Pearl River’s Phi Theta Kappa Chapters rack up recognition at MS/LA Regional Gala including Most Distinguished Chapter

Published 4:15 pm Thursday, March 9, 2023

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Members of the Phi Theta Kappa Chapters at Pearl River are celebrating their recent wins at the 2023 Mississippi/Louisiana Region Gala held at Mississippi State University on Saturday. One of 29 worldwide, the MS/LA Region has 50 chapters representing almost all community college campuses in the two states and is one of the most competitive regions, with chapters winning national recognition annually across all categories. 

Placing as a Distinguished Chapter for the region is a coveted position. Iota Mu (Hancock & Poplarville Campuses) was awarded the designation of Most Distinguished Chapter while Beta Tau Gamma (Forrest County Campus) placed fourth on the Distinguished Chapter list. Placement is determined by combined scores for College Project and Honors in Action (HIA.) To win, a chapter must attain excellence in both projects. 

“We are so proud of the hard work and dedication these students have put into PTK this year,” said Kira Arthurs, Instructor of Sociology and Phi Theta Kappa Advisor for Iota Mu. “These students have not only made meaningful impacts within their communities, but they have also learned life-long leadership skills while navigating the demands that College Project and Honor’s in Action required of them.” 

Both chapters were designated as Five Star Chapters for undertaking both College and Honors in Action projects, holding two inductions per year, and participation in local, regional, and national PTK programming. 

“The Iota Mu and Beta Tau Gamma advisors have the distinct privilege of working with Pearl River’s highest-achieving students, but privilege comes with responsibility and challenge,” said Dr. Terri Ruckel, Instructor of and Phi Theta Kappa Advisor for Beta Tau Gamma. “Our challenge is to help these students reach their full potential for scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship.  

“Phi Theta Kappa provides the tools and the programs, like the Honors in Action program, to help us complete this important task. Research and service experience outside of the classroom is so beneficial to student success and look how successful the right advisors working with the right students at the best community college in the nation can be!” 

Regional Hallmark Awards include: 

#2 Distinguished College Project 
#3 Distinguished Honors in Action 
Distinguished Honors in Action Theme Award: Theme 3 – Systems of Play 

Advisor Awards include:  

Horizon Awards for Kira Arthurs, Whitney Chambers, Robin Nix and Lisa Wall 
Paragon Award for Kira Arthurs  

Student Award:  

Order of the Golden Key: Grant Holladay 

Iota Mu was elected to hold the Regional CTE Representative position to be held by Aiden Levy. 

Sophomore Kellie Watts has served as Iota Mu’s President and the Regional CTE Representative this school year. 

“My PTK experience has been life-changing,” said Watts. “It has changed my outlook on being a leader as well as getting a higher education.  

“Because of PTK, I am able to succeed with confidence in an engaging environment while being backed with the support from a community of excellent people.” 

Regional Hallmark Awards include: 

#4 Distinguished College Service Project 
#6 Honors in Action Research Project 
Distinguished Honors in Action Theme Award: Theme 7 – “Play It Forward” 

Advisor Awards include: 

Continued Excellence Advisor Award: Dr. Doug Donohue and Dr. Ryan Ruckel 
Distinguished College Administrator Award: Michelle Wilson-Stokes 
Horizon Award: Dr. David Collum, Dr. Doug Donohue, Said Otwane, Dr. Ryan Ruckel, and Dr. Terri Ruckel 

Student Awards include: 

Distinguished Chapter Officer Award: Tobias Adams, Chapter President 
Order of the Golden Key: Ameze Ekunwe 

Beta Tau Gamma was elected to hold the regional Webmaster for MS/LA Region. Adams was selected as an International Officer Candidate for Vice President, Division II.  

“Seeing the ranking of the Beta Tau Gamma chapter made me immensely proud of our chapter,” said Adams. “Out of just over 50 chapters in the Mississippi/Louisiana region, we placed 4th in the College Project category, with an impressive 6th place ranking in the Honors in Action project and 1st in our theme for that project. Overall, we emerged as the 4th most distinguished chapter in the entire region.  

“These recognitions are a testament to both teams’ dedication and hard work on the projects. Despite some initial challenges, our chapter persevered and found meaning in their projects. As president of this chapter, it is a great privilege to serve and lead such a remarkable group of individuals.” 

Phi Theta Kappa is the foremost honor society for two-year colleges with over 1,300 chapters worldwide. Students selected for membership are considered academically successful, having completed at least 12 credit hours of non-remedial courses with a minimum cumulative 3.4 GPA. Scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship are the four hallmarks of PTK. 

Every year, PTK chapters wanting to earn Five Star Status must do an HIA research project with a few themes given for direction. The projects are community focused and offer the students the opportunity to both research the issue and come up with potential solutions. They also work on a College Project in coordination with the c administration on design and implementation. 

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG).