Freshmen are not the only group at UMD that are offered the opportunity to enter into a nationally recognized honors program. Mortar Board, a national honor society, is a group solely for senior-status students. Mortar Board recognizes seniors for their achievements in college. The program was founded in 1918 at four universities: Cornell University, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University and Swarthmore College. Today, there are more than 225 established Mortar Boards in universities across the country. It has been at UMD since 2009.
Kevin Hughes, senior and president of Mortar Board, said that he is trying to increase UMD students’ awareness of the program.
“Not many people seem to know about it, but we’re working on it,” Hughes said. “I’m going to be poster-spamming soon.”
Mortar Board will begin tabling in a couple weeks and will send out emails through the administrative office to qualifying junior-level students.
In order to qualify, students must meet a GPA requirement of 3.3 and must have demonstrated leadership and service throughout their college years. Though it may sound similar to the Honors Society, Mortar Board is distinct in a big way — high school involvement is not taken into account.
“This kind of program gives a second chance to college students,” Hughes said. “Unlike the honors program, which recognizes students’ high school career, Mortar Board recognizes a student’s college career.”
Mortar Board is built off three pillars: scholarship, service and leadership. Members continue to demonstrate these three pillars during their enrollment in the program. Currently, members are involved with the Duluth public schools through programs like Reading is Leading and Pots for Tots. Members read to elementary school students through Reading is Leading. Through Pots for Tots, members grow indoor plants with young children and teach them about sustainability.
Mortar Board is also unique in the sense that it is a little different each year.
“It’s a little different to run, because members are only in it for a year or so, and then everyone leaves,” Hughes said. “Every year, members-wise, it starts over.”
However, members stay a part of the program forever. Mortar Board alumni are able to receive benefits, from simple networking to insurance plans. Mortar Board is partnered with several companies, and members are eligible for certain advantages, even post-school.
“It’s definitely a great program here, and it’s been a great experience to be a part of it,” Hughes said.
There will be a banquet later this spring to induct the incoming undergraduate students. In the meantime, students should keep their eyes peeled for this opportunity.
BY AISLING DOHENY