Scholars have a banner day at inductions

Alpha Chi members are encouraged to lead with humility and purpose, encourage other's growth and demonstrate empathy.

Photos by Lydia P. Robles / Slideshow

When Provost Dr. Randy Gibb read Grand Canyon University’s new mission statement, he knew it aligned with the ideals of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Alpha Chi National Honors Society.

The ideals of human flourishment, serving others and an adaptive spirit were stressed by Gibb at the NSCS induction ceremony Saturday morning.

Grand Canyon University provost Dr. Randy Gibb used his prior experience as a pilot to encourage students to trust themselves and their abilities.

“I really want to point out the act of serving others. How do we help you, and how do you help others achieve excellence?” he asked the assembled scholars in GCU Arena.

His message was heard loud and clear by the undergrad students who had to obtain a 3.4 GPA to secure a spot in the society.

Achieving an academic honor includes challenges and difficulties students must overcome to be inducted.

Keynote speaker Travis Hardin, a vice president at Wells Fargo, brought up the realities and unexpected changes we face in life.

Keynote speaker Travis Hardin encouraged the scholars to walk with the same integrity, drive and character they've shown in the classroom.

“Life happened to someone that is sitting right here — you’re thinking to yourself, 'I just want to give up,'” said Hardin, pointing to the crowd. “We have to be the people that embrace the change and say, ‘Regardless of negativity that is going on, I have to bring positivity into the situation.'”

Hardin felt inspired by the crowd of NSCS inductees who triumphed over hurdles to earn the academic honor. He revisited Gibb's statement about adapting a teachable spirit.

“From an academic standpoint, you’ve learned a great deal and displayed that you can stand the test of time,” Hardin said. “Your academic integrity is intact, and your character is intact. But out there in the world, we have to be willing to adapt.”

Jamison White, one of 112 GCU students who walked across the NSCS induction stage, certainly had to adapt while battling a brain tumor.

“There were times where I wanted to quit, but I always pushed through,” he said, clutching his summa cum laude cords, an academic honor given to those who earn a GPA of 3.8 and higher. “God called me to this college. If I can do it, you can, too.”

Michelle White (center) and son Levi White (left) played an integral role in Jamison White's academic journey.

There celebrating alongside White was his mother, Michelle White, who doubled as his academic mentor.

“There were times where he’d have seizures during class and he’d lose his memory,” she said. “I would attend class with him to take the notes, and we would go home and read them together. If something wasn’t familiar, he would listen to a recording of the lecture all over again.”

Alpha Chi Honors Society members stand to take the induction oath.

Although the brain tumor may affect his learning abilities, White relies on a Bible scripture as a reminder that the tumor is nothing compared to God’s calling. Although White faces issues with memory, he easily recited Jeremiah 29:11.

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

The celebration continued Saturday afternoon with the Alpha Chi National Honor Society induction ceremony. Alpha Chi is celebrating its 100-year anniversary, and the 122 inductees joined the more than 400,000 members of a society that measures a tenacity for growth of character as well as in academics. Members must be in the top 10% of their respective colleges and have a 3.9 cumulative GPA.

Some students wore an Alpha Chi medal to signify their rigorous academic journey.

The inductions weren't just geared toward ground students. Online students traveled long distances to attend the ceremony, from as far as Minnesota and New Jersey. There even were designated areas for inductees to leave their suitcases or charge their phones if they were hopping on a plane soon after.

Many inductees took advantage of the ceremony's livestream option. There were more than 1,600 NSCS views and 2,000 Alpha Chi views.

Honors College Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli found a way to acknowledge online students who could not intend the ceremonies in-person.

Something new the Honors College implemented into the ceremony was intertwining the names of students who could not attend in person but RSVP’d to hear their name called over the livestream.

Honors College Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli wanted to ensure that online students were included in the ceremony.

“We know that geographic location is a barrier, and we don’t want to take away from their accomplishment or where they are in their academic journey,” she said. “We don’t want their location to be the reason they miss out on hearing their name or being acknowledged for their achievements.”

One student who overcame the location barrier and life barriers is nursing major Omisakin Janet, who traveled five hours on plane from New Jersey to participate in both induction ceremonies.

“If you put your mind on something you can achieve everything. When it comes to learning, there is no limit,” Janet said. “I was born in Africa, so when I came America, I had to do it all on my own.”

Naegeli closed the Alpha Chi ceremony with a poem of encouragement by Edgar Albert Guest:

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done, there are thousands to prophesy failure.

Just start in to sing, as you tackle the thing that "cannot be done," and you’ll do it.

Contact staff writer Lydia P. Robles at 602-639-7665 or [email protected].

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