For many years, Saint Leo University has proudly supported several program-specific honor societies for students in certain degree programs. However, the university is excited to announce a new chapter of an honor society for which students across all degree programs may qualify.
The Iota chapter of Omega Nu Lambda is the newest honor society to join the Saint Leo University community. This chapter is open to all Saint Leo WorldWide students, meaning that students across the university's Education Centers and online degree programs may be eligible for invitation to this exclusive group.
We recently caught up with the two advisors of this exciting new ONL chapter to learn all about it. Jessica Graves is the associate director of WorldWide Student Life. Dr. Sheri Bias is an associate professor of human resources.
Q: What is the mission of the Omega Nu Lambda National Honor Society?
Dr. Bias: The mission of Omega Nu Lambda is to enhance the online experience by acknowledging, encouraging, and connecting the online student community.
Q: When was the Omega Nu Lambda national honor society established at the national level?
Graves: It's a very new honor society that was started in 2018. People saw a need for an organization to specifically include online students who often don't have access to campus-based clubs and organizations. Liberty University was the first university invited, and there was an overwhelming response. There are now chapters at the University of Alabama, Eastern Kentucky University, Kennesaw State University, and a number of other colleges and universities across the country.
Omega Nu Lambda reached out to Saint Leo University when they saw our high rankings in the online learning space and our large online student population. We jumped on this opportunity and knew that many of our students would qualify.
Q: What does the Iota chapter designation mean?
Graves: The Omega Nu Lambda organization has designated each group of new universities who have become affiliated with the honor society into groups of Greek letters. The group we were in when we became chartered was Iota.
Q: Who is eligible for invitation to this honor society?
Graves: Our Iota chapter of Omega Nu Lambda is open to all Saint Leo WorldWide students. This includes online students who take all of their classes virtually along with those at our Education Centers, most of whom take several online classes. Both undergraduate and graduate students, including students in our doctoral degree programs, are eligible for invitation.
To qualify for induction, students must meet the criteria of completing 15 hours of online studies with a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher.
Q: How does a student get invited and inducted?
Graves: At the beginning of each term (Fall 1, Spring 1, Summer 1), we send out invitations by email to students who qualify. So, you will be contacted by us if you are eligible.
We will also be holding an induction ceremony for new inductees. The first induction ceremony will be held virtually in November. Saint Leo president Dr. Jeff Senese, Dr. Mary Spoto, Dr. Bias, and myself will be speaking at this virtual event.
Q: Are there membership dues for this honor society?
Graves: There is only a one-time cost of $65, which is good for a lifetime membership. I should also mention that $15 of each new Saint Leo student who joins goes directly into an endowment scholarship fund for our Omega Nu Lambda student members. So far, we have raised over $19,000 for the endowed scholarship fund.
Dr. Bias: We are developing a selection committee to decide on who will receive scholarship funds, and the funding will be split up equally to account for both undergraduate and graduate students in this chapter.
Q: What are the specific benefits of being involved in this Omega Nu Lambda chapter?
Graves: When students join, they receive a welcome packet with a certificate of recognition, lapel pin, honors cords they can wear for commencement, and access to an online networking portal through which they can connect with students from all universities who have a chapter within this honor society. Of course, they'll also be eligible for scholarship funding through the endowed scholarship program.
Dr. Bias: Being an HR professor, I can say that from an HR standpoint, putting this on your resume is a huge differentiator when it comes to being considered for jobs. Employers absolutely consider candidates who have had academic success over others, and this is a great way to showcase that. The networking opportunities are also critical because this opens the door for students to make so many more professional connections to which they might have never otherwise had access in the past.
Q: What is the goal of having students involved in this honor society?
Dr. Bias: This honor society is all about academic excellence, so we want to reward our students by inviting them to this group as a way of recognizing the hard work they do in their courses. Taking online classes can come with some challenges, so we are so grateful to be able to recognize the discipline and commitment that come with the territory for our online students.
Q: Do you have any student success stories of those who have been invited in the initial group of inductees?
Graves: I know of a student who didn't finish high school and went back to get her GED. She was told that she was a failure. Now she is in college and was invited to this chapter, and she is so happy to be part of it and is proving everyone wrong who may have doubted her before. In general, I've seen so many of our students already congratulating each other on social media and even students at other schools. The great thing about this honor society is that it is one large community of students from all over.
Q: What kinds of connections will Saint Leo students in this honor society chapter have to each other?
Graves: We have a private Facebook Group for all members to join and connect with each other. This is a great way for students to share any news with fellow members, promote upcoming career fairs and other virtual events, and in general support each other academically.
Dr. Bias: This chapter is still so new, so we are building momentum and hope to offer many more opportunities for members to connect in the near future. One professor suggested to me that we start some type of group work platform for students to collaborate. We've also discussed some other ideas for events. I feel like there is so much potential for this chapter moving forward.
Q: How can students learn more about the Omega Nu Lambda honor society?