Blog

2017 Day of Service Review

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O∆K member Melissa Cancio lead Florida International University's Roarthon, a 17-hour student-run dance marathon. The event raised $96,000 for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals program, an organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for 170 children's hospitals throughout North America.

Melissa said, "To be a leader, we need to show the reason behind what we do and share with those around us so they are aware and desire to do the same. A leader is well rounded, takes initiative but also allows for individuals in their team to develop and share their thoughts, and is always willing to give their time and efforts to service."

 

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Fontbonne University Circle members, along with faculty, staff, and alumni, added new garden beds and helped refurbish a community garden in Brentwood, Mo. Gateway Greening, a local nonprofit, in partnership with a local church, created and planted the garden to supply fresh vegetables and strengthen the community.

 

 

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Juniata College students partnering with their local community to help plant 250 trees in honor of town's anniversary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SFA - Leaders of Tomorrow

 

 

Stephen F. Austin State University Circle members worked with 8th graders in a group called Leaders of Tomorrow. As part of the largest day of service in Nacogdoches, Texas, they helped a historic village spruce up their ground and prepare for their annual community Easter egg hunt.

 

 

 

 

University of Kentucky

 

 

University of Kentucky Circle members made sandwiches for families at The Ronald McDonald House in Lexington, Ky.

 

 

 

 

 

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The University of Richmond Circle worked with the James River Parks system to clean up Huguenot Park in North Chesterfield, Va.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wagner College Circle members collected cans for donation to local hunger relief efforts.

 

 

MTSU - Leadersship Day

 

The Middle Tennessee State University Circle held True Blue Leadership Day. Students heard from Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Jeff Bivins, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn, Lindy Boots, human resources manager with an area firm, and other leaders about careers, job interview tips, writing a professional resume, and how to leverage a competitive advantage in a job hunt.

 

 

 

 

BeachCleanup

 

University of North Carolina Wilmington students value the upkeep of their beaches, and picked up trash on the beach.


Member Feature: Changing Oceans

How Jodie Rummer, PhD, is leading the research on how fish react to changing oceans

When we think of stress, we think of longer and longer to-do lists, traffic when we have an important morning meeting, or perhaps hosting gatherings for our extended families.

For Jodie Rummer, stress is trying to determine what the oceans will look like in the next 100 years. The pH levels are declining as oceans absorb one-third of the carbon dioxide in the environment. Water pollution from development and agriculture is increasing water turbidity, and climate change is increasing water temperatures.

Rummer, Senior Research Fellow and Discovery Fellow at the Australian Research Council’s Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Australia, is studying the effects of these changes on fish in the tropics. She researches how fish change their behaviors in relation to changing water conditions.

Though Rummer grew up in land-locked Illinois surrounded by cornfields, she was always obsessed with the water. “I grew up with a mask and a snorkel as a kid, watching National Geographic and the BBC Underwater Life. I was good at math in school. I loved picking apart problems and seeing how things worked,” she said.

Rummer, a 2001 initiate of the University of West Florida circle, earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and a master’s of science in biology from the same university. The experience that solidified her goal of a career in marine life was a field course in Jamaica studying damaged reefs and sea urchins.

She was fascinated by the world of fish—this group constitutes 28,000 species found on all seven continents. Fish are one of the most evolved and oldest types of animals, having lived on this planet for the past 400 million years. When you compare this to humans—one species, roughly 200,000 years of evolution, you can see how Rummer became captivated by these creatures. Many fish have adapted to very specific niches in their environments; however, they are naturally highly adaptable, which makes them an important group to study.

“The diversity of fish is astounding to me,” Rummer explains. She tells stories of how if the bluefin tuna were to enter the 100-meter race, it could beat Usain Bolts’s 9.58 second world record by six full seconds. Pacific salmon travel 1,000 kilometers to their spawning grounds to reproduce, and clownfish are sequential hermaphrodites, which means all young are born male, and immature males can transform into a female if the dominant female of the school dies or becomes injured.

While conducting research projects to determine just how fish are using their athleticism to adapt to changing ocean conditions, Rummer found her career path. “I realized research is what made me happy; it’s what makes my brain click,” she said. Rummer choose to pursue her Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia where she began to study how fish’s biological processes change as their environments change. Although fish have adapted to nearly every environment on the planet—will they be able to adapt to one changed by humans?

