As the Fall semester begins, the college is brimmed with students navigating their way to their classes. With merciful Professors giving extra window time to enter their classes, the new students and the old alike begin their academic journey. Though this may be experienced at most colleges, here at North Lake College, the story was different. It is the legacy that Phi Theta Kappa’s North Lake College chapter Alpha Zeta Eta, ardently maintains with the Follett Bookstore for the past three years. With 27 willing hearts the volunteering service for the Follett Bookstore at North Lake College was quite a success; amounting to 288 hours of service. As a well-prepared event, even before the service could begin in the first week of the semester, which had been the order of the past, students were given a two-day training falling on the 16th and the 17th of August 2017. On the first day, the orientation took place in the morning under the guidance of Mr. Mark Moore, the Store Manager who was strict and diligent at the same time. Through slide show presentation the students were taught about the basics and the norm of the Follett Bookstore. Following the orientation, the students were taken to the bookstore and further taught on how to find a book and its availability at the bookstore through their Follett website. And it did not stop there, as some of the students were challenged to find books as per the instructions. It was a real challenge as it seemed well understood when the instruction was first made but with a quick reminder from Mr. Jodeci Solomon a Team Member, who controlled the affairs at the store room helped the students to find the books at ease. And the day ended at noon with these instructions.
Being directly engaged in the community is an integral part of today’s society. Community service involvement builds crucial leadership experience for those who partake in it, and the community benefits through the services provided. Our Chapter, Alpha Zeta Eta, is heavily oriented with service and faithfully serves the community through projects. This summer, we are participating in a service project for the City of Irving and Irving-Las Colinas Rotary Club called Flags Over Irving. This event showcases the love and pride the residents of Irving have for America putting flags in front of their homes by charging homeowners to put flags out for each “flag” holiday. The flags are property of the Irving-Las Colinas Rotary Club and with help from the Boy Scouts and our Chapter, we proudly place the flags across homes in Irving. The days were bright and sunny and placing the flags is a lot of work. However, it is a lot of fun too. We march and sing the Star-Spangled Banner holding flags up high and residents driving by would show their appreciation by stopping and saying words of encouragement to us as they drove by. This gave us quite a bit of motivation and showed how relational our community is. This project has given us a great team building experience. We discuss strategic action plans for our projects while we put out the flag. It is truly a win-win for our Chapter. This whole project is worth it; being able to do it makes us extremely joyous because 100% of the Flags Over Irving proceeds go toward supporting youth programs and scholarships for our local community. Knowing that our city and community will benefit through this project makes us excited to participate, and we look forward to continuing this project for the days ahead!
Being directly engaged in the community is an integral part of today’s society. Community service involvement builds significant leadership experience for those who partake in it, and the community benefits through the services provided. Our Chapter, Alpha Zeta Eta, is heavily oriented with service and faithfully serves the community through projects. This summer, we are participating in a service project for the City of Irving and Irving-Las Colinas Rotary Club called Flags Over Irving. This event showcases the love and pride the residents of Irving have for America putting flags in front of their homes by charging homeowners to put flags out for each “flag” holiday. The flags are the property of the Irving-Las Colinas Rotary Club, and with help from the Boy Scouts and our Chapter, we proudly place the flags across homes in Irving. The days were bright and sunny and placed the flags is a lot of work. However, it is a lot of fun too. We march and sing the Star-Spangled Banner holding flags up high and residents driving by would show their appreciation by stopping and saying words of encouragement as we placed the flags in the assigned yards. This gave us quite a bit of motivation and showed how supportive our community is for this project and our Chapter, Alpha Zeta Eta. This project has given us a great team building experience. We discuss strategic action plans for our projects while we put out the flag. It is truly a win-win for our Chapter. This whole project is worth it; being able to do it makes us extremely joyous because 100% of the Flags Over Irving proceeds go toward supporting youth programs and scholarships for our local community. Knowing that our city and community will benefit from this project makes us excited to participate, and we look forward to continuing this project for the days ahead!
The Community Garden is located at North Lake College central campus. Because of its location, the garden becomes a favorite spot for students to enjoy a peaceful environment and the beautiful views of the college and its lake. This garden is taken care of by officers and members of Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Eta Zeta Chapter with help from other faculty and staff. In 2008, the garden started as our College Project, and in 2016, we included it as part of our College Project, Home Green Home, which was to raise money to upgrade the watering system, sustainability projects, and provides supplies for students to participate in gardening. This project helps not only increase the relationship between the chapter and the college administration but also benefit students and the community. All clean, organic vegetables from this garden are used to provide for low-income students and the Irving community.
