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Tri-Alpha Honor Society

A National Honor Society for First-Generation College Students


The mission of the Tri-Alpha chapter, Gamma Upsilon, is to assist in the academic, social, and professional growth of first-generation college students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


  • Opportunities to meet other first-generation scholars and join them in promoting academic excellence and creating a welcoming and supportive environment for all first-generation students
  • Leadership opportunities with the Tri-Alpha chapter at UT
  • Outward recognition of personal accomplishments and a symbol of your hard work
  • Communicates to future employers, professionals, and graduate schools that you possess superior academic ability and commitment
  • Members receive a certificate and pin signifying membership. Membership is for life.
Students qualify for induction into Tri-Alpha if they meet the following criteria:

  • Actively enrolled as a full-time (12 or more credit hours) student or half-time (6-11 credit hours) in a program of study leading to a bachelor’s degree;
  • Completed at least three full terms of study and at least 30 credit hours;
  • Identify as a first-generation student as defined as “Neither parent(s) nor guardian(s) earned a bachelor’s degree or higher prior to the student beginning their program
  • GPA of at least 3.2 in all coursework.

Faculty and staff may also be inducted into the Tri-Alpha honor society. To qualify, they must have met the definition of a first-generation student at the time they completed their bachelor’s degree. Faculty and staff must be willing to serve as mentors for first-generation students.

Graduate students who are first-generation students may also be admitted if they have completed the equivalent of at least one term of study (9 or more graduate credits) and have a GPA in their graduate program of at least 3.5.

A small number of alumni and honorary inductees may be initiated each year. To qualify, these inductees must have been first-generation students, as defined by the UT, when they completed their bachelor’s degree. They must remain connected in some way to the institution which is inducting them— a member of the board or alumni association; the sibling of a current student; a volunteer; a donor; etc.. They must have established themselves in their post-college lives in a manner that can be held up to first-generation students as something to aspire to and must be willing to mentor first-generation students if asked..

Students who meet eligibility criteria will receive invitations to apply for Tri-Alpha at the beginning of January. 

Upon receiving invitations, students should submit an application and pay the membership dues of $25. The lifetime national membership fee includes $15 allocated to the national office, and $10 going to support the local chapter office. Membership dues can be paid via cash, checks, money orders, or cashier checks.  Checks and money orders should be payable to “Tri-Alpha Honor Society”.  New members should deliver members dues to Chapter Advisors in Perkins Hall, Room 121 by March 7, 2024.

Fee waivers may be available to eligible students.

The 2024 Tri-Alpha induction ceremony will be held from 4-6 pm on Tuesday, April 2. Eligible students should expect to receive invitations in March.

Apply for Tri-Alpha Starting February 5, 2024!

Chapter Officers

Students can run for several different leadership positions with the Tri-Alpha chapter.  Officers serve for the academic year and are traditionally announced at each year’s induction ceremony. See below to learn more about the officer positions and responsibilities.

The president is the presiding officer at chapter meetings of Alpha Alpha Alpha. The president plans, organizes, and carries out responsibilities associated with the role as the chapter’s chief executive officer.

Duties: Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • To open the meetings and announce the business before those assembled in the order in which it is to be acted upon; to recognize members entitled to the floor; to state and to put to vote all questions which are regularly moved, or necessarily arise in the course of the proceedings, and to announce the result of the vote;
  • To prepare the vice president to preside in their absence;
  • To meet with the advisor(s) to set goals for the year and to plan induction ceremonies;
  • To appoint persons and delegate tasks for the success of your chapter, then to monitor and ensure that the tasks are successfully completed;
  • To assist in the recruitment of new members;
  • To assist in recruitment of new officers and in the training of the new officers; and
  • To work with the chapter advisor(s) and officers on annual reports for the National Office.

The role of vice president is an important one. Sometimes it happens that the president is prevented from carrying out the duties of his/her office for various reasons.