Rummer attempts to answer this question every day. She oversees a lab of ten doctoral students, five masters students, and another handful of undergraduates and staff members, and a list of research projects that is daunting to keep track of. At the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Rummer and her team can increase water temperature, decrease oxygen, or change a number of water quality controls on small tanks, and observe fish for changes in their physiology.

She explains, “We can measure how much oxygen fish use at rest, and require for growth, digestion, and reproduction. We are monitoring cellular responses like pH, oxygen transport, ion-regulation and water balance under environmental stresses.” Rummer and her team then measure how these functions are affected by warmer temperatures and ocean acidification.

One of the most important measurements Rummer employs to track fish success is how fish transport oxygen in their bodies. Oxygen is much less readily available in water than in the air, so you might think fish expend more energy just to breathe. However, due to the way fish use hemoglobin, they’re able to deliver oxygen to tissues 50 times more efficiently than air breathers such as humans. It could be this ability that determines how fish adapt to oceans with less available oxygen.

Rummer’s research studies on the Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef in the world, discovered that just a two- or three-degree water temperature increase adds to fishes’ basic maintenance cost to survive. As temperatures increase, gill filaments become covered in mucous and protective cells which reduces their efficiency and capacity for swimming. Warmer temperatures also decrease vegetation, which means fish spend more time looking for their next meal and have less energy for growth and development. This change has implications on the next generation of the species and also effects the entire ecosystem. As oceans continue to change, Rummer and other scientists expect a mass redistribution of species towards higher latitudes seeking refuge from warmer temperatures.

Rummer also studies how fish react to the combination of increased carbon dioxide with ocean acidification—the decrease in pH levels of the water due to this uptake of CO2. As pH levels climb, fish are using more energy to balance pH in their gills. Some fish are less able to smell predators and appear disoriented, which increases their likelihood of being eaten.

With funding from the National Geographic Society, Rummer collaborated with a team of ecologists, biologists, and fish experts to investigate the effects of long-term exposure to elevated carbon dioxide in fishes living in natural carbon dioxide seeps in Papua New Guinea. They found that the fish living in reefs near volcanic seeps exhibited some behavioral impairments, but were seemingly resilient to these conditions. They showed no major difference in numbers, diversity, or physiology than populations on nearby reefs unaffected by the CO2 seeps.

However, overall results from Rummer’s findings are troublesome. Scientists estimate that one-third of coral reefs have already been lost; ocean acidification and carbon levels could eliminate drastic numbers of species. How does Rummer process these often dire predictions?

While she admits that it is sometimes difficult, she is grateful for her career to help make a difference. “I have the freedom to pursue my dreams. I’m very lucky. I go by that saying that ‘luck is preparation meeting opportunity.’ I work really hard and then look for opportunities,” she says.

With a prestigious post at a major university, field projects around the globe, and multiple publications to her name, Rummer isn’t holding back on her dreams or her goal to make a difference. In 2014, Rummer spoke at TEDx in Queensland at the Cairns Institute and urged us all, “Can we devote the time, passion, energy and excitement that we have for human athletes to the rest of the world and the rest of the planet? Can we create and maintain these biological facilities where species are participating in the race for survival? No matter how athletic the athlete, they deserve the very best.”


Member Feature: An Insect’s View

Fueled by a sense of adventure, Matthew Cicanese partnered his love for the outdoors and environmental studies degree with a passion for art.

You might find Matthew Cicanese laying on his back, in the woods, inspecting a decomposing log covered with moss and lichen. His subject clearly laid out before him, he gets to work documenting the intricate filaments of the fungi with his camera. He might also find an ant feasting on a fly, a beetle perusing the wood, or a spider ready to pounce on prey.

Matthew, a 2011 initiate of the Florida Southern Circle, photographer, artist, and former National Geographic Young Explorer approaches the entire forest, but especially these small organisms, with a mix of curiosity, excitement, and awe. “Sometimes hikers will see me there, on the ground, and wonder what I’m doing,” he said with a laugh. “But, I love the sense of discovery when you flip over a rock.”

With millions of species to elect as ones’ focus—the majestic species of the African plains, the cute and the cuddly category of panda bears and seals, the downright bizarre creatures found on social media like the star-nose mole—his concentration on insects and primarily lichen, a mere fungus, begs the obvious question, why lichen?

