PTK chapter garners 14 awards at regional conference


by Sandy Wall

The awards keep coming for Craven Community College‘s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) International Honor Society.

The group brought home an amazing 14 individual and group awards from the recent Carolinas Regional Phi Theta Kappa Convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Students from Craven Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapter join faculty members and administrators to show off the 14 awards the group brought back from a PTK regional conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Photo by Nancy Childs)

This year’s strong showing comes just a year after the chapter garnered 10 awards at the regional convention.

Chapter leaders say they are proud of the strong performance and of the work that PTK members are doing on campus and in the community.

“Phi Theta Kappa is focused on community involvement and service,” said Marlena Brokob, chapter president. “It shows our college’s commitment to academic success and excellence, both in and out of the classroom.”

Phi Theta Kappa is an international organization that recognizes the academic achievements of students at two-year colleges. To be eligible, a student must complete a minimum of 12 hours of curriculum course work at Craven and earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

Craven’s chapter has been extremely busy in recent years. It has grown its membership and has worked hard to increase its profile on campus and in the community.

The chapter helped to commemorate New Bern‘s 300th anniversary by researching and recording a series of historical “minutes” that were broadcast on Public Radio East and by creating a popular video documentary titled “Voices of New Bern.”

Chapter members have helped out with campus and community volunteer projects, and several members have received individual recognitions in the form of scholarships and other honors.

Seven chapter members joined chapter advisors Kathryn “Kate” Amerson and Pamela Baldwin at this year’s PTK regional conference. The 14 awards earned by the group, known officially as the Alpha Phi Nu chapter, were:

  • Carolinas Superstar Award (for distinguished achievement)
  • Hall of Honor (for former PTK member Jimmy Fulcher Jr.)
  • Hall of Honor (for former PTK member Antonio Bryant)
  • Honors in Action Regional Project Award (regional recognition for the chapter Foreign Language Study)
  • Hand in Hand Regional Service Award (for its community involvement after Hurricane Irene)
  • Carolinas Region Distinguished College Project (for hosting a Scholarship Fair on Nov. 15, 2011, at the New Bern Campus)
  • Horizon Award (for chapter Advisor Kathryn Amerson)
  • Distinguished Chapter Officer (for former PTK President Jimmy Fulcher Jr.)
  • Distinguished Chapter Officer (for former PTK Secretary Antonio Bryant)
  • Distinguished Honors in Action Project (for the “Voices of New Bern” documentary)
  • Distinguished Achievements in Regional Programs of the Two-Year Colleges (for its community service and leadership achievements)
  • Five Star Chapter Development Plan (for reaching and maintaining its status as a Five Star chapter)
  • Distinguished Chapter (for combined scores of the College Project and Honors in Action project)
  • Most Distinguished Chapter in the Carolinas Region, First Runner Up

Brokob said chapter members are staying busy. The group is involved in a number of activities, and there are plans for PTK leaders and members who are traveling to South America in May to create a “Voices of Peru” documentary as the 2012 Honors in Action project.

Brokob said she is happy the chapter has remained strong, even as many of its most active members have moved on to four-year universities or other endeavors.

“In recent years, the chapter has been very active,” she said. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to keep the momentum strong and build on their work.”

Sandy Wall is the public information officer at Craven Community College. He can be reached at


Voices of New Bern Premieres on June 23


Voices of New Bern, a documentary by members of Phi Theta Kappa and students in Humanities 160, will première on Thursday June 23, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.    The event will take place in Orringer Auditorium on the campus of Craven Community College.    This film is supported by the Richard Chapman Cleve Fund, a component fund of the North Carolina Community Foundation, and the Walmart Community Grant.   

Voices of New Bern captures some of the city’s history from the Reconstruction period following the American Civil War to the Great Fire of New Bern in 1922.  Prominent figures such as Abraham Galloway, Emeline Pigott, Sarah Dudley Pettey, Oscar Marks, Bayard Wooten, Caleb Bradham, and Blanche Rivers are discussed.  Interviews with Dr. David Cecelski, Dr. Glenda Gilmore, Mr. Nelson McDaniel, Mrs. Mary Peterkin, Mrs. Mary Randolph, and Mrs. Blanche Rivers were conducted to reveal voices from New Bern’s history.  Music for the piece was composed and performed by Helen Sims Smaw.

