As a new board member, I have to pause a second and think about where Sigma Phi Omega is, has been, and going. Further, how it has impacted my life. Looking over our history, I see how much SPO has played a role in developing and supporting students in the field of Gerontology. As one who could only minor in Gerontolgoy as an undergraduate in the early 1990s, the growth of gerontological education has been astounding with SPO working hard to improve student’s academics and careers. As a devotee to the life course perspective the trajectory of this organization influence on education must be honored.
Since 1980 and Dr. Milledge Murphy, we have been blessed to have strong leaders including some of the “big” names in the field of gerontological education as a whole such as Dr. Harvey Sterns who now heads the Accreditation for Gerontology Education Council and Dr. Graham Rowles a former president of the Academy (Association) for Gerontology in Higher Education. Many of our other past presidents and board members are Fellows of Associations that promote the teaching of gerontology, gerontological research, or publish regularly with students.
Members of SPO take mentoring other students very seriously. Personally, past president Dr. Jennifer Kinney mentored me in my doctoral program and helped make me the professor I am today. At the same time, I have co-authored published works with Drs Rona Karasik and Pamela Pitman Brown. Therefore, for new members this is a place where not only can you gain valuable mentoring through your education, but also with publications and research. SPO for me is where I gained mentors and became a mentor.
The trajectory of being involved in education and mentoring students and professionals, plus engaging with alumni is important and will continue going forward. New opportunities are opening up for members of SPO as we work to connect with smaller conferences which may be more accessible for our members.
In these times of change and challenge, please stay up to date with the news and your membership! For students become engaged both at the local level and stretch a bit to the regional and even national level. After all, every member of the board at one time was a student who took that first step and the rest of SPO helped us if we tripped and now we can help you.
Hallie Baker, PhD, LSW, FAGHE
Where do I actually begin with how far Sigma Phi Omega has come over the past few years? Well…the slogan, “You’ve come a long way baby,” stands out! SPO has accomplished so much! We moved away from checks and into online payments (THAT was an accomplishment that involved almost everyone on the board at some point!). We have moved into an International Organization, and have a super new updated Website that is continuously evolving! We are moving to a new organizational association with Southern Gerontological Society, and now we are revamping our pins, cords, and medals! We hope to be able to create a longer time frame for membership purchases so you are not having to pay annually!
All of these ideas and options take time and tons of work behind the scenes which include numerous phone calls, lots of emails and Facebook messages, and meetings at annual conferences. Just in case you did not know, all of the board members do this as volunteer work. In other words, there is no paycheck attached to all of the great work that is done….
So as I move from “Past-President” to “off the Board Past-President” I want to encourage you to take my place! I began working with the Board back in 2007, when I interned at AGHE in D. C. After that, I came on as a Student Representative and a mere 11 years later have moved through numerous Board positions, (including a Chapter Advisor at one point) and thus have been able to participate in the numerous changes! I feel as if we have accomplished so much, yet there is so much more that we can do! Consider donating your time to our terrific organization!
Also…consider continuing to renew your annual membership, continue supporting your local chapter, and make suggestions on how we can improve! Recently I had the opportunity to speak with some SPO members who wanted to know if they could form an “alumni” chapter as their local chapter was no longer at the university. You know what? That is an awesome idea…and we are considering it as a “professional chapter/alumni chapter” option!
If you have a local chapter continue to be involved…The students need you as a professional to help them reach their goals!
Give of your time…give of yourself.
Volunteers are not paid—not because they are worthless, but because they are PRICELESS!