Volume 1 | Issue 1 | August 2022

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Volume 1 | Issue 1 | May 2021

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A Healthy Future: Awareness and Metamorphosis

By: Nayeli Caldera
NM Region President

NMPTK Memebers and NM Land Commissioner Stephanie Richard Garcia.
September 2019

New Mexico had a beautiful event to look forward to in the month of September. The new Phi Theta Kappa Officer team planned their first leadership conference, hosted by UNM Los Alamos. Not only did it turn out to be a positive and successful weekend for members and advisors, but also for the state of New Mexico.

An immense amount of good was accomplished. The conference kicked off with fellowship in mind. On Friday, a group of students and advisors, including Neville Scott, the Division II International Officer, visited the PEEC Nature Center. While there, our group enjoyed the picturesque views that Pueblo Canyon had to offer. We learned about the beauty of the natural habitats surrounding the Los Alamos area that can be seen during the daylight hours. We then had the pleasure of listening to Steven Becker, the president of the Los Alamos Astronomy Club, tell about the stars, the planets, and the ancient stories of the constellations. Later that day, when our group had settled into our campsite, we were able to enjoy the day creatures, the sunset, and later, the Milky Way and its glowing lights. It was an evening filled with fellowship, love and understanding.

The actual day of the conference was full of the same kind of energy and spirit, with more attendees checking in. Alumni, advisors, members, guest speakers as well as the UNM Los Alamos President Dr. Rooney, participated in a handful of discussions, team building activities, and brainstorming sessions. Our key speaker, State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, was the highlight of everyone’s day! She participated in an open discussion with our Phi Theta Kappa family about her role, and more importantly, the role we play as human beings, in the future of our natural resources and the health of our planet.

It has become tradition for feelings to be expressed, tears to be shed, stories to be told and shared during our conferences. Though, this year, the extreme growth of strong bonds that I, personally, experienced with my advisors, my team members, and Phi Theta Kappa members, was incredible. It ended up becoming an emotionally understanding, educationally exhilarating retreat filled with personal and professional growth. As it was over, and I was driving back home with my chapter advisors, ideas started to flow for our next leadership conference. I can already see myself surrounded by our Phi Theta Kappa family again.

NM Land Commissioner Stephanie Richard Garcia and NMPTK VP Kevin Jenkins

Fall Conference 9/20 – 9/21

Parts of Beautiful Los Alamos, New Mexico

Vice President Kevin Jenkins
New Mexico Phi Theta Kappa

2019 National PTK Honors Institute Presentation

The “Honors In Action Project Guide” presentation that was used at the final group seminar can be downloaded here or by visiting and clicking “View the PowerPoint”.

2019 Honors Institute Report

By: Kevin Jenkins
NM Region Vice President

The lights of the Don Powell Theater, on the San Diego State University campus, dimmed as the five figures stepped on stage. The crowd erupted with cheers as the leaders stepped into focus. Phi Theta Kappa’s International Officer’s beamed with excitement as the 2019 Honor’s Institute commenced.

Don Powell Theater, nearly packed to capacity, had the energy of the sun this year. Before introducing each officer, International President James Elliott thanked the crowd for attending, and for their enthusiasm. He then thanked the faculty for their hard work and coordination in setting up the conference, and then introduced Crystal Chissell who spoke to the PTK students about “Project Drawdown.”

Drawdown was defined as the reversal of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. This was a very specific definition, as the plan does not reduce or slow carbon emissions, or hypothesize solutions, it only includes methods that REVERSE global warming. Ms. Chissell was eloquent and well versed on the topic. Working with over 130 advisors, Project Drawdown has published a book that provides a blueprint, that already exists, that can help humanity reverse greenhouse gases, starting today.

The book provides information about each solutions carbon impact and how it will be applied. The solutions, all heavily researched, do not include solutions that create a smaller emission, or decrease greenhouse gases, only answers that reverse them. The biggest lesson learned from Crystal’s speech was that the team did not waste time on any strategies that did not fit their strict criteria. If the any idea didn’t fit in even a little, it was thrown out. There was no energy wasted trying to make things fit, their time was spent researching what actually worked.

