The Alpha Epsilon Mu chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society, based at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) has received word that its current President, Miss Trish Andrea Dela Cruz Buenavista has been selected by the regional PTK leadership to serve as a Regional Officer. She will be one of four Regional Officers for the PTK’s Division IV, which includes 11 states on the western side of the continental US, Alaska, Hawaii, and the American Pacific. Since the introduction of the honor society to ASCC in 1979, this marks the first occasion the regional PTK has selected a student from American Samoa for this position. Along with the other Regional Officers, Miss Buenavista will play an organizational role in PTK regional events such as the Leadership Conference, Honors Program, and Regional Convention, among other duties.
For Miss Buenavista, the appointment has come as a pleasant surprise. “Serving as a Regional Officer is something that I never thought I would get to experience,” she said, “but I think it’s a great opportunity to represent American Samoa and to have the island and our chapter recognized. It’s an opportunity to get to know and serve other PTK members in the Pacific and from other chapters from around the world. My goal is to help connect our chapter to other chapters in the Pacific islands. As I serve, I hope to encourage ASCC PTK members to have involvement in events for the Pacific Region and to engage them into fellowship with other PTK members in the region.” Her tenure as a Regional Officer will run through May 2023.
Currently pursuing her Associate's degree with an emphasis in Elementary Education at ASCC, Miss Buenavista, age 21, was born in the Philippines and has lived in American Samoa since 2015. She completed high school at Marist Fa’asao, graduating with honors in 2018 as a member of the National Honors Society. Miss Buenavista intends to graduate from ASCC this semester and seek employment with the Department of Education as a teacher, while concurrently continuing at ASCC in pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
Since beginning her studies at ASCC in spring 2020, by the following year Miss Buenavista had become involved with the PTK, first as Treasurer and in fall 2022 being chosen for the chapter’s President. “My involvement with PTK has helped me a lot as a student,” she reflected. “The fellowship with other members and building friendships among them has now become my favorite thing. Also, with the numerous PTK community service projects, I became more involved with the community and aware of the people around the island. This continuously inspired me to serve the community even in the simplest way. Being a part of PTK has been one of the best experiences I have had, and I will surely carry it with me as I move forward.” In addition to her PTK involvement, Miss Buenavista also participates in the Student Government Association, serving as Sophomore Representative.
In addition to her campus life, Miss Buenavista is also a member of the South Pacific Missions Church of God of Prophecy in Leone, where she has served as one of the head leaders of the youth ministry, a Sunday school teacher, and a worship leader for nearly five years, and was recently appointed as the head leader of the church’s women’s ministry and the Children's ministry. Her recreational interests include singing, playing instruments, creating art, and outdoor activities.
Miss Buenavista and the other PTK Regional Officers will work under the supervision of Regional Coordinator Erin Millard, who is based at the Lihue campus of Kauai Community College. Miss Buenavista shared that the other officers include the Pacific Region President and Vice President, both from the University of Hawaii Maui College, and the Service Officer from Waipahu High School in Oahu, Hawaii.
Nationally and internationally, the PTK recognizes the academic achievement of college students and through scholarships, academic support, transfer assistance, and other benefits, provides opportunities for its members to grow as scholars and leaders. Established in 1918, the PTK has a presence on almost 1,300 community college campuses in 11 nations. The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has recognized the PTK as the official honor society for two-year colleges since 1929. More than 3.8 million students have been inducted since 1918, with approximately 250,000 active members in the nation’s community colleges. For more information on the PTK and its activities, visit their website at www.ptk.org.