That didn’t take long. In less than a year, Western State Colorado University’s student honor society went from starting to sterling.
In October, Western introduced its first student members (15 in all) to Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society with chapters (“circles”) at approximately 300 colleges and universities across the United States. After merely eight months, the circle at Western, which introduced a second class of OΔK students (14) in April, was recognized this summer as a 2016-17 Circle of Distinction by OΔK national headquarters.
“This honor celebrates your circle’s achievements in meeting OΔK’s high standards of excellence,” said OΔK executive director Tara Singer in announcing the distinction, which comes in Western’s inaugural academic year with the honor society.
Founded in 1914 and based in Lexington, Va., OΔK looks to recognize, honor and develop leaders in both collegiate life and community life through scholarships, workshops, career opportunities, leadership resources and a lifelong connection to other members. The honor society places an emphasis on scholarship, service, integrity, character and fellowship when selecting inductees. And achievements in at least two of the following phases of campus life set candidates apart: scholarship, athletics, service, communications and arts.
“Western decided to bring Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honors Society, to campus because of the ever-growing and talented leaders we have on campus,” said Annie Westbury, who serves as Western’s OΔK program coordinator. “Some of these leaders don’t always receive the recognition that they deserve.”
Membership in OΔK at Western is reserved to juniors and seniors for undergraduates. Membership is also open to faculty, staff, alumni and graduate students. For example, Western President Greg Salsbury was inducted in October, as was Westbury.
To be considered for induction, students must rank in the upper 35 percent of their class. Western is one of just two universities in Colorado with active OΔK circles; the other was established at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood in 2005.
“In my short time in OΔK, I have received much more out of it than I expected,” said Hannah Montoya, an incoming Western senior who is a Business Administration major from Boulder, Colo. “I get to know other bright-minded students whom I wouldn't have crossed paths with before, help launch impactful projects for the future of Western and have access to a web of professional opportunities both before and after graduation. I feel truly lucky to be a part of Western's first OΔK circle.”
These Western students were inducted in October: Alejandro Alejandra, Hannah Braden, Sara Coblentz, Scott Doyle, Isabel Engeman, Bryan Gray, Alma Johnson, Courtney Kauffman, Kelly Limberg, Chelsea Meininger, Chevy Mohr, Hannah Montoya, Peter Noon, Emma Sellen and Brenda Suarez.
These Western students were inducted in April: Delaney Adrian, Kaia Ball, Jeremy Burkett, Elizabeth Cruz, Shelby Deutsch, Kevin Fox, Christopher Gooderham, Zoe Henderson, Rebekah Knapp, Maui Lee, Elyza Montano, Katelyn Novak, Morgan Milmore and Jay Ytell.
OΔK membership at Western is diverse, said Westbury. Members come from a variety of majors, clubs and organizations on campus. As a result, said Westbury, the circle brings students with different mind-sets together to talk about what they see on campus—and what they, as leaders, would like to improve.
“My favorite thing about OΔK is the focus on inclusivity,” said Emma Sellen, an incoming Western senior majoring in Biology (Pre-Med) from Pullman, Wash. “Our members come from all sides of campus, and most of us didn’t know each other before we were inducted.
“During the short time the Western OΔK circle has been active, our members and advisors have really been invested in the diversity of interests the circle represents. We start every meeting with updates on our lives, events we’re excited about or things we’re involved in. The members have made such an effort to attend and support each other’s events; I think we will grow to be a great support group for each other over time.”
The next OΔK student class, which springs from nominations by Western faculty and staff, is slated to be announced in the spring of 2018, said Westbury. It will include 18 students.
“This next year I hope to really emphasize ‘Service Without Recognition,’” said Westbury. “The point of OΔK isn’t to make sure people know who ‘we’ are, but more to give back to our community and school with no expectations on receiving anything in return.
“As stated before, these students come from all over campus from various majors, minors, co-curriculars and beyond. This adds a little spice to the table when we meet and have 15-plus different mind-sets and capabilities all under one roof. They are always astonished as to the magnificent web of networking they have access to within just the 15 people in the circle. When they use each other to their fullest potential they are able to create some serious positive change around our campus and community!”
Story by Bryan Boyle, Marketing Communications. Photo by Grace Flynn.