High achieving students help themselves by helping others

In an institution with a general reputation for lesser achievement, Pierce College students group together in their Alpha Gamma Sigma Honors Society chapter and support each other’s high academic endeavors while giving back to the community.

Alpha Gamma Sigma is the honors society of the California Community College District. Founded in 1926 at Fullerton College, the society exists nearly every California Community College. The society was founded with the intention to provide “intellectual stimulus” and incentive for student academic achievement.

“If you want to meet like minded individuals this is the place to be,” Moises Valero, who joined just this semester, said. “I know many people on campus who don’t care about school, they are coasting through C’s.  We support each other here. We talk about our goals and keep working towards them.”

Students who join will receive transcript recognition, which is useful when applying to colleges and universities. Students are also eligible for scholarships available within the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

“People who join this club are almost always looking to transfer,” said Vice President Aaron Abosch. “Basically everyone in this club is set to transfer. We get as many people as we can to join and build them up from there.”

Besides the academic benefits offered to its members, there are the social benefits members gain by being a part of a society with individuals who share the high drive to succeed.

“It’s very difficult to succeed when everyone around you is dragging you down,” Abosch said. “But when you are introduced to an environment where everyone is saying ‘I want to do this I want to go far and I think you should too,’ It motivates you.”

In order to officially become a member of Alpha Gamma Sigma and gain access to the benefits it offers, a member must complete at least 150 points [hours] worth of events. Community service and social events are available for member participation at varying point quantities and dates.

“We know that students have other classes, jobs, and other activities that take up their time,” Abosch said. “We try to accommodate people’s schedules and make it so that everyone has the opportunity to participate.”

Events in the past have included social and community service including volunteering at food pantries, beach cleanups, and staff appreciation banquets.

“Being a part of this honor society gets people to want to volunteer because people enjoy seeing the impact they are making,” Abosch said.

The main draw of Alpha Gamma Sigma may be personal achievement, the accumulation of points like in a game, but members find that with volunteering they are able help themselves by helping others.

“I wanted to be involved in something that would help me while I was here,” Jessica Fugate, who also joined this semester, said. “We do a lot of community service and its worth points, but it’s not only for points or for scholarships, it’s really about helping people.”

Joining the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honors Society is not impossible but there are stringent eligibility requirements. Entering freshmen must have a minimum 3.5 high school GPA, while continuing college students must have completed at least 12 units with a minimum 3.0 GPA upon initial membership. Continuing members must have at least six units per semester and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

“It’s good motivation to stay on track,” Fugate said. “I see how well people are doing, keeping their grades up and I want to do that too. I came from not doing much of anything to having 13 units and it’s a bit hard, but I’m motivated to keep it up.”

Since there’s a group of high achieving students, there is a lot of talk of future educational goals. Members come together to discuss personal goals and motivate and encourage the goals of their peers, while making great friends and connections.

“I recommend anyone to join if you don’t have a lot of friends or if it’s hard for you to be social. You build a little family,” Fugate said. “They care about you and make sure you are reaching your full potential. Here, I know if I’m out of my comfort zone the outcome is usually very good.”