Oakton’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter reveals annual Honors-In-Action Project


Courtesy of Gia Huy Ngo

Gabriela Krieger, Editor-in-Chief

Every year, Phi Theta Kappa chapters around the country are invited to partake in the Honors in Action Project, an endeavor designed to engage honors students in informed action by real-world problem solving, as well as encourages chapters to engage with their surrounding communities. 

Each year, Phi Theta Kappa provides an Honors in Action study topic, and the topic provided for 2022 is The Art and Science of Play. 

President Sam McCarthy leading the craft station. (Courtesy of Gia Huy Ngo)

Under that umbrella-topic, Oakton’s PTK chapter– Alpha Iota Phi– decided to study the theme Architecture and Design of Play. This subtopic explores the manner in which the structures and designs of abstract and physical environments impact play in children and adolescents.

“This year’s Honors In Action Project has been challenging, but we have all come together as a team and worked together to create something fantastic,” said Addi Perez.

 “We received a $1000 dollar grant for the project which was only rewarded to 3 chapters in the entire region of IL for PTK,” said President Sam McCarthy. “The $1000 dollar grant was something that was only given to 107/1300 chapters of PTK, meaning only about 8% of chapters received that grant! This grant was given to us because of our proposal for what we would do with our HIA project, with Addi as our project leader.” 

As part of their Honors in Action Project, Alpha Iota Phi collaborated with the Campus Activities Board to plan Trunk-or-Treat, an endeavor that– in addition to the trunks and treats– provided an afternoon of outdoor play for over 200 Children of the Early Childhood Education Center and the community of the Skokie campus. While the activity had been a tradition prior to the pandemic, this was the first post-pandemic iteration. 

VP of Leadership Addi Perez leading the craft station. (Courtesy of Gia Huy Ngo)

“Trunk-or-Treat was the activity for little kids, but I actually enjoyed it as much as little kids did,” said Choi. “I could not do outdoor activities for a long time due to the pandemic, and it was such a great opportunity to be able to enjoy outdoor activities and have interactions with many people of all ages.”

PTK created activities such as a team-created obstacle course, Halloween-themed crafts such as paper cats and googly-eyed paper hands, a prize-filled ‘pumpkin punch’, and much more. Vivian Molina Sumba, Co-Vice President of Marketing and Public Relation, led the charge at the crafts station.

Co-VP of Marketing and Public Relation.Vivian Molina Sumba leading the crafts station. (Courtesy of Gia Huy Ngo)

“I noticed that a lot of children of various ages were very interested in either creating a cat or even just painting a hand, it brought them a lot of enjoyment,” said Molina Sumba.

“Some children did not follow guidelines and instead were thinking out of the box. I believe that it’s completely acceptable, I think that it shows that children had an engaging and creative outlet to express themselves.”

This was all possible due to Phi Theta Kappa’s collaboration with CAB and UNICEF. Activity stations included karaoke, a professional face painter, a caricature artist, decorated trunks, and activities from other clubs in addition to PTK-sponsored ventures.

“The event was lively with people talking, laughing, and doing various activities,” said McCarthy. “People were not afraid to interact with each other, and play with toys and other children or families. They were grateful that we were going back to in person interactions as it is so beneficial for everyone’s mental health.” 

Events like these are not only impactful for the community, but for the volunteers themselves. “One of the most rewarding experiences for me has been joining PTK,” said Addi Perez, Vice President of Leadership. “This year, we have an amazing group of officers, we enjoy each other’s company and we like to have fun together. We have worked very hard on projects but we have also found time to have fun and relax.” 

“Joining PTK was one of the best choices I made,” said Jina Choi, Treasurer. “HIA seems to be so academic, but I think it is a fun activity that makes us think broadly, have other perspectives, and build leadership since we have to organize and lead the activities by ourselves.”

Treasurer Jina Choi handing out candy after the obstacle course. (Courtesy of GIa Huy Ngo)

“Honestly, it’s a bit stressful for me though, since I am completely new to this type of project…but the good part is we do the project as a team. And it’s quite opening for me to have more knowledge about the topic of the project,” said Gia Huy Ngo, Co-Vice President of Marketing and Public Relation.

“It has been a fun experience for me to join PTK as I have a chance to meet new people and hang out with them at some events.”

Recording Officer Gabi Krieger running the obstacle course. (Courtesy of Gia Huy Ngo)

Last year’s Alpha Iota Phi chapter earned the Top 100 Award, REACH recognition, the Distinguished Project Award, and a 5-star rating. This year’s team reports that they are on-track to achieving more of the same.

“I am excited to see where our research will go as there’s definitely a lot of interesting data regarding how the pandemic has affected our collective concept of play. Even though we definitely have a lot of work ahead of us with our HIA project, because we are friends I feel like the burden isn’t as intense,” said Molina Sumba, Co-Vice President of Marketing and Public Relation. “I know I can depend on my fellow officers.”

Although Trunk-or-Treat is past, PTK has many more HIA-based endeavors planned to help the community. “We have spent some of our grant on Trunk or Treat, but this is only part of our project, as we are planning on partnering with Ronald McDonald, Casa Central, and the Highwood Library as well,” said McCarthy. “We would love to have your help on our project which will make an impact on the community around us. Part of HIA, is to take action in the community and make a real difference together as a team.” 

Choi speaks for the entire Oakton Phi Theta Kappa team when she said, “The project was also a great fellowship activity in that our group could be closer and develop a sense of cooperation. It is true that we need to spend some amount of time and effort on PTK, but it is so worth it and I am so proud to be part of PTK.”