As with most of our career choices, the answer involves a few windy paths that stem from something close to our hearts. One is that Cicanese thinks of lichen as the forest’s underdog, a position he found himself in early in life. He contracted penicillin-resistant meningitis as a baby and nearly died before he reached his first birthday. He lost all of the motor skills he had learned up to that point, and his doctors expected that if he survived, he would live with severe disabilities for the rest of his life. Luckily Cicanese surpassed all expectations and survived his illness with limited damage. His recovery and therapy required large hearing aids, bi-focal glasses, and an eye patch to strengthen his weak eye throughout childhood. He also received a cochlear implant, an electronic device that acts as an inner ear. He said he was determined “to do everything the other kids did,” so he played soccer, learned karate, and was a Boy Scout.

But what captured his focus was his Florida backyard and a two-megapixel point and shoot camera that his uncle gave him when he turned 14. He spent most of his childhood playing outside, climbing trees, and catching bugs and snakes with his siblings. The slight deprivation in sight and hearing actually made his senses sharper. With the camera he could begin to capture his life—his unique way of experiencing the world. He says, “[the camera] was my missing link. It allowed me to connect with the world in new ways.”

That connection to the world centered around nature. There, he discovered species large and small, but what he came to love most are the surprises—the often overlooked plants and tiny creatures—that Cicanese believes “are as interesting as pictures of open fields that everyone loves.”

Though Cicanese will invoke the magic of these small plants, he’s also inspired by their real and true purpose. While plants are often overlooked, they are also the building blocks of the entire ecosystem. Cryptograms, the category of seedless vascular plants including moss and lichen, consume dead matter and absorb heavy metals to create rich soil, which creates the vast plant life that supports the entire ecosystem.

“My curiosity about nature as a kid drove me to learn about what I was experience and seeing,” he said. Cicanese majored in environmental studies at Florida Southern College. There, his photography took a backseat to more traditional media studies and an environmental education, followed by field internships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, and then with Duke University’s Lichen Laboratory.

It was during this project documenting lichen that connected Cicanese back with his photography and to the idea of using his camera as an instrument to give people access to another world—one that is quite literally right under their feet.

His “photographic obsession” as he calls it, and his unique perspective, landed him a spot in Duke University’s MFA program in experimental and documentary arts. The program gave him technical instruction but also gave him the freedom to make whichever type of art he wanted.

While his peers were focused on art careers, Cicanese set his sights on National Geographic. “My friends told me to quit dreaming of Nat Geo and worry about getting on the walls of the gallery. But that wasn’t my goal.”

While studying for his masters, he became an intern for National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative – and his foot was officially in the door. In 2015, National Geographic awarded him a grant to document the biodiversity of lichen species and culture surrounding lichen in Iceland. Their Young Explorer program provides one-time grants of up to $5,000 for people under 25 leading the intersection of conservation and media. Last summer, as part of that program, he partnered with the camera company Cannon and took off for Iceland.

Cicanese spent three weeks traveling 1,500 miles around the country documenting lichen and the sites. “When most people think of Iceland, they think of sweeping landscapes, dazzling waterfalls, and cultures with history as old as the Vikings. When I think of Iceland, I think of those things too; what excites me more are the hundreds of species that are always in sight just not in focus.”

This year, Cicanese is gearing up for more international travel. He spent the month of May in Sri Lanka volunteering on a lichenologist’s National Geographic Grant project to tell her story and document lichens across Sri Lanka’s ecosystems. This summer, he travels to British Colombia to help document three species of moss. His bryologist colleagues consider these species at risk, though they are not officially listed as threatened or endangered species—a fact they hope to change.

Cicanese gets back to cryptograms with two additional trips—a visual photographic survey of the species in the Choco Rainforest in Ecuador and in the Cocobolo Nature Reserve in Panama.

In his spare time, Cicanese continues to spearhead the idea of “mapping the microcosm” as he calls it. He seeks to capture small ecological microbiomes (like a log) using gigapixel imagery. He takes a series of high resolution images in a grid pattern, stiches them together, and presents an interactive image of a small area. For example, a recent macro image of a log appears to simply be a log covered with lichen. Yet, with this transformative photography, the viewer is able to zoom in to inspect a pair of beetles, an earth worm burrowing into the log, an inchworm curled into moss, and a handful of other insects. Or, you can also zoom in to see the intricate details of the mosses, fungi, or fibers of a leaf.

Cicanese continues to follow his sense of discovery and brings us along with him to the forest floors across the world. Describing his experience in Iceland gives us a sense of why we too begin to care about lichen. He writes, “Each photograph I take has a different journey as its backstory and all are rich with sensory experiences that lead up to the singular moment of the photograph.”


