If you maintain a high GPA at TCC, you may receive an invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international Community College Honors society. According to members, students normally join for two reasons: Access to scholarships, and the opportunity to be recognized for high academic achievement at Commencement.
“There’s an ocean of scholarships out there, and a lot of schools have funds specifically for PTK students,” said Chi Gamma Chapter Vice President Cathy Pick. “That right there is worth the joining fee.”
But there’s another reason. If you join TCC’s PTK chapter, Chi Gamma, you’ll be joining one of the most active, award-winning chapters in the country. This presents countless opportunities for members to network, stretch their skills, develop as individuals, and create positive change in their communities. As a PTK member, you choose your own level of involvement. But as current students are quick to point out, the more you choose to be involved, the more rewarding your involvement is likely to be.
Club advisor Dr. Tomas Ramos has won multiple awards for his leadership of the Chi Gamma Chapter. At the 2014 national convention he was honored as a recipient of the PTK Distinguished Advisor Award. He was selected as a PTK Faculty Scholar for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Ramos believes that TCC students can and should grasp the opportunities that arise from being involved in PTK at the chapter, regional, and national levels. He also believes in fostering an atmosphere in which students challenge themselves and each other, leaving their individual and collective comfort zones in pursuit of outstanding outcomes.
“I keep them on their toes, and they keep me on my toes,” said Ramos.
Each PTK chapter is awarded a designation on a scale of 1-5, based on the chapter’s level of activity and the quality of their work. Since 2011, TCC’s Chi Gamma chapter has jumped from a 1-star to a 5-star designation. They’ve created outstanding “Honors in Action” projects based on local issues such as immigrant detention, tenants’ rights, and homelessness. They’ve hosted regional conferences here on campus, and they’ve won awards at the national level.
In 2012, Chi Gamma won a first-place award at the national level for a project titled “The Culture of Competition.” In 2018, members of Chi Gamma came home from the Catalyst convention in Kansas City with more than a dozen awards, including first prize for their Honors in Action Project “Detained in Tacoma.”
This year, Chi Gamma sent five students to the Catalyst Convention in Orlando, Florida. Students were inspired by nationally recognized keynote speakers, attended workshops, met members of the Northwest Region group they normally interact with only virtually, and participated in a speech-giving competition.
“It was a wonderful experience,” said Pick. “It gave me a renewed sense of responsibility for serving this campus. My time here is short, and I want to make the most of it.”
Chi Gamma Treasurer and PTK Northwest Region representative Sharon Jang is one of TCC’s two 2019 All-Washington Scholars and Washington State’s representative to the All-USA Academic Team. Discover how her involvement with Chi Gamma’s award-winning “Detained in Tacoma” Honors in Action project launched her journey of personal and social transformation.
2019 All-Washington Scholar Brandon Carlson Clarke, an aspiring neurosurgeon who has already completed a competitive neurological surgery internship at the University of Washington, is also a member of PTK. He is currently a semi-finalist for the nationally competitive Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Carlson-Clarke is also active and MESA and helps his fellow students as a biology and chemistry tutor in the Writing and Tutoring Center.