The W inducts 55 into its inaugural chapter of Gamma Beta Phi
Casey Stevens-Washington had an idea he wanted to share with everyone.
But Stevens-Washington was in his first year at Mississippi University for Women and didn’t know many people. The fact that he was taking 19 credit hours and had personal commitments left him little time to spread the word about the creation of a chapter of Gamma Beta Phi, a national honors and service society, at The W.
Stevens-Washington didn’t allow time to stand in his way. He reached out to his peers, who helped spread the news about a meeting that he hoped would attract people who were interested in service, scholarship and character.
On Monday, April 3, Stevens-Washington’s idea became reality as The W inducted 55 members into its inaugural chapter of Gamma Beta Phi.
“It is exceptional,” said Stevens-Washington, a senior Biology major with a concentration in pre-dental studies who is president of Gamma Beta Phi. “It speaks to the character of the students, faculty, citizens and community we have here.”
Stevens-Washington said he was blown away by the turnout at the initial informational meeting for Gamma Beta Phi. He said he had an “amazing” experience with the organization at his previous school, the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, which convinced him starting a chapter at The W needed to happen. To help realize that goal, Stevens-Washington asked Dr. Jill Drouillard, an assistant professor of Philosophy, and Dr. Kim Whitehead, a professor of English and Religion and director of the Ina E. Gordy Honors College, to be advisers for the organization.
“As a nontraditional student and a first-generation student, my college experience is much different than many of my peers,” said Stevens-Washington, who is from Saltillo. “When they are attending events on campus, I am working or running my kids to and from. This organization was the first time I felt like I belonged and gave me a real opportunity to interact with my peers and help someone else. The community depended on us, and when they needed something, our GBP chapter was the go-to for volunteers. I met community leaders and made relationships and networked with tons of people. This allowed me to establish a sense of self within my community. It is an honor to be associated with the society.”
Drouillard had Stevens-Washington as a student in her Medical Ethics course in the fall of 2022. She said he expressed a keen interest in some of the ethical dilemmas discussed in class and their conversation then led him to ask her if she wanted to be involved with Gamma Beta Phi. She said she and Whitehead will work closely with Gamma Beta Phi members to ensure the success of the chapter.
Drouillard also thanked Dr. Bridget Pieschel for her help in reaching out to alumni over Homecoming weekend and raising $250 that helped provide a distinguished reception at the induction ceremony.
“The advisers will meet regularly with members of the executive committee and assist in the planning and organizing of service campaigns, induction ceremonies and recruitment,” Drouillard said. “Along with at least one student delegate, we must attend the national conference annually (the next conference will be in Knoxville, Tennessee). Gamma Beta Phi also offers scholarships for its members, and we are responsible for providing evaluation forms for our members who apply.”
Although Stevens-Washington will graduate on May 5, he said he knows the new chapter of Gamma Beta Phi at The W will create countless opportunities for students to give back, to connect with others and to make a difference on campus and in the community. He said those things enhanced his college experience at South Carolina-Beaufort and they will do the same for many others at The W.
“Gamma Beta Phi did so much for me as a student and community member,” Stevens-Washington said. “The W will benefit in so many ways. Having an organization of peers and faculty to run to when the university needs help is a powerful resource. Having an organization that the community can turn to when they need help is an even more powerful resource. This organization not only helps the university and the community, but it also helps the student in ways they likely do not even notice.
“It is truly such a proud moment for me. My kids get to see it. My son handed out programs and ushered people in the induction. It’s important they start early. It’s just an honor and accomplishment to start GBP here and leave a legacy. I can only hope to have helped establish a family for students and a resource to the university and community that will last a very long time.”
The following students will be members of the chapter’s executive committee: Zadaija Stasher, president; Karina Garcia, vice president; Jada Wright, social media representative; Zharia Banks, secretary; and Jamillia McKinley, treasurer.
The following students are members of The W’s inaugural chapter:
Karina Garcia Lemus