, listen to one another, and share personal experiences openly is the magical part. In the polarized world we live in, going through this experience not only made me feel like I made a difference, but it also gave me hope for the future — these conversations are possible, and people can come together to tackle the major issues our society faces. It really exemplified the power of education and reminded me of why I chose this career path.
There are many other reasons to apply — you will expand your network, establish new friendships, learn new skills, and become a better advisor. For me, the most important reason was the ability to engage with and learn from a diverse group of students in a completely new way and to truly make an impact.
Become a Faculty Scholar for the 2020 Honors Institute! Chapter advisors, Advisors Emeriti, and alumni are invited to apply. Applications are due October 23 by 5 p.m. CT. Learn more and apply today!