International honor society president speaks at Northeast commencement

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by amandab  5/19/2016 8:26:56 AM -- 

NORFOLK - The tiny Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia lies about 3,000 miles from Nebraska, but that’s where the remarkable journey of Yanik Etan, who spoke at Northeast Community College’s commencement ceremony recently, all began.

Etan serves as the international president of Phi Theta Kappa, the largest international honor society serving students pursuing two-year degrees. Etan spoke at Northeast’s 43rd commencement ceremony held at the Cox Activities Center on the Norfolk campus last Saturday.

Etan opened his speech with praise for Northeast, noting how the College’s 46 percent three-year completion rate outpaces the 21 percent national average for three-year completion.

“Regardless of this high presumption to complete, students from this institution continue to strive, endure and persevere to finish what they started. Your determination to complete speaks volumes of the unique educational system encompassed here,” he said.

Etan’s journey began in 2012, when, after being laid off from a job in St. Lucia he had devoted much of his life to, he immigrated to the United States. A year and many challenges later, he enrolled at the College of Central Florida, where he was introduced to Phi Theta Kappa.

“Phi Theta Kappa surrounded me with a support group of people who truly want to see me succeed,” he said. “They have pushed me to reach outside my comfort zone to be the best version of myself possible.”

Founded in 1918, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society encourages and recognizes the academic achievements of students in two-year colleges while offering opportunities for professional and individual growth through participation in a variety of activities. It includes over 1,200 chapters in all 50 states and a number of international locations. The society inducts approximately 134,000 students each year.

Northeast is home to the Tau Chi chapter of the organization. Since the installation of Tau Chi in 1996, nearly 3,100 Northeast students have been inducted into the chapter.

Etan said that through his involvement with Phi Theta Kappa, which included earning the International President office a year after joining, he has been afforded a wealth of opportunities, including moderating a call with the White House for America’s College Promise program.

 He challenged Northeast’s graduates to choose optimism over pessimism, and to embrace every hurdle and obstacle they may encounter in life.

“I would like to remind you that it is truly okay to fail,” he said. “If I had not endured my previous adversities, I would not be in this position today.”

“The equation for success is found by adding failure with persistence. In life, you will face many obstacles, but it is how you handle those obstacles that will determine your growth and development as a person.”

Etan also challenged the graduates to view commencement not as an end but a beginning. “I encourage you, don’t let this accomplishment here this morning be the best you’ve attained. Rather, use it as a stepping stone to challenge yourself, and to achieve even greater milestones in your life.”




Yanik Etan, international president of Phi Theta Kappa, congratulates a graduate at Northeast Community College’s 43rd annual Commencement Ceremony recently in Norfolk. He is the international president of Phi Theta Kappa, an international academic society for two-year colleges. Etan, a native of St. Lucia, is presently a student at the College of Central Florida. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)

Posted In -- Graduation, Norfolk, Press Releases, PTK, Special Events

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