Phi Theta Kappa Welcomes 37 Inductees from ACC

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A palpable excitement was drawn heavily from the students and their families as they crowded into the theater.  The inductees, holding their candles, symbolizing knowledge, proceeded in a single line and filed into their seats in the front row.  In total, 37 bright students with strong academic backgrounds, varying from software engineering to creative writing, were inducted into the echelons of Phi Theta Kappa’s Sigma Phi Chapter, ACC’s own chapter of the honor program.

The to-be inductees had lined themselves up outside the Waring Theater late Wednesday, April 19th, in preparation for the ceremony.  “I’ve never done anything like this, even in high school,” said inductee Ashlyn Stetzel.  “I was part of NJHS in middle school but this is different.  It’s really cool.”

Tasha Estein, Sigma Phi’s Historian, said that she really enjoys the symbolism of the ceremony.  “It’s always fun,” she said.

After the inductees had settled, ACC President Dr. Diane Doyle opened the ceremony.  In her opening remarks, she lauded the soon-to-be honorary members, dubbing them “the best of our best students.”  She emphasized how great the accomplishment of joining the honor society was, which provides academic and scholarship opportunities not otherwise available to other students.

Following President Doyle was PTK adviser Fida Obeidi, who introduced the night’s first guest speaker, Chapter President Leah Porter.  Leah’s speech was one of the capstones of the night.  She bravely shared her story; the story of a downtrodden Malaysian woman, relegated to strict gender roles that prevented her from attaining any sort of educational future in her home country.

“Please close your eyes, look back into your past and remember when you were seven?  What do you see?  I saw myself as a little girl being told that my job is in the kitchen.  There was an old saying [in the Hokkien language]: “Cha bo kia is pouk chut ki eh chui,”  The translation is, ‘girls are like water that will be thrown out,’ which means there is no point investing in girls.  I was also told girls have two things to do in their life.  The first is to find a husband and second, is to take care of their children.”

Porter’s deeply moving and inspiring speech drew a pin-drop silence over the room.  She closed her speech with words to be remembered:

“Looking back at my journey, I have come a long way. If I can do it, you can too. I am breaking barriers and will be the first one in my family to have a college degree. PTK has provided me the opportunity to learn leadership skills and obtain scholarships to continue my education. In PTK, I am surrounded by people who have the same aspirations as me and we take challenges head on. With hard work and determination, we all can achieve the impossible.”

A video, entitled “How PTK Changed My Life” followed Porter.  In the video, PTK officers explained the impact the honor society had on them.  Mark D’Gosta (Chapter VP), Tasha Estein (Chapter Historian), Leah Porter (Chapter President) and other officers were featured throughout.  “They are like my family here,” said Camilla Monroe.

Mary Carr, Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, and Sociology Department Chair, spoke after the video.  As per usual, the professor gave a rousing speech, leaving echoing words in the psyches of those who attended: “The rewarding path is different for everyone of you.  Know yourself.  And remember: [everyone else] puts their pants on the same way you do.”

Before the official induction could begin, the current chapter officers first enlightened the audience to the symbolic meaning of much of the imagery within the society.  The torch, the white rose, the gold on the emblem, each had its own meaning: knowledge, purity, and nobility, respectively.

Finally came the induction.  Names were read off and proud, beaming students strode across the stage to shake Dr. Doyle’s hand, sign the ledger and take a white rose, officially becoming members of Sigma Phi.  A new officer was also accepted into the ranks of Sigma Phi leadership, Rebecca Moore.

A special standard of achievement within Phi Theta Kappa, called 5-Star Membership, was awarded to three Sigma Phi chapter officers: Ashton Pentony, Leah Porter and Tasha Estein.

From that point, the ceremony concluded with Dr. Doyle delivering her closing remarks.  But then the ceremony went off-script, with Mark D’Gosta, on behalf of all the Sigma Phi officers, delivering two surprise bouquets to both advisers, Fida Obeidi and Shari Culver.

The night wrapped up pleasantly, the friends and family of the inductees buzzing with congratulations and pride for their own achievements and the achievements of their peers.