The Galveston College Sigma Gamma Chapter achieved another prestigious honor, receiving the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society Distinguished Chapter Honors in Action (HIA) Award for the first time, which recognizes the chapter’s commitment to academic excellence and community involvement.

PTK chapters recognized for this award scored highly in both the Honors in Action and College Project Award categories, achieved or exceeded a 15% membership acceptance rate and were named a Five Star Chapter, based on activities in 2023.

The HIA project combines research and PTK’s hallmarks, Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Fellowship activities into one project. To be considered for a Distinguished Chapter Award, a chapter must submit entries for both the HIA Project and the College Project Award. The top 10% of chapters submitting both HIA Project and College Project Awards are recognized as Distinguished Chapters.

“This is the first Distinguished Honors in Action Award bestowed on the college's PTK students,” said Regina Durante, Ph.D., PTK advisor and HIA academic coordinator. “The scholarship, leadership, perseverance, and dedication of each of our four students is to be commended.”

“The research skills and leadership of HIA project coordinator Miranda Donaldson allowed her to take the lead in compiling the data and analysis of the findings of the study,” added Durante. “The hard work of Roma Emmett, Kendra Henry, and John Vela also needs to be commended. Their perseverance in designing and distributing the project surveys made this project possible. Each student is outstanding in their own right and makes Galveston College and our greater community proud.”

Each PTK chapter submitted at least one in-depth Honors in Action Project based on a theme of the current Honors Study Topic. The 2024 theme, “Nostalgia as Play,” incorporated academic research and analysis on the action, collaboration and impact our childhood play has on society. Honors in Action Project Award entries are also considered for publication in the “Civic Scholar: Phi Theta Kappa Journal of Undergraduate Research.” The “Civic Scholar” is the first journal of its kind to feature work solely by community college students and is distributed nationally with support from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

“Leading a project that allowed our members to take an active role within the community was incredibly rewarding, and our members were able to learn and grow as scholars as we conducted our original research,” said GC PTK Past President and HIA Project Coordinator, Miranda Donaldson. “It’s an honor to receive this distinction for the chapter and I’m proud of our team that made this happen. Our research revealed that the majority of participants believe that the games of their youth helped them to develop skills that are useful to this day, demonstrating the inherent value of childhood play for the development of lifelong skills.”

The award was the culmination of 14 months of original research and scholarship conducted by GC’s PTK students.

“The theme of the research itself was nostalgic to me and it was during this research that I reflected on the games I played during my childhood, and the people I was with at that moment played an important role in my individuality,’” said current GC PTK President, Roma Emmett. “This achievement boosts my confidence even more. I am proud of the team and it also made me realize that working collaboratively is the key to group projects.”

In addition, the HIA Project offers students the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom and then research how to solve real-world challenges facing their college and community. Through Phi Theta Kappa’s exclusive honors program, HIA, students gain vital skills that today’s employers want to see. Students develop skills that set them apart as campus and community leaders, and they learn to think critically and reflectively while working as part of a team. Finally, students collaborate with college and community leaders, fostering deepening partnerships for their college while simultaneously expanding their networking avenues that bring positive change throughout their community.

“This project was one of the best things that I could have participated in along with my fellow chapter members to accomplish something distinguished for Galveston College and our community,” said PTK member, John Vela. “This was no easy feat, but through perseverance and dedication, we all made this possible.”


Galveston College was founded in 1967 and is a comprehensive community college providing the residents of Galveston Island and the surrounding region with academic, workforce development, continuing education and community service programs.