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W&M chapter of NSCS wins silver STAR

  • Carolyn Collier
    Carolyn Collier  The Richmond, Va., senior is president of the William & Mary chapter of NSCS.  Photo by Erin Zagursky
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William & Mary’s chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars was awarded a Silver STAR at the organization’s annual convention on August 15.

The chapter's executive vice-president, Katherine Barry, and member Kate Clough traveled to Washington, D.C., to accept the award. Twenty-nine other colleges and universities received a Silver STAR, while 60 attained a gold STAR  and five were awarded a platinum STAR.
Students who have completed freshman year with a GPA of 3.4 or higher, or who stand in the top 20 percent of their class, are invited to join NSCS, chapter president Carolyn Collier said. This year’s induction of 195 students will take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4, in the Great Hall of the Wren Building.

Among the hallmarks of NSCS, which has 240 chapters nationally, are planning for college success and campus integrity. William & Mary’s chapter addressed each in award-winning fashion.

It conducted a “March to College” day in which recommended sophomores and juniors from three Williamsburg high schools were invited to campus to learn about college life, the value of a college degree and scholarship opportunities. About 60 took advantage of the invitation.

“These are students who might not otherwise consider college,” said Collier, a senior Biology major from Richmond. She added that in 2009, she wants the program to expand to include local middle school students.

In addition, the chapter sponsored two essay contests. One was for high schoolers and resulted in 70 entries, with three $100 scholarships awarded.

The other contest was for W&M chapter members. Sarah McClendon of Glen Allen, Va., captured first place with an essay entitled "Six Defining Moments Before I Set Sail," in which she chose six events in her life that shaped her interest in human medicine. The theme of her essay is based on a quote from Sir William Osler, the "Father of Modern Medicine," who said, "To study the phenomenon of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all."

Later in the year, the chapter set up a table in the campus center that was adorned with a banner reading “I stand for integrity.” Students were encouraged to sign the banner as a show of support for the College’s honor code. W&M became the first American college to adopt such a platform, instituting its code in 1776.

“The code is highly stressed,” Collier said. “Students make an honor pledge during freshman orientation that lasts all four years. Professors put a lot of trust in students.”

As part of the Oct. 4 ceremony, Professor of Biology Paul Heideman, Professor of Government John Baltes, and Associate Dean of Admissions and Director of Multicultural Recruitment  Deborah Basket will be honored as Distinguished Members for their contributions to the growth of the chapter.

Collier wants the chapter to have a larger impact on campus life.

"We want to do more, get our name out in the community," she explained. "We want to work with other groups on campus. We want this to become bigger and better every year. Our ultimate goal is to have people on campus know what NSCS is all about. It's a great way to meet people, a great way to make scholarship connections for the future and  a very valuable tool."