At Newman University, there’s an entire week dedicated to celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the Kansas Theta Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu, an honor society for social sciences.
While the Kansas Theta Chapter celebrates 50 years, Pi Gamma Mu itself is one year away from celebrating its 100th anniversary. The honor society is 200 chapters strong across the U.S.
Vianey Rivera, president of Newman Pi Gamma Mu, said she is thrilled to bring recognition and appreciation to the honor society.
“It is an honor to be able to incorporate Newman University traditions such as Jet Fridays and medallion hunts during our week,” she said. “What I am looking most forward to is the service project that will be held the Friday of Pi Gamma Mu week. This is where students will be able to see and get a feel of what Pi Gamma Mu is all about.”
From March 20-24, Newman students, staff and faculty can expect multiple on-campus events and activities to celebrate 50 years of Pi Gamma Mu.
Monday, March 20
- A medallion scavenger hunt begins on campus. The Newman student who finds the hidden medallion and returns it to Director of Security Morris “Mo” Floyd will receive a prize courtesy of Pi Gamma Mu.
Thursday, March 23
- 7 p.m. – Sara (Zogleman) Avelar ‘21, ‘22 of the Kansas Department for Children and Families presents “Working with Troubled Youth” in Eck Hall, room 118.
Friday, March 24
- 8:30 a.m. – Jet Friday donuts are sponsored by Pi Gamma Mu in the Fugate Student Center.
- 1-6 p.m. (come and go) – A tree branch removal service project will take place off campus at the Arthur B. Sim Golf Course, 2020 W Murdock St. This event is co-sponsored by Newman Circle K International (CKI) and Kansas Theta Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu. Those interested in participating can email CKI president Ashley Dinh at dinh563445[email protected].
Elizabeth Raehpour, vice president of Pi Gamma Mu, said “Participating in Pi Gamma Mu week is a simple and easy way to get better involved in our community and connect with some of the organizations we work with. For social work students especially, this week should involve activities that interest them.”
Professor Emeritus Larry Heck began his role at Newman in 1974, just one year after the Kansas Theta Chapter of Pi Gamma Mu was chartered. He jumped at the opportunity to serve as the chapter sponsor when he was approached and has never looked back.
“I really believe in honor societies and when I finally got an invitation to join one, I thought ‘Wow,’” Heck said. “In that spirit of appreciation, I have been a sponsor to try and pass that appreciation on to our excellent students.”
Rivera said she was inspired by Heck, former classmates, Newman’s mission and the mission of Pi Gamma Mu to become a member.
“As a student at Newman, most of what I chose to participate in — through acts of service — made me a better version of myself,” Rivera said.
Being a part of Pi Gamma Mu meant Rivera could help other students feel the same way about their own efforts.
“As students of Newman we are called to help others and transform society,” said Kelly Mai ‘22, an officer of Pi Gamma Mu. “And through these events, we are able to live out what St. Newman wanted us to do as a university. It’s important for us to continue to keep Pi Gamma Mu’s presence alive on campus and I’m glad other student organizations are helping with it.”
‘Where we’ve been, where we’re going’
Heck explained that almost every discipline has an honor society, but Pi Gamma Mu is unique for its interdisciplinary nature.
“We have lots of history, sociology and psychology majors, but by being interdisciplinary, it’s a way to honor and recognize many students across the disciplines,” he said.
In 50 years of Pi Gamma Mu at Newman, the honor society has hosted a variety of events, from pig roasts during the Renaissance Faire and “Book and Bake” sales to campus-wide service projects and sweatshirt sales.
“There are three big pillars to Pi Gamma Mu mission: academic excellence, service and leadership,” Heck said. “We’ve always tried to do service projects through the years and are excited to target the week of March 20-24 for more events to celebrate Pi Gamma Mu.”
“I love seeing where we’ve been and where we’re going,” Heck added with a smile.
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