Saint Leo University proudly supports a number of honor societies across its wide range of academic disciplines. These prestigious honor societies serve as a platform to recognize high-achieving students and to help connect them to a much larger community of like-minded students and alumni.
The Florida Lambda chapter of the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society has been a longtime chapter for Saint Leo students studying in the social sciences realm. This invitation-only chapter is open to Saint Leo WorldWide students enrolled in either undergraduate or graduate degree programs in human services, human services administration, and criminal justice.
We recently caught up with Dr. Michelle Boone-Thornton, the associate chair of undergraduate human services program and an assistant professor of human services at Saint Leo University, to learn more about this unique honor society chapter and how it benefits students in so many ways.
Q: What is your role with this chapter?
A: I am a faculty advisor and faculty member of the chapter. As an advisor, I am responsible for identifying students who meet the criteria for invitation to the chapter. Myself and others send out the invitations to our students who qualify for membership.
Q: When was the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society established?
A: Pi Gamma Mu was originally established in December of 1924 and is the oldest and preeminent interdisciplinary social science honor society in the world. It is also one of the first accredited honor societies to be formed for high-achieving students.
The Florida Lambda chapter at Saint Leo University was chartered in 2011.
Q: What is the mission of Pi Gamma Mu?
A: The mission of Pi Gamma Mu is to encourage and promote excellence in the Social Sciences and to uphold and nurture scholarship, leadership, and service.
Q: Which academic disciplines does this honor society serve?
A: Pi Gamma Mu serves students who are pursuing degrees in a variety of social sciences degree programs. For the chapter at Saint Leo, students enrolled in human services, human services administration, and criminal justice degree programs may be invited for induction into the chapter.
Q: How large is the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society?
A: There are currently about 150 active Pi Gamma Mu chapters in the United States and around the world.
Q: What are the eligibility requirements for invitation to this honor society?
A: Our Florida Lambda chapter of Omega Nu Lambda is open to all Saint Leo WorldWide students (which includes both online students and those attending our Education Centers) who are enrolled in our human services, human services administration, or criminal justice degree programs. This means both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible.
For undergraduate students, you must be a sophomore, junior, or senior. Also, you must have taken at least 20 credit hours in social sciences courses. These courses could be part of your core curriculum or electives in human services, psychology, or sociology. You must have earned a ‘B’ or better in these courses, and you must rank in the top 35 percent of your class.
For graduate students and professionals who have already earned an advanced degree, you must have completed at least nine credit hours in social sciences courses.
Q: How does a student get invited and inducted?
A: At the beginning of the Spring 1 term, we send out invitations by email to students who qualify. We then hold the induction ceremony during the Spring 2 term. So, you will be contacted by us if you are eligible for membership to Pi Gamma Mu.
Q: Are there membership dues for this honor society?
A: Currently, there is a one-time cost of $50, which is good for a lifetime membership to Pi Gamma Mu. You can check the membership rate by visiting the Pi Gamma Mu website. We look at this as a very minimal investment toward an organization that can benefit our students and alumni in so many ways both academically and professionally.
Q: What are the benefits of being involved in this Pi Gamma Mu chapter?
A: When students join, they receive a certificate of recognition, a pin, and a sash and cord for commencement. They also get to attend an induction ceremony.
Members can find a wealth of resources and information about job opportunities within the broad social sciences field. There are regular local, regional, national, and international events held for members in terms of networking and professional development opportunities. There is also a Pi Gamma Mu journal available to which students can submit articles.
Additionally, there are scholarship opportunities available to graduate students who are members to help them save on tuition expenses.
Plus, we occasionally hold community service events as a chapter.
Finally, it can certainly boost your resume by listing your membership to an international honor society when hiring managers look at your activities outside of the classroom.
Q: How has the Pi Gamma Mu chapter specifically benefited Saint Leo University students?
A: We have had hundreds of students complete degree programs with us who have been members of this chapter. We have also grown significantly in recent years and ranked sixth among all Pi Gamma Mu chapters in terms of membership growth in the 2019-2020 academic year. We currently have over 500 chapter members.
In addition, a few of our own graduate students involved in this chapter have received scholarships to help fund their graduate studies.