Students are selected and ranked based on academic achievement, leadership, school participation, service, and a significant endeavor essay. The All-Arizona team is broken up into three teams—first, second, and third. Cahuya was chosen for the first team, and Albinda was chosen for the second team.
First team students receive a $1,000 cash award, with students on the second and third teams receiving $750 and $500 respectively. All team members also receive a two-year tuition waiver at any one of Arizona’s state universities. The recognition is sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges, the Arizona Board of Regents and the Arizona Community College Presidents’ Council.
Albinda said she was following her daughter's example when she joined Phi Theta Kappa.
"My daughter Sarah was an officer in her chapter at Phoenix College and went on to win the Coca Cola scholarship," Albinda said. "By participating in PTK, she was able to network and lay the groundwork for her career. She definitely inspired me to join."
Being chosen for the 2014 All Arizona Academic team is particularly rewarding for Albinda who said she has struggled with her return to academics.
"The most exciting part for me is the honor of being chosen," Albinda said. "Education was not an easy path for me, so this stands as a high achievement and an encouragement to never give up."
According to Albinda, interacting with other students who are driven and energetic is the highlight of her PTK experience.
"The best part of being a PTK member is the opportunity to engage with like-minded people who are purpose-driven and motivated," Albinda said. "People like the ones in PTK are the people who change the world."
After she completes her associate degree at Rio Salado, Albinda plans to transfer to Arizona State University to study nonprofit development.
“I was impressed by ASU's Edson Business Initiative and wanted to have something similar for people who need a second chance. I was also impressed by Bio-Excel's program to offer office space and support to technology start-ups,” Albinda said. “I want to start a non-profit that's somewhere in the middle of the two that also offers educational training to help breed success.”
Cahuya, who is currently in the dental hygiene program at Rio Salado, said PTK has helped her to become a leader in her community and to get involved.
"PTK has allowed me to portray leadership outside of my program," Cahuya said. “It has inspired me to get the best grades and to get involved in my community."
Cahuya said she appreciates the service learning elements of PTK membership and its focus on volunteering.
"PTK provides opportunities to learn and grow as an individual while helping others and providing a service to those in need," Cahuya said.
Cahuya said she plans to continue her education at Northern Arizona University where she will pursue a bachelor's degree after completing the Dental Hygiene program at Rio Salado College.
Visit www.riosalado.edu/PTK to learn more about Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Rio Salado College.
This story can also be found in the March 1 edition of the Tempe Republic.