From left, Grant Magnusson, Tea Burdine, Sabrina Guichard, Joshua Hopson, and Dr. Emma Miller.

Two years ago, a group of Jackson County Campus Phi Theta Kappa members began working on an Honors in Action project for their PTK regional conference. The group adopted the topic of soft skills because it was something they felt college students urgently needed.

“Soft skills are not something we normally focus on in college, but most students need some training in these areas – things like communication, email etiquette, proper work attire, etc.,” said Dr. Emma Miller, a mathematics instructor at the Jackson County Campus.

The group won eighth place at regionals out of 50 Honors in Action projects submitted and received the 5-Star Competitive Edge award.

When Miller heard about the call for proposals for the QEP topic in August 2017, she thought they should collaborate on a proposal to support the PTK soft skills project. “It just seemed to fit perfectly with their current project and was something we knew that college students would benefit from being taught,” Miller said.

Students who agreed to work on the proposal were Grant Magnusson, Tea Burdine, Sabrina Guichard and Joshua Hopson.

Getting the proposal ready was a lot of work for the group.  “We did literature reviews and other types of research on these skills,” Miller said. “We defined which skills fell in the area of soft skills, and of those skills, which were needed most. We used data from Institutional Research, such as results of graduate exit surveys and employer surveys. There was also a lot of editing, editing, editing. Students who volunteered to work on the QEP proposal worked on weekends, evenings and just about every spare moment putting it together.”

Miller said they eventually completed the topic proposal and submitted their work. Over the course of several months, they learned they had made it to the top six proposals, then the top three.   The team did not hear anything for a while and was getting anxious.  “When we found out, everybody was very excited and proud of all the hard work we had put into it,” she said. “They were even more proud of the positive impact they were making on the college.”

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