Reflecting on Three Years with Alpha Lambda Delta

The 2021 Alpha Lambda Delta National Conference took place in Arlington, VA. Six Eastern Kentucky University high-achievers learned about leadership, networked with other universities, and saw the major monuments in DC. Definitely one of the perks of being chapter advisor!

In October, I had the opportunity to attend my second national conference as a member of the Alpha Lambda Board of Directors. I am coming up on my third and final year as a professional member-at-large, and I have to say that I have been impressed with how ALD does business.

I have grown accustomed to questions from students asking me about the legitimacy of the invites they receive to “prestigious honor societies.” What they do not know is that their contacts are directory information, and that selling memberships is big business. It is not uncommon for groups to charge $90-$100 to join a group with no on-campus presence or substantial scholarship/professionalization programming. Often, the fee is recurring. Essentially, the students are being fleeced for hundreds of dollars in exchange for a piece of paper with their name on it.

Chapter fees vary. But at EKU our students around $50, one time, for life. And it is not uncommon to waive dues for students dealing with financial hardship. It’s not about the money. Though, the funds do help us provide events and programming for the members.

On the national level, dues help provide an ever-expanding number of scholarships and fellowships:

Alpha Lambda Delta has continued to celebrate academic excellence among first-year students and has grown to over 280 chapters and has initiated over one million students. The Board of Directors which governs the organization has prudently invested the resources and gifts from local chapters, Board of Directors members, former fellowship recipients, and friends of the Society over the years so that the Perpetual Fellowship Fund now exceeds $5 million and can provide support for 50 undergraduate scholarships of $1,000-$6,000 each, 20 study-abroad scholarships of $1,000-$2,000, and 28 graduate fellowships from $2,000 to $7,000. The fellowships are named for significant people in the history of the Society.

Alpha Lambda Delta has been around for just a few years shy of a century. It is an organization rooted in a shared “love of learning,” and ALD has initiated over 1 million members and established 280 chapters. I am proud to have been on the Board of Directors when we established our first international chapter at the American University of Sharjah. You can learn more about ALD’s history on their website.

I became EKU’s chapter advisor when I assumed the role of First-Year Courses Administrator three years ago. I have watched a very small group of students grow to the point where there are several hundred in our group chat. This online forum provided students with great levels of emotional support when the pandemic hit. And, even as I write this, students are giving each other encouragement as we wrap up the end of the semester.

We have an Board of Directors that allows young adults to develop leadership and communication skills. EKU students have won nationally-competitive scholarships from ALD for several years in a row. I am proud to invite high-achievers to ALD because I know that they are going to get a rich co-curricular experience rooted in service to the community.

Here are just some of the ways our students have given back since I have been advisor:

  • Making meals at the Ronald McDonald House
  • Collecting food for at-risk college students
  • Gathering gender-affirming clothing for students
  • Collecting pet food and supplies for the local Humane Society
  • Creating outreach events for incoming freshmen
  • Providing tutoring and academic success presentations in classrooms
  • Developing a near-peer mentoring program

The list goes on, but these events and outreaches were all conceived and developed by student leaders in our local chapter. They also participate regularly in events led by other organizations as well as in the two academic programs with which I am affiliated.

I have participated and voted in the Board meanings. Every member of ALD’s leadership on the national level is devoted to providing the maximum amount of scholarships, fellowships, and co-curricular/professionalization opportunities possible. Alpha Lambda Delta is the real deal and every school should have a chapter!

Travis L. Martin, PhD, is founding director of the Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. He has established several nationally recognized programs to support returning veterans in higher education and the non-profit sector. A scholar of American literature, psychoanalytic trauma theory, and social theory, Dr. Martin presents frequently at conferences and universities. He has published dozens of research articles and creative short works on veterans’ issues. A former sergeant in the U.S. Army, he served during two deployments in the Iraq War (2003-04 & 2005). His book War and Homecoming: Veteran Identity and the Post-9/11 Generation was published with the University Press of Kentucky in 2022. He resides in Richmond, KY.