Give us 50 years, and we’ll give you 7,000 leaders who are well-equipped to become paragons of success within the community. Elgin Community College's Rho Kappa Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) celebrated its 50th anniversary in November 2018 when past and present members connected and shared with each other the exciting ways that PTK has transformed their lives and fostered their development as community leaders.
After their time at ECC, PTK alumni go on to become corporate executives, actors, STEM researchers, educators, health care professionals, musicians, entrepreneurs, public safety officials, attorneys, engineers and more.
“For me, joining PTK wasn’t a means to get recognized or be awarded scholarships,” said ECC student Margaret Sherman, who served as president of the chapter during the 2017–2018 academic year. “While those are definitely benefits, PTK became an avenue to learn about who I am as a person—a leader—and it gave me opportunities that I can use to sculpt my future.”
PTK is an award-winning, internationally recognized honor society for community college students whose members participate in a variety of service, scholarship, leadership and fellowship activities. Participation in the society is life-changing for ECC students who, upon their acceptance into the society, grow as scholars and as student leaders.
Many members are attracted to PTK after noticing how it has benefited their family members’ lives. In some instances, an entire generation of siblings is inducted, which was the case for Ryan Weiss, ECC alumnus and member of the District 509 Board of Trustees. Weiss served as student trustee at ECC 20 years ago, and his sister and brother-in-law are also PTK alumni.
First Year Programs Coordinator Ali-Reza Kashani, an ECC and PTK alumnus, currently serves as one of three staff advisors for the chapter. Kashani was recognized as a Distinguished Advisor during the organization’s international centennial conference in April 2018. Kashani’s siblings were PTK members, too.
“When I was a student, PTK gave me the resources and opportunities to be successful beyond the classroom,” said Kashani. “Now as an advisor, the best part of working with students is seeing their transformations—they are more confident, self-motivated, and ultimately become better leaders who are prepared to achieve their academic and personal goals.”
In its 50-year history, ECC’s PTK chapter has won dozens of awards recognizing its service projects, community involvement, chapter leadership, chapter excellence, and overall contributions to the PTK Honor Society.
Some of ECC’s recent accomplishments include:
- 2003 – Organized ECC's first Relay for Life cancer fundraising walk, which raised more than $650,000 in 13 years.
- 2006 – Pacesetter Award from the Illinois Community College Trustees Association awarded to PTK alum Katie (Hopkins) Storey, EdD (‘03).
- 2009 – Won the National PTK Beta Alpha Continued Excellence Award.
- 2009 – PTK member Andrea Andrada (’09) named to the All-USA Community College Academic Team. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation named her a New Century Scholar, a first for an ECC student.
- 2015 – Opened the Spartan Food Pantry to benefit ECC students.
- 2016 – Won an Elgin Image Award, recognizing Spartan Food Pantry’s positive impact on the city of Elgin.
- 2018 – Ali-Reza Kashani ('11), first year programs coordinator, named Distinguished Advisor at PTK international conference.
- 2018 – Partnered with Advocate Sherman Hospital to grow fresh produce for Spartan Food Pantry.