Updated: Sep 25
By Sophia Harris
Sigma Delta Pi wins national recognition
Framingham State’s National Hispanic Honors Society was chosen as an Honor Chapter and was the recipient of the Phoenix Award for AY 2022-23.
The National Hispanic Honors Society (Sigma Delta Pi) chapter competed for these awards against over 645 university chapters in 49 states, according to Framingham State University's website.
All members of SDP are students who have taken five or more college-level Spanish classes and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in their Spanish courses, according to FSU’s chapter President Emily Ferrucci, a senior.
The group gained national recognition by increasing its membership by 150%, volunteering in the local community, holding weekly meetings to practice Spanish, and creating events for FSU’s campus such as coffee hours, film nights, partnering with a group of students from Chile who are studying at FSU as part of an exchange program, and hosting Spanish language tables in the dining hall to encourage students to speak Spanish with each other.
Framingham State outperformed over 645 University chapters due to their hard work and dedication to outreach and inclusion to become a recipient of the Phoenix Award, said advisor Joanne Britland, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese.
The Hispanic National Honor Society was one of 10 chapters in the United States to be named as an Honor Chapter, according to Britland.
In order to hold events on campus, to facilitate outreach, the Hispanic National Honor Society applied for a grant through the Center for Inclusive Excellence.
Britland said a university-wide grant of $1,500 was awarded to Sigma Delta Pi because the group’s purpose aligned with the CIE’s mission of developing a community that values diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
Ferrucci said the funding from the CIE “helped us immensely” in diversifying outreach and events in which they needed to purchase supplies.
Ferrucci said being a member of Sigma Delta Pi has transformed her college experience.
“I have been more active and social on campus. I feel much more connected to my peers in the World Languages department and have learned so much about leadership,” she said.
Britland said, "Every major university has a Sigma Delta Pi chapter, so it's a huge deal, winning these two awards for our students and the Framingham State Spanish program.”
Britland said she reactivated the HNHS chapter in 2019 and since then, it has continued to grow, despite COVID-19 setbacks.
She said “The organization's mission is to share and spread Hispanic culture, the Spanish language. We can do that with lots of opportunities and activities - our chapter has done this by creating opportunities for students on campus to use Spanish and to share Hispanic culture such as film nights.”
She added the organization carried out this mission in a number of ways.
One way Sigma Delta Pi carried out this promise was by impacting the local community by starting a Spanish club at a local middle school where Alejandra Londono, the former chapter president, was a student teacher.
Britland added members who are also Spanish education majors “had a workshop and a symposium for exchange students from Chile to meet students studying education in Spanish here, and to talk about the challenges of teaching, the joys of teaching, and to share their experiences.”
Ferrucci said the organization “likes to hold bonding events for the Spanish department to be able to interact with everyone.”
She said one of the group's most popular recurring outreach events is “Spanish Language Table, where we meet in the FSU dining hall with members of the Spanish department and anyone else who wants to join.”
Ferrucci added, “We catch up, speaking in as much Spanish as everyone is comfortable with depending on their proficiency level. Spanish professors of all levels encourage their students to attend these events.”
Jasmine Castillo, a junior who runs the PR and marketing for Sigma Delta PI, said being inducted into the organization has greatly impacted her.
Castillo said because of the Spanish Language Tables, she was able to talk to “more people of other ethnic backgrounds in Spanish.”
She added she enjoys going to events because she looks forward to seeing and laughing with everyone.
As part of their outreach, Sigma Delta Pi also held “a few movie nights and a paint night where we followed a painting tutorial on YouTube,” Ferrucci said.
Castillo said the organization has helped her find a sense of community at Framingham State.
“As a commuter, it’s hard to get involved with events, so this was something that I always felt a part of even before I was a member,” she said.
Ferrucci said as she looks to the future of the program she “wants to continue to achieve high” creating additional events and outreach on campus. “I hope we can increase attendance at our events and maybe hold some new types of events than in previous years,” she said.
Ferrucci said this academic year, Sigma Delta PI is launching a Buddy Program. This program will pair new students in the Spanish department with a Sigma Delta Pi member.
She added this program is beneficial because many SDP members have taken multiple Spanish classes and the organization “can provide them with support and help them to feel more comfortable in classes and at events.”
She added, “We would love to maintain our status as a Chapter of Honor and continue to be recognized by the national chapter.”
Ferrucci emphasized Sigma Delta Pi’s events are “open to all students who are interested.
“We encourage all eligible students in the Spanish major/minor to apply because it is a great organization to be a part of and it shows your dedication and involvement not only in Spanish classes, but also on campus,” she added.
Vice President Laura Leiva, a senior, said some goals for this upcoming academic year are expanding in order “for everybody on campus to at least know who we are.”
Leiva said the organization can serve Spanish-speaking students as a source of bonding and community.
Britland agreed that Sigma Delta Pi can provide a sense of community for students.
She said “Spanish is an incredible major because you're learning an important skill, but also, there is a sense of community when you come together and you're using the language to help others to learn about different cultures. And I wanted the students to have that opportunity here.”
Britland added, “To be able to come together and use what students are learning in their Spanish classes with each other” can be a source of bonding and a space to learn and grow.
She said, “Framingham State is an emerging Hispanic-serving institution. So learning about and sharing Hispanic culture is very important here, and Sigma Delta Pi is a key part of that and they're doing a lot for the university.”
Britland said she is “incredibly impressed” by the student's hard work and dedication to improving Sigma Delta Pi. She wanted to highlight Alejandra Londono ’23, who was in charge of applying and submitting the documentation in order to receive these awards.
“It is so exciting to see all of their hard work and to see them achieve recognition for what they did on a national scale. I am super proud of them,” she said.
Leiva said the organization is “grateful for all the people who have supported us, everybody who has given us scholarships, anybody who has come as a guest, anybody who helped support us along the way, and hopefully, anybody who will eventually support us - we are thankful for all their help and guiding us through.”
She added she is extremely grateful because the organization is still relatively new and students are still learning.
“Any support that we get is the best thing, especially with our teachers - the best. I'm honestly thankful for them as well,” Leiva said.
Britland said Sigma Delta Pi “is a very prestigious organization known throughout the world. So they've really put Framingham State University in the spotlight as a place where people can come to learn Spanish and celebrate Hispanic culture.”
To learn more about the Hispanic National Honor Society or when their events are taking place, contact President Emily Ferrucci at firstname.lastname@example.org.