PTK members attend Leadership Conference

October 3, 2019

On Friday, September 20, Cowley College Phi Theta Kappa members of the Alpha Gamma Upsilon chapter in Arkansas City left for Kansas City, Kansas to attend the Kansas/Nebraska Leadership Conference. Kansas City Kansas Community College hosted the conference filled with useful information, activity, and fellowship.

Priscilla Bianchini, Childress Rittle, and Dawson LeachOfficers Priscilla Bianchini and Childress Rittle, member Dawson Leach, and faculty advisor Jennifer Rupp had the opportunity to interact with PTK leaders throughout the Kansas and Nebraska region, learn about scholarship opportunities at transfer schools, enhance their leadership skills, and have fun.

“I had a wonderful time at the conference,” Dawson Leach said. “It was awesome having the opportunity to network with PTK members from different colleges.”

The students received regional updates and learned more about PTK projects for the upcoming year and awards they can win. They attended breakout sessions about the history of PTK, fundraising, scholarships, and Competitive Edge, a program to increase soft skills and make students more competitive in the workforce.

All attendees also had the chance to complete Strengths Quest, an assessment of personal strengths, and learn about how to reap the benefits of each strength. The conference presented each student with a copy of CliftonStrengths for Students, so they can continue to work on their skills after the event.

Many inspirational speakers presented at the conference. One of the guest speakers for Friday was Bill Cordes. Students enjoyed his lively speech on “The YOGOWYPI Experience,” which means “You Only Get Out What You Put In.” After an opening game of musical trivia, Cordes discussed the importance of knowing one’s own values and putting in the effort to have the experience one desires and deserves. Students also learned tips for greeting new people and starting conversations to build connections.

Priscilla Bianchini playing arcade gameAfter dinner, the students attended a fellowship activity at Main Event in Lenexa, Kansas. The conference provided them with free passes to play laser tag, go bowling, climb a ropes course, play arcade games, and eat pizza. The Cowley students enjoyed these activities, particularly the ropes course, and it created a wonderful bonding experience.

On Saturday morning, James Elliot, the PTK International President, gave an “I AM PTK” talk about how PTK has affected his life. Elliot’s interest in a college education began in prison because he wanted to change the direction of his life and avoid the high rate of recidivism. After his release, he enrolled in college and found every opportunity to become a leader, rather than a follower, as well as give back to the community. PTK provided opportunities to pursue these goals. In his short time in PTK, Elliot has already risen to the elite position of International President. He is grateful for his time with PTK and looks forward to the pathways the organization has opened up for him.

The last session on Saturday included the moving story of Dan Meers, the Kansas City Chief’s mascot. In the presentation titled “Courageous Leadership: Living a Life of Influence,” Meers regaled students with tales of his mascot stunts before moving to the stunt that almost killed him. During one game, Meers’ bungee cord failed, and he smashed into the stadium hard enough to break the seats out of the concrete. He survived but spent months in intensive physical therapy, suffering both the emotional and physical effects of this injury. Meers said that his experience taught him what is most important in life: people. Now, he uses his position as the Chief’s mascot to reach out to people both near and far. He works with local children here in regional schools and travels the world on service projects. Meers offered students the opportunity to talk, take pictures with the KC Wolf costume, and purchase his book at the end of the speech.

Childress Rittle on ropes courseIn response to the speeches, Cowley student, Priscilla Bianchini, said, “I watched great speeches that made me think about my choices and what I should do to improve my life and how to help other people too. This conference showed that it is never too late to improve yourself. I realized that we have many more opportunities than we thought.”

Overall, the motivating and moving weekend was full of food, fun, and fellowship.

“For my first PTK conference, I enjoyed the chance to get to know our Cowley members more and also meet advisors from all over the region,” said advisor Jennifer Rupp.

The PTK members have returned motivated to begin their PTK projects and inspire others to join this amazing organization.

Bianchini stated, “I hope I can share more about what I have learned with other students.” She also thanked Cowley College for making “this possible for us students.”

Members are also looking forward to continuing the student panty, a project started last year that provides free food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies to Cowley students struggling financially on campus.