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Loyola’s Alpha Sigma Nu chapter named first ever chapter of the year

| By Nick Alexopulos
Alpha Sigma Nu Loyola University Maryland
Annie Bolan, '14, (center) with fellow students who are members of Alpha Sigma Nu at Loyola University Maryland. Kate Gaertner (left), executive director of Alpha Sigma Nu's national and international chapters, traveled to Baltimore to present Loyola with the chapter of the year award.

Alpha Sigma Nu, the national honor society of Jesuit colleges and universities, honored Loyola University Maryland’s student chapter as the first ever chapter of the year at a ceremony on April 30, 2014. The award recognizes the student leadership of Loyola’s chapter for their planning and coordination of outstanding programming that embodies the Alpha Sigma Nu tenets of scholarship, loyalty, and service.

The national society created the annual award this year to incentivize all 31 local chapters to pursue innovative initiatives, and hold up one exceptional chapter as a role model.

“This is the Jesuit honor society. This is about doing, not just about being,” said Kate Gaertner, executive director of Alpha Sigma Nu. “We have really focused in the last decade on more engaged members, more active chapters, to really have multiple layers to the meaning of this membership. We don’t just want it to be a pat on the back.”

Students in Loyola’s chapter are consistently among the most active at any Jesuit institution, but they set the bar even higher in 2013-14. The chapter’s executive board began a collaboration with Messina, Loyola’s living learning program for first-year students, to ensure an Alpha Sigma Nu member attended each monthly Messina “Jesuit dinner” to mentor first-year students during the dinner discussion on Jesuit values. They organized creative campaigns to help students connect with the Jesuit mission, including the “Examen for Exams” (attaching the Ignatian Examen to bags of cookies distributed during final exams) and “Sundaes on Sunday” (a social gathering over ice cream for students and Jesuits). Most significantly, Loyola’s Alpha Sigma Nu chapter coordinated numerous events for Ignatian Heritage Week 2014 that made this year’s week the most successful in recent memory.

In addition, the chapter sponsored service opportunities and lectures to engage the broader Loyola community.

“I couldn’t be happier that the first award is here at Loyola,” said Gaertner.

Gaertner presented the award to Annie Bolan, ’14, president of Loyola’s chapter, who led the six-student executive board that planned all of the programming.

“I’m so humbled and honored,” said Bolan, an elementary education major and special education minor from Newport, R.I. “I think what set us apart was really living out the constant challenge to improve. We stepped our game up this year and challenged our peers to get more involved, to get more engaged with mission and identity.”

The award includes a plaque and $500 to support Alpha Sigma Nu programming at Loyola next year. The funding comes from a gift the Haig family gave Alpha Sigma Nu’s national office; Rev. Frank Haig, S.J., is a professor emeritus of physics at Loyola and advisor to Loyola’s chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu.

Haig attended the award ceremony and commended the chapter’s executive board and membership for their extraordinary efforts.

“This is a reaffirmation of what our chapter leadership has been doing this year with great energy and with great success,” said Fr. Haig, who was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu in 1966.

Another gift from the Haig family supports Loyola staff and administrative involvement with the University’s Alpha Sigma Nu chapter.

Students elected to Loyola’s Alpha Sigma Nu chapter are juniors and seniors who are in the top 4 percent of their class and have demonstrated outstanding qualities of scholarship, service, and loyalty to Loyola. Students are nominated by the members of the society, and approved by the dean of their school and university president. The national society, founded at Marquette University in 1915 and still housed there, encourages its members to a lifetime pursuit of intellectual development, deepening Ignatian spirituality, service to others, and a commitment to the core principles of Jesuit education.

More information about Alpha Sigma Nu is available at alphasigmanu.org.

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