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Illinois Alumni Association Regional Blog

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Introducing - the new Illinois Regional Coordinator - Adrienne Barkley Giffin!

Hey there, Illinois! Tori Ladd, Southern District Representative here with an exciting interview! I recently sat down with new Illinois Regional Coordinator, Adrienne Barkley Giffin, to talk about what led her to this point, her goals for the region, things to look out for in the future, and just some plain old fun facts!


Adrienne attended John A. Logan College (JALC) in Carterville, Illinois right after she graduated in high school. While there, she received her Associates in Art as well as accepted Phi Theta Kappa membership for the Upsilon Pi chapter. “Sadly, I wasn’t active at that time, but I feel like being an advisor is my second chance at what I missed out on,” she recalled. From there she went on to transfer to Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) to receive her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and her master’s in public administration. After graduation, she worked in multiple museums such as SIUC’s museum, the John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro, and JALC’s. While working at JALC’s museum, Adrienne helped with student groups and academic advising. That’s when she declared, “I was bitten by the student group bug!”

Adrienne Barkley with an award


“In October of 2013, I took the plunge into Phi Theta Kappa advising! Before that, however, there were 3 different times where there was an advisor opening for Upsilon Pi. Each time I thought about how much I wanted to do that, but knew I couldn’t make it work with everything else I had on my plate. The third time, the advisor stepped down right before the regional convention, which the students had already signed up to go, so I volunteered to take them. I stepped in as their interim advisor with the intention of helping them find a full-time advisor. It was such an amazing conference! While there, I attended an Advisor 101 ed forum, taking notes like crazy for whoever stepped in to be the advisor. The current regional coordinator, David Elder, and Parkland’s advisor, Lori Garrett, were leading the ed forum where I was asking all these questions. Afterwards, they both approached me to tell me that I should consider being the advisor! I remember Christina Boyce (current IRAA president) telling me, ‘You know what they say! If you want something done, you get a busy person to do it,’ when we talked about how much I already had on my plate. It really lodged in my head! One weekend, I was at home while trying to think of someone who could step in as the advisor, it hit me like a lightning bolt. This one area of the work I was doing wasn’t actually part of my position, so it might be possible to switch that for Phi Theta Kappa. So, I went to my supervisor, the Dean of Students, and his eyes became really big and he thought it was a perfect idea. So here we are! I am also an IRAA member.”


“While being a Phi Theta Kappa advisor and regional coordinator would be a great full-time job, I’m actually Director of Student Activities and Cultural Events at John A. Logan College.”

  • “I think it’s important to look to the direction of the Catalyst 2022 Strategic Plan when making goals.”
  • Something Adrienne is extremely passionate about in terms of goals for the region is that all Phi Theta Kappa members get the ultimate experience. “I want everyone to ‘max out’ on all that this society has to offer. It can be an important part of education. For the one time, lifetime membership fee, members have access to semesters worth of classes for less than the price of ONE class!”
  • A long-term goal for Adrienne is to see all Illinois advisors, chapters, and members make it to 5 Star status. “It kind of goes back to the other goal. We are all like rungs on your ladder to success. Advisors make it possible for chapters to have access to their highest potential and chapters do the same for their individual members. The great thing about our region is that it is filled with amazing people who all want the same growth and success!”
  • She would also love to see a network of membership recruitment advice. She knows firsthand that sometimes recruiting new chapter members can be a struggle, while for other chapters, they have it figured out. An example she gave, came from Craig Bradley, advisor at Shawnee Community College who shared that their chapter has financial aid vouchers for covering potential membership fees. “While each college is different, having new ideas and creative ways to promote membership is always the way to grow.”
  • “This is a fun one. I would LOVE for each Illinois chapter to have their own chant! My chapter was inspired by Rho Kappa’s ‘Raise the roof!’ So we came up with ‘Oop-Oop- Upsilon Pi!’ It’s been a joy to see other chapters like SWIC getting involved as well. I think it would be a fun way to bring us together. An even cooler thing would be if everyone learned each other’s chants!”
  • “The regional officers are planning to collect eyeglasses for the Lions Club International as a service project for the October Conference.”
  • “It’s pretty well known at this point, but we are excited to be hosting International President, Elda Pere and Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, Monica Marlowe at the October Conference!”
  • “The regional officer team selected the word ‘strong’ as their word of encouragement for their term. To promote regional unity, we will be hosting a contest that allows chapters to express what makes their chapters strong using #ptkilstrong! More details will be coming on this soon!”
  • “Like most nerds, I have a bit of a book problem. I have stacks and shelves of books that I keep meaning to read but, well, I keep buying more!”
  • “I LOVE to dance! At pretty much every PTK convention and conference, I can be found on the dance floor!”
  • “I wake up every morning with Sunshine! Mr. Sunshine that is! Mr. Sunshine is my orange and white cat who loves to cuddle and wakes me up every morning, putting a smile on my face!”

This is just a small portion of the amazing advisor and human that is Adrienne Barkley Giffin. As someone who came from her chapter, I can say all Upsilon Pi members, past and present, were thrilled to find out she took the chance of becoming Regional Coordinator. She always encourages chapter members to go for it and try new things, so it’s great to see her doing it as well. It was an honor to sit down with her to talk about how she got to this point in her life and all the plans she has in mind for the future.

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