Lyon’s Mortar Board chapter received three national honors Saturday at the Mortar Board National Conference in Little Rock.
For the second straight year, the Order of the Tartan Chapter won the Gold Torch Award. The chapter also earned two Project Excellence awards.
Senior Madison Grant, president of Mortar Board, said the Golden Torch Award is presented to chapters that go above and beyond. To be eligible, chapters must complete all their paperwork, have all of their membership dues paid, and perform service projects on campus.
“We did a lot more than just typical projects,” she said. “The national advisors were impressed with our unique approach.”
Lyon also received Project Excellence awards for both the Leadership Conference and Student Creative Arts and Research Forum (SCARF) service projects. The Leadership Conference is held in the fall and teaches high schoolers how to be successful leaders. SCARF is held in the spring and gives Lyon students the chance to share the work they have pursued both in and outside of the classroom with their peers.
Grant said Lyon has built an outstanding reputation with national advisors.
“I felt really proud of our college. I thought we would get blown away by the big schools, but it turns out we’ve really impressed the advisors,” she said.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Irosha Nawarathne said Mortar Board has come a long way over the past few years. She started working with Mortar Board in 2015 and took over as advisor in 2016 following the departure of the senior advisor. The group struggled during the first year while continuing traditions.
“By attending the National Conference in Phoenix with two student delegates in 2017, I learned a lot about the honor society and had plenty of time to brainstorm with the students about how we could grow as a chapter.”
Mortar Board partnered with the Provost’s Office and reestablished SCARF, the only conference that highlights student research at Lyon. That summer, Lyon’s Mortar Board chapter received the Gold Torch Award for the first time.
“Last year, we took SCARF to another level and included judges from the community,” Nawarathne said. “We received the largest number of abstract submissions in history and were able to provide opportunities for many undergraduate researchers on campus.”
Nawarathne was asked to serve as a judge for the Ruth Weimer Mount Chapter Excellence Award, the highest honor in Mortar Board, and executive committee members encouraged Lyon to consider applying for the award next year.
“It has been my great pleasure to work with Mortar Board for three years,” Nawarathne said, “and I look forward to the day that our chapter receives the highest national honor! It looks like that day is not very far away.”
Grant enjoyed the chance to network at the national conference with the presidents from 231 Mortar Board chapters around the United States and gained new perspectives on how to lead a successful organization.
She said the Order of the Tartan Chapter is looking into collaborating with other Mortar Board chapters in Arkansas and finding ways to combine forces on campus for even bigger events.
“Mortar Board is a group of leaders all coming together, so, as president, I’m like the leader of leaders,” Grant said. “I don’t want it to be just another honor society. I want to cultivate everyone else’s leadership skills because we’re all involved in so many areas on campus.”
“On behalf of our Mortar Board, I would like to thank the Lyon administration, faculty, and staff for their immense support of chapter events,” Nawarathne said. “I would also like to extend my gratitude to all the Mortar Board members, especially our presidents from the last two years Natalie Milligan and Kristen Blagg, for their dedication and service to the chapter.”
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