Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society Induction Ceremony Celebrates Students with Disabilities

Loyola’s students accessibility Center hosted their inaugural to the Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society.

Loyola’s Student Accessibility Center hosted their inaugural initiation to the Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society, Iota Lambda Chapter April 12 to recognize the academic achievements of 66 undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities. 

The event also honored 98 professors who were nominated by student inductees of Delta Alpha Pi with the Gratias Award. The award was given to Loyola staff who made a profound impact on students as a thank you for their work and commitment to accessibility. 

To be eligible for Delta Alpha Pi, students must present with a documented disability and work with staff members at the SAC or self-identify as an individual with a disability, according to Accessibility Specialist and Delta Alpha Pi Staff Advisor Brooke McArdle. Students must also demonstrate an interest in disability issues, according to McArdle. 

McArdle said undergraduate students must have completed 24 credit hours and have a minimum GPA of 3.1. Graduate students must have completed 18 credit hours and have a minimum GPA of 3.3 to be accepted into the honor society.

“By working for an adaptable world, the members of Delta Alpha Pi challenge society to view disability as an aspect of diversity, existing on a continuum throughout an individual’s lifespan,” McArdle said in a speech to the audience.

The ceremony included a speech from Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Margaret Callahan, who acknowledged the courage of Delta Alpha Pi students who moved forward and accepted accommodations if they needed them.

“Thank you for bringing this program to Loyola,” Callahan said. “I think the more I learn about it, I really am grateful.”

Students inducted into Delta Alpha Pi were invited to say the honor society’s pledge together.

“I pledge to continue my pursuit of academic excellence, to demonstrate leadership in advancing the rights of individuals with disabilities, to serve as a role model for other students with disabilities, to advocate for myself and for other individuals with disabilities and to assist with educational events through my active participation in Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society,” the students said. 

President of Delta Alpha Pi Michelle Tamas, class of 2026, said she reached out to the SAC in December to start a chapter at Loyola because she wanted to develop a space for the disabled community on campus.

Vice President of Delta Alpha Pi Megan Stropus, class of 2025, said before the idea was presented to the SAC, Tamas, a classmate and friend of Stropus, reached out to her hoping to create a space celebrating people with disabilities. Stropus said when she and Tamas presented the idea to the SAC, the department immediately jumped on board. 

To be chosen as vice president, Stropus said she had to apply anonymously and she believes her evident passion for the honor society awarded her the role.

Because Stropus has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, she said she has many comorbid conditions that affect her ability to complete college without accommodations. She said initially she was frustrated with herself for not being able to handle a full course-load of classes without accommodations like she saw other students doing

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a condition that affects connective tissues, causing symptoms like joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility, and tissue fragility, according to the Ehlers-Danlos society

“I was like, ‘Why can’t I do this? That’s how you’re supposed to do college,’” Stropus said. “It was a long journey of finding acceptance with myself being disabled. Then to be able to learn I just have to do things a little bit differently, have accommodations, acknowledge what my limitations are and where I also can succeed because of these things.”

Stropus is studying biology with a minor in bioethics in hopes to pursue a Ph.D. and study rare disorders. She said she wants to find new treatments or therapies to better understand the condition that has substantially changed the course of her life. 

Jameson Walker, secretary of Delta Alpha Pi and co-president of the Students with Disabilities Coalition, said he wanted to be a part of watching Delta Alpha Pi come alive since he believes campus needs more disability spaces and support services. 

Walker said he believes a disability can be an identity to be proud of, not just a hindrance or something you have to be great in despite of. 

“I think having more organizations on campus that amplify disabled students’ voices and give us an opportunity to speak for ourselves so that we’re actually heard and listened to and understood is great,” Walker said. 

Dr. Rodney Dale, a recipient of the Gratias Award and associate professor in developmental biology and bioinformatics, said in a speech to the audience he has ADHD and has always struggled with test anxiety and panic attacks, making him understand the importance of working with students to make accommodations based on their specific needs. 

“I want to be able to assess what you know, not what you’re going through and dealing with,” Dale said. 

Dale said even as a professor at Loyola, he sometimes struggles to stay focused on one task at a time, so he wants his students to understand they aren’t alone if they are struggling to stay on top of their school work and need accommodations.

Maria Burritt, a fourth-year undergraduate and Delta Alpha Pi inductee, said she started receiving accommodations her junior year of college when her professor noticed the way she wrote all her thoughts out on her tests and suggested Burritt be tested for ADHD. Burritt said she applied for Delta Alpha Pi because she was excited by the idea of celebrating accessibility rather than feeling like she was different. 

“It was just really cool to have an opportunity to meet and see other people who are using support services the same way that I am and have it be a fun celebration with that,” Burritt said.

Julia Pentasuglio

Julia Pentasuglio