JCJC’s PTK honor society chapter recognized internationally

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2012-05-04 11:27:33

ELLISVILLE – The two-year college international honor society, Phi Theta Kappa recently showered Jones County Junior College's Rho Sigma chapter with an abundance of honors at its Regional and International Conventions over the last two months.  The nine-member student leadership team and their advisers are proud of the following international awards and honors: Distinguished Chapter Officer Team Award, Distinguished College Project Award and Top 100 Chapter. PTK Adviser Carol Bergin explained changes in the awards criteria two years ago made it more difficult for all of the chapters to earn honors.
“This is significant because the number of awards and honors has been cut in half making it even more difficult for a chapter to earn honors at this level. We’re very proud of this years’ group,” said Bergin. 
Additionally, Jones’ PTK president, Gwen Matuszewski of Raleigh, and PTK adviser, Gwen Magee presented the award winning College Project, “The Tassel's Worth the Hassle” to the 1,280 chapters present at the International Convention in Nashville, TN. Because this was the first time JCJC’s PTK chapter was asked to present at the convention, advisers and students say that opportunity has made this one of the more special years in the chapter's history.  
“We were honored to be asked to present our project at the international convention. This probably helped our chances of winning international awards,” said Matuszewski.  “We believe it’s been a successful project for us at Jones and we’re proud other chapters were interested in the project too.”
The Tassel’s Worth the Hassle project was intended to improve graduation rates for Jones. It is also part of the national goal of President Obama in his American Graduation Initiative to improve graduation rates by 2020, according to Magee. Students were educated about the importance of graduating from Jones versus transferring to a senior college. 
“Our program can be used as a model for other chapters across the globe, because of PTK’s influence internationally,” said Magee. “The idea was created and initiated at PTK’s summer honor institute by the student leadership team. Jones’ administration allowed the PTK chapter’s leadership team to attend, which has impacted the success of the project at Jones and the project has influenced continued growth in the number of graduates.”
JCJC was one of only 25 chapters awarded with the Distinguished College Project Award at the international convention. They were only one of 30 chapters recognized with the award for a Distinguished Chapter Officer Team and the chapter was honored as a Top 100 Chapter for its overall work and accomplishments.
Sophomore Jordy White from Benton shared the spotlight at the international convention when he was recognized as one of 20 students from the 2,240 applicants to be named a Guistewhite Scholar. The pre-med major was also awarded as a Gold Coca-Cola Scholar and a First Team member at PTK’s State recognition luncheon in Jackson, honoring its New Century Scholars and the All-Mississippi Academic Team. White and Hattiesburg’s Kristin George, the VP of JCJC’s Rho Sigma chapter, were co-directors of the Honor's in Action Project, “College for a Day.”  
JCJC’s Katie Pittman, the PTK secretary and sophomore nursing major earned the Silver Coca-Cola Scholar status and Second Team honors.
At the regional level, which is comprised of 35 chapters in Mississippi and Louisiana, Jones’ chapter earned six more honors, including an elected position of Regional President.
“This is the first time JCJC’s Rho Sigma chapter has won this officer position regionally. An officer unknown at this time will preside over all the regional meetings next year. We had to campaign for this honor and we’re so glad we won!” said Matuszewski.
Matuszewski was nominated by the chapter advisers and recognized at the regional convention with the Order of the Gold Key Award, because of her work on the “Tassel’s Worth the Hassle” project.


Rho Sigma chapter at Jones also earned the Distinguished Chapter Award for the graduation project and White and Georges’ work on the “College for a Day” project with South Jones first graders. The “Tassel’s Worth the Hassle” project was one of five College Projects earning honors and the chapter was awarded the 5-Star Chapter Award.   Director of Campus Activities for PTK, Danielle Chaney of Taylorsville was honored for her work coordinating all of PTK’s events on campus and received the Distinguished Chapter Officer Award.
“This was the first time the chapter had this director position so it was nice to be recognized and more importantly, knowing my work serving my chapter was successful,” said Chaney.
The chapter’s success is due in part to assistance from the JCJC Marketing Department, according to Magee. Materials used for the Tassel’s Worth the Hassel public relations campaign were created by members in the department under the guidance of the PTK officers and advisers. The department also assisted with the presentation at the international convention.
The Rho Sigma nine-member leadership team is comprised of Gwen Matuszewski as President; Kristin George as VP and co-director of Honor's in Action Project, College for a Day with Jordy White; Katie Pittman as Secretary; Danielle Chaney as Director of Campus Activities; Daniel Anderson of Beaumont as Director of Information and Technology; Katie Byrd of Petal as Director of Campus Meetings/Speakers; Justin Hill of Columbia as Director of Fundraising and Kim Ainsworth of Seminary as Reporter.



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