Candidate Profile: Eric Trey Mueller

Eric Trey Mueller

Candidate Interview

Describe 2-3 specific leadership experiences which have prepared you to serve as an International Officer.

Every activity I have participated in contributes to character building with an emphasis on academic leadership. There are two experiences that can be credited most for preparing me to serve as an International President: competitive speaking and running for office in Phi Theta Kappa. The catalysts for my involvement with team collaboration were debate and forensics in high school. It continues to amaze me how much personal and professional growth is possible within four years of policy debate, congressional debate, extemporaneous speaking as well as other events conducive to the development of necessary skills. My experiences at the state and national tournaments serve as the foundation for my abilities in public speaking, organization and research.

Attending Coffeyville Community College introduced new opportunities to develop the four Hallmarks; Scholarship, Service, Leadership and Fellowship. Within the first week of becoming a member, I decided to pursue a chapter officer position with encouragement and guidance from the Eta Gamma advisor, Linda McFate. Months later I ran for Kansas Region President and failed. Fortunately, there were no candidates for Vice President of Correspondence and I was appointed this position. Through this humbling experience, I have learned to never take for granted time spent with the Kansas Region. Corresponding with chapters in Kansas for participation at regional conferences, induction ceremonies, officer meetings, service projects, fellowship events and other activities has led to the statewide completion of many goals such as Community College Completion Corps, Competitive Edge, CollegeFish.org, Five Star Chapter Development, Honors in Action, College Project, Honors Case Study Challenge and Leadership Development Studies.

Beyond giving back to the organization, what is the primary reason you are seeking International Office?

This Society has the ability to impact the largest number of honor students in higher education. With such a dedicated population of servant leaders, no dream is impossible. Helen Keller once stated, "although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it." By serving as a representative of the international academic community, I would have the remarkable opportunity of acting as a bridge between visionaries and transactional leaders. The gratification of watching a member complete a project while experiencing personal and professional development is sufficient justification for seeking international office. Moreover, the experiences I have shared with advisors, colleagues, community leaders and other friends are irreplaceable memories that continue to shape my aspirations and plans for the future.

There are many net benefits to running for international office, but inviting culture exchange among the nation's brightest community college students is a more substantial reward. My parents, advisor, chapter and region deserve to be recognized as primary motivators and role models. In addition, campaigning for International President of Phi Theta Kappa recognizes Coffeyville Community College while providing members of Eta Gamma with leadership role opportunities as key team members. Their willingness to work many hours on ambitious goals and difficult projects instills confidence in my decision to campaign.

In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing community college students today?

Of all the issues community college students face, college completion is the most important. Joe Namath once said, "If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?" Every student intends on completing a credential, yet many do not. Almost half of the students who plan to return after dropping out never complete their education.

Terry O'Banion agrees that community colleges should prioritize the completion agenda above declining resources, retiring leaders and other pressing issues. He and other community college leaders observe the dropout rate is highest among remedial students. It is estimated that forty percent of remedial students dropout of community college whereas the statistic is halved when regarding traditional students.

The growing need for higher education among the workforce is exemplified by unfilled jobs that require a post-secondary education. The issue of college completion will soon be a national imperative to be addressed by the legislature. If the United States cannot meet the demand for skilled workers, many of the nation's 1,200 colleges could require substantial reform after officials blame one another for shortcomings in the education sector.

Solutions to issues such as remedial dropout rates exist through the exploration of innovative approaches to developmental education. The learning process can be daunting for remedial learners of whom are required to enroll in a series of classes before beginning college-level courses. In general, curricula for the developmental process should be faster and more effective than traditional semester framework to incur a positive self concept in each student. In order to combat accelerating dropout rates among all community college students, educational frontiers will be necessary to reverse this downward trend. In a society that is both globalized and competitive, the United States must foster a culture committed to completing a degree or credential.


Honors Study Topic Essay

Discover Through Experience

Sheep often get lost in the field because they never look up while grazing. We resemble the sheep when we become so focused with where we are that we lose sight of where we are going. In many ways we are akin to animals on earth that are dependent of each other. The difference in humans lies within the answer to why we choose one frontier over another. Thus the question continues to exist, "What propels us from curiosity to exploration of a frontier?" Your answer might not match mine and proponents of individuality would argue this is how it should be. If sustenance, shelter and procreation were the only concerns of man, there would be no more purpose in our lives than sheep content with only surviving.

Our actions are driven by the knowledge acquired through experience and reason when curiosity becomes impossible to ignore. The word "spirit" is often used to describe the emotional relationship attached to exploration of a frontier because survival and logic are not always responsible for motivation. A friend of the chapter chose to skydive for the first time on her eighty fifth birthday despite the warnings from reason. A love of heights simply compelled her to view the world from a new perspective. Many of us thrive from primary experience and the discovery outweighs risk or sacrifice. I believe this is why history repeats itself because we want to discover for ourselves rather than rely on reason for knowledge. The subjectivity of what is worth exploring defines each of us as we challenge our unique frontiers. "There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way." ~Christopher Morley