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Public Affairs : Honor societies present missions

West Point honor societies present missions at Dean’s Luncheon

Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood
Staff Writer

West Point cadets strive for excellence academically, militarily and ethically. Approximately 289 cadets who are members of at least one honor society at West Point exemplify this.


Cadet members of West Point honor societies attended the Phi Kappa Phi Dean’s Honor Society Luncheon Nov. 28 at the Cadet Mess Hall.

The PKP is involved in the promotion of scholarly excellence. For this reason, a student-led luncheon was held to bring together the various cadet honor societies and provide a venue to present their missions to the Dean.

There were 36 cadet members of the Phi Kappa Phi, the oldest academic honor society in the United States, attending.

“Phi Kappa Phi is from the initial letters of the Greek words forming its adopted motto: ‘Philosophia Krateito Photôn, Let the love of learning rule humanity,’” Maj. Stephen Lewandowski, geography instructor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering and public affairs officer representative of the club, said. “The mission is to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.”

The local chapter of Phi Kappa Phi at West Point carries this mission on. Class of 2013 Cadet John Costello, a member of Eta Kappa Nu, the society of electrical engineers said his chapter conducts trip sections outside of West Point to broaden cadets’ experience in engineering.

“One of the trips we are planning for next semester will include a trip to General Electric Research Labs and a trip to the IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference of the Eta Kappa Nu Iota Phi Chapter,” Costello said.

With all the other responsibilities that a cadet has, it’s a wonder Costello has the time.

“I enjoy the society because it helps me work on time management,” he said. “I also enjoy talking to younger cadets and challenging our instructors to help us enhance our knowledge.”

The West Point honor societies not only challenge themselves to excel, but also encourages others.

“We go out and encourage younger cadets to do well at West Point,” Class of 2015 Cadet Barry Ball, president of The West Point National Society of Black Engineers, said. “Once a year we go to high school engineer expos and talk to students about math and engineering.”

The NSBE also encourages minorities and promotes public awareness to stimulate and develop student interest in the various engineering disciplines.

All the societies do some sort of outside work. Omicron Delta Kappa is an honor society dedicated to scholarship, athletics, campus/community service, social/religious activities, campus government, journalism, speech and the mass media and creative and performing arts.

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From left, Class of 2013 Cadet Orlando Sonza, Dean of the Academic Board Brig. Gen. Timothy Trainor, the statue of Sylvanus Thayer, Class of 2013 Cadet Joseph Durso and Lt. Col. Brian DeToy, Defense and Strategic Studies director, pose after Trainor and Thayer were presented with an honorary membership in the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. The Dean’s Honor Society Luncheon Nov. 28 brought together cadet honor societies such as Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society and the National Society of Black Engineers and presented information about their respective honor societies.

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Lt. Col. Kenneth McDonald, Engineering Management program director for the Department of Systems Engineering, talks to cadets in the National Society of Black Engineers during the Dean's Honor Society Luncheon Nov. 28 at the Mess Hall. The luncheon brought a number of honor society members together for the first time to introduce and talk about their respective honor societies. Luncheon attendees included Phi Sigma Iota, the International Foreign Language Honor Society, Alpha Nu Sigma Honor Society for Nuclear Science and Engineering and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society.

Cadet members can be found collecting toys at Christmas for the Toys for Tots program and volunteering at the Special Olympics.

“It’s nice to be able to watch what everyone is doing and how they give back to society,” Lt. Col. Todd Woodruff, academy professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, said. “Volunteer work is part of the charter and development process. Running Special Olympics and planning takes about 20 cadets who have the responsibility to run a large organization.”

Cadets who are asked to join the variety of honor societies at West Point must achieve at least a 3.0 grade point average.

At the end of the event, Dean of the Academic Board Brig. Gen. Timothy Trainor and a cardboard cutout of Sylvanus Thayer, known as the “father of West Point,” were made honorary members of the Phi Kappa Phi.