9 Ways to Build a Robust Local Recruitment Campaign

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Dr. Aariel Charbonnet, Phi Theta Kappa’s Manager of Member Support and Outreach.

Ah, the start of the fall term — purchasing textbooks, reviewing course syllabi, locating obscure corner classrooms. You must have the required course materials, understand your professor’s expectations — and, yes, know where your classes meet — in order to lay the foundation for a productive school term. These first-week-of-school routines are essential ingredients in your academic journey. They are the basics.

Let’s take it one step further. To achieve success in your classes, you must do more. Do you have a study schedule? A study buddy? Do you plan to devote an hour each night to your physics class? Do you have a distraction-free work space? Your success is a direct reflection of your commitment level.

Think of your chapter’s success in the same way. Every chapter should be doing some recruitment basics: inviting prospective members, tabling (at a regular time every week or at your school’s kick-off organizational fair), promoting your chapter through awareness campaigns on campus (think PTK bulletin boards and “interest” meetings for prospective members and incoming freshmen).

Let’s move beyond the basics to explore the components of a robust local recruitment campaign. Remember: Robust Recruitment = More Members. More Members = Expanding Access to Opportunity. This translates into countless measures of chapter success: increased likelihood of earning REACH Rewards; increased levels of local, regional, and international engagement; and increased resources to dedicate to award-winning Honors in Action and College Projects.

Here’s a mashup of local membership recruitment campaigns from high-performing chapters over the years (and through the blog):

1. Offer membership fee scholarships to new members.

“During the fall 2016 semester, [the Sigma Lambda Chapter] ran a special promotion for awareness week offering new members a $10 discount for joining during that week, which resulted in 29 new members,” [former Alabama Regional Officer] Lionel Barzon said. – “Creative Ways Your Chapter Can Recruit Members”

2. Involve faculty, staff, and administrators.

Sigma Lambda Chapter Officers invited faculty and staff to wear PTK t-shirts during their Awareness Week to boost visibility on campus. – “Creative Ways Your Chapter Can Recruit Members”

3. Diversify methods of invitation delivery.

The Tau Mu Chapter sends chapter officers and members to classrooms to “tap” students — personally inviting them to attend an orientation and welcoming them to the chapter. – “Creative Ways Your Chapter Can Recruit Members”

4. Send personalized emailed invitations through Headquarters.

The Sigma Lambda Chapter sends its initial email invitations through Headquarters. Chapter Advisor and Alabama Associate Regional Coordinator Necia Nicholas said she also sends a pre-invite, or “heads up,” to all prospective members prior to the invitation. “It serves not only to help them look for the email, but to realize that it is not spam, not a fraternity, etc.” – “Creative Ways Your Chapter Can Recruit Members”

5. Incentivize students with tangible benefits.

Reward your chapter, either virtually or face-to-face, with a half-day training at Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters, where your group can meet one-on-one with the experts. – “Tailor Your Training at the Center for Excellence”

6. Provide refreshments at events.

“I’ve found that many [students] are happy to listen to a spiel about PTK if you offer them cake for the trouble,” Onyx Rose of the Alpha Sigma Alpha Chapter at De Anza College in California said. – “Cake, Pizza, Potluck”

7. Get creative.

The Xi Pi Chapter at Polk State College’s Winter Haven Campus in Florida holds a monthly potluck and movie night, where members are asked to bring a friend. – “Cake, Pizza, Potluck”

The Alpha Iota Pi Chapter in Kalispell, Montana, puts on a campus treasure hunt. The chapter sends students with a map to collect coins from each department, where they learn about the different student services and become more familiar with campus. Afterward, they are given a small prize and entered to win a gift card. – “Cake, Pizza, Potluck”

8. Recruit at local middle and high schools.

Ask members of the Admissions team at your school if you may accompany them on recruiting visits to local high schools. – “Back to the Basics of Recruiting … With Some New-School Swag

The Sigma Delta Chapter in Texas witnessed its membership grow by partnering with local middle and high schools. “The younger kids were really excited,” [Chapter President Kaci] Maris said. “The junior high teachers want [our members] to come back.” – “Boost Membership with High School Outreach

9. Personalize your pitch.

“Show others you are someone they can go to. Be approachable, and put a friendly face to the name of the organization. Remember, you were once in their shoes.” – Former International Officer Sara Hwang, “Membership Recruitment Best Practices

Phi Theta Kappa members are well versed in what it takes to excel academically. They’ve moved beyond the basics to prioritizing goals, objectives, and strategies for individual success. Understanding what it takes for your chapter to move beyond the basics, however, may be a bit more challenging. Use this list to jumpstart or revamp your chapter’s path to success.

