The Alpha Alpha Alpha Honor Society’s first class was inducted on April 3, 2019, to recognize the academic and leadership achievements of first-generation college students, faculty and alumni.
Also known as Tri-Alpha, the chapter was established in 2018 at Moravian College.
Speakers at Lehigh’s induction ceremony included George White, managing director of student access and success and a professor of educational leadership; Robert Flowers, deputy provost for faculty affairs and a chemistry professor; and Provost Pat Farrell.
“Being first can be hard; being first can be scary; being first can be exciting,” Flowers said, who is the faculty adviser for Tri-Alpha alongside White. “As part of the first generation in your family to go to college, you are a source of pride and guidance to others.”
Moravian College reached out to Lehigh and other local colleges in hopes to work together to recognize the excellence of first-generation students. Lehigh is now the Epsilon chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha.
The program hopes to answer, “What can this organization do to help begin to bring people together around common themes?” White said.
For a student to be considered for Tri-Alpha, the student must have at least a 3.2 GPA and has earned 48 credits from Lehigh.
“Also, that you demonstrated some form of service or leadership to a community,” White said. “The word community is important. It could either be your Lehigh community or your home community.”
Students applied to the program if they met the initial criteria, while the alumni and faculty members were chosen based on student nominations and reputations on campus.
“I am really proud to be a part of this experience, and to be a part of the inaugural class is fantastic, but most importantly I cannot wait to see who else joins us and who else helps us to change the face of our campus,” said Carolina Hernandez, assistant dean and director of the Community Service Office and a recently inducted faculty member.
Hernandez said the most important aspect of bringing the chapter to the university is the community that it will form and bring together.
Raahil Amarshi, ‘20, a member of the honor society’s first class, is excited about all that Tri-Alpha has to offer.
“It creates a social scene, a safe, friendly environment of like-minded people,” Amarshi said. “It is a new way of exploring new bonds and friendships. How many times have I been able to say I am friends with them because we are first generation together? I never had that.”
White said that Tri-Alpha will be considered a student organization, so the next step is to select an executive board. The new board will be responsible for choosing the next group to be inducted and to identify one or multiple service projects to focus the groups effort’s on.
“There are a lot of assets that first-generation college students bring to a campus like Lehigh, so why don’t we recognize and celebrate that?” White said.