Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


This study examines the impact that involvement in Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society has on lifelong views of civic engagement and leadership. Mortar Board Senior Honor Society is a collegiate honor society established in 1918 that recognizes students for their outstanding contributions to their college or university community in the areas of scholarship, leadership, and service. Involvement in campus organizations has been shown to facilitate psycho-social and cognitive development, encourage leadership involvement, and enhance students' participation in service and civic activities (Astin, 1999). This study informs the broad area of research on the impact of extracurricular involvement on college students.

Employing the qualitative research approach of phenomenology, interviews were conducted with 11 volunteers from current members of a Mortar Board Alumni chapter in the western part of the United States who had completed their undergraduate degrees 40 or more years ago. Since Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society was only open to women when these participants were college seniors, all participants were women over the age of 60 years. Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted with participants to understand the impact of their collegiate Mortar Board experience.

Four conclusions were identified upon analysis of the data. First, for the group of 11 alumnae in this study, Mortar Board membership and active involvement over many decades resulted in a high value being placed upon significant relationships that were developed among the participants which both motivated and sustained these women's engagement with Mortar Board. Second, the women in this study developed a significant sense of identity related to Mortar Board due to the reputation and perceived prestige of the organization and their selection for membership. Third, the alumnae in this study are motivated to serve by making a difference in the lives of other people. Lastly, rather than collegiate Mortar Board involvement having had significant impact on lifelong views of and participation in civic engagement and leadership, Mortar Board membership reinforce already held views of civic engagement and leadership and provided opportunities for continued community service.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.