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Alpha Sigma Lambda—A Tradition of Celebrating Nontraditional Students

Alpha Sigma Lambda nontraditional student honorees 2022

More than 20 Georgian Court University students recently inducted into Alpha Sigma Lambda’s Kappa Zeta chapter meet the benchmark of other national honor society members—high academic accomplishment. That’s where the traditional connection ends because these inductees are not what many people envision as typical college students. All over age 25, the group includes parents, second careerists, part-time students balancing work and studies, a Navy veteran, and even a soccer coach. And this year, they also represent GCU’s three campuses—Lakewood, Hazlet, and Cumberland.

Alpha Sigma Lambda is an honor society that has celebrated the scholarship and leadership of adult students in higher education for 70 years, now with representation from more than 300 U.S. colleges and universities. In early April, Georgian Court held its 24th induction ceremony of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Kappa Zeta Chapter. Attendees heard from GCU President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.; Mary Chinery, Ph.D., dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; and Brittany Bursa, a GCU global education and student success specialist who also serves as chapter councilor.

Nontraditional Students Forge Unique Paths

What’s “nontraditional” about these students? Plenty. A few examples:

Aida Serrano ’22 is a single mother of two teenage sons and with 27 years of experience in the human services field, she’ll receive her bachelor’s degree in social work (with a 4.0 GPA) this May before entering Stockton University’s master of social work (M.S.W.) program.

Christopher Miceli ’22 will receive his bachelor’s degree in business administration; he went back to college at age 28, studying part time.

Mariah Estronza ’23, a nursing major, has been employed as a certified medical assistant for 10 years; she’s achieved high academic honors while balancing her job and studies with being the mother of four children, all under 10 years old.

And they represent only three exceptional Alpha Sigma Lambda stories from this year’s cohort; there are 18 more powerful examples of students forging unique paths to earn a college degree.

“It was an incredible experience to bring together academically excellent nontraditional students with their families, friends, faculty, and staff,” said Ms. Bursa. “Each inductee selected a faculty member who has made a difference in their academic career while at GCU, and these faculty members were able to present the students with their graduation honors cords.” 

Sister Thuan Bui, Brittany Bursa, and Sister Pascaline Musyoka
Sister Thuan Bui, Brittany Bursa, and Sister Pascaline Musyoka (left to right)

Another special moment was incorporated into the induction ceremony. Sister Thuan Bui ’22, a religious studies major from Vietnam, received her cap and gown and “graduated” during the event. Her student visa was set to expire before GCU’s May 18 Commencement Ceremonies, but Alpha Sigma Lambda coordinators wanted to help her celebrate, albeit a little early.

“She kept saying, ‘I want to be able to show my village what I have achieved,'” recalled John Caserta, GCU’s first-year success specialist in the Office of Student Success. “It was amazing to see how proud the students were of themselves!”

Congratulations to 2022 Alpha Sigma Lambda Kappa Zeta Chapter Inductees:

Jennifer Anderson, RNMelissa Kuligoski, NursingChristopher Miceli, Business AdministrationSamayra Vincent, Nursing
Sister Thuan Bui, Religious StudiesRebeccah McCullough, NursingAida Serrano, Social WorkAnna Wnek, Nursing
Gina Clark, RNNicole Mercado, NursingShian Smith, Social WorkJimmy Woo, Marketing and English
Mariah Estronza, NursingSister Pascaline Musyoka, ManagementGabrielle Sortino, English and Education (K-12)
Patrick Fasano, BiochemistryShala Oates, Social WorkSephoko Stokes, Social Work
Esther Gibaldi, NursingJennifer Ortiz, NursingLaura Umana-Solano, Nursing

Click here for more photos of the April 3 induction ceremony,

Story by Alycia Bardon ’22, a digital communication major at Georgian Court University. Photos by Joshua Tinto ’20, ’22.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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