This Time, Next Year

Omicron Delta Kappa held its first national convention in 1920 in Baltimore. By 1920, O∆K had four circles located on the campuses of Washington and Lee, Johns Hopkins, Pittsburgh, and Davidson. While our modern conventions cover three days, the first only lasted one. As is still our practice, the first convention included the election of the National President and other officers.

From 1920 to 1925, O∆K held conventions annually. However, complications of cost and coordination made hosting an annual convention challenging. At the 1925 convention in Williamsburg, our leadership made the decision to hold conventions on a biennial basis instead. The years during World War II were the only period in which conventions were not held.

For many decades, conventions were held during the academic year. The 1968 Atlanta convention was held in the days immediately after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The delegates passed a resolution, which recognized, in part, Dr. King’s “unparalleled contribution to the peace and freedom of his people, his country, and of his world.” The resolution also acknowledged Dr. King’s “outstanding and ceaseless efforts on behalf of human dignity and justice are representative of the devotion to high ideals that are basic to the Omicron Delta Kappa tradition.”

The first formal discussions about potentially initiating women into O∆K were also held at the 1968 convention. In 1970, the University of Alabama Circle proposed an amendment to the constitution to include women in our organization. The “Alabama Amendment” was defeated at the 1972 convention, but it was ultimately approved at the 1974 meeting.

In 2018, we have the special occasion to celebrate the 50th biennial convention in O∆K’s history in Nashville. We already have several confirmed speakers to announce soon. Our host institution, Belmont University, and the circles at Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, and Vanderbilt are already making plans to host a high-quality experience for our collegiate members, circle advisors, and volunteers.

Through the years, in addition to elections, conventions have also included votes on constitutional and bylaws amendments, conversations on the structure of our organization, and discussions on matters of circle administration. Also, our conventions have always included opportunities for fellowship, friendship, and collaboration between our members.

Modern conventions are held during the summer months to help contain costs by having the delegates stay on campus. Regardless of the timing of our national gatherings, these meetings always reflect the concerns of the times and planning for the future of O∆K. I am looking forward to presiding over our 50th Biennial Convention and Leadership Conference next summer. Please consider joining us in Nashville, May 31 – June 3, in 2018!

Yours in O∆K,
Matthew W. Clifford, Ed.D.
O∆K National President


Congratulations 2016 - 17 Scholarship Recipients!

 

Every year, the Omicron Delta Kappa Foundation awards scholarships to more than 20 collegiate members to continue their educations through graduate and professional study.  Scholarship awards range from $1,000 to $2,500.  These recipients demonstrate exceptional academic performance and leadership abilities.  General scholarships are awarded each year for graduate or professional school expenses.  Collegiate members and alumni up to five years out of school are eligible to apply.

 

Anna Balassa

Transylvania University
Current Study: Eastern Kentucky University, Occupational Therapy, Ph.D.

As president of the Transylvania Circle, Anna expanded the circle’s leadership development efforts. With the support of an O∆K Clay Grant, the circle added a mentoring piece to Transylvania’s Pioneer Leadership Development Program. Each O∆K member is paired with a sophomore in the program to cultivate leadership qualities and become confident in those abilities.

“My experiences have instilled values of empathy, patience, and encouragement. For my future career, I want to practice these values as an occupational therapist to better serve others and their needs.”

 

Melissa Boswell

University of Akron
Diane and Tom Vukovich Scholarship
Current Study: Stanford University, Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D.

Melissa studied biomedical engineering at Akron and spent a year working as an engineer and conducting research in Cape Town, South Africa. She is pursuing an advanced degree to combine orthopedic research with computational modeling to evaluate injuries. She is passionate about STEM careers and actively mentors elementary, middle, and high school girls in science and math.

 

Jacob Calahan

Auburn University
Auburn University Circle Endowed Fund in Memory of Dean Katharine Cater
Current Study: Auburn University, Pharmacy, Ph.D.

Jacob is the first student to receive the Auburn/Cater Scholarship. As president of the Auburn Circle, Jacob worked to induct leaders from athletics, ROTC, and the arts to diversify the circle.

 “Success goes beyond having strong academics to being able to express strong character and a servant heart, as well.”

 

Grace Chao

St. Mary’s College of Maryland
John D. Morgan Scholarship
Current Study: Johns Hopkins University, International Development Studies, M.A.

