New Mexico State University’s chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society, took home a number of awards at their virtual 2021 national conference. The conference was presented virtually from April 16 – 17 because of the pandemic.
NMSU’s Alpha Phi Sigma chapter placed among the best in group competitions including Star Chapter Award, Outstanding Leadership, Theme of the Year – Cybercrime, the Chapter T-Shirt Competition and website.
Since the conference was virtual, 700-plus Alpha Phi Sigma members – more than double the usual number – participated in the event from across the U.S. and Canada. With more members vying for the top awards, competition was intense, particularly for member of the year.
NMSU graduate student Natashia Briones earned the 2021 Member of the Year Award. To nominate a student for member of the year, the student must represent the four Alpha Phi Sigma goals which are excellence in service, leadership, unity and academic excellence.
“I am honored to have won member of the year,” Briones said. “It honors one student out of all the chapters."
Briones, a May 2021 graduate, expected the virtual conference to be challenging and very different from the in-person conference. For example, instead of the usual mock crime scene competition, teams pre-filmed a mock crime scene for educational purposes which was a highlight for the students.
With the help of criminal justice adjunct faculty and retired FBI agent, Ida D’Antonio Hangen, NMSU’s team taped a mock bank robbery and homicide crime scene. Hangen presented the video, explained procedures and hosted a question-and-answer session.
“There are usually a lot of fun events like mock crime scene investigation competitions, quiz-bowl competition and more in-person. This year was more like a webinar.” Briones said. “However, the virtual conference allowed more chapters to be present. It was amazing to hear schools from chapters that usually could not afford to go to an in-person conference.”
NMSU’s Alpha Phi Sigma members earned other individual awards: Dana Mireles received a Best Paper Award; Kayla Graves won a Student Achievement Award and Hunter Stewart and Isis Salgado received Attendance Scholarships.
Andrea Joseph, retired college professor of criminal justice has served as the chapter’s faculty advisor since 2010. She retired in December 2020 but agreed to continue as the group’s faculty advisor.
“I’ve always been incredibly proud of our members, this year even more so,” Joseph said, referring to challenges during the pandemic. “They created a family that helped each other out during these tough times. I love working with and mentoring these amazing students.”
Briones is proud of what Alpha Phi Sigma achieved this year. “This chapter is truly about unity and service because even with COVID-19 this chapter still found ways to serve the Las Cruces community.”
To learn more about the Alpha Phi Sigma chapter, visit https://aps.nmsu.edu.