By Sofia Lynch
Phi Theta Kappa: it’s a name known throughout Washtenaw Community College’s campus, and internationally at that. However, this organization’s true purpose stills goes unknown by many. Due to the organization’s greek-rooted name, it has become a common misconception that PTK is a fraternity or sorority – but that is far from the case.
“Phi Theta Kappa is an international honors society, that’s a cohort of community college students all across the world,” described Davon Shackleford, the president of WCC’s PTK chapter.
The honor society offers a platform for like-minded students to put their heads together. 20-year-old international student, Christian Thompson, cited that meeting people with the same mindset and academic goals was his favorite part about the organization.
“The fact that you have people who are working hard helps motivate you, and it’s a good kind of networking connection,” Thompson said.
“Being a member and coming to our meetings, it’s an opportunity to have a dialogue across the disciplines,” Shackleford said. “I mean, you’re talking about the top students in each of the fields. We’re the students who are going to be the leaders of tomorrow and that’s what PTK is about.”
To be a PTK member, a student must have a minimum 3.5 GPA and have completed 12 hours of coursework. WCC students who meet these requirements will usually receive invitations, welcoming them to join the organization. 3,000 WCC students are eligible to join, according to Alexandria Judkins, the coordinator of student organizations and adviser of the organization.
However, many students, including Judkins herself when she first started, don’t notice their PTK invite amongst all the spam they receive and miss it in the depths of their inboxes.
“I got an email and I remember I was like, ‘it’s just some junk mail,’ and I deleted it,” Judkins said. “Right now we’re trying to get the message out to more people because I notice that it’s a common theme, from when I started – I didn’t know what it was about, never really heard of it, so that’s what we’re really trying to do is have people be aware of this wonderful opportunity.”
Membership to this organization goes beyond networking with fellow academic high achievers. There are benefits that come with the membership that help to encourage continued education, like scholarships.
According to PTK’s website, there are $87 million worth of scholarships available only to PTK members. One means of accessing these scholarships is the PTK exclusive website, collegefish.org.
“There have been multiple PTK members that have used this website to get so many scholarships that they never have to pay for college,” Judkins said.
Not only does being a PTK member help financially with continuing education, but it also boosts up applications and on your transcripts it says you’re a PTK member – something four-year colleges love to see, according to Judkins.
Inspiring fellow community college students to continue education is one of the main goals of the organization, according to Shackleford. PTK’s Commit to Complete event, which is still in the planning stages, is geared to encourage two-year students to commit to finishing their degree, ending with signing an agreement to do so.
Along with that event, PTK’s orientation for prospective members is another one of their big undertakings of the year, and their biggest recruitment point. Through this event, eligible students learn more about the organization and have a chance to ask questions.
Participation in PTK, however, is not solely saved for those invitees. Even those who haven’t been invited are welcome to attend meetings and events.
“We do open our doors to students who are interested in becoming PTK members… We can always help you and find resources for you to help to improve to become a PTK member,” Judkins said of those who haven’t yet hit the GPA requirement.
To officially obtain membership status, there is a one-time $90 entrance fee that must be paid. After one has paid this fee, the PTK membership stays with them for the rest of their lives, with no further payments.
“All the experiences I’ve had, has paid that off,” Judkins said of her membership, since 2011.
“It’s one of those honor societies where you join and you definitely feel like your life is going to be transformed,” Thompson said. “They have important faculty members that could inspire you and motivate you and also you know they reach out to students who are doing extremely well in school, giving them the opportunity to go ahead and reach their goal in life. They basically strive to help you succeed.”
PTK meets every Thursday from 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. in TI 128. Those who have been invited and are looking to become involved can contact the officers at firstname.lastname@example.org, and learn more on PTK’s Campus Connect page.