Grace led the St. Mary’s Circle to volunteer for a local farm, donate school supplies, and create care packages for homeless individuals. She used a triple major in psychology, economics, and Chinese to focus on her passion of how behavioral economics may be applied to international development. She hopes to lead this field and was recently selected by the Social Enterprise Accelerator Fund to work with social enterprises around the world to help solve strategic and operational challenges. In addition to her studies, she also works part-time for Hopkins’ SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative.
Kayla Coutts

University of Maryland College Park
University of Maryland College Park/Sigma Circle Scholarship
Current Study: Columbia University, Physical Therapy, Ph.D.

While captain of the club soccer team, Kayla served as Alpha Chi Omega’s new member educator, as well as dance coordinator with Best Buddies, an organization that empowers individuals with developmental disabilities. She plans to use her physical therapy degree to lead an emerging field in discovering connections between physical therapy and dance therapy for neurological patients.

 

Bhakti Desai

Birmingham-Southern College
Robert and Mildred Blount Scholarship
Current Study: University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dental Medicine, D.M.D.

Bhakti’s undergraduate work with Birmingham’s Cahaba Valley Healthcare Clinic fueled her desire to give back to the community. She plans to start a dental clinic to reach out to underserved populations. As circle president, Bhakti created a breakfast for students to strengthen relationships between faculty members and students.

 

James Drasbek

Southern Virginia University
Chellgren Family Endowed Scholarship
Current Study: Virginia Commonwealth University, Health Care Administration, M.H.A.

In addition to helping establish the SVU circle, James worked with a summer camp dedicated to teaching leadership to young adults. He has interned with the Remote Area Medical Clinic in Virginia and ultimately hopes to work in hospital administration.

 

Travis Goodloe, III

Hampden-Sydney College
Current Study: University of South Alabama, Medicine, M.D.
As a first-year medical student, Travis’s childhood dream of becoming a doctor continues to take shape. While at Hampden-Sydney, Travis helped raise $9,000 for gifts and essentials for children in need, served on the student court, and as Hampden-Sydney Journal of Sciences editor.

 

Jenny Juehring

University of Iowa
Current Study: Washington University School of Law, J.D.

As circle co-president, Jenny oversaw the university’s faculty award program and the Dad of the Year award. She maintained a 3.9 GPA majoring in international human rights law and studying democratization and the developing world. Jenny presented her research at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago and at the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs.

 

Jennifer Kelly

University of Baltimore
Current Study: University of Baltimore, Accounting and Business Advisory, M.A.

Alphabet soup may best describe Jennifer Kelly's career. As an undergraduate, she interned with the FBI and is currently enrolled in a MABA (Master in Accounting and Business Advisory) program. She hopes to become a CPA and continue to use the leadership skills she expanded through O∆K.

 

Quincy Kissack

St. Norbert College
Current Study: University of Maryland, College Park, Education in Student Affairs, M.A.

While a St. Norbert student, Quincy volunteered for the Emerging Leaders program, Oxfam America, and as First Year Experience mentor. She worked for the Sturzl Center for Community Service and developed a leadership workshop series with the Leadership, Student Engagement, and First Year office. Quincy helped found the St. Norbert Circle and organized service projects with the local Boys and Girls Club.

 

Aliehs Lee

Southwestern University
Current Study: Medicine, M.D.

Aliehs and circle members organized the Bystander Intervention Program, designed to train students to intervene in emergency situations, such as bullying, racism, and sexual assault. In addition to building the circle to recognize leaders from all five phases, she serves in the Catalyst Leadership Program. Aleihs has dreamed of becoming a pediatrician because of her close relationship with her own doctor. She writes, “my pediatrician…made sure that I was treated properly and with tender care in any situation I faced. Being a pediatrician means you help shape [children’s] lives to become extraordinary adults…pediatricians are comforters, counselors, teachers, and much more.”

 

Ryan Lee-Young

University of Maryland College Park
University of Maryland College Park/Sigma Circle Scholarship
Current Study: Johns Hopkins University, Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, M.S.

Ryan seeks to apply his business background to the pharmaceutical industry. He was working as an equity research analyst and decided to further his science education. Ryan recently met up with a Sigma Circle O∆K member in his new town. “More important [than recognition] is to be supportive of those with whom I share this common bond of leadership and achievement.”

 

Jia Siang (Ben) Leong

Jacksonville University
Rupert Nelson Latture Scholarship
Future Study: London School of Economics and Political Science and Peking University of China

Ben revised the circle constitution and bylaws to reflect O∆K values. His internship with the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville provided him “the opportunity to network with distinguished leaders and gain knowledge beyond the classroom.” His interest lies in the outcomes of China and India’s rapid economic growth, and his ultimate career goal is to work for the United Nations Development Program.