The première is open to the public.   A question and answer session will follow.


Aging conference targets professionals, consumers

May 22, 2011 4:57 PM

The Eastern Carolina Council Area Agency on Aging hosts a two-day conference in New Bern this week addressing a variety of senior citizen issues.

“Paving the Way to a Livable and Senior Friendly North Carolina,” is Thursday and Friday at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center.

The targeted audience is professionals and advocates for older adults, but it includes employers of seniors and the spouses and grown children of frail older people.

Keynote speakers include Dennis Streets, director of the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services.

Mary Bethel, the co-director for advocacy for AARP of North Carolina is another main speaker, along with Bob Garner, the associate director of communications for AARP North Carolina.

There are a number of registration options, ranging from professional and non-professional for the entire conference or just one day. The rates range from $15 to $65.

These are some of the topics and the speakers:

  • “Reverse mortgages,” by Dottie Wright, housing counselor with Twin Rivers Opportunities.
  • “The Poverty Simulation: A Virtual Experience of Life on the Edge,” by Barbara Heckman, and Sarah Wilson of Coastal Community Action.
  • “The Right Way to Voice Concerns,” by Angelia Pridgen and Shelia Lewis, ombudsmen for the Eastern Carolina Council. They will provide advocacy tips for residents in long-term care.
  • “Guardianship 101,” by Lawrence Craige, attorney with N.C. Guardianship Association. He will discuss basic issues and where to find information.
  • “Transportation, Senior Friendly Communities,” by Alex Rickard, transportation director of the Eastern Carolina Council. The talk includes future planning for seniors in this region.
  • “Older Americans Act Reauthorization,” by John Thompson, the Carteret County delegate of the Senior Tar Heel Legislature. He will provide a brief history of the act, set for reauthorization this year, as well as the population it serves and advocacy efforts.
  • “End of Life Care,” by Susan Redding, president of the End of Life Care Coalition of Eastern North Carolina. She will talk about care options including life-sustaining measures and palliative care.

There will also be talks on topics such as Medicare, nutrition, legal planning and Alzheimer’s.

Conference times are 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Thursday and 8:45 a.m. to noon Friday.

Voices of New Bern (work in progress), a Phi Theta Kappa Film


New Bern Ghost Walk: Battle of New Bern Civil War Reinactment, Photograph by Tony Bryant

Voices of New Bern will première in Orringer Auditorium on June 23 at 7:00 pm.  We expect the final, festival ready product to be approximately 45 minutes long. Still to come are the segments about suffragette Sarah Dudley Pettey from Yale University professor Dr. Glenda Gilmore and Oscar Marks’ influence upon the Jewish business community.

For a taste of what to expect, the “work in progress” cut is now available on Youtube:  (Although the Civil War did not last until 1870, this date coincides with the death of one of the subjects who was a participant in the Civil War.) 

Mark your calendars now to attend the première of Voices of New Bern.

Voices of New Bern, a Phi Theta Kappa Film


A lot has been written about New Bern, North Carolina‘s colonial, revolutionary and Civil War eras.  In this documentary, the Craven Community College Phi Theta Kappa chapter has captured the growth of the city after the Civil War and until the destruction of the Great Fire of New Bern in 1922.  Students have interviewed local and national historians for this piece including: Nelson McDaniel, Board President of the New Bern Historical Society;  Mary Peterkin, Great Fire Historian;  David Cecelski, PhD, Author of The Waterman’s Song: Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina and The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway’s Civil War; and Glenda Gilmore, PhD, Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History, Yale University, Author Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina 1896-1920.

Captured on film are voices from the end of New Bern’s 19th and the turn of the 20th Centuries.  The documentary chronicles the trials and tribulations of this Swiss founded community as it became a safe haven for African-Americans after the Civil War.  The film also examines the unique roles that New Bern women played during this era. These included a spy, a pilot/photographer, and a columnist who fought through both racial and gender barriers.  The rise of a Jewish business man in a small Southern town is also chronicled, along with the invention of Pepsi in a downtown pharmacy.  Residents, survivors, and historians also give their perspectives of how the 1922 Great Fire affected the city’s African-American population.

