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March 29, 2023 (Middletown, Conn.) — The Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society chapter at Middlesex Community College earned several regional awards at the 2023 New England Spring Convention which took place at Housatonic Community College on March 25, 2023.

The Middlesex PTK chapter, also known as Beta Gamma Xi, received the Most Distinguished Chapter award for the New England region, as well as Five Star chapter status for participating in all engagement levels needed to build a strong and active chapter.

Olivia Merlini, chapter president, received first place as the region’s Most Distinguished Chapter Officer, and Katherine Tocto Quituisaca, chapter vice president, earned second place.

Lin Lin, Ph.D., Beta Gamma Xi co-advisor, was honored as the Most Distinguished Chapter Advisor. Dr. Lin is the program coordinator for engineering, computer science and technology at Middlesex.

The chapter received first place for their Honors in Action Project theme: Architecture and Design of Play, as well first place overall for their Honors in Action Project.

“The Honors in Action Project was driven by academic research and followed PTK’s 2022–2023 Honors Study Topic: The Art and Science of Play. Our chosen theme within this topic (Architecture and Design of Play) led us to explore the design of the Montessori method and its benefits for seniors with dementia. We collaborated with Montessori Circle of Friends (a Montessori school located in Chester, Conn.) to learn more about this method and provided Montessori-based activities for seniors with dementia at The Village at South Farms,” Merlini explained.

The chapter also worked on a school project to assist the college’s administration, Merlini said.

“Our college project was determined collaboratively with Middlesex administration and focused on developing a better understanding of the student experience and ways in which it can be improved. To accomplish this goal, our chapter distributed a student survey and established a bulletin board in Founders Hall to create a bridge for continued communication between the administration and the student body,” said Merlini. “The quantitative and qualitative data that we collected was then shared with members of the administration.”

In addition to Dr. Lin, Middlesex PTK co-advisers are Interim Dean of Academic and Student Affairs Donna Bontatibus, Ph.D., Computer Support Specialist Landi Hou and Guided Pathways Advisor Anton Pettiford. For more information about the honor society, please visit

Earlier in March, Beta Gamma Xi was recognized by the PTK national organization as a REACH (Recognizing Excellence in Acceptance and Completion with Honors) chapter for their efforts to bring life-changing benefits and opportunities of PTK membership to more students on the campus last year. They will conduct their annual induction ceremony on April 14. Eligible students must maintain a 3.65 GPA with a minimum of 12 credits.