 

Katie McGrath

Wright State University
Diane and Tom Vukovich Scholarship
Current Study: Wright State University, Student Affairs in Higher Education, M.A.

Katie, circle co-president, describes how student affairs professionals helped develop her leadership skills and “saw in me what I could not see in myself.” Her mentors spent hours making her the best she could be and, in turn, “inspired me to want to make a difference in the lives of students.” She serves as the

 

Jennifer McIlvaine

Stockton University
Current Study: Stockton University, Communication Disorders, M.S.

Jennifer is driven to become a speech language pathologist. Her experience volunteering at the Special Olympics and with individuals on the autism spectrum “always instilled in me a renewed sense of appreciation for life.” According to Jennifer, these experiences and her circle presidency “allowed me to advance my leadership skills and will serve as a highlight on my achievement list.”

 

Melissa Micek

Lynchburg College
Current Study: University of Delaware, Public Administration, M.A.

Melissa served as a model leader for her circle, but she is most of proud of developing O∆K Day to introduce the student body to O∆K. Melissa served as a legislative assistant intern for the Virginia House of Delegates and participated in the Virginia Commission on Parole Review and the No Kid Hungry initiative. Melissa is applying to the Delaware Legislative Fellows Program while working on her master’s.

 

Savannah Noray

Hillsdale College
Current Study: Montana State University, Applied Economics, M.A.

From presenting on women's empowerment in Nepal to researching the craft brewery market, Savannah is always examining the numbers. She is currently working on her master's degree in applied economics and has a goal to complete her doctoral work in economics before pursuing a career in international development research. “Development economics requires humility: a willingness to give up failed projects and a dedication to evaluating success without bias.”

 

Anne Parsiola

Louisiana State University
Current Study: Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Medicine, M.D.

From a rural town in Louisiana, Anne plans to return to her roots to practice medicine. During college, she worked in a biochemistry laboratory and at an obstetrics and gynecology clinic in her hometown to gain clinical experience.

“I learned that great leaders are those who inspire others to lead.”

 

Hermán Powery

Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University
Current Study: Florida A&M College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharm.D

Hermán is completing his third year of Florida A&M’s pharmacy program. As circle vice president, Hermán is highly involved in community service events, such as cleaning the circle’s adopt-a-highway street, joining the annual AIDS walk, and donating 300 pounds of food to a local nonprofit.

 

Polly Ricketts

University of Alabama
Current Study: University of Alabama School of Law, J.D.

Polly led the Living Legend program, which honored Dr. Judy Bonner, the first female president of UA, for her contributions to the university. The event touched on one of O∆K’s cornerstones: the meeting of intergenerational—collegiate and alumni—leaders. Polly collaborated with the Auburn Circle to plan the presentation of the James E. Foy O∆K Sportsmanship Trophy during the Iron Bowl. Polly served as director for Beat Auburn Beat Hunger, vice president of the business honors program, and an investment officer at Forza Financial, a microfinance institution founded by honors students.

 

Kristin Sheetz

Randolph-Macon College
Current Study: Virginia Commonwealth University, Chemical Engineering, M.S.

Kristin served as circle president and took leadership roles in the science honor society, Chi Beta Phi, and the pre-health society. She overhauled Randolph’s Leadership Fellows Program by boosting enrollment and planning events. She seeks to excel in her field and serve as a role model for women in science. "I believe it is very important for women to have a safe place to encourage each other and work through tough times in a field mostly dominated by men," she says.

 

Jamie Spinello

University of Florida
Current Study: University of Denver, Social Work, M.A.

Jamie helped lead the Gators of Tomorrow program, which recognizes the top 25 freshmen, served as a teaching assistant, and mentored an new O∆K member. Jamie aspires to tie her knowledge of psychology and criminology to families in crisis. She writes, “Coupling my psychology degree with an additional degree in criminology integrated my study of mental and emotional factors of human behavior, its causes and methods for [prevention] preventing it in the future.”

 

Sarah Stayer

St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Current Study: Miami University, Student Affairs in Higher Education, M.A.

Sarah’s interest in higher education and Title IX led her to develop a capstone study that examined how that legislation is implemented on college campuses nationwide. Sarah is passionate about making a difference in the lives of students and promoting gender equality on college campuses. Sarah was editor of SMCM’s Journal of Social Sciences, a resident assistant, Dean’s Advisory Council member, and Title IX Fellow, working to plan and implement programs to prevent sexual misconduct.