Rio Hondo College Club Spotlight: Alpha Gamma Sigma

Written by Armand Santos, Staff Writer

Add Good Character, Knowledge, and Judgement.

— Alpha Gamma Sigma motto

“Add Good Character, Knowledge and Judgement.” This is the motto of Alpha Gamma Sigma (AGS), the California Community College Honor Society. Those three specific Greek letters were selected as the name of the organization because they are the initials of the three words that come closest to the spirit of the motto.

ARETE – Excellence
GNOSIS – Knowledge

The purpose of AGS at Rio Hondo, as taken from its club constitution, “is to foster, promote, maintain, and recognize scholarship among its members and other students. It aims to develop programs offering cultural, social, and enrichment activities as part of a total college experience. It seeks to promote service to the college and the community.”

AGS is one of the oldest clubs in existence at Rio Hondo College. It has been at Rio Hondo so long that its exact year of establishment is something of a mystery. “I believe it was first chartered at Rio Hondo in the early to mid 1970s,” said Robert D. Graham, an instructional assistant with the Rio Hondo Communications and Languages Division. Graham is also a former AGS member, president, and advisor. “There have been a lot of members and advisors of AGS here that have gone on to great things. Robert Holcomb was an advisor when he was a brand new professor in the early 2000s, and now he’s a dean,” continued Graham.

AGS has a rich history that extends much further back than when it came to Rio Hondo. It was founded in 1926 by Dr. William T. Boyce, Louis E. Plummer, Merton Hill, and Dr. K. Hammond, all of whom were administrators at separate California junior colleges, as community colleges were called at the time. Boyce recalls the foundation of AGS in his book, My Years in the Fullerton Junior College, 1915-1950, stating, “In 1925 I conceived the idea of promoting a state-wide junior college honor scholarship society. I saw in it an intellectual stimulus, comparable to that of Phi Beta Kappa in the higher colleges.” The original name of the organization was the California Junior College Honor Society. The Greek name Alpha Gamma Sigma was officially adopted in 1932.

AGS is not like other clubs at Rio Hondo. In addition to the standard requirements for standard club membership (being currently enrolled in at least one unit, minimum 2.0 GPA, not being on any sort of Academic, Progress or Disciplinary probation), prospective AGS members have a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement. Members must also continually qualify for membership not just by maintaining their grades, commitment to the club is quantifiably measured. Active members are required to complete 30 service points each semester. Service points are earned through a combination of on and off-campus club events and community service.

“Community service has always been an important part of AGS,” explains Graham. AGS requirements ensure that members must be productive members of their community.

Current AGS President, Daniel Laughlin, explains why someone would want to enter into this kind of commitment. “Membership in AGS is reflected on your academic transcripts and this can make a difference when transferring to a competitive school. There are also scholarships available only to AGS members in good standing.  Plus, you graduate with honors and are able to wear the distinguished AGS stole and gold cord,” said Laughlin. “Fulfilling the service requirements is actually not that difficult, a lot of what our members would do even if they weren’t a part of AGS would qualify them,” continued Laughlin, “anyone with a 3.0 GPA or better should consider joining.”

AGS is certainly not for everyone, but if you meet the academic qualifications and are up to the challenge, it may be just what you need. Come to their weekly meeting in the Rio Hondo Science building, S136, every Tuesday from 1PM – 2PM. The current faculty advisors are Irene Truong and Vivian Villanueva.