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TLU Establishes New Political Science, Sociology, and Geography Honor Society, Inducts Eleven Members

It was October of 1920 when the very first chapter—the Alpha chapter—of Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society was formally chartered at the University of Texas. More than a hundred years later, there are chapters on nearly 850 campuses nationwide—and the newest one is at Texas Lutheran University.

The establishment of a TLU chapter of the national honor society for political science, sociology, and geography comes as TLU is strengthening its emphasis on the social sciences. Eleven students were inducted into the society during the inaugural ceremony in April.

“The idea to start the chapter was student driven,” says Dr. William O’Brochta, Assistant Professor of Political Science and TLU Pi Sigma Alpha chapter advisor. “Our students are looking for opportunities to connect with one another, to share resources and advice, and to learn from our outstanding alumni. We created this chapter to partner with them to provide these experiences.”

This new honor society chapter brings with it academic recognition and the benefits of being a member of a national organization. Qualifying for membership is based on academic excellence in political science, sociology, and geography courses, along with earning a high overall grade point average.

This year’s inductees to the TLU chapter are a particularly distinguished group which includes members of the Student Government Association, club and organization leaders, students conducting independent research, and students leading campus voter engagement efforts, among others. These students join more than 350,000 Pi Sigma Alpha members nationwide and will have opportunities to attend national professional development events, apply for scholarships, and join a community of students committed to the social sciences.

Marissa Back, a 2017 graduate of TLU who double majored in political science and sociology, spoke at the induction ceremony in addition to visiting classes and talking with students throughout the day. She described her journey from being a first-generation college student to her current position with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, where she serves in a management role as a Subject Matter Expert. Her experience with faculty in political science, sociology, and geography during her years at TLU prepared her for a wide range of careers and introduced her to skills and values that she still uses in her daily life. Her message to inductees was to venture outside their comfort zones, to take advantage of opportunities at TLU, and to rely on faculty and other students as part of their support system.

Dr. Steve Boehm, Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Sociology, and Geography, described how the new Pi Sigma Alpha chapter fits within the broader mission of the department. “We pride ourselves on our ability to provide individualized, targeted advising and student support. This new chapter institutionalizes this commitment and helps to build a culture of rigor and support that best serves our students.”

TLU students and community members should expect to hear from the new chapter in the months and years ahead. “We are committed to helping our students find their vocation and calling through individual advising, group mentorship, and civically engaged service in Seguin,” Dr. O’Brochta says. “Our students focus on understanding political and social structures, and the new Pi Sigma Alpha chapter will positively impact our students, the campus, and the broader Seguin community.”

TLU political science, sociology, and geography honor society inductees.
From left: Dr. William O’Brochta, Assistant Professor of Political Science and TLU Pi Sigma Alpha chapter advisor; Allen Williams; Dr. Kenneth Vaughan, Assistant Professor of Sociology; Stephanie Freeman; Cody Tieken; Myla Mitchell; Madeline Lake; Isabella Schaar; Emily Holstein; Johnathan Rodriguez; Dr. Sarah Ferguson, Vice President of Academic Affairs; Marissa Back, class of 2017; Dr. Steve Boehm, Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Sociology, and Geography; and Dr. Kathleen Seal, Assistant Professor of Geography. Inductees not pictured: Justin Freeney, Kyleigh Jewell, and Ashton Smith.