Jackson, Mississippi – The West Williamson Scholarship, established in memory of a long-time staff member of Phi Theta Kappa, has enabled an Alabama chapter of Phi Theta Kappa to participate in the Society’s Annual International Convention for the first time.
The Beta Upsilon Xi Chapter was able to attend Phi Theta Kappa’s Annual Convention for the first time thanks to the West Williamson Scholarship.
The Beta Upsilon Xi Chapter at J.F. Drake State Technical College in Alabama was selected to receive the first West Williamson Scholarship, which provided registration and travel expenses for one member and one advisor to attend NerdNation 2014, the Society’s Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida, April 24-26. Chartered in 2013, this was the chapter’s first opportunity to send representatives to a Phi Theta Kappa international event.
The Phi Theta Kappa Foundation announced in 2013 that the Society would honor the memory of long-time staff member West Williamson by establishing the West Williamson Convention Scholarship Endowment, which will provide annual scholarships for an advisor and member from a newly-chartered chapter to attend the Annual Convention of Phi Theta Kappa.
Williamson was currently serving as Phi Theta Kappa’s project manager for information technology at the time of his death on June 25, 2013, at the age of 45, having served Phi Theta Kappa for 23 years.
He began his career with the Center for Excellence as a part-time staff member while attending Holmes Community College, where he earned membership in Phi Theta Kappa. Williamson transferred to Delta State University on a Society scholarship, graduated, and returned to work with the organization full time. He served in many key leadership roles – including information technology, membership services, and chapter programs. Phi Theta Kappa was the only organization with which Williamson worked during professional career.
“The West Williamson convention scholarship afforded the Beta Upsilon Xi chapter with a marvelous opportunity to be exposed to the entire Phi Theta Kappa community,” said chapter advisor Khalid Holmes. “The information gained will increase our ability to become a successful chapter as well as progressive members of our campus community and that of the world.”
Dr. Nancy Rieves, CEO of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, said creating and naming the scholarship for Williamson was a way to honor his great contributions to the Society over 23 years as an alumnus and staff member.
“West touched the lives of both students and advisors, and knew the importance of early engagement of chapters,” Rieves said. “Fittingly, he was responsible for chartering chapters and the launch of convention scholarships for advisors given each year. Encouraging newly chartered chapters to attend the Annual Convention increases their chance of active participation in the full ‘Phi Theta Kappa Experience’ for years to come.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Williamson Scholarship Endowment in memory of Williamson may do so by visiting the Foundation website, mailing a check to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation office at 1625 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS 39211 with the memo line marked West Williamson Scholarship, or by phoning the Foundation with a credit card payment at 601.987.5507.
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, plus Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, Peru, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. Nearly 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 131,000 students inducted annually.