Hagerstown Community College Phi Theta Kappa president wants education to be more accessible

Rick Howe was elected as Maryland state president of the Middle States Region and is the first regional student representative from HCC

August 26, 2012|By JANET HEIM |
  • Rick Howe is president of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society, at Hagerstown Community College.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Rick Howe is passionate about higher education and is extending his own career as a student to spread the word.

Howe is president of Phi Theta Kappa, or PTK, an international honor society at Hagerstown Community College.

The mission of the organization is to recognize and encourage achievement of two-year college students, as well as provide opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship opportunities, according to its website.

“There are things I’ve grown passionate about. PTK is one of them. I picked up a second associate’s degree so I’d be eligible to run. This is a year of service for me,” Howe said.

There are about 250 students in HCC’s Pi Theta Chapter of PTK.

Howe recently was elected as the Maryland state president of the Middle States Region and is the first regional student representative to be selected from HCC.

“That allows me to extend my influence across the region a little more,” Howe said, adding that he hopes to visit a lot of the chapters in the region.


Howe, 37, is a nontraditional student. He grew up in Boonsboro and graduated from Boonsboro High School in 1993, then joined the U.S. Air Force, where he was a communication and navigational systems specialist.

He left the military after one three-year enlistment, then worked in his field in Rockville, Md., for five more years, commuting from Boonsboro. Howe worked in the restaurant business, then worked with his father, Keith Howe, who was a superintendent for a developer in the Washington, D.C., area. They carpooled together to a job site about two blocks from Union Station.

Then they got into the real estate business, flipping properties in the Boonsboro area from 2005 until the downturn in the economy took its toll.

In need of a career change, Howe started taking classes full time in the radiography program at HCC in 2010. After completing an assignment for an English course his first semester with Ann Clark, Howe was inspired to think more about what he wanted as a career, rather than just a job.

For him, that ultimately means he’d like to earn his associate degrees at HCC, transfer to a four-year college, then earn a graduate degree and work in administration at the college level.

“My end goal is to attain a position to allow me to influence and make education accessible to a greater number of people,” Howe said.

For now, he has several goals for the remainder of his time at HCC: making students aware of the services available on campus, having the clubs and organizations work together, and getting more students to Hawk sporting events, Howe said.

Howe, who is not married, just completed the requirements for his first associate degree this summer, in sociology, and will finish an associate degree in political science in May 2013. He juggles part-time classes with his commitments to PTK and the Student Government Association, or SGA, on campus, of which he is vice president, along with his student worker position on campus and a part-time job at Vesta Pizza in Boonsboro.

“I’m very busy,” Howe said.

Howe estimates he devotes about 20 hours a week to PTK planning and activities, and 10 hours a week to SGA.

Should Howe decide to run for an international officer position with PTK, he would once again extend his time at HCC.

“One thing I tell a lot of members in other chapters: I no longer agree it’s about who you know, it’s about the people who know you,” Howe said.

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