After the last harvest of spring 2017, the garden has been facing a fire ant issue that stopped people from working on it. These fire ants spread faster during the summer and hurt some members and officers who participated in gardening. Luckily, even during summer break, the Landscape Services Department was still able to work and help the chapter find the solution for this problem. Staff from this department provided an organic product which would take care of the problem and gave quick instructions about how to apply the product. Following their instructions, our officers took turns in applying the product and checked up with the garden three times per week to make sure that the fire ants were removed. After solving the problem with fire ants within two weeks, our officers started cleaning up weeds, organizing supplies, and planning for the summer harvest.
Working in the community garden is an opportunity for the whole chapter to gain experience about gardening as well as give back to the community. Each person who participates in this project can learn from his/her lessons through hard work, engage with other members and officers, and last but not least, obtain extra hours for volunteer services throughout the year.
In partnership with the Alpha Mu Tau chapter at Collin College, North Lake College’s Alpha Zeta Eta officers, Magui Mijes, Pascal Bakari and S.M. Gibran had an extraordinary opportunity to prepare and present an Honors in Action (HiA) workshop at the 2017 Texas Honors Institute. The workshop was primarily focused on Service and Advocacy as it pertains to HiA. From the Alpha Mu Tau chapter, we partnered with James Carter, David Parker, and Monique Spence. This year’s Texas Honors Institute was held at Schreiner University from July 21st – 23rd with attendees from all five districts in the region. The three-day event was jam packed with chapters who had already begun their research; however, we later found out during our workshop sessions that most had only read a few pages from the Honors Program Guide. A few others hadn’t even begun thinking about their HiA projects.
New to HiA, Phi Theta Kappans can feel overwhelmed; we helped by providing understanding between the service and advocacy components. What is service and advocacy—truly? Are service and advocacy the same thing? Can they be used simultaneously in an HiA project? These are some of the questions new chapter members ask regarding service and advocacy. If only there were a way to simplify matters, allowing members to enjoy the research process and focus more on their project. Enter—Alpha Zeta Eta and Alpha Mu Tau.
We were tasked with preparing and presenting a 45-minute workshop to educate Phi Theta Kappa members about Service and Advocacy as it pertains to the Honors in Action project. Our chapters set out to present a workshop that would be informative to both chapters that weren’t as knowledgeable about HiA and to those that just needed additional information to get started. We wanted the audience to walk away with knowledge, resources, and confidence. From brainstorming and selecting themes, researching the chosen theme, to presenting the final project within a limited time table; our workshop was carefully designed to reflect the process of completing a real-life HiA.
Magui Mijes (Alpha Zeta Eta) opened with greetings and handed out note cards to our participants; encouraging them to make a note of interesting facts they learn during the presentation as well as any questions they might have regarding Service and Advocacy. We began the workshop with a fun game we like to call Service and Advocacy: Myth or Reality? We used this opportunity to quiz the audience about their knowledge of service and advocacy through a 5 question Kahoot game. We asked participants to form groups of four for the game, encouraging them to get up and move around the room. Each group had 25 seconds to read the question and discuss their final answer as a team. The purpose was to get participants comfortable with talking to one another as this would come in handy for the case study activity we for planned later in the presentation.
After the game, S.M. Gibran (Alpha Zeta Eta) and David Parker (Alpha Mu Tau) gave a brief overview of the Honors in Action project. They explained the steps before reaching the action component and how to proceed after selecting a service and/or advocacy project. Monique Spence (Alpha Mu Tau) gave tips on successful service and/or advocacy projects. Monique also encouraged members to “Consider the impact of your project, both qualitatively and quantitatively.”
James Carter (Alpha Mu Tau) along with Pascal Bakari (Alpha Zeta Eta) followed up on Monique’s tips by providing detailed definitions of Service and Advocacy. We made it very clear to our participants that the action component of their project cannot be determined before completing their research as this would be an example of ‘putting the horse in front of the cart.’ Pascal explained that “how you are an advocate or how you show service must be a product of your committee’s research.” David later expanded on Pascal’s statement by adding that “the action component of a project is essentially the capstone of a scholarly experience.”
To give participants an opportunity to practice the process of reaching the action component of an HiA project, we set aside 20 minutes for a case study during the workshop. For our case study activity, David Parker gave each team instructions to prepare them for what the real process of completing an HiA project would be like in real life. As David gave instructions, Magui Mijes handed out packets to each person in a team. The handouts were comprised of excerpts we compiled from three different, yet related articles. Each person in the group was assigned an article, and one person was tasked with taking notes. After reviewing each article, we encouraged participants to reflect on it as a team by answering a ‘so what?’ prompt.
