Story by Ryan Tipper
Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) is an international honors society for two-year colleges aimed at recognizing academic achievement in students and giving them opportunities to volunteer in the community and receive scholarships.
Whatcom Community College’s chapter is called Alpha Xi Nu, and is made up of roughly 20 students who actively participate in PTK events. Alpha Xi Nu is also supported by two advisors. These members of Whatcom’s PTK have taken it upon themselves to make their college experience, campus and local community a better place.
Maya Monroe and Samantha Williams are the current co-presidents of PTK and work consistently as a team when running the day to day operations.
“Our role as co-presidents is to be able to connect members to scholarships and other volunteer opportunities,” Monroe said. “We also enable PTK officers to use our budget for big events or creative ideas that they present to us.”
Whatcom’s chapter of PTK is student operated and the large amount of work and coordination that the group is faced with is dispersed between the co-presidents as well as each officer. These officers cover a wide range of responsibilities that directly relate to PTK’s core goals.
“When we first took on the job [as co-presidents], we wanted to focus a lot on service,” Williams said. “Reaching out to the community and campus and changing things that the officers are interested in was and is our goal.”
“We have a lot more control over the aspects we choose to follow,” Williams said. “It has helped me to grow as a leader when we get to decide what we want to pursue.”
The four main goals that PTK chooses to represent are fellowship, service, leadership and scholarship.
Monroe and Williams attended a PTK conference a few months ago which included members from Alaska, Canada, Montana, Northern Idaho, and Washington. They said they were able to get a better view of what “advisor driven chapters are like and how much less flexible they are from Whatcom’s.”
One of the past events led by PTK directly focusing on their goal of service was the Red Cross Bake Sale for Hurricane Sandy Relief. This event, as stated in its title, was a fundraiser that was able to raise relief money for those suffering from Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.
Another core goal that PTK focuses on is scholarships. “Roughly $30 million worth of scholarship money is up for grabs to all active member of PTK across the country.” Monroe said.
While competition is always heated when competing for scholarships, PTK has resources open to its members that help grant them an edge if they are willing to put in the time to look.
A Whatcom PTK membership includes a network of fellow students who have been previously involved as well as being successful in attaining some of the scholarships made available to PTK members.
“We like to keep our chapter as open as possible.” Williams said. “We work as a support group whether you’re looking for scholarship guidance or are just stressed out.”
PTK holds meetings every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. on Whatcom’s campus, where members discuss new scholarship opportunities and plan upcoming events. One event that is currently being organized is “Garbage Week.” This event will help bring awareness to the local community about the waste that students create on campus and how they can better dispose of it.
To be invited into Whatcom’s chapter of PTK, a student must hold a grade point average of 3.5 or above, but being interested in supporting the campus or community will still allow you to play a part.
“Anyone can come to us with an idea for an event,” Williams said. “Whether student or club led, we will listen to it and see if it’s in our budget to get it off the ground and running.”
Monroe and Williams said that their “by the people, for the people” system that they exercise has been working successfully and continues to help inspire and create new ideas within PTK.
If you are invited and wish to join PTK, there is an “introduction ceremony for all new inductees,” Monroe said. Usually, all new and current members will attend this ceremony, as will a faculty guest speaker.
One thing PTK’s co-presidents emphasized is what a student can get out of being a PTK member. They said the high amount of scholarship opportunities as well as feeling good about the community and campus that all the members are a part of is key.
“It looks great on your transcript and resume for applying for work,” Monroe said. “PTK membership really is for life.”