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Justice Studies honours society welcomes 20 new recruits

Text that reads: I don't think I would have advanced this far in university if I wasn't part of Alpha Phi Sigma."

To the 20 new recruits recently welcomed to the University of Guelph-Humber’s Alpha Phi Sigma honours chapter, Sandy Labib is a great example of the opportunities APS membership can provide.

Labib, who is finishing her fourth year in Justice Studies, first joined the APS in her second year at UofGH, becoming vice-president of operations the next year and finally serving as society president in her graduating year.

And as she recently watched the newest recruits don elegant black robes with broad golden scarves (the regal scarves are called “stoles” and they’re donned by APS members again at Convocation), Labib was reminded how much she’s gained from being a part of the society.

“I don’t think I would have advanced this far in university if I wasn’t part of Alpha Phi Sigma,” said Labib, who will begin her post-graduate education at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in the fall.

“I got into my dream law school, and my whole application was all Alpha Phi Sigma. It is an honours society, so having that on your resume, it’s huge. It’s a really, really good opportunity.

The honours society has a rich, 75-year history in the United States, where Alpha Phi Sigma was first founded at Washington State University as an organization that helped students prepare for careers in policing and the law by encouraging academic achievement, boosting leadership skills and promoting a strong interest in social justice.

For Labib, highlights of her time included helping to organize a visit from the Princeton Review for students interested in advancing to law school, getting the opportunity to participate in the Osgoode Cup National Undergraduate Mooting Competition, and travelling with other society executives and Justice Studies Assistant Program Head Dr. Glenn Hanna to the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences’ annual meeting in Kansas City, Mo.

At that conference, Labib relished the chance to form lasting networking connections. She also learned just how unique the University of Guelph-Humber’s Alpha Phi Sigma chapter really is.

“A lot of the advisors asked Glenn: ‘How are your students doing this? How are they recruiting so many people?’” she remembered. “Glenn said he leaves it to the students and lets us plan things. We really appreciate his support in that.

“We’re very fortunate here at UofGH.”

Alpha Phi Sigma members are members for life, so the professional association never goes away. The honours society is quickly building its profile in Canada and it’s already widely renowned in the U.S., where Labib says membership can carry major advantages for anyone interested in working in policing, law, corrections or elsewhere in justice.

Labib, who grew up in Mississauga and originally joined UofGH’s Justice Studies program knowing she wanted to become a lawyer, urges eligible Justice Studies students to apply for Alpha Phi Sigma (applicants need to have been in the program for three semesters with a 75 per cent average).

She’s seen first-hand how students can later regret not getting involved.

“There are a lot of missed opportunities if you don’t join,” she said. “When we make the events, we ask the Alpha Phi Sigma members what they want to do. Maybe they ask for a guest speaker to talk about mental health, so we get it approved by the university and it happens.

“You get to meet lifelong friends. Even after you graduate, you have it on your resume and you have that certificate. I went to last year’s Convocation and other people were looking at the Alpha Phi Sigma members in their stoles, and they looked nice and different. Everybody said, ‘I want to be a part of that.’”

Learn more about Justice Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber.

Learn more about Societies at the University of Guelph-Humber.