Club provides opportunities for scholarships, more

Sam Lipp, Lamp staff

Lincoln Land has many different organizations and clubs that students can join on campus, but none may be as prestigious as Phi Theta Kappa, also known as PTK.

“PTK was a great way to get involved at LLCC,” said Catherine Whittler, a former member who graduated in 2017. “I had the opportunity to travel and work on multiple projects that helped me develop leadership and project management skills that went beyond the classroom and make plenty of new friends along the way.”

Whittler joined PTK her first year at LLCC and loved the environment it created for her and the opportunities it allowed for her.

“I love PTK because it pushes community college students to achieve both academically and professionally,” Whittler said. “I did not expect an opportunity like this when I first started at Lincoln Land and I would encourage anyone who wonders if joining is worth it to just do it and get involved in something bigger.”

PTK is an honor society for students who are enrolled in two-year colleges throughout the world that recognizes academic achievement.

The organization has chapters in the British Virgin Islands, Canada, Germany, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Peru and Palau.

PTK offers many different opportunities for students attending colleges such as transfer scholarships, new friendships and leadership skills that can last someone a lifetime.

To become a member of PTK, you must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher at LLCC, must have earned at least 12 credit hours at LLCC and must currently be enrolled in a class at LLCC. Joining the club after meeting the requirements is as easy as checking your email and seeing if PTK has sent you a message – generally about one month after the semester has begun – to see if you have met the entry requirements. After that, you need just to pay a one-time membership fee of $75.

Claire Gordon, professor of speech communications, took over advising PTK in 2014, where she helps to organize meetings and membership.

In 2018, PTK set up a pledge board in the A.Lincoln Commons in which members had students sign their names and pledge to finish their degree at LLCC, Gordon said. Small events like these can help inspire students to hold themselves to something.

“By pledging to the board and actually writing down a commitment to finish students are more likely to carry on with their studies because it makes them feel included in something bigger,” Gordon said.

Gordon loves leading PTK at LLCC because she likes to see the students grow and learn with each other as leaders and create a sense of community within the college.

“It’s good to be in an organization that wants to make a change in the community and create leadership skills that can last the students through their whole life,” Gordon said.

The community project, hosted by PTK in 2018, was a diaper drive for the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery Center in Springfield. The center is for children who were raised in abusive homes and drug-abused homes, offering them a safe place to grow up.

PTK led the drive and collected donations from staff and students who were willing to give. The LLCC chapter collected diapers, cleaning supplies, and canned goods that would all help the kids at the center who are in need.

Current president of the LLCC chapter, Ryan Archibald, credits PTK for allowing him to network with other students and communicate better.

“As the president of an organization, I will have to communicate with faculty and other students and PTK has always been a high priority of mine while attending LLCC, Archibald said. “The hallmarks of scholarship, leadership, fellowship and service have helped me become a more well-rounded individual as it has for many other students, as well.”

PTK will be holding their induction ceremony for new members on April 22 in the Trutter Center at LLCC.

There are about 600 students currently eligible for PTK and about 200 current members.

Former PTK member Whittler now double majors in supply chain management and marketing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a scholarship that she earned through PTK. She said the skills and tools she learned with PTK have helped her at lengths when tackling new projects in her academics.

She says the friends that she made along the way are one of her favorite parts of the organization. One of her chapter friends is Josie Smith.

Smith said that PTK allowed her to build the leadership skills she is using to be a teaching (Edit: teacher’s?) assistant at SIUE in biological sciences. She also said that earning a scholarship from PTK helped her attend her first-choice university.

Sam Lipp can be reached at [email protected]