Recap: Phi Theta Kappa National Conference 2019

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This past week, the GRCC Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (Alpha Upsilon Kappa) attended our national conference, Catalyst, in Orlando, Florida. The conference is an opportunity for our students and advisors to attend educational forums which focus on leadership, service, career development, transfer planning, and more. The GRCC Chapter was for the fourth year in a row recognized as a 5-star chapter. This requires that they complete a college project, an honors in action project, service projects, fellowship activities, participate in fundraising, attend regional and national conferences, collaborate with other chapters, and more each year to earn 5-star status. This year our chapter officer team (Tikvah Finn, Phillip Kamp, Stephany Mendez Ortega, Brian Guadarrama, and Drewyn Talley) went above and beyond and were recognized at Catalyst for all of their accomplishments.

Below is a summary of the team’s accomplishments from the event:

  • Our chapter officer team won outstanding chapter officer team (15 teams were recognized out of over 1300 teams nationally).
  • Morgan Brown was recognized as an outstanding chapter team member (one of 15 recognized nationally).
  • Tikvah Finn was GRCC’s first Coca-Cola All-American Silver Scholar winner.
  • Stephany Mendez Ortega and Phillip Kamp are both Jack Kent Cooke semi-finalists (they find out later this month if they won this scholarship). The JKC scholarship is for up to $40,000 a year for up to 3 years to complete a bachelors. There were over 1600 applications, only 500 are semi-finalists and 50-70 will be awarded the scholarship.
  • We entered our first ever “ScholarBowl” team (Phillip Kamp, Stephany Mendez Ortega, Brian Guadarrama, and Drewyn Talley).
  • Tikvah Finn participated in the Job Interview competition.
  • Morgan Brown designed the shirt worn by the entire Michigan Region.
  • This year, we submitted proposals which were chosen and we presented two of the educational forums. We presented on “effective communication for leaders” and “building a successful transfer plan.” We had over 70 students attend each of these presentations and our students did an amazing job as this was the first national forum for which they had ever presented.
  • Morgan Brown, who will graduate in May 2019 with her AFA in Photography, was hired by PTK Headquarters to be one of the three photographers for the conference (a paid position).

We are so proud of our students and all they have accomplished this year. They represented GRCC with pride, worked hard, and had a great time during the conference.


Phi Theta Kappa Represents GRCC well at Regional Conference

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This weekend, the GRCC chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (Alpha Upsilon Kappa – AUK) attended their Regional Conference with 18 (of the 28) chapters in the region to participate in leadership building, service opportunities, a college fair, social activities and the awards gala.  2017-2018 has been an exciting year for the chapter and this was very evident at the Regional Awards Gala.

The chapter was able to travel 10 students, an advisor for the weekend and Dr. Pink came for the awards gala.  The 2017-2018 executive board (elected student leaders) were present and recognize for all their accomplishments over the past year.  The 2018-2019 newly elected executive board were there as well to begin to learn the ropes along with an alumni and other chapter members.


The 2017-2018 GRCC Executive Board is:

  • President: Morgan Brown
  • Vice President: Marcus Barissi
  • Treasurer: Ernesto (“Ernie”) Farias
  • Secretary: Drewyn Talley
  • Vice President of Hallmarks: Eli Paparella


The 2018-2019 GRCC Executive Board is:

  • President: Tikvah Finn
  • Vice President: Stephany Mendez-Ortega
  • Treasurer: Brian Guadarrama
  • Vice President of Hallmarks: Phillip Kamp


The Alpha Upsilon Kappa chapter was recognized at the regional conference for all their work over the 2017-2018 year.  See below for the specific awards, scholarships, and recognition they received:

  • Morgan Brown was recognized with the other three Regional Officers for their winning submission for the National Fellowship Award.
  • Marcus Barissi was recognized with the other students in the room who were their campuses Coca-Cola All American Scholarship nominee’s.
  • Morgan Brown & Lynnae Selberg were recognized with the others who had completed the 5 Star Competitive Edge program through PTK.  This is a 5 level comprehensive soft skills/ critical thinking/ leadership development training program for students and advisors.
  • The following students and advisors were recognized for earning a “challenge coin”.  To earn a challenge coin you must exemplify the 4 pillars (scholarship, service, leadership and fellowship) of PTK over the year and be nominated by someone in the region.  There were 15 challenge coins handed out and 5 went to GRCC.
  • Bailey Cummings – Service
    • Ernie Farias – Fellowship
    • Marcus Barissi – Scholarship
    • Erin Busscher – Scholarship
    • Drewyn Talley – Leadership
  • There were 4 regional scholarships awarded and 2 went to GRCC students.  The following students received a regional scholarships based on their essay and submitted letters of recommendation:
    • Marcus Barissi won the Richard Trombley Scholarship Award
    • Morgan Brown won the Thomas Obee Scholarship Award
  • The 2017-2018 Executive Board was 1st runner up in the region for the Distinguished Chapter Officer Team Award.
  • Erin Busscher & Lynnae Selberg were recognized as one of the three recognized Distinguished Advisor Teams.
  • Erin Busscher was recognized with the Paragon Advisor Award (given to new advisors who demonstrate excellence in chapter leadership).
  • Lynnae Selberg won the 1st place in the region for the Distinguished Advisor Award.
  • The chapter was recognized for earning a 5 Star level with all of their work from 2017-2018.  This is their 4th year in a row reaching a 5 star level.  To see all that is involved in earning a 5 star level –
  • The chapter was recognized as 2nd runner up in the region for their 2017-2018 College Project and write up regarding this work.
  • The chapter was recognized as 1st runner up in the region for their 2017-2018 Honors in Action Project and write up regarding this work.
  • The chapter was recognized as 1st runner up in the region for Most Distinguished Chapter for their combined scores from all their work in the 2017-2018.  In 2015-2016 the chapter was 3rd runner up (their best placing prior to this year).