By Shelby Horton
The 21 Hutchinson Community College students stood together, on the stage at the Stringer Fine Arts Center, holding dimly lit white candles, with satisfied smiles on their faces.
Phi Theta Kappa Gamma Chapter, an International honor society for two-year colleges, was induction their new members on Feb 22.
One by one students approached center stage, where they signed their name in a book where members of past and present have signed their names.
After confirming their induction, they shook the hand of Dr. Carter File, president of Hutchinson Community College , then signed the “Promise to Graduate” banner at the edge of the stage.
Family and friends looked on and applauded their accomplishment.
Phi Theta Kappa has had a chapter on the HCC campus for 55 years.
The program recognizes academic excellence in students enrolled at community colleges, focusing on developing leadership skills and giving students the opportunity for volunteer services in the community and on the college campus.
It also benefits its members by providing more opportunity for scholarships, since all state schools offer Phi Theta Kappa scholarships, as well as private institutions.
There are several Phi Theta Kappa alumni chapters at two-year colleges across the state, which have a variety of levels.
The program on HCC has been able to gain recognition over the past several years. Now scholarships are offered to both freshmen and sophomores at community colleges.
To become a member, you have to be invited, and must have a minimum of a 3.5 GPA, with 12 credit hours completed.
After induction, the student must maintain a 3.25 GPA for their remaining time at HCC.
“Once a member, you’re always a member,” said LeAnn Bravi, Phi Theta Kappa advisor at HCC. “Anyone who has joined since it was chartered in 1959 is still a member.”
It is estimated that 2,500 students have joined since the program was started at HCC, and currently 75 to 100 students join each year.
There are 20 to 30 students actively involved in events or program each year at HCC, Bravi said.
After being inducted on Feb. 22, new members enjoyed cookies and refreshments, as they got to know their fellow members.