Mortar Board experience much more than planned for some students

Dane Chapman (Senior; Agribusiness Marketing; Brookston, IN) thought the Mortar Board was simply the planner students carried around in backpacks and put all of their homework assignments in. He explains, "Now that I am a part of the organization, I realize that it is much more than that. Yes, we do sell the Mortar Board as our main source of income to sponsor scholarship across Purdue's undergrad and graduate student body. However, we are an organization comprised of seniors who work to embody the three pillars of scholarship, leadership, and service. We do this through a few facets, but two being through various volunteer efforts and distributing scholarships or awards that recognize students who excel on campus." For Stephen Schwartz (Senior; Agribusiness Management; Noblesville, IN) he had aspired to be in the organization since his Freshmen year when he witnessed a good friend tapped into the honor society.

Though he understood what Mortar Board was, Schwartz said, "I wasn't fully aware of the impact that it could have as an organization on campus. The amount of scholarships given out each year and the people recognized by those awards is fantastic. I also really appreciated the way that our class focused on serving the Purdue community with our funds instead of spending money on ourselves. We gave away quite a bit of money to student organizations this year and I really appreciated that." Mortar Board is a senior honor society that recognizes the top seniors at Purdue based on their Scholarship, Leadership, and Service while at Purdue. It operates to promote Scholarship through its awards, Leadership through it Mortar Board Leadership Conference, and Service through various activities but primarily the Reading is Leading event.

Dane's role was serving as a co-chair of selection. In this role we worked to contact faculty and staff to nominate rising seniors, developed materials for the class to read through candidates, and organized the selection process. He says of his role: "It was a rewarding and humbling experience as it was astonishing to read of the many accomplishments and accolades that so many rising Purdue seniors have. Purdue, and our world, are in good hands with the level of success that the 2021 Class of Barbara Cook Chapter of Mortar Board bring to the table." Stephen's role was serving as a Co-Chair of the Calendar, which means that he organized and created the 2020-2021 MB Calendar that will be available in the fall to Purdue Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni. He says of his role: "It was a large project and took a lot of my time this year but it is the main source of money for MB and goes directly to funding those scholarships and awards that we are able to give out each year."

Both mentioned that being a member of Mortar Board allowed them to meet and develop friendships with seniors from all parts of campus; something that was extremely rewarding for both. Looking back in a year, they both anticipate to remember most the people and memories created with their peers.

Schwartz added, "Mortar Board creates a unique bond between its members that I have never experienced in any other organization. There really isn't any jockeying for power or internal strife that I saw because we all recognize the value that each member brings to the table and are also comfortable with who we are individually. This allows us to immediately begin working for MB without constraints and rapidly build relationships out of relatively few previous connections."

They explained their excitement for the incoming class: "5 from (department) Ag Econ & 11 total from the College of Ag is really exciting! I love it!! It really goes to show how AGEC and the CoA put an emphasis on developing leaders and have done so very effectively. They have also taken a significant role in MB leadership positions, which again highlights the outstanding nature of the CoA student body."

"Mortar Board has made my senior year so special through the relationships and opportunities for service. I feel like I have been able to reach across all areas of campus and connect with so many parts of Purdue that I never could have without MB. Truly it was such a fulfilling experience and I was bettered because I was a part of this organization." Schwartz concluded.

Chapman ended with, "From a quick search, this seems to be the largest number of College of Agriculture students in the recent history of Mortar Board. I think that showcases two things: one, the level of preparation and importance placed on leadership, academics and service within the agriculture curriculum and the students is top-notch; secondly, the support we have from faculty and staff — from the moment we step onto this campus — is unparalleled. For that, I cannot thank the College of Agriculture enough!"

To learn more about the national organization, here is the link. To learn more about Purdue's chapter, here is one link and another link.

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