Non-traditional students establishing honor society

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Joe Lafuente and others have been working to create an honor society geared toward non-traditional Eastern New Mexico University students.

The school was granted a charter in October by Alpha Sigma Lambda, thereby becoming the first chapter in New Mexico, according to Lafuente, student director for non-traditional student educational services.

“This is really good, not only for the university, but our community,” Lafuente said.

Designed to provide encouragement and recognition to adult students early in their programs to achieve their educational objectives, Alpha Sigma Lambda was started in the winter of 1945, according to information from the national office.

Approximately 100 non-traditional ENMU students pledged to uphold the ideals and aims of the honor society during a banquet Friday in the college’s Campus Union Ballroom.

Honorees must have at least a 3.2 grade-point average.

“This is a wonderful evening,” said ASL National Councilor and history professor Linda Gies in her welcome to the gathered honorees and guests. “Every non-traditional student has a story that is unique and every student is special.”

Lafuente said it took a lot of e-mails, phone calls and letter-writing to national headquarters to get the chapter started. The process involved planning the charters and by-laws, he said.

“It was a long and tedious process to make sure our t’s were crossed and our i’s were dotted,” said Lafuente.

John and Betty Ellis proudly accepted their certificate of induction. The Ellises attended ENMU in 1984, but left for personal reasons. After the restaurant where they worked closed, they returned to school, they said.

“It’s always been our dream to get back and finish,” John Ellis said.

Raising their daughters and pursuing their degrees has proved to be a challenge for the family. With support from their daughters and church, the Ellises will be receiving their degrees in December, they said.

“It’s wonderful, it’s such a wonderful organization,” Betty Ellis said.

Faced with the task of obtaining degrees and caring for their families, friends Sandra Whiting and Deanna Kizer have developed a buddy system to help them through school.

A single mother, Whiting proudly accepted her certificate of induction.

“I feel very proud. I feel it is a huge accomplishment,” Whiting said.

“It feels good to be recognized,” Kizer said.