Honor society sees major influx of students

Keith Kaczmarek, Reporter

Phi Beta Kappa, a nation-wide honor society for students with a 3.5 or better GPA, saw a 637 percent increase in membership in Bakersfield College members from last year.

Niome Vick, executive vice president of BC’s chapter, discussed the amazing growth in membership.

“I believe there was a boost in Phi Theta Kappa membership because of the perks,” Vick said. “If your matriculation is complete, you get priority registration. You receive access to the transfer and scholarship resource, collegefish.org.

“More than $27 million worth of scholarships are available on collegefish, and membership in Phi Theta Kappa appears directly onto your transcript.”

According to an article in the New York Times, “Phi Beta Kappa is both the oldest and the most exclusive honor society in the country. Only 10 percent of colleges have chapters, and just over 1 percent of college seniors are elected each year.”

“If you put it down for jobs, it really will matter,” said Vick, noting the long and prestigious lineage of an honor society that began in 1776. Former members include such notables as John Quincy Adams during the earliest beginnings of the society to such contemporary notables as Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayer and President Barack Obama.

For local chapter members, the society is more than just a chance to polish a resume.

Many members have attended leadership conferences and joined the society in local charity work such as a recent collaboration with the Wounded Warriors project that facilitated BC student donations like kitchen supplies, socks, and iTunes gift cards to soldiers currently serving overseas.

“The Phi Theta Kappa honors society maintains four goals, or what we call ‘Hallmarks.’

“Our four hallmarks are Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Fellowship,” said Vick.

She’s also found that joining the society has been personally fulfilling.

“I used to be really shy,” she said. “It has helped with [my] leadership.”

Vick plans to advance the Bakersfield chapter further in the Phi Beta Kappa hierarchy, completing various projects that will unlock more scholarships for BC members.

“If I could say anything to the entire student body, it would have to be that academics are important, networking and the connections you make are important, but the most vital thing you can do in community college is complete it. Not enough students enrolled in community colleges actually finish a program. We’d really love to see more of our students receive a degree and reap the rewards they hoped for.”