Orange Keys Always elite students. Always.

Both dressed in black suits and wearing a hint of orange in their outfits, 15 different men and women have unlocked the secrets to what goes on at some of the most formal events hosted by Sam Houston State University.

From the President’s Christmas party and eating with the Board of Regents to helping out with graduations, meetings and lectures, this group of students has worked for the university as the official hosts for a number of different events on campus.

These students, known as the Orange Keys, are the official ambassadors to the university and are a part of an organization that represents one of the highest honors a student can receive at SHSU.

This organization has been around for quite some time and is one of the older organizations on campus. Orange Key advisor, Assistant Dean of Students Mary Ellen Sims, said it was founded in 1959 as a leadership group for women. In 1980, the group changed its policies to allow men to join, added a scholarship for members and limited the group to 15 people. This small group of people represents some of the most elite students on campus, Sims said, and there is no other organization quite like it.

“It’s a unique opportunity on this campus to be placed in the position of representing the university as one of the official representatives of the student body when the university hosts special occasions and formal events,” Sims said. “I realize that other organizations are always representing the university when they go to events, but Orange Keys participates in events strictly related to Sam Houston and are the hosts and hostesses to a variety of visitors and guests.”

The students who currently make up this group have shown that they are dedicated to serving the university, Sims said, and are accomplished not only academically but are also extremely involved in extra curricular activities.

This unique group of students covers a variety of organizations and majors across the university. Sims said that each year they are trying to get a well-rounded representation of different groups and different majors. Theater, agriculture, criminal justice, education, radio and television, speech communications, English, music and biology are some of the majors currently represented by the organization.

A student who is involved with the organization and anyone who wants to apply must have a 3.0 GPA, be involved in two organizations and at least be a sophomore in classification. A student has to have attended SHSU for at least a year and is going into their second year at the university. Each student has to complete at least one year of service, but an Orange Key cannot be a student teacher or participate in an internship while they are a part of the organization.

President of Orange Keys for the past two years, Shannon Stuckey, said that being a part of this organization gives a person a great opportunity to network with visitors, faculty and staff while participating in events that most students do not have the opportunity to attend.

“It’s a good way to give back to the university,” Stuckey said. “Not only do we receive a scholarship each semester, but there are other non-monetary rewards for being a part of the group. If someone is interested in networking and being involved with the university and representing the student body, this is a great opportunity for you.”

The Orange Keys are currently looking for more members in the fall because several seniors are graduating. Most people don’t know about the organization, Stuckey said, but she is encouraging people to go through the application process.

“The group of students that is chosen is based on how well they present themselves in an interview, and because of this, the group is very poised and knowledgeable about what goes on around campus,” Stuckey said.

The application process starts with a student filling out an application, Sims said, and they can swing by the Dean of Students’ office to pick one up. The students who turn in their applications are narrowed down to a select group of students, who are called back for an interview. Through an interview process, Sims said, the selection committee picks the most qualified candidates from the group.

“I encourage people who love this university and who love the idea of representing it to apply to join this elite group of students,” Sims said.

Sims said a main quality that can be typically seen in an Orange Key is someone who is articulate and can carry on a conversation from the presidents of different universities to other high-ranking officials in different professions. Each member also has to have good judgment, common sense and must be able to present him or herself in a professional manner.

Stuckey does have some advice for people who do get a call back to interview for the organization. She encourages people to treat interviewing for the position like you’re interviewing for any other job. Come dressed professionally, she said, and prepare for the interview by knowing the names of the deans of each of the colleges and familiarizing yourself with other important events and happenings on campus. Deadline for applications is on March 24th.

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