Catawba College is establishing a new honors society for first-generation college students, and is only the second higher education institution in North Carolina to do so. Two Catawba first-year employees, Dr. Kimberly A. Smith, an Associate Professor of Exercise Science, and Marcus Washington, Director of Housing and Residence Life, are the impetus and the new advisors behind the establishment of the Alpha Alpha Alpha Honors Society at Catawba.
Induction into Tri-Alpha is earned by outstanding academic achievement and lasts for a lifetime. The Society’s mission is to encourage and reward academic excellence among first-generation college students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accredited institutions of higher learning.
To be eligible for membership in Tri-Alpha, students must have earned at least 48 credit hours towards a baccalaureate degree, have achieved an overall GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, and neither of the students’ parents, nor step-parents, nor legal guardians, have completed a bachelor’s degree.
Long recognized as an institution that assists first-generation college students in achieving their highest potential, Catawba’s 2018-2019 student enrollment is made up of 463 first-generation students, or approximately 36 percent of the overall student population of 1,301. An inaugural cohort of first-gen Catawba students will be inducted into Catawba’s new chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha this spring.
“I think this is going to be a great way to support our first-gens,” explained Smith.
Washington added, “This honors society will be a place to build cohort cohesion among first-gen students, and will likely be the focus of many other initiatives that target this population on campus.”
An active Tri-Alpha chapter promotes academic excellence and provides opportunities for personal growth, leadership development, and campus and community service for first-generation college students.
The inaugural chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha was founded March 24, 2018 at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with over 100 members, including undergraduate students, faculty, staff, alumni, and honorary members, inducted that day. After that successful induction, Moravian College took steps to incorporate Tri-Alpha as a not-for-profit organization, so other chapters could start at campuses across the country.
To learn more about Alpha Alpha Alpha, visit www.1stgenhonors.org.