The Alpha Gamma Sigma chapter at Saddleback College is in the process of rediscovery

Alpha Gamma Sigma’s member and faculty exclusive festive winter party. Taylor Crane I JRN2

The word “honor” holds many definitions as well as social connotations. To some, it ties to moral principles such as trust, integrity, and recognition for a person who has excelled at a task. For others, the term is ambiguous and often has conflicting definitions. But for the students in the Alpha Gamma Sigma honor society, it requires effort.

However, the Alpha Gamma Sigma honor society at Saddleback College is in a transition period, redefining what it means to be an AGS member. 

“We are in a period of rediscovery,” said Ryan Hitch, English professor and AGS advisor.

AGS is a California community college scholastic honor society. Saddleback College has a long-standing chapter open to all students with a minimum 3.0 GPA who have completed at least 12 college units and are currently enrolled in at least five credit hours for the semester. Each AGS member must participate in at least five hours of meetings, educational activities and community service, respectively, according to the AGS chapter’s website.

With the retirement in spring 2023 of long-time club advisor Professor Alannah Rozenberg, Hitch and English professor Bridget Hoida have stepped up as co-advisors and are reinventing AGS’s purpose.

“We had a working system,” Hitch said. “But it’s been a cool opportunity because it’s a lot of redefining ‘what even is Alpha Gamma Sigma,’ what are the things we like versus what don’t, and that is what has been so fun with having student leaders because it has really been a collaborative effort.”

This transition period for AGS has thrived off of the student leaders who have stepped up and used collaborative effort to keep the chapter going.

“This all has led to so many opportunities for leadership building and high levels of engagement,” Hitch said.

To ensure students attain life-needed skills, numerous club positions are offered to students, including club historian, treasurer, vice president and president, said Samantha Cruz, the AGS fall semester historian.

“I feel like it is hard to meet people in community college,” she said. “In this type of club you get to meet people who are similar to you. Most of them are honor students, so you get to bond over similar classes.” 

The foundation and longevity of the club rely on the participation of its members.

“This club doesn’t necessarily create any opportunities for students but there is a vice president, whose job it is to find those opportunities and package it for students in a very accessible way,” Hitch said.

Cruz said she has learned tremendous leadership skills and the ability to take control of situations from enrolling in this club. Cruz has participated in setting up numerous campus events and working as a team with her other members.

Students pay a $20 fee per semester for enrollment. As of now, there has not been any financial aid set aside for AGS students, Hitch said. He added once students complete 60 academic units, they may apply for permanent membership and no longer need to pay any fees.

Hitch said many of the members are returning students, or “nontraditional” adult learners. These students often don’t fit the mold of the conventional college student. Nearly 40% of college students are 25 and older, according to recent data from the Lumina Foundation. Adult students face many challenges when they go back to school, but they also have many advantages, one being they understand the value of being part of a service organization.

“A large number of our AGS members are returning students, people in their late 20s or 30s who did a little bit of school, and then didn’t finish and are now back,” Hitch said.

Members of the Saddleback AGS chapter must attend at least five hours of AGS meetings over the course of the semester, five hours of service opportunity and lastly, some type of educational life skills course.

“For example, learning to build a resume, learning to build a transcript, learning a foreign language, whatever you can find typically works,” Hitch said.

Getting involved is the easiest way to explain the message behind the AGS club at Saddleback. The advisors and members are all dedicated to the journey AGS has and will be taking in its future.

”This club is all about socializing, finding friends, and building a community on campus,” Hitch said.