PTKAW receives international recognition

Legacy of Leadership: PTKAW projects continue to bring Washburn notoriety and success. PTKAW has provided Washburn with over five years of service and excellence.

Matthew L. Self, Review Editor in Chief

Phi Theta Kappa Alumni of Washburn University (PTKAW) was internationally recognized Friday, April 17, with a 2-star rating by the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society of the two-year college (PTK).

PTKAW plays an important role at Washburn University.

Its members participate in multiple activities every year that include shoe drives, medical supply drives, trunk-or-treat day and more.

Each of these events not only benefit PTKAW but also help the university gain international recognition.

PTKAW is one of only four chapters that managed to receive a star rating.

There is a total of 16 chartered university based PTK alumni chapters.

The four chapters that received a rating include Athens State University (5-stars), Louisiana State University (2-stars), the University of Mississippi (1-star) and Washburn University.

“The foremost value in this is the international recognition that Washburn has received,” said Chairman of the Board Paul Flumen. “This rating system is promoted across Phi Theta Kappa [and] the entire college system sees this list and sees these honorees. By receiving this recognition, we’ve earned it not only for our members but also for the university.”

The mission of the organization includes promoting Washburn University as a transfer option for members of PTK, promoting membership in PTK to new community college students and participating in projects which will enhance members’ competitiveness for scholarships.

It has long been a tradition within PTK to recognize members, advisors, regions and chapters at the community college level with star rankings from 1 to 5.

Performance criteria are set up as benchmarks for each level – with the highest level being 5-star.

The criteria necessary to attain a star ranking includes volunteer projects, fundraising goals, honors study topics and participation in regional and international conventions.

PTK created a similar 5-star recognition system for alumni chapters in 2018.

The criteria that is needed to attain a star rating includes activities like holding regular business meetings throughout the year, holding induction ceremonies for new members and organizing at least one volunteer project on campus.

Additionally, this includes participating in the annual regional convention and completing a fundraiser for a scholarship.

The required criteria were met by PTKAW in 2019, except for attending the international convention which was deemed to be cost prohibitive as it was being held in Orlando, Florida.

PTKAW would have received the full 5-star rating had this condition been met.

“This is astonishingly exciting,” said history professor, Alan Bearman, a longtime associate of PTKAW at Washburn. “A great accomplishment for those who have been involved with operating the group the last few years. It is a great accomplishment for Washburn University because it demonstrates our commitment to our students. We have been incredibly fortunate to have great student leadership in the group.”

The organization is hopeful that they will receive the full rating next year as many of the conditions have already been met, including attending the international convention which was amended to an online platform due to the coronavirus outbreak.

For members of PTKAW, both past and present, the 2-star rating is a well-deserved moment of recognition for years of hard work and dedication.

Those who are still active with the organization are pleased with the recent rating and see it as inspiration to push themselves.

“This serves as motivation going forward,” said Vice-President for PTK Relations Katty Vasquez. “We want to hit that 5-star rating and continue to stay there for the years to come.”

Former members chimed in on the rating.

“I was pleased someone recognized the organization. Everyone who has helped the organization in the past has helped further the goals of PTKAW to reach this point,” said Kyann Eslick, former president of the organization.

To learn more about PTKAW and what they do for Washburn visit the organization’s website at

Edited by Wesley Tabor, Hannah Alleyne, Abbie Barth

PTKAW brought this recognition to Washburn because Washburn believed in the mission of this organization since I espoused the idea in 2013 while still a student at Highland Community College. There are a great many people we need to thank who made this moment possible. First and foremost, Alan Bearman identified with our goals from the outset because he is familiar with the community college, and his support was unwavering. Our advisors James Barraclough and Kaydee Emperley have both come from the Center for Student Success, because Dr. Bearman has been championing our cause from the beginning. The OSID (formerly SAGL) enabled PTKAW to register as a student organization quickly and easily, enabling us to conduct formal outreach and grow, thanks to Angela Valdivia and Jessica Barraclough. The Admissions office, especially Joseph Tinsley, Brett Johnson, and most of all Nicole Vavra, recognized how our mission aligned with theirs, trumpeted our accomplishments to the community colleges, and allowed us to recruit at Transfer Day and Transfer Student Orientation. Our volunteer partners enabled us to conduct successful projects to meet the standards for PTK and earn recognition for our members: Rosemary Helms from Community Care Ministries, who staged the original Shoe Drives, Hygiene Products Drive, and endowed our Scholarship; Pam Evans from Family Service & Guidance Center, with our Trunk or Treat; Carrie Allen, Grace Clinton, and Lisa Cain from Doorstep Inc., who coordinated our recent Shoe Drives; and Laurie Sodamann from Pine Ridge Family Health Center, who coordinated our medical supplies drive.
Finally, we owe the most gratitude to former members of PTKAW. When we registered PTKAW for the first time in 2016, there were 10 of us. People like Amy Reinhardt, Kristen Kogl, Sierra Strathe, Taylor Kemp, Bryna Parson, Ashley Gannaway, Lucas Haefner, Patrick Monaghan, and Thaina Jensen, who like me is still around, are the reason the current members enjoy success today. Ebony White set the standard of what PTKAW is all about with her involvement in nearly every project we did during her time; her generous and loving spirit are the reason we named our Scholarship after her. Finally, someone who is too humble to admit her role, Kyann Eslick, who graduated last year: as I became busier the burden was left to Kyann to mentor new members and bring them up to speed. The recruiting class we had in 2018 was the best we ever had, because of her leadership; the members who she mentored did the work in 2019 which led to this award in 2020. Make no mistake, even with the efforts of everyone else mentioned here, this honor would not have happened without Kyann Eslick, period. So this honor is hers as much as it is mine or anyone else’s.
Paul Flumen