A well-organized and properly operating chapter should have a properly trained vice president who is prepared to administer the chapter in the absence of the president. The main duty of the vice president is to assist the president and other chapter officers in completing their duties. It is also the vice president’s job to effectively contribute to the chapter’s operations.

Duties: Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Preside over meetings in the absence of the president;
  • Gather material for and help edit a chapter newsletter, on a schedule determined by the officers and advisor(s);
  • Attend all chapter meetings and take attendance if the secretary is not available;
  • Attend the chapter’s officers’ directors meetings;
  • Become thoroughly acquainted with the president’s duties so you can assist the president;
  • Work with chapter secretary and treasurer to ensure member roster and dues are mailed by the appropriate dates; and
  • The vice president is as responsible as the president in executing the president’s functions and duties properly.

The secretary is the recording officer of the chapter and custodian of records except those which are specifically assigned to the treasurer or historian.

The secretary and historian should work closely together to ensure that all records are kept and that both are aware of what the other has maintained. These records are open, however, to inspection by any member at reasonable times.

In addition to keeping the records of the society and the minutes of the meetings, it is the duty of the secretary to keep a register, or roll, of the members and to call the roll when required; to notify officers of their appointment. 

The secretary should also keep one book in which the by-laws, rules of order, and standing rules should all be written, leaving every other page blank; and whenever an amendment is made to any of them, in addition to being recorded in the minutes it should be immediately entered on the page opposite to the article amended.

Duties: Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Send out proper notices of all called meetings, and of other meetings when necessary;
  • Conduct the correspondence of the society, except as otherwise provided;
  • Make an agenda for meetings, which the president/chairperson will use as a guide;
  • Collate and write the annual report, working with the other officers;
  • Circulate approved minutes;
  • Keep a record of past and upcoming activities; and
  • Assist in the preparation of the chapter’s induction ceremony program

The treasurer is in control of the chapter’s money, its collection, and disbursement.

The treasurer is responsible for keeping accurate books that will enable him/her to give a full financial report whenever requested. The treasurer should do his/her best to see that everything is done meticulously so that there are no doubts about his/her integrity. It should be noted that the treasurer’s records always should be open to inspection by the chapter’s officers or advisor(s).

Duties: Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Collect member dues;
  • In coordination with the secretary, forward dues, the invoice, and your chapter’s Membership Roster to the National Office;
  • Prepare the chapter’s budget, present it to the board for approval, and ensure that chapter activities adhere to the budget;
  • Maintain accurate financial records throughout the year to be reviewed at any time by members, other officers, or administration;
  • Transact business through a bank or institutional account;
  • Reconcile bank statements;
  • Deposit chapter funds; and
  • Understand school and chapter policies regarding student financial accounts relating to school organizations.

The historian is the steward of the chapter’s history.  The historian provides support for the secretary in keeping records of the chapter.

Duties: Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Compiling a year-end scrapbook, to include chapter advertisements, newsletters, newspaper articles, event programs, ticket stubs, copies of the induction ceremony program, and photos;
  • Take pictures at events, except for the induction ceremony, where the historian will be participating. In this case, the historian works with the advisor(s) to secure a photographer for the event. It all depends on the historian’s imagination, technological knowledge and budget; and
  • The historian creates and maintains the chapter’s record book, into which the historian writes all pertinent information in the book, such as the year’s officers, programs, and award winners. All information should be double-checked for accuracy. If ever the record book is lost or misplaced, the historian starts a new one.

Students interested in running for an officer’s position in Tri-Alpha must complete an application and undergo an interview by Tri-Alpha advisors. Officer positions will be announced at the Spring induction ceremony.

  • Applications for Tri-Alpha leadership positions opening soon.

Tri-Alpha FAQs


Click here to learn more about Tri-Alpha’s executive board. 

Advisory Board Members

Olivia Grabowski, Coordinator, First-Generation Initiatives

Contact Information

We hope that you will consider joining Tri-Alpha Honors Society! To learn more about the Tri-Alpha Honor society, visit their official website, follow us on Instagram (@UTKTriAlpha) or contact us.