Seventeen Students inducted into National Leadership Honors Society

Posted on May 20, 2020 by Abby May

Omicron Delta Kappa

Seventeen students were inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa (OΔK), a National Leadership Honors Society on Wednesday, May 13. OΔK is the premier collegiate leadership honor society.  It recognizes achievement in the five “Phases of Campus Life” which include:

  • Scholarship

  • Athletics

  • Community Service, Student Involvement, Religious Activities, Student Government

  • Journalism, Speech, Mass Media

  • Creative, Performing Arts 

Colleges and universities establish “Circles,” or individual chapters, of the honor society.  The Sweet Briar Circle was founded on April 18, 2004. Among the chartering members were Dr. Jim Kirkwood and Rich Meyer. Including the newly inducted members, the Sweet Briar Circle is composed of 31 students from the Classes of 2020 and 2021. There are also several faculty and staff members in the Circle, including Dean of Students Marcia Thom-Kaley, who acts as the Circle’s Faculty Advisor. Assistant Director of Student Life Jess Austin acts as the Circle Coordinator, having previously been inducted into OΔK at the University of Lynchburg.  

Membership is open to juniors and seniors who complete an application process and are selected by current voting members of the Circle. Selection is competitive, as only 5% of the College’s enrollment is permitted to be inducted each year, as set forth by the national organization.

OΔK recognizes previous acts of leadership and encourages its members to continue striving to better their campus and community after they have been inducted. OΔK Circles host leadership events and acts of community service throughout the year.

Juniors (Rising Seniors)

Rosemary Austin: 
Computer Science

Rosemary is the captain of the varsity field hockey team where she has served as starting goalie since her first year.  She studied abroad at the University of St. Andrews and participated in a project-based machine learning pilot program that was fully funded by Google. When asked about her leadership style, Rosemary said, “I lead by example. However, it’s not the actions I do that matter, it’s the intentions and commitment I put behind those actions. It is through my consistency to act in accordance with my morals that I gain trust.”

Katie Balding: 
Business, Economics, Equine Studies Training Certificate

Katie is a member of the NCEA riding team, Earphones, the incoming Chung Mungs treasurer and the incoming Riding Council president. Participating in Sweet Briar’s Big/Little program has allowed Katie to serve as a mentor to three younger teammates, which she cites as one of her favorite Sweet Briar experiences. Katie’s favorite OΔK pillar is athletics. “Being an athlete is not just a description, it is a lifestyle and mentality. To become a successful student-athlete, you must approach things with head-on tenacity, discipline and optimism,” she said. As an athlete, Katie has been honored with the following awards: All-ECAC Fences and Flat teams, ECAC All-Academic and NCEA All-Academic First Teams, and membership in the National College Athlete Honor Society (XAE).

Theresa Carriveau: Photojournalism (Interdisciplinary Studies)

From completing two summer research programs to being a varsity swim athlete and a member of Sweet Tones, Theresa has been active in all five OΔK pillars. She has also served as a student photographer for the Office of Communications, a class judicial representative and an Admissions Ambassador, which she credits as her most impactful leadership experience. “I take a lot of pride in this position and highly value having the opportunity to share the love I have for my institution in order to recruit the next generation of strong Sweet Briar women.”

Ruth Lechner: Business and Political Science

Ruth is an Admissions Ambassador, a member of the Chemistry Club and previously served on the Inter-Club Council (ICC) Executive Board. She plays on the varsity tennis team and serves as the team’s representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). Ruth’s favorite OΔK pillar is Community Service. “At Sweet Briar, there are so many positions and opportunities to grow in various areas from being part of a club, to having a part-time job, to supporting others with different values and needs. Everything learned here is then applied!” Ruth has also studied abroad in Guatemala and Bilbao, Spain.

Hannah Marron: Engineering

Hannah is a member of Tau Phi and the Society of Women Engineers. Hannah is also captain of the varsity cross country team, which she cites as the greatest leadership experience she’s had at Sweet Briar. Hannah’s favorite OΔK pillar is Scholarship.“I think the amount of drive you present in an academic capacity influences the drive you bring to the rest of your life. The habits developed in an academic capacity are carried over to any other field, whether that includes athletics, community service or career-related work.”

Caroline Potts: History

Caroline has been active with the volleyball club, Sweet Tones and the Founders Day Dance planning committee. Caroline recently completed a year-long study abroad program with the University of St. Andrews. Caroline’s favorite pillar of OΔK is Community Service. “Although I have done more and had more success in the Pillar of Scholarship, some of the most rewarding experiences in my life have come through the service of others. The ability to see the impact of my actions and activities on the lives of others brings me an indescribable amount of joy.”

Seniors (Recent Graduates)

Taylor Allen: International Affairs

Taylor has served as an art gallery assistant and an officer for BAM, Chung Mungs and Earphones. “As a college student, I am active in both helping the Sweet Briar community and the surrounding area. I do my best to encourage others to do the same because I believe that what you put into your community is what you get out of it.” Taylor has also studied abroad in Granada, Spain, and served as the student representative for the Student Success Model project, working closely with the Office of Student Life.

