Sophomore honor society serves community

Dawn Wang Feb 4, 2008

For first-years with too much free time on their hands, service opportunities may be the perfect way to fill up their time. Lambda Sigma, a sophomore honor society, sent out invitations to eligible first-year students last week.

“While we have a QPA requirement of a 3.5, there is, in no way, an academic focus to our organization,” said Carolina Velez, sophomore social and decision sciences major and president of Lambda Sigma. “We are devoted to servicing the community in projects all throughout the year.”

Carnegie Mellon’s Eta chapter is part of the Lambda Sigma national organization that honors sophomore students and organizes service activities at various colleges and universities across the nation.
For the Carnegie Mellon chapter, February is a month of getting to know inductees, officially inducting them, and continuous service projects.

The first upcoming event is a visit to Oakland’s Schenley High School, where Lambda Sigma will inform and motivate students about options for higher education. The event will also have a raffle for an iPod Nano, which Lambda Sigma bought with money from a fundraiser last semester at Max & Erma’s.

Students qualify for the raffle by filling out a questionnaire, which is designed to help them organize their hopes and anxieties for the future. The students will be informed about options beyond just conventional two- and four-year colleges and community schools. Other options include faith-based colleges, culinary institutes, and training programs. To make the process more accessible, Lambda Sigma students have petitioned for the institutes to waive application fees for the participants.

Amy Nichols, a sophomore psychology major and the selections chair of Lambda Sigma explained what she hopes to get out of the Schenley project.

“We hope by breaking down cost barriers to encourage students to recognize their options, and to talk to us about their questions and concerns, we can impact a student’s choice to apply to college,” Nichols said.

Lambda Sigma has already connected its influence in the school to the community by convincing Carnegie Mellon’s director of admissions, Michael Steidel, to waive the university’s application fees for the event’s participants.

In addition to serving the local community, the Carnegie Mellon chapter of Lambda Sigma is interested in achieving a global influence.

For example, Velez’s recent visit to Medellin, Colombia, inspired her to create a new project to help locals in a small neighborhood, La Quintana. The neighborhood has recently experienced a surge in the population due to the dangers of rural violence. As a result, funds are needed to provide books and school supplies for the refugee families, otherwise unable to provide schooling for their children. Plans to organize a fundraising “Rock Band” competition in the University Center at the end of the month are already set in motion.

Other events include a blood drive on March 26.

Lambda Sigma also plans to get more involved on campus, as its members will be building a Spring Carnival booth for the first time in its history. The theme of the booth will be voter registration. Registration forms, candidate information, and a computer to register with will all be made available on spot.

Velez found her experience in Lambda Sigma to be more rewarding than she expected.

“I love that you can see results,” Velez said. “It is refreshing to see students taking a moment from their busy lives and helping someone else. It is difficult to look beyond your daily life, but we have an obligation to give back.”

Stanley Liu, a sophomore biology major and the vice president of Lambda Sigma, echoed Velez’s sentiments.

“My life is about serving society,” he said, “and so is Lambda Sigma.”

Lambda Sigma will be holding an ice cream social for all prospective first-years tomorrow at 8 p.m. in UC Danforth. All of the executive board will be present, including Velez, Nichols, and Liu, as well as Boo Kim, sophomore electrical and computer engineering major and secretary of Lambda Sigma.