A Message from the President and CEO

If you are among those struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, please know that our hearts go out to you, and our thoughts are with you during this difficult time. As someone whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, I know firsthand how much an offer of assistance — no matter how great or small — can mean during a time like this.

Chapters across the country are already asking how they can best support our PTK family in the affected areas. In response, we have established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

In the same way that the Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship helps members who face an unanticipated need, all donations made to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund will be used to help members stay enrolled and on track to complete college despite this tremendous setback.

Chapters and regions have also expressed interest in supporting recovery efforts through volunteering. In order to keep the affected areas clear for first responders, we feel as though this would not be helpful at this time. We will continue work with the Texas Regional Coordinator, advisors, and college presidents to determine how we can best support members, chapters, and colleges as recovery efforts continue.

Time and time again, Phi Theta Kappa members have demonstrated their strong ability to persist in the face of all kinds of obstacles. The Phi Theta Kappa family stands ready to offer our assistance during the difficult process of recovery. Please join me in making a donation to support our members in need — and encourage others to do the same.

Visit ptk.org and click on “Donate.” Use the dropdown menu to direct your donation to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner is president and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. If you would like to reach Lynn, please contact her liaison, Fredrica Tyes, at fredrica.tyes@ptk.org.

New Transfer Scholarship: Marietta College

Marietta College is a liberal arts college in Marietta, Ohio — the oldest settlement in the Northwest Territory, established in 1788.

The college was founded in 1835 and gives students a “strong foundation for a lifetime of leadership, critical thinking, and problem solving.” Marietta’s education is centered around seven core values:

  1. Liberal Arts Foundation
  2. In-Depth Programs of Study
  3. Global Perspective and Diversity
  4. World of Work
  5. Community
  6. Leadership
  7. Service

The school is consistently included in national rankings, most recently as a Top 10 school in the Midwest. Some other key facts:

  • The student-teacher ratio is 10:1, and the average class has 12 students.
  • More than 90 percent of graduates are employed or in graduate school within six months of graduating.
  • Leadership training is part of every student’s experience — the McDonough Leadership Program has been one of the nation’s most respected leadership programs for the last 20 years.
  • Every major at Marietta provides an internship.
  • Students come from 40 states and 10 countries.

Learn more about Marietta’s new transfer scholarship in this brief Q&A with the school’s transfer recruiters.

Tell us about your college’s new transfer scholarship for members of Phi Theta Kappa.

Marietta College is pleased to offer new transfer students a $2,000 PTK scholarship for their first year of enrollment. Marietta is proud to recognize the outstanding academic achievements of our incoming PTK transfer students.

Why does your college feel that it is important to offer a scholarship opportunity for members?

Students who have achieved the academic excellence to become a member of PTK will see academic success at Marietta College. We want to encourage PTK members to continue their journey at Marietta College to complete a bachelor’s degree at one of the nation’s best small liberal arts colleges and in a community that provides the perfect backdrop for their next adventure.

Are there other transfer scholarships that could be stacked with your Phi Theta Kappa award? If so, please explain.

The scholarship is stackable with one additional non-need-based scholarship and grant. The transfer student will receive a $1,000 scholarship each semester for one academic year.

In your opinion, what is one of the most impressive things about your college?

Marietta College has an established track record of transforming students’ lives. Many of our students are first-generation college students, and Marietta excels at providing the resources and support needed for our undergraduates to succeed in school and after they graduate.

Find more transfer scholarships exclusively for Phi Theta Kappa members at CollegeFish.org.

10 FAQ’s About PTK Membership

We field questions from students all over the world about Phi Theta Kappa membership, and some questions are asked more than others. Here are the Top 10 most frequently asked questions about PTK:

1. Do you have to pay the membership fee every year?

Nope! You are asked to pay a one-time lifetime membership fee that covers the international fee of $60 and may include a regional fee and/or local fee as well. You pay this when you accept membership, and that’s it — there are no annual dues, and you never have to renew your membership.