Gwendolyn Bekisz: International Relations

Gwendolyn is a member of the QVs, Sweet Tones and CRU. She studied abroad at the University of St. Andrews and previously served as Vice-Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee during the academic restructuring of the College, which she cites as her greatest leadership experience. She is also an amateur photographer, painter, musician (mandolin/dulcimer) and linguist (French/Swedish). When asked about her leadership style, Gwendolyn said “A leader can be humble and work alongside those that they lead, acting as a steward of the community to which they belong and to society as a whole. That is the kind of leader that I admire, respect and strive to be.”

Valeria Gofigan-Ramirez: Biology

Valeria has served as an officer for BAM, Latinx and the Sustainability Club. She spent two summers working as Sweet Briar’s environmental science and sustainability intern. Valeria’s most significant leadership experience while attending Sweet Briar was serving as a Peer Academic Mentor. She said, “In my role, I was able to help first-year students adjust to college life, provide academic resources, offer advice on academics and tutor students in my subject areas.”

Julie Horton: History

Julie has been recognized on the Dean’s List each semester of her college career and has participated in the summer honors research program. Julie is also the 2019-20 recipient of both the Nancy Godwin Baldwin ’57 Scholarship and Award and the Irene Mitchell Moore Award for History, Economics and International Studies. Julie has been active in the Student Government Association as both the Non-Traditional Student Chair and Academic Affairs Committee Chair. “Having the freedom and opportunity to work within my campus community has honed the raw leadership ability I came into college with. My success as a leader was created by this unique amalgamation of people, places and circumstances.”

Shifti Kamal: International Affairs, Philosophy

Shifti has been a Resident Advisor for three years and is a member of the Ethics Bowl team. Shifti has completed several internships within the counseling/social work field including work with the Virginia Baptist Hospital Mental Health Unit and the Sexual Assault Response Program (SARP), where she still volunteers regularly. Shifti’s favorite pillar of OΔK is Community Service. “As an aspiring social worker, I perceive my position in society as someone who cannot be a bystander. My passion for community service does not come from the philosophy of ‘wanting to help people’ but from the idea that those who are capable of helping others in need must do so.”

Corey Lamas: International Affairs, History, Philosophy

In Fall 2019, Corey received the Rebecca Tomlinson Lindblom Award for demonstrating academic excellence in philosophy and/or religion studies. Corey is a member of the varsity lacrosse team and Earphones, where they have served as both treasurer and vice-president. Scholarship is their favorite pillar of OΔK. “As a triple major within the self-directed pre-law program, I find myself most at home when it comes to things in academia. Scholarship to me is all about bridging gaps, understanding the world, and helping to further the knowledge we already have.”

Margaret Lamphier Meier: Business

Margaret is the outgoing president of GLOW and the outgoing SGA Diversity and Inclusion Liaison. Margaret said her most impactful leadership experience at Sweet Briar was serving in this role. “I have worked to form a diversity and inclusion committee consisting of students, faculty and staff. I feel like we are doing important work to better the campus and are improving the space for underrepresented groups,” she said. Margaret is also a member of BAM, a Peer Academic Mentor and a student assistant for Human Resources.

Jessie Melrose: Mathematics

Jessie is a current member of Tau Phi and a previous team member of the varsity lacrosse and cross-country teams. Jessie is the outgoing president of Sweet Dancers, the ballroom dance club, which she cites as being her most impactful leadership experience at Sweet Briar.  Jessie also regularly volunteers for the Amherst Humane Society. Community Service is Jessie’s favorite OΔK pillar. She said, “In my experience, community service is of utmost importance, especially when creating leaders. While all of the other pillars are necessary, community service can be the stepping stone that creates the most opportunities.”

Meagan Phister: Engineering

Meagan is a member of Chemistry Club, Sweet PEAs, Tau Phi, Sweet Tones and Falls on Nose, where she serves as the outgoing president. Community Service is Meagan’s favorite pillar of OΔK because “It allows me to show that I’m not just an engineer, but I’m also involved in many aspects of campus life. It allows me to show that my life is made up of very different parts and my personality is complex,” she said. Meagan is also an Explore Assistant for engineering and serves on the SGA Academic Affairs Committee.

Lacey Tucker: Engineering

Lacey has served as team captain for the varsity soccer team, which she credits as her most significant leadership experience at Sweet Briar. “As a captain, I had to mediate problems between team members, work closely with my fellow co-captain and coach, gauge the team atmosphere and be a role model for my teammates,” she said. Lacey is also a member of the varsity tennis team, Sweet PEAs, QVs, Earphones and Falls on Nose as well as an Admissions Ambassador.


Gloria Smith is the Senior Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Students. Gloria has been with Sweet Briar for 37 years, having served in roles with Housekeeping, the Book Shop and currently the Office of Student Life. Gloria’s service to the College has been recognized by her colleagues and our students through numerous awards including the ROSE Award and the SGA Recognition of Excellence in Service.  Gloria is an integral part of the Student Life team and she currently serves as our OΔK Circle Assistant, processing dues payments and coordinating orders of OΔK regalia.