First-Gen Honor Society Inducts 1st Class on UK Campus

By Ryan Girves

First-generation A&S student Presley Ramey (third from left) was inducted into Alpha Alpha Alpha honor society. Student Transitions and Family Programs staff Jimmie Jones Jr. (left), Martina Martin and Jesse Farley were involved in coordinating the event.

In an inaugural ceremony, the University of Kentucky inducted 51 members into the Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri-Alpha) Honor Society, recognizing the accomplishments of high-achieving first-generation students, alumni, staff and faculty.

Inductees were initiated into the honor society through a brief ceremony held Nov. 8 in the Gatton Student Center Ballroom.

Martina Martin, associate director of Student Transitions and Family Programs at the university, said the university established the chapter of the Tri-Alpha Honor Society as a way to acknowledge high-achieving, and often resilient, first-generation students who bring a diverse set of ideas and backgrounds to UK.  

"It was important to establish an organization that recognized the academic achievements of first-generation college students as well as recognize the talents and contributions of our faculty and staff who were also first-generation students," Martin said. "This recognition isn’t just for a day or week, it’s for a lifetime."

At the university, one in four students identifies as first-generation. Being a first-generation student comes with unique challenges; there are opportunity, awareness and achievement gaps that some are not able to overcome. Through the honor society, the university hopes to target one of the largest cohorts on campus, first-generation students, by connecting them with their peers and providing them with opportunities to get engaged in the life of the campus.

"It is an absolute honor to be a part of this honor society. As a first-generation student on UK's campus, it comes with a sense of validation and community because we are not alone in the struggle that college presents to students such as ourselves," said Presley Ramey, UK senior and double major in history and anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a double minor in international studies and world religions.

Tri-Alpha promotes academic excellence and provides members with a multitude of benefits, including opportunities for personal growth, leadership development, campus and community service and the ability to receive mentoring from more senior first-generation students, as well as faculty, staff and alumni who were first-generation students.

"It is difficult to put into words exactly how influential this honor society is and will grow to be for first-generation students," Ramey continued. "Tri-Alpha is connecting undergraduate first-generation students with first-generation staff members and helping to bridge the gap that students often feel between themselves and professors. I am truly honored to be a part of something that is much greater than just an organization."

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and honorary members can be inducted into the organization, and those who qualify will be invited to join each year. Students qualify for induction into Tri-Alpha if they meet the following criteria:

  • The student has earned at least 36 credit/semester hours (or 54 quarter hours) toward a baccalaureate degree.
  • The student has achieved an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Neither of the student's parents, nor step-parents, nor legal guardians, completed a bachelor's degree.

For faculty and staff 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 also be willing to serve as mentors for first-generation students.

"By accepting membership in the Tri-Alpha honor society, you recognize your responsibility to your family and to future generations of first, to finish what you started, to be their compass leading them to their destination when the way seems uncertain, to be their light in darkness, and to support others in their own journeys of firsts,” the initiation pledge for students reads.

Being the first to do anything can be scary, but it is almost always rewarding. Tri-Alpha guides students through this new experience in their life, providing them with the tools along the way to succeed. The presence of Tri-Alpha on campus is impactful and exemplifies the university's commitment to creating a community of belonging for all students.  

"Tri-Alpha is and will be a guiding light to many students now and in the future at the university," Ramey said. 

Tri-Alpha Honor Society is housed within First-Generation Student Advising. For more information about the organization or membership contact Martina Martin at or 859-257-6597.

More about Alpha Alpha Alpha: 

Alpha Alpha Alpha was founded March 24, 2018, at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Over 100 members of the Alpha Chapter were initiated that day, including undergraduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and honorary members. Following the successful induction, the college took steps to incorporate Alpha Alpha Alpha so that chapters could be started on other campuses across the country. Tri-Alpha exists as a not-for-profit (501(c)3) organization, for the purposes of supporting the activities of the honor society.​ 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.


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