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Surry Community College’s PTK Honor Society Project Published in International Journal


Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) recently selected Surry Community College’s academic research project to feature in its publication, “Civic Scholar: Phi Theta Kappa Journal of Undergraduate Research.”

“Civic Scholar” features 16 research projects by PTK chapters across the country on a wide range of topics including: “Exploring Disparities in Healthcare Based on Identities” and “Transforming Negative Community College Stigma into Positive Action.” There were 495 submissions for the third edition of Civic Scholar.

“We all know the key to success in college is driven by student engagement,” PTK President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner said. “These 16 projects are the very best examples of how students apply innovative research and take meaningful action on the issues they care about most on their campuses and in their communities. We are proud to showcase their good and important work, and we are grateful to the Cooke Foundation for helping us share this work with others.”

Dr. Blake Ellis, PTK’s Vice President of Student Engagement added, “In publishing this journal, we hope to demonstrate something we have always known to be true: community college students are innovative scholars. They are conducting research that matters, drawing conclusions that reshape our understanding of the world, and taking action that leaves a lasting impact.”

Research was conducted as part of Phi Theta Kappa’s honors program, Honors in Action, and based on the topic, Transformations: Acknowledging, Assessing, and Achieving Change. The works published in Civic Scholar include both substantive research and community engagement — chapters ultimately turned their research into action by using their findings to meet specific community needs.

Surry Community College’s Chapter Advisor, Dr. Kathleen D. Fowler, who directed the project featured in the publication, is extremely proud of the students who dedicated their time and skills to work on it.

“Honors in Action projects are designed to help students grow as scholars and as leaders,” explains Fowler. “The students research a global issue and how it manifests within their community. Then they design a project, based on their research, to help their community members. Thus, they are making a positive impact through their service.”

Surry’s Alpha Xi Tau Chapter of PTK entitled their research project, “Transforming Families Impacted by Substance Abuse: The Opposite of Addiction is Connection.” After completing their 2018/2019 Honors in Action project, they learned that the local region’s substance abuse problem was worsening, and education was essential to the solution. They also learned that helping those already addicted to substances was an extremely complex issue and outside the skill set of their team. With that knowledge, they developed this research question: “How does substance abuse impact families and friends of those who are addicted?”

Researching this topic led them to develop a student survey, which asked who was likely to be affected by the substance abuse of others and how they were likely to be affected. From the data they collected and analyzed, they concluded that all levels of family, from children to grandparents, are impacted in a multitude of ways. Yet, most people are not aware of resources available to help. They used these research findings to develop a plan of action.

The students partnered with Nancy Taylor, a Surry Community College instructor specializing in the psychology of addiction, and Mark Willis, the Surry County’s Opioid Response Director, to create a resource guide to help families impacted by substance abuse. They included counties where most Surry Community College’s students reside and included sections based on specific needs revealed through their research: food pantries, shelters, health care, counseling, and additional vital resources. They also searched for churches, organizations, and other groups that provide these types of services.

While collecting information, the students realized they would need two guides: one for resources in English and one for those provided in Spanish. After developing both, they shared them with students, college administrators, county officials, and community members to help connect families affected by substance abuse with available resources.

Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. The society is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations. Learn more at

For more information about Phi Theta Kappa, contact PTK's Faculty Advisor Dr. Kathleen Fowler at (336) 386-3560 or or go to You can also follow the local chapter at on Facebook @surryPhiThetaKappa.

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