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Student organization hopes to go platinum

A group of USF students has struck gold, and now they are trying to go platinum.

In June, the USF chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), an organization that recognizes freshmen and sophomores who rank in the top 20 percent of their class, received a Gold STAR award for fulfilling a set of the society’s activity and service requirements, last school year.

However, the chapter’s Executive Vice President Farah Britto said the group has set its sights on the highest rank available – platinum.

“There are chapters all over the country,” she said. “So getting the Gold status is a way of saying, ‘Yes, the chapter at our school is really active and we have a lot of members who want to contribute to the organization.'”

According to the program guidelines, the NSCS chapter must complete an additional set of requirements, including holding an adviser appreciation day and advertising activities and recruiting for the chapter on campus, to be eligible to receive the platinum award.

To receive the Gold STAR award, the chapter organized its own induction program and participated in service events such as “Stampede of Service” and “Diabetes Walk” – experiences that Britto said will help them elevate their Gold STAR status.

“(Last year), we didn’t have a tutoring program set up,” Britto said. “This year, we have a very active tutoring program (at Ferrell Middle School), and all our other requirements for platinum status should be met as of last year. We’re very hopeful about getting platinum. I think we’re going to be able to do it.”

Britto and chapter President Mikael Amar said all the credit for the Gold STAR award goes to the 2009-10 school year chapter President Mari Meyer, as STAR status is determined annually based on a chapter’s accomplishments in the previous year.

The NSCS also provides Gold STAR chapters with the opportunity to win a $250 scholarship in an essay contest.

Five of the chapter’s 600-plus active members entered the contest, and winners will be announced Oct. 11, Amar said.

“NSCS has three pillars: Leadership, Scholarship and Service, and so the essay had to be, ‘Which one of the three pillars did they feel they exemplified the most’ and ‘How do they think NSCS will help them continue to do so,'” he said.