The Jackson State University chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) has earned this year’s coveted Diamond Star distinction, besting more than 320 chapters throughout the U.S. and becoming the first HBCU to earn such a feat.
In fact, JSU is the only chapter to receive this year’s elite national honor and was chosen for embodying NSCS’ pillars of scholarship, leadership and service, said Scott Mobley, executive director of NSCS. The organization gives out nearly $1 million in scholarships, awards and chapter funds annually and cites JSU for being “the best of the best among NSCS chapters nationwide.”
The nonprofit NSCS is certified by the Association of College Honor Societies. Its mission is to elevate high-achieving undergraduates who excel academically during their first and second year of college. As well, NSCS provides career and graduate school connections, leadership and service opportunities.
Meanwhile, Mobley added that the JSU chapter members went “above and beyond with implementing engaging, student-centered events on their campus and in their local community, including a new member induction ceremony, Integrity Week and PACE (Planning to Achieve Collegiate Success).” Because of their successes, he said, “The entire community should take pride in the chapter’s accomplishments. Their exceptional work is not only a credit to them as a chapter but as students at Jackson State University.”
And, as if the Diamond Star honor wasn’t enough, the JSU chapter won several awards in the Star Status Merit Award competition, which focuses on specific achievements in 10 noted categories. As a result, JSU earned first place in the following categories: Community Service, Integrity Week, New Member Recruitment and PACE. They also garnered second place in the category of New Member Induction Ceremony.
JSU chapter adviser Dr. Pamala Heard is director of Honors Student Services and Activities for the W.E.B. Du Bois-Maria Luisa Alvarez Harvey Honors College. Proudly, she said, “Upon receiving word that Jackson State University’s NSCS had earned Diamond Star status, my heart was filled with joy. There’s been so much effort and time by students and staff to put our best foot forward. There’s nothing greater than to be recognized for dedication and hard work.”
One of the beneficiaries of NSCS is Chrystalyn D. Branch, a 21- year-old biology pre-pharmacy major in JSU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology. She recently served as chapter president (2019-2020).
The senior was pivotal in helping her chapter earn the recent accolades. “Achieving Diamond Star Status is a big victory for us but an even bigger victory for HBCUs, in general. We are the first HBCU to achieve recognition as the top NSCS chapter in the nation, and it is so wonderful to see the fruits of our labor being displayed on a national level. The 2019-2020 executive board worked relentlessly to push out fresh and innovative ideas, and I am so grateful for each and every member,” she said.
As Heard continued to bask in the moment, she echoed the sentiments expressed by Branch. “This honor will definitely have a lasting and positive impact from a university perspective. Similar to larger universities, Jackson State University again has landed its name among other noteworthy universities for efforts that are indicative of leadership, scholarship and service