BC’s honor society serves students and community

Phi Theta Kappa, PTK, is an international honor society for community college students that focuses on recognizing students for their academic achievements and leadership potential. PTK gives members opportunities for involvement in leadership, travel and campus, and community activities.

The BC chapter of PTK, Alpha Epsilon Rho, was founded in 1979 and has provided for two-year colleges around the world.

In order to join PTK at Bellevue College, students need a minimum of a 3.5 GPA and must have completed at least 12 college-level credits.

With more than 87 million dollars offered for scholarships exclusively to PTK members, signing up to join the PTK community can help students pay tuition throughout their education. Support for such scholarships comes from foundations like the Coca-Cola Foundation, the USA Today Charitable Foundation and smaller family foundations. Institutions like Seattle University, Eastern Washington University and Seattle Pacific University provide financial benefits as well.

Katherine Oleson, the Bellevue College PTK advisor, stresses that students work hard and can use motivation where they can get it. “I think this is valuable, because it supports students in their study habits and persistence. It also often gives individuals more confidence in their ability to be college students,” says Oleson.

But maintaining good grades can be difficult. “My schedule’s really tight right now,” says Jacob Solomon, a student at Bellevue College. For hard-working students, there are many scholarships available for various things, including transferring to another college and looking to continue education.

“Membership goes on your transcript,” Katherine Oleson points out. “We have had many Phi Theta Kappa members succeed in a variety of ways. Many find their participation in PTK activities helpful when looking for a job, others when transferring to complete a bachelor’s degree, and others in completing a certificate program at BC.” Being a PTK member can also help students get a Five Star Competitive Edge professional development plan and free enrollment at CollegeFish.org, as well as distinguished letters of recommendation. To learn more about the membership benefits of PRK, visit www.ptk.org/members/benefits.htm.

After learning the potential and probable benefits of becoming a PTK member, Jacob reconsiders: “I guess I should join.”

Being a member of PTK allows you to transfer your membership and potential benefits to any other branch. “Phi Theta Kappa now has a presence in nine sovereign nations: the United States, Canada, Germany, the British Virgin Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Peru.” Since PTK is an international organization, educational benefits can be widely accessible and colleges have been known to waive application fees for PTK members.

Members are given important opportunities to behave in professional environments that promote a good work ethic and leadership. “There are also opportunities for students to attend leadership conferences, participate in community service events in their local community, and make connections with other students across campus,” Oleson said.

PTK centers around acknowledging hard work and inclusiveness but also tries to give back to the society.  Members have participated with various organizations. PTK has also adopted the Log Cabin Creek Park in Issaquah. “We adopted this park several years ago, and our commitment involves volunteering there three to four times each year.” Oleson explains, “The park is along a salmon run, and each time we volunteer, the group is educated about the importance of keeping the park clean and the reason we are planting/maintaining particular trees and plants.”

Each month, the students collectively decide on a service to provide for the community.

If students maintain good grades and are interested in joining the PTK community, applications are available at the Student Programs office in C212. Students who were PTK members at their previous colleges can transfer their memberships.