Members of the 2021 All-Virginia Academic Team, several Thomas Nelson students among them, are poised to be future leaders. Virginia's Community Colleges Chancellor Glenn DuBois said as much during an April 21 awards program honoring the students. In opening remarks for the virtual event, he challenged the "spectacular group" to consider many things society needs from leaders on the road ahead in these tumultuous times.
“Leaders confront challenges, my friends. They adapt and overcome. They excel in dire circumstances and they help others see the way forward,” said DuBois. “In earning PTK honors you’ve taken an important step in establishing yourself as one of those leaders.”
“No matter where your aspirations lead … No matter what careers you seek … No matter what your dreams are that you pursue, we will need leaders there too. So enjoy today’s honors. You’ve earned them. But, know as I do, that this is just a preamble to the compelling challenges, memorable moments, and the great successes you will experience as your life progresses forward. I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way,” he added.
Virginia is one of 39 participating states in the All-State Community College Academic Teams program which recognizes Phi Theta Kappa members' scholastic achievement and promotes excellence at two-year colleges. Thomas Nelson students who made the All-Virginia Academic Team include Steve Cunningham, Teresa Gregory, Colleen Ward and Jarel White. They, along with their VCCS peers who were celebrated during the event, received a medallion and a certificate.
White also made the Phi Theta Kappa Top 10 All-Virginia Academic Team and was named a Silver Scholar on the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team. He was awarded a $1,250 Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation scholarship and will receive $500 from Thomas Nelson.
Students on the Top 10 Team achieved the highest ratings in the international program sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, USA Today and the America Association of Community Colleges while those on the Coca-Cola team are nominated by their college administrators and selection is based on academic achievement, leadership, engagement in college and community service.
During the virtual awards program, the audience of roughly 140 included College presidents, Phi Theta Kappa advisors, and others representing 23 VCCS schools. They were welcomed by Dabney Lancaster Community College President John Rainone and heard a keynote address from Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner.
Tichner-Ladner discussed student success citing key factors that are necessary for students to excel – self-efficacy and a sense of belonging. She also noted students must find value in the curriculum.
“One of the things we do at Phi Theta Kappa is we study and research student success… We have access to the best students. We’re sort of involved in understanding student success from the perspective of the student. The first thing we know is that students must believe they can do it. In other words, students must have a high self-efficacy for learning,” she said.
As for a sense of belonging, she said students should make positive connections on campus that help them grow as opposed to having limited or no interaction with others while enrolled. Things such as participation on athletic teams and in peer groups like Phi Theta Kappa are vital. Also high on the list is building relationships with one or more trusted faculty members so there’s “someone who has your back” on campus.
“The third factor that students must have to be successful (and this is mainly for faculty) is that they must find value in the curriculum,” said Tichner-Ladner. “They have to see how these individual things fit into their learning and their degree requirements. I think today’s students just have a super low tolerance for assignments that they see as irrelevant and we have to be mindful of this when we build our curriculums."
She lauded the students and wished them well in closing.
"For you the members of the All-Virginia (Academic) Team, we study your success, too. I can tell you you have 100% chance of completing college. But more importantly, our research shows that you’ll have more successful life outcomes as well. I want to challenge all of our students here to be part of a movement – one that not only includes your personal journey of success, but one that lets the whole world know colleges here in Virginia are equal parts accessibility, affordability, and quality. So again, congratulations. You are crushing it."
Phi Theta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and largest honor society for students seeking associate degrees and credentials from community colleges. The organization includes more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations with approximately 240,000 active members. Learn more at ptk.org.