Author: Elwyn Pratt|Elwyn Pratt
The Dranzen chapter at Occidental received the Silver Torch Award at the 2012 Mortar Board National Convention held in Chicago last July. The award is an honor bestowed to chapters that maintain excellence in scholarship, leadership and service.
The requirements to receive the Silver Torch Award are outlined on the Mortar Board’s official website. In essence, chapters must meet all minimum standards and deadlines as outlined in the Bylaws. The Bylaws standards include holding frequent meetings, submitting an annual report and implementing community programs. This is the second Silver Torch Award Occidental’s Mortar Board received.
“I’m familiar with the way that Occidental has performed as a chapter for several years,” Megan Stevens, the National Mortar Board’s Assistant Executive Director for Chapter Development, said. Her job is to help evaluate the performance of chapters. “There are always schools that are on our radar for doing well, and Occidental is one that consistently does a terrific job,” Stevens said.
Chapter President Aja Sanneh received the Silver Torch Award on behalf of the chapter. “There are a lot of better awards to get,” Sanneh said, “but not every chapter receives the Silver. It’s amazing considering how busy we are. Oxy attracts ambitious students, and the Mortar Board accepts students who are overly-ambitious. Everyone’s up to their necks already.”
Sanneh wants to maintain the standard set by the Silver Torch Award. “I want to drop the Torch for next year,” Sanneh said. “I’m planning to maintain the programs we have, and prepare the chapter for small improvements every year. Open Mic will be this year’s improvement.”
Occidental is not alone in hoping for more recognition and setting their goals higher. “As a small chapter, they can do a lot more and they’ve done a lot,” said Mohammed Hill, the regional coordinator for Hawaii and California chapters. He serves as a national liaison for Occidental’s Mortar Board, the one that the chapter goes to when they need help with issues ranging from paperwork to recruitment strategies.
“I hope that they don’t stop with the Silver,” Hill said. “They can shoot higher.“
The Board is a highly selective honor society committed to serving the Occidental community and promoting scholarship. Like its fellow chapters around the board, the Dranzen Chapter at Occidental consists of the top students of the senior class. These students are recruited for their excellence in academics and outstanding leadership skills. A student must attain a GPA of 3.5 before even being considered for membership. Qualifying juniors are sent invitations to apply. After applications are reviewed and interviews are completed, only about thirty students are considered an acceptable embodiment of the Board’s ideals of scholarship, leadership and service.
The Dranzen Chapter at Occidental is responsible for a number of things on campus, including a Monday-through-Thursday tutoring program at the Eagle Rock Community Center. The Board is also the brain behind the popular Last Lecture Series. Every year, professors are invited to give a lecture as though it was their very last opportunity. The series has successfully attracted students and alumni since 2009. The chapter is introducing a new fundraising event this year called Open Mic Night. Sanneh was satisfied by the first Open Mic in October and plans to hold more throughout the year.
This article has been archived, for more requests please contact us via the support system.