The newest criminal justice organization at the College of Criminal Justice is an elite chapter for masters’ students in homeland security studies pursuing careers in homeland security, intelligence, emergency management, and protective services.
The inaugural members of the Sam Houston State University (SHSU) Chapter of the Order of the Sword and Shield National Honor Society (Omikron, Sigma, Sigma) were inducted into the organization at a special ceremony in October. Founded in 2010, the Order of the Sword and Shield is the only national academic and professional honor society dedicated to the Homeland Security Enterprise.
“Not only will it be very beneficial for the students, but for the College and community as well,” said SHSU Chapter President Josh Marreel. “We will participate in community involvement projects, and it will help our security studies program to become nationally known.”
The society promotes critical thinking, high scholarship, and professional development; further enhances ethical standards of security professionals; and cultivates a high order of personal standards. It also prepares communities for emergency situations, providing informational events annually.
To become a member of the Order of the Sword and Shield National Honor Society at SHSU, students must have completed 50% of the credits toward their graduate degree, maintain a 3.5 average, and demonstrate leadership competence. The inaugural group inducted 14 members into the OSS, including three online students. In addition to masters’ students, the group is encouraging Security Studies alumni to join the professional track of the OSS and hopes to expand its reach to undergraduate students when a bachelor’s degree is launched in the future.
The SHSU chapter of the OSS initiated with the help of Dr. Magdalena Denham, its Coordinator, was able to raise $1,000 in a matter of weeks through a GoFundMe campaign launched by the executive student leadership of the OSS; the students’ self-funding of the inaugural event was possible because of generous contributions of the supporters.
“We are starting to lay the foundation for future members of the organization,” said Ivan Ayo, Secretary of the chapter. “We are here to be involved in the program. The criminal justice program is big, and we want to make the Security Studies program just as big.”
The group hopes to begin community service projects in the Spring, which may include hosting well-known speakers or teaching emergency management skills to children in the Huntsville school system. They also plan to contribute to the College’s new scholarship honoring the life of Deputy Darren Goforth, who was viciously murdered while pumping gas into his patrol car while on duty.
“Our motto is ‘Out of Knowledge Comes Peace’, said Benzon Koshy-John, Vice President of the Organization.
The four core values of the new Honor Society are Ethics, Excellence, Knowledge, and Peace. Honor Societies evolved from secret Honor Societies such as the oldest Honor Society in the New World, Phi Beta Kappa founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary. “Whilst our students are no longer under the pressures to illuminate clandestinely, their mission, just like among the Honor Societies of the past, remains that of liberation,” said Dr. Denham, the Chapter Coordinator. “Liberation from corruption to Ethics, from mediocrity to Excellence, from ignorance to Knowledge, and ultimately from conflict to Peace.”
The honored guest at the induction ceremony, General Miroslaw Schossler, the Vice-Commander in Chief of the Polish National Police, addressed the inductees and encouraged them to use the Shield to protect the vulnerable, to shield communities from harm, and to safeguard core social justice values. He told the students to reserve the sword only for those moments when the vulnerable, the communities, and the social justice values are in an imminent peril. Several other members of a delegation from the Polish National Police were in attendance, as was Dr. Phillip Lyons, Dean of the College.
The Honor Society of the Sword and Shield (Omikron Sigma Sigma) joins the other nine student organizations currently active at the College of Criminal Justice, including Alpha Phi Sigma, the Crime Victim Services Alliance, the Graduate Student Organization, Kats for CASA, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, the National Organization of Hispanics in Criminal Justice, Phi Alpha Delta, and the Society of Forensic Science.