Phi Theta Kappa’s 2021-2022 International Officer team is as diverse as the more than 300,000 active members they represent. Each brings different perspectives and life experiences to the team as they work together to impact the mission, strategic plan, and vision of the organization during the 2021-2022 academic year.
Serving as an International Officer is an experience like none other. Throughout the year the team will connect with members at local, regional, and international events, providing professional development. Individually, each officer benefits from personal and professional development opportunities to prepare them for success in their next steps in life — whether they will be transferring and continuing their education or entering directly into the workforce.
Get to know more about this year’s team here, and you just might see a little of yourself in them as well.
Tala Alahmar, International President
Oakland Community College, Michigan
Growing up in a country torn apart by civil war, Tala’s dreams of a college education and a career helping people were just that – dreams. That changed in 2018 when she and her family fled Syria for the U.S.
Now as a student at Oakland Community College, Tala is working toward her goal of earning a degree in international relations and political science. Ultimately, she dreams of becoming an advocate for human rights and world peace as a United Nations ambassador.
Since fostering world peace can be serious business, Tala balances it with activities that allow her to relax and have fun. She loves binge-watching Friends, enjoys spending time with her family, and unwinds with a good ball of yarn while crocheting.
Her bucket list includes visiting the houses in New Zealand that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit Village. When she’s craving comfort food, it’s shawarma for her, hands down, and take her word for it, “hot Cheetos are better than Takis. Period.”
Bri Barone, International Vice President – Division I
Anne Arundel Community College, Maryland
Family and music are big in Bri’s life. At a young age, her dad and grandfather taught her the beauty of making music. Today, she plays a mean harmonica, plus seven other instruments! Music is her stress reliever, but what makes it even better, according to Bri, is that she gets to share the experience with her dad.
Bri is a first-generation college student majoring in Secondary Education in English at Anne Arundel Community College. In her freshman year, she realized her passion for teaching while tutoring her classmates. She’s had several influential teachers throughout her education and wants to do the same for her students.
“I remember the impact my sixth-grade English teacher left on me and how his teachings got me through some rough times in my life,” she said. “I would love to give that back to my future students.”
A self-proclaimed British literature nerd, she’s dreams of visiting London, England. She’d love to see the sights and scenes from some of her favorite television programs Doctor Who and Sherlock. And when it comes to favorite foods, nothing beats an old-fashioned Maryland crab cake, except maybe sushi, so give her both.
Sadokat Khakimova, International Vice President – Division II
San Jacinto College, Texas
Sadokat Khakimova, Saddy to her friends, grew up in the sunny, central Asian country of Uzbekistan. Always inquisitive and eager to learn, she began taking computer coding classes at the age of 15 to explore computer science as a career.
In 2018, she immigrated to the U.S. and enrolled in San Jacinto College as a mathematics major. She not only wants to pursue a career in STEM but also wants to mentor other women like her to increase the number of women in STEM fields.
This STEM student has an artsy side too and enjoys painting.
“Painting helps me color outside of the box and challenges my creativity,” she said. “When I struggle to express my feelings toward a person or situation, I paint and release any positive or negative adrenalin.”
She speaks four languages, can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 90 seconds, and is a fan of The Big Bang Theory. She believes that traveling is one of the best investments one can make in self-improvement. Throughout her travels, she’s tasted a variety of cuisine, but the food she craves most is anything made by her mom, thanks to two unique ingredients she adds – love and passion.
Catreese Qualls, International Vice President, Division III
Schoolcraft College, Michigan
Ask non-traditional student Catreese Qualls her favorite PTK Hallmark, and she’ll say service without a moment’s hesitation. In fact, her drive to serve others led her to major in social work/sociology at Schoolcraft College in Michigan.
“The biggest factor in deciding to enter the field of social work was seeing that there was such a huge gap in access to resources among minority populations with even greater degrees among those falling at or below the poverty level,” she said.
Her ultimate career goal is to become a representative for marginalized populations with a government or non-profit agency.
Friends describe Catreese as outgoing and courageous, yet she says that despite being able to talk to others and share her story, she’s very shy.
As someone who suffers from mental health issues, she challenges herself daily to stare adversity in the face and not be overcome by it, refusing to be a statistic, stereotype, or victim of the disease. She finds happiness in enjoying a lavender latte with her daughters, chasing sunsets, and photography. Fattoush with falafel tops her list of favorite foods along with the occasional guilty pleasure – hot, golden French fries!
International Vice President – Division IV
At only 17 years old, Taylor is already making history. In April, she became PTK’s first international officer to be dually enrolled in high school and college, plus the first International Officer from Hawaii.
To Taylor, being a leader means being a voice for people. She’s practiced these skills by serving as the voice of her student body at Waipahu High School. And, with career plans focused on equity law or civil rights policy, we expect to see more history making in her future.
She gets her happiness fix from cuddling with her puppy Mocha. With this mischievous pup around, it’s a good thing that Taylor has the talent for sleeping with her eyes open to catch all of Mocha’s antics. She also enjoys evening walks with her family, which can be pretty picturesque since Hawaii is home base for the Fukunaga family.
An accomplished athlete, she enjoys softball, dance, and martial arts.
“I could spend all day at the softball field with my friends and family,” she said. “I find joy in competing with my teammates that I get to call my closest friends and making new friends within the softball community.”
Softball also goes hand in hand with one of her favorite foods – pepperoni pizza, best shared with her teammates after a game.
She’s had the good fortune to visit the wonders of Japan and experience the magic of Disneyland in California, so what tops her bucket list? Combining the two at Disneyland Tokyo, of course!