Iyanna Tucker, president of Phi Theta Kappa, shows off some of the awards won by Thomas Nelson's chapter of the international honor society for two-year colleges.
As president of Thomas Nelson’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, Iyanna Tucker set lofty goals. At the top was the organization receiving five-star designation, the highest possible, for the second consecutive year.
Outgoing president Debra Godette and co-adviser Dr. Valerie Burge-Hall predicted Tucker would do great things for the group, which is an international honor society for two-year institutions.
At a March regional ceremony for the 47 chapters in Virginia and West Virginia, Tucker learned her goals and expectations for the Phi Sigma chapter were exceeded. By a lot. In addition to earning five-star recognition again, Thomas Nelson took home six other awards.
“All that hard work paid off,” said Tucker, who won first place in the Distinguished Chapter Officer category.
She was quick to point out how Thomas Nelson won all those awards.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” she said.
The list of awards won proves that as five required collaboration: two second-place finishes in service projects, a second-place for the chapter, a third-place for the team of officers, and a five-star rating, Tucker’s award and the Distinguished Chapter Adviser award for Burge-Hall were individual honors won by Thomas Nelson.
“That group, I tell you, they are the hardest working team I think I’ve worked with since I have actually been an adviser,” said Burge-Hall, who is in her sixth year as a co-adviser. “They get it done. I’m so happy for them.”
The awards couldn’t have come at a better time. This year’s induction ceremony, which will be virtual, is scheduled for April 21 at 7 p.m., and can be viewed at tncc.edu. It will include a live address from Blake Ellis, the vice president of Student Engagement for Phi Theta Kappa’s international headquarters.
“Since I’ve been the adviser, he’s the only international person that we’ve had,” Burge-Hall said. “It’s a pretty big deal. I know he’s going to be phenomenal.”
The awards will be a part of the induction ceremony. Being recognized for the service projects was especially satisfying to Tucker because that success helped with the five-star status recognition.
“We thought if we made something relevant to our society today, we could grab people’s attention,” she said.
That is exactly what the students did. There are a number of requirements for a chapter to be considered for five-star status. The most important are completing two service projects: one is called “Honors in Action,” and the other the “College Project.”
For the first, the chapter members wanted to know if students preferred in-person learning to virtual learning. They created a survey, did research, more research and then even more research, said Tucker. The assumption was students would prefer online learning, mainly because of the flexibility it provides.
“That wasn’t the case. They liked the in-person contact and social interaction with professors and fellow students,” she said. “It was an interesting outcome.”
For the “College Project,” they created a podcast called “The Meet Up,” which was a way for students to stay connected to the local community. Godette, who initiated the podcast, and Tucker were the hosts.
“It gave me the opportunity to speak to new people, and engage one another,” Tucker said.
It also led to another podcast, called “Jack of One Trade,” hosted by Morgan Woodington, who also filled in as a host on “The Meet Up.”
Burge-Hall said both projects came out of the same idea: How can we help students during the pandemic? Dana Cook, the chapter’s other co-adviser, and Alicia Riley, the College’s Special Events manager, also played key roles.
These awards, said Burge-Hall, will send a message to the new PTK members at Thomas Nelson, as well as the College community.
“It spotlights that our students are exemplary. They’re exemplary in scholarship. They’re exemplary in fellowship because the four pillars of PTK are scholarship, leadership, fellowship and service,” Burge-Hall said. “I think by getting these awards, it gives us an endorsement that our students really are leaders in all of these categories.”
The awards and induction ceremony also could bring more attention to the organization.
“Hopefully, it will make others say, ‘I want to be a part of this,’” Burge-Hall said.
For more information, contact Burge-Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org; or go to tncc.edu/life/ptk.
- Distinguished Chapter Adviser: Dr. Valerie Burge-Hall
- Continued Excellence Chapter (Five-star award)
- First place, Distinguished Chapter Officer: Iyanna Tucker
- Second place, Distinguished College Project (“The Meet Up” podcast)
- Second place, Distinguished Theme (“Honors in Action” research project)
- Second place, Distinguished Chapter
- Third place, Distinguished Chapter Officer Team (Tucker, vice president Kiara Wood, secretary Rebecca Jackson, treasurer Sheethal Biju)