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Cuyamaca Library: Mission & Program Review

Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Pathways: funded by the Foundation in Fall 2018-Spring 2019

Title of Request: PTK (Phi Theta Kappa) Pathways: Moving the Needles of Retention, Transfer, Workforce, and Student Engagement

Description of Specific Purpose of Funding Request:

Background and Need
Due to our emerging Hispanic student population, Cuyamaca College has created a Pathways Academy Program which is a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and a new member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). Studies have shown that Hispanic students are also at the highest risk for school failure once enrolled, especially during their first year in college. 

To further support our students, this Foundation Grant would support students enrolled in Pathways Academy to join Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society that recognizes and rewards the academic achievements of students at community colleges who maintain a 3.5-grade point average and have completed 12 hours of associate degree coursework.

According to Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO, Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, 92% of Phi Theta Kappa members complete an associate degree or transfer (Mayer). The goal of Phi Theta Kappa is to help grow and shape these students as scholars and leaders. Typical activities focus on community involvement and volunteerism. The organization is proudly celebrating 100 years of international service. Phi Theta Kappa serves an essential role for community college graduates as they either transfer to a four-year college or directly enter the workforce.

So if Phi Theta Kappa is so prestigious and beneficial, why aren’t students joining the Cuyamaca Chapter?  One reason is the membership cost. Students have indicated a desire to join but the membership dues of $100 is a significant financial obstacle. We are currently working with other departments on campus to research various ways to subsidize the membership fees.  Another reason students are not joining PTK is that they are not aware of the benefits of joining. This is due to our current lack of budget for recruiting and marketing.  This Foundation Grant of $5,000 will go towards recruiting members, creating and developing training and workshops, obtaining speakers, materials, and supplies, and developing student leaders by sending them to a student leadership conference.


How will this project benefit the educational outcomes of our students or their experience at the College?

For Cuyamaca College to move the needles of transfer, workforce, and completion, it is important to create an active Phi Theta Kappa chapter that develops student leadership skills and academic achievement. We need to recruit membership that includes our most at-risk and underrepresented students.

The collaborative writers of this Foundation Grant strongly believe that Cuyamaca College will see a return on that investment through increased retention and student engagement. Research shows that eighty-five percent of the Phi Theta Kappa students earned either an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years
( Mitchell, Brian, Building the Higher Transfer Pipeline:

The first educational outcome is to encourage students to continue their education by removing the financial barriers of becoming a Phi Theta Kappa member. The goal of this Grant is to never turn away a student because they cannot afford it. In response to these barriers, this Foundation Grant will:

Grow the PTK membership and awareness – lots of benefits for students, such as transfer to prestigious colleges, access to more than $37 million in transfer PTK scholarships, leadership opportunities, recognition, awards, notation of membership placed on their transcripts, resume builder, scholarship builder, mentoring opportunities, empowerment, and support from college advisors and college administrators.
More campus and community involvement for Pathway Academy students – this is a good way to recognize the talents and hard work of our at-risk students.
Supplies and marketing for PTK.
Induction ceremony supplies – certificates and awards, gifts, refreshments.
Refreshments if the grant would allow for that (at all our meetings).
Library Research Mentor training to support incoming freshman enrolled in Pathways Academy.
PTK Sponsored Special speakers (i.e. applying to selective colleges, scholarships, internships, STEM, etc.).
Groom and empower students to be campus mentors and future leaders.
 Regional collaboration events (Region X) – special speakers and topics as a community.
Field Trips – College visits, cultural events, educational events.
PTK Annual Convention and Leadership Training and possible First Year Experience Conference.

The second educational outcome is to train interested PTK students to become Library-Research Mentors. This would be one of the ways PTK students can make an impact on the academic success of incoming freshmen enrolled in the Pathways Academy. This academic component of the Foundation Grant involves training second year PTK members in library research strategies who in turn will mentor incoming freshman students enrolled in Pathways Academy. The Library Research Mentors will receive comprehensive research training by qualified faculty members, services will be measured and assessed by institutional research team (IESE), and practice culturally responsive strategies to engage and validate incoming freshmen students. The Library has some serious concerns for the retention rates of Hispanic students when considering their limited exposure to libraries and information literacy skills. Since information literacy informs core academic writing skills at Cuyamaca College, Library-Research Mentors are essential to serve incoming freshmen students. In general, freshmen-mentees take their peers’ perspectives very seriously. This means that a positive peer mentoring relationship can have profound effects on a mentee’s academic engagement and sense of self-confidence. In addition, the similarity in age of peer-mentors to their mentees will establish a comfortable relationship to share concerns and problems. This relationship increases freshmen-mentee’s desire to explore the use of the library resources and services.