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Phi Alpha Honor Society

Mission Statement

The Purpose of Phi Alpha Honor Society is to provide a closer bond among students of social work and promote humanitarian goals and ideals. Phi Alpha fosters high standards of education for social workers and invites into membership those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work. "Through Knowledge - the challenge to serve."

2016-2017 Phi Alpha E-Board & Faculty Advisors
President: Melissa Portillo
Vice President: David Worden
Secretary: Kathleen Wonacott
Treasurer: Jessica Orellana
Membership & Recruitment Chair: Paulina Vilchis
Fundraising Chair & OCAC Representative: Monica Felix
Philanthropy Chair: Ashlie Chu
Research Liaison: Siying (Shelley) Wang
Communications Chair: Lauren Leffler
VAC Representative(s): Hannah MacDula
Alumni Chairs: Elka Chamberlain, Andrea Summerlin
Faculty Advisors: Suh Chen Hsiao, MSW, PPSC, LCSW; Dawn Jooseten-Hagye, PhD, LCSW
Research Advisor: Charles Kaplan, PhD

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Learn More about Phi Alpha

What is Phi Alpha Honor Society?

Phi Alpha is a national honor society dedicated specifically to social workers across the U.S. Phi Alpha is founded on the values of humanitarianism, professional development and research. One of the missions of Phi Alpha Honor Society is to foster connections and bonds amongst social workers who uphold the values of the organization.

What are the perks to becoming a member?

There are numerous perks to becoming an active member of Phi Alpha Honor Society. Some of those perks include:

  • Scholarship opportunities
  • Networking amongst like-minded people and other social workers
  • Presenting research at our annual research symposium event
  • Being active on campus
  • Serving the community
  • A pin, medallion and honors cords to wear upon graduating
  • Free entrance to an end of the year banquet to celebrate your academic successes

When can I join Phi Alpha Honor Society?

The application for new members is currently closed, and will reopen in Spring 2017.

What are the requirements to join Phi Alpha Honor Society?

  • A minimum of 12 credit hours of completed graduate level Social Work course work
  • 3.75 cumulative GPA (verified via STARS report uploaded)
  • One-page letter of recommendation from faculty member or field instructor

How can I maintain active membership status?

Three continuous requirements until graduation:

  • STARS report with proof of minimum 3.75 GPA;
  • Four hours of documented philanthropy/community services;
  • Pay $20 membership dues (The membership due will increase in Spring 2017.)
  • After graduation, lifetime membership remains but no additional benefits.

More details:

  • Submit STARS report, on time, every Fall & Spring semester. STARS report serves as a member’s documentation of Phi Alpha’s minimum cumulative GPA requirement of 3.75 .
  • Complete, and submit documentation on time, every Fall & Spring semester, of 4 hours of philanthropy/community services.
  • Pay $20 continuing membership dues, every Fall and Spring semester until graduation. (First time member dues are $47). Link will be provided. Fall 2016 deadline for dues is November 20th. Please note that we will not issue refunds.
  • All hours and requirement must be met before April 1st in order for the MSW graduates’ name to be identified in the university graduation book.

If I was inactive a few semesters ago, how do I become active again?
In order to become re-active in Phi Alpha Honor Society, you would need to complete the requirements from the semester(s) you were inactive and the current semester we are in. Our requirements for Fall and Spring semesters include: $47.00 (first time members) or $20.00 (for continuing members), an accumulative GPA of 3.75, and 4 hours of philanthropy. Please note that you do not need to restart the application process.

How do I complete the philanthropy hours?

Members of Phi Alpha Omicron Epsilon Chapter are required to complete at least four philanthropy hours per semester. Community services may be completed by participating in Phi Alpha sponsored philanthropy events or with an organization of your choice.

  • Internship or employment activities will not count as approved philanthropy hours.
  • Hours completed through Phi Alpha sponsored events require checking in with a Phi Alpha board member during the event. Members who attend a Phi Alpha sponsored philanthropy event are NOT required to submit a Philanthropy Hours Approval Form.
  • Hours completed at an organization of your choice must be documented using the philanthropy form available here
  • Philanthropy hours are due by Sunday, November 20th at 11:59pm. Please remember to complete the Philanthropy Form and upload it to Qualtrics before the deadline by following this link

Here are the remaining events for Fall 2016 semester:

  • Foothill Unity Center
    • Saturday, November 19th - 9:00am - 1:00pm
    • Volunteers must register for event on the Foothill Unity Center website.
    • Email phialpha@usc.edu with subject "PHILANTHROPY - (Event Name)" to sign up and/or for more details.
    • Sign-in with Phi Alpha Board Member at event.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

  • Go to Volunteer Match , La Works , and All For Good
  • Go to the websites of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Heal the Bay, Midnight Mission, and Foothill Unity Center for other listed volunteer events.
  • Monthly OC Burrito Project: volunteer opportunity in Orange County.

How do I submit my philanthropy hours and STAR report?

Fall 2016 STAR Report Submission (DUE September 30th, 2016)
Fall 2016 Philanthropy Hours Submission (DUE November 20th, 2016)

How to apply for Phi Alpha Scholarships?

  • All applicants must be active members of the Omicron Epsilon Chapter of Phi Alpha at USC.
  • One scholarship application and one personal statement (please attach together). *See personal statement prompt for specific criteria.
  • Two letters of recommendation (one from a professor and the other from a professional relationship, outside of current field placement).
  • Each letter should show a genuine support of your efforts and commitments listed in your personal statement.
  • Applications must be fully filled out and completed. Incomplete applications will not be considered for reward.
  • Fall 2016 Scholarship Application is DUE November 20th, 2016

What research events does Phi Alpha organize?

Phi Alpha organizes two research events every semester, including the annual student research symposium in the spring.
Please find the below recordings to Phi Alpha’s research sessions that occurred this semester:

Is there funding support available for student researchers?

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is seeking applications for funding support, up to $500, for MSW and MSN student research experiences. Funding applications are accepted now through February 1, 2017. More details

Who should I contact if an issue arises?

Please feel free to email us directly at phialpha@usc.edu. We are also on Facebook under USC Phi Alpha Honor Society and Instagram @uscphialpha. For efficient response, please identify the E-board member that your question is directed to, and include a brief description of your questions in the email title, i.e. “PHILANTHROPY: Sign up for volunteer event”, “MEMBERSHIP: Submit STAR report”, “RESEARCH: Research funding application”.