 The following is the trailer for Voices of New Bern, to be premiered in Orringer Auditorium of Craven Community College this summer:

Phi Theta Kappa chapter brings home 10 awards from regional conference


By Sandy Wall

Craven Community College is going to need a new trophy case after the college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society brought home an amazing 10 awards from the recent Carolinas Regional Phi Theta Kappa Convention.

Also at the convention, chapter official Joe Nevels II was elected to a one-year term as Phi Theta Kappa Vice President for North Carolina.    

Members of Craven Community College’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter and college leaders show off the 10 awards the chapter brought home from the recent Carolinas Regional Convention held March 18-20 in Clemmons. Also pictured is chapter official Joe Nevels II, fifth from left, who has been elected to a one-year term as Phi Theta Kappa Vice President for North Carolina. Photo by Sandy Wall, Craven CC Public Relations Officer

 “The recognition this group brings to the college is significant,” said Craven President Catherine Chew. “They’re a special group.”

Phi Theta Kappa is an international organization that recognizes the academic achievements of students at two-year institutions. To be eligible, a student must complete a minimum of 12 hours of curriculum course work at Craven and earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

The strong performance by Craven’s chapter at the regional convention comes after an extremely busy period for the organization. The group has grown its membership and has worked hard to increase its profile on campus and in the community.

Over the last few months, chapter members helped commemorate New Bern’s 300th anniversary by researching and recording a series of historical “minutes” that were broadcast on Public Radio East.

Members also designed a series of historical placards to highlight significant figures and events in the city’s history. They’re now working on a historical documentary.

Chapter members have helped out with volunteer projects, both on campus and in the community, and several members have received individual recognition in the form of scholarships and other honors.

Six chapter members and advisor Kate Amerson attended the Phi Theta Kappa regional conference. The 10 awards earned by the group, known officially as the Alpha Phi Nu chapter, were:

  • Second Runner-Up for Most Distinguished Chapter (for its busy year of projects and service)
  • Distinguished Chapter Award
  • Carolinas Super Stars (Earned for participating in all regional events this year)
  • Five Star Chapter (the highest level available, up from its previous Three Star level)
  • Most Improved Chapter in the Carolinas (for the second year in a row)
  • Outstanding Participation in the Carolinas Region Honors In Action Program (for working with youth in educational settings)
  • Carolinas Four Gig Challenge (for participating in environmental programs throughout the year)
  • Distinguished Achievement in Regional Programs (for its work in the Democratization of Information in History category)
  • Paragon Award for chapter advisor Kate Amerson
  • Horizon Award for chapter advisor Kate Amerson (for involvement on a regional level)

Chapter President Jimmy Fulcher Jr. said he is proud to see the chapter’s year of hard work receive recognition at a regional level.

“We went to last year’s conference and earned designation as a Three Star Chapter and a Most Improved Award,” he said. “In one year’s time, we’ve gone from that position to one of the most honored chapters in the Carolinas and to having one of our members sitting on a regional board.”


DownEast Today interviews Kathryn Smaw Amerson


Martha Bishop, co-host of DownEast Today, read The Caregivers and invited author Kathryn Smaw Amerson to the set.  Co-host John Moore interviewed Amerson to reveal the character of Aunt Bette, pronounced “ont” because she insisted she was not an insect.  Aunt Bette had been a college professor who retired to her hometown of New Bern, North Carolina.  From the early 1960s to the early 1990s, she was seen as brilliant, worldly, and eccentric by the small Southern town.  Her company was requested by all the town’s social events.  When she seemingly suddenly exhibited signs of dementia, her status in the community evaporated. 

Amerson said The Caregivers provides two storylines.  One is of healthcare, eldercare, and elder abuse.  Through this plot Amerson hopes to effect change in eldercare, much like change has been effected in childcare.  The second storyline allows readers to see Aunt Bette”s humor and intellect as she recalls events of the 20th century.  This plot enables readers to observe that her life was not defined by the last five years of declining health, but by her marvelous 95 year journey.

DownEast Today will air Amerson’s interview on Wednesday, March 30 at 6:00 am and 7:00 am.  The television channels can be found on the DownEast website: