KINGSTON, R.I. – August 27, 2013 – The University of Rhode Island chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars earned Gold Star status this summer, a distinction awarded to just five percent of the 300 chapters in the United States.
“I’m really proud of this prestigious accomplishment,” said Jillian Vanhouwe, a URI senior from North Smithfield who will serve as the chapter’s president this year. “It recognizes the hard work and dedication of our members, and it symbolizes the leadership, service, scholarship and integrity that we exhibit.”
According to Vanhouwe, the honor society is open to all freshmen and sophomores at URI who earn a 3.4 grade point average or higher. To attain Gold Star status, chapters are required to fulfill a variety of requirements, such as hold an induction ceremony for new members, create a student mentoring program, host campus-wide events to support the society’s Integrity Initiative, and participate in community service projects.
“Unlike a lot of honor societies, we’re very active on campus and in the community,” said the biology and psychology major. “We make baby blankets for women at shelters, raise money for Make A Wish, and we do a variety of leadership activities and programs to enhance our academic skills. It was those kind of activities that got me interested in being involved.”
The URI chapter was recognized at a national conference of the honor society this summer in Houston, where Vanhouwe networked and attended workshops on professional development and academic skills.
“I got to meet members from chapters in every state, learn what they’re doing, and bounce ideas off each other,” said Vanhouwe, whose goal this year is to grow the chapter membership and increase the visibility of the society on campus.
Founded in 1994, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars is an honors organization that recognizes high achievers and provides career and graduate school connections, leadership and service opportunities. It also offers nearly half a million dollars in scholarships annually.
After graduation next May, Vanhouwe plans to attend graduate school to earn a doctorate in occupational therapy.
“By combining my fields of interest, I want to pursue a career doing clinical research on degenerative neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s,” she said. “I would like to focus in on the elderly generation and help them develop ways to beat their neurological disorders and continue to lead long and productive lives.”
URI senior Jillian Vanhouwe poses with the founder of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Steve Loflin, after the URI chapter of the society was awarded Gold Star status. (Photo courtesy of Jillian Vanhouwe.)