PRCC’s Phi Theta Kappa Chapters Shine Bright among World’s Best at Catalyst

Published 11:04 am Thursday, May 2, 2024

The Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society chapters at Pearl River Community College recently concluded their attendance at the annual Catalyst international conference, returning with numerous awards and distinctions. Representatives from both the Beta Tau Gamma Chapter (Forrest County Campus) and Iota Mu Chapter (Poplarville Campus) traveled to Orlando, FL for the event. 

For Catalyst 2024, both chapters achieved Distinguished Chapter status, placing in the Top 50 chapters of Phi Theta Kappa. Beta Tau Gamma was one of 16 chapters presented with the Alpha Continued Excellence Award for being a Distinguished Chapter for three consecutive years. Beta Tau Gamma received the Distinguished Honors in Action Project Award, while Iota Mu was recognized for Distinguished College Project. Beta Tau Gamma also received an Honors in Action Theme Award for “The Soul of Play.” 

Individual advisors also received recognition at the event. Dr. Terri Smith Ruckel, Instructor of English, Advisor to Beta Tau Gamma and Co-Director of the MS/LA Region for Phi Theta Kappa, received the Continued Excellence Advisor Award. Dr. Whitney Chambers was one of 20 recipients of the Paragon for New Advisors Award. Dr. Chambers and Kira Arthurs presented an Educational Forum on Intentional Engagement. 

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“We are thrilled to have had another successful year in Phi Theta Kappa,” said Chambers. “We are so proud of our students and all the hard work they put into their projects this year. Being recognized on the regional and international level is truly an honor. Our current students have built a solid foundation for future PTK students to follow.” 

Several students were recognized in the Parade of Scholars. Students recognized from Beta Tau Gamma included Raegan Anderson for being a Silver Award Recipient on the Coca Cola All USA Academic Team and Abigail Ford for being Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Recipient. Students recognized from Iota Mu included Devyn Lee, who was named as a Coca-Cola Gold Scholar, and Allison Gobuzzi, who was named as a Coca-Cola Silver Scholar and a Jack Kent Cooke Semi-Finalist. 

“Working with Phi Theta Kappa students to enhance their scholarship and experiential learning is not just a job, but a deeply rewarding experience,” said Dr. Terri Smith Ruckel. “Each and every semester, PTK officers and members seek to serve their college and neighboring communities through volunteerism, scholarly research, and advocacy, and everyone involved is changed for the better. This is the kind of impact that makes me love what I do!” 

Poplarville student Kellie Watts has been an active member of the Iota Mu Chapter for the past two years. For this school year, she served as Vice President of Scholarship. Watts will be transferring to Mississippi State University in the fall to study Cybersecurity and Operations. 

“The Iota Mu chapter of PTK worked hard to curate fantastic projects that are now regionally and nationally accredited,” said Watts. “Our hard work paid off in the end. It is so rewarding to participate in this chapter and honors society.” 

After an exceptionally impressive performance at the Mississippi/Louisiana Region Gala in March, students eagerly anticipated their results at Catalyst. At the Gala, Iota Mu (Hancock & Poplarville Campuses) was awarded the designation of Most Distinguished Chapter while Beta Tau Gamma (Forrest County Campus) placed sixth on the Distinguished Chapter list. Both chapters were given the Five Star Chapter Award.  

Iota Mu was also recognized with Top 10 in Honors in Action, the Distinguished Honors in Action Theme Award for Essense of Play and placed in the Top 10 in College Project. Beta Tau Gamma also received the Continued Excellence Advisor Award, Distinguished Advisor Team Award, Distinguished Chapter Member Award, Distinguished Honors in Action project, Distinguished Regional Chapter, Distinguished Theme 5 Award, Regional Webmaster Officer, and Golden Key Award. 

Beta Tau Gamma Advisors Dr. James Collum, Dr. Doug Donohue, Said Otwane, Dr. Ryan Ruckel, and Dr. Terri Ruckel as well as Iota Mu Advisors Kira Arthurs, Amanda Myers, Robin Nix, and Dr. Whitney Chambers were recognized with Horizon Advisor Awards. 

Members of both chapters had a wonderful experience and are setting goals for the coming school year. Catalyst 2024 was the second experience for sophomore Abbilyn Jones from the Forrest County Campus. After graduating in May, she plans to study psychology at The University of Southern Mississippi. 

“PTK Catalyst is an event that our chapter looks forward to all year!” said Abbilyn Jones, President of Beta Tau Gamma Chapter. “It is so rewarding to get to go to this event and receive recognition for our hard work! PTK has offered so many opportunities to us to grow as students and has been such an incredible experience!” 

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