Estrella Mountain Community College’s (EMCC) Phi Theta Kappa Chapter began 19 years ago and Marylyn Bradley has been leading EMCC’s students for more than half of that time.
Bradley, the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Faculty Advisor at EMCC, took over at her current position as an advisor in 2004, while she was working as adjunct faculty.
Bradley grew up in Illinois, earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications at the University of Illinois and a master's degree in Nutrition Science at Southern Illinois University. After moving to Arizona more than 30 years ago, she earned a master's degree in Health Services Administration from Arizona State University.
Her professional career mostly consisted of working as a Registered Dietitian and in human resources in the healthcare field. She began teaching at EMCC in 2000. Shortly thereafter, she got involved in PTK, assisting with small projects for the organization.
“My background has not really followed the typical straight line you would expect,” said Bradley, who is now a resource to more than 350 EMCC students who are PTK members. Bradley added that usually students go with one career path after college but that hasn’t been the case for her as she has gone from the healthcare field to teaching and now supporting more than 350 students with PTK.
Although PTK is primarily student driven, as the faculty advisor, she ensures that EMCC’s PTK chapter achieves excellence in leadership, community service, and scholarship while remaining compliant with academics, PTK International and campus standards. She also attends meetings and helps organize the trips for state and national PTK meetings.
One of the projects her PTK members are currently working on is a scholarship mentor program, which is geared to helping students find and successfully apply for scholarship opportunities. Currently the scholarship program, which began in October/November of 2013, is run as a pilot program for PTK members. Bradley hopes that, if successful in 2014, it can be considered as a possible campus wide program, making finding scholarships an easier process for students.
“We trained five of our members who had already found success in winning scholarships and they showed the other students the ropes,” said Bradley. “Ideally, we can show our campus the value of scholarship peer mentoring in increasing completion rates. Finding needed financial resources is important to degree completion. This is an example of what PTK calls a College Project. It’s a gift we try to give back to the campus for sponsoring us. They support us with a lot and we, in turn, try to give back how we can.”
The current campus Peer Mentoring Program began originally as the germ of an idea of a PTK student in 2008. Bradley said that the students saw that students could learn how to be successful college students by interacting directly with other successful students. Now, the program is a staple at EMCC.
“I look on that as a PTK idea that was promoted by our students and ended up creating a real legacy for the campus,” said Bradley about the success of the program.
According to Bradley, the students work on two major projects per year. Throughout the year, they also do community service work and look for ways they can positively improve the campus. Every second Saturday morning of each month PTK volunteers help clean the Goodyear Community Park, which began during the summer semester. They have also visited senior care facilities in Sun City during Thanksgiving to spend time with the residents there.
Projects like this Scholarship Mentor Program have helped EMCC’s PTK Chapter to keep its Five Star rating since its inception in 1995. They have also been one of 50 PTK Chapters that have been recognized nationally for excellence twice under Bradley’s guidance.
“Advisors and members connect outside the classroom and learn so much from leadership, service, and travel experiences,” said Bradley, who lights up every time she talks about the students who have contributed to EMCC’s PTK. “Working as a team with the students and seeing how they grow is what keeps me here.”
Bradley’s sole focus is to help the students’ development as leaders. She says that all the ideas and projects are student driven and she enjoys seeing projects come “from a germ of an idea” to the final products.
“This is a student driven organization. The students decide what they want to work on,” added Bradley. “At the end of the day, the students are the ones with the boots on the ground. They are the ones building projects from the ground up.”
Bradley, who has taught nutrition, management, and leadership classes at EMCC, knows the value students get by being part of PTK. She gushes over their work and development from start to finish, never wanting to take credit for anything herself. But as she reaches her tenth anniversary, her track record speaks for itself.