2. What help is available for people who cannot afford the membership fee?

Phi Theta Kappa advisors may nominate prospective members for the Society’s Golden Opportunity Scholarship, which is awarded to more than 300 students twice a year and waives the international membership fee of $60. Some chapters may offer membership scholarships that cover the fee, or some colleges’ foundations may have funds reserved to help students in need. Talk through your options with your advisor.

3. What is the minimum GPA that must be maintained in order to remain a member?

In general, you must maintain a “B” average — 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) — to remain a PTK member. If your GPA slips, you have one term to bring your grades back up to a “B.” However, individual chapters can set their own maintenance GPA’s, so check with your local advisor.

Don’t get hung up on this, though — once you become a member, you will be surrounded by a supportive network that pushes you to continue to excel. Members are more likely than non-members to graduate and transfer, so this is a group you’ll want to join ASAP.

4. As a Phi Theta Kappa member, what is required of me?

Nothing! You can pay your membership fee and never do anything else, and you’ll still be a PTK member. Of course, we don’t recommend that — membership is what you make of it, and the return on your investment is up to you.

Apply for scholarships. Serve on a committee to develop leadership skills. Put what you’re learning in the classroom to use in real-world settings, such as honors and service projects. For a high ROI, explore opportunities and benefits at all three levels: local, regional, and international. Your résumé — and your future self — will thank you.

5. What does the average PTK member look like?

Look in the mirror — YOU are the average PTK member. Our members span ages, ethnicities, income levels, majors, and career goals. They are parents, veterans, first-generation college students, online learners, and GED recipients. They’ve been homeschooled. They’ve been homeless. They’re still in high school. They’re the oldest students in the classroom. They’re returning to college for yet another certificate or degree.

The average GPA of a PTK member is 3.78. The average age is 29. The Top 5 majors are Pre-Nursing Studies, Business Management and Marketing, Public Health, Liberal Arts and Sciences/General Studies, and Education.

Picture a college student, and you’ll be picturing a PTK member.

6. How will this membership benefit me?

It depends on your plans. Transferring to a four-year school? Check CollegeFish.org to see what universities in your area offer transfer scholarships exclusively for PTK members. Earning a credential for work? Gain those important, but often unspoken, job skills like team-building and communication as you work with your chapter on projects. And everyone benefits from being around like-minded people, being exposed to new ideas and ideals, and being surrounded by people who are eager to help you reach your educational goals.

7. How can I meet other PTK members near me?

You will receive notification about upcoming induction ceremonies, orientation sessions, and meetings from either your local advisor or your chapter officers. You can also use this tool to search for your local chapter and your advisors’ names, email addresses, and phone numbers. We encourage you to reach out to them and see what upcoming meetings and events are planned.

8. Must I be earning an associate degree and/or transferring to a four-year college to become a member?

Absolutely not. The only requirements for membership are that you complete at least 12 hours of course work that could be applied toward an associate degree at the college where you are currently enrolled and that you have met your local chapter’s required GPA.

9. Are part-time students or high school students eligible for membership?

Of course! Again, we only require that you complete at least 12 hours of course work and that you have met your local chapter’s required GPA. We have many members — and chapter officers — who are part-time students or still in high school!

10. Are there Phi Theta Kappa scholarships available for international students?

Actually, we have a scholarship specifically for international students — the Coca-Cola Global Leaders of Promise Scholarship, which opens every spring.

Scholarships on PTK’s fall scholarship application are open to students with a variety of citizenship statuses, and applicants are required to provide proof of citizenship documentation. Some may have unique citizenship status restrictions. Read more, or contact scholarship.programs@ptk.org with questions.

DiversiFive Files: Voting Rights & Responsibilities

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Amanda Karpinski, 2017-18 International President. It is the first in the “DiversiFive Files” series written by the 2017-18 International Officers.

It is no secret that we use our Phi Theta Kappa membership to help spark change around us. Our Honors in Action and College Projects have a far-reaching impact that does not stop at our annual convention. One chapter in Portland, Oregon, wanted to create change for students on their campus that would last a lifetime.

