Category Archives: Phi Theta Kappa

Richland student places in top twenty of USA Today’s Academic First Team

d4-copy.jpgRichland College (RLC) student, Dharmesh Patel, was one of 20 students named to USA Today’s All-USA Community College Academic First Team last week, which recognizes outstanding two-year college students. Patel received a $2,500 cash award and received trophies during a ceremony Monday at the American Association of Community Colleges convention in Philadelphia. He is only one of three students in RLC’s history to receive such an honor. Additionally, his application was judged Best in Texas and he will receive an additional $2,000 scholarship from Coca-Cola as a New Century Scholar.

More than 1,500 students from 849 community colleges in 50 states and beyond were nominated for the USA Today award. Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges that encourages academic excellence and promotes community service, administers the selection process.

Patel, 27, arrived in the U.S. from Zimbabwe as a Green Card Lottery winner. Each year the U.S. grants 50,000 permanent resident visas, drawn randomly from a selection of eligible residents from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. With only $50 in his possession, Patel left his family and moved to Dallas.

“It was the first time I was away from home. Initially, what I wanted to do was to go back,” Patel said.

But he decided to stay and this spring he will graduate from Richland, where he has maintained superior grades while working full time. He is one of nine of the USA Today First Team recipients to have a 4.0 grade-point average.

Among his academic accomplishments, he volunteers as a Big Brother, participates in Keep Dallas Beautiful, and was instrumental in bringing Mike Jacobs, a Holocaust survivor, as a guest speaker to RLC. Additionally, he has revived the RLC Justice Club and has successfully recruited more than 75 students to the organization.

Because of Patel’s academic excellence, community service, and participation in Phi Theta Kappa programs, he was awarded the Guistwhite Scholarship and received an additional $5,000.

Patel will either attend the University of Texas at Austin, SMU, Cornell, or TCU and major in finance. His long-term goal is to pursue an M.B.A. and become a consultant.

“Our society is financially imprisoned through lack of knowledge and I want to acquire this knowledge and help families prepare for college tuition and educate them about staying debt free as a financial advisor,” Patel says.

For more information, contact Anitra Cotton at 972-238-6022 or To view the USA Today story in which Patel appeared, click here.

“Lessons from a Holocaust Survivor” topic for Oct. 16 lecture at Richland College

Phi Theta Kappa at Richland College will host Holocaust survivor Mike Jacobs at 5:40-7:30 p.m., Oct. 16 in the Fannin Performance Hall. Jacobs will give a lecture titled “Never Again: Lessons from a Holocaust Survivor.”

Jacobs was born in the small Polish town of Konin. When Poland was invaded by the Nazis in 1939, Jacobs spent five years confined in ghettos and concentration camps. Since 1950, he has spoken to an estimated 500,000 people about his Holocaust experience. Jacobs is also the founder of the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center.

For more information, contact Larry Polk at or 972-238-6121.

Richland Colleges Collegiate High School students excel in college classes despite the academic demand

The transition from high school to college can be difficult for some and many college students struggle to make it through their first years. But imagine attending high school and college at the same time. The students enrolled in Richland College’s Collegiate High School of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering are doing just that. And, not only are they managing in the classroom, but they’re excelling.

RCHS, now in its second semester, is a unique program that allows area teens to enter Richland College their junior year to obtain an associate’s degree while earning their high school diploma. All students undergo the same rigorous curriculum as their college-age counterparts and even attend classes with them. Classes range from chemistry to English to psychology.

In spite of the academic demand, many of the 160 RCHS students are succeeding. Twelve of them earned a 4.0 last semester, while taking at least 17 hours. Since January, 19 students were inducted into the elite community college honor society, Phi Theta Kappa.

Shane Burlbaw, a 16-year-old transfer from Sachse High School, was one of the RCHS students recently inducted into PTK. He also holds a 4.0 GPA.

“I feel like it’s a great honor, especially for someone that’s my age.” says Burlbaw of his achievement.

Burlbaw wants to transfer to Texas A&M to major in engineering. He chose Richland because he was not very interested in the high school “scene.” He feels that Richland is more intellectually engaging and the college setting allows him to be more authentic, without peer pressure.

RCHS students have plenty of support in place to help them succeed. Some of their resources include on-staff math and science tutors, Richland College’s Tutoring and Learning Connections (TLC) Center, as well as the library. Each student is even equipped with their own laptop computer for their time as an RCHS student. Additionally, each student is required to attend College Success Labs daily, which gives them a structured environment.

For more details about RCHS and its students, visit, or call assistant principal Rick Garcia at 972-761-6888.

RCHS is currently taking applications for fall 2007. Information about the application process can be found at

Phi Theta Kappa at Richland College garners international awards

The Alpha Alpha Xi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at Richland College attended the 89th International Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. With more than 1,200 chapters in the international organization, the Richland Chapter received the following awards during the Awards Gala on April 1:

· Scholarship Hallmark Award. Only 25 chapters in the international organization are recognized for superior achievements in this category.

· Top 100 Chapter

· Distinguished Chapter Advisor Award – Larry Polk

This year, nearly 500 chapters competed for the Society’s most coveted awards. The Hallmark Awards Program is the Society’s capstone awards competition annually recognizing excellence in programs that promote the Phi Theta Kappa Hallmarks of Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Fellowship. Exceptional members, officers, advisors, college administrators and chapters are recognized annually at the Phi Theta Kappa International Convention for their achievements.

Phi Theta Kappa, the International Honor Society of the Two-Year College, has recognized academic excellence in the two-year college since 1918. The Society is comprised of more than 1,200 chapters at community, technical and junior colleges in all 50 of the United States, in Canada, Germany, U.S. Territories, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Palau and the British Virgin Islands, making it the largest and most prestigious honor society serving two-year colleges. Membership is based primarily upon academic achievement. The organization offers a myriad of opportunities for scholarships, intellectual enrichment and personal development through programs based on the Society’s Hallmarks.