Whether a parent, a high school student or the first in one's family to enroll, beginning college can challenge.

At the Inspiring Heroism Through Dialogue Conference presented by College of the Mainland students in Phi Theta Kappa, high school students heard the stories of those who chose to persevere in higher education and learned practical tips on how to start.

Attending were 30 students from La Marque, Dickinson and Hitchcock High Schools in Upward Bound, a federally funded program to students who are low income, have disabilities or will be the first in their families to attend college.

“First-generation college students have to overcome more obstacles,” said COM student and co-chair Cody Kelemen. “They’re taking the initiative to come to college, and that’s an act of bravery. We wanted to inspire them to continue that bravery.”

Students attending the conference heard from three students sharing their stories facing challenges in higher education. Then they spilt into smaller groups for workshops explaining the practical steps – how to apply to college and apply for financial aid and scholarships.

“As the workshops progressed, students started asking questions and getting interested. It was good to see them grow during the conference,” said Kelemen. 

COM Phi Theta Kappa students hosted the event as their Honors in Action Project, part of Phi Theta Kappa. After a summer-long intensive research study, students understood that access to higher education can greatly impact the community.

“It’s research-based activism,” said professor Heather Brasher, PTK co-chair with professor Dalel Serda. “Students find an issue in the community through reading scholarly articles and research journals, and they devise an action plan to assist with the problem.”

Students created the one-day event, from planning to implementation, to assist high school students in transitioning to college.

Phi Theta Kappa, the international community college honor society, allows students to develop leadership skills,compete for scholarships and gain assistance in transferring to a university. To be eligible for membership, a student must have a GPA of at least 3.5 with at least 12 college credit hours. 

For more information on the COM Phi Theta Kappa Chapter contact Dalel Serda at dserda@com.edu.