There is no denying that the November 2016 presidential election sparked a lot of interest in politics, but the Beta Epsilon Gamma Chapter took an interest in making sure that everyone’s voice was heard. The chapter officers felt a responsibility to assure that all eligible voters made it out to the polls for the election. They observed in their community that marginalized groups were not voting.

Beta Epsilon Gamma showed what chapters can do in a tumultuous political world. While conducting research, the chapter learned that language barrier was a common obstacle preventing voters in their community. Chapter members included all students on campus by hosting information events on how to register to vote, supplying translators, and focusing on groups that are illiterate. During a time of high tensions, the chapter wanted to make certain that everyone’s voices were heard.

As Phi Theta Kappans, we strive to learn how the world works. We host debates, conduct research, and contribute to our communities by thinking globally and acting locally.

Today we turn on the news and see a world filled with hate and anger. Phi Theta Kappa members, like the Beta Epsilon Gamma Chapter, have shown that we can acknowledge our differences but focus on our similarities. Not everyone voted for the same candidate in November 2016, but chapter members wanted to assure that everyone could vote.

Members of the Beta Epsilon Gamma Chapter had the unique development opportunity to focus on social justice, equity, and inclusion through a leadership role to assure that students on their campus voted, especially groups that have not previously voted. Chapter officers said voting is a right, and it was their responsibility to provide students with “the information they needed to make a reasonable decision.”

The leaders of Portland Community College’s PTK chapter showed that they did not have to participate in a political debate to be involved with the presidential election.

Phi Theta Kappa is a microcosm of the world, filled with diverse members from every different background. Even though we may face different obstacles, each of us has the goal to excel academically, professionally, and personally. As the leaders of tomorrow, we have the responsibility to show the world that we can have contrasting views and remain together as a unified society.

2017-18 International President Amanda Karpinski is a student at Bergen Community College in New Jersey.

People of PTK: Dr. Rebecca Hernandez

From the time Dr. Rebecca Hernandez was in elementary school, she dreamed of going on adventurous scientific campaigns in wild places.

“I used to collect and identify invertebrate species in my backyard all summer and hold ‘campaigns’ in my local neighborhood to raise money to save threatened species,” she said. “As I got older, I realized that I lived in a biodiversity hotspot — the California Floristic Province — and my passion for understanding the relationship between humans and how we interact with the Earth system solidified.”

But, despite Rebecca’s intelligence and passion for science, she hit a financial roadblock.

“I received a scholarship to attend my first-choice university on the East Coast, but it would only cover my tuition for the first year, and my family couldn’t assume the financial risk for subsequent years,” she said. “So, I attended community college out of necessity.”

After enrolling at Saddleback College, Rebecca began to see firsthand the teaching excellence that exists in the community college system and demonstrated excellence as a student — earning her Phi Theta Kappa membership in 2002. And she hasn’t slowed down since on the road to achieving her dream.

Rebecca received her Ph.D. in Earth System Science at Stanford University in 2014, where she was an EPA STARS Fellow, Schneider Fellow, and Ford Fellow. She holds a Masters in Biological Sciences from California State University Fullerton and a Bachelor of Arts in geography from UCLA. She was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley and the Climate and Carbon Sciences Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

A first-generation college student, Rebecca is proud that she started her education in the California community college system.

Today she serves as Assistant Professor of Earth System Science in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources and a CAMPOS (Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science) Scholar at the University of California, Davis. Rebecca also directs Aridlab.org, which emphasizes the exploration of processes that elucidate the functioning of the Earth system and the solving of applied problems where human and natural systems interact in water-limited environments.

Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, NPR, Scientific American, and National Geographic.

“At Stanford University, my Ph.D. research focused on the relationship between energy and the environment; specifically, how the use of energy for human consumption uses land resources and the impact of this linkage on conservation and food production,” Rebecca said. “One of the questions I ask my students today is: how many of you used land today?

“Most folks don’t realize that by turning on a light or checking email on a computer, they are using land. Connecting these dots from electricity use to land to ecosystem services is what excites me today because we still have time to turn things around, but time is running out.”

Rebecca will be co-leading a new program on campus at UC Davis called the “Wild Energy Initiative” to support research on interactions between energy systems and the bio-geophysical components and systems of Earth, addressing contemporary sustainability issues across human and natural systems.

