Students back honors societies
Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 01:09
Students are proud to be a part of both nonprofit and for-profit national honors societies on campus.
Nomination letters for some societies were sent out over the summer while others will be send out before the spring semester. Because most of these memberships require a fee, the societies often get calls from parents asking if the society is a scam.
Beth Settje, the advisor for Sigma Alpha Pi, and the senior assistant director and manager of Internship Resources at UConn, said that she tells the parents directly, “I wouldn’t advise a group that’s a scam. I emphasize if the student isn’t going to put in the time, this is not the organization for them and don’t spend the money.”
Sigma Alpha Pi is the National Society of Leadership and Success. The national chapter does make a profit, as each of the local chapters have to pay a fee. The UConn chapter of Sigma Alpha Pi does not make a profit. Members pay a one-time fee of $85, $75 of which goes to the national chapter to provide for motivational speakers, mailings, a t-shirt and pin for inducted members and other expenses of the sort. The remaining $10 goes to the UConn chapter, which uses the funds to pay their fee to the national chapter and for fees that the Student Union charges for AV use.
To be inducted into the SAP, you need to fulfill a certain number of requirements including an orientation session, a four-hour leadership-training day, and Success Networking Team (SNT) meetings. Settje stressed that this is not a society that you can just pay for and become a member. “The key word is inducted,” said Settje. “You can join almost anything, to be inducted implies you had to do something.”
Some students question whether it is worth it to go through the steps for induction since the organization is newer and may not be as recognizable as others on resumes. Emily Thompson, the president of SAP and a 5th-semester double major in Speech Language and Hearing Sciences and Psychology, said that the national chapter offers letters of recommendation. The SNT meetings also help inductees learn team building and goal setting skills that are useful for any career. This society is limited specifically to juniors and seniors, as their focus is to build skills that will help students after graduation.
Thompson is also a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, a nonprofit academic honor society offered to 2nd-semester freshmen who have a GPA of 3.5 or higher or are in the top 20 percent of their freshmen class in their first semester. “They [ALD] don’t offer as many interactional opportunities for members on this campus as SAP,” said Thompson. “My goal is to increase our audience to involve more of the UConn faculty and the public in general.”
Nicole Davoren, secretary for ALD, disagrees. “The ice breakers that we had to do helped me meet people outside of class,” said the 7th-semester pharmacy and animal science double major. “We all became friends really quickly,” added ALD vice president Abby Marchinkoski.
While some students are not bothered by a for-profit national honor society that uses much of its funds to hire motivational speakers for members, others find the idea discouraging. “I would equate it to a for-profit college,” said chief financial officer Jonathon Zator, a 7th-semester Resource Economics major. “It would feel like they were just using you,” added Davoren.
ALD requires a one-time membership fee of $45. This covers national scholarships and helps the UConn chapter put on major events such as Pumpkin Fest and Flower Fest. The society sells t-shirts at these events and then donates the money they make to whichever charity they agree on.
Whereas SAP has a more rigid schedule and several requirements that students must meet in order to be inducted, ALD takes a different approach. “It’s up to them how much they want to get involved,” said ALD president Marissa Mannello, “There’s a lot of room for upward mobility.”
The society has a point system that gives members an incentive to participate more. They receive various prizes at the end of the year and gain leadership experience to help build their resumes.
“The members really do step up and take charge,” said Marchinkoski. She added that her own leadership experience with the group helped her land an internship. “They saw that I was vice president,” said the 5th-semseter political science and criminal justice double major. “They got excited and that’s what they were asking me about.”
Where the national honors societies differed on ideas about profit-making and meeting requirements, they did agree on one thing. “You want to be surrounded by people who put as much effort into schooling as you do,” said Mannello. “I wanted to make valuable connections with like-minded and equally motivated UConn students,” said Thompson.