Madison Area Technical College-Reedsburg student Denise Cohn has been selected as a Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Regional Officer for 2014. The longtime Reedsburg resident received the honor for her time serving as Phi Theta Kappa’s Vice-President of the Wisconsin Region for the 2013-2014 school year.
Phi Betta Kappa is an international honor society for students of two-year colleges. Cohn said the organization is built on fellowship and scholarship – all the plankings of a well-rounded person. Members build on those skills.
Each year chapter members run for offices. Members decide among themselves who would do the best job in each position. After an interview process, Cohn was selected to represent the Wisconsin region. Wisconsin had previously been in a region with other states, but changed this year to its own region. The position allowed Cohn to see what Phi Theta Kappa does for students across the state.
“That’s what made the experience so wonderful – being able to work with the chapters across Wisconsin and work with them to achieve their goals,” Cohn said. “Those things are huge highlights of being a member of Phi Theta Kappa, period, but being at a regional level is huge.”
She has spent time working with the society to raise degree-completion rates in the technical college system, with a state-wide awareness campaign to make sure all Wisconsin chapters are participating in helping students complete their degrees. In the fall, the society held a regional conference with a march to the Capitol in Madison.
“As a regional officer I had a very large part in the planning of the affair and facilitating it, so my public speaking skills have gotten quite a bit better,” Cohn said. “Before I was happy sitting at home; now it’s amazing how many people you meet and how wonderful that is to help them achieve their goals. Not your goal, but their goals – that’s been incredible.”
Cohn has headed to Florida to participate in the National Phi Theta Kappa conference and receive her award. At 42 years old and a mother of two, Cohn is not the average student.
“We may be non-traditional, but certainly not unheard of,” Cohn said. “I think we are every bit of a visual presence as those traditional students we tend to think of.”
She is set to graduate with an accounting degree this spring and a business management degree after the fall semester. She plans on attending University of Wisconsin-Platteville to work on finishing her Bachelor’s degree. In the meantime, she is still adjusting to the honor she’s received.
“I’m not usually one to take glory or praise, so it’s a little hard for me to figure out how to react to it,” Cohn said. “My family is extremely proud of me and my friends and peers here at school have been celebrating my achievement.”