photograph courtesy of Rebecca Griffin

By Alexandria Zine 

Ever since COVID-19 cases have emerged and touched every state in this country, many academic programs and set-ups have encountered unforeseen modifications. Despite the turbulence of a vile pandemic, the scintillation that is at the center of PTK (Phi Theta Kappa) and the Honors program has scarcely been altered. This semester, the 4Cs chapter of the international honors society– Alpha Upsilon Mu– has: a new advisor, Rebecca Griffin, virtual congregations such as a campaign and a 5K venture that is full of sheer fortitude, among other shifts. The Honors program is now being directed by the former 4Cs Chapter advisor, Kate Martin, as well as the support beam that technology currently is.

For those who are unfamiliar with PTK, it is a reticulated scholarly group that is present in eleven nations with 1,300 chapters, according to the Center for Excellence. Rebecca Griffin, the new 4Cs Chapter advisor, feels that it molds students to recognize the ardency in their work ethic for community service, scholarships, and scholarly guidance.

“I am so excited to be in this new role,” said Griffin. “The administration chose me! It’s such an honor to be chosen, especially considering what a fantastic job Kate Martin did as PTK Coordinator for the past 10 years.” Including this astounding opportunity, she has also been a 4Cs teacher for five years, as well as an advisor for the Sea Change, the college’s magazine for the department of the arts. Kate Martin has so much aplomb with the administration’s choice, that she knows that “…Professor Griffin is going to rock as the new PTK advisor.” It has made transitioning from that position to the director of the Honors program so much easier for her.

Aside from her unequivocal loyalty to PTK for ten years, Professor Martin has also spent time polishing the process of honors contracts, which are due September 24, officiating a total of seven colloquia with other professors, and working as a member of the Honors Committee. Now, she “will work with and advise all students in the program and collaborate with colleagues throughout the Massachusetts higher ed system.”

According to the 4Cs Honors program criteria, a current student can become a member once he/she sustains a grade point average of 3.2. For former high school students or for college students who made the decision to take a brief moratorium from secondary schooling, the criteria consist of a SAT score above 1200 and/or a score of 276 or higher on the Accuplacer exam.

For current students, threading around the pandemic’s limitations has merely involved an extension of discussion to comply with such inevitabilities. “The biggest issue,” said Martin, “is that I’m not in my office for drop-ins; that has always been one of my favorite aspects of being on campus, and I was looking forward to chatting with Honors students.” Even with many obstacles like this, due to social distancing guidelines, 4Cs professors are finding ways to be the victors against such disappointing, but vital precautions. Instead of utilizing the traditional approach to the Honors reception this past semester, Professor Martin, Professor French, administrative assistant Cindy Pavlos, and Professor Tom Schaefer instructed students to use YouTube as the tool to share their work with others. “I believe we actually had more viewers than we normally have reception visitors.” All in all, Professor Martin’s wistfulness will not abate, despite the unknown timeline for these virtual congregations.       

The Honors Reception is set to commence on November 24, while registration for it and Honors classes will be available on November 2. Once a student turns in their research proposal before September 24, their presentation is due by November 18.

Much like the Honors program, PTK has not been shuffled greatly in regard to its timeline. According to Griffin, there has been an outdoor photo contest meant to urge students to connect with nature, a virtual PTK Scholar Dash where students run a 5K independently, once they register and receive a T-shirt. These events are intended to preserve the ambition that many students possess, especially during a crisis. “Their desire to remain in PTK makes them strive that much more actively in their classes.” As many facets of PTK require a safe interface, some important dates to remember for members include orientation on October 7 at 2 p.m., induction on October 28 at 5p.m., while more details on the virtual campaign will be accessible during the month of November.

     This pandemic has allowed the compassion in students to be ostensible in various ways, according to Griffin. This is evident in the organization of the upcoming virtual campaign instead of the typical, annual bake sake that many are accustomed to. Cassandra Robin, who is in charge of the campaign and a member of the PTK 2020 All Massachusetts Academic Team, has arranged for various sources within PTK to follow through with an alternative amid the confinements that the pandemic has imposed on everyone. The information regarding this virtual campaign will be more extensive and complete in November, according to Robin. All in all, PTK’s goal “…is to hopefully raise funds for the PTK scholarship fund.”  

“Even in the short time I have been the PTK coordinator,” said Griffin, “I’ve particularly enjoyed seeing how students recognize the dedication of each other. This is an enthusiastic and supportive group.”

If you would like to gauge your eligibility or join either PTK and/or the Honors program, you can email Professor Griffin at and/or Professor Martin at