PTK students take part in Honors in Action Conference

From, left, Carlos Acevedo (speaker), Kelsie Whitcomb, Symantha Shelton, Obinna Muoh (International Vice President) and Deborah Layton.

Courtesy photo

Two officers of Phi Theta Kappa’s Ark City chapter, Alpha Gamma Upsilon, travelled Nov. 3-5 to Junction City for the Honors in Action Conference.

Vice President of Leadership Symantha Shelton, Vice President of Scholarship Kelsie Whitcomb and advisor Deborah Layton attended the event.

The Division III International Vice President from Kansas, Obinna Muoh, provided international updates and inspired members to plan to go to the international convention, known as Catalyst, in the spring.

He was followed by Carlos Acevedo, a PTK alum from Miami Dade College and former International Division II Vice President, who talked about embracing PTK in a way that only he could: Acevedo is a comedian and actor who can be seen in the upcoming Netflix comedy Bobby’s Gym. 

He told students that PTK’s pin is a key because the organization opens doors, but that nothing is promised.

“You have to choose to walk through the door,” he said.

He also encouraged students to work hard, take opportunities and learn from the “nos.” Acevedo said that failures were never empty because they allow you to grow.

Students then were able to visit with representatives from 15 colleges about scholarships available to PTK members. Next, students had dinner with their seminar groups that they would be discussing the presentation topics with for the rest of the weekend.

Seminar students, consisting of members from across Kansas and Nebraska, had the opportunity to work on projects and get to know one other.

Leader of seminar group nine, Deborah Layton, said it was a “unique opportunity to network with people that students may see again at their transfer universities.”

The next general session offered information regarding the regional officers’ Honors in Action project and a guest speaker, Chiquita Miller, on “Family Traditions Over the Years.”

After another seminar group, students held a scholar bowl and game night sponsored by the Kansas/Nebraska Alumni Association.

Saturday started with an inspirational message from Mike Dilbeck, professional speaker and author. His presentation entitled “Response Ability: A Call for Courage,” was about having the courage to stand up for one’s beliefs.

He was inspired to help others due to his own personal experience where he did not take action and a fraternity brother committed suicide. He said “courage is simple, but it’s not easy; you have to go past your fear and shame to step up, showing leadership and giving service.” He provided three approaches to intervening: shift focus, shift the situation and shift the person.

The rest of the day was full of seminar groups and breakout sessions on getting the “Competitive Edge,” motivating members and obtaining scholarships.

The last session of the day, “The Power of Empathy,” was given by alum members from the Minn-Kota Region, Matt and Joehey Cici.

In addition, Alpha Gamma Upsilon embarked on a cultural adventure by visiting memorials in the area.

Layton thought that since it was so close to Veterans Day, it would be nice to take advantage of being in an area that has such strong military roots. The beautiful and tranquil Heritage Park was explored for its many memorials dedicated to those who have served, including the Kansas Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a memorial to Desert Storm Vets, the POW MIA, and Law Enforcement Memorial.

The chapter also took in the Buffalo Soldier Memorial to the ninth and 10th Cavalry, a powerful monument to African-American regiments that were stationed at Fort Riley. The brick homes around the park are the last set of government quarters originally built for the soldiers and their families.

Saturday ended with dinner and a dance.

After breakfast on Sunday, videos for the new campaign #IAMPTK that the seminar groups had worked on were presented.

Acevedo was back to discuss leadership beyond the community college in a presentation called “Community College to (You)niversity.”

He had many ideas for students as their journey continued, including having a graduate school and career checklist.

Wrapping up the session was Obinna with a speech about how he went “from grass to grace,” encouraging members never to give up.   

Students look forward to the regional convention and Catalyst in the spring.

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