Members of the Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) freshmen honor society at The University of Texas-Pan American are receiving nationwide respect as one of the recent winners of the prestigious Order of the Torch award.
"I am very proud and happy for the award recognition. I always believed that our ALD chapter would one day receive this award," said Dolores Villarreal, ALD adviser and assistant director for Student Life and Transition Services. "Since 2005 I have seen the organization grow with each new group of officers and students each year."
The Order of the Torch is the annual award for the most outstanding chapters of ALD in the country. Each year, up to five chapters of the academic organization may be awarded the prize. George Galindo, the past president of the UTPA chapter, said it took a team effort to capture the top spot.
"National recognition is a special achievement. Being able to see the excitement within the eyes of my fellow advisers and officers was the most rewarding experience I could have ever asked for," Galindo said. "It is not an easy task to obtain a high honor such as this, and I am proud that the Alpha Lambda Delta UTPA Chapter has been recognized for its continued hard work and pursuit of excellence."
Chapters submit a scrapbook describing their activities during the past year. The scrapbooks are then judged by a group of national council members, and the winning chapters are presented with an award banner. Galindo said they opted to use technology to edge out the competition.
"Our chapter took a different approach and implemented the use of technology into our creation. Using technological programs and software, we were able to create a complete scrapbook on the digital level, with our award being the first digital copy ever awarded the Order of the Torch Award," Galindo said.
UTPA's awards reception was held Nov. 5 at the Student Union. The judging criteria were based on chapter communication, chapter involvement, visibility on campus and overall presentation.
"Although we were not the first to design a digital scrapbook, I think the way the students organized it - it helped send the message that students were organized and involved in their community," Villarreal said.
ALD is the only freshmen honor society on campus, and was chartered at UTPA in 2003. Entering freshmen can apply for lifetime membership after their first full semester. They must have 12-29 credit hours, a minimum 3.5 GPA, and be working toward a degree as a full-time student. ALD invites 80-100 undergraduates to become members of the group every year.
"Alpha Lambda Delta is an organization that gives entering students many opportunities to get involved at UTPA. It focuses on academics, service to your community and leadership -- ideals that they can carry with them on to graduation and beyond," Villarreal said.
The organization concentrates almost exclusively on campus and community service projects. Students participate in events such as canned food drives, the H-E-B Feast of Sharing and the Adopt-a-Beach Clean Up. Galindo said his involvement with ALD has been a gratifying experience.
"I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment for being a part of an organization that has worked extremely hard to provide the students of UTPA with the best possible experience they can obtain as an undergraduate," said Galindo. "This honor society is special because it honors those individuals who have created a solid academic foundation from the very beginning."
Chapters who are awarded the Order of the Torch are ineligible to apply for the award for the next four years. UTPA's chapter submitted their scrapbook in April and was notified of the win in July.
"Our chapter strove to continuously bring in new initiatives and opportunities, key aspects that I believe set our chapter apart from the others within the country," Galindo said.
For more information on ALD, contact Villarreal at (956) 665-2659.