Comfort Pratt has been the faculty adviser for the Texas Tech chapter
of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, for the last
Every one of those years, the Tech chapter has been named an Honor Chapter by the national organization. For the third time in a row, it has been awarded the Octavio Paz award, which goes to a chapter that successfully maintains honor chapter status for three years.
The organization exists to promote the study of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures in the communities around the local chapters.
There are about 600 chapters nationwide. Of those, 10 to 15 are chosen each year to be honor chapters based on the excellence of community projects hosted by the chapters. Only nine were confirmed for this year's Octavio Paz award.
"I think one of the things that separates us from a lot of the other chapters of Sigma Delta Pi is our members," said Michael Martinez, president of the Tech chapter.
Martinez has been president of the Tech chapter for the last two years. He said the Tech chapter is so successful because of the work members are able to do in the community.
Pratt, an associate professor in the bilingual education and diversity studies program at Tech, said one of the most popular events the Tech chapter hosts is the Spanish spelling bee. For the last two years, the group has helped Lubbock Independent School District middle and elementary schools to host their own competitions in which students spell Spanish words. From each school, the group chooses five to compete in its spelling championship at Tech.
Last year, 296 students competed, Pratt said.
"The feedback is amazing," she said. "They have really accepted what we are doing. They keep asking me 'When are you coming back to our school?' "
In addition to the spelling bee, this year, the students in Sigma Delta Pi are starting their English for Hispanic Families program. The program is meant to teach English in families where parents speak mostly Spanish.
Pratt said she's often stopped by grateful teachers, students and parents who participated in Sigma Delta Pi events. She said this positive community feedback motivates the group's members to continue their work.
"I don't need to convince the students to go out there and do anything. They see the results. They see the impact," she said.
Martinez attributes the group's success to Pratt and her views on community service.
"I have to say that I think one of the things Pratt has taught me is something that she writes at the bottom of each of her emails," Martinez said. " 'Every effort, no matter how small, is significant.' "
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