Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors Program

Where Bright Minds Come Together

Audrey Bimbi, Cactus Contributor

Change ushers in the creation of the most beautiful memories of our lives. Although it may be an uneasy transition, coming out of your comfort zone consequently brings you to the realization that your strengths overwhelm your weaknesses, all you have to do is give them a platform to shine on. I went through such a change when I joined Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society (PTK) and the CAC Honors Program, respectively. Not knowing anything about either of them, other than the fact that the grades on my transcript had something to with my invitations, I blindly walked into one of the best decisions of my life. I will tell you this much though, I had to go in with an open mind; I had been discouraged many a times by people who kept telling me that paying the one-time membership fee for PTK was a waste of money and time, that joining the Honors Program meant nothing but an extra load of work. Sure, I could have gone with what they said and let a great, life-building opportunity pass me by, but something did not settle well with me about the “advice” I was getting. First of all, most of these people had never even been to a PTK meeting, or even the orientation for that matter, nor had they ever attempted to apply for the CAC Honors Program. Second, all I heard was how I would be wasting time and money, yet no one told me about the benefits I would get out of PTK and the Honors Program. Well, guess what? Today, I am going to do for you what I wish someone would have done for me; opening your eyes to the life-changing opportunities and experiences that PTK and the Honors Program provide.

Now, first of all, let me be the one to tell you that you do not necessarily have to be in both, you can have one without the other. This is because CAC Honors is an internal program that mainly focuses on the enrichment of your academic journey at the college. You get to be in a class of at most 20 students who are like-minded in the sense that they support the growth of their researching and critical thinking skills. In this class, instead of being told what to write or how to write it, you have the opportunity to choose your own project, which you will work on for two semesters. This is known as the Honors Colloquia. The best part about this is that, not only will you be able to choose the direction of your own project in any area of your interest, you get to work with the director of the Honors Program, Dr. Carol Johnson (oh, how she saved my project so many times), and a mentor of your own choosing as well, preferably someone who is familiar with your area of research. The most important thing you will gain from the Honors Program is that, while your success depends on your determination and heart to learn, you will not have to fight your way through alone. With the help of your classmates, mentor, and Dr. Johnson, it is only a matter of time until you realize just how possible it is for you to complete your project and accomplish your set goals. You also get the chance to choose three courses to take for honors credit when you take the honors seminars after completing the colloquia. For each seminar, all you have to do is work on a project related to the class you are taking it with; in place of Dr. Johnson, you will have a seminar instructor with whom you meet with once a week. I believe that the main goal of the seminars is to expose to a four-year university kind of environment; your instructors will not be reminding you when to submit your assignments, you have to manage your time all by yourself. Looks like the Honors program’s got your back on that one.

So, how does Phi Theta Kappa differ from the Honors program? While the Honors program invites you to enrich your skills, PTK’s invitation is geared towards celebrating you for all the work that you do. This is where you go to have fun and just embrace the genius that you are! That’s right, fun. What? Nerds have fun, too! You also get the opportunity to build your resume while you are at it; PTK exposes you to a ton of volunteering and fellowship activities that you can include on your college resume. Nowadays, making it into a university takes more than just your GPA; your cocurricular and extracurricular activities portray you as the kind of student who brings something to the institution, other than just going there to get a degree and leave. I believe that students are an extension of their institution on and off campus; therefore, it is important to have students who show in interest in cultivating skills other than those academic-related. Because of the experience I have had, I can boldly say, joining PTK is one of the best decisions I ever made. In the two years that I have been with my fellow “Kappans,” I have improved my resume immensely with activities that would have taken me four or so years. The other thing that makes PTK awesome is the fact that it allows to get you involved whenever you can, which means that you do not have to sacrifice the things you love for it (it’s not a cult or sorority, people).

Some of the greatest moments of my life have come from being an Honors Program student and Phi Theta Kappan. I became more aware of the fact that the change I wish to experience begins when I take the initiative to try something new. Of course, I still am shy and get nervous about a lot of things, but taking the Honors Colloquia taught me how to fight and stop that from showing on the outside. Also, going to PTK regional conventions and the Honors Institute has motivated me to believe that I am capable of influencing change and motivating others to do the same. Above all, from both the Honors Program and PTK, I have learned leadership does not mean exerting authority over other people or being the one who knows all. Rather, it is serving those around you with a heart that’s strong enough to realize there are other things more important than fear. Don’t just take it from me, experience it for yourself. Trust me, you have a lot to gain!document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);