National Honor Society inducts 1,212 GCU students
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
One of the last messages Samuel Smith’s grandfather gave him before he passed away was for him to continue his education and continue his work in the health care field. Smith recalls that message fitting in alongside his grandfather’s belief that “caring and giving back is one of the most noble things a person can do.”
Smith was his grandfather’s caretaker for 10 years, often working at the same time. After taking a five-year break from school once he received his associate degree, he decided at the start of 2019 that his next step would be to go back to school to receive his bachelor’s in Health Care Administration, taking his grandfather’s message to heart.
“He wasn’t just my grandfather, he was my best friend,” Smith said.
That drive to follow his passion for helping people and desire to make his grandfather proud was what pushed him to excel in his schoolwork and eventually would lead to becoming one of 1,212 students inducted into Alpha Chi’s Grand Canyon University chapter Saturday afternoon.
Alpha Chi is a National College Honor Society organization that recognizes the academic achievement and accomplishments of collegiate learners from more than 300 chapters throughout the country. Students in the top 10% of each graduating class within their individual colleges can be invited to become a member, giving them many perks, such as scholarships and access to academic publishers.
It is an organization that has caught the attention of many GCU students. Breanna Naegeli, Associate Dean of the Honors College and GCU Alpha Chi’s sponsor, said one of the most frequently recurring questions she hears from students is how to join Alpha Chi.
“Alpha Chi is what I consider our most prestigious honors society across all of the GCU community for a few different reasons,” she said. “One, the criteria it takes to be eligible for Alpha Chi is the most stringent across all populations. Two, it also includes our online undergraduate, graduate and doctoral population, so now we’re looking at the 100,000-plus total student body of GCU,” Naegeli said.
To be eligible, students must complete a minimum of 60 college credit hours (16 of which must be from GCU), have at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA at GCU and rank within the top 10% of their graduating class by college.
The minimum eligible GPA to make the top 10% mark for the College of Education, for example, is 3.99, a minimum that surpasses the standard of 3.5. Naegeli credits it to the University and students’ drive for academic excellence.
“GCU does attract a lot of exceptional learners,” Naegeli said. “We place a priority on academic excellence and academic integrity, and students are really working hard to excel. It’s not just passing the class, getting the grade and earning the diploma. Students are really making an effort to excel and graduate at the top of their class.”
Keynote speaker Aysha Bell, Strategic Employer Initiatives and Internships Program Manager, had a similar view on the importance of academic perseverance.
Bell shared her story about her determination to not only reach the goals that her mother had set in store for her but how that drive helped her create and achieve higher goals than she had ever thought possible. The pursuit of academic excellence shouldn’t be taken lightly, Bell said.
“They (the new inductees) need to understand how important this induction is for them into this honors society and what it can mean for them professionally and personally for the rest of their careers,” she said. “These students are top notch; they are the top 10%. … These students work hard, they have sacrificed personal time, they’ve sacrificed time in their positions, there’s so many different commitments that they’ve had to take time from to make their studies first place in their life, and I commend them for that.”
The ceremony was an opportunity for Smith and other students to be recognized for their hard work, and they also were grateful for the experience.
“It was wonderful,” Smith said of the first ceremony to recognize his academic excellence. “I’m just so happy and I’m just blessed I can share this with my entire family.”
Jessica Symmes, often referred to as the “dancing nurse” because she is majoring in nursing and minoring in dance, was another Alpha Chi inductee who celebrated her academic achievements with her family, before she graduates in December.
“To be in a room with like-minded peers and people who are also achieving academically is something very unique to Alpha Chi,” Symmes said. “Alpha Chi is definitely an honor. Being the top 10% of your graduating class of your college is something that an academic achiever would definitely shoot for, so I definitely came into college with the mind of achieving in the best that I possibly could. And Alpha Chi is just one of those achievements that definitely assures that I did that.”
International senior Tahir Bano wasn’t able to have her biological family with her for the induction because they were back home in her home country of Pakistan, but she still didn’t celebrate alone.
“This is one of the amazing experiences that I’ve had because my family is not here but I consider GCU my family,” Bano said. “This is a big accomplishment for me because I really worked hard, and at the end of the day when you work hard and get an award, this is motivation to do better.”
Watch the ceremony’s live stream here.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]
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