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Academic fraternities foster scholastic excellence

| Monday, February 3, 2014

Contrary to popular belief, Greek life does exist on Notre Dame’s campus. Although the University does not sanction any social fraternities or sororities, a number of academic fraternities provide students with unique scholastic and professional opportunities and networks.

According to the Student Activities Office (SAO) website, nine undergraduate student clubs, in fields ranging from accounting to political science and engineering, are part of national academic organizations that use Greek letters as identifiers.

Senior Dominic Romeo, the co-president of Notre Dame’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honor society, said the organization provides its members with excellent scholarship opportunities as well as a valuable network.

“There are some scholarships through the national organization that students can apply for,” Romeo said. “They can also get grant funding through the national organization, too. Pi Sigma Alpha also puts you into a global network of people who have excelled in political science.”

Ashlee Hunt, a first year student in Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) program serves as president of Notre Dame’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting honor society. She said Beta Alpha Psi hosts a variety of events for its members to network and perform service.

“We have professional events when someone from a company like Deloitte comes in and gives a presentation,” Hunt said. “We also have service events where students will go out and volunteer at places like the Robinson Community Learning Center.

“We also do interactive service activities with companies. KPMG is coming on Feb. 26 and we are making shoebox school supply kits for elementary school students.”

As honor societies, these organizations often require members to maintain outstanding grades and display strong leadership characteristics. Hunt said along with a rigorous GPA requirement, Beta Alpha Psi requires students to perform service and attend events sponsored by the organization.

“Members are inducted during their junior year and then they are required to complete six service hours and six professional hours per semester to remain members,” she said.

Senior Jane McGuinness, president of Notre Dame’s chapter of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society, said her organization chooses members based on “character, service, leadership and scholarship.”

“Tau Beta Pi has a selective process of initiating people,” McGuinness, an electrical engineering major, said. “They invite the top eighth of the junior engineering class and top fifth of the senior engineering class to apply.”

McGuinness said Tau Beta Pi also runs tutoring sessions as part of its academic and service mission on Notre Dame’s campus.

“The main way we give back to the school is our tutoring programs,” McGuinness said. “We have nightly sessions for upper level engineering classes in all of the different engineering fields.”

Senior Taryn Green, a member of Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE), a computer science honor society, said students could also receive significant scholarships for their work.

“Because we are an honor society, we mostly just exist on this campus to recognize student’s academic achievement and provide them an additional scholarship route through the national Upsilon Pi Epsilon organization,” Green said. “Members can apply for a scholarship through the executive UPE council. Scholarships range between $750 to $1500.”

Romeo said members of Pi Sigma Alpha are eligible for scholarships and grants and gain access to an expansive professional and academic network.

“There are some scholarships through the national organization that students can apply for,” Romeo said. “They can also get grant funding through the national organization, too. It also puts you into a global network of people who have excelled in political science.”

Notre Dame also has chapters of Pi Tau Sigma (engineering), Psi Chi (psychology), Chi Epsilon (civil engineering), Eta Kappa Nu (computer and electrical engineering) and Lambda Alpha (anthropology).

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About Jack Rooney

Jack is a 2016 graduate of Notre Dame, and The Observer's former managing editor. He is currently spending a year living and working for the University in Ireland, and writing columns to keep him busy. For more random thoughts and plenty of news links, follow Jack on Twitter @RooneyReports.

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