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Tri-Alpha honor society charters new chapter on UNG's Gainesville Campus

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Noah Bryant, a junior pursuing a history degree, was elected president of the Alpha Alpha Alpha honor society on UNG's Gainesville Campus. The national honor society for first-generation college students chartered a new chapter in February at UNG.

Several scholarships and a few academic programs are specifically geared toward first-generation students at the University of North Georgia (UNG), and now an organization exists specifically for them.

Alpha Alpha Alpha, a national honor society for first-generation college students, chartered a new chapter in February on UNG's Gainesville Campus. UNG is the first school in Georgia to establish the Tri-Alpha honor society on campus, said Dr. Richard Oates, vice president on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

He explained launching the new student organization is an extension of UNG's celebration of first-generation students that started last year with an inaugural luncheon.

"We want to offer more to our first-generation students," he said. "So we started developing strategies to build the community and feeling of belonging for those students at UNG."

One result was the discovery of the Tri-Alpha honor society. Dr. Alyson Paul, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students on UNG's Gainesville Campus, and Dr. Carol Adams, associate vice president and dean of University College, researched the group and proposed initiating a chapter.

It succeeded. After a couple of student interest meetings, the national organization approved UNG's request to activate the Alpha Omicron chapter. The election of student officers quickly followed with Noah Bryant as president, Maria Marquez as vice president, Cody Deacons as secretary, and Stacey Weber as service project coordinator.

Bryant, a junior pursuing a history degree, was excited to help found the new organization designed for students like him.

Bryant believes the group will offer support mechanisms for current and future first-generation students. He also applauds the organization's incorporation of UNG's faculty, staff and alumni who were first-generation students. Bryant pointed to Paul, who was a first-generation student, as someone he admires.

"For me, it is good to see someone who has made it as far as she has in higher education," he said. "She was in the same situation as I am now and look where she is."

Oates explained UNG faculty, staff and alumni who were first-generation college students can also be inducted into the organization. This element makes Tri-Alpha a unique honor society.

"The twist is there is a mentoring requirement," he said. "Faculty and staff are required to directly mentor a first-generation student."

UNG students also must meet certain criteria to join Tri-Alpha.

  • Students must have earned at least 36 credit hours toward a bachelor's degree.
  • Students must maintain an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.2.
  • Neither of the student's parents, step-parents, or legal guardians, have completed a bachelor's degree.

Bryant said once classes resume on campus in the fall, he and the other officers will recruit students for the group's first induction class. Herring said the group aims to round up all first-generation students, including nontraditional and adult learners.

Marquez, a senior pursuing a cybersecurity degree, anticipates sharing advice with new members as well as incoming first-generation students.

"I want first-generation students to seek help," said the 21-year-old from Gainesville, Georgia. "My first year would have been a lot easier if I had gone to my professors and asked for help."

Marquez said she is glad UNG officials brought Tri-Alpha to campus.

"They care about first-generation students and are doing their best to help us and to make us not feel so alone," she said.

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