Hill College PTK chapter wins regional, national awards

  Jessyca Brown
  Thursday, April 29, 2021 8:29 AM
  Student Activities

Hillsboro, TX

Hill College’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK), Nu Xi, received several awards during the society’s virtual Texas Regional Convention in March and PTK Catalyst National Convention in April.

Nu Xi earned its first-ever REACH Rewards, an esteemed national distinction for the chapter’s 2020 recruitment efforts and membership growth. PTK established the awards program (Recognizing Excellence in Acceptance and Completion with Honors) in 2016 to reward chapters that meet or exceed a membership acceptance rate of 15 percent. The acceptance rate is determined by the chapter’s membership totals, the number of eligible students, and the enrollment totals for the chapter’s college.

Despite the global pandemic, the Nu Xi chapter inducted 45 new members in 2020. All Nu Xi members will be rewarded with free graduation stoles as a result of these efforts.

“To achieve 15 percent membership from all potential members or invitees is impressive even without social restrictions,” said chapter advisor and Hill College psychology instructor Jim Williamson. “But when you factor in the many COVID-19 protocols requiring us to plan and organize primarily through virtual efforts, it demonstrates the relentless efforts of our officers and members to overcome any obstacle for the chapter’s success.”

Chapter advisor and Hill College drama instructor Dr. Jennifer Corder said it took some changes to the recruiting process to achieve the 15 percent acceptance rate.

“We reached out online and virtually to potential members more and also asked faculty to help us out during our membership drives,” she said. “We also extended our membership drives to three weeks each semester in order to reach more students. We've been really close to the magic 15 percent acceptance for a few years, so it was a great honor to finally make it, and in a pandemic year, no less.”

Nu Xi was also recognized for its five-star status, which can only be achieved by fully implementing the PTK Five Star Chapter Plan. This plan includes completing the College Project, Honors in Action, PTK Edge program, induction ceremonies, recruitment drives, officer elections and participation in regional and international events.

Hill College Dean of Academic Pathways and Nu Xi’s chapter administrator for the last four years, Nancy McKenzie, said the awards represent the work the chapter aimed to highlight over the last year regarding mental health, food insecurity, and social media.

“It takes a lot of time, effort, smiles, and tears to be recognized at this level and each person involved should be proud,” she said. “Our students and advisors never gave up and supported each other through hard times to meet some lofty goals. I look forward to seeing what they want to accomplish in the next year.”

Nu Xi chapter president Marites “Thess” Mitchell said she considers the Nu Xi chapter a living example of PTK’s Hallmarks of Leadership, Scholarship, Fellowship and Service.

“Working together as a team with our hard-working and outstanding advisors, college administrators, officer team and members is what I am proud of,” she said. “I am also immensely proud of what our chapter has accomplished despite the challenges we were facing during 2020 when I first became a PTK member and chapter president.”

Corder, Williamson and Mitchell were also all inducted into the Texas Region District III Hall of Honor.

“It is an honor to be inducted into the regional Hall of Honor,” Mitchell said. “The tremendous amount of support, mentorship, leadership, and friendship is what helps me grow as a better person and leader. I am beyond grateful for receiving this award.”

Mitchell’s effective leadership qualities and commitment make her a great chapter president, said Williamson.

“Thess is an exceptional student leader that invests hours each week providing communication to members, oversight of our food pantry, and community outreach to procure donations and food supplies for our pantry,” he said. “She is highly conscientious, positive, enthusiastic, and caring, and she has the unique ability to influence others.”

Corder, who has served as a Nu Xi advisor for 12 years, also received the Texas Region Horizon Award for her efforts in attaining new levels of achievement for the Nu Xi chapter. This award is presented based on recommendation from an advisor’s district and/or regional coordinator.

“Our members and officers are very driven and really took our 2020 College Project and Honors in Action project on and adapted our research, writing process, and implementation on campus in varied ways to maintain safety standards and reach as many students as possible,” said Corder. “My job is just to guide them on their path, and the Horizon Award recognizes how our chapter has worked to become more involved and visible at a district and regional level.”

McKenzie was one of 26 college administrators who received the 2021 Distinguished College Administrator award during the virtual PTK Catalyst convention. The award is given to chapter administrators who have shown strong support of student success on their campus by recognizing academic achievement, leadership, and service among high-achieving students.

“I am humbled to receive this award from PTK and to be included in the company of some wonderful administrators across the United States,” said McKenzie. “I am happy to represent the Nu Xi chapter in this way and to be a small part in all of the work and effort these students and faculty advisors put in. This group of students have worked hard this year to move our chapter to be a more active presence on campus and in the community, and for me to be a face and a voice to advocate for them is truly an honor.”

Corder attributes McKenzie’s presence at chapter events to Nu Xi’s ability to help college administration meet various needs and goals.

“She travels with us to regional events, showing other chapters how strong our administrative support is at Hill College and providing a fantastic link between our chapter and the Hill College administration,” she said. “This helps us know what the college needs in order to plan our College Project and keeps administration in the loop regarding activities and projects the chapter is involved in.”

Hill College President Dr. Pam Boehm was one of nine recipients of PTK’s most prestigious award for community college presidents, the Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction, which recognizes recipients for their efforts in promoting PTK goals on their campus. Recipients are nominated by their college’s PTK chapter members and are only eligible to receive the award once over the course of their career.

“I am very honored to be awarded the Phi Theta Kappa’s Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction,” said Boehm. “The progress of our Phi Theta Kappa chapter has been intentional in that we wanted to give our students the greatest experience that an honor society has to offer. Hill College could not attain REACH status without the work of our committed and visionary sponsors, Dr. Jenny Corder and Mr. Jim Williamson. I am appreciative of this award and proud of the work that has gone into making Hill College’s chapter five star.”

Corder said Boehm’s support has been instrumental in the chapter’s growth.

“When she charged our chapter to become more active and have a stronger presence on campus, we took that to heart, and it truly was the impetus to get our chapter involved in PTK projects and regional and international events,” she said.

Williamson agreed, stating that both Boehm and McKenzie are deserving of the awards and are essential to the chapter’s ongoing success.

“PTK requires consistent and effective communication and collaboration with administration to carry out many of our initiatives,” he said. “They are exceptional in providing administrative, student, and faculty support. Their consistent involvement, interest, and encouragement plays a key role in our effectiveness and success.”