Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hallmark Essays, Quick Tips

by Esmeralda Vargas

Phi Theta Kappa Hallmark Awards represent the four values that the honor society holds, which are hallmarks of scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship. The Hallmark awards are a series of essay questions that chapters answer in order to be recognized for the excellence that their officers and/or advisors have demonstrated individually, as well as the excellence their chapter has demonstrated as a team. The Hallmark awards require chapters to explain the events, research, and community service that they have completed in the prior year and demonstrate how these contributions have positively affected their members or community. Chapters compete with one another to win the awards given for each Hallmark entry. Additionally, participating in the Hallmark Awards encourages officers, members, and advisors to continue their ambition to further the academic environment in their schools.

Composing the Hallmark essays is very lengthy journey that can be demanding to complete, and although it may seem challenging, with the right guidance, it can be a successful process. I recently completed writing the Hallmarks essays for my chapter Alpha Theta Phi, and wish to give future officers some advice that can make their experience with completing the essays writing process run smoothly. Some advice I would give to future officers when completing Hallmark essays is to create a deadline prior to the one that is assigned by the advisors, doing so helps the chapter fix any last minute mistakes effectively with time to spare. I also recommend that future officers work as a team to write these essays. Instead of individually sitting down to answer the Hallmark questions, sit down as a team and work together to answer the questions at hand. Working together to answer these questions creates an academic environment that will motivate one to focus and finish writing the Hallmark essays. Also working as team is beneficial because another officer can help elaborate on a topic or event one might have forgotten about. What my chapter and I found effective was to plan two or three hour-long officers meetings where we all met to work on the Hallmarks together.

Maintaining a specific word count for the essays is something I personally struggled with. A bit of advice I would offer to future officers who encounter this challenge, are be the following three steps. First, write down any thoughts and ideas you may have on the topic to be answered. Completing this step allows one to think about what it is that you want to incorporate into the essay and also helps refresh your memory on events and projects the chapter was worked on in the past few months. Secondly, eliminate all unnecessary material that does not relate to the question at hand, and turn what was written into short and concise answers. Lastly, check for any grammatical errors and make sure what you have written directly and concisely answers the inquiry.

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