When Lillyan Haack grew up in Illinois, she was always searching for turtles and snakes around the creek near her home and watching conservationists Steve Irwin and his daughter Bindi on TV. The more she learned about global warming, the more she became concerned about the earth, its oceans, and the ecosystems they support.
While attending Northeast Texas Community College (NTCC), Lillyan excelled as a student, earning a 4.0 grade point average as she pursued a major in biology. Soon she received an invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa.
To most a $60 membership fee doesn’t seem like much, but for a struggling college student it’s enough to create a barrier to the recognition and the myriad of opportunities PTK has to offer.
“For me, the decision to join PTK was difficult because I knew that the required fee payment could be used in other ways like buying food,” Lillyan said. “I was disappointed when I thought I wouldn’t be able to join.
“But the Golden Opportunity Scholarship changed that. After receiving the scholarship, I immediately signed up and became involved with as many projects as possible.”
PTK’s Golden Opportunity Scholarship waives the $60 international membership fee for students. The award is given to hundreds of in-need students twice a year and is funded largely through donations from advisors, members, alumni, and friends to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation.
In September, the Foundation will host its first PTK Scholar Dash, a virtual 5K aiming to raise $30,000 to fund Golden Opportunity Scholarships for 500 more students.
“I’m running for students like Lillyan,” said former PTK International President Kevin Braden. “I have experienced the benefits of membership firsthand and want them to be available to as many qualified students as possible.”
Lillyan achieved level four in PTK’s Competitive Edge professional development program and served as vice president of communications for her chapter. She was also a member of the Bio-Chem Club and the founder/president of her college’s Environmental Club.
While at NTCC, Lillyan worked as a dormitory resident assistant and a biology tutor/lab assistant in addition to volunteering at a local animal rescue organization. But her accomplishments didn’t stop there.
She participated in an eight-week summer internship program at a nationally recognized wildlife rescue center just outside of St. Louis and was chosen to serve as an ambassador in the Texas State Parks Program.
In 2018 Lillyan was one of only 10 students nationwide selected to receive the Pearson Scholarship and PTK’s Hites Scholarship. She presented her paper, “Saving the Spirit of the West,” at a meeting of the World History Association.
As a student ambassador for the People2People program, Lillyan earned a scuba certification and explored the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. She hopes to build a career working with animals and the environment.
How you can help: Register to run/walk between September 15-30 for Scholar Dash, PTK’s first Virtual 5K! Choose your course and pace to support Golden Opportunity Scholarships.