Garrett College PTK Gets Regional Award at National Conference

Garrett College’s Alpha Omicron Phi Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society was represented recently at the 2013 National Conference by club advisor Krista McKenzie and co-president Heather Singell. During the initial session, the Middle States Regional Meeting, they were presented with the Regional Award for achieving a One Star level in the Chapter Development Plan. This was the first time in the history of the Garrett College chapter that any of its members attended the national conference.

“We were shocked to learn of the award. We had no idea we would be recognized,” McKenzie said. She explained that Phi Theta Kappa chapters have five levels of engagement that progress from local, campus involvement to regional involvement to international involvement. The Development Plan is to be used to guide the chapter through successive levels to build a strong, active chapter. Chapters set a goal of how many stars they aspire to achieve. Each star requires completion of a set of tasks that involve scholarship, leadership, and service. “GC’s chapter has set a goal of three stars for this academic year and had already achieved one in the months of September through December. So we were recognized by the Region for achieving our first star completion. It is the first time GC has earned a star,” McKenzie added.

Garrett’s chapter of PTK had submitted an application prior to the conference and was selected to receive one of only 15 conference scholarships offered to the membership.The scholarship package, valued at $673, covered registration fees for me and my chapter member Heather to participate in the Phi Theta Kappa Academy on April 4, as well as registration fees for the Annual Convention, April 4-6,” McKenzie explained.

Following a theme of “Your Way to Completion” the conference offered three days of educational forums on topics ranging from society programs to college completion and personal development. Two rounds of Forums were presented each day of the Convention by staff experts and chapters recognized for setting the standards for excellence in Phi Theta Kappa. “We knew it would be very informative and very worthwhile to take part in the national event,” McKenzie said.

However, there still remained enormous hurdles to overcome in order to attend the conference. “Because the conference was on the West Coast, we had to come up with almost $2500 to cover airfare, hotel rooms, and food. We made a request to the Garrett College Foundation Board for any assistance they could provide,” McKenzie said.

GC Foundation Executive Director Cherie Krug invited McKenzie to appear before the board to explain the mission and answer some questions. “I was shocked to find that one Board member was willing to make a very generous donation to pay for the airfare and the Foundation granted the remainder that we would need to cover the hotel. Without their generosity, none of this could ever have happened. I am so completely grateful to them! I almost cried when they conducted the vote with me right there in the room,” she said.

But the generosity and support did not end there. Bryon Bowman, manager of Jearbyro’s Restaurant who provides the food service at the Laker Café on campus, stepped in and offered to help PTK do a hoagie sale to cover the cost of meals and travel to the airport. “We were able to make over $200 to help with the expenses,” McKenzie reported.

The GC Phi Theta Kappa members were amazed, according to McKenzie. “All these people came together to support us.  Without the generosity of so many people at Garrett College and in our community, none of this could have ever been possible. This experience definitely opened a whole new window of opportunity for our students to continue to excel in leadership, service, and academics,” she said.

Singell and McKenzie agreed that attending the conference was a worthwhile experience. They had the opportunity to mingle with over 4,000 of the nation’s best and brightest students and to share information. “We will bring that creativity and those ideas back to our chapter at GC so it can be the best it can possibly be,” Singell said.

To be eligible for membership in PTK, a student must complete a minimum of twelve hours of associate degree course work and earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Club membership is open to both full and part time students. For more information on the Garrett College Chapter of PTK one may contact Krista McKenzie at 301-387-3022. To donate to the Chapter, one may visit the Garrett College Foundation’s website at
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