The next day, the second general session was A Conversation with Erica Shelton: Breaking into a Transforming world of Television Entertainment, conducted by Dr. Rosie Banks. Erica Shelton Kodish has been a writer and showrunner in the television industry for 15 years, working on several popular shows. She spoke about being a minority and a female in an industry that’s male dominant. She talked about the start of her career, and how she wanted to give up when her first ideas weren’t well received. She articulated about feeling responsible when some of the ideas pitched for minority characters did not feel authentic. Most of all, she acknowledged her persistence in her field, her doubts as a working mother, and the power of “No,” freely offering her opinion to Gabrielle Union for the show Being Mary Jane, until she was hit with an offer she could not refuse.

The third general session was extremely inspirational. Sue Reynolds, the self-proclaimed grandma triathlete, took us through her journey of transformation. Working for her own non-profit organization, Sue tipped the scales at 335 lbs. Her first transformation came when she began to rely on sugar to get her through her long work days. Still happy in her work and personal life, she had no need for change until one of her kids hit her with the hard truth that she would die if she didn’t fix her weight problems. Beginning with a slow journey of short walks, she began to set what she calls “Secret Daydreams,” one of which was to complete a triathlon.

Being uninitiated in the world of a triathlete, she attempted and completed her first event, and found a new passion. As the years passed and the weight dropped, she hired professionals to lead her on her newfound hobby. Being persistent, even in times of distress, she worked her way to sixth in the world (and first American) at the World Triathlon Championship, competing on behalf of the United States. Sue shared what she calls her “Change Formula” with the students. Each was asked to write down a secret daydream and the negative responses they tell themselves. Then, their vision for completion, knowledge of the first few steps, and a few beliefs in their selves. Her overall message was not to be afraid to dream as big as possible. Set your goals among the stars, then work backwards and break it down into smaller attainable goals.

The theme of the day seemed to be persistence and resilience. Both speakers lead different paths to get where they are today. Erica Shelton faced adversity and racism early in her career, but she stayed with her job and is now a well sought-after showrunner by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Sue Reynolds was obese and unhealthy, but persistence lead her into a healthy lifestyle and a spot as one of the top athlete’s in the world.

The PTK students then took a field trip to Old Town, San Diego, where the theme of the day was Place as Text. They visited a historic part of town that was burned down and restored back to its original glory as close as possible. While visiting, the students were asked to keep the overall subject of transformation in mind. Old Town was filled with history and employees, dressed in time authentic clothing, who answered questions and gave tours of their respective areas.

Thursday held the fourth general session, a short performance by Phi Theta Kappa’s Honors Program Council. They presented their rubric for the student’s Honors In Action projects and walked them through a fast example from brainstorming, to completion. The performance was entertaining and engaging. One only wishes that there was a recording available, because the brainstorming session showed how no idea is a bad idea and that projects don’t feel like work when everybody participates.

They hammered it into the PTK students head to use “the guide,” which was provided in part to all the attendees. Their Q&A session was open and honest, with one of the advisors admitting that he hates research but is 110% on board with all the other parts of the rubric. Not a popular opinion among some of the other staff, they countered that a project needs help in all parts along the way, but they understood his position.

Closing out the general sessions was a performance by the Honors Institute Readers Theater, composed of the 29 faculty advisors. The performance was a reworking of the story of Queen Elizabeth, in which the thespians touched on the themes of the conference: Networks of Life, Economies of Everything, Politics of Identity, Dynamics of Discovery, Channels of Creativity, Visions of Justice, Powers of Connection, Worlds of Work, and Systems of Belief.

In between general sessions, the students were broken into smaller groups, where they attended seminars that reflected on each general session and transformation. They were guided on parts of an Honors In Action project and asked to brainstorm how the topics could be discussed and used at each individual’s home chapter. Working with students from all over, they were able to learn from each other and see how their ideas may or may not work in another student’s neighborhood.

The Honors Institute was a wonderful experience. All students were taken care of and well behaved. Networking was rampant and successful. The knowledge and wisdom obtained at the conference will impact their lives far beyond college courses. Friendships were made within the student’s regions and across the nation. Phi Theta Kappa has proven why they are the Official Honor Society of two-year colleges.