Carnegie Mellon Mortar Board Eta chapter receives Golden Torch Award

Mortar Board’s Eta chapter at Carnegie Mellon University was presented the Golden Torch award at the National Mortar Board Conference in Indianapolis, Ind. over the past summer. The Golden Torch is awarded annually at the National Mortar Board Conference to the most outstanding chapters of Mortar Board across the nation.

Mortar Board is a senior honor society first founded in 1912 at The Ohio State University, Swarthmore College, and the University of Chicago. Carnegie Mellon’s Eta chapter was founded in 1923, at the then Carnegie Institute of Technology. A select few rising senior students among all disciplines are invited to join Mortar Board each year based on their leadership, academic excellence, and dedication to service. The Mortar Board plays an active role in both the Carnegie Mellon community as well as the Pittsburgh community through several annual events on campus, such as Staff Appreciation Day which is dedicated to recognize the staff members who are working behind the scenes at Carnegie Mellon. Through Mortar Board advisor Sharon Craver, who is also the principal of The Children’s School at Carnegie Mellon, Mortar Board scholars work closely with children and provide educational weekend events for students.

Joshua Zak ’17, a Science and Humanities Scholar studying chemistry, is currently serving as the president of Carnegie Mellon Mortar Board. Zak was invited to join the Carnegie Mellon Mortar Board last spring. In July, he represented the Carnegie Mellon chapter at the annual National Mortar Board Conference at Indianapolis, Ind. “The Mortar Board national conference in Indianapolis was an amazing experience,” said Zak. “In just a few short days, the national representatives and section leaders gave me all the information and resources I will need to lead a successful chapter.” He was selected as the student president of Mortar Board a few months before the conference. The experience at the conference had transformed his perspective on Mortar Board.

At the 2016 conference, 36 chapters out of all 231 chapters in the nation were presented the Golden Torch award for their exemplary performance in the past year. The most recent graduating alumni of the Carnegie Mellon Mortar Board have achieved excellence in their scholarship as well as their leadership in a variety of events. “[Last year’s Mortar Board members] were all extremely excited to hear that they had won a Golden Torch as it was one of the goals they strove for last year,” said Zak, “I hope we can repeat their successes.”

In the upcoming months, the Carnegie Mellon Mortar Board will kick off their annual fundraiser “Turkey for a Day.” This event happens around Thanksgiving to raise money for charities supported by different professors. During this event, students at the university can donate to vote for their choice of professor. The four professors who receive the most donations will dress up in turkey costumes for a day. In the past years, Carnegie Mellon Mortar Board has successfully raised over $1,000 in this one event, and has donated to different non-profit organizations.

Being a part of the organization brings not only exceptional opportunities to participate in service and volunteering activities within the Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh community, but also plenty of chances to network with accomplished alumni from across the nation. Every member selected is guaranteed a $500 scholarship from ReadAcad, a prestigious non-profit venture management program. In addition, the benefit of membership also contains opportunities to apply to prestigious scholarships such as the NIH-Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program as well as the paid fellowship with City Hall Fellows.

Every spring, invitations will be sent to the top 30 percent of the junior class to encourage them to apply to be members of the Mortar Board. After reviewing the applications, Mortar Board invites the top 50 applicants to join the chapter.