Riverland PTK chapter making broad impacts

Published 8:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

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Over the years, Riverland Community College has been able to celebrate its success rate for students in a variety of ways.

Helping to further highlight those successes are groups like the school’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Zeta Eta.

Recently, the members  — Melissa Meouchy, Michael Grabrick, Éser Riewe, Nick Hueper and Afi Adjowui — attended Catalyst in Orlando, Floria, and annual conference that provides an opportunity for students to be honored and to continue learning through workshops and speakers.

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This year, Zeta Eta was recognized among the top 100 chapters worldwide for their efforts with a little bit extra on the side.

“The one I really was not expecting was the Beta Alpha Continued Excellence Award,” said Sue Grove, who is co-advisor for Riverland’s Zeta Eta along with Susan Hansen. “There were only 16 out of 1,300 chapters.”

That right there is telling, because Zeta Eta is easily one of the smaller PTK chapters, numbering between 12 and 16 students at any given meeting each week.

Being recognized in such a way, despite its size compared to other chapters that sport budgets ranging into the thousands of dollars is something to be noted.

“The best we got was the year I retired from Phi Theta Kappa, officially, was in 2016 and we were ninth in the whole kit and kaboodle,” Grove said, explaining that the topic subject that year was environmental and that Riverland’s project was about bees. “It was incredible.”

At its heart, PTK is an honor society for two-year schools that recognize students for scholarship. At Riverland, students have to take a minimum of 12 credits and reach a 3.25 GPA to be inducted into Zeta Eta and then from there students must maintain a 3.0.

From there the society challenges chapters through the Five Star Chapter Plan, which connects a pipeline through to school administration.

“The big thing is, if we want to get awards you have to do a college project, which is working with the administration to develop something that will be mutually beneficial to you and the college,” Grove said.

Along the way the process has to be documented and follow whatever the chosen theme is, which rotates every two years.

Past chapter projects have included turning the Riverland campus into a non-smoking campus and helping highlight the main entrance of the East Building with blue and adorning it in the flags currently flying in that main hallway.

White the projects help the campus, they are instrumental in the continued educational growth of the students taking part.

“Students learn to network among themselves and with the college administration,” Grove said. “They learn some life skills that way and that will help them with the workplace.”

They also learn the depth of academic research, which is integral to the project’s process, called the Honor in Action project. It can be an exhaustive process of just getting to the theme.

“They learn how to do academic research and then find sources,” Grove said. “Who to go to if you need more information and then how to formulate a project.”

Everything Zeta Eta does today is a reflection of the work undertaken since the chapter was formed in 1947. However, it faced a challenge in recent years when it was nearly ended, something organizers weren’t about to let happen.

“All of a sudden they were going to shut it down,” Grove said. “If we’re not here to promote excellence, what are we here for?”

The group was bolstered by students who were excited by the PTK chapter, helping to strengthen it to where it is now. That, taken with everything achieved by Eta Zeta, is something Grove has found inspiring.

“It’s just amazing,” she said. “You see these people and they are just like, ‘I can’t do this.’ Yes, you can.”

“I can’t be more proud,” she continued, adding that is what she tells students as well. “You should be prouder.”