Why I Attend ACC and Joined Phi Theta Kappa

Camila Monroe, ACC studentNowadays, we hear everywhere about the importance of diversity; community colleges are the most diverse academic population anyone will be able to find. A quick walk around our school will illustrate that: we find overachieving high schoolers, coming back students, young adults pursuing a new career, international students, Hispanics, people of color, LGBTQ activists, Republicans and Democrats, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers…and the list goes on. The differences in backgrounds, race, gender, political affiliation and age make community colleges the environment that we would like to see along the streets. It’s an environment where all of that diversity comes together to learn. Of course big universities might also offer that variety, but in community colleges that is a sure thing; one of the reasons is that nearly every person can afford that kind of education.

Which brings me to another point: we are at school because we want to – not because our parents do. We sign up for classes because we truly expect to learn, and to apply that obtained knowledge as soon as possible, whether it is towards a job or higher levels of education. We are goal-oriented students, and we will persevere in the journey towards that goal.

I joined PTK to become the VP of Honors in Action (HiA), a position that combined two things that I have a passion for: research and community service. I started my project that summer, and I have learned and grew so much ever since. I have had experiences with community service and journalism back in my home country of Brazil, doing something similar in a completely different language and culture was beyond challenging. But I succeeded, and as a consequence I started to engage more and more every day.

The success of that project made me thirsty for more; more friends than those amazing ones I had met at PTK, more outreach of my ideas on how we could improve our community, more ways to be part of my school beyond showing up and getting good grades. After my award-winning HiA, I joined many clubs, became a chemistry, biology and economics tutor at ACC, joined the Colorado Space Grant Program, and, finally, became president of student government and of our PTK chapter. I believe PTK is not only for those who were born ready, who had all resources available; it is also an honor society for those who overcame obstacles, who do not ignore, but recognize and even celebrate their imperfections. Those are the hard-working students, who understand that a leader is not born, but built, slowly, as a consequence of the never-ending process of bettering ourselves.

by Camila Monroe

In Phi Theta Kappa your potential is limitless

Tasha EsteinIf you catch a bee in glass, you’ll find the bee will hit the top of the glass a few times–trying to fly away–before stopping. If you take that same glass and flip it right side up (without removing the bee), you’ll find that the bee won’t try to fly away any more. In fact, it’s usually quite a while before the bee even realizes that he can fly to reach his full potential. We, as humans, create these same kinds of limitations for ourselves every day. We see how expansive the sky appears to be, but because we have fumbled along the way a few times and hit the glass– maybe because we were under-prepared, were told that we couldn’t do better, or it simply wasn’t the right time – we think of that small, limited glass as our best lot in life. I’m here to help you realize that the sky is the limit – there are no glass limitations except those that you set for yourself. Phi Theta Kappa can help actualize that.

For those of you that know me, hi! For those that do not, I’m Tasha Estein – Phi Theta Kappa, Sigma Phi chapter’s historian for this year. I have a secret to share with you all: I’m completely mediocre. I didn’t learn how to read until I was almost 10 years old. I had to retake my senior year of high school. And I had to wait seven years just to get into community college. I have fallen more times than I can count and I have fallen harder than I ever thought I could recover from.

When I started classes at ACC last fall, if you asked me then where I thought I would be in a year’s time–I would have had very low expectations for myself. I came to this school wanting to be invisible: to get my credits and go. I never expected to do anything that I would be proud of, and I certainly didn’t expect to be in a position where people would care who I was. In this last year, however, I have won several awards, been selected for noteworthy positions, and accomplished many things that anyone would be proud of. I will not bother you with the boring specifics, but to give you a bit of perspective: this time last week I was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida working with NASA scientists and 40 exceptional community college students from all over the US. The real kick that I get out of those community college students? Almost all of them were Phi Theta Kappa members and some of them are even intending to run for an International Office for next year. This trend is not limited to NASA either.

Over the past year, I have attend many events, always with a large variety of students. But almost always I have found that the most exceptional people are involved with PTK. And while there are successful students outside of PTK, this organization is a culmination of the best and brightest. Why? Because if you are reading this, you have already proved to be a hardworking individual. If you are reading this, you know that PTK has something important to give to you: the ability to go farther than you ever thought you could go before–a means of becoming the person that you were meant to be.

Although we all have different backgrounds and come from different walks of life, we have joined here because deep down we want to strive for greatness. Perhaps, some of you have already realized it or perhaps some of you are where I was a year ago–when I thought I wouldn’t amount to anything. No matter where you are, it’s important to remember that you will get what you give. If you are willing to work like you did to get to this point the only way out is up. From working with PTK I have gained confidence, found life changing opportunities, made friends and memories, and had a blast while doing it.

I want to personally encourage you to learn more about Sigma Phi. You have reached the edge of the glass. From here, you only need to remember to fly. I can’t wait to see where we will go from here. Thank you.

by Tasha Estein, ACC Student