TSHS certificate.JPG

It was a brisk morning on February 15, 2016 when I discovered an email with the subject Tau Sigma Honor Society (TSHS) Invitation.  Admittedly, the words 'honor society' caught my eye.  I opened it to find the following:

"Dear Honor Student,

Congratulations! On behalf of the Student Success Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I wish to congratulate you on your outstanding academic achievement. Your success has made you eligible for membership in UWM’s Tau Sigma National Honor Society for transfer students.

Your eligibility for membership is based on your high GPA of 3.5 or better as a full-time student during your first semester as a new transfer student at UWM.  I congratulate you on attaining this and hope that you are enjoying continued academic success!

You will receive your formal invitation via mail in the coming weeks.  Keep an eye on your mailbox for more information regarding the logistics of accepting your invitation to join Tau Sigma.  More information regarding the national organization is available at tausigmanhs.org.

I hope you will take advantage of this exceptional opportunity to affiliate yourself with a national community of scholars. Congratulations!"

It took me a minute to digest what I'd read because it had the appearance of a form-letter.  Usually, when I read emails, I look at the subject, body, and sender (not in that order).  I had never heard of TSHS until this email came through, which prompted some quick research on their organization.  I had never heard of an honor society for someone whose first semester was a 3.5 off of being a transfer student.

For a one-time dues payment of $60, you become a lifetime member, and are given a certification of induction.  I also picked up two t-shirts for nostalgia down the road, and some honor cords for commencement.

One of the reasons I returned to school was to earn a higher GPA and any accolades that came with it.

Not long after accepting the invitation and paying dues, I attended a meeting where I met the chapter officers.  We discussed social events, leadership opportunities within the organization, induction, and how members could contribute.  I offered my services in marketing and social media as a form of giving back, and as a way to help grow the campus chapter.  By the time they were looking for officers to be part of the organization, I was on my final semester.

That afternoon, as I was leaving my Philosophy of Law class, I checked my email out of habit and saw "Invitation to join Tau Sigma" in the 'From' line.  This was the invite I was waiting for.  I pulled open the email after finding a quiet place:

"Dear Michael,

We are pleased to notify you of your nomination for membership into the Tau Sigma National Honor Society at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Tau Sigma is a national academic honor society designed specifically to recognize and promote the academic excellence and involvement of transfer students. Membership in Tau Sigma is a special opportunity for you to distinguish yourself based on your academic excellence and we wish to congratulate you on your early success at UWM.

You have received this honor as a result of your high academic achievement while at UWM. Candidacy for membership in the UWM chapter of Tau Sigma is granted to those students who have transferred to UWM having completed at least one year at a prior institution and earned at least a 3.5 grade point average or placed in the top 20% of all incoming transfer students during their first term."

After reading that there was a one-time lifetime membership fee, and since I actually have been doing much better academically, I decided it would be worthwhile for to me to accept the invitation.  Induction was set for April 28, 2016.

Induction Day

Not knowing what to expect, I made the time-off request from work.  I had received the agenda beforehand; the ceremony was to last exactly an hour.  It was on a Thursday and I only had my one class.  I managed to kill some of the time working on a case brief for Constitutional Law, and I had begun working my final paper for Philosophy of Law.

As time approached, I headed over the Alumni Fireside Lounge an hour before check-in.  Having setup for events like this as a former A/V Tech, I had a rough idea of what kind of setup to expect.  I also knew that this ceremony wasn't expected to be formal or drawn out.

Alumni Fireside Lounge
Alumni Fireside Lounge

When not used for ceremonies and other official events, the room is typically filled with chairs and end tables where students will frequently camp out for a quiet study space.

Not long after I showed up here, my dad and I were chatting about the event and how much different our generations were with respect to technology.  I also mentioned to him and my mom that I was going to attempt to live-stream the induction that way people could watch.  For something this small-scale, I wouldn't have bothered, except my mom and godmother wanted to attend.

The induction was slated to start at 6PM, but there was to be some prep work done.  I knew that the Facebook Live function worked, but had never used it.  Between three textbooks, and the red case where my iPad sat, I was able to prop it up enough for viewers to see at part of the room.  Some people from the TSHS Board showed up and I assisted them in carrying stuff from one person's car.  When I returned from assisting, my iPad rig hadn't collapsed, giving me confidence that it would stay in its place the whole time.  I had a look at the resulting picture and it wasn't horrible, but it was definitely not a high-definition picture like I thought it might be.  Either way, it was getting views.

As people started filling in the seats as time approached, I had to move the iPad toward the rear of the room.  Again, it took some work, but I managed to create a viewpoint for the audience.  I had contacted a production company in Milwaukee about renting a camcorder and they had one available for under $30, but given how small this event would be, there wasn't much of a point in filming.

Induction was a simple affair with the president of the UWM TSHS chapter introducing the current Board, and who took new oaths of office.  I was offered an opportunity to be on this Board, but with me graduating in December, they wanted someone who would last an entire academic year.

After the oaths, came a small history of TSHS, followed by the induction of new members.

Photo Credit: Katie Fiala
Photo Credit: Katie Fiala

The induction ended shortly thereafter.  I think the stream itself had close to thirteen viewers, which I thought was nifty considered I conceived the idea last-minute.

After downloading and exporting the video, I was able to clean it up a bit for the sake of viewing.  Enjoy!