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Press Release



July 9, 2009

PTK advisor, student share memorable experience at International Honors Institute


Cowley College student Irona Cliver, Kansas Regional Officer for Phi Theta Kappa and Nancy Ayers, faculty advisor for Cowley’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter at Mulvane/Bloomenshine, attended the 2009 International Honors Institute from June 22-26 at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

The Phi Theta International Honors Institute provided approximately 400 participants with a week of intensive study of the 2008-2010 Honors Study Topic, The Paradox of Affluence: Choices, Challenges, and Consequences.

"It's rare in your life to have this opportunity - to gather with a group of like-minded scholars and thinkers - this is a great gift that Phi Theta Kappa has given you," Honors Institute speaker Dr. Michael Galaty told his audience.

Dr. Galaty's presentation focused on affluence as an influence on war and violence, and cited theories relating genetics and choice to the origins of conflict.

The conference focused on presentations from world-renowned speakers followed by small seminar group discussions. In addition to Dr. Galaty, other presenters included: Davar Ardalan, Senior Producer for National Public Radio (NPR) and the author of My Name is Iran, a memoir of her experiences after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, who gave an especially insightful and personal perspective on the current unrest in Iran; Dr. Randall Kennedy, Harvard law professor and author of Sell Out: The Politics of Racial Betrayal, who shared his fearlessness in tackling sensitive racial issues; Paul Loeb, author of many books on citizen responsibility, who discussed how ordinary citizens, and student leaders in particular, could make their voices heard and actions count in a time when we are told neither matter.

“This was such a fantastic experience that I don’t know where to begin to share my thoughts. I wish many more of our members could have joined Irona and I,” Ayers said. “We are anxious to share with our members everything that we learned and how it can help our chapter as we plan our 2009-10 agenda and prepare to submit our 2010 Hallmarks. I can’t thank our administration enough for helping with the expenses for this worthwhile trip.”

Ayers and Cliver were also able to tour the Museum and White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, walk around the midway at Richmond International Raceway and spend an entire day in Washington, D. C.  Visits were made to Arlington National Cemetery, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Washington Monument and most of the memorials:  Lincoln, Viet Nam, World War II, and Korean.

The high point of the day was a private tour of the Pentagon and 911 Pentagon Memorial given by Marine Sergeant Cassie Lucerno, who is currently stationed at the Pentagon. Irona, herself a former Marine, served with Lucerno in Iraq.

Pictured left to right is Nancy Ayers, Cowley Phi Theta Kappa faculty advisor, Cowley student, Irona Cliver, Kansas Regional Officer, Erica Gaither, Hutchinson Community College student, Kelsey Sharpe, Butler Community College student.