“I feel very blessed to wake up every day and feel an enormous amount of creative liberty and freedom to pursue the scientific questions that I feel are most impactful,” she said. “I do feel that I am making a difference, but that feeling is amplified when I collaborate with other people and organizations.

“I do feel strongly that the study of energy and the environment is the most exigent scientific pursuit in the 21st century.”

Does Rebecca have any advice for today’s members who might be interested in pursuing a similar career?

“If you are interested in becoming a scientist, you will have endless opportunities where this idea that you can be a great scientist is challenged and tested,” she said. “The road here was not easy, and the training involved in being a scientist is a lot less glossy.”

Rebecca added that she spent almost a decade and a half in training to become a scientist with little financial reward.

“I spent much of my 20s and early 30s working, including weekends,” she said. “But I also feel proud of that sacrifice because time is now of the essence.

“I want future generations to feel, touch, and experience the wild places that I had access to in my youth, and the possibility of this being maintained is all unfolding now.”

25 Named to Alumni Advisory Board

New Alumni Advisory Board member Fran Ritchey speaks during the alumni Coming Home Reception at PTK Catalyst 2017.

Twenty-five alumni have been appointed to the newly formed Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) as Phi Theta Kappa seeks to reconnect with its alumni and re-engage them in Society programs.

The AAB consists of a representative from each of the Society’s regions. Board members then elected four Vice Presidents to represent each of PTK’s four divisions. Current board members have terms of service that vary in length from one to three years, and each subsequent board member will serve for three years.

Duties include increasing awareness of Phi Theta Kappa, helping the Society better connect with alumni, providing input to the Headquarters staff on Society issues, and serving as a communications liaison between Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters and alumni associations in their respective regions.

Division 1:

Sara Oswald, Carolinas Region — Division 1 AAB Vice President
Amie Bernstein, New York Region
Maryann DeStefano, Middle States Region
Brenda Jarvis, Ohio Region
Jodi LeBel-Christian, New England Region
Laurel Rothenberger, Virginia/West Virginia Region

Division 2:

Heather Herbert, Georgia Region — Division 2 AAB Vice President
Hannah Kilpatrick, Alabama Region
Elizabeth Kinser, Tennessee Region
Yvonne James, Florida Region
Kenneth Ruemke, Texas Region
Feifei Zeng, Mississippi/Louisiana Region

Division 3:

Fran Ritchey, Missouri Region — Division 3 AAB Vice President
Katrina Case-Soper, Michigan Region
Lucus Drake, Kansas/Nebraska Region
Julie Gore, Iowa Region
Deanna Keller, Minn-Kota Region
Moriah Mercer, Indiana Region
Michael Storey, Illinois Region
Anna Van Loon, Wisconsin Region

Division 4:

Dawneen Banks, Colorado/Wyoming Region — Division 4 AAB Vice President
Angela Luna, New Mexico Region
Glenn Mendoza, Pacific Region
Lindsay Moore, Nevada/California Region
Michael Stark, Arizona Region

The Centennial Alumni Challenge is underway! Help us reconnect with alumni from your chapter, and your chapter could receive up to two free registrations to PTK Catalyst 2018, April 19-21 in Kansas City, Missouri.

11 Reasons You Should Attend PTK Catalyst 2018

We can think of plenty of reasons that you should join us April 19-21 in Kansas City, Missouri, for PTK Catalyst 2018. Here are some of the top ones:

