Inside USD

Mortar Board Scholars: Serve, Lead, Succeed

Friday, February 17, 2012

Judy Lewis Logue, chapter advisor for the University of San Diego Mortar Board, absolutely means it when she tells new students what it is to be a member of this small, dedicated group.

“Never again will you be in a room where everyone is just like you,” she said.

The organization, a national honor society since 1918 with 229 chapters including USD’s Alcalá Senior Honor Society since 2000, is committed to dedicated students who excel in multiple facets as its slogan suggests: “Scholars … Chosen for Leadership … United to Serve.”

Logue, who has been the USD advisor since its inception, describes USD Mortar Board members as students with the courage to take on responsibility and the ability to get things done.

Approximately 30 students are chosen each year from a competitive application process. Eligible students must have junior standing in the spring semester with an overall GPA that puts them in the top 35 percent of their class. Students must participate and excel in leadership and service activities during their college years, have a letter of recommendation from a USD faculty member, write a personal essay for review by current Mortar Board members and more.

Students selected are informed through a unique notification — they are “tapped” during one of their classes by USD Mortar Board members. That process, Logue said, happens in March.

Getting into USD’s Mortar Board, which meets this Saturday (Feb. 18) to do the final review for 2012-13 members, is only a start. It’s an active student organization that expects full participation from its members through service programs, social events, hosting an annual Faculty Appreciation Dinner, and fundraising for the STRIVE scholarship, which goes to college-bound seniors at Linda Vista’s Kearny High School that have excelled in scholarship, leadership and service.

I hold everyone to a higher standard because I know what they’re capable of doing,” said current Mortar Board President Alexandra Tubbs, a political science and international business double major, and a passionate, driven leader. “Talk is cheap. You have to walk the walk.”

Tubbs’ (pictured, left) own on-campus activities include being a student leader for the Center for Awareness, Service and Action (CASA) and the Center for Community Service-Learning (CSL), participating in the Honors Program, Political Science Honors Society, Pi Sigma Alpha and Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Her passion for community service — “it’s a staple of my life,” she said — is equaled by other Mortar Board members who, since September, have participated in events with foster youth, homeless San Diegans, military members and youth from low-income backgrounds.

“This year’s group (of Mortar Board members) has been absolutely superb,” Tubbs said.

The 2011-12 USD Mortar Board members are: Amanda Bagnall, Jonathan Kim, Chris Arrington, Jourdain Artz, Sabina Baker, Lauren Beal, Allison Berryhill, Sophia Carrillo, Erick Diaz, Peter Ferrari, Shea Gallagher, Samantha Gathmann, Tasha Griffiths, Katie Hagan, Dylan Heyden, Francis Hoe, Erin Karahadian, Chelsea Kelleher, Kelli Killion, Rachel Lataitis, Kent Lee, Sylvester Luu, Scott Morgan, Julia Norgaard, Nicholas Perez, Diana Rodriguez-Agiss, Tom Roth, Jamie Shea, Ryan Shuman, Shane Smith, Danielle Sullivan, Mark Toyama and Madeline Vann.

USD professors Alana Cordy-Collins (Anthropology), Susan Lord (Engineering), Michael Mayer (Biology) and Thomas Dalton (Business Accountancy and Taxation) are Mortar Board faculty advisors. Charles Bass, USD’s director of alumni relations, is the administrative advisor.

As its leader of leaders, Tubbs said the other aspect of what the chapter does is to, eventually, bring USD some national recognition.

The ultimate prize for Mortar Board chapters is winning the Ruth Weimer Mount Chapter Excellence Award, the highest possible honor given for collegiate achievement, at the organization’s national conference. This year’s conference is July 20-22 in Chicago. USD last won the prestigious excellence award in 2006. Winners have to wait five years before they can reapply, per the national organization’s rules.

On Thursday, USD welcomed Jane Hamblin, the national executive director of Mortar Board, for a luncheon attended by USD President Mary E. Lyons and Student Affairs Vice President Carmen Vazquez, both honorary Mortar Board members. Hamblin’s appearance came as the organization celebrates its 94th year of existence. Hamblin said she was impressed with USD’s chapter and noted that Tubbs was quite aware of USD’s eligibility again for the excellence award.

“I looked at what the other chapters who’ve won it have done and I wanted us to take the next step,” Tubbs said. “At our retreat in September, I put up what had been done and I told them to fill in the missing holes.”

This year’s group has worked together on setting and achieving goals. Given the capability of its membership, USD’s chapter has what it takes to be a contender.

“We’re present, willing and able to take Mortar Board to the next level. Our hearts are willing to give and provide leadership and scholarship,” Tubbs said.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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