Orange Coast College boasts 16 honor societies, the most of any community college in California.
Honor societies can open doors to scholarships, develop leadership skills and provide exposure to a particular field of interest, from political science to business.
Issai Ochoa, a 29-year-old dietetics major who is part the Guardian Scholars Program for former foster youth, recently joined Mu Delta Rho Honor Society for students going into health professions.
“I see this as a big personal educational achievement. I am learning to see myself in a different light that has more educational potential. I was a high school dropout and received my high school equivalency three years ago. Until recently, I felt I was stupid and I had no support or belief that I could get a decent education,” Ochoa said.
He plans to earn his bachelor’s degree as a dietitian from Cal State Long Beach, and hopes to eventually get a master’s degree and become a dietitian in the Army.
Each honor society has its own requirements to get in, including GPA, coursework and membership fees ranging from $40 to $140. The Extended Opportunity Programs and Services and the Guardian Scholars Program helps to pay for membership fees for its participants.
“I feel the honor societies are here to maximize the academic learning experience and EOPS and Guardian Scholars students should not be excluded from that opportunity,” John Taylor, dean of Library and Learning Support said.
Luiza Rodriguez, a 22-year-old English major and an international student from Brazil, joined Phi Theta Kappa.
“I was excited and paid $140 because it would be placed in my college transcripts that I was a permanent member of this honor society. I discussed it with my dad who is in Brazil, on the phone he told me he didn’t know what is an honor society, but he was thrilled when he realized that it was an achievement based on my grades. I paid it from my savings,” Rodriguez said.
Later she joined and became interim president of Sigma Kappa Delta, an honor society for English majors that has organized service projects such as writing letters to veterans and fundraising for scholarships.
“The Library gave the books that did not sell from the Friends of the Library annual sale to PTK and PTK sold them and used that money to fund their student scholarships,” Carl Morgan, reference librarian said.
Golden West College and Coastline Community College do not offer the variety of honor societies that OCC does.
“OCC reached out to other disciplines and are able to because they have a strong foundation, because it has a long sustaining honor’s program. At the helm is Teresa Scarbrough who devotes the necessary time to coordinate all these societies,” Valerie Venegas, director Scholarships and Special Events at Golden West College said