  1. It’s our Centennial Celebration!
    This convention is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of Phi Theta Kappa history as we celebrate 100 years of recognizing and encouraging student success. An occasion this big deserves two parties — we’ve got celebrations planned for both Friday and Saturday nights, and you won’t want to miss either one.
  2. Hear World-Class Speakers
    Past convention attendees have seen John Legend perform, caught tennis balls hit into the crowd by the legendary Billie Jean King, and heard insights from author Malcolm Gladwell. Our convention speakers regularly inform and inspire, and this year’s speakers are no exception. Stay tuned to see who they are!
  3. Expand Your View of the World
    Here’s your chance to get out of your comfort zone and explore a new city. You’ll gain a different perspective for how others view the world, and you’ll be inspired to get creative and try new things.
  4. Meet Reps from Four-Year Colleges
    Our Senior College Fair is possibly the largest gathering of representatives from four-year colleges and universities — and this year, we’re having two of them! These college reps are there to meet and recruit YOU! Most (if not all) offer transfer scholarships exclusively for PTK members — come find the one that’s right for you. A full list of those attending will be available soon.
  5. Gain Key Job and Life Skills
    Making difficult financial decisions simpler. The value of small talk in leadership development. Enhancing career skills through short-term travel. Our Educational Forums teach skills to help you both in school and in your career. Topics will be announced soon.
  6. Make Some New Friends
    We’re expecting approximately 6,000 students, advisors, administrators, and partners to join us in Kansas City. You can expect to connect with hundreds of students just like you from all over the country and around the world.
  7. Join Us on Stage
    Be recognized for the scholarships you’ll receive and the hard work you’ll accomplish throughout the year ahead. It’s our favorite part of PTK Catalyst.
  8. Discover the New Honors Study Topic
    We’ll be kicking off the next 100 years by unveiling the 2018/2019 Honors Study Topic in early 2018, which will guide your Honors in Action Projects for the next two years. If you’re at PTK Catalyst 2018, you’ll get to dive deep into the new topic through Educational Forums.
  9. Recharge Your Chapter
    If your chapter could use a pick-me-up after a busy year, PTK Catalyst 2018 is it! Many chapters see annual convention as a time to celebrate the previous year and recharge their batteries for the year ahead, so they can move forward with renewed energy and excitement.
  10. Jumpstart Administrative Support for the Upcoming Year
    Your chapter’s attendance, recognition and achievements at PTK Catalyst are a great way to enhance your college’s reputation on a national level. Share what you learn at annual convention with your college administrator to gain his or her support for the year ahead.
  11. We’re Treating You to Dinner
    Your registration includes more than ever before — two lunches AND two dinners! Lunch and dinner on both Friday, April 20, and Saturday, April 21, are on us, as we connect you with Senior College representatives (see #4) and celebrate our centennial. We did mention we’re turning 100, right?

Registration for PTK Catalyst 2018 is now open! Register Now.
Need to do a little fundraising? We’ve got 18 helpful tips.
Travel details, including official PTK Catalyst hotels, are also now available. Plus, you’ll find 33 FREE things to do in Kansas City.

6 Ways PTK Helps Advisors Grow

Students aren’t the only ones who benefit from Phi Theta Kappa. — there are multiple opportunities for chapter advisors to grow personally and professionally.

“Our advisors give so generously of their time to their chapters — they ARE Phi Theta Kappa to many of our students,” said Jennifer Stanford, Phi Theta Kappa’s Associate Vice President of Student Engagement. “Our professional development opportunities for advisors serve two purposes: to show our sincere appreciation for all they do and to give them opportunities to strengthen their knowledge of Phi Theta Kappa’s programming.”

Here are six ways Phi Theta Kappa keeps its advisors growing and learning.

1. Teach in a New Environment

As a relatively new advisor at the Alpha Pi Chi Chapter at Eastern Shore Community College, Robin Rich-Coates wanted to learn more about Phi Theta Kappa. So, she applied to serve as a Faculty Scholar for Honors Institute — a role that would allow her to investigate the Honors Study Topic, train to facilitate discussions, and lead seminar groups at the event.

“I was accepted, and once I attended Honors [Institute], I was completely hooked on Phi Theta Kappa,” she said. “From then on, I was an ‘Honors junkie.'”

Rich-Coates now serves as the Associate Coordinator of the Virginia/West Virginia Region.

“These opportunities have served as professional development that I have used in running my chapter, teaching honors seminars on my campus, and helping the Virginia/West Virginia Region develop an honors program,” she said.

2. Check an Item Off Your Bucket List

Kenneth Kerr, advisor to the Alpha Delta Sigma Chapter at Frederick Community College in Maryland, was inspired to learn more about his ancestry following a Faculty Scholar Conference.

He knew that Phi Theta Kappa’s Mosal and Marshall Awards provided a $5,000 stipend to advisors for projects that lead to personal professional and leadership growth outside the classroom. So, he submitted a proposal that included traveling to Northern Ireland for one month to interview locals, research the history of Ireland, and continue his genealogical research and uncover the story of his family.

“Applying for the Mosal Award made me look deeper into what it was I wanted to do and how it would benefit me personally and professionally,” Kerr said. “Receiving the award made it possible to begin the first stage of a multi-year quest to visit the places my ancestors lived.”

