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A Brief History 

While many see the Greek letters and assume Phi Eta Sigma is a fraternity, Phi Eta Sigma is actually a National Honor Society! It is best known for being the nation’s first and largest honor society for freshman. Founded in 1923, Phi Eta Sigma was established “to encourage and reward high scholastic achievement” for college students. 

The organization started at the University of Illinois and was inspired by the first national Grand President, Dean Thomas Arkle Clark. He was orphaned as a young child and raised by his aunt, who passed away when Clark was only 15. Clark then created a motto for himself: “Take a difficult task and… do it better than those for whom the task is easy.” This motto set the standard of what Phi Eta Sigma represents and strives for. 

Today, the current motto is “Knowledge is Power” which is spelled out in Greek letters at the bottom of the crest. There are now 378 chapters on campuses across the country and more than one million students that have been inducted into the society. More than $257,000 in scholarships have been awarded by the national organization, with thousands more awarded by local chapters. 

What Phi Eta Sigma is All About

As an honor society, Phi Eta Sigma has four basic principles: 

  1. Dedication to leadership
  2. Devotion to students
  3. Prudent management  
  4. Constant improvement in efficiency

Our organization prides itself on service, as it provides opportunities for personal growth, leadership development, and campus and community service. Phi Eta Sigma is a really great opportunity to stand out as an excellent student, and a great way to meet other achieving students in your local chapter, as well as around the country.

UW-Whitewater’s Chapter

Eligibility & Active Status

As an Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma is open to all majors! Our UW-Whitewater chapter meets once a month and hosts many events throughout the semester. In order to be inducted into the society, members must meet eligibility requirements and be considered “active.” To be eligible for Phi Eta Sigma, students must:

  1. Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5
  2. Be a full-time student working towards a bachelor’s degree
  3. Reside in the top 20% of their class. 

These requirements are based off a student’s first year in college. Eligible members will receive their invitation to join after completing one year of college. 

To be considered an “active” member, students must attend 2 meetings per semester and a specified number of events, dependent on the semester. We host many fun events, such as game nights, movie nights, free bowling, bake sales, study nights, Culver’s nights, concession stands, and more! Phi Eta Sigma recognizes that college can be stressful, and while we encourage students to work hard and do their best, we also want to provide students with a chance to relax and escape, even for just a couple hours.

At induction each year, members receive regalia for graduation. Sophomores receive a tie tack, Juniors receive chords, and Seniors receive a medallion. A great aspect of this organization is that dues paid are for life. Students pay dues only once, usually in the first year, and once inducted are considered members for life!

Meet the Board Members!

Ellen Steckbauer is the Chapter President for the 2019-2020 school year. She is a senior studying Supply Chain and Operations Management. Our Vice President is Dani Byrne. Dani is also a senior, and she is studying Marketing. Ashley Vande Hei is our Secretary for the fall semester. Ashley is a junior studying Communication Sciences & Disorders and Spanish. In the spring semester, Jeta Dehari will be taking over as Secretary. Jeta is a sophomore studying Psychology. Megan Mumm is the Treasurer. She is a senior studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Allied Health. And lastly, is the Social Chair, Veronica Wipperfurth. Veronica is a senior studying Graphic Design and Media Arts.


Each year, Phi Eta Sigma chooses one charity as a philanthropic cause. We then donate half of our fundraise earnings to that cause. For the past two years we have elected the Red Cross and raised over $300 for them. Last year, we participated in a Culver’s Night in which members served customers their orders for the evening. This year, we partnered with A’viands to fundraise at the UWW Football concession stands. In addition, we also do bake sales to raise money.

For more information, visit Some information in this blog was obtained from the national website.

Author: Veronica Wipperfurth