SANFORD — Central Carolina Community College now has a Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society chapter.
PTK is the largest honor society in American higher education with more than two million members and 1,200 chapters in the United States, U.S. territories, Canada and Germany.
In 1929, the American Association of Community Colleges recognized PTK as the official honor society for two-year colleges. To join, students must have at least a 3.5 grade point average and have completed at least 12 credit hours. The CCCC chapter requires a 3.7 GPA.
CCCC received its charter as the Beta Sigma Phi Chapter of PTK at a Nov. 4 ceremony at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center. Fifty-five charter members were inducted.
Dawn Tucker, CCCC Academic Assistance coordinator, represented the national Phi Theta Kappa organization in presenting the chapter charter to CCCC President Bud Marchant and Ed Garrison, chairman of the college’s board of trustees. Tucker joined PTK in 1990 while a student at Howard Junior College, in Big Spring, Texas.
CCCC had its own honor society, Alpha Theta Tau, from 1986 to the establishment of the PTK chapter.
“We moved to Phi Theta Kappa because it is an international honor society,” said Mark Hall, CCCC Humanities lead instructor and chapter lead advisor. “It offers conferences, conventions, competitions, and a lot of leadership and scholarship opportunities that weren’t available to our students in Alpha Theta Tau.”
President Bud Marchant brought the idea for establishing a PTK chapter when he became CCCC president in 2008. At the ceremony, he quoted from two poems, “If,” by Rudyard Kipling, and “Life Between the Dash,” by Linda Ellis, on the importance of setting high goals, keeping perspective, and helping others, to illustrate the high standards and character that the students should strive for as PTK members.
“This is a very exciting day in the history of Central Carolina Community College,” he told the students, their families and friends gathered for the chartering and induction ceremony. “Congratulations. You’re in for a fun ride.”
At the ceremony, Mike Neal, CCCC director of Student Activities and chapter co-advisor, lit a large candle symbolizing knowledge as the servant of wisdom. He then explained the Phi Theta Kappa name: Greek words symbolizing wisdom, aspiration and purity. Hall laid a white rose on a table. The rose symbolized purity, beauty of life, and intellectual associations.
During the induction ceremony, all the charter members held candles. Chapter President Cheryl Reynolds, of Cameron, lit hers from the large candle and then lit that of Vice President Dana Stone, of Dunn. The other officers’ candles were lit and each then lit a member’s candle. Each member lit another’s candle until all were glowing.
“A whole new world is opening up,” Stone, a criminal justice major, said following the induction ceremony. “I’m proud to be part of the first group to lay the foundation that the generations that follow us will build on.”
Other officers for the new Phi Theta Kappa Chapter are Treasurer Samantha Taylor, of Sanford; Recording Secretary Wendy Champion, of Angier; and Public Relations Secretary Monique Pardo, of Sanford.
Pardo is enrolled at Lee Early College at CCCC’s Lee County Campus. LEC, a collaboration of the college and Lee County Schools, enrolls students as ninth graders and enables them to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree in four years. Other LEC students who are inaugural members of the Beta Sigma Phi Chapter are Paola Fernandez, Muhammad Khan, and Nancy Urias.
CCCC Phi Theta Kappa members immediately involved themselves in activities at the state level. From Nov. 19-21, they attended the Carolinas Region Leadership Conference in Charleston, S.C.
“Our chapter members got to mingle and work with PTK members from around the region and learn about what other chapters are doing,” said Hall. “They definitely came away enthusiastic about projects for our chapter and service they can give to our communities.”