April 28, 2020
Phi Theta Kappa students recently attended the first ever virtual international convention, Catalyst, on April 16-17. The international convention was originally going to be held outside Dallas, Texas in early April but had to be rescheduled as a virtual event due to COVID-19. Both of Cowley College’s Alpha Gamma Upsilon chapter officers, Priscilla Bianchini (pictured) and Childress Rittle, as well as advisor Jennifer Rupp, attended the convention online.
While not as extensive as the regular convention, the virtual event still had five hours of activities plus many social media tie-ins. On Thursday, the international PTK officers kicked off the event with an awards presentation and the International Presidential Address by James Elliott. Elliot spoke of his own obstacles to becoming a successful student. He emphasized that “no choices are inconsequential” in life, but we can choose to take a new path. To those graduating this year, he advised them not to think of it as an ending, but the “beginning of our next chapter.”
Elliot was followed by two keynote speakers, Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner and Erica Dhawan. Dr. Tincher-Ladner, Phi Theta Kappa President and CEO, presented on the new Honors in Action topic of inheritance and legacy. She reviewed the characteristics of all the current generations. As a community college, we see and interact with many students of different generations, which should be seen as an advantage. She said, “Diverse experiences and backgrounds allow new ideas to develop.”
Dhawan then ended the night by talking about the power of networks, especially right now as everyone works to connect in new and interesting ways during the pandemic. She talked about the innovative programs’ college students have developed in just the last month and challenged our students to be creative, asking, “How can you get big things done during this time of curiosity?”
On Friday, students were involved in selection of the new international officers by attending the candidates’ speeches before voting for the next year’s representatives of the organization.
The keynote speaker on Friday was Dr. Boris Konrad, who provided some fun ways to increase memory and create a memory palace. He said, “Great memory is achievable” for anyone. He emphasized that he was not born with better memory than anyone else, but he has learned tricks to increase his memory capacity. Attendees were offered free additional training courses on memory to complete after the convention. These skills can help students succeed in their academic, professional, and personal lives. The event ended with the announcement of the new international officers for 2020.
Cowley College student and PTK President, Priscilla Bianchini, said, “My experience with the PTK Catalyst 2020 was different because for the first time was virtual. I believe that was a challenge for them to maintain the same experience for PTK members. But it worked! I could watch very good speeches from my laptop in real time and I could watch the honor awards. Of course, we were sad to not be able to travel, interact with other people, or and be in a special ceremony. But hard times are challenging for everyone, and it was time to show our teamwork as much as we can and support each other. Besides all obstacles, they did a great job and I was glad to be able to participate in it.”
Attending Catalyst further motivated Cowley College’s PTK members to continue working on their own college project despite not being on campus.
“The semester didn't finish and we need to continue doing our job and continue to be an example to future members,” Bianchini said.
The PTK members are preparing to start a student shuttle that runs to Walmart once a week next year. Many students on campus do not have reliable transportation, making it difficult to get groceries and supplies. This shuttle will help support Cowley College’s mission, its students, and the community.