Catalyst 2018 offers PTK students numerous opportunities

Once a year, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapters from all over the world gather at the Catalyst International Convention to learn and share their experiences. This year, 12 students had the honor of representing the Alpha Alpha Xi chapter of Richland College at the conference in Kansas City, Mo. April 19-22.

Catalyst 2018 was quite special. This year marked the 100th anniversary of PTK. The honor society was born in 1918 in Missouri. Since then, the organization has grown into the largest honors society in the world with some 3 million members and more than 1,250 chapters worldwide.

The purpose of Catalyst is to teach students about the organization, how it works on an international level and to energize students.

“It was a good exposure [for students]. As you know, Richland has a lot of international students, so [the] students we bring [to the conference] were kind of [from] all over the place so that also enriched the experience,” said Dr. Jon Ewing, professor of religion and PTK adviser at Richland.

Richland students who attended the conference included six PTK officers in leadership, scholarship, service and fellowship along with six other PTK members.

“This year was a bit unique because we have the support from the DCCCD Chancellor [Joe] May. Typically, we take about six or eight students, so we were able to take 12 students this time. And the chapter took care of not just the conference, the hotel, the lodging but also their airlines tickets and the airport shuttles to and from the KC [airport] and the hotel. So it was a good year for us,” Ewing said.

In addition to the opportunity to travel, the students got to interact with more than 5,000 PTK members from community colleges all over the world, hear guest speakers, attend workshops, learn about scholarships, internships and transferring to four-year universities. Guest speakers are frequently influential people who help inspire students. This year, the theme was about psychology.

“The conference was amazing. It was definitely a life-changing experience for a lot of us. There were so many really great sessions. PTK brought the Ted Talk speaker, Amy Cuddy, the author of the book "Quiet," Susan Cain, the American actor, singer and rapper Daveed Diggs and British illustrator Chris Riddel. Each and every speaker's speech was so inspiring, promising and encouraging,” said Aysegul Ate, PTK member majoring in finance and management information systems.

“My favorite speech was Amy Cuddy's. She talked about body language. My favorite quote is ‘When we are powerful, we expand. Let's make our daughters expand.’ She talked about how men and women differ in their body language and [that] women are often seen as less powerful than men.”

During the convention, Richland student Desmond Orgazi was recognized on stage as one of 50 national Gold Scholars for the All-USA Coca-Cola Scholarship. Orgazi is the Service Officer of PTK. Kristi Nealy from the Richland Office of Student Life was also honored as a Distinguished Administrator for her support of Phi Theta Kappa’s activities.

The conference included a lot of social events for students to make new friends and strengthen other relationships. Catalyst’s participants also elected a new PTK president to serve for the next year.

For more information about the Richland College chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society visit