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Service group receives national honor

UNM’s Mortar Board chapter was honored with the Golden Torch Award at the annual national conference held July 24-26 in Chicago. Only 23 of 227 chapters received the award.

Mortar Board is a college senior honor society that began in 1918. The UNM chapter, “Maia,” was founded in the 1930s and has 25 members.

Andrea Hart, the Maia advisor, said the award came after the UNM chapter showed its dedication to Mortar Board’s three main principles — scholarship, leadership and service.

“This award represents that they’ve really been working hard,” Hart said. “Compared with other Mortar Board chapters across the nation, they’ve really gone above and beyond the expectations of other chapters, so I’m very proud of them.”

Though scholastic achievement is very important to this society, service to the community is the heart of the organization, Hart said. She said the Board’s national program “Reading is Leading” provides low income communities with books.

“The 2008-2009 administration ended up, in collaboration with Barnes and Noble, with 3,000 books or so … which typically go nationwide and are deployed to wherever they are most needed,” said Devaraj Aran, the Maia president.

Aran said she’s had a positive influence in the community through her work with Mortar Board.
“This organization has really given me the opportunity to have an impact on those around me and an opportunity to return something to this institution, which I am quite fond of,” Aran said. “It has given me a lot, and I’ve had good experiences.”

Mortar Board also organizes the annual Hanging of the Greens ceremony, an event Hart said is a valuable tradition at UNM.

“Most people don’t know that Mortar Board is actually the organization that spearheads that,” Hart said. “They organize and put on the oldest UNM student campus tradition that’s been going on for years. And that’s pretty much their pride and joy.”

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