My Trip to the Phi Theta Kappa Annual Conference
The flashing lights. Pulsating music. Costumes. Signs. Dancing. Famous people. Cheering. I’m not at a rock concert. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat at the opening ceremony of PTK Catalyst 2017, the annual conference for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Members. Phi Theta Kappa is an international honors society for community college students. To join, students must achieve a high level of academics while attending a community college. The honor society hosts events throughout the year, from regional conferences and meetings, to the large, annual convention held in a different location each year. The conference is for the students, offering sessions ranging from professional development to transitioning to a four-year institution.
The flashing lights. Pulsating music. Costumes. Signs. Dancing. Famous people. Cheering. I’m not at a rock concert. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat at the opening ceremony of PTK Catalyst 2017.
I am fortunate to represent Drexel University again this year at the annual conference. This is my third year attending the three-day event, and I enjoy meeting these talented students each year. Not only is this honors society filled with high achieving students in the classroom, but many take on leadership roles at their community colleges, participate in activities in and outside of school, and often juggle outside jobs. Some of them run for international office of the honors society, and the nominees create posters, make speeches, and campaign throughout the convention until voting time.
I spend most of the time in the marketplace as a college sponsor. Students have the option to stop by and speak with me about Drexel University whenever the marketplace is open during the convention. Sometimes they just stop by to say hello and talk to me about their educational plans, even if it does not include Drexel University. I enjoy listening to all of it, to learn what community these well-rounded students plan to join.
The conference hosts an opening ceremony on the first night of the event. Thousands of people fill the hall from all across the country, and even around the world. Students dance in the aisle from their different regions. Often, each region chooses to wear a matching outfit or t-shirt for the event. They hold up signs to identify their regions, and the crowd dances and yells out their regions.
Then the crowd is hushed and the lights dim. The official ceremony begins, ending with a high-profile speaker that has ranged from Dr. Jennifer Arnold, who was made famous through the show, The Little Couple, but whose real passion is in her work as a groundbreaking pediatrician, to John Legend, who champions education, equality, and many other social and global issues.
Then it’s over. The rock concert to honor our community college students, to recognize the amazing work that these students accomplish. The opening ceremonies leave us energized for the rest of the event. The students leave with new knowledge, and I leave with a few more friends.