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DL college soon to have first-ever honor society

DETROIT LAKES -- For the first time in its history, Minnesota State Community & Technical College-Detroit Lakes will soon have its very own honor society.

On April 1, the MSCTC-DL chapter of Phi Theta Kappa will hold a joint chartering and induction ceremony, starting at 7 p.m. in the college's main conference room, C-101.

Phi Theta Kappa, founded in 1918, is recognized as the official honor society for two-year colleges. According to Eric Wilkens, Student Senate advisor for MSCTC-DL, the establishment of a PTK chapter on campus will help open new opportunities for its highest-achieving students.

"We want to give the students here more opportunities to rise above their peers, and (membership in PTK) opens up so many other doors," says Wilkens, who was one of the first to champion the cause of bringing the honor society to Detroit Lakes.

For instance, PTK offers $130,000 in scholarships each year to members seeking to further their associate and baccalaureate degree studies.

In addition, PTK membership makes students eligible for transfer scholarships of over $36 million at 600 four-year colleges and universities.

One of PTK's membership benefits is free enrollment in the Transfer Database, which is used by hundreds of four-year colleges and universities to recruit PTK transfer students.

"It also offers a community service component," Wilkens says.

This component, known as the Civic Engagement Initiative, has launched dozens of innovative programs, that according to its official Web site (, "first recognize the academic excellence within the corridors of community colleges, then seek to develop students through community service initiatives and leadership opportunities."

Because there will only be about a month to work on service projects between the induction ceremony and graduation, PTK will most likely only be engaged in one project for this semester, Wilkens says.

"We are hoping to do a benefit for the local food bank, called 'Operation Graduation,'" he explains. "Students, their friends and families will be asked to bring a donation for the food bank to the graduation."

Eligibility for PTK is based upon a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.5, on a 4.0 scale. "You must also maintain a minimum GPA of 3.25 to stay in (after induction)," Wilkens says.

Students must also be currently enrolled in an associate (i.e., two-year) degree program at MSCTC-DL to be eligible for PTK membership, according to Wilkens.

"We have 74 students eligible for PTK this year," he says. "As of right now, 17 people have accepted (the invitation to induction).

"I just spoke to the national organization last week, and I was told that for our first induction, those numbers are very good. We're on track with some of the best schools -- as good as or better than the national average."

Also, the number of students to be inducted this year is pretty evenly split between those who will graduate in May, and those who will be back next semester, Wilkens notes.

"Most chapters have both a fall and a spring induction," he says. Eligibility is determined by the student's GPA for the previous semester.

Two of MSCTC's three other campuses, Moorhead and Fergus Falls, have already established PTK chapters; DL will be the third, Wilkens says. (Wadena, the fourth campus in the MSCTC system, has not yet established a chapter.)

The first induction ceremony will take place on April 1, starting at 7 p.m. in room C-101.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454