Professor, students revive honor society at USCB

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comNovember 9, 2012 

When Rena Kratky set out to revive a defunct honor society at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, the Spanish professor had no idea its first class would be so large.

Kratky and a handful of students have restarted a chapter of the national Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society after several years of dormancy. On Sunday, the society will induct about 80 members -- many more than Kratky expected.

"I was happy to get 10," she said. "I didn't think there was the interest there, but students keep coming in and saying they (were) so excited to join."

Students must have a 3.2 cumulative GPA. They can be in any field of study, which sets the group apart from the three other honor societies on campus, which are for students in single disciplines.

The group plans to give small scholarships to students with money they raise.

Members will be required to perform community service, such as volunteering in a nursing home. The group also will organize community-service events -- its already completed a week of domestic-violence awareness events on campus this fall.

That means there's a large time commitment involved in joining, Kratky said. Invitations were sent to about 400 students -- anyone with the qualifying GPA -- and Kratky said she was surprised 80 wanted to join.

"Especially for our campus, that's pretty big," she said. "Most of our students work a lot or have families. To have students who both work and go to school, and get that many (members), it's pretty big."

Kratky was president of the club when she was a USCB student in 2006. Then, there were 25-to-30 members.

Sometime in the past few years, membership dwindled and at some point -- Kratky isn't sure when -- the society ceased to exist.Junior Michael Alexander, the president of the revived chapter, said he didn't hear about the group during his first two years at the school.

When Kratky asked him if he wanted to help revive the club, which began at USCB in 1965, Alexander gave it some thought, then agreed.

"It was one of the oldest organizations here, and I feel like it should have (had more of a presence) because it has so much history behind it," he said. "At the same time, it's a lot of pressure because you want to represent all of its history and be a good leader."

Alexander and six other students helped organize the society's first events and coordinated the induction ceremony.

"I'm really glad we're doing this," Kratky said. "This is a good organization. It does good things for people as well as give students the recognition they deserve."

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