A dozen Parkland students and I hopped into a Parkland bus and headed south to Frontier College and Mt. Vernon this past weekend. It was Phi Theta Kappa’s 2015 Illinois Regional Convention. This was the largest Parkland group ever to attend a regional or international meeting! Phi Theta Kappa is the official honor society for two-year colleges. Membership is by invitation only, and to be eligible, students must complete at least 12 hours of 100-level coursework and have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale).
Along for the ride were our chapter’s four outgoing chapter officers: Jenny Olmsted (President), Kyle Harriger (Executive Vice President), Kalista Lutes (Vice President of Leadership), and Sarah Pawlicki (Vice President of Communications). We also had eight new members along for the road trip: Jordan Bidner, Danielle Carter, Megan Counter, Courtney Davis, Ashely Eisenmenger, Erin Kristovich, Victoria Price, and Danielle Segerstrom. Jenny and I each presented educational forums at the convention, some of us tried pork burgers (a southern Illinois staple), and on Saturday, we attended the regional banquet and award ceremony.
Alpha Psi Eta chapter had a really big night! We received the following recognitions:
- Five Star Chapter (this was announced at International, but we received the certificate at Regional);
- Hall of Honor Chapter Officer Award for Kyle Harriger;
- Outstanding Chapter Officer Award for Jenny Olmsted;
- Regional Spirit Award for Jenny Olmsted;
- Regional Leader of Distinction Award for Kalista Lutes;
- Mary Anne Player Award for co-hosting, with Kankakee Community College, last year’s Illinois Region Honors Institute and Leadership Conference;
- Illinois Advisor Continued Excellence Award for yours truly (I was the only Illinois advisor to receive this);
- First place in the Regional Yearbook Competition (our yearbook was designed and constructed by Kalista Lutes, and the award gives us three free registrations to next October’s Regional Honors Institute and Leadership Conference);
- Honors in Action Project Award;
- College Project Award; and
- Outstanding Chapter Award.
We have never received this many regional awards. The awards represent a year’s worth of complex programming and activities—a lot of hard work by the chapter officers and members. To add some perspective, there are 57 total chapters in Illinois (we include a few private and tech schools). Many chapters in Illinois receive no awards. Those that do are most likely to receive individual awards. Only 8-10 chapters receive regional chapter awards (Honors in Action, College Project, or Outstanding Chapter). Only five Illinois chapters—including us—received all three of these. The Outstanding Chapter award is based on a chapter’s combined scores for both Honors in Action and College Project awards.
All of our chapter officers but one graduated and are moving on, so the new school year will find us with an all-new officer team. Phi Theta Kappa offers so many opportunities for personal growth, leadership development, and fun for its active members—who wouldn’t want to stay involved? We will have some meetings and social events over the summer, including a summer sport social, and we are hosting a region-wide Leadership Development and Officer Training Academy at Parkland on July 17. Even though I am off campus for the summer, Phi Theta Kappans keep me hopping!
I want to extend a special thank you to this amazing outgoing officer team and former chapter president, Amber Simmons, for all their hard work and for keeping me going during some extraordinarily trying times on the home front. You guys ROCK—but I’ve told you that often and you each know how proud I am of you.
It’s been a great year! If you want to see pictures from our experiences or follow us, you can find us on Facebook (Phi Theta Kappa ~ Alpha Psi Eta). And if you are a Parkland student and you meet the eligibility requirements, why not embrace your inner nerd and join us?
[Top image: Copyright © 2015 by Phi Theta Kappa. All rights reserved. None of the official Phi Theta Kappa logos and emblems may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Phi Theta Kappa. Phi Theta Kappa has registered the name, logo, and various titles herein with the U.S. Patent Office.]