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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Spanish language honor society takes root at UNCP

At a University that celebrates diversity, two graduates at Winter Commencement on Dec. 10, 2005, started a new tradition in diversity.

Lauren Scroggins and Ingrid Russ showed their colors as members of the new Sigma Delta Pi Spanish National Collegiate Honor Society at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

The stories of Scroggins and Russ are as unique as they are diverse. Both are outstanding students with similar ambitions, who came together from different directions.

UNCP added a Spanish language major in 2004, and Scoggins and Russ chose it as a minor course of study.

A Fayetteville, N.C., native, Scroggins is the honor society’s founding president. She worked two jobs, raised a son and finished college in four years, majoring in political science. Scroggins reports that she was married in the days before graduation.

A native of Panama and Colombia, Russ is the founding treasurer. She is not only her family’s first college graduate, she is the first high school graduate too. Russ majored in criminal justice with a near-perfect 3.9 GPA that was accumulated over 10 years of undergraduate study.

Both want to attend law school.

“I want to work with the Hispanic community and issues,” Russ said. “I want to help my community and my family.”

“I want to work in international law or somewhere where international relations are important,” Scroggins said. “I want to use language in my work.”

Scroggins said she has a “knack” for languages.

“I’ve taken Spanish since the 7th grade, and I am fascinated by languages,” she said. “I know a little French, and when UNCP offered German, I took that too.”

Russ grew up speaking Spanish, but she learned a lot about her first language and culture at UNCP.

“I was using ‘Spanglish’” she said. “I learned so much about the language. I needed to learn how to write a business letter and use formal Spanish.”

Sigma Delta Pi inducted six new members in late 2005 as the society got on its feet.

“I contributed funds for the initiation, but next year there will be dues, fundraising and other activities,” Scroggins said. “This was a great group, and I’m very proud of what we accomplished. I wanted to leave my mark on the University, and I think I have.”

To qualify for membership, members must be upperclassmen with a 3.5 GPA in Spanish courses and be in the top one-third of his or her graduating class. Dr. Enrique Porrua, member of the Spanish faculty at UNCP, is the advisor of the society and a member through Texas Tech University since 1998.

“I was delighted when Lauren came to my office and told me she was interested in re-establishing the chapter of Sigma Delta Pi here at UNCP,” Dr. Porrua said. “Besides the academic dimension of the society, promoting the richness of Hispanic culture and strengthening relationships among its members is also important to us.”

“We needed four or five more qualifying members, and we had no difficulty finding them among our students, which means that they are doing well in the program,” he said. “I believe that academic initiatives like this encourage students to give the best of themselves and elevate the standards of our program. Lauren and Ingrid have graduated already, but I hope that the members that are still in our program keep the spirit up and motivate other Spanish majors to join.”

For more information about Sigma Delta Pi Spanish National Collegiate Honor Society at UNCP, please contact Dr. Porrua at 910.521.6428 or email enrique.porrua@uncp.edu.

For more information about Spanish language programs at UNCP, please call 910.521.6246 or email etl@uncp.edu.

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