Collegiate Scholars chapter one of best in nation

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

In an academic year burdened by obstacles because of a global pandemic, Grand Canyon University’s National Society of Collegiate Scholars chapter reached impressive heights.

The University's NSCS Chapter was selected as one of nine Platinum Star Status chapters in the country for the 2020-2021 school year.

For the second time since 2014, the GCU honors organization was named a Platinum Star-Status Chapter. It's an achievement bestowed only upon nine of the more than 300 chapters in the United States. Each year, the organization rotates the designation between its eligible chapters to allow different ones to earn the distinction.

As the largest chapter in the country, with 5,453 ground and online members and growing, GCU’s success in navigating service projects and student engagement safely amid COVID-19 garnered attention from the organization.

“The GCU NSCS chapter is a true representation of NSCS’ three pillars: scholarship, leadership and service,” said the national organization's operations manager, Kealani Turingan. “Amid a challenging school year, GCU’s NSCS leaders persisted and made events available to all on-campus and remote members."

The GCU chapter's ability to safely participate in multiple service events helped it stand out.

On top of the emphasis on service, other factors the organization looks for when selecting its Platinum winners are: effective professional development activities, an active online social media presence and impressive member engagement.

The University's NSCS chapter also received the second-place award for Virtual Member Engagement Star Status Merit. GCU earned the top spot in the category for the first time. It's an accomplishment Honors College Associate Dean and chapter co-advisor Dr. Breanna Naegeli is especially proud of.

“Being able to place in that category for the first time was really exciting for us,” she said. “We wanted to have a year that was productive, impactful and exceptionally meaningful, and then effectively share that story. … Many congratulations to Amara (Murray-Bell), her leadership, the student executive leadership board and all the tireless work they put into making this year a success.”

Amara Murray-Bell is the NSCS Chapter President.

Murray-Bell, President of GCU's chapter, played a critical role in putting together the elements necessary to apply for Platinum Star Status. As for GCU’s second-place merit award, the news of the win came as pleasant surprise for the team.

“We actually didn’t even apply for the merit award,” she said. “Our chapter operations manager, Kealani, she nominated us because she thought we were deserving of that title.”

On top of her role in completing the Platinum status application, Murray-Bell helped facilitate the service events that will help GCU’s chapter catch the eye of higher-ups in the national organization.

“It was definitely hard,” Murray-Bell said. “There were a lot of hurdles going into it that I already knew of, and then I was doing something that I had never done before, which was leading a board of a ton of NSCS members. … To know that all this work that we’ve done and the hurdles that we had to jump, the fact that we still came out triumphant and were able to get that Platinum status, it kind of makes me feel unstoppable.”

Organizing the events is just one part of the process that made this year’s push to serve successful. Murray-Bell said it is an accomplishment only made possible by the determination and compassion of the University's NSCS community.

The NSCS leadership board

“I want to say a big thank you to our NSCS members,” she said. “This year has been hard on everyone – and it is hard to lead a chapter – but I feel like our members pulled through. There could have been countless things they could have done instead of come to our events and come support us, but they helped us out this year and were just as enthusiastic about this chapter as we were leading it this year.”

One of NSCS’s major service events was creating care packages for students with COVID-19 who were in quarantine, as well as for the heath care workers dedicated to caring for those with the virus. It was a project that included NSCS and Honors VOICES club members.

GCU has 5,453 members.

“Their enthusiasm and energy were put into creating all these events, strategizing, working together and making sure that they did everything possible for our students, despite the challenges and roadblocks,” said Honors College Program Manager and Chapter Co-advisor Anya Cofrancesco. “That was just so amazing to see.”

As the Honors College and NSCS prepare for another year, Naegeli says that it only gets better from here.

“It’s always exciting to achieve such an accomplishment and have this national recognition, but once you set the bar, you have a new bar,” Naegeli said. “It’s not only continuing to meet those standards but to find ways to surpass that each year moving forward.”

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: Honors clubs unite to create COVID care packages

GCU Today: Honors students make memories on mission trip

GCU Today: Programs a home run with pre-med, pre-law students

GCU Today: Honors College surpasses 1,000 graduates


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