Phi Theta Kappa elevates community college student’s experience, gives a competitive edge

Published by Laurel Younis on

Lakia-Burnside Atkinson sells tickets for the Phi Theta Kappa fundraiser. Phi Theta Kappa elevates community college students experience gives a competitive edge.
Mason Rameriz / The Mainstream

College can be expensive, lonely, confusing, and full of pressure with so many decisions to make. Phi Theta Kappa helps.

PTK is a community college honor society with a chapter at UCC dedicated to helping students get scholarships, leadership experience and community service connections.

“I like the competitive edge of the program and the edge of the training courses I have access to. They help me grow professionally and help me in my professional career,” Lakia Burnside-Atkison, the current PTK president, says. 

When students join, they are given access to a database of scholarships they are eligible for. This is one of the things the $80 joining fee covers; PTK members also receive access to professional webinars, a dedicated advisor and virtual training on subjects such as how to apply for scholarships and resume building. “I like the real-life skills that facilitate where a student wants to go in the future,” Burnside-Atkison says. 

Members are encouraged to take on leadership roles in the chapter. “I started off as a member and heard about opportunities by being involved and decided to join the officer committee. Having held a leadership position, I can put that experience down on a resume,” Mason Ramirez, current PR committee officer, says. 

David Geyer buys PTK raffle tickets for the current fundraiser.
Laurel Younis / The Mainstream

PTK at UCC is currently engaging in their Honors in Action project which combines academic research, problem solving and community service to improve the college campus and local community. Laura Pierce, the Honors in Action officer and a UCC AAOT student, explains what the student organization is contemplating for this year’s project. “We are still in the planning phase. We know we want the project to be art based and we know we want it to be impactful. We are considering going to low-income middle and high schools such as Yoncolla, Days Creek, Oakland, and Glide to help expose their students to local college and trade options. A lot of these students feel they can’t afford college, and we want them to know they can, even as low-income students.” They’ve talked about helping these students learn about higher education through possibly creating a mural. 

PTK members receive various accolades. These include an induction ceremony, special PTK graduation regalia, an official PTK seal on their diploma, notation of membership on their college transcript, and letters of recommendation citing membership alongside a certificate. 

PTK is also a gateway for networking and opportunities beyond college. “The idea is for students to have a community of people for support; my door is always open for any questions, to help with what the student wants to do,” Stevy Scarbough, faculty PTK advisor, says.

In order to qualify for membership, students must be enrolled at UCC and have completed a minimum of 12 hours of coursework toward an associate or bachelor’s degree or at least six hours of coursework towards a one-year certificate and have a 3.5 cumulative GPA. If students qualify for membership, they will be notified and asked to join via email. Once a student decides to join, they will be contacted by the chapter’s advisor. At that time, they are required to pay the $80 fee to join. The local chapter does fundraising activities to offset the costs for students who need financial assistance. 

To learn more about Phi Theta Kappa, visit the official website at

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