Who is small but mighty? Nu Alpha Iota at Missouri Baptist University.
Missouri Baptist is a small private school in St. Louis, Missouri. This chapter has inducted 7 student initiates this past spring. Their unit is Health and Sport Sciences. The Chapter Adviser is Michael Nolan.
Though small, they’re a strong chapter. Their agenda includes serving their community at a local 5k race, serving to help clean a historical site cemetery, and serving at a community food bank. They also had two presenters at Conclave 2021 and hope to embark on new research this year to present at Conclave 2022. They also shared hopes to grow their involvement on campus and in their community.
Operationally, their chapter meets monthly starting in August (Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov) and has their December meeting be a group service project. Similarly in the Spring they meet monthly (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr) with April being a group service project – though they may add a meeting based on graduation dates for the year. Though they had a couple of meetings through Microsoft Teams back in the fall of 2020 due to COVID-19, they now meet in-person again and follow campus guidelines on masking. They do still use Microsoft Teams to communicate meeting times and locations, meeting minutes, and any other documents they’d like to share, like the membership roster and budget.
Where did they get this passion? Chapter Adviser Michael Nolan humbly notes that a large part of that drive is their school. He notes that “Our students have a service mindset to begin with. A commitment to community service and helping others in need is part of our institution’s mission. Which also serves Kappa Omicron Nu.” Missouri Baptist has a core purpose to teach, empower, and inspire students for service and lifelong learning.
Some KON chapters have a requirement to complete a certain number of hours to earn their cords, or be a chapter member, but not at Missouri Baptist. “There are no attendance or service requirements. But we believe in social change through service and leadership, and we make that clear. It’s also an advantage in that everyone comes through the front door knowing our mission – and that is service, research, and commitment to our education. Everyone knows that’s what we’re going to do.”
This seems like a lot to get done for a small team, I asked how they find the time to put together such a robust schedule. They were clear that when it comes to getting things done, Nu Alpha Iota is no nonsense. They prefer to focus on activities rather than social or planning calls and Michael adds “we have a small group which makes us able to act quickly and effectively.”
Students choose the events. Chapter leaders meets in September, discuss the previous year’s events, decide which of those events they’d like to carry forward, and use those to begin their schedule. At their next meeting in October, they add new suggested activities they want to add for their current year. They make sure to include at least one event each semester to do as a group. Student members are required to have at least 10 hours of service for their chapter per semester. Winter service hours count to their fall semester. The chapter lets members get hours as they choose at home.
Michael notes that the students usually take care of much of the scheduling themselves, “but I always have a couple of suggestions in my pocket in case things go dry. If they’re struggling I can say, ‘Here’s an opportunity would you like to do this?’ I want them to get into the decision-making mindset of a leader, not a follower.”
Do members like this approach? Michael noted that despite COVID challenges, their chapter is growing – with a higher than usual acceptance rates this past spring, inducting seven new initiates. Michael hypothesized this increase in acceptance was due to two things. First, Missouri Baptist has a strong research focus in their undergraduate exercise science program. KON’s Conclave event which allowed students to present their research in a safe accepting way, and the resurrection of the Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences is a nice draw. Second, Michael noted the restructuring of national dues has made membership clearer and more affordable. “There are other honor societies that these students qualify for, and these two pieces really helped give students value for their membership. KON’s ACHS certification also always helps.”