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UM to host national honor society convention

Gamma Beta Phi, a national honor and service society for college students, will hold its national convention on the University of Mississippi campus this year for the first time.

The Gamma Beta Phi National Convention will be Friday, Feb. 26 and Saturday Feb. 27.

Registration begins at 4 p.m. on Friday at the Yerby Conference Center. On Saturday, the main day of the convention, activities will take place in the ballroom at the Inn at Ole Miss from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Dr. Denis Goulet, a lecturer and laboratory coordinator in the Biology Department at the University of Mississippi, is the faculty adviser for the UM Chapter of Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society. He is also a National Executive Committee adviser member of the GBP.

“GBP is a national honor and service society for college students,” said Goulet. “Gamma Beta Phi has 100 chapters all across the United States.”

He said there are four chapters in Mississippi at the University of Mississippi, the Oxford campus of Northwest Mississippi Community College, Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi.

“There are approximately 40,000 active student members of Gamma Beta Phi, and they share the mission of promoting education and providing community service to their colleges and communities,” he said.

Goulet said the national convention is the society’s opportunity to bring chapters from all over the country to meet, exchange ideas and experiences, participate in training sessions, and elect members to the National Executive Committee, which governs the society.

“The NEC decided that hosting it on campus would attract more students to attend the convention,” he said. “At the very least, it would provide members of the hosting institution a great opportunity to attend the convention and interact with students from all over the country. Finally, Ole Miss has fantastic facilities to host such a conference.”

Attendees will include the current NEC; chapter advisers and executive officers; and regular GBP members from chapters from all over the country.

Goulet said there is no specific theme for the conference this year.

“The convention hosts state caucuses where chapters from a given state can get together to discuss various issues and even elect new officers to their state executive committee,” he said.

“There is a scrapbook competition, where chapters put together a book illustrating the activities of their chapter. This year we are hoping that chapters will bring a digital scrapbook, that can be projected and viewed by all attendees.”

Goulet said they will have leadership sessions for advisers, chapter presidents, treasurers, and other executive positions. There are discussion sessions for members to discuss projects and exchange ideas.

There will be an awards ceremony recognizing outstanding advisers, members and chapters. There will be guest speakers. And the NEC will report on the state of GBP and host elections to the executive committee.

Goulet said there is an attendance fee.

Members must register online at http://www.gammabetaphi.org/about/national-convention-2016/. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 5.

“The hope is that attendees will come away realizing that they are part of something big that has a major impact all over the country,” Goulet said. “New friendships and contacts will be made. Members will be revitalized and take that energy and excitement back to their chapters and members.”

Goulet said GBP is a great opportunity for honor students from all disciplines to interact through service projects, meetings and social events. GBP members also have an opportunity to impact the lives of others.

“The purpose is to recognize academically strong students and to engage them in meaningful service projects that benefit others,” he said. “This helps to build character and purpose for members.

“The motto of the society is ‘service, scholarship, character.’ GBP is not just a line on your resume. GBP expects you to be active and make a difference in the lives of others.”

Goulet said the Ole Miss chapter was one of the original chapters chartered in 1964 when GBP was originally formed.

He said the chapter does about 12-16 service projects a year, with an emphasis of helping the Mississippi community.

The main projects include:

1. Donating food items to Love Packs, an Oxford based organization that provides food items to Oxford and Lafayette school children in need.

2. Donating items to the Panola County and Oxford Humane Societies. Members also volunteer time at the Oxford Humane Society.

3. They work with Youth Opportunities Unlimited in Marks to help needy children in the Delta. They provide school supplies, Christmas toys, Easter baskets and clothes.

4. They work with the Books and Bears program at Ole Miss to provide Christmas toys for families of staff members.

5. They donate a Christmas gift bag to residents of Graceland Nursing Home of Oxford.

6. They have numerous members that participate in educational projects such as Leap Frog.

7. They support and participate in other campus service activities such as Rebelthon and the Big Event.

Membership is primarily by invitation. To be eligible, you must be a registered student that has completed at least 12 hours of classes and have a GPA that puts you on the honor roll at your institution.

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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