The Five Star Experience at SPC

January 14, 2019

Public Information Officer


Both the alumni and the inducted honor society students exemplify the best community and student engagement core competencies of the college as a talented team 

A top-rated Five-Star chapter of both the world’s largest educational honor society and the official honor society of two-year colleges at a medium-sized multicampus college in San Antonio has surpassed a milestone of 2,500 alumni.

The academic institution is St. Philip’s College with locations and society members at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive, 800 Quintana Road, several local military bases and high schools, and online worldwide. Mention of the special milestone was part of the college’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society fall 2018 induction ceremony in the college’s 600-seat Watson Fine Arts Center, a seasonal convening of students who exemplify the college’s community and student engagement core competencies.

While some among the recently inducted society alumni were additionally recognized during the college’s commencement ceremony in December, recently inducted society members who have not graduated return to infuse new energies, resources and ideas to both the college and the community in coming days. 

At St. Philip’s College, the ceremony traditionally represents more than the induction of students into a premiere honor society with many scholarship and professional development resources. On their journey to completing their studies and joining 2,500 chapter alumni by transferring to four-year colleges or entering the workforce with excellent skills in one of the nation’s fastest growing cities, these are the students exemplifying the community and student engagement core competencies of the college as talented hands-on teams. The two annual ceremonial days of induction that arrive a week or two before the college winter and summer breaks are the two featuring the largest numbers of society members in one place on their campus for one reason---identifying members of the outstanding student corps at St. Philip’s College.

Post-ceremony in late November, guests met with students who earned their way to honors with a class rank in the top 20 percent at St. Philip’s College through online or on-campus study. The late 2018 event was more than the internally recognized sixth anniversary celebration of the date when students and employees made college history in 2012 by leading their chapter from top-100-of-500-in-Texas status to top-three-of-500-in-Texas status. Continuity of position and performance excellence in 2018 was also recognized when the society announced the college’s 5-Star Chapter status that member excellence at St. Philip’s College has ensured for eight consecutive years (2010-2018). And the college chapter team also earned a 2018 award from the society for the Digital Yearbook project chronicling both their excellent deeds and professional development.

The chapter has come a long way since 2007 when it had excellent students, no stars and need for stronger leadership. Through community and student engagement, newly inducted chapter members were among the student body members who helped the college and the incumbent award-winning chapter members earn both its reaffirmation of accreditation, its elite 2018 Governor's Award for Performance Excellence and its fair share of the elite Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award while embarking on $100 million in new construction and transformational capital improvements. In 2017, excellence in moral wisdom earned the chapter the society's 2017 Honors in Action - Individualism vs. Collectivism College Project Award for communicating the college's Quality Enhancement Plan---Ethical-Decision Making through a bevy of student focus groups. The 2017 topic was chosen as part of the college's Ethical Decision Making special projects initiative, and was of inspiration to the 120 recently inducted members.

The chapter’s 2018-2019 Honors in Action project that new members will follow through on is service animal awareness and advocacy. Previous outreach partners, events and locations listed at the chapter web page include Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warriors, Davidson Respite House, Fisher House, Martin Luther King March, Spurs Sports and Entertainment, Animal Defense League, MDA Walk, Juvenile Diabetes Walk, Relay for Life, Susan G Komen, Meals on Wheels, CAMinistries, WNBA, Fishing Under the Bridge, Angel Food Ministries, SAMMinistries, Botanical Garden and MLK Park Clean-up.

In addition to reaching out to 2,500 chapter alumni, the chapter’s strategic plan that debuted in 2017 outlines member priorities through 2022 with the following five commitments:

  • Commitment 1: Strengthen Pathways to Completion, Transfer, and Employment
  • Commitment 2: Increase Transparency, Awareness and Support with New Communications
  • Commitment 3: Strengthen Chapters and Regions with a Primary Focus on the Society Mission
  • Commitment 4: Increase Access to Membership by Closing Equity and Inclusion Gaps
  • Commitment 5: Leverage Society Network by Supporting Alumni Engagement

The newly inducted students now join current society members and employee sponsors who have been on amazing journeys. Here are a few of them:

  • Among the honored was Rose Bechebuh, a second year pre nursing student and a member of Epiphany Anglican Church at 211 Roleto Drive. “I am coming straight from Africa---Cameroon---to attend St. Philip’s College, and I’ve been part of the Phi Theta Kappa team at my college since the summer. The two best things about the Phi Theta Kappa experience are the teamwork and helping the less privileged. The service animal project we have for 2019 is phenomenal. I’ve learned how people are not aware of the rights of people who own service dogs. We are training to try to help restaurants raise their consciousness to help their customers with service animals. This is my first time addressing the topic, and although I didn’t know about the rights, I knew about the animals. We are sensitizing the population, and we are each working on this right now. I'm letting people in my church know,” said Bechebuh.
  • Dorathy Tarpeh (2018 licensed vocational nurse program alumna) personally served meals at San Antonio Food Bank, and in addition to assisting in sorting and packaging food items for distribution, she assisted by maintaining the garden area where fresh vegetables are grown for clients in need. Tarpeh was one of only three 2018 St. Philip’s College Dr. Adena Williams Loston Presidential Scholarship Award recipients. Through giving back and achieving academically, Tarpeh contributed to helping St. Philip’s College achieve record enrollment numbers and outstanding community engagement while bringing a Governor’s Award for Performance Excellence to San Antonio in 2018, and its share of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. She was also the speaker at the college’s commencement ceremony in December.
  • From the Food Bank with colleague alumna scholar Tarpeh to the Special Olympics through her physical therapy assistant student association membership, Virginia Tovar (physical therapy assistant) continues giving back to her community year round as a 2018 St. Philip’s College Dr. Adena Williams Loston Presidential Scholarship Award recipient while helping her college and student colleagues on their performance excellence journey.
  • Chapter advisor and chapter alumna Maria Botello is the recent recipient of a 10-year advisor service award.
  • The first scholarship the society offers to its scholars for defraying costs while those scholars are actually enrolled in a community college includes the third scholar from St. Philip's College as an award offer recipient and as one of the honored in November. The honored scholar is Christopher Tanner, entering his second year as a student in the college’s globally-noted advanced manufacturing program. The $1,000 award offer the society announced for Tanner in late July is the 2018 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar award. Intended for a scholar who has demonstrated both leadership and scholarship but has not yet earned a college credential, the honor society launched the Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program in 2001 to assist new members in obtaining an associate degree while encouraging them to participate in society programs. 

Find details on the chapter online. (SPC images by Julysa Sosa)