After completing all three articles, teams developed a conclusion from their findings. From their conclusion, they crafted a working hypothesis to help guide their objectives. Finally, they brainstormed a service and advocacy action to bring it all together! Each team had 90 seconds to present their findings, project ideas, why they chose that project, and how their reached the action component (service and/or advocacy). Why just 90 seconds? Since chapters are given a maximum of 2600 words for their Hallmarks submission, we wanted to give our participants a taste of what it’s like to explain your project and its action component within a short time table.
So, if you’re just getting started with your HiA project, remember, expressing the process is the focus as opposed to the polish of the final product. Focus on the process and don’t put the horse ahead of the cart. Always remember to TRUST THE PROCESS! But, most importantly, have fun! We hope that we’ve left you with Knowledge, Resources, and Confidence that you will take back to your chapter and continue to work hard toward submitting an amazing project.
If there’s anything I learned from being an Officer of Phi Theta Kappa, it’s how crucial research is for Honors in Action. The research that we do is based on the Honors Topic “How the World Works, Global Perspectives” allows us to delve into thinking from an international perspective and find needs in our communities. Our research led us to get in contact and work with Mr. William McCary, the energy manager for the Irving Independent School District (IISD), who has been assisting us with our research. Through him, we toured Lady Bird Johnson Middle School, one of the middle schools in the IISD, to look at energy consumption and air quality within the schools and its buildings. Now we didn’t just tour this school for no reason, and Lady Bird Johnson isn’t your average everyday middle school, it’s a net-zero middle school focusing heavily on sustainability. We were greeted at the gates by Mr. McCary, who introduced us to a cool feature right at the entrance. The carpeted area you step on, right after you enter the school, is designed in a way to get rid of pollutants from your shoes. Right after the entrance comes the main hall, which has clerestory windows across the roof of the whole hallway, allowing for natural light to shine through. The floors are made of 12% recycled material and are also recyclable. In addition, the walls are painted with low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint. From the main hallway, we viewed the omniroom and the library, which both contain Green-guard certified furniture. The library is surrounded by a huge windowed wall, allowing natural light to pour into the library and the omniroom contains purge ports for the Geo thermal HVAC system, which they utilize to teach the students as well. All the classrooms have an exterior window allowing natural light to come into the classrooms. They all have day lighting sensors, which monitor the amount of light entering the room, thus dictating the amount of artificial light needed. We explored the inverter room, which contains the equipment converting the power collected from the solar panels on the roof from DC to AC. The inverter then connects to a meter which allows the power to be uploaded onto the grid as electricity. The roof of the school contains solar panels, and the color is white, allowing light to reflect onto the panels, increasing the amount of energy taken in and reducing the amount of heat gained. Our minds were in awe as we journaled and absorbed the information like sponges. The middle school is displaying incredible feats through sustainability, and the kids who attend are blessed to attend such a school. Our Chapter’s visit to Lady Bird Johnson Middle School is one to remember for a long time.
Becoming an officer of Phi Theta Kappa is an important accomplishment and incredible milestone requiring a considerable amount of responsibility. At North Lake College in Irving Texas, our officers attend a 4-day training, hosted by our Texas Region Alumni Association trainers. All the Chapters in the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) are invited to attend this free training where we learn about leadership duties, goal setting, calendar planning, Honors in Action, College Project, and team building, just to name a few. It is a chance to meet new people, make new friends, learn, and bond. We invite all current and potential officers, committee chairs, and members interested in taking leadership positions in their chapter. There is always something new to learn, especially getting the chance to interact and build rapport with your other officers from not only your chapter but from the other Chapters as well.
For our Chapter at North Lake College, Alpha Zeta Eta, the new officers were required to attend this training. This year, officers from Brookhaven, Eastfield, El Centro, and Cedar Valley attended as well. The training was well organized, informative, and helpful. It started off with what is Phi Theta Kappa 101- what does it mean and everything you need to know. Next, we discussed protocol within our chapters and district, having successful meetings, delegation, vitaes and resumes, and finally scholarships- and that was just day one. One day of the training was dedicated to Honors in Action. We went through the guide, processes, discussed and researched themes, and learned the in’s and out’s of how the HiA project works. WOW! What a day.
One day was spent with our District Chapters during the Annual Spring Fling, a time of networking and having fun with the other chapters in our area. Finally, on our last day, we had the opportunity for each chapter to learn their By-laws, explore Five-Star Competitive Edge (our trainers had even completed their Five-Star Competitive Edge!), yearbooks, and the hallmark awards. A Phi Theta Kappa crash course in 4-days; it was completely worth it, and we are now prepared to help our fellow members this upcoming term. We now know members from other chapters and cannot wait to see them at the Texas Honors Institute in July. We are now prepared to lead our chapters to success!