3. Earn a Credential and Teach Students to Lead

Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Studies Program fosters personal and professional growth among advisors, hosting faculty certification seminars to prepare advisors to teach the program on their campuses.

“The skills, knowledge, and experience I’ve gained have me very excited to teach the class,” said Duane Oakes, advisor to the Omicron Beta Chapter at Mesa Community College in Arizona. “It has renewed my sense of the importance of leadership.”

More than 700 colleges have faculty, staff or administrators who have participated in a Leadership Instructor Certification Seminar. All advisors, regardless of their discipline or role on campus, may participate. It’s a chance to earn a valuable professional credential, advance their personal leadership journeys, and provide meaningful leadership development opportunities on their campuses.

4. Do Research and Get Published

Advisors may also apply to serve on Phi Theta Kappa’s Honors Program Council (HPC) to contribute their academic expertise to honors program development, engage in research and assist in publishing the Honors Program Guide.

Dr. Sauda Smith, advisor of the Beta Omicron Sigma Chapter at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the British Virgin Islands and a former HPC member, said the research aspect that goes into developing the Honors Study Topic and producing the Honors Program Guide has also been a valuable teaching tool for her.

“In a community college setting, we’re not often given the opportunity to do research and get published, unlike our colleagues in the universities,” she said. “The Honors Program Council enables you to create and contribute to the publication of a document that’s actually a teaching tool. It gives you an opportunity to use your intellect.”

Fellow former HPC member and advisor to the Alpha Upsilon Eta Chapter at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina Lisa York said the leadership skills and knowledge she has gained from interactions with other Council members have proven invaluable both for her and her students, making her a better teacher and advisor.

“My greatest lesson, perhaps, is learning to continually set goals and assess personal growth and professional growth, which we can easily forget to do when we are so focused on our students’ personal and professional growth,” she said.

5. Network (and Make Friends) with Fellow Advisors

Phi Theta Kappa events offer an incredible opportunity for advisors to network with other professionals and to share experiences with their peers.

For example, that first Honors Institute began a long-lasting connection between Rich-Coates and Phi Theta Kappa. Since then, she has logged many a mile traveling to regional meetings, chapter events, international conventions, Honors Institutes, leadership instructor certifications and more. Each trip has brought her a greater knowledge of the organization, support for her roles as advisor and instructor, and a larger network of colleagues she calls friends.

“Advisors learn from each other, support each other, and form the infrastructure that holds Phi Theta Kappa together,” she said. “Emails, social media and other electronic channels have helped improve communications, but there is no comparison to the face-to-face meetings.”

Advisors who lack financial support from their colleges may apply for scholarships to participate in Society programs and events, such as the Leadership Development Program and PTK Catalyst. In addition, Phi Theta Kappa covers expenses for those who serve as Faculty Scholars, members of the Honors Program Council, and Regional Coordinators.

6. Change a Student’s Life

Many of the benefits of serving as a chapter advisor are intangible — they often include the joy and sense of accomplishment in seeing students succeed and knowing that you played a part in that success.

Jefferson State Community College alumna Valerie Castrillon is now an aeronautical engineer and team leader at Airbus, but she didn’t always have the confidence to land her dream job. She never thought she’d be capable of joining an honor society, but her advisor, Dr. Liesl Harris, saw something in her — even encouraging her to serve as chapter president.

“This is just one example of what we hear every day about how Phi Theta Kappa changes lives,” Harris said. “The skills Valerie learned and the confidence she gained are serving her well.”

Michaelann Allen, advisor of the Alpha Epsilon Omega Chapter at North Seattle Community College, agrees.

“Phi Theta Kappa has such an underlying support for everyone,” she said. “Anything that can give people an opportunity for growth and improvement, that’s what PTK does.”

Hosting a College Transfer Fair

hosted by Mia Ramos

Description: Hosting college transfer fairs provides members a unique opportunity to meet with representatives of colleges and universities and to learn about Phi Theta Kappa scholarships. They can also provide a unique fundraising opportunity. Join leaders from the Texas Region and the New England Regional Alumni Association to learn more about best practices for hosting college transfer fairs.

Panelists: Mary Linder, Debbie Esparza, Julie Larkin, Jodi LeBel-Christian, Sarah Reynolds